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The Harvester by Gene Stratton Porter

Part 10 out of 10

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I had the determination to stick to my job, the right
books to assist me, and my mother's invincible will
power to uphold me where I wavered.

``As I look into your faces, men, I am struck with the
astounding thought that some woman bore the cold
sweat and pain of labour to give life to each of you.
I hope few of you prolonged that agony as I did. It
was in the heart of my mother to make me physically
clean, and to that end she sent me daily into the lake,
so long as it was not ice covered, and put me at exercises
intended to bring full strength to every sinew and
fibre of my body. It was in her heart to make me morally
clean, so she took me to nature and drilled me in its
forces and its methods of reproducing life according
to the law. Her work was good to a point that all
men will recognize. From there on, for a few years,
she held me, not because I was man enough to stand, but
because she was woman enough to support me. Without
her no doubt I would have broken the oath I took; with
her I won the victory and reached years of manhood
and self-control as she would have had me. The struggle
wore her out at half a lifetime, but as a tribute to her
memory I cannot face a body of men having your
opportunities without telling you that what was possible
to her and to me is possible to all mothers and men.
If she is above and hears me perhaps it will recompense
some of her shortened years if she knows I am pleading
with you, as men having the greatest influence of any
living, to tell and to teach the young that a clean life
is possible to them. The next time any of you are
called upon to address a body of men tell them to learn
for themselves and to teach their sons, and to hold them
at the critical hour, even by sweat and blood, to a clean
life; for in this way only can feeble-minded homes,
almshouses, and the scarlet woman be abolished. In this
way only can men arise to full physical and mental force,
and become the fathers of a race to whom the struggle
for clean manhood will not be the battle it is with us.

``By the distorted faces, by the misshapen bodies,
by marks of degeneracy, recognizable to your practised
eyes everywhere on the streets, by the agony of the
mother who bore you, and later wept over you, I conjure
you men to live up to your high and holy privilege, and
tell all men that they can be clean, if they will. This
in memory of the mother who shortened her days to make
me a moral man. And if any among you is the craven
to plead immorality as a safeguard to health, I ask,
what about the health of the women you sacrifice to
shield your precious bodies, and I offer my own as the
best possible refutation of that cowardly lie. I never
have been ill a moment in all my life, and strength never
has failed me for work to which I set my hand.

``The rapidly decreasing supply of drugs and the
adulterated importations early taught me that the
day was coming when it would be an absolute necessity
to raise our home supplies. So, while yet in my teens,
I began collecting from the fields and woods for miles
around such medicinal stuff as grew in my father's
fields, marsh, and woods, and planting more wherever I
found anything growing naturally in its prime. I merely
enlarged nature's beds and preserved their natural
condition. As the plants spread and the harvest increased,
I built a dry-house on scientific principles, a large store-
room, and later a laboratory in which I have been learning
to prepare some of my crude material for the market,
combining ideas of my own in remedies, and at last
producing one your president just has indicated that I come
to submit to you as a final resort in certain conditions.

``My operations now have spread to close six hundred
acres of almost solid medicinal growth, including a
little lake, around the shores of which flourish a quadruple
setting of water-loving herbs.''

Occasionally he shifted his position or easily walked
across the platform and faced his audience from a different
direction. His voice was strong, deep, and rang clearly
and earnestly. His audience sat on the front edge of
their chairs, and listened to something new, with mouths
half agape. A few times Carey turned from the speaker
to face the audience. He agonized in his heart that it
was a closed session, and that his wife was not there to
hear, and that the Girl was missing it.

By the bent backs and flying fingers of the reporters
at their table in front he could see that to-morrow the
world would read the Harvester's speech; and if it were
true that the little mother had shortened her days to
produce him, she had done earth a service for which many
generations would call her blessed. For the doctor could
look ahead, and he knew that this man would not escape.
The call for him and his unimpeachable truth would come
from everywhere, and his utterances would carry as far
as newspapers and magazines were circulated. The
good he would do would be past estimation.

The Harvester continued. He was describing the most
delicate and difficult of herbs to secure. He was telling
how they could be raised, prepared, kept, and compounded.
He was discussing diseases that did not readily
yield to treatment, pointing out what drugs were
customarily employed and offering, if any of them had such
cases, and would send to him, to forward samples of
unadulterated stuff sufficient for a test comparison with
what they were using. He was walking serenely and
surely into the heart of every man before him.

Just at the point where it was the psychological time
to close, he stopped and stood a long instant facing them,
and then he asked softly, ``Did any man among you ever
see the woman to whom he had given a strong man's
first passion of love, slowly dying before him?''

One breathless instant he waited and then continued,
``Gentlemen, I recently saw this in my own case. For
days it was coming, so at night I shut myself in my
laboratory, and from the very essence of the purest of
my self-compounded drugs I distilled a stimulant into
which I put a touch of heart remedy, a brace for weakening
nerves, a vitalization of sluggish blood. As I worked,
I thought in that thought which embodied the essence
of prayer, and when my day and my hour came, and a
man who has been the president of your honourable
body, and is known to all of you, said it was death, I
took this combination that I now present to you, and
with the help of the Almighty and a woman above the
price of rubies, I kept breath in the girl I love, and to-day
she is at full tide of womanhood. As a thank offering,
the formula is yours. Test it as you will. Use it if you
find it good. Gentlemen, I thank you!''

Carey sank in his chair and watched the Harvester
cross the stage. As he disappeared the tumult began,
and it lasted until the president arose and brought him
back to make another bow, and then they rioted until
they wore themselves out. In an immaculate dress
suit the Harvester sat that night on the right of the gray-
haired president and responded to the toast, ``The
Harvester of the Woods.'' Then the reporters carried
him away to be photographed, and to show him the gay
sights of New York.

In the train the next day, steadily speeding west, he
said to Doctor Carey: ``I feel as the old woman of Mother
Goose who said, `Lawk-a-mercy on us, can this be really
I?' ''

``You just bet it is!'' cried the doctor. ``And you
have cut out work for yourself in good shape.''

``What do you mean?''

