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26. CHAPTER XXVI
CAROL'S liveliest interest was in her walks with the baby. Hugh wanted to know what the box-elder tree said, and what the Ford garage said, and what the big cloud said, and she told him, with a feeling that she was not in the least making up stories, but discovering the souls of things. They had an especial fondness for the hitching-post in front of the mill. It was a brown post, stout and agreeable; the smooth leg of it held the sunlight, while its neck, grooved by hitching-straps, tickled one's fingers. Carol had never been awake to the earth except as a show of changing color and great satisfying masses; she had lived in people and in ideas about having ideas; but Hugh's questions made her attentive to the comedies of sparrows, robins, blue jays, yellowhammers; she regained her pleasure in the arching flight of swallows, and added to it a solicitude about their nests and family squabbles.
She forgot her seasons of boredom. She said to Hugh, "We're two fat disreputable old minstrels roaming round the world," and he echoed her, "Roamin' round--roamin' round."
The high adventure, the secret place to which they both fled joyously, was the house of Miles and Bea and Olaf Bjornstam.
Kennicott steadily disapproved of the Bjornstams. He protested, "What do you want to talk to that crank for?" He hinted that a former "Swede hired girl" was low company for the son of Dr. Will Kennicott. She did not explain. She did not quite understand it herself; did not know that in the Bjornstams she found her friends, her club, her sympathy and her ration of blessed cynicism. For a time the gossip of Juanita Haydock and the Jolly Seventeen had been a refuge from the droning of Aunt Bessie, but the relief had not continued. The young matrons made her nervous. They talked so loud, always so loud. They filled a room with clashing cackle; their jests and gags they repeated nine times over. Unconsciously, she had discarded the Jolly Seventeen, Guy Pollock, Vida, and every one save Mrs. Dr. Westlake and the friends whom she did not clearly know as friends--the Bjornstams.
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