It was a long, wearisome ride back to the land of plenty, over frozen ground, with barely an inch of snow upon it, under a dark sky, with a chilly wind blowing.
“After all, it’s home,” said Samson, when late in the evening they saw the lighted windows of the cabin ahead. When they had put out their horses and come in by the glowing fire, Samson lifted Sarah in his arms again and kissed her.
“I’m kind o’ silly, mother, but I can’t help it—you look so temptin’,” said Samson.
“She looks like an angel,” said Harry, as he improved his chance to embrace and kiss the lady of the cabin.
“The wind has been peckin’ at us all day,” said Samson. “But it’s worth it to get back home and see your face and this blazin’ fire.”
“And the good, hot supper,” said Harry, as they sat down at the table.
They told of the Brimsteads and their visit.
“Well, I want to know!” said Sarah. “Big house and plenty o’ money! If that don’t beat all!”
“That oldest girl is the thing that beats all,” said Samson. “She’s as handsome as Bim.”
“I suppose Harry fell in love with her,” Sarah suggested, with a smile.
“I’ve lost my ability to fall in love,” said the young man.
“It will come back—you see,” said Sarah. “I’m going to get her to pay us a visit in the spring.”
Harry went out to feed and water the horses.
“Did you get along all right?” Samson asked.
“Colonel Lukins did the chores faithfully, night and morning,” Sarah answered. “His wife helped me with the sewing yesterday. She talked all day about the ‘Colonel.’ Mrs. Beach, that poor woman from Ohio on the west road who has sent her little girl so often to borrow tea and sugar, came to-day and wanted to borrow the baby. Her baby is sick and her breasts were paining her.”
IN WHICH ABE RETURNS FROM VANDALIA AND IS ENGAGED TO ANN, AND THREE INTERESTING SLAVES ARRIVE AT THE HOME OF SAMSON TRAYLOR, WHO, WITH HARRY NEEDLES, HAS AN ADVENTURE OF MUCH IMPORTANCE ON THE UNDERGROUND ROAD.
Again spring had come. The great meadows were awake and full of color. Late in April their green floor was oversown with golden blossoms lying close to the warming breast of the earth. Then came the braver flowers of May lifting their heads to the sunlight in the lengthening grasses—red and white and pink and blue—and over all the bird songs. They seemed to voice the joy in the heart of man. Sarah Traylor used to say that the beauty of the spring more than paid for the loneliness of the winter.
Abe came back from the Legislature to resume his duties as postmaster and surveyor. The evening of his arrival he went to see Ann. The girl was in poor health. She had had no news of McNamar since January. Her spirit seemed to be broken. They walked together up and down the deserted street of the little village that evening. Abe told her of his life in Vandalia and of his hopes and plans.