“Of course you didn’t.”
“I never even thought about it.”
No, he thought. You never even thought about it. Only all day and all night. But you mustn’t think about it in front of her because she can feel it because she is your sister and you love each other.
“Are you hungry, Littless?”
“Eat some of the hard chocolate and I’ll get some fresh water from the spring.”
“I don’t have to have anything.”
They looked across to where the big white clouds of the eleven o’clock breeze were coming up over the blue hills beyond the swamp. The sky was a high clear blue and the clouds came up white and detached themselves from behind the hills and moved high in the sky as the breeze freshened and the shadows of the clouds moved over the swamp and across the hillside. The wind blew in the trees now and was cool as they lay in the shade. The water from the spring was cold and fresh in the tin pail and the chocolate was not quite bitter but was hard and crunched as they chewed it.
“It’s as good as the water in the spring where we were when we first saw them,” his sister said. “It tastes even better after the chocolate.”
“We can cook if you’re hungry.”
“I’m not if you’re not.”
“I’m always hungry. I was a fool not to go on and get the berries.”
“No. You came back to find out.”
“Look, Littless. I know a place back by the slashing we came through where we can get berries. I’ll cache everything and we can go in there through the timber all the way and pick a couple of pails full and then we’ll have them ahead for tomorrow. It isn’t a bad walk.”
“All right. But I’m fine.”
“Aren’t you hungry?”
“No. Not at all now after the chocolate. I’d love to just stay and read. We had a nice walk when we were hunting.”
“All right,” Nick said. “Are you tired from yesterday?”
“Maybe a little.”
“We’ll take it easy. I’ll read Wuthering Heights.”
“Is it too old to read out loud to me?”
“Will you read it?”
Crossing the Mississippi
The Kansas City train stopped at a siding just east of the Mississippi River and Nick looked out at the road that was half a foot deep with dust. There was nothing in sight but the road and a few dust-grayed trees. A wagon lurched along through the ruts, the driver slouching with the jolts of his spring seat and letting the reigns hang slack on the horses’ backs.
Nick looked at the wagon and wondered where it was going, whether the driver lived near the Mississippi and whether he ever went fishing. The wagon lurched out of sight up the road and Nick thought of the World Series game going on in New York. He thought of Happy Felsch’s home run in the first game he had watched at the White Sox Park, Slim Solee swinging far forward, his knees nearly touching the ground and the white dot of the ball on its far trajectory toward the green fence at center field, Felsch, his head down, tearing for the stuffed white square at first base and then the exulting roar from the spectators as the ball landed in a knot of scrambling fans in the open bleachers.
As the train started and the dusty trees and brown road commenced to move past, the magazine vendor came swaying down the aisle.
“Got any dope on the Series?” Nick asked him.
“White Sox won the final game,” the news butcher answered, making his way down the aisle of the chair car with the sea-legs roll of a sailor. His answer gave Nick a comfortable glow. The White Sox had licked them. It was a fine feeling. Nick opened his Saturday Evening Post and commenced reading, occasionally looking out of the window to watch for any glimpse of the Mississippi. Crossing the Mississippi would be a big event he thought, and he wanted to enjoy every minute of it.
The scenery seemed to flow past in a stream of road, telegraph poles, occasional houses and flat brown fields. Nick had expected bluffs for the Mississippi shore but finally, after an endless seeming bayou had poured past the window, he could see out of the window the engine of the train curving out onto a long bridge above a broad, muddy brown stretch of water. Desolate hills were on the far side that Nick could now see and on the near side a flat mud bank. The river seemed to move solidly downstream, not to flow but to move like a solid, shifting lake, swirling a little where the abutments of the bridge jutted out. Mark Twain, Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, and LaSalle crowded each other in Nick’s mind as he looked up the flat, brown plain of slow-moving water. Anyhow I’ve seen the Mississippi, he thought happily to himself.