Part 4 out of 6
the wind and sun, and his sallow face, though hard and set, was
pathetic somehow. You would have felt that he had suffered much
by the line of his mouth showing under his thin, yellow mustache.
"Hadn't Ike got home yet, Sairy?"
"Hadn't seen 'im."
"W-a-a-l, set right up, Mr. Haskins; wade right into what we've got;
'taint much, but we manage to live on it she gits fat on it," laughed
Council, pointing his thumb at his wife.
After supper, while the women put the children to bed, Haskins
and Council talked on, seated near the huge cooking-stove, the
steam rising from their wet clothing. In the Western fashion
Council told as much of his own life as he drew from his guest. He
asked but few questions, but by and by the story of Haskins'
struggles and defeat came out. The story was a terrible one, but he
told it quietly, seated with his elbows on his knees, gazing most of
the time at the hearth.
"I didn't like the looks of the country, anyhow," Haskins said,
partly rising and glancing at his wife. "I was ust t' northern
Ingyannie, where we have lots o' timber 'n' lots o' rain, 'n' I didn't
like the looks o' that dry prairie. What galled me the worst was
goin' s' far away acrosst so much fine land layin' all through here
"And the 'hoppers eat ye four years, hand runnin', did they?" "Eat!
They wiped us out. They chawed everything that was green. They
jest set around waitin' f'r us to die t' eat us, too. My God! I ust t'
dream of 'em sittin' 'round on the bedpost, six feet long, workin'
their jaws. They eet the fork-handles. They got worse 'n' worse till
they jest rolled on one another, piled up like snow in winter Well,
it ain't no use. If I was t' talk all winter I couldn't tell nawthin'. But
all the while I couldn't help thinkin' of all that land back here that
nobuddy was usin' that I ought 'o had 'stead o' bein' out there in that
"Waal, why didn't ye stop an' settle here ?" asked Ike, who had
come in and was eating his supper.
"Fer the simple reason that you fellers wantid ten 'r fifteen dollars
an acre fer the bare land, and I hadn't no money fer that kind o'
"Yes, I do my own work," Mrs. Council was heard to say in the
pause which followed. "I'm a gettin' purty heavy t' be on m'laigs all
day, but we can't afford t' hire, so I keep rackin' around somehow,
like a foundered horse. S' lame I tell Council he can t tell how
lame I am, f'r I'm jest as lame in one laig as t' other." And the good
soul laughed at the joke on herself as she took a handful of flour
and dusted the biscuit-board to keep the dough from sticking.
"Well, I hadn't never been very strong," said Mrs. Haskins. "Our
folks was Canadians an' small-boned, and then since my last child
I hadn't got up again fairly. I don't like t' complain. Tim has about
all he can bear now but they was days this week when I jest
wanted to lay right down an' die."
"Waal, now, I'll tell ye," said Council, from his side of the stove
silencing everybody with his good-natured roar, "I'd go down and
see Butler, anyway, if I was you. I guess he'd let you have his place
purty cheap; the farm's all run down. He's teen anxious t' let t'
somebuddy next year. It 'ud be a good chance fer you. Anyhow,
you go to bed and sleep like a babe. I've got some ploughing t' do,
anyhow, an' we'll see if somethin' can't be done about your case.
Ike, you go out an' see if the horses is all right, an' I'll show the
folks t' bed."
When the tired husband and wife were lying under the generous
quilts of the spare bed, Haskins listened a moment to the wind in
the eaves, and then said, with a slow and solemn tone,
"There are people in this world who are good enough t' be angels,
an' only haff t' die to be angels."
Jim Butler was one of those men called in the West "land poor. "
Early in the history of Rock River he had come into the town and
started in the grocery business in a small way, occupying a small
building in a mean part of the town. At this period of his life he
earned all he got, and was up early and late sorting beans, working
over butter, and carting his goods to and from the station. But a
change came over him at the end of the second year, when he sold
a lot of land for four times what he paid for it. From that time
forward he believed in land speculation as the surest way of
getting rich. Every cent he could save or spare from his trade he
put into land at forced sale, or mortgages on land, which were "just
as good as the wheat," he was accustomed to say.
Farm after farm fell into his hands, until he was recognized as one
of the leading landowners of the county. His mortgages were
scattered all over Cedar County, and as they slowly but surely fell
in he sought usually to retain the former owner as tenant.
He was not ready to foreclose; indeed, he had the name of being
one of the "easiest" men in the town. He let the debtor off again
and again, extending the time whenever possible.
"I don't want y'r land," he said. "All I'm after is the int'rest on my
money that's all. Now, if y' want 'o stay on the farm, why, I'll give
y' a good chance. I can't have the land layin' vacant. " And in many
cases the owner remained as tenant.
In the meantime he had sold his store; he couldn't spend time in it -
he was mainly occupied now with sitting around town on rainy
days smoking and "gassin' with the boys," or in riding to and from
his farms. In fishing-time he fished a good deal. Doc Grimes, Ben
Ashley, and Cal Cheatham were his cronies on these fishing
excursions or hunting trips in the time of chickens or partridges. In
winter they went to Northern Wisconsin to shoot deer.
In spite of all these signs of easy life Butler persisted in saying he
"hadn't enough money to pay taxes on his land," and was careful to
convey the impression that he was poor in spite of his twenty
farms. At one time he was said to be worth fifty thousand dollars,
but land had been a little slow of sale of late, so that he was not
worth so much.
A fine farm, known as the Higley place, had fallen into his hands
in the usual way the previous year, and he had not been able to
find a tenant for it. Poor Higley, after working himself nearly to
death on it in the attempt to lift the mortgage, had gone off to
Dakota, leaving the farm and his curse to Butler.
This was the farm which Council advised Haskins to apply for;
and the next day Council hitched up his team and drove down to
"You jest let me do the talkin'," he said. "We'll find him wearin'
out his pants on some salt barrel somew'ers; and if he thought you
wanted a place he'd sock it to you hot and heavy. You jest keep
quiet, I'll fix 'im."
Butler was seated in Ben Ashley's store telling fish yarns when
Council sauntered in casually.
"Hello, But; lyin' agin, hey?"
"Hello, Steve! How goes it?"
"Oh, so-so. Too clang much rain these days. I thought it was goin' t
freeze up f'r good last night. Tight squeak if I get m' ploughin'
done. How's farmin' with you these days?"
"Bad. Ploughin' ain't half done."
"It 'ud be a religious idee f'r you t' go out an' take a hand y'rself."
"I don't haff to," said Butler, with a wink.
"Got anybody on the Higley place?"
"No. Know of anybody?"
"Waal, no; not eggsackly. I've got a relation back t' Michigan who's
ben hot an' cold on the idea o' comin' West f'r some time. Might
come if he could get a good lay-out. What do you talk on the
"Well, I d' know. I'll rent it on shares or I'll rent it money rent."
"Waal, how much money, say?"
"Well, say ten per cent, on the price two-fifty."
"Wall, that ain't bad. Wait on 'im till 'e thrashes?"
Haskins listened eagerly to this important question, but Council
was coolly eating a dried apple which he had speared out of a
barrel with his knife. Butler studied him carefully.
"Well, knocks me out of twenty-five dollars interest."
"My relation'll need all he's got t' git his crops in," said Council, in
the same, indifferent way.
"Well, all right; say wait," concluded Butler.
"All right; this is the man. Haskins, this is Mr. Butler no relation to
Ben the hardest-working man in Cedar County."
On the way home Haskins said: "I ain't much better off. I'd like that
farm; it's a good farm, but it's all run down, an' so 'm I. I could
make a good farm of it if I had half a show. But I can't stock it n'r
"Waal, now, don't you worry," roared Council in his ear. "We'll
pull y' through somehow till next harvest. He's agreed t' hire it
ploughed, an' you can earn a hundred dollars ploughin' an' y' c'n git
the seed o' me, an' pay me back when y' can."
Haskins was silent with emotion, but at last he said, "I ain't got
nothin' t' live on."
"Now, don't you worry 'bout that. You jest make your headquarters
at ol' Steve Council's. Mother'll take a pile o' comfort in havin' y'r
wife an' children 'round.
Y' see, Jane's married off lately, an' Ike's away a good 'eal, so we'll
be darn glad t' have y' stop with us this winter. Nex' spring we'll see
if y' can't git a start agin." And he chirruped to the team, which
sprang forward with the rumbling, clattering wagon.
"Say, looky here, Council, you can't do this. I never saw " shouted
Haskins in his neighbor's ear.
Council moved about uneasily in his seat and stopped his
stammering gratitude by saying: "Hold on, now; don't make such a
fuss over a little thing. When I see a man down, an' things all on
top of 'm, I jest like t' kick 'em off an' help 'm up. That's the kind of
religion I got, an' it's about the only kind."
They rode the rest of the way home in silence. And when the red
light of the lamp shone out into the darkness of the cold and windy
night, and he thought of this refuge for his children and wife,
Haskins could have put his arm around the neck of his burly
companion and squeezed him like a lover. But he contented
himself with saying, "Steve Council, you'll git y'r pay f'r this some
"Don't want any pay. My religion ain't run on such business
The wind was growing colder, and the ground was covered with a
white frost, as they turned into the gate of the Council farm, and
the children came rushing out, shouting, "Papa's come!" They
hardly looked like the same children who had sat at the table the
night before. Their torpidity, under the influence of sunshine and
Mother Council, had given way to a sort of spasmodic
cheerfulness, as insects in winter revive when laid on the hearth.
Haskins worked like a fiend, and his wife, like the heroic woman
that she was, bore also uncomplainingly the most terrible burdens.
They rose early and toiled without intermission till the darkness
fell on the plain, then tumbled into bed, every bone and muscle
aching with fatigue, to rise with the sun next morning to the same
round of the same ferocity of labor.
