Part 2 out of 10
plant by the roots. Flowering time was almost past,
but the bees knew where pollen ripened, and hummed
incessantly over and inside the queer cone-shaped growths
with their hooked beaks. It almost appeared as if the
sound made inside might be to give outsiders warning
not to poach on occupied territory, for the Harvester
noticed that no bee entered a pre-empted plant.
With skilful hand each stroke brought up a root and
he tossed it to one side. The plants were vastly peculiar
things. First they seemed to be a curled leaf with no
flower. In colour they shaded from yellow to almost
black mahogany, and appeared as if they were a flower
with no leaf. Closer examination proved there was a
stout leaf with a heavy outside mid-rib, the tip of which
curled over in a beak effect, that wrapped around a
peculiar flower of very disagreeable odour. The handling
of these plants by the hundred so intensified this
smell the Harvester shook his head.
``I presume you are mostly mine,'' he said to the busy
little workers around him. ``If there is anything in my
theory of honey having varying medicinal properties
at different seasons, right now mine should be good for
Granny's rheumatism and for nervous and dropsical
people. I shouldn't think honey flavoured with skunk
cabbage would be fit to eat. But, of course, it isn't all
this. There is catkin pollen on the wind, hazel and sassafras
are both in bloom now, and so are several of the
earliest little flowers of the woods. You can gather
enough of them combined to temper the disagreeable
odour into a racy sweetness, and all the shrub blooms are
good tonics, too, and some of the earthy ones. I'm
going to try giving some of you empty cases next spring
and analyzing the honey to learn if it isn't good medicine.''
The Harvester straightened and leaned on the mattock
to fill his lungs with fresh air and as he delightedly sniffed
it he commented, ``Nothing else has much of a chance
since I've stirred up the cabbage bed. I can scent the
catkins plainly, being so close, and as I came here I
could detect the hazel and sassafras all right.''
Above him a peculiar, raucous chattering for an instant
hushed other wood voices. The Harvester looked
up, laughing gaily.
``So you've decided to announce it to your tribe at
last, have you?'' he inquired. ``You are waking the
sleepers in their dens to-day? Well, there's nothing like
waiting until you have a sure thing. The bluebirds
broke the trail for the feathered folk the twenty-fourth
of February. The sap oozed from the maples about
the same time for the trees. The very first skunk cabbage
was up quite a month ago to signal other plants to
come on, and now you are rousing the furred folk. I'll
write this down in my records----`When the earliest bluebird
sings, when the sap wets the maples, when the
skunk cabbage flowers, and the first striped squirrel
barks, why then, it is spring!' ''
He bent to his task and as he worked closer the water
he noticed sweet-flag leaves waving two inches tall beneath
``Great day!'' he cried. ``There you are making signs,
too! And right! Of course! Nature is always right.
Just two inches high and it's harvest for you. I can
use a rake, and dried in the evaporator you bring me ten
cents a pound; to the folks needing a tonic you are worth
a small fortune. No doubt you cost that by the time
you reach them; but I fear I can't gather you just now.
My head is a little preoccupied these days. What
with the cabbage, and now you, and many of the bushes
and trees making signs, with a new cabin to build and
furnish, with a girl to find and win, I'm what you might
call busy. I've covered my book shelf. I positively
don't dare look Emerson or Maeterlinck in the face.
One consolation! I've got the best of Thoreau in my
head, and if I read Stickeen a few times more I'll be able
to recite that. There's a man for you, not to mention
the dog! Bel, where are you? Would you stick to me
like that? I think you would. But you are a big,
strong fellow. Stickeen was only such a mite of a dog.
But what a man he followed! I feel as if I should put
on high-heeled slippers and carry a fan and a lace
handkerchief when I think of him. And yet, most men
wouldn't consider my job so easy!''
The Harvester rapidly pitched the evil-smelling plants
into big heaps and as he worked he imitated the sounds
around him as closely as he could. The song sparrow
laughed at him and flew away in disgust when he tried
its notes. The jay took time to consider, but was not
fooled. The nut-hatch ran head first down trees, larvae
hunting, and was never a mite deceived. But the killdeer
on invisible legs, circling the lake shore, replied
instantly; so did the lark soaring above, and the dove
of the elm thicket close beside. The glittering black
birds flashing over every tree top answered the ``T'check,
t'chee!'' of the Harvester quite as readily as their mates.
The last time he paused to rest he had studied scents.
