Part 7 out of 9
could find father; I knew what to do, and how to do it, but
because of that about God, I was so excited I made a mistake. I
never took his hat, or offered him a chair; I just bolted into
the dining-room, looking for father or mother, and left the door
wide open, so he thought that wasn't the place to sit, because I
didn't give him a chair, and he followed me. The instant I saw
mother's face, I knew what I had done. The dining-room was no
place for particular company like him, and bringing him in that
way didn't give her time to smooth her hair, pull shut her dress
band at the neck, put on her collar, and shiny goldstone pin, her
white apron, and rub her little flannel rag, with rice flour on
it, on her nose to take away the shine. I had made a mess of it.
There she came right in the door, just as she was from the tub.
Her hair was damp and crinkled around her face, her neckband had
been close in stooping, so she had unfastened it, and tucked it
back in a little V-shaped place to give her room and air. Her
cheeks were pink, her eyes bright, her lips red as a girl's, and
her neck was soft and white. The V-shaped place showed a little
spot like baby skin, right where her neck went into her chest.
Sure as father kissed her lips, he always tipped back her head,
bent lower and kissed that spot too. I had seen hundreds of them
go there, and I had tried it myself, lots of times, and it WAS
the sweetest place. Seeing what I had done, I stopped
breathless. You have to beat most everything you teach a child
right into it properly to keep it from making such a botch of
things as that. I hardly dared to peep at mother, but when I
did, she took my breath worse than the mistake I had made.
Caught, she stood her ground. She never paused a second.
Straight to him she went, holding out her hand, and I could see
that it was red and warm from pressing the lace in the hot suds.
A something flashed over her, that made her more beautiful than
she was in her silk dress going to town to help Lucy give a
party, and her voice was sweet as the bubbling warbler on the
garden fence when he was trying to coax a mate into the privet
bush to nest.
Mother asked him to be seated, so he took one of the chairs
nearest him, and sat holding his hat in one hand, his whip in the
other. Mother drew a chair beside the dining table, dropped her
hands on each other, and looking in his eyes, she smiled at him.
I tell the same thing over about people's looks, but I haven't
told of this smile of mother's; because I never saw exactly how
it was, or what it would do to people, until that morning. Then
as I watched her--for how she felt decided what would happen to
me, after Mr. Pryor was gone I saw something I never had noticed
until that minute. She could laugh all over her face, before her
lips parted until her teeth showed. She was doing it now. With
a wide smile running from cheek to cheek, pushing up a big dimple
at each end, her lips barely touching, her eyes dancing, she sat
looking at him.
"This IS the most blessed season for warming up the heart," she
said. "If you want the half of my kingdom, ask quickly. I'm in
the mood to bestow it."
How she laughed! He just had to loosen up a little, and smile
back, even though it looked pretty stiff.
"Well, I'll not tax you so far," he said. "I only want Mr.
"But he is the whole of the kingdom, and the King to boot!" she
laughed, dimpled, and flamed redder.
Mr. Pryor stared at her wonderingly. You could even see the
wonder, like it was something you could take hold of. I suppose
he wondered what could make a woman so happy, like that.
"Lucky man!" he said. "All of us are not so fortunate."
"Then it must be you don't covet the place or the title," said
mother more soberly. "Any woman will crown the man she marries,
if he will allow her. Paul went farther. He compelled it."
"I wonder how!" said Mr. Pryor, his eyes steadily watching
"By never failing in a million little things, that taken as a
whole, make up one mighty big thing, on which he stands like the
Rock of Ages."
"Yet they tell me that you are the mother of twelve children," he
said, as if he marvelled at something.
"Yes!" cried mother, and the word broke right through a bubbling
laugh. "Am I not fortunate above most women? We had the grief
to lose two little daughters at the ages of eight and nine, all
the others I have, and I rejoice in them."
She reached out, laid a hand on me, drew me to her, and lightly
touched my arm, sending my spirits sky-high. She wasn't going to
do a thing to me, not even scold! Mr. Pryor stared at her like
Jacob Hood does at Laddie when he begins rolling Greek before
him, so I guess what mother said must have been Greek to Mr.
"I came to see Mr. Stanton," he said suddenly, and crosslike as
if he didn't believe a word she said, and had decided she was too
foolish to bother with any longer; but he kept on staring. He
couldn't quit that, no matter how cross he was. The funniest
thing came into my mind. I wondered what on earth he'd have done
if she'd gone over, sat on his lap, put her arms around his neck,
took his face between her hands and kissed his forehead, eyes,
lips, and tousled his hair, like she does father and our boys.
I'll bet all I got, he'd have turned to stonier stone than
Sabethany. You could see that no one ever served HIM like that
in all his old, cold, hard, cross, mysterious, shut-in life. I
was crazy to ask, "Say, did anybody ever kiss you?" but I had
such a close escape bringing him in wrong, I thought it would be
wise not to take any risks so soon after. It was enough to stand
beside mother, and hear every word they said. What was more, she
wanted me, because she kept her hand on mine, or touched my apron
every little while.
"I'm so sorry!" she said. "He was called to town on business.
The County Commissioners are sitting to-day."
"They are deciding about the Groveville bridge, and pike?"
"Yes. He is working so hard for them."
"The devil you say! I beg pardon! But it was about that I came.
I'm three miles from there, and I'm taxed over sixty pounds for
"But you cross the bridge every time you go to town, and travel
the road. Groveville is quite a resort on account of the water
and lovely country. Paul is very anxious to have the work
completed before the summer boarders come from surrounding
cities. We are even farther from it than you; but it will cost
us as much."
"Are you insane?" cried Mr. Pryor, not at all politely; but you
could see that mother was bound she wouldn't become provoked
about anything, for she never stopped a steady beam on him.
"Spend all that money for strangers to lazy around on a few weeks
and then go!"
"But a good bridge and fine road will add to their pleasure, and
when they leave, the improvements remain. They will benefit us
and our children through all the years to come."
"Talk about `the land of the free'!" cried Mr. Pryor. "This is a
tax-ridden nation. It's a beastly outrage! Ever since I came,
it's been nothing but notice of one assessment after another. I
won't pay it! I won't endure it. I'll move!"
Mother let go of me, gripped her hands pretty tight together on
the table, and she began to talk.
"As for freedom--no man ever was, or is, or will be free," she
said, quite as forcibly as he could speak. "You probably knew
when you came here that you would find a land tax-ridden from a
great civil war of years' duration, and from newness of vast
territory to be opened up and improved. You certainly studied
"`Studied the situation'!" His whip beat across his knee.
"`Studied the situation'! My leaving England was--er--the result
of intolerable conditions there--in the nature of flight from
things not to be endured. I had only a vague idea of the
"If England is intolerable, and the United States an outrage, I
don't know where in this world you'll go," said mother softly.
Mr. Pryor stared at her sharply.
"Madame is pleased to be facetious," he said sneeringly.
Mother's hands parted, and one of them stretched across the table
"Forgive me!" she cried. "That was unkind. I know you are in
dreadful trouble. I'd give--I'd almost give this right hand to
comfort you. I'd do nearly anything to make you feel that you
need bear no burden alone; that we'd love to help support you."
"I believe you would," he said slowly, his eyes watching her
again. "I believe you would. I wonder why!"
"All men are brothers, in the broader sense," said mother, "and
if you'll forgive me, your face bears marks of suffering almost
amounting to torture."
She stretched out the other hand.
"You couldn't possibly let us help you?"
Slowly he shook his head.
"Think again!" urged mother. "A trouble shared is half over to
start with. You lay a part of it on your neighbours, and your
neighbours in this case would be glad, glad indeed, to see you
care-free and happy as all men should be."
"We'll not discuss it," he said. "You can't possibly imagine the
root of my trouble."
"I shan't try!" said mother. "But let me tell you this: I don't
care if you have betrayed your country, blasphemed your God, or
killed your own child! So long, as you're a living man, daily a
picture of suffering before me, you're a burden on my heart.
You're a load on my shoulders, without your consent. I have
implored God, I shall never cease to implore Him, until your brow
clears, your head is lifted, and your heart is at rest. You
can't prevent me! This hour I shall go to my closet and beg Him
to have mercy on your poor soul, and when His time comes, He
will. You can't help yourself, or you would have done so, long
ago. You must accept aid! This must end, or there will be
tragedy in your house."
"Madame, there has been!" said Mr. Pryor, shaking as he sat.
"I recognize that," said mother. "The question is whether what
has passed is not enough."
"You simply cannot understand!" he said.
"Mr. Pryor," she said, "you're in the position of a man doubly
bereft. You are without a country, and without a God. Your face
tells every passer-by how you are enjoying that kind of life.
Forgive me, if I speak plainly. I admire some things about you
so much, I am venturing positive unkindness to try to make you
see that in shutting out your neighbours you will surely make
them think more, and worse things, than are true. I haven't a
doubt in my mind but that your trouble is not one half so
dreadful as you imagine while brooding over it. We will pass
that. Let me tell you how we feel about this road matter. You
see we did our courting in Pennsylvania, married and tried Ohio,
and then came on here. We took this land when it was mostly
woods. I could point you to the exact spot where we stopped; we
visited it yesterday, looked down the hill and selected the place
where we would set this house, when we could afford to build it.
We moved into the cabin that was on the land first, later built a
larger one, and finally this home as we had planned it. Every
fruit tree, bush, vine, and flower we planted. Here our children
have been born, lived, loved, and left us; some for the graveyard
down yonder, some for homes of their own. Always we have planned
and striven to transform this into the dearest, the most
beautiful spot on earth. In making our home the best we can, in
improving our township, county, and state, we are doing our share
toward upbuilding this nation."
