and Elisa had grown to be a good couple. He had shown her the docks and the
riverboats and the hidden beauty he found there. She had shown him the arts
and society. They were opposites in many ways, but were perfect together. Her
father had disapproved of Red because his father had been a riverboat captain
and all Red had known was the docks. He was not of the stock that he had desired
for his daughter.
Then Elisa had convinced Red to quit working
around the docks and had talked her father into giving Red a job as an accountant's
assistant. He had proved himself at the task and gained her father's grudging
approval. Uncle Orrin and the men on the docks at first had teased him that
she would spend him broke. On one occasion, when Elisa had gone with him to
the docks, she had shown Uncle Orrin and the rest of them that she was willing
to get her hands dirty and that she had some sense. None of the boys down at
the docks had ever teased him about her again and Uncle Orrin would smile approvingly
when Red had talked about her.
As he drifted off to sleep under the stars,
Red missed Elisa, but Uncle Orrin had told him that he had to leave and that
he would never be able to come back, but Red just had to. He and Elisa were
to have been married come winter, but now that was impossible. He would go to
California and make a name for himself, so he could return to St. Louis and
take her hand in marriage. As he reaffirmed that he would return to Elisa, he
thought he saw Elisa's face in the stars twinkle and smile just before it disappeared.
Red awoke the next morning feeling unrefreshed.
He had dreamt that same disturbing dream all night. He prepared his morning
meal while fighting a sense of loss and, this time, guilt as well and he still
didn't understand why. His failed efforts to remember the dream added frustration
to the other emotions, so he set off in a foul mood. He brooded for most of
the morning until the open landscape and the cloudless sky broke in his thoughts
and lifted his spirits somewhat.
However, Red couldn't shake a feeling
of foreboding. He decided to turn north and cross the Colorado River north of
Mojave Villages. He passed the rest of the day quietly, but did manage to kill
a couple of rabbits. When he stopped to make camp for the night, the feeling
of foreboding was overwhelming. He cooked and ate dinner then went to go to