``I mean that this is a beginning. You will be called
upon to speak again and again.''

``The point is, do you honestly think I helped any?''

``You did inestimable good. It only can help men to
hear plain truth that is personal experience. As for that
dope of yours, it will come closer raising the dead than
anything I ever saw. Next case I see slipping, after
I've done my best, I'm going to try it out for myself.''

``All right! 'Phone me and I'll bring some fresh and
help you.''

At Buffalo the doctor left the car and bought a paper.
As he had expected the portrait and speech of the Harvester
were featured. The reporters had been gracious.
They had done all that was just to a great event,
and allowed themselves some latitude. He immediately
mailed the paper to the Girl, and at Cleveland bought
another for himself. When he showed it to the Harvester,
as he glanced at it he observed, ``Do I appear
like that?'' Then he went on talking with a man he
had met who interested him.



The Harvester stopped at the mail box on his way
home and among the mass of matter it contained
was something from the Girl. It was a scrap
as long as his least finger and three times as wide, and
by the postmark it had lain four days in the box. On
opening it, he found only her card with a line written
across it, but the man went up the hill and into the
cabin as if a cyclone were driving him, for he read, ``Has
your bluebird come?''

He threw his travelling bag on the floor, ran to the
telephone, and called the station. ``Take this message,'' he
said. ``Mrs. David Langston, care of Alexander Herron,
5770 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. Found note after
four days' absence. Bluebird long past due. The fairies
have told it that my fate hereafter lies in your hands.

As always. David.''

The Harvester turned from the instrument and bent
to embrace Belshazzar, leaping in ecstasy beside him.

``Understand that, Bel?'' he asked. ``I don't know but
it means something. Maybe it doesn't----not a thing!
And again, there is a chance----only the merest
possibility----that it does. We'll risk it, Bel, and to begin
on I have nailed it as hard as I knew how. Next, we will
clean the house----until it shines, and then we will fill
the cupboard, and if anything does happen we won't be
caught napping. Yes, boy, we will take the chance!
We can't be any worse disappointed than we have been
before and survived it. Come along!''

He picked up the bag and arranged its contents,
carefully brushed and folded on his shelves and in his
closet. Then he removed the travelling suit, donned
the old brown clothes and went to the barn to see that
his creatures had been cared for properly. Early the
next morning he awoke and after feeding and breakfasting
instead of going to harvest spice brush and alder he
stretched a line and hung the bedding from room after
room to air and sun. He swept, dusted, and washed
windows, made beds, and lastly polished the floors
throughout the cabin. He set everything in order,
and as a finishing touch, filled vases, pitchers, and bowls
with the bloom of red bud and silky willow catkins.
He searched the south bank, but there was not a violet,
even in the most exposed places. By night he was tired
and a little of the keen edge of his ardour was dulled.
The next day he worked scrubbing the porches, straightening
the lawn and hedges, even sweeping the driveway
to the bridge clear of wind-whirled leaves and straw.
He scouted around the dry-house and laboratory, and
spent several extra hours on the barn so that when
evening came everything was in perfect order. Then he
dressed, ate his supper and drove to the city.

He stopped at the mail box, but there was nothing
from the Girl. The Harvester did not know whether
he was sorry or glad. A letter might have said the
same thing. Nothing meant a delightful possibility, and
between the two he preferred the latter. He whistled
and sang as he drove to Onabasha, and Belshazzar looked
at him with mystified eyes, for this was not the master
he had known of late. He did not recognize the dress
or the manner, but his dog heart was sympathetic to
the man's every mood, and he remembered times when a
drive down the levee always had been like this, for to-
night the Harvester's tongue was loosened and he talked
in the old way.

``Just four words, Bel'' he said. ``And, as I
remarked before, they may mean the most wonderful thing
on earth, and possibly nothing at all. But it is in the
heart of man to hope, Bel, and so we are going to live
royally for a week or two, just on hope, old boy. If
anything should happen, we are ready, rooms shining,
beds fresh, fireplaces filled and waiting a match, ice
chest cool, and when we get back it will be stored. Also
a secret, Bel; we are going to a florist and a fruit store.
While we are at it, we will do the thing right; but we will
stay away from Doc, until we are sure of something.
He means well, but we don't like to be pitied, do we,
Bel? Our friends don't manage their eyes and voices
very well these days. Never mind! Our time will come
yet. The bluebird will not fail us, but never before has
it been so late.''

On his return he filled the pantry shelves with packages,
stored the ice chest, and set a basket of delicious fruit on
the dining table. Two boxes remained. He opened the
larger one and took from it an arm load of white lilies
that he carried up the hill and divided between the mounds
under the oak. Then he uncovered his head, and standing
at the foot of them he looked among the boughs of
the big tree and listened intently. After a time a soft,
warm wind, catkin-scented, crept from the lake, and
began a murmur among the clusters of brown leaves
clinging to the branches.

``Mother,'' said the Harvester, ``were you with me?
Did I do it right? Did I tell them what you would have
had me say for the boys? Are you glad now you held
me to the narrow way? Do you want me to go before
men if I am asked, as Doc says I will be, and tell them
that the only way to abolish pain is for them to begin
at the foundation by living clean lives? I don't know
if I did any good, but they listened to me. Anyway,
I did the best I knew. But that isn't strange; you ground
it into me to do that every day, until it is almost an
instinct. Mother, dear, can you tell me about the bluebird?
Is that softest little rustle of all your voice?
and does it say `hope'? I think so, and I thank you for
the word.''

The man's eyes dropped to earth.

``And you other mother,'' he said, ``have you any
message for me? Up where you are can you sweep the
world with understanding eyes and tell me why my
bluebird does not come? Does it know that this year
your child and not chance must settle my fate? Can
you look across space and see if she is even thinking of
me? But I know that! She had to be thinking of me
when she wrote that line. Rather can you tell me----
will she come? Do you think I am man enough to be
trusted with her future, if she does? One thing I promise
you: if such joy ever comes to me, I will know how to meet
it gently, thankfully, tenderly, please God. Good night,
little women. I hope you are sleeping well----''

He turned and went down the hill, entered the cabin
and took from the other box a mass of Parma violets.
He put these in the pink bowl and placed it on the table
beside the Girl's bed. He stood for a time, and then
began pulling single flowers from the bowl and dropping
them over the pillow and snowy spread.