She began at the a b c's, and gave it to him straight: the whole
thing, just as we saw it; and he listened, as if he were a
prisoner, and she a judge telling him what he must do to gain his
freedom. She put in the birds to keep away the worms, the trees
to break the wind, the creeks to save the moisture. She whanged
him, and she banged him, up one side, and down the other. She
didn't stop to be mincy. She shot things at him like a man
talking to another man who had plenty of sense but not a particle
of reason. She gave him the reason. She told him exactly why,
and how, and where, and also just WHAT he must do to feel RIGHT
toward his neighbours, his family, and his God. No preacher ever
talked half so well. Yea verily, she was as interesting as the
Bishop himself, and far pleasanter to look at. When she ran
short of breath, and out of words, she reached both hands toward
"OH DO PLEASE THINK OF THESE THINGS!" she begged. "Do try to
believe that I am a sensible person, and know what I am talking
"Madame," said Mr. Pryor, "there's no doubt in my mind but you
are the most wonderful woman I ever have met. Surely I believe
you! Surely I know your plan of life is the true, the only right
way. It is one degree added to my humiliation that the ban I am
under keeps me from friendly intercourse with so great a lady."
"`Lady'?" said my mother, her eyes widening. "`Lady'? Now it is
you who are amused."
"I don't understand!" he said. "Certainly you are a lady, a very
"Goodness, gracious me!" cried my mother, laughing until her
dimples would have held water. "That's the first time in all my
life I was ever accused of such a thing."
"Again, I do not comprehend," said Mr. Pryor, as if vexed about
all he would endure.
Mother laughed on, and as she did so she drew back her hands and
studied them. Then she looked at him again, one pink dimple
flashing here and there, all over her face.
"Well, to begin at the root of the matter," she said, "that is an
enormous big word that you are using lightly. Any one in
petticoats is not a lady--by no means! A lady must be born of
unsullied blood for at least three generations, on each side of
her house. Think for a minute about where you are going to
fulfil that condition. Then she must be gentle by nature, and
rearing. She must know all there is to learn from books, have
wide experience to cover all emergencies, she must be steeped in
social graces, and diplomatic by nature. She must rise unruffled
to any emergency, never wound, never offend, always help and
heal, she must be perfect in deportment, virtue, wifehood and
motherhood. She must be graceful, pleasing and beautiful. She
must have much leisure to perfect herself in learning, graces and
"Madame, you draw an impossible picture!" cried Mr. Pryor.
"I draw the picture of the only woman on earth truly entitled to
be called a lady. You use a good word lightly. I have told you
what it takes to make a lady--now look at me!"
How she laughed! Mr. Pryor looked, but he didn't laugh.
"More than ever you convince me that you are a lady, indeed," he
Mother wiped her eyes.
"My dear man!" she cried, "I'm the daughter of a Dutch miller,
who lived on a Pennsylvania mountain stream. There never was a
school anywhere near us, and father and mother only taught us to
work. Paul Stanton took a grist there, and saw me. He married
me, and brought me here. He taught me to read and write. I
learned my lessons with my elder children. He has always kept
school in our house, every night of his life. Our children
supposed it was for them; I knew it was quite as much for me.
While I sat at knitting or sewing, I spelled over the words he
gave out. I know nothing of my ancestors, save that they came
from the lowlands of Holland, down where there were cities,
schools, and business. They were well educated, but they would
not take the trouble to teach their children. As I have spoken
to you, my husband taught me. All I know I learn from him, from
what he reads aloud, and places he takes me. I exist in a
twenty-mile radius, but through him, I know all lands,
principalities and kingdoms, peoples and customs. I need never
be ashamed to go, or afraid to speak, anywhere."
"Indeed not!" cried Mr. Pryor.
"But when you think on the essentials of a real lady--and then
picture me patching, with a First Reader propped before me;
facing Indians, Gypsies, wild animals--and they used to be bad
enough--why, I mind one time in Ohio when our first baby was only
able to stand beside a chair, and through the rough puncheon
floor a copperhead stuck up its gleam of bronzy gold, and shot
its darting tongue within a foot of her bare leg. By all
accounts, a lady would have reached for her smelling salts and
gracefully fainted away; in fact, a lady never would have been in
such a place at all. It was my job to throw the first thing I
could lay my hands on so straight and true that I would break
that snake's neck, and send its deadly fangs away from my baby.
I did it with Paul's plane, and neatly too! Then I had to put
the baby on the bed and tear up every piece of the floor to see
that the snake had not a mate in hiding there, for copperheads at
that season were going pairs. Once I was driven to face a big
squaw, and threatened the life of her baby with a red-hot poker
while she menaced mine with a hunting knife. There is not one
cold, rough, hard experience of pioneer life that I have not
endured. Shoulder to shoulder, and heart to heart, I've stood
beside my man, and done what had to be done, to build this home,
rear our children, save our property. Many's the night I have
shivered in a barn doctoring sick cattle and horses we could ill
afford to lose. Time and again I have hung on and brought things
out alive, after the men gave up and quit. A lady? How funny!"
"The amusement is all on your part, Madame."
"So it seems!" said mother. "But you see, I know so well how
ridiculous it is. When I think of the life a woman must lead in
order to be truly a lady, when I review the life I have been
forced to live to do my share in making this home, and rearing
these children, the contrast is too great. I thank God for any
part I have been able to take. Had I life to live over, I see
now where I could do more; but neighbour, believe me, my highest
aspiration is to be a clean, thrifty housekeeper, a bountiful
cook, a faithful wife, a sympathetic mother. That is life work
for any woman, and to be a good woman is the greatest thing on
earth. Never mind about the ladies; if you can honestly say of
me, she is a good woman, you have paid me the highest possible
"I have nothing to change, in the face of your argument," said
Mr. Pryor. "Our loved Queen on her throne is no finer lady."
That time mother didn't laugh. She looked straight at him a
minute and then she said: "Well, for an Englishman, as I know
them, you have said the last word. Higher praise there is none.
But believe me, I make no such claim. To be a good wife and
mother is the end toward which I aspire. To hold the respect and
love of my husband is the greatest object of my life."
"Then you have succeeded. You stand a monument to wifehood; your
children prove your idea of motherhood," said Mr. Pryor. "How in
this world have you managed it? The members of your family whom
I have seen are fine, interesting men and women, educated above
the average. It is not idle curiosity. I am deeply interested
in knowing how such an end came to be accomplished here on this
farm. I wish you would tell me just how you have gone about
schooling your children."
"By educating ourselves before their coming, and with them
afterward. Self-control, study, work, joy of life, satisfaction
with what we have had, never-ending strife to go higher, and to
do better--Dr. Fenner laughs when I talk of these things. He
says he can take a little naked Hottentot from the jungle, and
educate it to the same degree that I can one of mine. I don't
know; but if these things do not help before birth, at least they
do not hinder; and afterward, you are in the groove in which you
want your children to run. With all our twelve there never has
been one who at nine months of age did not stop crying if its
father lifted his finger, or tapped his foot and told it to.
From the start we have rigorously guarded our speech and actions
before them. From the first tiny baby my husband has taught all
of them to read, write and cipher some, before they went to
school at all. He is always watching, observing, studying: the
earth, the stars, growing things; he never comes to a meal but he
has seen something that he has or will study out for all of us.
There never has been one day in our home on which he did not read
a new interesting article from book or paper; work out a big
problem, or discuss some phase of politics, religion, or war.
Sometimes there has been a little of all of it in one day, always
reading, spelling, and memory exercises at night. He has a
sister who twice in her life has repeated the Bible as a test
before a committee. He, himself, can go through the New
Testament and all of the Old save the books of the generations.
He always says he considers it a waste of gray matter to learn
them. He has been a schoolmaster, his home his schoolroom, his
children, wife and helpers his pupils; the common things of life
as he meets them every day, the books from which we learn.
"I was ignorant at first of bookish subjects, but in his
atmosphere, if one were no student, and didn't even try to keep
up, or forge ahead, they would absorb much through association.
Almost always he has been on the school board and selected the
teachers; we have made a point of keeping them here, at great
inconvenience to ourselves, in order to know as much of them as
possible, and to help and guide them in their work. When the
children could learn no more here, for most of them we have
managed the high school of Groveville, especially after our
daughter moved there, and for each of them we have added at least
two years of college, music school, or whatever the peculiar bent
of the child seemed to demand.
"Before any daughter has left our home for one of her own, she
has been taught all I know of cleanliness about a house, cookery,
sewing, tending the sick, bathing and dressing the new born. She
has to bake bread, pie, cake, and cook any meat or vegetable we
have. She has had her bolt of muslin to make as she chose for
her bedding, and linen for her underclothing. The quilts she
pieced and the blankets she wove have been hers. All of them
have been as well provided for as we could afford. They can
knit, darn, patch, tuck, hem, and embroider, set a hen and plant
a garden. I go on a vacation and leave each of them to keep
house for her father a month, before she enters a home of her
own. They are strong, healthy girls; I hope all of them are
making a good showing at being useful women, and I know they are
happy, so far at least."
"Wonderful!" said Mr. Pryor.
"Father takes the boys in hand and they must graduate in a
straight furrow, an even fence, planting and tending crops,
trimming and grafting trees, caring for stock, and handling
plane, auger and chisel. Each one must select his wood, cure,
fashion, and fit his own ax with a handle, grind and swing it
properly, as well as cradle, scythe and sickle. They must be
able to select good seed grain, boil sap, and cure meat. They
must know animals, their diseases and treatment, and when they
have mastered all he can teach them, and done each thing
properly, they may go for their term at college, and make their
choice of a profession. As yet I'm sorry to say but one of them
has come back to the land."
"You mean Laddie?"
"He has decided to be a farmer?"
