Hope returned for a few days late in August. Invitations were just issued for the harvest dance at Rickard’s.
‘You mus’ take ‘er,’ said Uncle Eb, the day she came. ’She’s a purty dancer as a man ever see. Prance right up an’ tell ‘er she mus’ go. Don’ want ‘O let anyone git ahead O’ ye.’
‘Of course I will go,’ she said in answer to my invitation, ’I shouldn’t think you were a beau worth having if you did not ask me.’
The yellow moon was peering over Woody Ledge when we went away that evening. I knew it was our last pleasure seeking in Faraway, and the crickets in the stubble filled the silence with a kind of mourning.
She looked so fine in her big hat and new gown with its many dainty accessories of lace and ribbon, adjusted with so much patting and pulling, that as she sat beside me, I hardly dared touch her for fear of spoiling something. When she shivered a little and said it was growing cool I put my arm about her, and, as I drew her closer to my side, she turned her hat, obligingly, and said it was a great nuisance.
I tried to kiss her then, but she put her hand over my mouth and said, sweetly, that I would spoil everything if I did that.
‘I must not let you kiss me, William,’ she said, ’not — not for all in the world. I’m sure you wouldn’t have me do what I think is wrong - would you?’
There was but one answer to such an appeal, and I made myself as happy as possible feeling her head upon my shoulder and her soft hair touching my cheek. As I think of it now the trust she put in me was something sublime and holy.
‘Then I shall talk about — about our love,’ I said, ’I must do something.’
‘Promised I wouldn’t let you,’ she said. Then she added after a moment of silence, ’I’ll tell you what you may do — tell me what is your ideal in a woman — the one you would love best of all. I don’t think that would be wicked — do you?’
‘I think God would forgive that,’ I said. ’She must be tall and slim, with dainty feet and hands, and a pair of big eyes, blue as a violet, shaded with long dark lashes. And her hair must be wavy and light with a little tinge of gold in it. And her cheek must have the pink of the rose and dimples that show in laughter. And her voice — that must have music in it and the ring of kindness and good-nature. And her lips — let them show the crimson of her blood and be ready to give and receive a kiss when I meet her.’
She sighed and nestled closer to me.
‘If I let you kiss me just once,’ she whispered, ’you will not ask me again — will you?’
‘No, sweetheart, I will not,’ I answered. Then we gave each other such a kiss as may be known once and only once in a lifetime.
‘What would you do for the love of a girl like that?’ she whispered.
I thought a moment, sounding depths of undiscovered woe to see if there were anything I should hesitate to suffer and there was nothing.