``God, how I love her!'' he whispered softly.

At last he went out and closed the door. He was
tired and soon fell asleep with the night breeze stirring
his hair, and the glamour of moonlight flooding the lake
touched his face. Clearly it etched the strong, manly
features, the fine brow and chin, and painted in unusual
tenderness the soft lines around the mouth. The little
owl wavered its love story, a few frogs were piping, and
the Harvester lay breathing the perfumed spring air
deeply and evenly. Near midnight Belshazzar awakened
him by arising from the bedside and walking to the door.

``What is it, Bel?'' inquired the Harvester.

The dog whined softly. The man turned his head
toward the lake. A ray of red light touched the opposite
embankment and came wavering across the surface.
The Harvester sat up. Two big, flaming eyes were
creeping up the levee.

``That,'' said the Harvester, ``might be Doc coming
for me to help him try out my bottled sunshine, or it
might be my bluebird.''

He tossed back the cover, swung his feet to the floor,
setting each in a slipper beside the bed, and arose, dressing
as he started for the door. As he opened the screen and
stepped on the veranda a passenger car from the city
stopped, and the Harvester went down the walk to
meet it. His heart turned over when he saw a woman's
hand on the door.

``Permit me,'' he said, taking the handle and bringing
it back with a sweep. A tall form arose, bent forward,
and descended to the step. The full flare of moonlight
fell on the glowing face of the Girl.

``Harvester, is it you?'' she asked.

``Yes,'' gasped the man.

Two hands came fluttering out, and he just had presence
of mind to step in range so that they rested on his

``Has the bluebird come?''

``Not yet!''

``Then I am not too late?''

``Never too late to come to me, Ruth.''

``I am welcome?''

``I have no words to tell you how welcome.''

She swayed forward and the Harvester tried to reach
her lips, but they brushed his cheek and touched his ear.

``I have brought one more kiss I want to try,'' she

The Harvester crushed her in his arms until he frightened
himself for fear he had hurt her, and murmured
an ecstasy of indistinct love words to her. Presently her
feet touched the ground and she drew away from him.

``Harvester,'' she whispered, ``I couldn't wait any
longer; indeed I could not: and I couldn't leave grandfather
and grandmother, and I didn't know what in the
world to do, so I just brought them along. Are they

``Aside from you, I would rather have them than
any people on earth,'' said the Harvester.

There were two sounds in the car; one was an
approving murmur, and the other an undeniable snort.
The Harvester felt the reassuring pressure of the Girl's

``Please, Ruth,'' he said, ``go turn on the light so that
I can see to help grandmother.''

A foot stamped before the front seat. ``Madam
Herron, if you please!'' cried an acrid voice.

`` `Madam Herron,' '' said the Harvester gently, as he
set a foot on the step, reached in and bodily picked up a
little old lady and started up the walk with her in his arms.

``Careful there, sir!'' roared a voice after him.

The Harvester could feel the quake of the laughing
woman and he smiled broadly as he entered the cabin,
and placed her in a large chair before the fire. Then
he wheeled and ran back to the car, reaching it as the man
was making an effort to descend. It could be seen
that he had been tall, before time and sorrow had bent
him, and keen eyes gleamed below shaggy white brows
from under his hat brim. He had a white moustache, and
his hair was snowy.

``Allow me,'' said the Harvester reaching a hand.

``If you touch me I will cane you,'' said Mr. Alexander

There was nothing to do but step back. The cane,
wheel, and a long coat skirt interfering, the old man fell
headlong, and only quick hands saved him a severe jolt
and bruises. He stood glaring in the moonlight while
his hat was restored.

``If you run your car to the curve you can back toward
the south and turn easily,'' said the Harvester to the
driver. As the automobile passed them he offered his
arm. ``May I show you to the fire? These spring nights
are chilly.''

`` `Chilly!' Demnition cold is what they are! I'm
frozen to the bone! This will be the end of us both!
Dragging people of our age around at this hour of night.
Of all the accursed stubbornness!''

``There are three low steps,'' said the Harvester, ``now
a straight stretch of walk, now two steps; there you are
on the level. Here is an easy chair. It would be better
to leave on your coat, until I light the fire.''

He knelt and scratched a match, and almost instantly
a flame sprang from the heap of dry kindling, and began
to wrap around the big logs.

``How pretty!'' exclaimed a soft voice.

``Kind of a hunting lodge in the wilds, is it?'' growled
a rough one. ``Marcella, you will take your death

``I'm sure I feel no exposure. Really, Alexander,
if I had passed away every time you have prophesied
that I would in the past twenty years you'd have the
largest private cemetery in existence. If you would not
be so pessimistic I could quite enjoy the trip. It's so
long since I've ridden in the cars.''

``Of all the abandoned places! And for you to be
here, after your years in bed!''

``But I'm not nearly so tired as I am at home,
Alexander, truly.''

``Let me help you, grandfather,'' offered the Girl.

She went to him and took his hat and stick.

``Leave me my cane,'' he cried. ``Any instant that
beast may attack some of us.''

The Girl laughed merrily.

``Why grandfather!'' she chided, ``Bel is the finest
dog you ever knew, he is my best friend here. By the
hour he has protected me, and he is gentle as a kitten.
He's crazy over my coming home.''

She knelt on the floor, put her arms around the dog's
neck, and the delighted brute quivered with the joy of
her caress and the sound of her loved voice.

``Ruthie!'' cautioned the gentle lady.

``Put that cur out of doors, where animals belong,''
roared the old man, lifting his stick.

``Careful!'' warned the grave voice of the Harvester.

``I thought you said he was gentle as a kitten!''

``Grandfather, I said that,'' cried the Girl.

``Well wasn't it the truth?''