"He is determined to make the soil yield his living."
"I am sorry--sorry indeed to hear it," said Mr. Pryor. "He has
brain and education to make a brilliant figure at law or
statesmanship; he would do well in trade."
"What makes you think he would not do well on land?"
"Wasted!" cried Mr. Pryor. "He would be wasted!"
"Hold a bit!" said mother, her face flushing as it did when she
was very provoked. "My husband is, and always has been, on land.
He is far from being wasted. He is a power in this community.
He has sons in cities in law and in trade. Not one of them has
the friends, and the influence on his time, that his father has.
Any day he says the word, he can stand in legislative halls, and
take any part he chooses in politics. He prefers his home and
family, and the work he does here, but let me tell you, no son of
his ever had his influence or opportunity, or ever will have."
"All this is news to me," said Mr. Pryor.
"You didn't expect us to come over, force our way in and tell
It was his turn to blush and he did.
"Laddie has been at our house often," he said. "He might have
Mother laughed. She was the gayest that morning.
"He `might,' but he never would. Neither would I if you hadn't
seemed to think that the men who do the things Mr. Stanton
REFUSES to do are the ones worth while."
"He could accomplish much in legislative halls."
"He figures in the large. He thinks that to be a commissioner,
travel his county and make all of it the best possible, to stand
in primaries and choose only worthy men for all offices, is doing
a much bigger work than to take one place for himself, and strive
only for that. Besides, he really loves his land, his house, and
family. He says no man has a right to bring twelve children into
the world and not see personally to rearing and educating them.
He thinks the farm and the children too much for me, and he's
sure he is doing the biggest thing for the community at large, to
go on as he does."
"Perhaps so," said Mr. Pryor slowly. "He should know best.
Perhaps he is."
"I make no doubt!" said mother, lifting her head proudly. "And
as Laddie feels and has fitted himself, I look to see him go head
and shoulders above any other son I have. Trade is not the only
way to accumulate. Law is not the only path to the legislature.
Comfort, independence, and freedom, such as we know here, is not
found in any city I ever have visited. We think we have the best
of life, and we are content on land. We have not accumulated
much money; we have spent thousands; we have had a big family for
which to provide, and on account of the newness of the country,
taxes always have been heavy. But we make no complaint. We are
satisfied. We could have branched off into fifty different
things after we had a fair start here. We didn't, because we
preferred life as we worked it out for ourselves. Paul says when
he leaves the city, and his horses' hoofs strike the road between
our fields, he always lifts his head higher, squares his
shoulders, and feels a man among men. To own land, and to love
it, is a wonderful thing, Mr. Pryor."
She made me think of something. Ever since I had added to my
quill and arrow money, the great big lot at Easter, father had
shared his chest till with me. The chest stood in our room, and
in it lay his wedding suit, his every Sunday clothes, his best
hat with a red silk handkerchief in the crown, a bundle of
precious newspapers he was saving on account of rare things in
them he wanted for reference, and in the till was the wallet of
ready money he kept in the house for unexpected expense, his
deeds, insurance papers, all his particular private papers, the
bunches of lead pencils, slate pencils, and the box of pens from
which he supplied us for school. Since I had grown so rich, he
had gone partners with me, and I might lift the lid, open the
till and take out my little purse that May bought from the
huckster for my last birthday. I wasn't to touch a thing, save
my own, and I never did; but I knew precious well what was there.
If Mr. Pryor thought my father didn't amount to much because he
lived on land; if it made him think more of him, to know that he
could be in the legislature if he chose, maybe he'd think still
I lifted the papers, picked it up carefully, and slipping back
quietly, I laid it on Mr. Pryor's knee. He picked it up and held
it a minute, until he finished what he was saying to mother, and
then he looked at it. Then he looked long and hard. Then he
straightened up and looked again.
"God bless my soul!" he cried.
You see when he was so astonished he didn't know what he was
saying, he called on God, just as father says every one does. I
took a side look at mother. Her face was a little extra flushed,
but she was still smiling; so I knew she wasn't angry with me,
though of course she wouldn't have shown the thing herself. She
and father never did, except as each of us grew big enough to be
taught about the Crusaders. Father said he didn't care the snap
of his finger about it, except as it stood for hardihood and
bravery. But Mr. Pryor cared! He cared more than he could say.
He stared, and stared, and over and over he wonderingly repeated:
"God bless my soul!"
"Where did you get the crest of the Earl of Eastbrooke, the
master of Stanton house?" he demanded. "Stanton house!" he
repeated. "Why--why, the name! It's scarcely possible, but----"
"But there it is!" laughed mother. "A mere bauble for show and
amounting to nothing on earth save as it stands a mark for brave
men who have striven to conquer."
"Surgere tento!" read Mr. Pryor, from the little shield. "Four
shells! Madame, I know men who would give their lives to own
this, and to have been born with the right to wear it. It came
to your husband in straight line?"
"Yes," said mother, "but generations back. He never wore it. He
never would. He only saves it for the children."
"It goes to your eldest son?"
"By rights, I suppose it should," said mother. "But father
mentioned it the other night. He said none of his boys had gone
as he tried to influence them, unless Laddie does now in choosing
land for his future, and if he does, his father is inclined to
leave it to him, and I agree. At our death it goes to Laddie I
am quite sure."
"Well, I hope--I hope," said Mr. Pryor, "that the young man has
the wit to understand what this would mean to him in England."
"His wit is just about level with his father's," said mother.
"He never has been in England, and most probably he never will
be. I don't think it means a rap more to Laddie than it does to
my husband. Laddie is so busy developing the manhood born in
him, he has no time to chase the rainbow of reflected glory, and
no belief in its stability if he walked in its light. The child
of my family to whom that trinket really means something is
Little Sister, here. When Leon came in with the thief, I thought
he should have it; but after all, she is the staunchest little
Crusader I have."
Mr. Pryor looked me over with much interest.
"Yes, yes! No doubt!" he said. "But the male line! This
priceless treasure should descend to one of the male line! To
one whose name will remain Stanton! To Laddie would be best, no
doubt! No doubt at all!"
"We will think about it," said mother serenely as Mr. Pryor arose
He apologized for staying so long, and mother said it hadn't been
long, and asked him the nicest ever to come again. She walked in
the sunlight with him and pointed out the chestnuts. She asked
what he thought of a line of trees to shade the road, and they
discussed whether the pleasure they would give in summer would
pay for the dampness they would hold in winter. They wandered
around the yard and into the garden. She sent me to bring a
knife, trowel, and paper, so when he started for home, he was
carrying a load of cuttings, and roots to plant.
When father came from town that evening, at the first sight of
him, she went straight into his arms, her face beaming; she had
been like a sun all that day. Some of it must have been joy
carried over from yesterday.
"Praise God, the wedge is in!" she cried.
Father held her tight, stroked her hair, and began smiling
without having the least idea why, but he very well knew that
whatever pleased her like that was going to be good news for him
"What has happened, mother?" he asked.
"Mr. Pryor came over about the road and bridge tax, and oh Paul!
I've said every word to him I've been bursting to say from the
very start. Every single word, Paul!"
"How did he take it?"
"Time will tell. Anyway, he heard it, all of it, and he went
back carrying a load of things to plant. Only think of that!
Once he begins planting, and watching things grow, the home
feeling is bound to come. I tell you, Paul, the wedge is in! Oh
I'm so happy!"
The Crest of Eastbrooke
"Sow;--and look onward, upward,
Where the starry light appears,--
Where, in spite of coward's doubting,
Or your own heart's trembling fears,
You shall reap in joy the harvest
You have sown to-day in tears."
Any objections to my beginning to break ground on the west eighty
to-day?" asked Laddie of father at breakfast Monday morning.
"I had thought we would commence on the east forty, when planning
"So had I," said Laddie. "But since I thought that, a very
particular reason has developed for my beginning to plow the west
eighty at once, and there is a charming little ditty I feel
strongly impelled to whistle every step of the way."
Father looked at him sharply, and so, I think, did all of us.
And because we loved him deeply, we saw that his face was a
trifle pale for him; his clear eyes troubled, in spite of his
laughing way. He knew we were studying him too, but he wouldn't
have said anything that would make us look and question if he had
minded our doing it. That was exactly like Laddie. He meant it
when he said he hated a secret. He said there was no place on
earth for a man to look for sympathy and love if he couldn't find
it in his own family; and he never had been so happy since I had
been big enough to notice his moods as he had been since all of
us knew about the Princess. He didn't wait for father to ask why
he'd changed his mind about the place to begin.
"You see," he said, "a very charming friend of mine expressed
herself strongly last night about the degrading influence of
farming, especially that branch of agriculture which evolves
itself in a furrow; hence it is my none too happy work to plow
the west eighty where she can't look our way without seeing me;
and I have got to whistle my favourite `toon' where she must stop
her ears if she doesn't hear; and then it will be my painful
task, I fear, to endeavour to convince her that I am still clean,
decent, and not degraded."
"Oh Laddie!" cried mother.
"Abominable foolishness!" roared father like he does roar once in
about two years.
"Isn't it now?" asked Laddie sweetly. "I don't know what has got
into her head. She has seen me plowing fifty times since their
land has joined ours, and she never objected before."
"I can tell you blessed well!" said mother. "She didn't care two
hoots how much my son plowed, but it makes a difference when it
comes to her lover."
"Maw, you speak amazing reckless," said Laddie, "if I thought
there was anything in THAT feature of the case, I'd attempt a
Highland fling on the ridgepole of our barn."
"Be serious!" said father sternly. "This is no laughing matter."
"That's precisely why I am laughing," said Laddie. "Would it
help me any to sit down and weep? I trow not! I have thought
most of the silent watches--by the way they are far from silent
in May--and as I read my title clear, it's my job to plow the
west eighty immejit."