The eldest boy drove a team all through the spring, ploughing and
seeding, milked the cows, and did chores innumerable, in most
ways taking the place of a man.
An infinitely pathetic but common figure this boy on the American
farm, where there is no law against child labor. To see him in his
coarse clothing, his huge boots, and his ragged cap, as he staggered
with a pail of water from the well, or trudged in the cold and
cheerless dawn out into the frosty field behind his team, gave the
city-bred visitor a sharp pang of sympathetic pain. Yet Haskins
loved his boy, and would have saved him from this if he could, but
he could not.
By June the first year the result of such Herculean toil began to
show on the farm. The yard was cleaned up and sown to grass, the
garden ploughed and planted, and the house mended.
Council had given them four of his cows.
"Take 'em an' run 'em on shares. I don't want 'o milk s' many. Ike's
away s' much now, Sat'd'ys an' Sund'ys, I can't stand the bother
Other men, seeing the confidence of Council in the newcomer, had
sold him tools on time; and as he was really an able farmer, he
soon had round him many evidences of his care and thrift. At the
advice of Council he had taken the farm for three years, with the
privilege of re-renting or buying at the end of the term.
"It's a good bargain, an' y' want 'o nail it," said Council. "If you
have any kind ov a crop, you c'n pay y'r debts, an' keep seed an'
The new hope which now sprang up in the heart of Haskins and his
wife grew almost as a pain by the time the wide field of wheat
began to wave and rustle and swirl in the winds of July. Day after
day he would snatch a few moments after supper to go and look at
"'Have ye seen the wheat t'-day, Nettie?" he asked one night as he
rose from supper.
"No, Tim, I ain't had time."
"Well, take time now. Le's go look at it."
She threw an old hat on her head Tommy's hat and looking almost
pretty in her thin, sad way, went out with her husband to the hedge.
"Ain't it grand, Nettie ? Just look at it."
It was grand. Level, russet here and there, heavy-headed, wide as a
lake, and full of multitudinous whispers and gleams of wealth, it
stretched away before the gazers like the fabled field of the cloth
"Oh, I think I hope we'll have a good crop, Tim; and oh, how good
the people have been to us!"
"Yes; I don't know where we'd be t'-day if it hadn't teen f'r Council
and his wife."
"They're the best people in the world," said the little woman, with
a great sob of gratitude.
"We'll be in the field on Monday sure," said Haskins, gripping the
rail on the fences as if already at the work of the harvest.
The harvest came, bounteous, glorious, but the winds came and
blew it into tangles, and the rain matted it here and there close
to the ground, increasing the work of gathering it threefold.
Oh, how they toiled in those glorious days! Clothing dripping with
sweat, arms aching, filled with briers, fingers raw and bleeding,
backs broken with the weight of heavy bundles, Haskins and his
man toiled on. Tummy drove the harvester, while his father and a
hired man bound on the machine. In this way they cut ten acres
every day, and almost every night after supper, when the hand
went to bed, Haskins returned to the field shocking the bound
grain in the light of the moon. Many a night he worked till his
anxious wife came out at ten o'clock to call him in to rest and
lunch. At the same time she cooked for the men, took care of the
children, washed and ironed, milked the cows at night, made the
butter, and sometimes fed the horses and watered them while her
husband kept at the shocking.
No slave in the Roman galleys could have toiled so frightfully and
lived, for this man thought himself a free man, and that he was
working for his wife and babes.
When he sank into his bed with a deep groan of relief, too tired to
change his grimy, dripping clothing, he felt that he was getting
nearer and nearer to a home of his own, and pushing the wolf of
want a little farther from his door.
There is no despair so deep as the despair of a homeless man or
woman. To roam the roads of the country or the streets of the city,
to feel there is no rood of ground on which the feet can rest, to halt
weary and hungry outside lighted windows and hear laughter and
song within, these are the hungers and rebellions that drive men to
crime and women to shame.
It was the memory of this homelessness, and the fear of its coming
again, that spurred Timothy Haskins and Nettie, his wife, to such
ferocious labor during that first year.
"'M, yes; 'm, yes; first-rate," said Butler, as his eye took in the neat
garden, the pig-pen, and the well-filled barnyard. "You're gitt'n'
quite a stock around yeh. Done well, eh?" Haskins was showing
Butler around the place. He had not seen it for a year, having
spent the year in Washington and Boston with Ashley, his
brother-in-law, who had been elected to Congress.
"Yes, I've laid out a good deal of money durin' the last three years.
I've paid out three hundred dollars f'r fencin'."
"Um h'm! I see, I see," said Butler, while Haskins went on:
"The kitchen there cost two hundred; the barn ain't cost much in
money, but I've put a lot o' time on it. I've dug a new well, and I-- "
"Yes, yes, I see. You've done well. Stock worth a thousand dollars,
" said Butler, picking his teeth with a straw.
"About that," said Haskins, modestly. "We begin to feel's if we was
gitt'n' a home f'r ourselves; but we've worked hard. I tell you we
begin to feel it, Mr. Butler, and we're goin' t' begin to ease up purty
soon. We've been kind o' plannin' a trip back t' her folks after the
fall ploughin's done."
"Eggs-actly!" said Butler, who was evidently thinking of something
else. "I suppose you've kind o' calc'lated on stayin' here three years
"Well, yes. Fact is, I think I c'n buy the farm this fall, if you'll give
me a reasonable show."
"Um m! What do you call a reasonable show?"
"Well, say a quarter down and three years' time."
Butler looked at the huge stacks of wheat, which filled the yard,
over which the chickens were fluttering and crawling, catching
grasshoppers, and out of which the crickets were singing
innumerably. He smiled in a peculiar way as he said, "Oh, I won't
be hard on yeh. But what did you expect to pay f'r the place?"
"Why, about what you offered it for before, two thousand five
hundred, or possibly three thousand dollars," he added quickly, as
he saw the owner shake his head.
"This farm is worth five thousand and five hundred dollars," said
Butler, in a careless and decided voice.
"What!" almost shrieked the astounded Haskins. "What's that? Five
thousand ? Why, that's double what you offered it for three years
"Of course, and it's worth it. It was all run down then - now it's in
good shape. You've laid out fifteen hundred dollars in
improvements, according to your own story."
"But you had nothin' t' do about that. It's my work an' my money. "
"You bet it was; but it's my land."
"But what's to pay me for all my-- "
"Ain't you had the use of 'em?" replied Butler, smiling calmly into
Haskins was like a man struck on the head with a sandbag; he
couldn't think; he stammered as he tried to say: "But I never'd git
the use You'd rob me! More'n that: you agreed you promised that I
could buy or rent at the end of three years at-- "
"That's all right. But I didn't say I'd let you carry off the
improvements, nor that I'd go on renting the farm at two-fifty. The
land is doubled in value, it don't matter how; it don't enter into the
question; an' now you can pay me five hundred dollars a year rent,
or take it on your own terms at fifty-five hundred, or git out."
He was turning away when Haskins, the sweat pouring from his
face, fronted him, saying again:
"But you've done nothing to make it so. You hadn't added a cent. I
put it all there myself, expectin' to buy. I worked an' sweat to
improve it. I was workin' for myself an' babes-- "
"Well, why didn't you buy when I offered to sell? What y' kickin'
"I'm kickin' about payin' you twice f'r my own things, my own
fences, my own kitchen, my own garden."
Butler laughed. "You're too green t' eat, young feller. Your
improvements! The law will sing another tune."
"But I trusted your word."
"Never trust anybody, my friend. Besides, I didn't promise not to
do this thing. Why, man, don't look at me like that. Don't take me
for a thief. It's the law. The reg'lar thing. Everybody does it."
"I don't care if they do. It's stealin' jest the same. You take three
thousand dollars of my money the work o' my hands and my
wife's." He broke down at this point. He was not a strong man
mentally. He could face hardship, ceaseless toil, but he could not
face the cold and sneering face of Butler.
"But I don't take it," said Butler, coolly "All you've got to do is to
go on jest as you've been a-coin', or give me a thousand dollars
down, and a mortgage at ten per cent on the rest."
Haskins sat down blindly on a bundle of oats near by, and with
staring eyes and drooping head went over the situation. He was
under the lion's paw. He felt a horrible numbness in his heart and
limbs. He was hid in a mist, and there was no path out.
Butler walked about, looking at the huge stacks of grain, and
pulling now and again a few handfuls out, shelling the heads in his
hands and blowing the chaff away. He hummed a little tune as he
did so. He had an accommodating air of waiting.
Haskins was in the midst of the terrible toil of the last year. He was
walking again in the rain and the mud behind his plough - he felt
the dust and dirt of the threshing. The ferocious husking- time,
with its cutting wind and biting, clinging snows, lay hard upon
him. Then he thought of his wife, how she had cheerfully cooked
and baked, without holiday and without rest.
"Well, what do you think of it?" inquired the cool, mocking,
insinuating voice of Butler.
"I think you're a thief and a liar!" shouted Haskins, leaping up. "A
black-hearted houn'!" Butler's smile maddened him; with a sudden
leap he caught a fork in his hands, and whirled it in the air. "You'll
never rob another man, damn ye!" he grated through his teeth, a
look of pitiless ferocity in his accusing eyes.
Butler shrank and quivered, expecting the blow; stood, held
hypnotized by the eyes of the man he had a moment before
despised a man transformed into an avenging demon. But in the
deadly hush between the lift of the weapon and its fall there came
a gush of faint, childish laughter and then across the range of his
vision, far away and dim, he saw the sun-bright head of his baby
girl, as, with the pretty, tottering run of a two-year-old, she moved
across the grass of the dooryard. His hands relaxed: the fork fell to
the ground; his head lowered.