``You can see how he loves me. Didn't I ever tell
you that Bel made the first friendly overture I ever
received in this part of the country? He's watched me
by the day, even while I slept.''

``Then what's all this infernal fuss about?''

``Try striking him if you want to find out,'' explained
the Harvester gently. ``You see, Belshazzar and I are
accustomed to living here alone and very quietly. He
is excited over the Girl's return, because she is his friend,
and he has not forgotten her. Then this is the first time
in his life he ever heard an irritable voice from a visitor
or saw a cane, and it angers him. He is perfectly safe
to guard a baby, if he is gently treated, but he is a sure
throat hold to a stranger who bespeaks him roughly or
attempts to strike. He would be of no use as a guard
to valuable property while I sleep if he were otherwise.
Bel, come here! Lie still.''

The dog sank to the floor beside the Harvester, but his
sharp eyes followed the Girl, and the hair arose on his
neck at every rasping note of the old man's voice.

``I wouldn't give such a creature house room for a
minute,'' insisted the guest.

``Wait until you see him work and become acquainted
with him, and you will change that verdict,'' prophesied
the Harvester.

``I never was known to change an opinion. Never,
sir! Never!'' cried the testy voice.

``How unfortunate!'' remarked the Harvester suavely.

``Explain yourself! Explain yourself, sir!''

``There never has been, there never will be, a man
on this earth,'' said the Harvester, ``wholly free from
mistakes. Are you warm now?'' He turned to the
little lady, cutting off a reply with his question.

``Nice and warm and quite sleepy,'' she said.

``What may I bring you for a light lunch before you
go to bed?''

``Oh, could I have a bite of something?''

``If only I am fortunate enough to have anything you
will care for. What about a bowl of hot milk and a
slice of toast?''

``Why I think that would be just the thing!''

``Excuse me,'' said the Harvester rising.

He went to the kitchen and they could hear him
moving around.

``I wish the big brute would take his beast along,''
growled Mr. Alexander Herron.

``Come, Bel,'' ordered the Girl. ``Let's go to the

The dog instantly arose and followed her.

``What can I do to help?'' she asked as they reached
the door.

``Remain where you won't dazzle my eyes,'' said the
Harvester, ``until I help the gentle lady and the gentle
man to bed.''

Presently he came with a white cloth, two spoons, and
a plate of bread. He spread the cloth on the table, laid
the spoons on it, and opening the little cupboard, took
out a long toasting fork, and sticking it into a slice of
bread, he held it over the coals. When it grew golden
brown he lifted the table beside the chair, and brought
a bowl of scalded milk.

``Marcella, that stuff will be too smoky for you!
Your stomach will rebel at it.''

``Grandfather, there will not be a suspicion of odour,''
said the Girl. ``I have had it that way often.''

``Then no wonder you came from this place looking
like a picked crane, if that is a sample of what you were
fed on!''

The face of the Harvester grew redder than the heat
of the fire necessitated, but at the ringing laugh of the
Girl he set his teeth and went on toasting bread. Grandmother
crumbled some in the milk and picking up the
spoon tested the combination. She was very hungry,
and it was good. She began eating with relish.

``Alexander, you will be the loser if you don't have
some of this,'' she said. ``It's just delicious!''

``Maybe smoked spoon victuals are proper for invalid
women,'' he retorted, ``but they are mighty thin diet
for a hardy man.''

``What about a couple of eggs and some beef extract?''
suggested the cook.

``Sounds more sensible by a long shot.''

``Ruth, you make this toast,'' said the Harvester and

Presently he placed before his guest a couple of eggs
poached in milk, a steaming bowl of beef juice, and a
plate of toast. For one instant the Harvester thought
this was going into the fire, the next a slice was picked
up and smelled testily. The Girl sat on her grandfather's
chair arm, and breaking a morsel of toast dipped it into
the broth and tasted it.

``Oh but that is good!'' she cried. ``Why haven't
I some also? Am I supposed to have no `tummy'?''

``Your turn next,'' said the Harvester, as he again gave
her the fork and went to the kitchen.

When he returned and served the Girl he found her
grandfather eating heartily.

``Why I think this is fun,'' said the gentle lady. ``I
haven't had such a fine time in ages. I love the heat of
the flame on my body and things taste so good. I could
go to sleep without any narcotic, right now.''

Close her knee the Harvester knelt on the hearth with
his toasting fork. She leaned forward and ran her fingers
through his hair.

``You're a braw laddie,'' she said. ``Now I see why
Ruthie WOULD come.''

The Harvester took the frail hand and kissed it.
``Thank you!'' he returned.

``Mush!'' exploded the grizzled man in the rear.

When no one wanted more food the Harvester stacked
and carried away the dishes, swept the hearth, and
replaced the toaster.

``Ruth and I often lunched this way last fall,'' he said.
``We liked it for a change.''

``Alexander, have you noticed?'' asked the little
woman as she lifted wet eyes to a beautiful portrait of
her daughter beside the chimney.

``D'ye think I'm blind? Saw it as I entered the door.
Poor taste! Very! Brown may match the rug and
wood-work, but it's a wretched colour for a young girl
in her gay time. Should be pink and white with a gold

``That would be beautiful,'' agreed the Harvester.
``We must have one that way. This is not an expensive
picture. It is only an enlargement from an old

``We have a number of very handsome likenesses.
Which one can you spare Ruth, Marcella?''

``The one she likes best,'' said the lady promptly.

``And the other is your mother, no doubt. What a
girlish, beautiful face!''

``Wonderfully fine!'' growled a gruff old voice
tinctured with tears, and the Harvester began to see light.

The old man arose. ``Ruthie, help your grandmother
to bed,'' he said. ``And you, sir, have the goodness to
walk a few steps with me.''

The Harvester sprang up and brought Mr. Herron his
coat and hat and held the door. The Girl brushed past

``To the oak,'' she whispered.

They went into the night, and without a word the
Harvester took his guest's arm and guided him up the
hill. When they reached the two mounds the moon
shining between the branches touched the lily faces with
with holy whiteness.

