Three hours later they stopped at
Benmiller, where there was a woollen mill powered by a water wheel beside
a little park. Sid was tied to a tree. Katie took off her shoes and ran
through the grass.
"Oh, it feels good to get those
things off. My feet hurt so. Isn't it good to have it all over, John! I
wonder what Ma is doing now. Pa will be drunk of course; I hope he didn't
offend Mr. Grant. Mrs. Thompson will look after everything. Isn't she
wonderful? When we have our home I want to be just like Mrs. Thompson.
She's so good and she knows everything and she's raised thirteen children,
all smart like herself."
"Katie, I didn't know you wanted
thirteen children. That's going to be hard on me."
"Oh John, aren't you the smarty?
We'll have two or three just to please you."
They sat on a bench and suddenly
turned, grasping each other, a little frightened. A long journey lay
ahead, and each sought reassurance from the other half of their now dual
A refreshed Sid brought them into
Goderich an hour or so later, and they pulled up at the Bedford. Sid went
to the hotel barn for a well-earned rest and a blushing John engaged a
room. In the dining room they were both shy. People were looking at them
and smiling, and there were a lot of small dishes around their plates
holding different things, as well as a lot more spoons, knives, and forks
than they needed.
Afterwards they walked to the lake.
Hand in hand they descended a long wooden stairway lined with sumacs and
sat on the beach. The lake was an old friend, somehow reassuring; the sun
was lowering and a carpet of light led from the sun to their feet.
"See, John, it looks as though we
could walk right out there and go to bed with the sun."
"I think we had better walk back up
those steps and go to bed in the hotel," said John as calmly as he could
As they walked down the strange,
luxurious hall to their room, it was John who was shy.
"Katie," he said desperately, the
sweat breaking out on his forehead, "I want to make you happy. I love you
"Don't worry, man, you will."
She grinned at him and it was the
grin of the twelve-year-old, completely sure of herself.