Father tried to look stern, but he just had to laugh.
"All right then, plow it!" he said.
"What did she say?" asked mother.
"Phew!" Laddie threw up both hands. "She must have been bottled
some time on the subject. The ferment was a spill of
considerable magnitude. The flood rather overwhelmed me, because
it was so unexpected. I had been taking for granted that she
accepted my circumstances and surroundings as she did me. But
no, kind friends, far otherwise! She said last night, in the
clearest English I ever heard spoken impromptu, that I was a man
suitable for her friend, but I would have to change my occupation
before I could be received on more than a friendly footing."
"`On more than a friendly footing'?" repeated mother.
"You have her exact words," said Laddie. "Kindly pass the ham."
"What did you say?"
"Nothing! I am going to plow the answer. Please don't object to
my beginning this morning."
"You try yourself all winter to get as far as you have, and then
upset the bowl like this?" cried mother.
"Softly, mummy, softly!" said Laddie. "What am I to do? I've
definitely decided on my work. I see land and life, as you and
father taught me, in range and in perspective far more than
you've got from it. You had a first hand wrestle. The land I
covet has been greatly improved already. I can do what I choose
with it, making no more strenuous effort than plowing; and I am
proud to say that I LOVE to plow. I like my feet in the soil. I
want my head in the spring air. I can become almost tipsy on the
odours that fill my nostrils. Music evolved by the Almighty is
plenty good enough for me. I'm proud of a spanking big team,
under the control of a touch or a word. I enjoy farming, and I
am going to be a farmer. Plowing is one of the most pleasing
parts of the job. Sowing the seed beats it a little, from an
artistic standpoint, either is preferable to haying, threshing,
or corn cutting: all are parts of my work, so I'm going to begin.
Mother, I hope you don't mind if I take your grays. I'll be very
careful; but the picture I present to my girl to-day is going to
go hard with her at best, so I'd like to make it level best."
He arose, went around and knelt beside mother. He took her,
chair and all, in his arms:
"Best of mothers! on my breast
Lean thy head, and sink to rest."
She quoted. Mother laughed.
"Mammy," he asked bending toward her, "am I clean?"
"You goose!" she said, putting her arms around him and holding
"Gander love," said Laddie, turning up his face for a kiss.
"Honest mother, you have been through nigh unto forty years of
it, tell me, can a man be a farmer and keep neat enough not to be
repulsive to a refined woman?"
"Your father is the answer," said mother. "All of you know how
perfectly repulsive he is and always has been to me."
"`Repulsive,"' said father. "That's an ugly word!"
"There are a whole lot of unpleasant things that peep around
corners occasionally," said Laddie. "But whoever of you dear
people it was that showed Mr. Pryor the Crest of Eastbrooke,
brought out this particular dragon for me to slay."
"Tut, tut! Now what does that mean?" said father. "Have we had
a little exhibition of that especial brand of pride that goes
before a fall?"
"We have! and I take the tumble," said Laddie. "Watch me start!
`Jack fell down and broke his crown.' Question--will `Jill come
My heart stopped and I was shaking in my bare feet, because I
wore no shoes to shake in. Oh my soul! No matter how Laddie
jested I knew he was almost killed; the harder he made fun, the
worse he was hurt. I opened my mouth to say I did it, I had to,
but Leon began to talk.
"Well, I think she's smart!" he cried. "If she was going to give
you the mitten, why didn't she do it long ago?"
"She had to find out first whether there were a possibility of
her wanting to keep it," said Laddie.
"You're sure you are all signed, sealed, and delivered on this
plowing business, are you?" asked Leon.
"Dead sure!" said Laddie.
"All right, if you like it!" said Leon. "None for me after
college! But say, you can be a farmer and not plow, you know.
You go trim the trees, and work at cleaner, more gentlemanly
jobs. I'll plow that field. I'd just as soon as not. I plowed
last year and you said I did well, didn't you, father?"
"Yes, on the potato patch," said father. "A cornfield is a
different thing. I fear you are too light."
"Oh but that was a year ago!" cried Leon.
He pushed back his chair and went to father.
"Just feel my biceps now! Most like steel!" he boasted. "A
fellow can grow a lot in a year, and all the riding I've been
doing, and all the exercise I've had. Cert' I can plow that
"You're all right, shaver," said Laddie. "I'll not forget your
offer; but in this case it wouldn't help. Either the Princess
takes her medicine or I take mine. I'm going to live on land:
I'm going to plow in plain sight of the Pryor house this week, if
I have to hire to Jacob Hood to get the chance. May I plow, and
may I take the grays, father?"
"Yes!" said father roundly.
"Then here goes!" said Laddie. "You needn't fret, mother. I'll
not overheat them. I must give a concert simultaneous with this
plowing performance, and I'm particular about the music, so I
can't go too fast. Also, I'll wrap the harness."
"Goodness knows I'm not thinking about the horses," said mother.
"No, but if they turned up next Sunday, wind-broken, and with
nice large patches of hair rubbed from their sides, you would be!
If you were me, would you whistle, or vocalize to start on?"
Mother burst right out crying and laid her face all tear-wet
against him. Laddie kissed her, and wiped away the tears, teased
her, and soon as he could he bolted from the east door; but I was
closest, so I saw plainly that his eyes were wet too. My soul
and body! AND I HAD DONE IT! I might as well get it over.
"I showed Mr. Pryor the trinket," I said.
"How did you come to do that?" asked father sternly.
"When he was talking with mother. He told her Laddie would be
"That's what he said. Mother told him you had always farmed and
you were a `power in this community.' She told him about what
you did, because you wanted to, and what you COULD do if you
chose, about holding office, you know, and that seemed to make
him think heaps more of you, so I thought it would be a good
thing for him to know about the Crusaders too, and I ran and got
the crest. I THOUGHT it would help----"
"And so it will," said mother. "They constantly make the best
showing they can, we might as well, too. The trouble is they got
more than they expected. They thought they could look down on
us, and patronize us, if they came near at all; when they found
we were quite as well educated as they, had as much land, could
hold prominent offices if we chose, and had the right to that
bauble, they veered to the other extreme. Now they seem to
demand that we quit work----"
"Move to the city, `sit on a cushion and sew a fine seam,'"
"Exactly!" said mother. "They'll have to find out we are running
our own business; but I'm sorry it fell to Laddie to show them.
You could have done it better. It will come out all right. The
Princess is not going to lose a man like Laddie on account of how
he makes his money."
"Don't be too confident," said father. "With people of their
stripe, how much money a man can earn, and at what occupation,
constitute the whole of life."
She wasn't too confident. Yesterday she had been so happy she
almost flew. To-day she kept things going, and sang a lot, but
nearly every time you looked at her you could see her lips draw
tight, a frown cross her forehead, and her head shake. Pretty
soon we heard a racket on the road, so we went out. There was
Laddie with the matched team of carriage horses and a plow. Now,
in dreadfully busy times, father let Ned and Jo work a little,
but not very much. They were not plow horses; they were
roadsters. They liked to prance, and bow their necks and dance
to the carriage. It shamed them to be hitched to a plow. They
drooped their heads and slunk along like dogs caught sucking
eggs. But they were a sight on the landscape. They were lean
and slender and yet round too, matched dapple gray on flank and
side, with long snow-white manes and tails. No wonder mother
didn't want them to work. Laddie had reached through the garden
fence and hooked a bunch of red tulips and yellow daffodils. The
red was at Jo's ear, and the yellow at Ned's, and they did look
fine. So did he! Big, strong, clean, a red flower in his floppy
straw hat band; and after he drove through the gate, he began a
shrill, fifelike whistle you could have heard a half mile:
"See the merry farmer boy, tramp the meadows through,
Swing his hoe in careless joy, while dashing off the dew.
Bobolink in maple high, trills a note of glee,
Farmer boy in gay reply now whistles cheerily."
The chorus was all whistle, and it was written for folks who
could. It went up until it almost split the echoes, and Laddie
could easily sail a measure above the notes. He did it too. As
for me, I kept from sight. For a week Laddie whistled and
plowed. He wore that tune threadbare, and got an almost
continuous pucker on his lips. Leon said if he didn't stop
whistling, and sing more, the girls would think he was doing a
prunes and prisms stunt. So after that he sang the words, and
whistled the chorus. But he made no excuse to go, and he didn't
go, to Pryors'. When Sunday came, he went to Westchester to see
Elizabeth, and stayed until Monday morning. Not once that week
did the Princess ride past our house, or her father either. By
noon Monday Laddie was back in the field, and I had all I could
bear. He was neither whistling nor singing so much now, because
he was away at the south end, where he couldn't be seen or heard
at Pryors'. He almost scoured the skin from him, and he wore his
gloves more carefully than usual. If he soiled his clothing in
the least, and it looked as if he would make more than his share
of work, he washed the extra pieces at night.
Tuesday morning I hurried with all my might, and then I ran to
the field where he was. I climbed on the fence, sat there until
he came up, and then I gave him some cookies. He stopped the
horses, climbed beside me and ate them. Then he put his arms
around me and hugged me tight.
"Laddie, do you know I did it?" I wailed.
"Did you now?" said Laddie. "No, I didn't know for sure, but I
had suspicions. You always have had such a fondness for that
particular piece of tinware."
"But Laddie, it means so much!"
"Doesn't it?" said Laddie. "A few days ago no one could have
convinced me that it meant anything at all to me, or ever could.
Just look at me now!"
"Don't joke, Laddie! Something must be done."
"Well, ain't I doing it?" asked Laddie. "Look at all these acres
and acres of Jim-dandy plowing!"
