There were teams before and behind us when we came home, late at night, so sleepy that the stars went reeling as we looked at them.
‘This night is the end of many things,’ I remarked.
‘And the beginning of better ones, I hope,’ was her answer.
‘Yes, but they are so far away,’ I said, ’you leave home to study and I am to be four years in college-possibly I can finish in three.’
‘Perfectly terrible!’ she said, and then she added the favourite phrase and tone of her mother: ‘We must be patient.’
‘I am very sorry of one thing,’ I said. ‘What’s that?’
‘I promised not to ask you for one more kiss.’
‘Well then,’ said she, ‘you — you — needn’t ask me.’ And in a moment I helped her out at the door.
David Brower had prospered, as I have said before, and now he was chiefly concerned in the welfare of his children. So, that he might give us the advantages of the town, he decided either to lease or sell his farm- by far the handsomest property in the township. I was there when a buyer came, in the last days of that summer. We took him over the smooth acres from Lone Pine to Woody Ledge, from the top of Bowman’s Hill to Tinkie Brook in the far valley. He went with us through every tidy room of the house. He looked over the stock and the stables.
‘Wall! what’s it wuth?’ he said, at last, as we stood looking down the fair green acres sloping to the sugar bush.
David picked up a stick, opened his knife, and began to whittle thoughtfully, a familiar squint of reflection in his face. I suppose he thought of all it had cost him — the toil of many years, the strength of his young manhood, the youth and beauty of his wife, a hundred things that were far better than money.
‘Fifteen thousan’ dollars,’ he said slowly — ‘not a cent less.’ The man parleyed a little over the price.
‘Don’ care t’ take any less t’day,’ said David calmly. ‘No harm done.’
‘How much down?’
David named the sum.
‘Everything as it stan’s?’
’Everything as it stan’s ‘cept the beds an’ bedding.’
‘Here’s some money on account,’ he said. ‘We’ll close t’morrer?’
‘Close t’morrer,’ said David, a little sadness in his tone, as he took the money.
It was growing dusk as the man went away. The crickets sang with a loud, accusing, clamour. Slowly we turned and went into the dark house, David whistling under his breath. Elizabeth was resting in her chair. She was humming an old hymn as she rocked.
‘Sold the farm, mother,’ said David.
She stopped singing but made no answer. In the dusk, as we sat down, I saw her face leaning upon her hand. Over the hills and out of the fields around us came many voices — the low chant in the stubble, the baying of a hound in the far timber, the cry of the tree toad — a tiny drift of odd things (like that one sees at sea) on the deep eternal silence of the heavens. There was no sound in the room save the low creaking of the rocker in which Elizabeth sat. After all the going, and corning, and doing, and saying of many years here was a little spell of silence and beyond lay the untried things of the future. For me it was a time of reckoning.