When he straightened again he was occupied with every
voice of earth and air around and above him, and the
notes of singing hens, exultant cocks, the scream of
geese, the quack of ducks, the rasping crescendo of
guineas running wild in the woods, the imperial note of
Ajax sunning on the ridge pole and echoes from all of
them on adjoining and distant farms.
`` `Now I see the full meaning and beauty of that
word sound!' '' quoted the Harvester. `` `I thank God
for sound. It always mounts and makes me mount!' ''
He breathed deeply and stood listening, a superb
figure of a man, his lean face glowing with emotion.
``If she could see and hear this, she would come,''
he said softly. ``She would come and she would love
it as I do. Any one who understands, and knows how to
translate, cares for this above all else earth has to offer.
They who do not, fail to read as they run!''
He shifted feet mired in swamp muck, and stood as
if loath to bend again to his task. He lifted a weighted
mattock and scraped the earth from it, sniffing it delightedly
the while. A soft south wind freighted with aromatic
odours swept his warm face. The Harvester
removed his hat and shook his head that the breeze
might thread his thick hair.
``I've a commission for you, South Wind,'' he said
whimsically. ``Go find my Dream Girl. Go carry
her this message from me. Freight your breath with
spicy pollen, sun warmth, and flower nectar. Fill all
her senses with delight, and then, close to her ear,
whisper it softly, `Your lover is coming!' Tell her that, O
South Wind! Carry Araby to her nostrils, Heaven to
her ears, and then whisper and whisper it over and over
until you arouse the passion of earth in her blood. Tell
her what is rioting in my heart, and brain, and soul this
morning. Repeat it until she must awake to its meaning,
`Your lover is coming.' ''
WHEN THE HARVESTER MADE GOOD
The sassafras and skunk cabbage were harvested.
The last workman was gone. There was not a
sound at Medicine Woods save the babel of bird
and animal notes and the never-ending accompaniment
of Singing Water. The geese had gone over, some flocks
pausing to rest and feed on Loon Lake, and ducks that
homed there were busy among the reeds and rushes. In
the deep woods the struggle to maintain and reproduce
life was at its height, and the courting songs of gaily
coloured birds were drowned by hawk screams and crow
calls of defiance.
Every night before he plunged into the lake and went
to sleep the Harvester made out a list of the most pressing
work that he would undertake on the coming day. By
systematizing and planning ahead he was able to accomplish
an unbelievable amount. The earliest rush of
spring drug gathering was over. He could be more
deliberate in collecting the barks he wanted. Flowers
that were to be gathered at bloom time and leaves were
not yet ready. The heavy leaf coverings he had helped
the winds to heap on his beds of lily of the valley,
bloodroot, and sarsaparilla were removed carefully.
Inside the cabin the Harvester cleaned the glass, swept
the floors with a soft cloth pinned over the broom, and
hung pale yellow blinds at the windows. Every spare minute
he worked on making furniture, and with each piece
he grew in experience and ventured on more difficult
undertakings. He had progressed so far that he now
allowed himself an hour each day on the candlesticks
for her. Every evening he opened her door and with soft
cloths polished the furniture he had made. When her
room was completed and the dining-room partially finished,
the Harvester took time to stain the cabin and
porch roofs the shade of the willow leaves, and on the logs
and pillars he used oil that served to intensify the light
yellow of the natural wood. With that much accomplished
he felt better. If she came now, in a few hours
he would be able to offer a comfortable room, enough
conveniences to live until more could be provided, and
of food there was always plenty.
His daily programme was to feed and water his animals
and poultry, prepare breakfast for himself and Belshazzar,
and go to the woods, dry-house or store-room
to do the work most needful in his harvesting. In the
afternoon he laboured over furniture and put finishing
touches on the new cabin, and after supper he carved and
found time to read again, as before his dream.
He was so happy he whistled and sang at his work much
of the time at first, but later there came days when doubts
crept in and all his will power was required to proceed
steadily. As the cabin grew in better shape for occupancy
each day, more pressing became the thought of how he
was going to find and meet the girl of his dream. Sometimes
it seemed to him that the proper way was to remain
at home and go on with his work, trusting her to come to
him. At such times he was happy and gaily whistled
``Stay in your chimney corner,
Don't roam the world about,
Stay in your chimney corner,
And your own true love will find you out.''
But there were other days while grubbing in the forest,
battling with roots in the muck and mire of the lake
bank, staggering under a load for two men, scarcely taking
time to eat and sleep enough to keep his condition
perfect, when that plan seemed too hopeless and senseless
to contemplate. Then he would think of locking
the cabin, leaving the drugs to grow undisturbed by
collecting, hiring a neighbour to care for his living
creatures, and starting a search over the world to find her.