"Don't!" I begged. "Why don't you go over there?"
"No use, Chicken," said Laddie. "You see her exact stipulation
was that I must CHANGE MY OCCUPATION before I came again."
"What does she want you to do?"
"Law, I think. Unfortunately, I showed her a letter from Jerry
asking me to enter his office this fall."
"Hadn't you better do it, Laddie?"
"How would you like to be shut in little, stuffy rooms, and set
to droning over books and papers every hour of the day, all your
life, and to spend the best of your brain and bodily strength
straightening out other men's quarrels?"
"Oh Laddie, you just couldn't!" I cried.
"Precisely!" said Laddie. "I just couldn't, and I just won't!"
"What can you do?"
"I might compromise on stock," he said. "I could follow the same
occupation as her father, and with better success. Neither he
nor his men get the best results from horses. They don't
understand them, especially the breeds they are attempting to
handle. Most Arab horsemen are tent dwellers. They travel from
one oasis to another with their stock. At night their herds are
gathered around them as children. As children they love them,
pet them, feed them. Each is named for a divinity, a planet or a
famous ruler, and the understanding between master and beast is
perfect. Honestly, Little Sister, I think you have got to
believe in the God of Israel, in order to say the right word to
an Arabian horse; and I know you must believe in the God of love.
A beast of that breed, jerked, kicked, and scolded is a fine
horse ruined. If I owned half the stock Mr. Pryor has over
there, I could put it in such shape for market that I could get
twice from it what his men will."
"Are Thomas and James rough with the horses?"
"`Like master, like man,' " quoted Laddie. "They are! They are
foolish with the Kentucky strain, and fools with the Arab; and
yet, that combination beats the world. But I must get on with
the P.C. job."
He slid from the fence, took a drink from his water jug, and
pulled a handful of grass for each horse. As he stood feeding
them, I almost fell from the top rail.
"Laddie!" I whispered. "Look! Mr. Pryor is halfway across the
field on Ranger."
"So?" said Laddie. "Now I wonder----"
"Shall I go?"
"No indeed !" said Laddie. "Stay right where you are. It can't
be anything of much importance."
At first it didn't seem to be. They talked about the weather,
the soil, the team. Laddie scooped a handful of black earth, and
holding it out, told Mr. Pryor all about how good it was, and
why, and he seemed interested. Then they talked about
everything; until if he had been Jacob Hood, he would have gone
away. But just at the time when I expected him to start, he
looked at Laddie straight and hard.
"I missed you Sabbath evening," he said.
Then I looked at him. He had changed, some way. He seemed more
human, more like our folks, less cold and stern.
"I sincerely hope it was unanimous," said Laddie.
Mr. Pryor had to laugh.
"It was a majority, at any rate."
Laddie stared dazed. You see that was kind of a joke. An easy
one, because I caught it; but we were not accustomed to expecting
a jest from Mr. Pryor. Not one of us dreamed there was a joke
between his hat crown and his boot soles. Then Laddie laughed;
but he sobered quickly.
"I'm mighty sorry if Mrs. Pryor missed me," he said. "I thought
of her. I have grown to be her devoted slave, and I hoped she
"You put it mildly," said Mr. Pryor. "Since you didn't come when
she expected you, we've had the worst time with her that we have
had since we reached this da--ah--er--um--this country."
"Could you make any suggestion?" asked Laddie.
"I could! I would suggest that you act like the sensible fellow
I know you to be, and come as usual, at your accustomed times."
"But I'm forbidden, man!" cried Laddie.
Ugh! Such awful things as Mr. Pryor said.
"Forbidden!" he cried. "Is a man's roof his own, or is it not?
While I live, I propose to be the head of my family. I invite
you! I ask you! Mrs. Pryor and I want you! What more is
"TWO things," said Laddie, just as serenely. "That Miss Pryor
wants me, and that I want to come."
"D'ye mean to tell me that you DON'T want to come, eh? After the
fight you put up to force your way in!"
Laddie studied the sky, a whimsy smile on his lips.
"Now wasn't that a good fight?" he inquired. "I'm mighty proud
of it! But not now, or ever, do I wish to enter your house
again, if Miss Pryor doesn't want, and welcome me."
Then he went over, took Mr. Pryor's horse by the head, and began
working with its bridle. It didn't set right some way, and Mr.
Pryor had jerked, spurred, and mauled, until there was a big
space tramped to mortar. Laddie slid his fingers beneath the
leather, eased it a little, and ran his hands over the fretful
creature's head. It just stopped, stood still, pushed its nose
under his arm, and pressed against his side. Mr. Pryor arose in
one stirrup, swung around and alighted. He looped an arm through
the bridle rein, and with both hands gripped his whipstock.
"How the devil do you do it?" he asked, as if he were provoked.
"First, the bridle was uncomfortable; next, you surely know, Mr.
Pryor, that a man can transfer his mental state to his mount."
Laddie pointed to the churned up earth.
"THAT represents your mental state; THIS"--he slid his hand down
the neck of the horse--"portrays mine."
Mr. Pryor's face reddened, but Laddie was laughing so heartily he
joined in sort of sickly-like.
"Oh I doubt if you are so damnably calm!" he cried.
"I'm CALM enough, so far as that goes," said Laddie. "I'm not
denying that I've got about all the heartache I can conveniently
"Do you mind telling me how far this affair has gone?"
"Wouldn't a right-minded man give the woman in the case the first
chance to answer that question? I greatly prefer that you ask
If ever I felt sorry for any one, I did then for Mr. Pryor. He
stood there gripping the whip with both hands and he looked
exactly as if the May wind might break him into a thousand tiny
pieces, and every one of them would be glass.
"Um--er----" he said at last. "You're right, of course, but
unfortunately, Pamela and her mother did not agree with my
motives, or my course in coming to this country; and while there
is no outward demonstration er--um--other than Mrs. Pryor's
seclusion; yet, er--um!--I am forced to the belief that I'm NOT
in their confidence."
"I see!" said Laddie. "And of course you love your daughter as
any man would love so beautiful a child, and when she is all he
has----" I thought the break was coming right there, but Mr.
Pryor clenched his whip and put it off; still, any one watching
with half an eye could see that it was only put off, and not for
long at that,--"It has been my idea, Mr. Pryor, that the proper
course for me was to see if I could earn any standing with your
daughter. If I could, and she gave me permission, then I
intended coming to you the instant I knew how she felt. But in
such a case as this, I don't think I shall find the slightest
hesitation in telling you anything you want to know, that I am
"You don't know how you stand with her?"
Laddie took off his hat and ran his fingers through his hair.
His feet were planted widely apart, and his face was sober enough
for any funeral now. At last he spoke.
"I've been trying to figure that out," he said slowly. "I
believe the situation is as open to you as it is to me. She was
a desperately lonely, homesick girl, when she caught my eye and
heart; and I placed myself on her horizon. In her case the women
were slow in offering friendship, because, on account of Mrs.
Pryor's seclusion, none was felt to be wanted; then Miss Pryor
was different in dress and manner. I found a way to let her see
that I wanted to be friends, and she accepted my friendship, and
at the same time allowed it go only so far. On a few rare
occasions, I've met her alone, and we've talked out various
phases of life together; but most of our intercourse has taken
place in your home, and in your presence. You probably have seen
her meet and entertain her friends frequently. I should think
you would be more nearly able to gauge my standing with her than
"You haven't told her that you love her?"
"Haven't I though?" cried Laddie. "Man alive! What do you think
I'm made of? Putty? Told her? I've told her a thousand times.
I've said it, and sung it and whistled it, and looked it, and
lived it. I've written it, and ridden it, and this week I've
plowed it! Your daughter knows as she knows nothing else, in all
this world, that she has only to give me one glance, one word,
one gesture of invitation, to find me before her six feet of the
worst demoralized beefsteak a woman ever undertook to handle.
Told her? Ye Gods! I should say I've told her!"
If any of Pryors had been outdoors they certainly could have
heard Mr. Pryor. How he laughed! He shook until he tottered.
Laddie took his arm and led him to the fence. He lifted a broad
top rail, pushed it between two others across a corner and made a
nice comfortable seat for him. After a while Mr. Pryor wiped his
eyes. Laddie stood watching him with a slow grin on his face.
"And she hasn't given the signal you are waiting for?" he asked
Laddie slowly shook his head.
"Nary the ghost of a signal!" he said. "Now we come to Sunday
before last. I only intimated, vaguely, that a hint of where I
stood would be a comfort--and played Jonah. The whale swallowed
me at a gulp, and for all my inches, never batted an eye. You
see, a few days before I showed her a letter from my brother
Jerry, because I thought it might interest her. There was
something in it to which I had paid little or no attention, about
my going to the city and beginning work in his law office; to cap
that, evidently you had mentioned before her our prize piece of
family tinware. There was a culmination like a thunder clap in a
January sky. She said everything that was on her mind about a
man of my size and ability doing the work I am, and then she said
I must change my occupation before I came again."
"And for answer you've split the echoes with some shrill,
abominable air, and plowed, before her very eyes, for a week!"
Then Laddie laughed.
"Do you know," he said; "that's a good one on me! It never
occurred to me that she would not be familiar with that air, and
understand its application. Do you mean to crush me further by
telling me that all my perfectly lovely vocalizing and whistling
"It was a dem irritating, challenging sort of thing," said Mr.
Pryor. "I listened to it by the hour, myself, trying to make out
exactly what it did mean. It seemed to combine defiance with
pleading, and through and over all ran a note of glee that was
really quite charming."
"You have quoted a part of it, literally," said Laddie. "`A note
of glee'--the cry of a glad heart, at peace with all the world,
busy with congenial work."