"Make out y'r deed an' mor'gage, an' git off'n my land, an' don't ye
never cross my line agin; if y' do, I'll kill ye."
Butler backed away from the man in wild haste, and climbing into
his buggy with trembling limbs drove off down the road, leaving
Haskins seated dumbly on the sunny pile of sheaves, his head sunk
into his hands.
THE CREAMERY MAN
"Along these woods in storm and sun the busy people go."
THE tin-peddler has gone out of the West. Amiable gossip and
sharp trader that he was, his visits once brought a sharp business
grapple to the farmer's wife and daughters, after which, as the man
of trade was repacking his unsold wares, a moment of cheerful talk
often took place. It was his cue, if he chanced to be a tactful
peddler, to drop all attempts at sale and become distinctly human
His calls were not always well received, but they were at their best
pleasant breaks of a monotonous round of duties. But he is no
longer a familiar spot on the landscape. He has passed into the
limbo of the things no longer necessary. His red wagon may be
rumbling and rattling through some newer region, but the "coulee
country" knows him no more.
'The creamery man" has taken his place. Every afternoon, rain or
shine, the wagons of the North Star Creamery in "Dutcher's
Coulee" stop at the farmers' windmills to skim the cream from the
"submerged cans." His wagon is not gay; it is generally battered
and covered with mud and filled with tall cans; but the driver
himself is generally young and sometimes attractive. The driver in
Molasses Gap, which is a small coulee leading into Dutcher's
Coulee was particularly good-looking and amusing.
He was aware of his good looks, and his dress not only showed
that he was single, but that he hoped to be married soon. He wore
brown trousers, which fitted him very well, and a dark-blue shirt,
which had a gay lacing of red cord in front, and a pair of
suspenders that were a vivid green. On his head he wore a Chinese
straw helmet; which was as ugly as anything could conceivably be,
but he was as proud of it as he was of his green suspenders. In
summer he wore no coat at all, and even in pretty cold weather he
left his vest on his wagon seat, not being able to bring himself to
the point of covering up the red and green of his attire.
It was noticeable that the women of the neighborhood always
came out, even on washday, to see that Claude (his name was
Claude Willlams) measured the cream properly. There was much
banter about this. Mrs. Kennedy always said she wouldn't trust him
"fur's you can fling a yearlin' bull by the tail."
"Now that's the difference between us," he would reply. "I'd trust
you anywhere. Anybody with such a daughter as your'n"
He seldom got further, for Lucindy always said (in substance),
"Oh, you go 'long."
There need be no mystery in the matter. 'Cindy was the girl for
whose delight he wore the green and red. He made no secret of his
love, and she made no secret of her scorn. She laughed at his green
'spenders and the "red shoestring" in his shirt; but Claude
considered himself very learned in women's ways, by reason of
two years' driving the creamery wagon, and be merely winked at
Mrs. Kennedy when the girl was looking, and kissed his hand at
'Cindy when her mother was not looking.
He looked forward every afternoon to these little exchanges of wit,
and was depressed when for any reason the womenfolks were
away. There were other places pleasanter than the Kennedy
farm-some of "the Dutchmen" had fine big brick houses and finer
and bigger barns, but their women were mostly homely and went
around barefooted and barelegged, with ugly blue dresses hanging
frayed and greasy round their lank ribs and big joints.
"Some way their big houses have a look like a stable when you get
close to 'em," Claude said to 'Cindy once. "Their women work so
much in the field they don't have any time to fix up-the way you
do. I don't believe in women workin' in the fields." He said this
looking 'Cindy in the face. "My wife needn't set her foot outdoors
'less she's a mind to."
"Oh, you can talk," replied the girl scornfully, "but you'd be like
the rest of 'em." But she was glad that she had on a clean collar and
apron-if it was ironing day.
What Claude would have said further 'Cindy could not divine, for
her mother called her away, as she generally did when she saw her
daughter lingering too long with the creamery man. Claude was
not considered a suitable match for Lucindy Kennedy, whose
father owned one of the finest farms in the coulee. Worldly
considerations hold in Molasses Gap as well as in Bluff Siding and
But Claude gave little heed to these moods in Mrs. Kennedy. If
'Cindy sputtered, he laughed; and if she smiled, he rode on
whistling till he came to old man Haldeman's, who owned the
whole lower half of Molasses Gap, and had one ummarried
daughter, who thought Claude one of the handsomest men in the
world. She was always at the gate to greet him as he drove up, and
forced sections of cake and pieces of gooseberry pie upon him
"She's good enough-for a Dutchman," Claude said of her, "but I
hate to see a woman go around looking as if her clothes would
drop off if it rained on her. And on Sundays, when she dresses up,
she looks like a boy rigged out in some girl's cast-off duds."
This was pretty hard on Nina. She was tall and lank and sandy,
with small blue eyes, her limbs were heavy, and she did wear her
Sunday clothes badly, but she was a good, generous soul and very
much in love with the creamery man. She was not very clean, but
then she could not help that; the dust of the field is no respecter of
sex. No, she was not lovely, but she was the only daughter of old
Ernest Haldeman, and the old man was not very strong.
Claude was the daily bulletin of the Gap. He knew whose cow died
the night before, who was at the strawberry dance, and all about
Abe Anderson's night in jail up at the Siding. If his coming was
welcome to the Kennedy's, who took the Bluff Siding Gimlet and
the county paper, how much the more cordial ought his greeting to
be at Haldeman's, where they only took the Milwaukee Weekly
Nina in her poor way had longings and aspirations. She wanted to
marry "a Yankee," and not one of her own kind. She had a little
schooling obtained at the small brick shed under the towering
cottonwood tree at the corner of her father's farm; but her life had
been one of hard work and mighty little play. Her parents spoke in
German about the farm, and could speak English only very
brokenly. Her only brother had adventured into the foreign parts of
Pine County and had been killed in a sawmill. Her life was lonely
She had suitors among the Germans, plenty of them, but she had a
disgust of them-considered as possible husbands-and though she
went to their beery dances occasionally, she had always in her
mind the ease, lightness, and color of Claude. She knew that the
Yankee girls did not work in the fields-even the Norwegian girls
seldom did so now, they worked out in town-but she had been
brought up to hoe and pull weeds from her childhood, and her
father and mother considered it good for her, and being a gentle
and obedient child, she still continued to do as she was told.
Claude pitied the girl, and used to talk with her, during his short
stay, in his cheeriest manner.
"Hello, Nina! How you vass, ain't it? How much cream already you
got this morning? Did you hear the news, not?"
"No, vot hass happened?"
"Everything. Frank Mcvey's horse stepped through the bridge and
broke his leg, and he's going to sue the county-mean Frank is, not
"Iss dot so?"
"Sure! and Bill Hetner had a fight, and Julia Dooriliager's got
"Vot wass Bill fightding apoudt?"
"Oh, drunk-fighting for exercise. Hain't got a fresh pie cut?"
Her face lighted up, and she turned so suddenly to go that her bare
leg showed below her dress. Her unstockinged feet were thrust
into coarse working shoes. Claude wrinkled his nose in disgust, but
he took the piece of green currant pie on the palm of his hand and
bit the acute angle from it.
"First-rate. You do make lickin' good pies," he said Out of pure
kindness of heart, and Nina was radiant.
"She wouldn't be so bad-lookin' if they didn't work her in the fields
like a horse," he said to himself as he drove away.
The neighbors were well aware of Nina's devotion, and Mrs.
Smith, who lived two or three houses down the road, said, "Good
evening, Claude. Seen Nina today?"
"Sure! and she gave me a piece of currant pie-her own make."
"Did you eat it?"
"Did I? I guess yes. I ain't refusin' pie from Nina-not while her pa
has five hundred acres of the best land in Molasses Gap."
Now, it was this innocent joking on his part that started all
Claude's trouble. Mrs. Smith called a couple of days later and had
her joke with 'Cindy.
"'Cindy, your cake's all dough."
"Why, what's the matter now?"
"Claude come along t'other day grinnin' from ear to ear, and some
currant pie in his musstache. He had jest fixed it up with Nina. He
jest as much as said he was after the old man's acres."
"Well, let him have 'em. I don't know as it interests me," replied
'Cindy, waving her head like a banner. "If he wants to sell himself
to that greasy Dutchwoman why, let him, that's all! I don't care."
Her heated manner betrayed her to Mrs. Smith, who laughed with
"Well, you better watch out!"
The next day was very warm, and when Claude drove up under the
shade of the big maples he was ready for a chat while his horses
rested, but 'Cindy was nowhere to be seen. Mrs. Kennedy came out
to get the amount of the skimming and started to re-enter the house
"Where's the young folks?" asked Claude carelessly.
"If you mean Lucindy, she's in the house."
"Ain't sick or nothin', is she?"
"Not that anybody knows of. Don't expect her to be here to gass
with you every time, do ye?"
"Well, I wouldn't mind"' replied Claude. He was too keen not to
see his chance. "In fact, I'd like to have her with me all the time,
Mrs. Kennedy," he said with engaging frankness.
"Well, you can't have her," the mother replied ungraciously.
"What's the matter with me?"
"Oh, I like you well enough, but 'Cindy'd be a big fool to marry a
man without a roof to cover his head."
"That's where you take your inning, sure," Claude replied. "I'm not
much better than a hired hand. Well, now, see here, I'm going to
make a strike one of these days, and then-look out for me! You
don't know but what I've invested in a gold mine. I may be a Dutch
lord in disguise. Better not be brash."
Mrs. Kennedy's sourness could not stand against sueb sweetness
and drollery. She smiled in wry fashion. "You'd better be moving,
or you'll be late."