``She sleeps there,'' said the Harvester, indicating the

Then he turned and went down the path a little
distance and waited until he feared the night air would
chill the broken old man.

``You can see better to-morrow,'' he said as he touched
the shaking figure and assisted it to arise.

``Your work?'' Mr. Alexander Herron touched the
lilies with his walking stick.

The Harvester assented.

``Do you mind if I carry one to Marcella?''

The Harvester trembled as he stooped to select the
largest and whitest, and with sudden illumination, he
fully understood. He helped the tottering old man to
the cabin, where he sat silently before the fireplace
softly touching the lily face with his lips.

``I have put grandmother in my bed, tucked her in
warmly, and she says it is soft and fine,'' laughed the
Girl, coming to them. ``Now you go before she falls
asleep, and I hope you will rest well.''

She bent and kissed him.

The Harvester held the door.

``Can I be of any service?'' he inquired.

``No, I'm no helpless child.''

``Then to my best wishes for sound sleep the remainder
of the night, I will add this,'' said the Harvester----
``You may rest in peace concerning your dear girl. I
sympathize with your anxiety. Good night!''

Alexander Herron threw out his hands in protest.

``I wouldn't mind admitting that you are a gentleman
in a month or two,'' he said, ``but it's a demnation
humiliation to have it literally wrung from me

He banged the door in the face of the amazed
Harvester, who turned to the Girl as she leaned against the
mantel. He stood absorbing the glowing picture of
beauty and health that she made. She had removed her
travelling dress and shoes, and was draped in a fleecy
white wool kimono and wearing night slippers. Her hair
hung in two big braids as it had during her illness. She
was his sick girl again in costume, but radiant health
glowed on her lovely face. The Harvester touched a
match to a few candles and turned out the acetylene
lights. Then he stood before her.

``Now, bluebird,'' he said gently. ``Ruth, you always
know where to find me, if you will look at your feet.
I thought I loved you all in my power when you went,
but absence has taught its lessons. One is that I can
grow to love you more every day I live, and the other
that I probably trifled with the highest gift you had to
offer, when I sent you away. I may have been right;
Granny and Doc think I was wrong. You know the
answer. You said there was another kiss for me. Ruth,
is it the same or a different one?''

``It is different. Quite, quite different!''

``And when?'' The Harvester stretched out longing
arms. The Girl stepped back.

``I don't know,'' she said. ``I had it when I started,
but I lost it on the way.''

The Harvester staggered under the disappointment.

``Ruth, this has gone far enough that you wouldn't
play with me, merely for the sake of seeing me suffer,
would you?''

``No!'' cried the Girl. ``No! I mean it! I knew
just what I wanted to say when I started; but we had to
take grandmother out of bed. She wouldn't allow me to
leave her, and I wouldn't stay away from you any
longer. She fainted when we put her on the car and
grandfather went wild. He almost killed the porters,
and he raved at me. He said my mother had ruined
their lives, and now I would be their death. I got so
frightened I had a nervous chill and I'm so afraid she will
grow worse----''

``You poor child!'' shuddered the Harvester. ``I
see! I understand! What you need is quiet and a
good rest.''

He placed her in a big easy chair and sitting on the
hearth rug he leaned against her knee and said, ``Now
tell me, unless you are so tired that you should go to bed.''

``I couldn't possibly sleep until I have told you,''
said the Girl.

``If you're merciful, cut it short!'' implored the

``I think it begins,'' she said slowly, ``when I went
because you sent me and I didn't want to go. Of course,
as soon as I saw grandfather and grandmother, heard
them talk, and understood what their lives had been, and
what might have been, why there was only one thing to
do, as I could see it, and that was to compensate their
agony the best I could. I think I have, David. I really
think I have made them almost happy. But I told them
all any one could tell about you in the start, and from the
first grandmother would have been on your side; but you
see how grandfather is, and he was absolutely determined
that I should live with them, in their home, all
their lives. He thought the best way to accomplish
that would be to separate me from you and marry me
to the son of his partner.

``There are rooms packed with the lovely things they
bought me, David, and everything was as I wrote you.
Some of the people who came were wonderful, so gracious
and beautiful, I loved almost all of them. They took
me places where there were pictures, plays, and lovely
parties, and I studied hard to learn some music, to dance,
ride and all the things they wanted me to do, and to read
good books, and to learn to meet people with graciousness
to equal theirs, and all of it. Every day I grew stronger
and met more people, and there were different places
to go, and always, when anything was to be done, up
popped Mr. Herbert Kennedy and said and did exactly
the right thing, and he could be extremely nice,

``I haven't a doubt!'' said the Harvester, laying hold
of her kimono.

``And he popped up so much that at last I saw he was
either pretending or else he really was growing very fond
of me, so one day when we were alone I told him all
about you, to make him see that he must not. He
laughed at me, and said exactly what you did, that I
didn't love you at all, that it was gratitude, that it was
the affection of a child. He talked for hours about how
grandfather and grandmother had suffered, how it was my
duty to live with them and give you up, even if I cared
greatly for you; but he said what I felt was not love at all.
Then he tried to tell me what he thought love was, and I
could see very clearly that if it was like that, I didn't
love you, but I came a whole world closer it than loving
him, and I told him so. He laughed again and
said I was mistaken, and that he was going to teach
me what real love was, and then I could not be driven
back to you. After that, everybody and everything
just pushed me toward him with both hands, except
one person. She was a young married woman and
I met her at the very first. She was the only real friend
I ever had, and at last, the latter part of February, when
things were the very worst, I told her. I told her every
single thing. She was on your side. She said you were
twice the man Herbert Kennedy was, and as soon as I
found I could talk to her about you, I began going there
and staying as long as I could, just to talk and to play
with her baby.