"I shouldn't have thought you'd have been so particularly
"Oh, the joy was in the music," said Laddie. "That was a whistle
to keep up my courage. The joy was in the song, not in me! Last
week was black enough for me to satisfy the most exacting
"I wish you might have seen the figure you cut! That fine team,
flower bedecked, and the continuous concert!"
"But I did!" cried Laddie. "We have mirrors. That song can't be
beaten. I know this team is all right, and I'm not dwarfed or
disfigured. That was the pageant of summer passing in review.
It represented the tilling of the soil; the sowing of seed,
garnering to come later. You buy corn and wheat, don't you?
They are vastly necessary. Much more so than the settling of
quarrels that never should have taken place. Do you think your
daughter found the spectacle at all moving?"
"Damn you, sir, what I should do, is to lay this whip across your
shoulders!" cried Mr. Pryor.
But if you will believe it, he was laughing again.
"I prefer that you don't," said Laddie, "or on Ranger either.
See how he likes being gentled."
Then he straightened and drew a deep breath.
"Mr. Pryor," he said, "as man to man, I have got this to say to
you--and you may use your own discretion about repeating it to
your daughter: I can offer her six feet of as sound manhood as
you can find on God's footstool. I never in my whole life have
had enough impure blood in my body to make even one tiny eruption
on my skin. I never have been ill a day in my life. I never
have touched a woman save as I lifted and cared for my mother,
and hers, or my sisters. As to my family and education she can
judge for herself. I offer her the first and only love of my
heart. She objects to farming, because she says it is dirty,
offensive work. There are parts of it that are dirty. Thank
God, it only soils the body, and that can be washed. To delve
and to dive into, and to study and to brood over the bigger half
of the law business of any city is to steep your brain in, and
smirch your soul with, such dirt as I would die before I'd make
an occupation of touching. Will you kindly tell her that word
for word, and that I asked you to?"
Mr. Pryor was standing before I saw him rise. He said those
awful words again, but between them he cried: "You're right!
It's the truth! It's the eternal truth!"
"It IS the truth," said Laddie. "I've only to visit the offices,
and examine the business of those of my family living by law, to
KNOW that it's the truth. Of course there's another side! There
are times when there are great opportunities to do good; I
recognize that. To some these may seem to overbalance that to
which I object. If they do, all right. I am merely deciding for
myself. Once and for all, for me it is land. It is born in me
to love it, to handle it easily, to get the best results from
stock. I am going to take the Merriweather place adjoining ours
on the west, and yours on the south. I intend to lease it for
ten years, with purchase privilege at the end, so that if I make
of it what I plan, my work will not be lost to me. I had thought
to fix up the place and begin farming. If Miss Pryor has any use
whatever for me, and prefers stock, that is all right with me.
I'll go into the same business she finds suitable for you. I can
start in a small way and develop. I can afford a maid for her
from the beginning, but I couldn't clothe her as she has been
accustomed to being dressed, for some time. I would do my best,
however. I know what store my mother sets by being well gowned.
And as a husband, I can offer your daughter as loving
consideration as woman ever received at the hands of man.
Provided by some miracle I could win her consent, would you even
consider me, and such an arrangement?"
"Frankly sir," said Mr. Pryor, "I have reached the place where I
would be----" whenever you come to a long black line like that,
it means that he just roared a lot of words father never said,
and never will--"glad to! To tell the truth, the thing you
choose to jestingly refer to as `tinware'--I hope later to
convince of the indelicacy of such allusion--would place you in
England on a social level above any we ever occupied, or could
hope to. Your education equals ours. You are a physical
specimen to be reckoned with, and I believe what you say of
yourself. There's something so clean and manly about you, it
amounts to confirmation. A woman should set her own valuation on
that; and the height of it should correspond with her knowledge
of the world."
"Thank you!" said Laddie. "You are more than kind! more than
"As to the arrangements you could make for Pamela," said Mr.
Pryor, "she's all we have. Everything goes to her, ultimately.
She has her stipulated allowance now; whether in my house or
yours, it would go with her. Surely you wouldn't be so callous
as to object to our giving her anything that would please us!"
"Why should I?" asked Laddie. "That's only natural on your part.
Your child is your child; no matter where or what it is, you
expect to exercise a certain amount of loving care over it. My
father and mother constantly send things to their children absent
from home, and they take much pleasure in doing it. That is
between you and your daughter, of course. I shouldn't think of
interfering. But in the meantime, unless Miss Pryor has been
converted to the beauties of plowing through my continuous
performance of over a week, I stand now exactly where I did
before, so far as she is concerned. If you and Mrs. Pryor have
no objection to me, if you feel that you could think of me, or
find for me any least part of a son's place in your hearts, I
believe I should know how to appreciate it, and how to go to work
to make myself worthy of it."
Mr. Pryor sat down so suddenly, the rail almost broke. I thought
the truth was, that he had heart trouble, himself. He stopped
up, choked on things, flopped around, and turned so white. I
suppose he thought it was womanish, and a sign of weakness. and
so he didn't tell, but I bet anything that he had it--bad!
"I'll try to make the little fool see!" he said.
"Gently, gently! You won't help me any in that mood," said
Laddie. "The chances are that Miss Pryor repeated what she heard
from you long ago, and what she knows you think and feel, unless
you've changed recently."
"That's the amount of it!" cried Mr. Pryor. "All my life I've
had a lot of beastly notions in my head about rank, and class,
and here they don't amount to a damn! There's no place for them.
Things are different. Your mother, a grand, good woman, opened
my eyes to many things recently, and I get her viewpoint--
clearly, and I agree with her, and with you, sir!--I agree with
"I am more than glad," said Laddie. "You certainly make a friend
at court. Thank you very much!"
"And you will come----?"
"The instant Miss Pryor gives me the slightest sign that I am
wanted, and will be welcomed by her, I'll come like a Dakota
blizzard! Flos can hump herself on time for once."
"But you won't come until she does?"
"Man alive! I can't!" cried Laddie. "Your daughter said
positively exactly what she meant. It was unexpected and it hit
me so hard I didn't try to argue. I simply took her at her word,
her very explicit word."
"Fool!" cried Mr. Pryor. "The last thing on earth any woman ever
wants or expects is for a man to take her at her word."
"What?" cried Laddie.
"She had what she said in her mind of course, but what she wanted
was to be argued out of it! She wanted to be convinced!"
"I think not! She was entirely too convincing herself," said
Laddie. "It's my guess that she has thought matters over, and
that her mind is made up; but I would take it as a mighty big
favour if you would put that little piece of special pleading
squarely up to her. Will you?"
"Yes," said Mr. Pryor, "I will. I'll keep cool and do my best,
but I am so unfortunate in my temper. I could manage slaves
better than women. This time I'll be calm, and reason things out
with her, or I'll blow out my brains."
"Don't you dare!" laughed Laddie. "You and I are going to get
much pleasure, comfort and profit from this world, now that we
have come to an understanding."
Mr. Pryor arose and held out his hand. Laddie grasped it tight,
and they stood there looking straight at each other, while a lark
on the fence post close by cried, "Spring o' ye-ar !" at them,
over and over, but they never paid the least attention.
"You see," said Mr. Pryor, "I've been thinking things over
deeply, deeply! ever since talking with your mother. I've cut
myself off from going back to England, by sacrificing much of my
property in hasty departure, if by any possibility I should ever
want to return, and there is none, not the slightest! There's no
danger of any one crossing the sea, and penetrating to this
particular spot so far inland; we won't be molested! And
lately--lately, despite the rawness, and the newness, there is
something about the land that takes hold, after all. I should
dislike leaving now! I found in watching some roots your mother
gave me, that I wanted them to grow, that I very much hoped they
would develop, and beautify our place with flowers, as yours is.
I find myself watching them, watching them daily, and oftener,
and there seems to be a sort of home feeling creeping around my
heart. I wish Pamela would listen to reason! I wish she would
marry you soon! I wish there would be little children. Nothing
else on earth would come so close to comforting my wife, and me
also. Nothing! Go ahead, lad, plow away! I'll put your special
pleading up to the girl."
He clasped Laddie's hand, mounted and rode back to the gate he
had entered when he came. Laddie sat on the rail, so I climbed
down beside him. He put his arm around me.
"Do I feel any better?" he asked dubiously.
"Of course you do!" I said stoutly. "You feel whole heaps, and
stacks, and piles better. You haven't got him to fight any more,
or Mrs. Pryor. It's now only to convince the Princess about how
it's all right to plow."
"Small matter, that!" said Laddie. "And easy! Just as simple
"Have you asked the Fairies to help you?"
"Aye, aye, sir," said Laddie. "Also the winds, the flowers, the
birds and the bees! I have asked everything on earth to help me
except you, Little Sister. I wonder if I have been making a
"Are you mad at me, Laddie?"
"'Cause for why?"
"About the old crest thing!"
"Forget it!" laughed Laddie. "I have. And anyway, in the long
run, I must be honest enough to admit that it may have helped.
It seems to have had its influence with Mr. Pryor, no doubt it
worked the same on Mrs. Pryor, and it may be that it was because
she had so much more to bank on than she ever expected, that the
Princess felt emboldened to make her demand. It may be, you
can't tell! Anyway, it's very evident that it did no real harm.
And forget my jesting, Chicken. A man can't always cry because
there are tears in his heart. I think quite as much of that
crest as you do. In the sum of human events, it is a big thing.
No one admires a Crusader more than I. No one likes a good fight
better. No Crusader ever put up a stiffer battle than I have in
the past week while working in these fields. Every inch of them
is battlefield, every furrow a separate conflict. Gaze upon the
scene of my Waterloo! When June covers it with green, it will
wave over the resting place of my slain heart!"
