the aisle, stooped for their bags, came up with flushed face, and
gloated, "Here we are!"
She smiled loyally, and looked away. The train was entering town. The
houses on the outskirts were dusky old red mansions with wooden frills,
or gaunt frame shelters like grocery boxes, or new bungalows with
concrete foundations imitating stone.
Now the train was passing the elevator, the grim storage-tanks for oil,
a creamery, a lumber-yard, a stock-yard muddy and trampled and stinking.
Now they were stopping at a squat red frame station, the platform
crowded with unshaven farmers and with loafers--unadventurous people
with dead eyes. She was here. She could not go on. It was the end--the
end of the world. She sat with closed eyes, longing to push past
Kennicott, hide somewhere in the train, flee on toward the Pacific.
Something large arose in her soul and commanded, "Stop it! Stop being a
whining baby!" She stood up quickly; she said, "Isn't it wonderful to be
here at last!"
He trusted her so. She would make herself like the place. And she was
going to do tremendous things----
She followed Kennicott and the bobbing ends of the two bags which
he carried. They were held back by the slow line of disembarking
passengers. She reminded herself that she was actually at the dramatic
moment of the bride's home-coming. She ought to feel exalted. She felt
nothing at all except irritation at their slow progress toward the door.
Kennicott stooped to peer through the windows. He shyly exulted:
"Look! Look! There's a bunch come down to welcome us! Sam Clark and the
missus and Dave Dyer and Jack Elder, and, yes sir, Harry Haydock and
Juanita, and a whole crowd! I guess they see us now. Yuh, yuh sure, they
see us! See 'em waving!"
She obediently bent her head to look out at them. She had hold of
herself. She was ready to love them. But she was embarrassed by the
heartiness of the cheering group. From the vestibule she waved to them,
but she clung a second to the sleeve of the brakeman who helped her down
to the right of the porch. Window curtains of starched cheap lace
revealing a pink marble table with a conch shell and a Family Bible.
"You'll find it old-fashioned--what do you call it?--Mid-Victorian. I
left it as is, so you could make any changes you felt were necessary."
Kennicott sounded doubtful for the first time since he had come back to
"It's a real home!" She was moved by his humility. She gaily motioned
good-by to the Clarks. He unlocked the door--he was leaving the choice
of a maid to her, and there was no one in the house. She jiggled while
he turned the key, and scampered in. . . . It was next day before either
of them remembered that in their honeymoon camp they had planned that he
should carry her over the sill.
In hallway and front parlor she was conscious of dinginess and
lugubriousness and airlessness, but she insisted, "I'll make it all
jolly." As she followed Kennicott and the bags up to their bedroom she
quavered to herself the song of the fat little-gods of the hearth:
I have my own home,
To do what I please with,
To do what I please with,
My den for me and my mate and my cubs,
She was close in her husband's arms; she clung to him; whatever of
strangeness and slowness and insularity she might find in him, none of
that mattered so long as she could slip her hands beneath his coat, run
her fingers over the warm smoothness of the satin back of his waistcoat,
seem almost to creep into his body, find in him strength, find in the
courage and kindness of her man a shelter from the perplexing world.
"Sweet, so sweet," she whispered.
"THE Clarks have invited some folks to their house to meet us, tonight,"
said Kennicott, as he unpacked his suit-case.
"Oh, that is nice of them!"
"You bet. I told you you'd like 'em. Squarest people on earth. Uh,
Carrie----Would you mind if I sneaked down to the office for an hour,
just to see how things are?"
"Why, no. Of course not. I know you're keen to get back to work."
"Sure you don't mind?"
"Not a bit. Out of my way. Let me unpack."
But the advocate of freedom in marriage was as much disappointed as
a drooping bride at the alacrity with which he took that freedom and
escaped to the world of men's affairs. She gazed about their bedroom,
and its full dismalness crawled over her: the awkward knuckly L-shape
of it; the black walnut bed with apples and spotty pears carved on the