"Sure enough. If I only had you for a mother-in-law-that's why I'm
so poor. Nobody to keep me moving. If I had someone to do the
talking for me, I'd work." He grinned broadly and drove out.
His irritation led him to say some things to Nina which he would
not have thought of saying the day before. She had been working
in the field and had dropped her hoe to see him.
"Say, Nina, I wouldn't work outdoors such a day as this if I was
you. I'd tell the old man to go to thunder, and I'd go in and wash up
and look decent Yankee women don't do that kind of work, and
your old dad's rich; no use of your sweatin' around a cornfield with
a hoe in your hands. I don't like to see a woman goin' round
without stockin's and her hands all chapped and calloused. It ain't
accordin' to Hoyle. No, sir! I wouldn't stand it. I'd serve an
injunction on the old man right now."
A dull, slow flush crept into the girl's face, and she put one hand
over the other as they rested on the fence. One looked so much less
monstrous than two.
Claude went on, "Yes, sir! I'd brace up and go to Yankee meeting
instead of Dutch; you'd pick up a Yankee beau like as not."
He gathered his cream while she stood silently by, and when he
looked at her again she was in deep thought.
"Good day," he said cheerily.
"Goodbye," she replied, and her face flushed again.
It rained that night, and the roads were very bad, and he was late
the next time he arrived at Haldeman's. Nina came out in her best
dress, but he said nothing about it, supposing she was going to
town or something Like that, and he hurried through with his task
and had mounted his seat before he realized that anything was
Then Mrs. Haldeman appeared at the kitchen door and hurled a lot
of unintelligible German at him. He knew she was mad, and mad
at him, and also' at Nina, for she shook her fist at them alternately.
Singular to tell, Nina paid no attention to her mother's sputter. She
looked at Claude with a certain timid audacity.
"How you like me today?"
"That's better," he said as he eyed her critically. "Now you're
talkin'! I'd do a little reading of the newspaper myself, if I was.
you. A woman's business ain't to work out in the hot sun-it's to
cook and fix up things round the house, and then put on her clean
dress and set in the shade and read or sew on something. Stand up
to 'em! Doggone me if I'd paddle round that hot cornfield with a
mess o' Dutchmen-it ain't decent!"
He drove off with a chuckle at the old man, who was seated at the
back of the house with a newspaper in his hand. He was lame, or
pretended he was, and made his wife and daughter wait upon him.
Claude had no conception of what was working in Nina's mind, but
he could not help observing the changes for the better in her
appearance. Each day he called she was neatly dressed and wore
her shoes laced up to the very top hook.
She was passing through tribulation on his account, but she sald
nothing about it. The old man, her father, no longer spoke to her,
and the mother sputtered continually, but the girl seemed sustained
by some inner power. She calmly went about doing as she pleased,
and no fury of words could check her or turn her aside.
Her hands grew smooth and supple once more, and her face lost
the parboiled look it once had.
Claude noticed all these gains and commented on them with the
freedom of a man who had established friendly relations with a
"I tell you what, Nina, you're coming along, sure. Next ground hop
you'll be wearin' silk stockin's and high-heeled shoes. How's the
old man? Still mad?"
"He don't speak to me no more. My mudder says I am a big fool."
"She does? Well, you tell her I think you're just getting sensible."
She smiled again, and there was a subtle quality in the mixture of
boldness and timidity of her manner. His praise was so sweet and
"I sold my pigs," she said. "The old man, he wass madt, but I
didn't mind. I pought me a new dress with the money."
"That's right! I like to see a woman have plenty Of new dresses,"
Claude replied. He was really enjoying the girl's rebellion and
Meanwhile his own affairs with Lucindy were in a bad way. He
seldom saw her now. Mrs. Smith was careful to convey to her that
Claude stopped longer than was necessary at Haldeman's, and so
Mrs. Kennedy attended to the matter of recording the cream.
Kennedy hersell was always in the field, and Claude had no
opportunity for a conversation with him, as he very much wished
to have. Once, when he saw 'Cindy in the kitchen at work, he left
his team to rest in the shade and sauntered to the door and looked
She was kneading out cake dough, and she looked the loveliest
thing he had ever seen. Her sleeves were rolled up. Her neat brown
dress was covered with a big apron, and her collar was open a
liffle at the throat, for it was warm in the kitchen. She frowned
when she saw him.
He began jocularly. "Oh, thank you, I can wait till it bakes. No
trouble at all."
"Well, it's a good deal of trouble to me to have you standin' there
gappin' at me!"
"Ain't gappin' at you. I'm waitin' for the pie."
"'Tain't pie; it's cake."
"Oh, well, cake'll do for a change. Say, 'Cindy-"
"Don't call me 'Cindy!"
"Well, Lucindy. It's mighty lonesome when I don't see you on my
"Oh, I guess you can stand it with Nina to talk to."
"Aha! jealous, are you?"
"Jealous of that Dutchwoman! I don't care who you talk to, and
you needn't think it."
Claude was learned in woman's ways, and this pleased him
"Well, when shall I speak to your daddy?"
"I don't know what you mean, and I don't care."
"Oh, yes, you do. I'm going to come up here next Sunday in my
best bib and tucker, and I'm going to say, 'Mr. Kennedy'-'~
The sound of Mrs. Kennedy's voice and footsteps approaching
made Claude suddenly remember his duties.
"See ye later," he said with a grin. "I'll call for the cake next time."
"Call till you split your throat, if you want to," said 'Cindy.
Apparently this could have gone on indefinitely, but it didn't.
Lucindy went to Minneapolis for a few weeks to stay with her
brother, and that threw Claude deeper into despair than anything
Mrs. Kennedy might do or any word Lucindy might say. It was a
dreadful blow to him to have her pack up and go so suddenly and
without one backward look at him, and, besides, he had planned
taking her to Tyre on the Fourth of July.
Mr. Kennedy, much better-natured than the mother, told Claude
where she had gone.
"By mighty! That's a knock on the nose for me. When did she go?"
"Yistady. I took her down to the Siding."
"When's she coming back?"
"Oh, after the hot weather is over; four or five weeks."
"I hope I'll be alive when she returns," said Claude gloomily.
Naturally he had a little more time to give to Nina and her
remarkable doings, which had set the whole neighborhood to
wondering "what had come over the girl."
She no longer worked in the field. She dressed better, and had
taken to going to the most fashionable church in town. She was a
woman transformed. Nothing was able to prevent her steady
progression and bloom. She grew plumper and fairer and became
so much more attractive that the young Germans thickened round
her, and one or two Yankee boys looked her way. Through it all
Claude kept up his half-humorous banter and altogether serious
daily advice, without once realizing that any-thing sentimental
connected him with it all. He knew she liked him, and sometimes
he felt a little annoyed by her attempts to please him, but that she
was doing all that she did and ordering her whole life to please
him never entered his self-sufficient head.
There wasn't much room left in that head for anyone else except
Lucindy, and his plans for wining her. Plan as he might, he saw no
way of making more than the two dollars a day he was earning as a
Things ran along thus from week to week till it was nearly time for
Lucindy to return. Claude was having his top buggy repainted and
was preparing for a vigorous campaign when Lucindy should be at
home again. He owned his team and wagon and the buggy-nothing
One Saturday Mr. Kennedy said, "Lucindy's coming home. I'm
going down after her tonight."
"Let me bring her up," said Claude with suspicious eagerness.
Mr. Kennedy hesitated. "No, I guess I'll go myself. I want to go to
Claude was in high spirits as he drove into Haldeman's yard that
Nina was leaning over the fence singing softly to herself, but a
fierce altercation was going on inside the house. The walls
resounded. It was all Dutch to Claude, but he knew the old people
Nina smiled and colored as Claude drew up at the side gate. She
seemed not to hear the eloquent discussion inside.
"What's going on?" asked Claude.
"Dey tink I am in house."
"My mudder she lock me up."
Claude stared. "Locked you up? What for?"
"She tondt like it dot I come out to see you."
"Oh, she don't?" said Claude. "What's the matter o' me? I ain't a
dangerous chap. I ain't eatin' up little. girls."
Nina went on placidly. "She saidt dot you was goin' to marry me
undt' get the farm."
Claude grinned, then chuckied, and at last roared and whooped
with the delight of it. He took off his hat and said:
"She said that, did she? Why, bless her old cabbage head-"
The opening of the door and the sudden irruption of Frau
Haldeman interrupted him. She came rushing toward him like a
she grizzly bear, uttering a torrent of German expletives, and
hurled herself upon him, clutching at his hair and throat. He leaped
aside and struck down her hands with a sweep of his hard right
arm. As she turned to come again he shouted,
"Keep off! or I'll knock you down!"
But before the blow came Nina seized the infuriated woman from
behind and threw her down, and held her till the old man came
hobbling to the rescue. He seemed a little dazed by it all and made
no effort to assault Claude.
The old woman, who was already black in the face with rage,
suddenly fell limp, and Nina, kneeling beside her, grew white with
"Oh, vat is the matter! I hat kildt her!"
Claude rushed for a bucket of water and dashed it in the old
woman's �ace. He flooded her with slashings of it, especially after
he saw her open her eyes, ending by emptying the bucket in her
face. He was a little malicious about that.
The mother sat up soon, wet, scared, bewildered, gasping.
"Mein Gott! Mein Gotd Ich bin ertrinken!"
"What does she say-she's been drinkin'? Well, that looks
"No, no-she thinks she is trouned."
"Oh, drowned!" Claude roared again. "Not much she ain't. She's
only just getting cooled off."
He helped the girl get her mother to the house and stretch her out
on a bed. The old woman seemed to have completely exhausted
herself with her effort and submitted like a child to be waited
upon. Her sudden fainting had subdued her.