"Oh Laddie!" I sobbed. "There you go again! How can you?"
"Whoo-pee!" cried Laddie. "That's the question! How can I? Got
to, Little Sister! There's no other way."
"No," I was forced to admit, "there isn't. What are we going to
"Life-saver, we'll now go to dinner," said Laddie. "Nothing
except the partnership implied in `we' sustains me now. YOU'LL
FIND A WAY TO HELP ME OUT, WON'T YOU, LITTLE SISTER?"
"OF COURSE I WILL!" I promised, without ever stopping a minute to
think what kind of a job that was going to be.
Did you ever wish with all your might that something would
happen, and wait for it, expect it, and long for it, and nothing
did, until it grew so bad, it seemed as if you had to go on
another minute you couldn't bear it? Now I thought when Mr.
Pryor talked to her, maybe she'd send for Laddie that very same
night; but send nothing! She didn't even ride on our road any
more. Of course her father had made a botch of it! Bet I could
have told her Laddie's message straighter than he did. I could
think it over, and see exactly how he'd do. He'd talk nicely
about one minute, and the first word she said, that he didn't
like, he'd be ranting, and using unsuitable words. Just as like
as not he told her that he'd lay his whip across her shoulders,
like he had Laddie. Any one could see that as long as she was
his daughter, she might be slightly handy with whips herself; at
least she wouldn't be likely to stand still and tell him to go
ahead and beat her.
Sunday Laddie went to Lucy's. He said he was having a family
reunion on the installment plan. Of course we laughed, but none
of us missed the long look he sent toward Pryors' as he mounted
to start in the opposite direction.
Everything went on. I didn't see how it could, but it did. It
even got worse, for another letter came from Shelley that made
matters concerning her no brighter, and while none of us talked
about Laddie, all of us knew mighty well how we felt; and what
was much worse, how he felt. Father and mother had quit worrying
about God; especially father. He seemed to think that God and
Laddie could be trusted to take care of the Princess, and I don't
know exactly what mother thought. No doubt she saw she couldn't
help herself, and so she decided it was useless to struggle.
The plowing on the west side was almost finished, and some of the
seed was in. Laddie went straight ahead flower-trimmed and
whistling until his face must have ached as badly as his heart.
In spite of how hard he tried to laugh, and keep going, all of us
could see that he fairly had to stick up his head and stretch his
neck like the blue goose, to make the bites go down. And you
couldn't help seeing the roundness and the colour go from his
face, a little more every day. My! but being in love, when you
couldn't have the one you loved, was the worst of all. I wore
myself almost as thin as Laddie, hunting a Fairy to ask if she'd
help me to make the Princess let Laddie go on and plow, when he
was so crazy about it. I prayed beside my bed every night, until
the Lord must have grown so tired He quit listening to me, for I
talked right up as impressively as I knew how, and it didn't do
the least bit of good. I hadn't tried the one big prayer toward
the east yet; but I was just about to the place where I intended
to do it soon.
Laddie, the Princess, and the Pie
"O whistle, and I'll come to you, my lad."
Candace was baking the very first batch of rhubarb pies for the
season and the odour was so tempting I couldn't keep away from
the kitchen door. Now Candace was a splendid cook about chicken
gizzards--the liver was always mother's--doughnuts and tarts, but
I never really did believe she would cut into a fresh rhubarb
pie, even for me. As I reached for the generous big piece I
thought of Laddie poor Laddie, plowing away at his Crusader
fight, and not a hint of victory. No one in the family liked
rhubarb pie better than he did. I knew there was no use to ask
for a plate.
"Wait--oh wait!" I cried.
I ran to the woodshed, pulled a shining new shingle from a bale
stacked there, and held it for Candace. Then I slipped around
the house softly. I didn't want to run any one's errands that
morning. I laid the pie on the horseblock and climbed the
catalpa carefully, so as not to frighten my robins. They were
part father's too, because robins were his favourite birds; he
said their song through and after rain was the sweetest music on
earth, and mostly he was right; so they were not all my robins,
but they were most mine after him; and I owned the tree. I
hunted the biggest leaf I could see, and wiped it clean on my
apron, although it was early for much dust. It covered the pie
nicely, because it was the proper shape, and I held the stem with
one hand to keep it in place.
If I had made that morning myself I couldn't have done better.
It was sunny, spring air, but it was that cool, spicy kind that
keeps you stopping every few minutes to see just how full you can
suck your lungs without bursting. It seemed to wash right
through and through and make you all over. The longer you
breathed it the clearer your head became, and the better you
felt, until you would be possessed to try and see if you really
couldn't fly. I tried that last summer, and knocked myself into
jelly. You'd think once would have been enough, but there I was
going down the road with Laddie's pie, and wanting with all my
heart to try again.
Sometimes I raced, but I was a little afraid the pie would shoot
from the shingle and it was like pulling eye teeth to go fast
that morning. I loved the soft warm dust, that was working up on
the road. Spat! Spat! I brought down my bare feet, already
scratched and turning brown, and laughed to myself at the velvety
feel of it. There were little puddles yet, where May and I had
"dipped and faded" last fall, and it was fun to wade them. The
roadsides were covered with meadow grass and clover that had
slipped through the fence. On slender green blades, in spot
after spot, twinkled the delicate bloom of blue-eyed grass.
Never in all this world was our Big Creek lovelier. It went
slipping, and whispering, and lipping, and lapping over the
stones, tugging at the rushes and grasses as it washed their
feet; everything beside it was in masses of bloom, a blackbird
was gleaming and preening on every stone, as it plumed after its
bath. Oh there's no use to try--it was just SPRING when it
couldn't possibly be any better.
But even spring couldn't hold me very long that morning, for you
see my heart was almost sick about Laddie; and if he couldn't
have the girl he wanted, at least I could do my best to comfort
him with the pie. I was going along being very careful the more
I thought about how he would like it, so I was not watching the
road so far ahead as I usually did. I always kept a lookout for
Paddy Ryan, Gypsies, or Whitmore's bull. When I came to an
unusually level place, and took a long glance ahead, my heart
turned right over and stopped still, and I looked long enough to
be sure, and then right out loud some one said, "I'll DO
something!" and as usual, I was the only one there.
For days I'd been in a ferment, like the vinegar barrel when the
cider boils, or the yeast jar when it sets too close to the
stove. To have Laddie and the Princess separated was dreadful,
and knowing him as I did, I knew he never really would get over
it. I had tried to help once, and what I had done started things
going wrong; no wonder I was slow about deciding what to try
next. That I was going to do something, I made up my mind the
instant Laddie said he was not mad at me; that I was his partner,
and asked me to help; but exactly WHAT would do any good, took
Here was my chance coming right at me. She was far up the road,
riding Maud like racing. I began to breathe after a while, like
you always do, no matter how you are worked up, and with my brain
whirling, I went slowly toward her. How would I manage to stop
her? Or what could I say that would help Laddie? I was shaking,
and that's the truth; but through and over it all, I was watching
her too. I only wish you might have seen her that morning. Of
course the morning was part of it. A morning like that would
make a fence post better looking. Half a mile away you could see
she was tipsy with spring as I was, or the song sparrows, or the
crazy babbling old bobolinks on the stakes and riders. She made
such a bright splash against the pink fence row, with her dark
hair, flushed cheeks, and red lips, she took my breath. Father
said she was the loveliest girl in three counties, and Laddie
stretched that to the whole world. As she came closer, smash!
through me went the thought that she looked precisely as Shelley
had at Christmas time; and Shelley had been that way because she
was in love with the Paget man. Now if the Princess was gleaming
and flashing like that, for the same reason, there wasn't any one
for her to love so far as I knew, except Laddie.
Then smash! came another thought. She HAD to love him! She
couldn't help herself. She had all winter, all last summer, and
no one but themselves knew how long before that, and where was
there any other man like Laddie? Of course she loved him! Who
so deserving of love? Who else had his dancing eyes of deep
tender blue, cheeks so pink, teeth so white, such waving chestnut
hair, and his height and breadth? There was no other man who
could ride, swim, leap, and wrestle as he could. None who could
sing the notes, do the queer sums with letters having little
figures at the corners in the college books, read Latin as fast
as English, and even the Greek Bible. Of course she loved him!
Every one did! Others might plod and meander, Laddie walked the
tired, old road that went out of sight over the hill, with as
prideful a step as any king; his laugh was as merry as the song
of the gladdest thrush, while his touch was so gentle that when
mother was in dreadful pain I sometimes thought she would a
little rather have him hold her than father.
Now, he was in this fearful trouble, the colour was going from
his face, his laugh was a little strained, and the heartache
almost more than he could endure--and there she came! I stepped
squarely in the middle of the road so she would have to stop or
ride over me, and when she was close, I stood quite still. I was
watching with my eyes, heart, and brain, and I couldn't see that
she was provoked, as she drew rein and cried: "Good morning,
Little Queer Person!"
I had supposed she would say Little Sister, she had for ages,
just like Laddie, but she must have thought it was queer for me
to stop her that way, so she changed. I was in for it. I had
her now, so I smiled the very sweetest smile that I could think
up in such a hurry, and said, "Good morning," the very politest I
ever did in all my life. Then I didn't know what to do next, but
she helped me out.
"What have you there?" she asked.
"It's a piece of the very first rhubarb pie for this spring, and
I'm carrying it to Laddie," I said, as I lifted the catalpa leaf
and let her peep, just to show her how pie looked when it was
right. I bet she never saw a nicer piece.
The Princess slid her hand down Maud's neck to quiet her
prancing, and leaned in the saddle, her face full of interest. I
couldn't see a trace of anything to discourage me; her being on
our road again looked favourable. She seemed to think quite as
much of that pie as I did. She was the finest little
thoroughbred. She understood so well, I was sorry I couldn't
give it to her. It made her mouth water all right, for she drew
a deep breath that sort of quivered; but it was no use, she
didn't get that pie.