There came times when the impulse to go was so strong
that only the desire to take a day more to decide where,
kept him. Every time his mind was made up to start
the following day came the counter thought, what if I
should go and she should come in my absence? In the
dream she came. That alone held him, even in the face
of the fact that if he left home some one might know of
and rifle the precious ginseng bed, carefully tended these
seven years for the culmination the coming fall would
bring. That ginseng was worth many thousands and he
had laboured over it, fighting worms and parasites, covering
and uncovering it with the changing seasons, a
siege of loving labour.
Sometimes a few hours of misgiving tortured him, but
as a rule he was cheerful and happy in his preparations.
Without intending to do it he was gradually furnishing
the cabin. Every few days saw a new piece finished in
the workshop. Each trip to Onabasha ended in the
purchase of some article he could see would harmonize
with his colour plans for one of the rooms. He had filled
the flower boxes for the veranda with delicate plants
that were growing luxuriantly.
Then he designed and began setting a wild-flower
garden outside her door and started climbing vines over
the logs and porches, but whatever he planted he found
in the woods or took from beds he cultivated. Many of
the medicinal vines had leaves, flowers, twining tendrils,
and berries or fruits of wonderful beauty. Every trip
to the forest he brought back a half dozen vines, plants,
or bushes to set for her. All of them either bore lovely
flowers, berries, quaint seed pods, or nuts, and beside
the drive and before the cabin he used especial care
to plant a hedge of bittersweet vines, burning bush,
and trees of mountain ash, so that the glory of their colour
would enliven the winter when days might be gloomy.
He planted wild yam under her windows that its queer
rattles might amuse her, and hop trees where their castanets
would play gay music with every passing wind of
fall. He started a thicket along the opposite bank of
Singing Water where it bubbled past her window, and in
it he placed in graduated rows every shrub and small tree
bearing bright flower, berry, or fruit. Those remaining
he used as a border for the driveway from the lake, so that
from earliest spring her eyes would fall on a procession of
colour beginning with catkins and papaw lilies, and running
through alders, haws, wild crabs, dogwood, plums,
and cherry intermingled with forest saplings and vines
bearing scarlet berries in fall and winter. In the damp soil
of the same character from which they were removed, in
the shade and under the skilful hand of the Harvester, few
of these knew they had been transplanted, and when May
brought the catbirds and orioles much of this growth was
flowering quite as luxuriantly as the same species in the
The Harvester was in the store-house packing boxes
for shipment. His room was so small and orders so
numerous that he could not keep large quantities on hand.
All crude stuff that he sent straight from the drying-house
was fresh and brightly coloured. His stock always was
marked prime A-No. 1. There was a step behind him and
the Harvester turned. A boy held out a telegram. The
man opened it to find an order for some stuff to be shipped
that day to a large laboratory in Toledo.
His hands deftly tied packages and he hastily packed
bottles and nailed boxes. Then he ran to harness Betsy
and load. As he drove down the hill to the bridge he
looked at his watch and shook his head.
``What are you good for at a pinch, Betsy?'' he asked
as he flecked the surprised mare's flank with a switch.
Belshazzar cocked his ears and gazed at the Harvester
``That wasn't enough to hurt her,'' explained the man.
``She must speed up. This is important business. The
amount involved is not so much, but I do love to make
good. It's a part of my religion, Bel. And my religion
has so precious few parts that if I fail in the observance
of any of them it makes a big hole in my performances.
Now we don't want to end a life full of holes, so we must
get there with this stuff, not because it's worth the exertion
in dollars and cents, but because these men patronize
us steadily and expect us to fill orders, even by telegraph.
The whip fell again and Belshazzar entered indignant
``It isn't going to hurt her,'' said the Harvester
impatiently. ``She may walk all the way back. She can rest
while I get these boxes billed and loaded if she can be
persuaded to get them to the express office on time. The
trouble with Betsy is that she wants to meander along the
road with a loaded wagon as her mother and grandmother
before her wandered through the woods wearing a bell to
attract the deer. Father used to say that her mother
was the smartest bell mare that ever entered the forest.
She'd not only find the deer, but she'd make friends with
them and lead them straight as a bee-line to where he was
hiding. Betsy, you must travel!''