``Her husband was a splendid young fellow, and I
grew very fond of him. I knew she had told him, because
he suddenly began talking to me in the kindest way, and
everything he said seemed to be what I most wanted to
hear. I got along fairly well until hints of spring began
to come, and then I would wonder about my hedge, and
my gold garden, and if the ice was off the lake, and
about my boat and horse, and I wanted my room, and
oh, David, most of all I wanted you! Just you! Not
because you could give me anything to compare in
richness with what they could, not because this home was
the best I'd ever known except theirs, not for any reason
at all only just that I wanted to see your face, hear your
voice, and have you pick me up and take me in your arms
when I was tired. That was when I almost quit writing.
I couldn't say what I wanted to, and I wouldn't write
trivial things, so I went on day after day just groping.''

``And you killed me alive,'' said the Harvester.

``I was afraid of that, but I couldn't write. I just
couldn't! It was ten days ago that I thought of the
bluebird's coming this year and what it would mean to
you, and THAT killed me, Man! It just hurt my heart
until it ached, to know that you were out here alone;
and that night I couldn't sleep, because I was thinking
of you, and it came to me that if I had your lips then I
could give you a much, much better kiss than the last,
and when it was light I wrote that line.

``Nearly a week later I got your answer early in the
morning, and it almost drove me wild. I took it and went
for the day with May, and I told her. She took me
upstairs, and we talked it over, and before I left she made
me promise that I would write you and explain how I
felt, and ask you what you thought. She wanted you
to come there and see if you couldn't make them at least
respect you. I know I was crying, and she was bathing
the baby. She went to bring something she had forgotten,
and she gave him to me to hold, just his little
naked body. He stood on my lap and mauled my face,
and pulled my hair, and hugged me with his stout little
arms and kissed me big, soft, wet kisses, and something
sprang to life in my heart that never before had been
there. I just cried all over him and held him fast, and
I couldn't give him up when she came back. I saw why
I'd wanted a big doll all my life, right then; and oh,
dear! the doll you sent was beautiful, but, David, did
you ever hold a little, living child in your arms like that?''

``I never did,'' said the Harvester huskily.

He looked at her face and saw the tears rolling, but
he could say no more, so he leaned his head against her
knee, and finding one of her hands he drew it to his lips.

``It is wonderful,'' said the Girl softly. ``It awakens
something in your heart that makes it all soft and tender,
and you feel an awful responsibility, too. Grandmother
had them telephone at last, and May helped me bathe
my face and fix my hat. When we went to the carriage
Mr. Kennedy was there to take me home. We went
past grandmother's florist to get her some violets----
David, she is sleeping under yours, with just a few
touching her lips. Oh it was lovely of you to get them; your
fairies must have told you! She has them every day,
and one of the objections she made to coming here was
that she couldn't do without them in winter, and she
found some on her pillow the very first thing. David,
you are wonderful! And grandfather with his lily!
I know where he found that! I knew instantly. Ah,
there are fairies who tell you, because you deserve to

The Girl bent and slipping her arm around his neck
hugged him tight an instant, and then she continued
unsteadily: ``While he was in the shop----Harvester,
this is like your wildest dream, but it's truest truth----a
boy came down the walk crying papers, and as I live,
he called your name. I knew it had to be you because
he said, ``First drug farm in America! Wonderful
medicine contributed to the cause of science! David
Langston honoured by National Medical Association!''
I just stood in the carriage and screamed, `Boy! Boy!'
until the coachman thought I had lost my senses. He
whistled and got me the paper. I was shaking so I
asked him how to find anything you wanted quickly,
and he pointed the column where events are listed;
and when I found the third page there was your face so
splendidly reproduced, and you seemed so fine and noble
to me I forgot about the dress suit and the badge in
your buttonhole, or to wonder when or how or why it
could have happened. I just sat there shouting in my
soul, `David! David! Medicine Man! Harvester Man!'
again and again.

``I don't know what I said to Mr. Kennedy or how I
got to my room. I scanned it by the column, at last
I got to paragraphs, and finally I read all the sentences.
David, I kissed that newspaper face a hundred times,
and if you could have had those, Man, I think you
would have said they were right. David, there is
nothing to cry over!''

``I'm not!'' said the Harvester, wiping the splashes
from her hand. ``But, Ruth, forget what I said about
being brief. I didn't realize what was coming. I should
have said, if you've any mercy at all, go slowly! This is
the greatest thing that ever happened or ever will happen
to me. See that you don't leave out one word of it.''

``I told you I had to tell you first,'' said the Girl.

``I understand now,'' said the Harvester, his head
against her knee while he pressed her hand to his lips.
``I see! Your coming couldn't be perfect without knowing
this first. Go on, dear heart, and slowly! You
owe me every word.''

``When I had it all absorbed, I carried the paper to
the library and said, `Grandfather, such a wonderful
thing has happened. A man has had a new idea, and he
has done a unique work that the whole world is going to
recognize. He has stood before men and made a speech
that few, oh so few, could make honestly, and he has
advocated right living, oh so nobly, and he has given
a wonderful gift to science without price, because through
it he first saved the life he loved best. Isn't that
marvellous, grandfather?' And he said, `Very marvellous,
Ruth. Won't you sit down and read to me about it?'
And I said, `I can't, dear grandfather, because I have
been away from grandmother all day, and she is fretting
for me, and to-night is a great ball, and she has spent
millions on my dress, I think, and there is an especial
reason why I must go, and so I have to see her now; but
I want to show you the man's face, and then you can
read the story.'

``You see, I knew if I started to read it he would stop
me; but if I left him alone with it he would be so curious
he would finish. So I turned your name under and
held the paper and said, `What do you think of that
face, grandfather? Study it carefully,' and, Man, only
guess what he said! He said, `I think it is the face of
one of nature's noblemen.' I just kissed him time and
again and then I said, `So it is grandfather, so it is; for it
is the face of the man who twice saved my life, and lifted
my mother from almost a pauper grave and laid her to
rest in state, and the man who found you, and sent
me to you when I was determined not to come.' And I
just stood and kissed that paper before him and cried,
again and again, `He is one of nature's noblemen, and he
is my husband, my dear, dear husband and to-morrow I
am going home to him.' Then I laid the paper on his
lap and ran away. I went to grandmother and did everything
she wanted, then I dressed for the ball. I went
to say good-bye to her and show my dress and grandfather
was there, and he followed me out and said, `Ruth,
you didn't mean it?' I said, `Did you read the paper,
grandfather?' and he said 'Yes'; and I said, `Then I
should think you would know I mean it, and glory
in my wonderful luck. Think of a man like that,

``I went to the ball, and I danced and had a lovely
time with every one, because I knew it was going to be
the very last, and to-morrow I must start to you.

