“Why did you disguise yourself before you came in?”
“I longed to see Harry, but I did not want him to see me. I did not know that he would care to see me,” she answered. “I longed to see all of you.”
“Isn’t that like Bim?” Samson asked.
“I am no longer the fool I was,” she answered. “It was not just a romantic notion. I wanted to share the lot of a runaway slave for a few days and know what it means. That mulatto—Roger Wentworth—and his wife are as good as I am, but I have seen them kicked and beaten like dogs. I know slavery now and all the days of my life I am going to fight against it. Now I am ready to go to my father’s house—like the Prodigal Son coming back after his folly.”
“But you will have some dinner first,” said Mrs. Brimstead.
“No, I can not wait—I will walk. It is not far to Hopedale.”
“Percy is at the door now with his buggy,” said Brimstead.
Bim kissed Samson’s cheek and embraced Annabel and her mother and hurried out of the house. Harry carried her bag to the buggy and helped her in.
“Harry, I want you to fall in love with this pretty girl,” she said. “Don’t you dare think of me any more or come near me. If you do, I’ll shoo you away. Go on, Percy.”
She waved her hand as the buggy went up the road.
“It’s the same old Bim,” Harry said to himself, as he stood watching her. “But I think she’s lovelier than she ever was.”
The next day Samson wrote in his diary:
* * * * *
“Bim was handsomer, but different. She had a woman’s beauty. I noticed her loose clothes and that gentle look in her face that used to come to Sarah’s when her time was about half over. I am glad she got away before she was further along.”
WHEREIN HARRY AND ABE RIDE UP TO SPRINGDALE AND VISIT KELSO’S AND LEARN OF THE CURIOUS LONESOMENESS OF ELIPHALET BIGGS.
Illinois was growing. In June score of prairie schooners, loaded with old and young, rattled over the plains from the East. There were many Yankees from Ohio, New York and New England in this long caravan. There were almost as many Irish, who had set out for this land of golden promise as soon as they had been able to save money for a team and wagon, after reaching the new world. There were some Germans and Scandinavians in the dust clouds of the National Road. Steamers on the Illinois River scattered their living freight along its shores. These were largely from Kentucky, southern Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. The call of the rich and kindly lands had traveled far and streams of life were making toward them, to flow with increasing speed and volume for many years.