"I think it looks delicious," she said. "Are you carrying it for
"No! She gave it to me. It's my very own."
"And you're doing without it yourself to carry it to Laddie, I'll
be bound!" cried the Princess.
"I'd much rather," I said.
"Do you love Laddie so dearly?" she asked.
My heart was full of him right then; I forgot all about when I
had the fever, and as I never had been taught to lie, I told her
what I thought was the truth, and I guess it WAS: "Best of any
one in all this world!"
The Princess looked across the field, where she must have seen
him finishing the plowing, and thought that over, and I waited,
sure in my mind, for some reason, that she would not go for a
little while longer.
"I have been wanting to see you," she said at last. "In fact I
think I came this way hoping I'd meet you. Do you know the words
to a tune that goes like this?"
Then she began to whistle "The Merry Farmer Boy." I wish you
might have heard the flourishes she put to it.
"Of course I do," I answered. "All of us were brought up on it."
"Well, I have some slight curiosity to learn what they are," she
said. "Would you kindly repeat them for me?"
"Yes," I said. "This is the first verse:
"`See the merry farmer boy tramp the meadows through,
Swing his hoe in careless joy while dashing off the dew.
Bobolink in maple high----'
"Of course you can see for yourself that they're not. There
isn't a single one of them higher than a fence post. The person
who wrote the piece had to put it that way so high would rhyme
with reply, which is coming in the next line."
"I see!" said the Princess.
"`Bobolink in maple high, trills a note of glee
Farmer boy a gay reply now whistles cheerily.'
"Then you whistle the chorus like you did it."
"You do indeed!" said the Princess. "Proceed!"
"`Then the farmer boy at noon, rests beneath the shade,
Listening to the ceaseless tune that's thrilling through
Long and loud the harvest fly winds his bugle round,
Long, and loud, and shrill, and high, he whistles back
"He does! He does indeed! I haven't a doubt about that!" cried
the Princess. "`Long, and loud, and shrill, and high,' he
whistles over and over the sound, until it becomes maddening. Is
that all of that melodious, entrancing production?"
"No, evening comes yet. The last verse goes this way:
"`When the busy day's employ, ends at dewy eve,
Then the happy farmer boy, doth haste his work to leave,
Trudging down the quiet lane, climbing o'er the hill,
Whistling back the changeless wail, of plaintive
and then you do the chorus again, and if you know how well enough
you whistle in, `whip-poor-will,' 'til the birds will answer you.
Laddie often makes them."
"My life!" cried the Princess. "Was that he doing those bird
cries? Why, I hunted, and hunted, and so did father. We'd never
seen a whip-poor-will. Just fancy us!"
"If you'd only looked at Laddie," I said.
"My patience!" cried the Princess. "Looked at him! There was no
place to look without seeing him. And that ear-splitting thing
will ring in my head forever, I know."
"Did he whistle it too high to suit you, Princess?"
"He was perfectly welcome to whistle as he chose," she said, "and
also to plow with the carriage horses, and to bedeck them and
himself with the modest, shrinking red tulip and yellow
Now any one knows that tulips and daffodils are NOT modest and
shrinking. If any flowers just blaze and scream colour clear
across a garden, they do. She was provoked, you could see that.
"Well, he only did it to please you," I said. "He didn't care
anything about it. He never plowed that way before. But you
said he mustn't plow at all, and he just had to plow, there was
no escaping that, so he made it as fine and happy as possible to
show you how nicely it could be done."
"Greatly obliged, I'm sure!" cried the Princess. "He showed me!
He certainly did! And so he feels that there's `no escaping'
plowing, does he?"
Then I knew where I was. I'd have given every cent of mine in
father's chest till, if mother had been in my place. Once, for a
second, I thought I'd ask the Princess to go with me to the
house, and let mother tell her how it was; but if she wouldn't
go, and rode away, I felt I couldn't endure it, and anyway, she
had said she was looking for me; so I gripped the shingle, dug in
my toes and went at her just as nearly like mother talked to her
father as I could remember, and I'd been put through memory
tests, and descriptive tests, nearly every night of my life, so I
had most of it as straight as a string.
"Well, you see, he CAN'T escape it," I said. "He'd do anything
in all this world for you that he possibly could; but there are
some things no man CAN do."
"I didn't suppose there was anything you thought Laddie couldn't
do," she said.
"A little time back, I didn't," I answered. "But since he took
the carriage horses, trimmed up in flowers, and sang and whistled
so bravely, day after day, when his heart was full of tears, why
I learned that there was something he just COULDN'T DO; NOT TO
SAVE HIS LIFE, OR HIS LOVE, OR EVEN TO SAVE YOU."
"And of course you don't mind telling me what that is?" coaxed
the Princess in her most wheedling tones.
"Not at all! He told our family, and I heard him tell your
father. The thing he can't do, not even to win you, is to be
shut up in a little office, in a city, where things roar, and
smell, and nothing is like this----"
I pointed out the orchard, hill, and meadow, so she looked where
I showed her--looked a long time.
"No, a city wouldn't be like this," she said slowly.
"And that isn't even the beginning," I said. "Maybe he could
bear that, men have been put in prison and lived through years
and years of it, perhaps Laddie could too; I doubt it! but anyway
the worst of it is that he just couldn't, not even to save you,
spend all the rest of his life trying to settle other people's
old fusses. He despises a fuss. Not one of us ever in our lives
have been able to make him quarrel, even one word. He simply
won't. And if he possibly could be made to by any one on earth,
Leon would have done it long ago, for he can start a fuss with
the side of a barn. But he can't make Laddie fuss, and nobody
can. He NEVER would at school, or anywhere. Once in a while if
a man gets so overbearing that Laddie simply can't stand it, he
says: `Now, you'll take your medicine!' Then he pulls off his
coat, and carefully, choosing the right spots, he just pounds the
breath out of that man, but he never stops smiling, and when he
helps him up he always says: `Sorry! hope you'll excuse me, but
you WOULD have it.' That's what he said about you, that you had
to take your medicine----"
I made a mistake there. That made her too mad for any use.
"Oh," she cried, "I do? I'll jolly well show the gentleman!"
"Oh, you needn't take the trouble," I cried. "He's showing you!"
She just blazed like she'd break into flame. Any one could fuss
with her all right; but that was the last thing on earth I wanted
"You see he already knows about you," I explained as fast as I
could talk, for I was getting into an awful mess. "You see he
knows that you want him to be a lawyer, and that he must quit
plowing before he can be more than friends with you. That's what
he's plowing for! If it wasn't for that, probably he wouldn't;
be plowing at all. He asked father to let him, and he borrowed
mother's horses, and he hooked the flowers through the fence.
Every night when he comes home, he kneels beside mother and asks
her if he is `repulsive,' and she takes him in her arms and the
tears roll down her cheeks and she says: `Father has farmed all
his life, and you know how repulsive he is.'"
I ventured an upward peep. I was doing better. Her temper
seemed to be cooling, but her face was a jumble. I couldn't find
any one thing on it that would help me, so I just stumbled ahead
guessing at what to say.
"He didn't WANT to do it. He perfectly HATED it. Those fields
were his Waterloo. Every furrow was a FIGHT, but he was FORCED
to show you."
"Exactly WHAT was he trying to show me?"
"I can think of three things he told me," I answered. "That
plowing could be so managed as not to disfigure the
"The dunce!" she said.
"That he could plow or do dirtier work, and not be repulsive----"
"The idiot!" she said.
"That if he came over there, and plowed right under your nose,
when you'd told him he mustn't, or he couldn't be more than
friends; and when you knew that he'd much rather die and be laid
beside the little sisters up there in the cemetery than to NOT be
more than friends, why, you'd see, if he did THAT, he couldn't
help it, that he just MUST. That he was FORCED----"
"The soldier!" she said.
"Oh Princess, he didn't want to!" I cried. "He tells me secrets
he doesn't any one else, unless you. He told me how he hated it;
but he just had to do it."
"Do you know WHY?"
"Of course! It's the way he's MADE! Father is like that! He
has chances to live in cities, make big business deals, and go to
the legislature at Indianapolis; I've seen his letters from his
friend Oliver P. Morton, our Governor, you know; they're in his
chest till now; but father can't do it, because he is made so he
stays at home and works for us, and this farm, and township, and
county where he belongs. He says if all men will do that the
millennium will come to-morrow. I 'spose you know what the
"I do!" said the Princess. "But I don't know what your father
and his friend Oliver P. Morton have to do with Laddie."
"Why, everything on earth! Laddie is father's son, you see, and
he is made like father. None of our other boys is. Not one of
them loves land. Leon is going away as quick as ever he finishes
college; but the more you educate Laddie, the better he likes to
make things grow, the more he loves to make the world beautiful,
to be kind to every one, to gentle animals--why, the biggest
fight he ever had, the man he whipped 'til he most couldn't bring
him back again, was one who kicked his horse in the stomach.
Gee, I thought he'd killed him! Laddie did too for a while, but
he only said the man deserved it."
"And so he did!" cried the Princess angrily. "How beastly!"
"That's one reason Laddie sticks so close to land. He says he
doesn't meet nearly so many two-legged beasts in the country.
Almost every time he goes to town he either gets into a fight or
he sees something that makes him fighting mad. Princess, you
think this beautiful, don't you?"
I just pointed anywhere. All the world was in it that morning.
You couldn't look right or left and not see lovely places, hear
music, and smell flowers.
"Yes! It is altogether wonderful!" she said.
"Would you like to live among this all your life, and have your