Claude had never penetrated so far into the house before, and was
much pleased with the neatness and good order of the rooms,
though they were bare of furniture and carpets.
As the girl came out with him to the gate he uttered the most
serious word he had ever had with her
"Now, I want you to notice," he said, "that I did nothing to call out
the old lady's rush at me. I'd 'a' hit her, sure, if she'd 'a' clinched me
again. I don't believe in striking a woman, but she was after my
hide for the time bein', and I can't stand two such clutches in the
same place. You don't blame me, I hope."
"No. You done choost ride."
"What do you suppose the old woman went for me for?"
Nina looked down uneasily.
"She know you an' me lige one anudder, an' she is afrait you marry
me, an' den ven she tie you get the farm a-ready."
Claude whisfied. "Great Jehosaphat! She really thinks that, does
she? Well, dog my cats! What put that idea into her head?"
"I told her," said Nina calmly.
"You told her?" Claude turned and stared at her. She looked down,
and her face slowly grew to a deep red. She moved uneasily from
one foot to the' other, like an awkward, embarrassed child. As he
looked at her standing like a culprit before him, his first impulse
was to laugh. He was not specially refined, but he was a kindly
man, and it suddenly occurred to 'him that the girl was suffering.
"Well, you were mistaken," he said at last, gently enough. "I don't
know why you should think so, but I never thought of marrying
you-never thought of it."
The flush faded from her face, and she stopped swaying. She lifted
her eyes to his in a tearful, appealing stare.
"I t'ought so-you made me t'ink so."
"I did? How? I never said a word to you about-liking you
or-marrying-or anything like that. I-" He was going to tell her he
intended to marry Lucindy, but he checked himself.
Her lashes fell again, and the tears began to stream down her
cheeks. She knew the worst now. His face had convinced her. She
could not tell him the grounds of her belief-that every time he had
said, "I don't like to see a woman do -this or that," or, "I like to see
a woman fix up around the house," she had considered his words
in the light of courtship, believing that in such ways the Yankees
made love. So she stood suffering dumbly while he loaded his
cream can and stood by the wheel ready to mount his wagon.
He turned. "I'm mighty sorry about it," he said. "Mebbe I was to
blame. I didn't mean nothing by it-not a thing. It was all a mistake.
Let's shake hands over it and call the whole business off."
He held his hand out to her, and with a low cry she seized it and
laid her cheek upon it. He started back in amazement and drew his
hand away. She fell upon her knees in the path and covered her
face with her apron, while he hastily mounted his seat and drove
Nothing so profoundly moving had come into his life since the
death of his mother, and as he rode on down the road he did a great
deal of thinking. First it gave him a pleasant sensation to think a
woman should care so much for him. He had lived a homeless life
for years and had come into intimate relations with few women,
good or bad. They had always laughed with him (not at him, for
Claude was able to take care of himself), and no woman before
had taken him seriously, and there was a certain charm about the
Then he fell to wondering what he had said or done to give the girl
such a notion of his purposes. Perhaps he had been too free with
his talk. He was so troubled that he hardly smiled once during the
rest of his circuit, and at night he refrained from going up town,
and sat under the trees back of the creamery and smoked and
pondered on the astounding situation.
He came at last to the resolution that it was his duty to declare
himself to Lucindy and end all uncertainty, so that no other woman
would fall into Nina's error. He was as good as an engaged man,
and the world should know it.
The next day, with his newly painted buggy flashing in the sun,
and the extra dozen ivory rings he had purchased for his harnesses
clashing together, he drove up the road as a man of leisure and a
resolved lover. It was a beautiful day in August.
Lucindy was getting a light tea for some friends up from the
Siding, when she saw Claude drive up.
"Well, for the land sake!" she broke out, using one of her mother's
phrases, "if here isn't that creamery man!" In that phrase lay the
answer to Claude's question-if he had heard it. He drove in, and
Mr. Kennedy, with impartial hospitality, went out and asked hiin
to 'light and put his team in the barn.
He did so, feeling very much exhilarated. He never before had
gone courting in this direct and aboveboard fashion. He mistook
the father's hospitality for compliance in his designs. He followed
his host into the house and faced, with very fair composure, two
girls who smiled broadly as they shook hands with him. Mrs.
Kennedy gave him a lax hand and a curt how-de-do, and Lucindy
fairly scowled in answer to his radiant smile.
She was much changed, he could see. She wore a dress with puffed
sleeves, and her hair was dressed differently. She seemed strange
and distant, but he thought she was "putting that on" for the benefit
of others. At the table the three girls talked of things at the Siding
and ignored him so that he was obliged to turn to Farmer Kennedy
for refuge. He kept his courage up by thinking, "Wait till we are
After supper, when Lucindy explained that the dishes would have
to be washed, he offered to help her in his best manner.
"Thank you, I don't need any help," was Lucindy's curt reply.
Ordinarily he was a man of much facility and ease in addressing
women, but be was vastly disconcerted by her manner. He sat
rather silently waiting for the room to clear. When the visitors
intimated that they must go, he rose with cheerful alacrity.
"I'll get your horse for you."
He helped hitch the horse into the buggy, and helped the girls in
with a return of easy gallantry, and watched them drive off with
joy. At last the field was clear.
They returned to the sitting room, where the old folks remained for
a decent interval, and then left the young people alone. His
courage returned then, and he turned toward her with resolution
in his voice and eyes.
"Lucindy," he began.
"Miss Kennedy, please," interrupted Lucindy with cutting
"I'll be darned if I do," he replied hotly. "What's the matter with
you? Since going to Minneapolis you put on a lot of city airs, it
seems to me."
"If you don't like my airs, you know what you can do!"
He saw his mistake.
"Now see here, Lucindy, there's no sense in our quarreling."
"I don't want to quarrel; I don't want anything to do with you. I
wish I'd never seen you."
"Oh, you don't mean that! After all the good talks we've had."
She flushed red. "I never had any such talks with you."
He pursued his advantage.
"Oh, yes, you did, and you took pains that I should see you."
"I didn't; no such thing. You came poking into the kitchen where
you'd no business to be."
"Say, now, stop fooling. You like me and-"
"I don't. I hate you, and if you don't clear out I'll call father. You're
one o' these kind o' men that think if a girl looks at 'em that they
want to marry 'em. I tell you I don't want anything more to do with
you, and I'm engaged to another man, and I wish you'd attend to
your own business. So there! I hope you're satisfied."
Claude sat for nearly a minute in silence, then he rose. "I guess
you're right. I've made a mistake. I've made a mistake in the girl."
He spoke with a curious hardness in his voice. "Good evening,
He went out with dignity and in good order. His retreat was not
ludicrous. He left the girl with the feeling that she had lost her
temper and with the knowledge that she had uttered a lie.
He put his horses to the buggy with a mournful self-pity as he saw
the wheels glisten. He had done all this for a scornful girl who
could not treat him decently. 'As he drove slowly down the road he
mused deeply. It was a knock-down blow, surely. He was a just
man, so far as he knew, and as he studied the situation over he
could not blame the girl. In the light of her convincing wrath he
comprehended that the sharp things she had said to him in the past
were not make-believe-not love taps, but real blows. She had not
been coquetting. with him; she had tried to keep him away. She
considered herself too good for a hired man. Well, maybe she' was.
Anyhow, she had gone out of his reach, hopelessly.
As he came past the Haldemans' he saw Nina sitting out under the
trees in the twifight. On the impulse he pulled in. His mind took
another turn. Here was a woman who was open and aboveboard in
her affection. Her words meant what they stood for. He
remembered how she had bloomed out the last few months. She
has the making of a handsome woman in her, he thought.
She saw him and came out to the gate, and while he leaned out of
his carriage she rested her arms on the gate and looked up at him.
She looked pale and sad, and he was touched.
"How's the old lady?" he asked.
"Oh, she's up! She is much change-ed. She is veak and quiet"
"Quiet, is she? Well, that's good."
"She t'inks God strike her fer her vickedness. Never before did she
fainted like dot."
"Well, don't spoil that notion in her. It may do her a world of
"Der priest come. He saidt it wass a punishment. She saidt I should
marry who I like."
Claude looked at her searchingly. She was certainly much
improved. All she needed was a little encouragement and advice,
and she would make a handsome wife. If the old lady had softened
down, her son-in-law could safely throw up the creamery job and
become the boss of the farm. The old man was used up, and the
farm needed someone right away.
He straightened up suddenly. "Get your hat," he sald, "and we'll
take a ride."
She started erect, and he could see her pale face glow with joy.
"With me. Get your best hat. We may turn up at the minister's and
get married-if a Sunday marriage is legal."
As she hurried up the walk he said to himself, "I'll bet it gives
Lucindy a shock!"
And the thought pleased him mightily.
A DAY'S PLEASURE
"Mainly it is long and weariful, and has a home o' toil at one end
and a dull little town at the other."
WHEN Markham came in from shoveling his last wagon-load of
corn into the crib, he found that his wife had put the children to
bed, and was kneading a batch of dough with the dogged action of
a tired and sullen woman.
He slipped his soggy boots off his feet and, having laid a piece of
wood on top of the stove, put his heels on it comfortably. His chair
squeaked as he leaned back on its hind legs, but he paid no
attention; he was used to it, exactly as he was used to his wife's
lameness and ceaseless toil.
"That closes up my corn," he said after a silence. "I guess I'll go to
town tomorrow to git my horses shod."
"I guess I'll git ready and go along," said his wife in a sorry attempt
to be firm and confident of tone.
"What do you want to go to town fer?" he grumbled. "What does
anybody want to go to town fer?" she burst out, facing him. "I ain't
been out o' this house fer six months, while you go an' go!"
