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A section of real life is not so detached and finished, for the causes and consequences of it reach backward and forward and across the world. Amalia, to whom gifts were rare, was quite beside herself with joy at the daintiness of the treasure. But to have pledged a little sixteen-year-old girl to a mere family friend was unthinkable. They met almost at the edge of the timber where the plowed land began. Even before he had read a word, Matthias knew it contained nothing but disaster. Hundreds of them were seeking their fortune out there. What matter that his uncle expected him to stay and take over the business eventually? This accounted for his restlessness, his vague irritation at everything about the little foundry. If he could but get to this Nebraska City in some way before the wagons! The cracking of the blacksnakes, the stentorian calls of the drivers, the creaking of the wagons, were all the sounds heard as the caravan made slow and tortuous progress toward the ever-receding rim of the world. Charlie Briggs in his loquacious way was recounting much of this to Matthias now, recalling some of the anecdotes concerning slaves that had been brought through this section by way of the underground railroad.For that reason no mere story can ever be complete, no family history contain a beginning or an end. "I shall hold you close then, just as I do now, and say: 'It's spring again, Amalia! Almost were the strange queer shells symbolic to her of things to come,--unknown journeys with Matthias to far-off seas, hearing the sound of wind in whipping sails and the call of the gulls on the sand. Yes, if there was to be a scene, let it come to-day. "You didn't come last Sunday," the boy said in English. For a few moments, then, he stood looking at the neat script, frozen to immobility, too fearful of the contents to read. Night after night they had formed in a wide circle around the fires, their cattle and horses corralled by this human perimeter, more safe from any potential marauder than if left outside of it. The two young men were sitting on deck on the Nebraska side looking shoreward, Charlie Briggs pointing out some distant upstream spot. Charlie Briggs who had known the river since his childhood days shrugged lean muscular shoulders. She may be settin' pretty." And settin' pretty she was.
Matthias uncoiled his long legs from their crowded posture under the high table and swung himself off the stool. I fear for the trouble it will make, but I will stay." "And you do not think it wicked, then, to marry outside the church? As bad any day as a little sand for holdin' you aback. A few hours after that--Nebraska City, there to wait for Amalia.Not that Matthias had time or inclination for any poetic rhapsodies. Most of them had come on the long trek against the desires of their hearts, for always the woman clings longer to the old hearth. Henry Gebhardt had given birth to a child on the way.He merely took in the composite whole with a sensing of the girl's dainty perfection, and the fleeting thought that here was a little Dresden shepherdess. ." she smiled, "beside your kettle." And almost for the first time Matthias gave heed to the fact that the kettle which he had fashioned with such meticulous care hung on three hickory stakes in the clearing with a mound of ashes underneath. Anna Rhodenbach had become betrothed to Adolph Kratz.The hickory and oaks of the virgin timber-land not far away were vaguely responding to the stir of life. All things are as near ready to go as is possible . My father says it is like the German army, each knowing his part and obeying orders instantly." For some time sitting there on the sunken log in the clearing the girl told of the plans for the coming journey. With no word Amalia, trembling, waited for him to come. All our lives we'll live them over and over together . This time he was moved to confide in Charlie Briggs concerning his love for Amalia, his friendship for the young chap having progressed to this point.In the pulpiness of the bog the trailing arbutus would soon be showing its mauve-colored face,--on the hillside a thousand lavender crocuses spring forth to the call of the sun. Matthias, listening and commenting, was disturbed at his own disturbance over the moving. It was not until his arms closed around her and he had kissed her--and even for a long moment afterward--that a word was spoken. " But when he saw how troubled it made her, he drew her to him again with comforting words, calling her his kleine Taube,--"little dove" in the English. Once he even wildly suggested the possible purchase of a horse from some passenger, swim it to shore, there to take to land.The girl, in turn, may have been not unpleased at the appearance of the young foundryman, for Matthias was strong-featured and very good to look upon. one of the several Lutheran families scattered about." Even now "up Plum Creek way," Amalia and her father in the high wagon were lumbering along toward their farm which was the first one just out of the Big Woods on the timber road. But thoughts are acrobats, agile and quite often untrustworthy. I shall be eighteen soon." But the hand of Amalia which had been promised for nearly two years still lay trembling in the hand of Matthias Meier. "Gone with the men to the Nebraska Territory to find suitable holdings for some of our church people. It is said that sometime before many years it may be a state, too, even as Illinois." "Yes, I suppose so." He felt definitely disappointed, vaguely sad that this lovely girl of whom he had thought all week was betrothed. Old Grandpa Schaffer, taken with summer complaint, had died and been buried in eastern Iowa.
