The Hidden Children HTML version

Chapter 9. Mid-Summer
Since our arrival from Westchester the weather had been more or less unsettled-- fog,
rain, chilling winds alternating with days of midsummer heat. But now the exhausting
temperature of July remained constant; fiery days of sunshine were succeeded by nights
so hot and suffocating that life seemed well-nigh insupportable under tents or in barracks,
and officers and men, almost naked, lay panting along the river bank through the dreadful
hours of darkness which brought no relief from the fiery furnace of the day.
Schott's riflemen mounted guard stripped to the waist; the Oneidas and Stockbridge
scouts strode about unclothed save for the narrow clout and sporran; and all day and all
night our soldiers splashed in the river where our horses also stood belly deep, heads
hanging, under the willows.
During that brief but scorching period I went to Mrs. Rannock's every evening after dark,
and usually found Lois lying in the open under the stars, the garret being like an oven, so
she said.
Here we had made up our quarrel, and here, on the patch of uncut English grass, we lay
listlessly, speaking only at intervals, gasping for air and coolness, which neither darkness
nor stars had brought to this sun-cursed forest-land.
But for the last two nights I had not found Lois waiting for me, nor did Mrs. Rannock
seem to know whither she had gone, which caused me much uneasiness.
The third evening I went to find her at Mrs. Rannock's before the after-glow had died
from the coppery zenith, and I encountered her moving toward the Spring path, just
entering the massed elder bloom. Her face was dewy with perspiration, pale, and
somewhat haggard.
"Lois, why have you avoided me?" I exclaimed. "All manner of vague forebodings have
assailed me these two days past
"Listen to this silly lad!" she said impatiently. "As though a few hours' absence lessen
loyalty and devotion!"
"But where have you been?"
"Where I may not take you, Euan."
"And where is that?" I asked bluntly.