“Not as I remember,” said Harry.
“I never did myself, but if I did, I’m sure they’d both look very tired. It would be still harder for an elephant to be engaged to a cricket. I don’t reckon the elephant’s love would fit the cricket or that they’d ever be able to agree on what they’d talk about. It’s some that way with Abe and Ann. She is small and spry; he is slow and high. She’d need a ladder to get up to his face, and I just tell you it ain’t purty when ye get there. She ain’t got a chance to love him.”
“I love him,” said Harry. “I think he’s a wonderful man. I’d fight for him till I died. John McNeil is nothing but a grasshopper compared to him.”
“That’s about what my father says,” Bim answered. “I love Abe, too, and so does Ann, but it ain’t the hope to die, marryin’ love. It’s like a man’s love for a man or a woman’s love for a woman. John McNeil is handsome—he’s just plum handsome, and smart, too. He’s bought a big farm and is going into the grocery business. Mr. Rutledge says he’ll be a rich man.”
“I wouldn’t wonder. Is he going to the spelling school?”
“No, he went off to Richland to-day with my father to join the company. They’re going to fight the Injuns, too.”
Harry stood smoothing the new coat of Colonel with his hand, while Bim was thinking how she would best express what was on her mind. She did not try to say it, but there was something in the look of her eyes which the boy remembered.
He was near telling her that he loved her, but he looked down at his muddy boots and soiled overalls. They were like dirt thrown on a flame. How could one speak of a sweet and noble passion in such attire? Clean clothes and white linen for that! The shell sounded for dinner. Bim started for the road at a gallop, waving her hand. He unhitched his team and followed it slowly across the black furrows toward the barn.
He did not go to the spelling school. Abe came at seven and said that he and Harry would have to walk to Springfield that night and get their equipment and take the stage in the morning. Abe said if they started right away they could get to the Globe tavern by midnight. In the hurry and excitement Harry forgot the spelling school. To Bim it was a tragic thing. Before he went to bed that night he wrote a letter to her.
IN WHICH BIM KELSO MAKES HISTORY, WHILE ABE AND HARRY AND OTHER GOOD CITIZENS OF NEW SALEM ARE MAKING AN EFFORT TO THAT END IN THE INDIAN WAR.
Many things came with the full tide of the springtime—innumerable flowers and voices, the flowers filled with glowing color, the voices with music and delight. Waves of song swept over the limitless meadows. They went on and on as if they traveled a shoreless sea in a steady wind. Bob-whites, meadow-larks, bobolinks, song sparrows, bluebirds, competed with the crowing of the meadow cocks. This joyous tumult around the Traylor cabin sped the day and emphasized the silence of the night.