On her way home again she gathered blood-red tomatoes; and finding a wild apple tree, she added its green fruit to what she already held gathered in the skirt of her gown; starvation at least was not a near enemy.
She had made her investigation calmly, and with a light heart; she felt sure that Bart had grown better and stronger during the day, and that was all that she cared about. She never paused to ask herself why his recovery was not merely a humane interest but such a satisfying joy. The knowledge of her present remoteness from all distresses of her life as a daughter and sister came to her with a wonderful sense of rest, and opened her mind to the sweet influences of the summer night and its stars as that mind had never been opened before.
She cooked the apples and tomatoes, making quite a good meal for herself. Then she roused Bart, and gave him part of the cooked fruit.
The darkness closed in about eight o’clock. Ann sat on the doorstep watching the lights in the sky shine out one by one. Last night had been the only night which had ever possessed terrors for her, and now that she believed her father to be still alive she thought no longer with any horror of his apparition. She wondered where he was wandering, but her heart hardened towards him. She rested and dozed by turns upon the doorstep until about midnight. Then in the darkness she heard a voice from the bracken couch that assured her that Bart’s mind had come back to him again.
“Who is there?” he asked.
“I am going to give you something to eat,” she said, letting her voice speak her name.
“Is it very dark?” he asked, “or am I blind?”
“You can see right enough, Bart,” she said gently; “you can watch me kindle the fire.”
She left the door of the stove open while the spruce twigs were crackling, and in the red, uncertain, dancing light he caught glimpses of the room in which he was, and of her figure, but the fire died down very quickly again.
“I was thinking, Ann,” he said slowly, “that it was a pity for Christa to be kept from dancing. She is young and light on her feet. God must have made her to dance.”