``On the way home I told Mr. Kennedy what paper
to get and to read it. I said good-bye to him, and I
really think he cared, but I was too happy to be very
sorry. When I reached my room there was a packet for
me and, Man, like David of old, you are a wonderful
poet! Oh Harvester! why didn't you send them to me
instead of the cold, hard things you wrote?''

``What do you mean, Ruth?''

``Those letters! Those wonderful outpourings of love
and passion and poetry and song and broken-heartedness.
Oh Man, how could you write such things and throw
them in the fire? Granny Moreland found them when
she came to bring you a pie, and she carried them to
Doctor Carey, and he sent them to me, and, David,
they finished me. Everything came in a heap. I would
have come without them, but never, never with quite
the understanding, for as I read them the deeps opened
up, and the flood broke, and there did a warm tide go
through all my being, like you said it would; and now,
David, I know what you mean by love. I called the
maids and they packed my trunk and grandmother's,
and I had grandfather's valet pack his, and go and secure
berths and tickets, and learn about trains, and I got
everything ready, even to the ambulance and doctor;
but I waited until morning to tell them. I knew they
would not let me come alone, so I brought them along.
David, what in the world are we going to do with them?''

The Harvester drew a deep breath and looked at the
flushed face of the Girl.

``With no time to mature a plan, I would say that we
are going to love them, care for them, gradually teach
them our work, and interest them in our plans here;
and so soon as they become reconciled we will build them
such a house as they want on the hill facing us, just across
Singing Water, and there they may have every luxury
they can provide for themselves, or we can offer, and the
pleasure of your presence, and both of them can grow
strong and happy. I'll have grandmother on her feet in
ten days, and the edge off grandfather's tongue in three.
That bluster of his is to drown tears, Ruth; I saw it to-
night. And when they pass over we will carry them up
and lay them beside her under the oak, and we can take
the house we build for them, if you like it better, and use
this for a store-room.''

``Never!'' said the Girl. ``Never! My sunshine
room and gold garden so long as I live. Never again
will I leave them. If this cabin grows too small, we will
build all over the hillside; but my room and garden and
this and the dining-room and your den there must remain
as they are now.''

The Harvester arose and drew the davenport before
the fireplace, and heaped pillows. ``You are so tired you
are trembling, and your voice is quivering,'' he said. He
lifted the Girl, laid her down and arranged the coverlet.

``Go to sleep!'' he ordered gently. ``You have made
me so wildly happy that I could run and shout like a
madman. Try to rest, and maybe the fairies who aid
me will put my kiss back on your lips. I am going to
the hill top to tell mother and my God.''

He knelt and gathered her in his arms a second, then
called Belshazzar to guard, and went into the sweet
spring night, to jubilate with that wild surge of passion
that sweeps the heart of a strong man when he is most
nearly primal. He climbed the hill at a rush, and standing
beneath the oak on the summit, he faced the lake,
and stretching his arms widely, he waved them, merely
to satisfy the demand for action. When urgency for
expression came upon him, he laughed a deep rumble
of exultation.

The night wind swept the lake and lifted his hair,
the odour of spring was intoxicating in his nostrils,
small creatures of earth stirred around him, here and there
a bird, restless in the delirium of mating fever, lifted
its head and piped a few notes on the moon-whitened
air. The frogs sang uninterruptedly at the water's
edge. The Harvester stood rejoicing. Beating on his
brain came a rush of love words uttered in the Girl's
dear voice. ``I wanted you! Just you! He is my husband!
My dear, dear husband! To-morrow I am going
home! Now, David, I know what you mean by love!''
The Harvester laughed again and sounds around him
ceased for a second, then swelled in fuller volume than
before. He added his voice. ``Thank God! Oh, thank
God!'' he cried. ``And may the Author of the Universe,
the spirits of the little mothers who loved us, and all the
good fairies who guide us, unite to bring unbounded joy
to my Dream Girl and to guard her safely.''

The cocks of Medicine Woods began their second
salute to dawn. At this sound and with the mention of
her name, the Harvester turned down the hill, and striding
forcefully approached the cabin. As he passed the
Girl's room he stepped softly, smiling as he wondered if
its unexpected occupants were resting. He followed
Singing Water, and stood looking at the hillside, studying
the exact location most suitable for a home for the old
people he was so delighted to welcome. That they would
remain he never doubted. His faith in the call of the
wild had been verified in the Girl; it would reach them
also. The hill top would bind them. Their love for the
Girl would compel them. They would be company for
her and a new interest in life.

``Couldn't be better, not possibly!'' commented the
delighted Harvester.

He followed the path down Singing Water until he
reached the bridge where it turned into the marsh.
There he paused, looking straight ahead.

``Wonder if I would frighten her?'' he mused. ``I
believe I'll risk it.''

He walked on rapidly, vaulted the fence enclosing
his land, crossed the road, and unlatched the gate. As
he did so, the door opened, and Granny Moreland stood
on the sill, waiting with keen eyes.

``Well I don't need neither specs nor noonday sun
to see that you're steppin' like the blue ribbon colt at
the County Fair, and lookin' like you owned Kingdom
Come,'' she said. ``What's up, David?''

``You are right, dear,'' said the Harvester. ``I have
entered my kingdom. The Girl has come and crowned
me with her love. She had decided to return, but the
letters you sent made her happier about it. I wanted
you to know.''

Granny leaned against the casing, and began to sob

The Harvester supported her tenderly.

``Why don't do that, dear. Don't cry,'' he begged.
``The Girl is home for always, Granny, and I'm so happy
I am out to-night trying to keep from losing my mind
with joy. She will come to you to-morrow, I know.''

Granny tremulously dried her eyes.