"Oh, it ain't six months. You went down that day I got the mower."
"When was that? The tenth of July, and you know it."
"Well, mebbe 'twas. I didn't think it was so long ago. I ain't no
objection to your goin', only I'm goin' to take a load of wheat."
"Well, jest leave off a sack, an' that'll balance me an' the baby," she
"All right," he replied good-naturedly, seeing she was roused.
"Only that wheat ought to be put up tonight if you're goin'. You
won't have any time to hold sacks for me in the morning with them
young ones to get off to school."
"Well, let's go do it then," she said, sullenly resolute.
"I hate to go out agin; but I s'pose we'd better."
He yawned dismally and began pulling his boots on again,
stamping his swollen feet into them with grunts of pain. She put on
his coat and one of the boy's caps, and they went out to the
granary. The night was cold and clear.
"Don't look so much like snow as it did last night," said Sam. "It
may turn warm."
Laying out the sacks in the light of the lantern, they sorted out
those which were whole, and Sam climbed into the bin with a tin
pail in his hand, and the work began.
He was a sturdy fellow, and he worked desperately fast; the
shining tin pail dived deep into the cold wheat and dragged heavily
on the woman's tired hands as it came to the mouth of the sack,
and she trembled with fatigue, but held on and dragged the sacks
away when filled, and brought others, till at last Sam climbed out,
puffing and wheezing, to tie them up.
"I guess I'll load 'em in the morning," he said. "You needn't wait fer
me. I'll tie 'em up alone."
"Oh, I don't mind," she replied, feeling a little touched by his
unexpectedly easy acquiescence to her request. When they went
back to the house the moon had risen.
It had scarcely set when they were wakened by the crowing
roosters. The man rolled stiffly out of bed and began rattling at the
stove in the dark, cold kitchen.
His wife arose lamer and stiffer than usual and began twisting her
thin hair into a knot.
Sam did not stop to wash, but went out to the barn. The woman,
however, hastily soused her face into the hard limestone water at
the sink and put the kettle on. Then she called the children. She
knew it was early, and they would need several callings. She
pushed breakfast forward, running over in her mind the things she
must have: two spools of thread, six yards of cotton flannel, a can
of coffee, and mittens for Kitty. These she must have-there were
oceans of things she needed.
The children soon came scudding down out of the darkness of the
upstairs to dress tumultuously at the kitchen stove. They humped
and shivered, holding up their bare feet from the cold floor, like
chickens in new fallen snow. They were irritable, and snarled and
snapped and struck like cats and dogs. Mrs. Markham stood it for a
while with mere commands to "hush up," but at last her patience
gave out, and she charged down on the struggling mob and cuffed
them right and left.
They ate their breakfast by lamplight, and when Sam went back to
his work around the barnyard it was scarcely dawn. The children,
left alone with their mother, began to tease her to let them go to
"No, sir-nobody goes but baby. Your father's goin' to take a load of
She was weak with the worry of it all when she had sent the older
children away to school, and the kitchen work was finished. She
went into the cold bedroom off the little sitting room and put on
her best dress. It had never been a good fit, and now she was
getting so thin it hung in wrinkled folds everywhere about the
shoulders and waist. She lay down on the bed a moment to ease
that dull pam in her back. She had a moment's distaste for going
out at all. The thought of sleep was more alluring. Then the
thought of the long, long day, and the sickening sameness of her
life, swept over her again, and she rose. and prepared the baby for
It was but little after sunrise when Sam drove out into the road and
started for Belleplain. His wife sat perched upon the wheat sacks
behind him, holding the baby in her lap, a cotton quilt under her,
and a cotton horse blanket over her knees.
Sam was disposed to be very good-natured, and he talked back at
her occasionally, though she could only under-stand him when he
turned his face toward her. The baby stared out at the passing
fence posts and wiggled his hands out of his mittens at every
opportunity. He was merry, at least.
It grew warmer as they went on, and a strong south wind arose.
The dust settled upon the woman's shawl and hat. Her hair
loosened and blew unkemptly about her face. The road which led
across the high, level prairie was quite smooth and dry, but still it
jolted her, and the pam in her back increased. She had nothing to
lean against, and the weight of the child grew greater, till she was
forced to place him on the sacks beside her, though she could not
loose her hold for a moment.
The town drew in sight-a cluster of small frame houses and stores
on the dry prairie beside a railway station. There were no trees yet
which could be called shade trees. The pitilessly severe light of the
sun flooded everything. A few teams were hitched about, and in
the lee of the stores a few men could be seen seated comfortably,
their broad hat rims flopping up and down, their faces brown as
Markham put his wife out at one of the grocery stores and drove
off down toward the elevators to sell his wheat.
The grocer greeted Mrs. Markham in. a perfunctorily kind manner
and offered her a chair, which she took gratefully. She sat for a
quarter of an hour almost without moving, leaning against the back
of the high chair. At last the child began to get restless and
troublesome, and she spent half an hour helping him amuse
himself around the nail kegs.
At length she rose and went out on the walk, carrying the baby.
She went into the dry-goods store and took a seat on one of the
little revolving stools. A woman was buying some woolen goods
for a dress. It was worth twenty-seven cents a yard, the clerk said,
but he would knock off two cents if she took ten yards. It looked
warm, and Mrs. Markham wished she could afford it for Mary.
A pretty young girl came in, and laughed and chatted with the
clerk, and bought a pair of gloves. She was the daughter of the
grocer. Her happiness made the wife and mother sad. When Sam
came back she asked him for some money.
"Want you want to do with it?" he asked.
"I want to spend it," she said.
She was not to be trifled with, so he gave her a dollar.
"I need a dollar more."
"Well, I've got to go take up that note at the bank."
"Well, the children's got to have some new underclo'es," she said.
He handed her a two-dollar bill and then went out to pay his note.
She bought her cotton flannel and mittens and thread, and then sat
leaning against the counter. It was noon, and she was hungry. She
went out to the wagon, got the lunch she had brought, and took it
into the grocery to eat it-where she could get a drink of water.
The grocer gave the baby a stick of candy and handed the mother
"It'll kind o' go down with your doughnuts," he said. After eating
her lunch she got up and went out. She felt ashamed to sit there
any longer. She entered another dry-goods store, but when the
clerk came toward her saying, "Anything today, Mrs.-?" she
answered, "No, I guess not," and turned away with foolish face.
She walked up and down the street, desolately home-less. She did
not know what to do with herself. She knew no one except the
grocer. She grew bitter as she saw a couple of ladies pass, holding
their demitrains in the latest city fashion. Another woman went by
pushing a baby carriage, in which sat a child just about as big as
her own. It was bouncing itself up and down on the long slender
springs and laughing and shouting. Its clean round face glowed
from its pretty fringed hood. She looked down at the dusty clothes
and grimy face of her own little one and walked on savagely.
She went into the drugstore where the soda fountain was, but it
made her thirsty to sit there, and she went out on the street again.
She heard Sam laugh and saw him in a group of men over by the
blacksmith shop. He was having a good time and had forgotten
Her back ached so intolerably that she concluded to go in and rest
once more in the grocer's chair. The baby was growing cross and
fretful. She bought five cents' worth of candy to take home to the
children and gave baby a little piece to keep him quiet. She wished
Sam would come. It must be getting late. The grocer said it was
not much after one. Time seemed terribly long. She felt that she
ought to do something while she was in town. She ran over her
purchases-yes, that was all she had planned to buy. She fell to
figuring on the things she needed. It was terrible. It ran away up
into twenty or thirty dollars at the least. Sam, as well as she,
needed underwear for the cold winter, but they would have to wear
the old ones, even if they were thin and ragged. She would not
need a dress, she thought bitterly, because she never went
anywhere. She rose, and went out on the street once more, and
wandered up and down, looking at everything in the hope of
A man from Boon Creek backed a load of apples up to the
sidewalk, and as he stood waiting for the grocer he noticed Mrs.
Markham and the baby, and gave the baby an apple. This was a
pleasure. He had such a hearty way about him. He on his part saw
an ordinary farmer's wife with dusty dress, unkempt hair, and tired
face. He did not know exactly whey she appealed to him, but he
tried to cheer her up.
The grocer was familiar with these bedraggled and weary wives.
He was accustomed to see them sit for hours in his big wooden
chair and nurse tired and fretful children. Their forlorn, aimless,
pathetic wandering up and down the street was a daily occurrence,
and had never possessed any special meaning to him.
In a cottage around the corner from the grocery store two men and
a woman were finishing a dainty luncheon. The woman was
dressed in cool, white garments, and she seemed to make the day
one of perfect comfort.
The home of the Honorable Mr. Hall was by no means the costliest
in the town, but his wife made it the most attractive. He was one of
the leading lawyers of the county and a man of culture and
progressive views. He was entertaining a friend who had lectured
the night before in the Congregational church.
They were by no means in serious discussion. The talk was rather
frivolous. Hall had the ability to caricature men with a few
gestures and attitudes, and was giving to his Eastern friend some
descriptions of the old-fashioned Western lawyers he had met in
his practice. He was very amusing, and his guest laughed heartily
for a time.
But suddenly Hall became aware that Otis was not listening. Then
he perceived that he was peering out of the window at someone,
and that on his face a look of bitter sadness was falling.
Hall stopped. "What do you see, Otis?"
Otis replied, "I see a forlorn, weary woman."
Mrs. Hall rose and went to the window. Mrs. Markham was
walking by the house, her baby in her arms. Savage anger and
weeping were in her eyes and on her lips, and there was hopeless
tragedy in her shambling walk and weak back.
In the silence Otis went on: "I saw the poor, dejected creature
twice this morning. I couldn't forget her."
"Who is she?" asked Mrs. Hall very softly.