But so intent was he just now upon the loveliness of the girl that he found himself staring a little stupidly at the man coming toward him. The journey had taken much of the afternoon, for it lay over prairie and creek-beds, through muddy roads and timber-land, and the horses which they drove were heavy brood mares, their legs large and clumsy and shaggy with hair. Sometimes the father made a gruff comment on the stickiness of the mud, the amount of the last rainfall, or the slowness of the horses. he was pleasant." Her father grunted and said gruffly: "You will do well not to let your thoughts linger on strange young men." Immediately after which he turned toward her so abruptly that she jumped from the sheer fright that, having done this very thing, her thoughts were betraying her. So now, with impish disregard of the command, they hopped about quite easily. As though just now discovering that member's perfidy, she withdrew it suddenly. A door that had so recently opened a bit seemed suddenly shut in his face. But now the endless journey lay behind them,--with the worried forebodings of young Mrs.At once Matthias sprang to the wagon and gave her his hand. Stoltz looked them all over again, craftily, suspiciously, thumping their sides for the answering sound of the metal, and then said suddenly and loudly, as though Matthias might discover his mistake: "This one I take." Matthias looked quickly at the girl and she gave him the ghost of a swiftly mischievous and understanding smile, so that he felt the same headiness of spirit and body which he had experienced before. like a bit of music." And when she smiled up at that, he asked quickly while there was time: "Where do you live? That the fence of the chicken yard was now putting forth faint green shoots did not detract from its utility. There it said river crafts come up from the towns to the south and unload their goods." He unwittingly gave her renewed hope, against which she strove to turn, fearful that it might buoy her up too much and make her suffering more keen when it should come to naught. They were down on the platform-like boat now, Amalia and her father and the one covered wagon with the shaggy-haired team.So daintily small was she that a heady feeling of the strength of his masculinity surged over him as he assisted her to alight in a billowing of skirts. He walked behind her into the dingy room, noting the pretty way she carried her shoulders and held her head. For with no words she was saying: "I am glad it is your kettle." And Matthias was saying: "I made it for you before I had ever seen you." The messages were as plain as spoken language. On a sloping cellar door, scrubbed like a bake-board, sat the milk crocks sweetening in the sunshine. And then suddenly from the top of a rise they saw it,--the River! He was jovial, excited that the Nebraska Territory was in sight,--had almost forgotten his daughter's foolish idea that she had liked the young foundryman. So many trips it would take to get all the colony across the river.He even walked over to the opened door, although it went through his mind at the time that it was rather an undignified procedure to hurry out as though customers were so few and far between that they needed a committee of welcome. They'll be slowed up fit fer goin' crazy, any the time there comes a rain." It drew the two young men together,--Matthias' confidences and worry, and Charlie Briggs' sympathy and encouragement because he had nothing more practical to offer. And now near the Iowa bluffs the overland travelers had broken camp for the last time before they were to sight the Missouri River.A large and sandy-bearded man was swinging himself over the lumber-wagon's wheel preparatory to entering. For who, indeed, would look elsewhere with such a flower-like face before one as that of the girl in the green silk bonnet? Although they were unaware of it at the time, it was, in truth, the beginning of a long friendship interrupted only by death,--a friendship which was rather unexplainable to the casual observer in the later years of their lives when they appeared to have so little in common. The delay was not so long this time, and the second day they were out of the treacherous sucking sands and into deep water, passing a large Indian encampment on the Nebraska side almost at once. Slowly the eleven wagons had crawled up and down the last of the unending Iowa trail.If Matthias Meier, too, vaguely felt the call and the push of the springtime, he was quite unaware of it, and merely checked and figured in the thumb-blackened and well-worn pages of the yellow book. "I have thought of you every moment." His voice shook with emotion. The afternoon slipped away as they talked of this new-old thing that had come to them. It seems that this spring belongs just to us, and to no other," Amalia said once. Charlie Briggs dissuaded him from this, pointing out his lack of knowledge of his surroundings, called to his distracted mind that when they pulled off, which might be any time now, their progress would be better than Matthias' blind ride through an unknown country.