``What an old sap-head I am!'' she commented. ``I
stole your letters from your fireplace, pitched a willer
plate into the lake----you got to fish that out, come day,
David----fooled you into that trip to Doc Carey to get
him to mail them to Ruth, and never turned a hair.
But after I got home I commenced thinkin' 'twas a pretty
ticklish job to stick your nose into other people's business,
an' every hour it got worse, until I ain't had a fairly
decent sleep since. If you hadn't come soon, boy, I'd
'a' been sick a-bed. Oh, David! Are you sure she's over
there, and loves you to suit you now?''

``Yes dear, I am absolutely certain,'' said the
Harvester. ``She was so determined to come that she
brought the invalid grandmother she couldn't leave and
her grandfather. They arrived at midnight. We are all
going to live together now.''

``Well bless my stars! Fetched you a family! David,
I do hope to all that's peaceful I hain't put my foot in it.
The moon is the deceivingest thing on earth I know,
but does her family 'pear to be an a-gre'-able family,
by its light?''

The Harvester's laugh boomed a half mile down the

``Finest people on earth, next to you, dear. I'm
mighty glad to have them. I'm going to build them a
house on my best location, and we are all going to be
happy from now on. Go to bed! This night air may
chill you. I can't sleep. I wanted you to know first----
so I came over. In mother's stead, will you kiss me, and
wish me happiness, dear friend?''

Granny Moreland laid an eager, withered hand on
each shoulder, and bent to the radiant young face.

``God bless you, lad, and grant you as great happiness
as life ort to fetch every clean, honest man,'' she prayed
fervently, with closed eyes and her lined old face turned
skyward. ``And, O God, bless Ruth, and help her as
You never helped mortal woman before to know her own
mind without `variableness, neither shadow of turnin'.' ''

The Harvester was on Singing Water bridge before he
gave way. There he laughed as never before in his life.
Finally he controlled himself and started toward the
cabin; but he was chuckling as he passed the driveway,
and walked down the broad cement floor leading to his
bathing pool, where the moonlight bridged the lake,
and fell as a benediction all around him.

He stood a long time, when he recognized the familiar
crash of a breaking backlog falling together, and heard
the customary leap of the frightened dog. He walked
to his door and listened intently, but there was no sound;
so he decided the Girl had not been awakened. In the
midst of a whitening sheet of gold the Harvester dropped
to his stoop and leaned his head against the broad casing.
He broke a twig from a hawthorn bush beside him, and
sat twisting it in his fingers as he stared down the line
of the gold bridge. Never had it seemed so material,
so like a path that might be trodden by mortal feet and
lead them straight to Heaven. As on the hill top, night
again surrounded him and the Harvester's soul drank
deep wild draughts of a new joy. Sleep was out of
the question. He was too intensely alive to know that
he ever again could be weary. He sat there in the moonlight,
and with unbridled heart gloried in the joy that
had come to him.

He turned his face from the bridge as he heard the
click of Belshazzar's nails on the floor of the bathing
pool. Then his heart and breath stopped an instant.
Beside the dog walked the Girl, one hand on his head
the other holding the flowing white robe around her and
grasping one of the Harvester's lilies. His first thought
was sheer amazement that she was not afraid, for it was
evident now that the backlog had awakened her, and
she had taken the dog and gone to her mother. Then
she had followed the path leading down the hill, around
the cabin, and into the sheet of moonlight gilding the
shore. She stood there gazing over the lake, oblivious
to all things save the entrancing allurement of a perfect
spring night beside undulant water. Screened from her
with bushes and trees the Harvester scarcely breathed
lest he startle her. Then his head swam, and his still
heart leaped wildly. She was coming toward him. On
her left lay the path to the hill top. A few steps farther
she could turn to the right and follow the driveway to
the front of the cabin. He leaned forward watching in
an agony of suspense. Her beautiful face was transfigured
with joy, aflame with love, radiant with smiles,
and her tall figure fleecy white, rimmed in gold. Up
the shining path of light she steadily advanced toward
his door. Then the Harvester understood, and from
his exultant heart burst the wordless petition:


With outstretched arms he arose to meet her.

``My Dream Girl!'' he cried hoarsely. ``My Dream

``Coming, Harvester!'' she answered in tones of joy,
as she dropped the white flower and lifted her hands to
draw his face toward her.

``Is that the kiss you wanted?'' she questioned.

``Yes, Ruth,'' breathed the Harvester.

``Then I am ready to be your wife,'' she said. ``May
I share all the remainder of life's joys and sorrows with

The Harvester gathered her in his arms and carried
her to the bench on the lake shore. He wrapped the white
robe around her and clasped her tenderly as behooved a
lover, yet with arms that she knew could have crushed
her had they willed. The minutes slipped away, and still
he held her to his heart, the reality far surpassing his
dream; for he knew that he was awake, and he realized
this as the supreme hour that comes to the strongman
who knows his love requited.

When the first banner of red light arose above Medicine
Woods and Singing Water the cocks on the hillside
announced the dawn. As the gold faded to gray,
a burst of bubbling notes swelled from a branch almost
over their heads where stood a bark-enclosed little house.

``Ruth, do you hear that?'' asked the Harvester softly.

``Yes,'' she answered, ``and I see it. A wonderful
bird, with Heaven's deepest blue on its back and a breast
like a russet autumn leaf, came straight up the lake from
the south, and before it touched the limb that song
seemed to gush from its throat.''

``And for that reason, the greatest nature lover who
ever lived says that it `deserves preeminence.' It always
settles from its long voyage through the air in an ecstasy
of melody. Do you know what it is, Ruth?''

The Girl laid a hand on his cheek and turned his eyes
from the bird to her face as she answered, ``Yes, Harvester-
man, I know. It is your first bluebird----but it
is far too late, and Belshazzar has lost high office.
I have usurped both their positions. You remain in the
woods and reap their harvest, you enter the laboratory
and make wonderful, life-giving medicines, you face the
world and tell men of the high and holy life they may
live if they will, and then----always and forever, you
come back to Medicine Woods and to me, Harvester.''



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