“Will you go, mother?” asked Elnora.
“I have a little work that should be done,” said Mrs. Comstock. “Could you spare me? Where do you want to go?”
“We will go down to Aunt Margaret’s and see her a few minutes and get Billy. We will be back in time for supper.”
Mrs. Comstock smiled as she watched them down the road. What a splendid-looking pair of young creatures they were! How finely proportioned, how full of vitality! Then her face grew troubled as she saw them in earnest conversation. Just as she was wishing she had not trusted her precious girl with so much of a stranger, she saw Elnora stoop to lift a branch and peer under. The mother grew content. Elnora was thinking only of her work. She was to be trusted utterly.
WHEREIN THE LIMBERLOST SINGS FOR PHILIP, AND THE TALKING TREES TELL GREAT SECRETS
A few days later Philip handed Elnora a sheet of paper and she read: “In your condition I should think the moth hunting and life at that cabin would be very good for you, but for any sake keep away from that Grosbeak person, and don’t come home with your head full of granger ideas. No doubt he has a remarkable voice, but I can’t bear untrained singers, and don’t you get the idea that a June song is perennial. You are not hearing the music he will make when the four babies have the scarlet fever and the measles, and the gadding wife leaves him at home to care for them then. Poor soul, I pity her! How she exists where rampant cows bellow at you, frogs croak, mosquitoes consume you, the butter goes to oil in summer and bricks in winter, while the pump freezes every day, and there is no earthly amusement, and no society! Poor things! Can’t you influence him to move? No wonder she gads when she has a chance! I should die. If you are thinking of settling in the country, think also of a woman who is satisfied with white and brown to accompany you! Brown! Of all deadly colours! I should go mad in brown.”
Elnora laughed while she read. Her face was dimpling, as she returned the sheet. “Who’s ahead?” she asked.
“Who do you think?” he parried.
“She is,” said Elnora. “Are you going to tell her in your next that R. B. Grosbeak is a bird, and that he probably will spend the winter in a wild plum thicket in Tennessee?”
“No,” said Philip. “I shall tell her that I understand her ideas of life perfectly, and, of course, I never shall ask her to deal with oily butter and frozen pumps—”
“—and measley babies,” interpolated Elnora.
“Exactly!” said Philip. “At the same time I find so much to counterbalance those things, that I should not object to bearing them myself, in view of the recompense. Where do we go and what do we do to-day?”
“We will have to hunt beside the roads and around the edge of the Limberlost to-day,” said Elnora. “Mother is making strawberry preserves, and she can’t come until she finishes. Suppose we go down to the swamp and I’ll show you what is left of the flower-room that Terence O’More, the big lumber man of Great Rapids, made when he was a homeless boy here. Of course, you have heard the story?”