Marie headed toward the creek, intent on dipping up a handful of water to cool her face. Her cheeks still burned from the encounter with her pa, and she didn't want Ma asking uncomfortable questions.
"Drat Pa anyway," she muttered, head down as she tromped along the bank to her favorite place. "Why does he meddle so?" She started to gather her skirts to kneel in the grass.
"Marie? What's wrong, sweetie?"
Marie dropped her dress and looked toward the origin of the familiar voice. Yes, it was Ellen, standing on the opposite side of the creek. What was she doing here? She should be in her cabin, tending to Carl.
"I--" She brushed at one cheek, feeling for heat. Perhaps her blush had faded. "I've been out riding," she said, in case it hadn't. "I thought you'd be up yonder." She gestured toward the forested bench where Carl had built his new home.
Ellen's chuckle surprised Marie, but she tried to hide her expression by rubbing her forehead.
"I can't be there all day and night. We needed water, and I wanted a stroll, besides."
"Ain't newlyweds supposed to stay indoors? Most all the ones I've known went away and I didn't see them for a long time after the weddin'."
"It's a tiny mite different when the groom is laid up with a horrid wound," Ellen, said, but there was no hint of self-pity in her tone.
In fact, Marie detected laughter underneath the grim words. "What's funny?" she demanded to know. "You're all sunshiny for a bride in such a circumstance."
Ellen laughed out loud. "I like being married," she said, once she had regained composure. "I like bein' Carl's wife. He's cheerful, and he's funny, and he loves me to pieces." She wrapped her arms around herself, smiling.
Marie frowned, and thought, Will Tom Morgan ever make me feel that way? A shiver ran through her body, top to toe. She hugged herself then, feeling alienated from her friend by her discouragement.
Ellen noticed Marie's movement and laughed again. "Look at us," she said, "a pair of sillies a-huggin' on ourselves."What's your favorite expression of joy in a novel? Did you write it? If not, who did?