The Harvester drew the lines taut, and the whip fell
smartly. The astonished Betsy snorted and pranced down
the valley as fast as she could, but every step indicated
that she felt outraged and abused. This was the loveliest
day of the season. The sun was shining, the air was
heavy with the perfume of flowering shrubs and trees, the
orchards of the valley were white with bloom. Farmers
were hurrying back and forth across fields, leaving up
turned lines of black, swampy mould behind them, and
one progressive individual rode a wheeled plow, drove
three horses and enjoyed the shelter of a canopy.
``Saints preserve us, Belshazzar!'' cried the Harvester.
``Do you see that? He is one of the men who makes a
business of calling me shiftless. Now he thinks he is
working. Working! For a full-grown man, did you ever
see the equal? If I were going that far I'd wear a tucked
shirt, panama hat, have a pianola attachment, and an
The Harvester laughed as he again touched Betsy and
hurried to Onabasha. He scarcely saw the delights
offered on either hand, and where his eyes customarily
took in every sight, and his ears were tuned for the faintest
note of earth or tree top, to day he saw only Betsy and
listened for a whistle he dreaded to hear at the water tank.
He climbed the embankment of the railway at a slower
pace, but made up time going down hill to the city.
``I am not getting a blame thing out of this,'' he
complained to Belshazzar. ``There are riches to stagger
any scientist wasting to-day, and all I've got to show is one
oriole. I did hear his first note and see his flash, and so
unless we can take time to make up for this on the home
road we will have to christen it oriole day. It's a perfumed
golden day, too; I can get that in passing, but how
I loathe hurrying. I don't mind planning things and
working steadily, but it's not consistent with the dignity
of a sane man to go rushing across country with as much
appreciation of the delights offered right now as a chicken
with its head off would have. We will loaf going back to
pay for this! And won't we invite our souls? We will
stop and gather a big bouquet of crab apple blossoms to
fill the green pitcher for her. Maybe some of their
wonderful perfume will linger in her room. When the
petals fall we will scatter them in the drawers of her
dresser, and they may distil a faint flower odour there. We
could do that to all her furniture, but perhaps she doesn't
like perfume. She'll be compelled to after she reaches
Medicine Woods. Betsy, you must travel faster!''
The whip fell again and the Harvester stopped at the
depot with a few minutes to spare. He threw the hitching
strap to Belshazzar, and ran into the express office with
an arm load of boxes.
``Bill them!'' he cried. ``It's a rush order. I want it
to go on the next express. Almost due I think. I'll help
you and we can book them afterward.''
The expressman ran for a truck and they hastily
weighed and piled on boxes. When the last one was
loaded from the wagon, a heap more lying in the office
were added, pitched on indiscriminately as the train pulled
under the sheds of the Union Station.
``I'll push,'' cried the Harvester, ``and help you get
Hurrying as fast as he could the expressman drew the
heavy truck through the iron gates and started toward
the train slowing to a stop, and the Harvester pushed.
As they came down the platform they passed the dining
and sleeping cars of the long train and were several times
delayed by descending passengers. Just opposite the
day coach the expressman narrowly missed running into
several women leading small children and stopped
abruptly. A toppling box threatened the head of the
Harvester. He peered around the truck and saw they
must wait a few seconds. He put in the time watching
the people. A gray-haired old man, travelling in a silk
hat, wavered on the top step and went his way. A fat
woman loaded with bundles puffed as she clung trembling
a second in fear she would miss the step she could not see.
A tall, slender girl with a face coldly white came next, and
from the broken shoe she advanced, the bewildered fright
of big, dark eyes glancing helplessly, the Harvester saw
that she was poor, alone, ill, and in trouble. Pityingly
he turned to watch her, and as he gauged her height,
saw her figure, and a dark coronet of hair came into view,
a ghastly pallor swept his face.
``Merciful God!'' he breathed, ``that's my Dream
The truck started with a jerk. The toppling box fell,
struck a passing boy, and knocked him down. The
mother screamed and the Harvester sprang to pick up the
child and see that he was not dangerously hurt. Then
he ran after the truck, pitched on the box, and whirling,
sped beside the train toward the gates of exit. There was
the usual crush, but he could see the tall figure passing up
the steps to the depot. He tried to force his way and was
called a brute by a crowded woman. He ran down the
platform to the gates he had entered with the truck.
They were automatic and had locked. Then he became a
primal creature being cheated of a lawful mate and
climbed the high iron fence and ran for the waiting room.
He swept it at a glance, not forgetting the women's
apartment and the side entrance. Then he hurried to the
front exit. Up the street leading from the city there were
few people and he could see no sign of the slight, white-
faced girl. He crossed the sidewalk and ran down the
gutter for a block and breathlessly waited the passing
crowd on the corner. She was not among it. He tried
one more square. Still he could not see her. Then he
ran back to the depot. He thought surely he must have
missed her. He again searched the woman's and general
waiting room and then he thought of the conductor.
