“Does it hurt your feet, Littless?” Nick asked.

“No,” his sister said.

“I came this way on account of the dogs,” Nick said. “They’d shut up as soon as they knew it was us. But somebody might hear them bark.”

“I know,” she said. “And as soon as they shut up afterwards they’d know it was us.”

Ahead they could see the dark of the rising line of hills beyond the road. They came to the end of one cut field of grain and crossed the little sunken creek that ran down to the springhouse. Then they climbed across the rise of another stubble field and there was another rail fence and the sandy road with the second-growth timber solid beyond it.

“Wait till I climb over and I’ll help you,” Nick said. “I want to look at the road.”

From the top of the fence he saw the roll of the country and the dark timber by their own house and the brightness of the lake in the moonlight. Then he was looking at the road.

“They can’t track us the way we’ve come and I don’t think they would notice tracks in this deep sand,” he said to his sister. “We can keep to the two sides of the road if it isn’t too scratchy.”

“Nickie, honestly I don’t think they’re intelligent enough to track anybody. Look how they just waited for you to come back and then practically got drunk before supper and afterwards.”

“They came down to the dock,” Nick said. “That was where I was. If you hadn’t told me they would have picked me up.”

“They didn’t have to be so intelligent to figure you would be on the big creek when our mother let them know you might have gone fishing. After I left they must have found all the boats were there and that would make them think you were fishing the creek. Everybody knows you usually fish below the grist mill and the cider mill. They were just slow thinking it out.”

“All right,” Nick said. “But they were awfully close then.”

His sister handed him the rifle through the fence, butt toward him, and then crawled between the rails. She stood beside him on the road and he put his hand on her head and stroked it.

“Are you awfully tired, Littless?”

“No. I’m fine. I’m too happy to be tired.”

“Until you’re too tired you walk in the sandy part of the road where their horses made holes in the sand. It’s so soft and dry tracks won’t show and I’ll walk on the side where it’s hard.”

“I can walk on the side, too.”

“No. I don’t want you to get scratched.”

They climbed, but with constant small descents, toward the height of land that separated the two lakes. There was close, heavy, second-growth timber on both sides of the road and blackberry and raspberry bushes grew from the edge of the road to the timber. Ahead they could see the top of each hill as a notch in the tim­ber. The moon was well on its way down now.

“How do you feel, Littless?” Nick asked his sister.

“I feel wonderful. Nickie, is it always this nice when you run away from home?”

“No. Usually it’s lonesome.”

“How lonesome have you ever been?”

“Bad black lonesome. Awful.”

“Do you think you’ll get lonesome with me?”


“You don’t mind you’re with me instead of going to Trudy?”

“What do you talk about her for all the time?”

“I haven’t been. Maybe you were thinking about her and you thought I was talking.”

“You’re too smart,” Nick said. “I thought about her because you told me where she was and when I knew where she was I wondered what she would be doing and all that.”

“I guess I shouldn’t have come.”

“I told you that you shouldn’t come.”

“Oh, hell,” his sister said. “Are we going to be like the others and have fights? I’ll go back now. You don’t have to have me.”

“Shut up,” Nick said.

“Please don’t say that, Nickie. I’ll go back or I’ll stay just as you want. I’ll go back whenever you tell me to. But I won’t have fights. Haven’t we seen enough fights in families?”

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest