“If she had only lived,” I said, “so I could have made a home for her!”
“She knows all about that,” said Virginia; “and when she sees you making a home for some one else, how happy it will make her!”
Virginia was the older of the two, now, the utterer of words of comfort; and I was the child. The moon rose late, but before we retired it flooded the grove with light. The wolves howled on the prairie, and the screech-owls cried pitifully in the grove; but I was happy. I told Virginia that we must break camp in the morning and move on. I must get to my land, and begin making that home. She sighed; but she did not protest. She would always remember this sojourn in the grove, she said; she had felt so safe! She hardly knew what she would do when we reached the next settlement; but she must think out some way to get back to Kentucky. When the time came for her to retire, I carried her to the wagon and lifted her in—and then went to my own bed to sleep the first sound sweet sleep I had enjoyed for days. The air had been purified by the storm.
IN DEFENSE OF THE PROPRIETIES
Virginia and I arrived in Waterloo about two days after we left the Grove of Destiny, as my granddaughter Gertrude insists on calling the place at which we camped after we left Independence. We went in a sort of rather guess-way back to the Ridge Road, very happy, talking to each other about ourselves all the while, and admiring everything we saw along the way. The wild sweet-williams were in bloom, now, and scattered among them were the brilliant orange-colored puccoons; and the grass even on the knolls was long enough to wave in the wind like a rippling sea. It was a cool and sunny spell of weather, with fleecy clouds chasing one another up from the northwest like great ships under full sail running wing-and-wing before the northwest wind which blew strong day and night. It was a new sort of weather to me—the typical high-barometer weather of the prairies after a violent “low.” The driving clouds on the first day were sometimes heavy enough to spill over a scud of rain (which often caught Virginia like a cold splash from a hose), and were whisked off to the southeast in a few minutes, followed by a brilliant burst of sunshine—and all the time the shadows of the clouds raced over the prairie in big and little bluish patches speeding forever onward over a groundwork of green and gold dotted with the white and purple and yellow of the flowers.
We were now on terms of simple trust and confidence. We played. We bet each other great sums of money as to whether or not the rain-scud coming up in the west would pass over us, or miss us, or whether or not the shadow of a certain cloud would pass to the right or the left. People with horse teams who were all the time passing us often heard us laughing, and looked at us and smiled, waving their hands, as Virginia would cry out, “I won that time!” or “You drove slow, just to beat me!” or “Well, I lost, but you owe me twenty-five thousand dollars yet!”