"Her name is Markham; she's Sam Markham's wife," said Hall.
The young wife led the way into the sitting room, and the men
took seats and lit their cigars. Hall was meditating a diversion
when Otis resumed suddenly:
"That woman came to town today to get a change, to have a little
play spell, and she's wandering around like a starved and weary
cat. I wonder if there is a woman in this town with sympathy
enough and courage enough to go out and help that woman? The
saloonkeepers, the politicians, and the grocers make it pleasant for
the man-so pleasant that he forgets his wife. But the wife is left
without a word."
Mrs. Hall's work dropped, and on her pretty face was a look of
pain. The man's harsh words had wounded her-and wakened her.
She took up her hat and hurried out on the walk. The men looked
at each other, and then the husband said:
"It's going to be a little sultry for the men around these diggings.
Suppose we go out for a walk."
Delia felt a hand on her arm as she stood at the corner. "You look
tired, Mrs. Markham; won't you come in a little while? I'm Mrs.
Mrs. Markham turned with a scowl on her face and a biting word
on her tongue, but something in the sweet, round little face of the
other woman silenced her, and her brow smoothed out.
"Thank you kindly, but it's most time to go home. I'm looking fer
Mr. Markham now."
"Oh, come in a little while; the baby is cross and tried out; please
Mrs. Markham yielded to the friendly voice, and t~ gether the two
women reached the gate just as two men hurriedly turned the other
"Let me relieve you," said Mrs. Hall.
The mother hesitated: "He's so dusty."
"Oh, that won't matter. Oh, what a big fellow he is! I haven't any of
my own," said Mrs. Hall, and a look passed like an electric spark
between the two women, and Delia was her willing guest from that
They went into the little sitting room, so dainty and lovely to the
farmer's wife, and as she sank into an easy-chair she was faint and
drowsy with the pleasure of it. She submitted to being brushed.
She gave the baby into the hands of the Swedish girl, who washed
its face and hands and sang it to sleep, while its mother sipped
some tea. Through it all she lay back in her easychair, not speaking
a word, while the ache passed out of her back, and her hot, swollen
head ceased to throb.
But she saw everything-the piano, the pictures, the curtains, the
wallpaper, the little tea stand. They were almost as grateful to her
as the food and fragrant tea. Such housekeeping as this she had
never seen. Her mother had worn her kitchen floor thin as brown
paper in keeping a speckless house, and she had been in houses
that were larger and costlier, but something of the charm of her
hostess was in the arrangement of vases, chairs, or pictures. It was
Mrs. Hall did not ask about her affairs. She talked to her about the
sturdy little baby and about the things upon which Delia's eyes
dwelt. If she seemed interested in a vase she was told what it was
and where it was made. She was shown all the pictures and books.
Mrs. Hall seemed to read her visitor's mind. She kept as far from
the farm and her guest's affairs as possible, and at last she opened
the piano and sang to her-not slow-moving hymns, but catchy love
songs full of sentiment, and then played some simple melodies,
knowing that Mrs. Markham's eyes were studying her hands, her
rings, and the flash of her fingers on the keys-seeing more than she
heard-and through it all Mrs. Hall conveyed the impression that
she, too, was having a good time.
The rattle of the wagon outside roused them both. Sam was at the
gate for her. Mrs. Markham rose hastily. "Oh, it's almost
sundown!" she gasped in astonishment as she looked out of the
"Oh, that won't kill anybody," replied her hostess. "Don't hurry.
Carrie, take the baby out to the wagon for Mrs. Markham while I
help her with her things."
"Oh, I've had such a good time," Mrs. Markham said as they went
down the little walk.
"So have I," replied Mrs. Hall. She took the baby a moment as her
guest climbed in. "Oh, you big, fat fellow!" she cried as she gave
him a squeeze. "You must bring your wife in oftener, Mr.
Markham," she said as she handed the baby up.
Sam was staring with amazement
"Thank you, I will," he finally managed to say.
"Good night," said Mrs. Markham.
"Good night, dear," called Mrs. Hall, and the wagon began to rattle
The tenderness and sympathy in her voice brought the tears to
Delia's eyes not hot nor bitter tears, but tears that cooled her eyes
and cleared her mind.
The wind had gone down, and the red sunlight fell mistily over the
world of corn and stubble. The crickets were strn chirping, and the
feeding cattle were drifting toward the farmyards. The day had
been made beautiful by human sympathy.
MRS. RIPLEY'S TRIP
"And in winter the winds sweep the snows across it."
Thn night was in windy November, and the blast, threatening rain,
roared around the poor little shanty of "Uncle Ripley," set like a
chicken trap on the vast Iowa prairie. Uncle Ethan was mending
his old violin, with many York State "dums!" and "I gal darns!"
totally oblivious of his tireless old wife, who, having "finished
the supper dishes," sat knitting a stocking, evidently for the little
grandson who lay before the stove like a cat. Neither of the old
people wore glasses, and their light was a tallow candle; they
couldn't afford "none o' them newfangled lamps." The room was
small, the chairs wooden, and the walls bare-a home where
poverty was a never-absent guest. The old lady looked pathetically
little, wizened, and hopeless in her ill-fitting garments (whose
original color had long since vanished), intent as she was on the
stocking in her knotted, stiffened fingers, but there was a peculiar
sparkle in her little black eyes, and an unusual resolution in the
straight line of her withered and shapeless lips. Suddenly she
paused, stuck a needle in the spare knob of hair at the back of her
head, and looking at Ripley, said decisively: "Ethan Ripley, you'll
haff to do your own cooking from now on to New Year's; I'm goin'
back to Yaark State."
The old man's leather-brown face stiffened into a look of quizzical
surprise for a moment; then he cackled in-credulously: "Ho! Ho!
har! Sho! be y', now? I want to know if y' be."
"Well, you'll find out."
"Goin' to start tomorrow, Mother?"
"No, sir, I ain't; but I am on Thursday. I want to get to Sally's by
Sunday, sure, an' to Silas's on Thanksgivin'."
There was a note in the old woman's voice that brought genuine
stupefaction into the face of Uncle Ripley. Of course, in this case,
as in all others, the money consideration was uppermost.
"Howgy 'xpect to get the money, Mother? Anybody died an' left
yeh a pile?"
"Never you mind where I get the mony so 's 't tiy don't haff to
bear it. The land knows, if I'd a-waited for you to pay my way-"
"You needn't twit me of bein' poor, old woman," said Ripley,
flaming up after the manner of many old people. "I've done my
part t' get along. I've worked day in and day out-"
"Oh! I ain't done no work, have I?" snapped she, laying down the
stocking and leveling a needle at him, and putting a frightful
emphasis on "I."
"I didn't say you hadn't done no work."
"Yes, you did!"
"I didn't, neither. I said
"I know what you said."
"I said I'd done my part!" roared the husband, dominating her as
usual by superior lung power. "I didn't say you hadn't done your
part," he added with an unfortunate touch of emphasis on "say."
"I know y' didn't say it, but y' meant it. I don't know what y' call
doin' my part, Ethan Ripley; but if cookin' for a drove of harvest
hands and thrashin' hands, takin' care o' the eggs and butter, 'n'
diggin' taters an' milkin' ain't my part, I don't never expect to do my
part, 'n' you might as well know it fust 's last. I'm sixty years old,"
she went on with a little break in her harsh voice, dominating him
now by woman's logic, "an' I've never had a day to my-self, not
even Fourth o' July. If I've went a-visitin' 'r to a picnic, I've had to
come home an' milk 'n' get supper for you menfolks. I ain't been
away t' stay overnight for thirteen years in this house, 'n' it was just
so in Davis County for ten more. For twenty-three years, Ethan
Ripley, I've stuck right to the stove an' churn without a day or a
night off." Her voice choked again, but she rarned and continued
impressively, "And now I'm a-goin' back to Yaark State."
Ethan was vanquished. He stared at her in speechless surprise, his
jaw hanging. It was incredible.
"For twenty-three years," she went on musingly, "I've just about
promised myself every year I'd go back an' see my folks." She was
distinctly talking to herself now, and her voice had a touching,
wistful cadence. "I've wanted to go back an' see the old folks, an'
the hills where we played, an' eat apples off the old tree down by
the old well. I've had them trees an' hills in my mind days and
days-nights, too-an' the girls I used to know, an' my own folks-"
She fell into a silent muse, which lasted so long that the ticking of
the clock grew loud as the gong in the man's ears, and the wind
outside seemed to sound drearier than usual. He returned to the
money problem, kindly, though.
"But how y' goin' t' raise the money? I ain't got no extra cash this
time. Agin Roach is paid an' the mortgage interest paid we ain't got
no hundred dollars to spare, Jane, not by a jugful."
"Waal, don't you lay awake nights studyin' on where I'm a-goin' to
get the money," said the old woman, taking delight in mystifying
him. She had him now, and he couldn't escape. He strove to show
his indifference, however, by playing a tune or two on the violin.
"Come, Tukey, you better climb the wooden hill," Mrs. Ripley
said a half hour later to the little chap on the floor, who was
beginning to get drowsy under the influence of his grandpa's
fiddling. "Pa, you had orta 'a put that string in the clock today-on
the 'larm side the string is broke," she said upon returning from the
boy's bedroom. "I orta get up extry early tomorrow to get some
sewin' done. Land knows, I can't fix up much, but they is a leetle I
c'n do. I want to look decent."
They were alone now, and they both sat expectantly. "You 'pear to
think, Mother, that I'm agin yer goin'." "Waal, it would kinder
seem as if y' hadn't hustled yerself any t' help me git off."
