“I’d take my chances,” said she, soberly.
There were pauses in which their souls went far beyond their words and seemed to embrace each other fondly with arms of the spirit invisible and resistless. And whatever was to come, in that hour the great priest of Love in the white robe of innocence had made them one. The air about them was full of strange delight, They were in deep dusk as they neared the house. For one moment of long-remembered joy she let him put his arm about her waist, but when he kissed her cheek she drew herself away.
They walked a little time in silence.
“I am no flirt,” she whispered presently. Neither spoke for a moment.
Then she seemed to feel and pity his emotion. Something slowed the feet of both.
“There,” she whispered; “you may kiss my hand if you care to.”
He kissed the pretty hand that was offered to him, and her whisper seemed to ring in the dusky silence like the dying rhythm of a bell.
Drove and Drovers
A little after daybreak they went on with the cows. For half a mile or more until the little house had sunk below the hill crest Trove was looking backward. Now and ever after he was to think and tarry also in the road of life and look behind him for the golden towers of memory. The drovers saw a change in Trove and flung at him with their stock of rusty, ancestral witticisms. But Thurst Tilly had a way of saying and doing quite his own,
“Never see any one knocked so flat as you was,” said he. “Ye didn’t know enough t’ keep ahead o’ the cattle. I declare I thought they’d trample ye ’fore ye could git yer eye unsot.”
Trove made no answer.
“That air gal had a mighty power in her eye,” Thurst went on. “When I see her totin’ you off las’ night I says t’ the boys, says I, ‘Sid is goin’ t’ git stepped on. He ain’t never goin’ t’ be the same boy ag’in.’”
The boy held his peace, and for days neither ridicule nor excitement—save only for the time they lasted—were able to bring him out of his dream.
That night they came to wild country, where men and cattle lay down to rest by the roadway—a thing Trove enjoyed. In the wagon were bread and butter and boiled eggs and tea and doughnuts and cake and dried herring. The men built fires and made tea and ate their suppers, and sang, as the night fell, those olden ballads of the frontier—“Barbara Allen,” “Bonaparte’s Dream,” or the “Drover’s Daughter.”
For days they were driving in the wild country. At bedtime each wound himself in a blanket and lay down to rest, beneath a rude lean-to if it were raining, but mostly under the stars. On this journey Trove got his habit of sleeping, out-of-doors in fair weather. After it, save in midwinter, walls seemed to weary and roofs to smother him. The drove began to low at daybreak, and soon they were all cropping the grass or browsing in the briers. Then the milking, and breakfast over a camp fire, and soon after sunrise they were all tramping in the road again.