by DiVoran Lites
Chapter Fifty Seven
The Final Chapter
After supper, Ellie changed into work shoes so she could help clean the kitchen. She then walked out the back door to breathe some cool air. The moon spread its light over the fence, the barn, and the mountains. She should have been exhausted after all the excitement of the past few days, but at first, she felt exhilarated and restless. She was glad she and Aldon weren’t enemies anymore, but now they would go their separate ways, she with her grandparents and he to take over Bill’s job in Hollywoodland so he could send money home. She knew, though that he was excited about working with horses. A sense of loss washed over her. What could life possibly be without Aldon? The answer came: without Aldon, life was nothing.
“How about a ride in the moonlight?” Aldon came out of the house pulling the screen door closed behind him.
“I’d be delighted,” she said forcing herself to sound cheerful. If these were their last moments together, she wanted him to remember her as a strong woman, not a fussy feminine chit who could cry and embarrass him.
In the barn, they saddled Chief and Summer and decided to allow Sunrise to follow along. No need in leaving him so that he would whinny for the rest of the evening calling the mare.
Ellie knew that if she didn’t go back inside and change, she’d have to ride in her chiffon dress. If, however, she left Aldon waiting while she changed, someone else would come along and claim his attention.
He cupped his hands so she could use them as a stirrup. He boosted her into the saddle. As she settled in she pulled her skirt down so he wouldn’t see her knees, but then a heady surge of freedom replaced her embarrassment. So what if Aldon saw her knees?
Ellie had no idea where they were heading as they rode upward. She just wanted to be with Aldon. When the road became a trail, she fell back and let him take the lead. Looking at his straight back in the moonlight she gave a sigh of thanksgiving. If there was ever anyone, anywhere, that she wanted to be friends with, it was Aldon.
At the beginning of the trail that led to the warm spring, Ellie pulled back on Summer’s reins and the horse paused. “This is where we got kidnapped,” Ellie said
Aldon half turned in the saddle to look back at her. He locked his eyes with hers. “That’s all over. You’re with me now
She tapped the mare’s belly with her heels. Yes, she knew she was safe with Aldon. He’d protect her with everything he had in him. When they arrived at the pond, the well-trained horses waited for the couple to dismount before they began to graze.
“Do you ever feel sorry for horses not being able to lie down to sleep?” She asked dropping the reins in order to “ground-tie” the mare and dismounting.
“I never thought about it,” Aldon said as they approached a fall of boulders at the edge of the spring. “Their knees lock, you know, to keep them upright. Would you like to dangle your toes in the spring?”
“Oh, yes,” said she. “I’ve heard so much about it. I’ve never been in a warm spring before. I always love the water.”
Aldon steadied her as she sank onto a big rock then he knelt to remove her shoes. He looked at her silk stockings as if he didn’t know what to do with them. Not at all shy, which surprised her, she reached under the skirt to release the garter tabs and showed him how to roll the stockings down. He finished the first one, pulling it off her foot, and he stuck the roll into his shirt pocket. She could see that her feet looked pale in the bright moonlight.
“Your feet,” he said taking one in both hands. “They’re so beautiful.” He lowered his head and kissed the top of it. His eyelashes tickled and she sighed. When he looked up at her, the reflection of the moon caught in his eyes and gave them a shine like that of a sweet and vulnerable child’s.
“Oh,” she thought. “He truly loves me. He loves me as much as I love him.” Warmth spread through her entire body as peace filled her soul. She sighed.
He drew her to her feet and lifted her so he could carry her. Her arms slid around his neck as she snuggled against him with her head on his shoulder. Heedless of his boots, he walked into the water. It soon crept as high as her waist. She was bathed in joy. From somewhere she thought she heard a melody. Overhead, the stars swirled like dancing angels.
“Ellie, Honey,” he said, his deep voice resonating in her ear. “Do you know that I love you more than life?”
“I know,” she answered breathless. “I’m so glad.”
“Why?” He asked.
“What do you love about me?” she questioned him ignoring the fact that he had asked first.
“Your eyes, your hair, your long slender limbs, your smile, your sweetness, your sense of humor, your excellence in everything you do, your kindness, your courtesy, your willingness to be a servant to all”
“Stop!” She said, laughing. “That’s enough!”
“But none of that matters. It’s you I love and always will, no matter what.”
“How do you know?” she asked charmed and receptive.
“It’s the way I’m made. Good old Aldon, steady as a plow horse, sets his mind to something, goes straight at it, and keeps plowing until his days come to an end… until death do us part.”
“Maybe we’ll never die,” she said.
“My love for you will never die, because God put it in my heart. He wants you to be my mate for life. Would you consider that, big-city girl? I don’t have a lot of this world’s goods to offer, but I know I can make you happy.”
“Yes, I would consider it.” She pondered, holding her breath. She then made him wait while she counted to ten. “Yes, I’ve considered–I will be your mate for life.”
“Yippee-e-e,” his voice rose into a triumphal yell that echoed off the boulders. They had come to a deep place in the pond and Ellie felt her body grow light as if she would float right out of his arms. Aldon stepped into a hole and began to sink. There was nothing either of them could do, he lowered her into the water in time for her to stand on the bottom. He bent his head. She lifted her face to his. His mouth touched hers. They stood immersed in each other until her whole body was tingling. She wished he could hold her like this forever. She opened her eyes and saw over his shoulder that cloud sized green lights waved above the peaks. She had heard that sometimes the Arora Borealis could be seen from the pond. It was the seal of God’s love and approval on their approaching union.
The same Sunday, Pastor Rudd performed the marriage ceremony in the church in town. The entire community attended. The bride wore a creamy satin dress decorated in imported lace loaned to her by her employer. She carried a small Bible borrowed from her mother. A silver dollar nestled in her pocket, and tiny, blue ribbon- rosettes held her veil at her temples. The groom wore a Western suit and a new pair of tooled boots that Ellie’s grandfather had brought from the store in Chicago.
On Monday they loaded their horses in the train and began the long journey to California, making plans as they went. Ellie knew that her family would soon follow, but they would buy a place nearby so they could still be a family.