He was smarting under the sense of being wronged. "Waal, I'm jest
as willin' you should go as I am for myself; but if I ain't got no
money, I don't see how I'm goin' to send-"
"I don't want ye to send; nobody ast ye to, Ethan Ripley. I guess if I
had what I've earnt since we came on this farm, I'd have enough to
go to Jericho with."
"You've got as much out of it as I have. You talk about your gom'
back. Ain't I been wantin' to go back myself? And ain't I kep' still
'cause I see it wa'n't no use? I guess I've worked jest as long and as
hard as you, an' in storms an' mud an' heat, ef it comes t' that."
The woman was staggered, but she wouldn't give up; she must get
m one more thrust.
"Waal, if you'd 'a managed as well as I have, you'd have some
money to go with." And she rose, and went to mix her bread, and
set it "raisin'." He sat by the fire twanging his fiddle softly. He was
plainly thrown into gloomy retrospectlon, something quite unusual
for him. But his fingers picking out the bars of a familiar tune set
him to smiling, and, whipping his bow across the strings, he forgot
all about his wife's resolutions and his own hardships. Trouble
always slid off his back like "punkins off a haystack" anyway.
The old man still sat fiddling softly after his wife disappeared in
the hot and stuffy little bedroom off the kitchen. His shaggy head
bent lower over his violin. He heard her shoes drop-one, two.
Pretty soon she called:
"Come, put up that squeakin' old fiddle and go to bed. Seems as if
you orta have sense enough not to set there keepin' everybody in
the house awake."
"You hush up," retorted he. "I'll come when I git ready, not till. I'll
be glad when you're gone-"
"Yes, I warrant that."
With which arniable good nlght they went off to sleep, or at least
she did, while he lay awake, pondering on "where under the sun
she was goin' t' raise that money."
The next day she was up bright and early, working away on her
own affairs, ignoring Ripley totally, the fixed look of resolutlon
still on her little old wrinkled face. She killed a hen and dressed
and baked it She fried up a pan of doughnuts and made a cake. She
was engaged on the doughnuts when a neighbor came in, one of
those women who take it as a personal affront when anyone in the
neighborhood does anything without asking their advice. She was
fat, and could talk a man blind in three minutes by the watch.
"What's this I hear, Mis' Ripley?"
"I dun know. I expect you hear about all they is goin' on in this
neighborhood," replied Mrs. Ripley with crushing bluntness; but
the gossip did not flinch.
"Well, Sett Turner told me that her husband told her that Ripley
told him that you was goin' back East on a visit."
"Waal, what of it?"
"Well, air yeh?"
"The Lord willin' an' the weather permitin', I expect to be."
"Good land, I want to know! Well, well! I never was so astonished
in my life. I said, says I, 'It can't be.' 'Well,' ses 'e, 'tha's what she
told me,' ses 'e. 'But,' ses I, 'she is the last woman in the world to go
gallivantin' off East,' ses I. An' ses he, 'But it comes from good
authority,' ses he. 'Well, then, it must be so,' ses I. But, land sakes!
do tell me all about it. How come you to make up y'r mind? Ail
these years you've been kind a-talkin' it over, an' now y'r actshelly
goin'-Waal, I never! 'I s'pose Ripley furnishes the money,' ses I to
him. 'Well, no,' ses 'e. 'Ripley says he'll be blowed if he sees where
the money's comin' from,' ses 'e; and ses I, 'But maybe she's jest
jokin',' ses I. 'Not much,' he says. S' 'e: 'Ripley believes she's goin'
fast enough. He's jest as anxious to find out as we be-'"
Here Mrs. Doudney paused for breath; she had walked so fast and
had rested so little that her interminable flow of "ses I's" and "ses
he's" ceased necessarily. She had reached, moreover, the point of
most vital interest-the money.
"An' you'll find out jest 'bout as soon as he does," was the dry
response from the figure hovering over the stove, and with all her
maneuvering that was all she got.
All day Ripley went about his work exceedingly thoughtful for
him. It was cold, blustering weather. The wind rustled among the
cornstalks with a wild and mournful sound, the geese and ducks
went sprawling down the wind, and horses' coats were ruffled and
The old man was husking corn alone in the field, his spare form
rigged out in two or three ragged coats, his hands inserted in a pair
of gloves minus nearly all the fingers, his thumbs done up in
"stalls," and his feet thrust into huge coarse boots. During the
middle of the day the frozen ground thawed, and the mud stuck to
his boots, and the "down ears" wet and chapped his hands, already
worn to the quick. Toward night it grew colder and threatened
snow. In spite of all these attacks he kept his cheerfulness, and
though he was very tired, he was softened in temper.
Having plenty of time to think matters over, he had come to the
conclusion "that the old woman needed a play spell. I ain't likely to
be no richer next year than I am this one; if I wait till I'm able to
send her she won't never go. I calc'late I c'n git enough out o' them
shoats to send her. I'd kind a 'lotted on eat'n' them pigs done up mto
sassengers, but if the ol' woman goes East, Tukey an' me'll kind a
haff to pull through without 'em. We'll. have a turkey f'r
Thanksgivin', an' a chicken once 'n a while. Lord! But we'll miss
the gravy on the flapjacks. Amen!" (He smacked his lips over the
thought of the lost dainty.) "But let 'er rip! We can stand it. Then
there is my buffalo overcoat. I'd kind a calc'lated on havin' a
buffalo-but that's gone up the spout along with them sassengers."
These heroic sacrifices having been determined upon, he put them
into effect at once.
This he was able to do, for his corn rows ran alongside the road
leading to Cedarville, and his neighbors were passing almost all
hours of the day.
It would have softened Jane Ripley's heart could she have seen his
bent and stiffened form amid the corn rows, the cold wind piercing
to the bone through his threadbare and insufficient clothing. The
rising wind sent the snow rattling among the moaning stalks at
intervals. The cold made his poor dim eyes water, and he had to
stop now and then to swing his arms about his chest to warm them.
His voice was hoarse with shouting at the shivering team.
That night, as Mrs. Ripley was clearing the dishes away, she got to
thinking about the departure of the next day, and she began to
soften. She gave way to a few tears when little Tewksbury
Gilchrist, her grandson, came up and stood beside her.
"Gran'ma, you ain't goin' to stay away always, are yeh?"
"Why, course not, Tukey. What made y' think that?"
"Well, y' ain't told us nawfliln' 'tall about it. An' yeb kind o' look 'sif
yeh was mad."
"Well, Lain't mad; I'm jest a-thinkin', Tukey. Y'see, I come away
from them hills when I was a little glrl a'most; before I married y'r
grandad. And I ain't never been back. 'Most all my folks is there,
souny, an' we've been s' poor all these years I couldn't seem t' never
get started. Now, when I'm 'most ready t' go, I feel kind a queer-'sif
And cry she did, while little Tewksbury stood patting her
trembling hands. Hearing Ripley's step on the porch, she rose
hastily and, drying her eyes, plunged at the work again. Ripley
came in with a big armful of wood, which he rolled into the
woodbox with a thundering crash. Then he pulled off his mittens,
slapped them together to knock off the ice and snow, and laid
them side by side under the stove. He then removed cap, coat,
blouse, and boots, which last he laid upon the woodbox, the soles
turned toward the stovepipe.
As he sat down without speaking, he opened the front doors of the
stove and held the palms of his stiffened hands to the blaze. The
light brought out a thoughtful look on his large, uncouth, yet
kindly visage. Life had laid hard lines on his brown skin, but it had
not entirely soured a naturally kind and simple nature. It had made
him penurious and dull and iron-muscled; had stifled all the
slender flowers of his nature; yet there was warm soil somewhere
hid in his heart.
"It's snowin' like all p'sessed," he remarked finally. "I guess we'll
have a sleigh ride tomorrow. I calc'late t' drive y' daown in
scrumptious style. If yeh must leave, why, we'll give yeh a
whoopin' old send-off-won't we, Tukey?
"I've ben a4hinkin' things over kind o' t'day, Mother, an' I've come t'
the conclusion that we have been kind a hard on yeh, without
knowin' it, y' see. Y' see, I'm kind a easygoin, 'an' little Tuke he's
only a child, an' we ain't c'nsidered how you felt."
She didn't appear to be listening, but she was, and he didn't appear,
on his part, to be talking to her, and he kept his voice as hard and
dry as he could.
"An' I was tellin' Tukey t'day that it was a dum shame our crops
hadn't, turned out better. An' when I saw ol' Hatfield go by, I hailed
him an' asked him what he'd gimme for two o' m' shoats. Waal, the
upshot is, I sent t' town for some things I calc'lated ye'd heed. An'
here's a tlcket to Georgetown, and ten dollars. Why, Ma, what's
Mrs. Ripley broke down, and with her hands all wet with
dishwater, as they were, covered her face and sobbed. She felt like
kissing him, but she didn't. Tewksbury began to whimper, too; but
the old man was astonished. His wife had not wept for years
(before him). He rose and walked clumsily up to her and timidly
touching her hair-
"Why, Mother! What's the matter? What 'v' I done now? I was
calc'latln' to sell them pigs anyway. Hatfield jest advanced the
money on' em."
She hopped up and dashed into the bedroom,and in a few minutes
returned with a yarn mitten, tied around the wrist, which she laid
on the table with a thump, saying:
"I don't want yer money. There's money enough to take me where I
want to go."
"Whee-w! Thunder and jimson root! Wher'd ye git that? Didn't dig
it out of a hole?"
"No. I jest saved it-a dime at a time-see?"
Here she turned it out on the table-some bills, but mostly silver
dimes and quarters.
"Thunder and scissors! Must be two er three hundred dollars
there," stared he.
"They's jest seventy-five dollars and thirty cents; jest about enough
to go back on. Tickets is fifty-five dollars, goin' an' comin'. That