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      Red 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 sleep.

Absolut Paradigm

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