From him it could be learned where she entered the car.
He ran for the station, bolted the gate while the official
called to him, and reached the track in time to see the
train pull out within a few yards of him.
``You blooming idiot!'' cried the angry expressman as
the Harvester ran against him, ``where did you go?
Why didn't you help me? You are white as a sheet!
Have you lost your senses?''
``Worse!'' groaned the Harvester. ``Worse! I've lost
what I prize most on earth. How could I reach the
conductor of that train?''
``Telegraph him at the next station. You can have an
answer in a half hour.''
The Harvester ran to the office, and with shaking hand
wrote this message:
``Where did a tall girl with big black eyes and wearing a
gray dress take your train? Important.''
Then he went out and minutely searched the depot and
streets. He hired an automobile to drive him over the
business part of Onabasha for three quarters of an hour.
Up one street and down another he went slowly where
there were crowds, faster as he could, but never a sight
of her. Then he returned to the depot and found his
message. It read, ``Transferred to me at Fort Wayne
``Chicago baggage!'' he cried, and hurried to the
check room. He had lost almost an hour. When he
reached the room he found the officials busy and unwilling
to be interrupted. Finally he learned there had been a
half dozen trunks from Chicago. All were taken save
two, and one glance at them told the Harvester that they
did not belong to the girl in gray. The others had been
claimed by men having checks for them. If she had been
there, the officials had not noticed a tall girl having a white
face and dark eyes. When he could think of no further
effort to make he drove to the hospital.
Doctor Carey was not in his office, and the Harvester
sat in the revolving chair before the desk and gripped his
head between his hands as he tried to think. He could
not remember anything more he could have done, but
since what he had done only ended in failure, he was
reproaching himself wildly that he had taken his eyes
from the Girl an instant after recognizing her. Yet it
was in his blood to be decent and he could not have run
away and left a frightened woman and a hurt child.
Trusting to his fleet feet and strength he had taken time
to replace the box also, and then had met the crowd and
delay. Just for the instant it appeared to him as if he
had done all a man could, and he had not found her. If
he allowed her to return to Chicago, probably he never
would. He leaned his head on his hands and groaned in
Doctor Carey whirled the chair so that it faced him
before the Harvester realized that he was not alone.
``What's the trouble, David?'' he asked tersely.
The Harvester lifted a strained face.
``I came for help,'' he said.
``Well you will get it! All you have to do is to state
what you want.''
That seemed simplicity itself to the doctor. But when
it came to putting his case into words, it was not easy for
``Go on!'' said the doctor.
``You'll think me a fool.''
The doctor laughed heartily.
``No doubt!'' he said soothingly. ``No doubt, David!
Probably you are; so why shouldn't I think so. But
remember this, when we make the biggest fools of ourselves
that is precisely the time when we need friends,
and when they stick to us the tightest, if they are worth
while. I've been waiting since latter February for you
to tell me. We can fix it, of course; there's always a way.
``Well I wasn't fooling about the dream and the vision
I told you of then, Doc. I did have a dream--and it
was a dream of love. I did see a vision--and it was a
``I hope you are not nursing that experience as
something exclusive and peculiar to you,'' said the doctor.
``There is not a normal, sane man living who has not
dreamed of love and the most exquisite woman who came
from the clouds or anywhere and was gracious to him.
That's a part of a man's experience in this world, and it
happens to most of us, not once, but repeatedly. It's a
case where the wish fathers the dream.''
``Well it hasn't happened to me `on repeated
occasions,' but it did one night, and by dawn I was converted.
How CAN a dream be so real, Doc? How could I see as
clearly as I ever saw in the daytime in my most alert
moment, hear every step and garment rustle, scent the
perfume of hair, and feel warm breath strike my face? I
don't understand it!''
``Neither does any one else! All you need say is that
your dream was real as life. Go on!''
``I built a new cabin and pretty well overturned the
place and I've been making furniture I thought a woman
would like, and carrying things from town ever since.''
``Gee! It was reality to you, lad!''
``Nothing ever more so,'' said the Harvester.
``And of course, you have been looking for her?''
``And this morning I saw her!''
``Not the ghost of a chance for a mistake. Her height,
her eyes, her hair, her walk, her face; only something
terrible has happened since she came to me. It was the
same girl, but she is ill and in trouble now.''
``Where is she?''
``Do you suppose I'd be here if I knew?''
``David, are you dreaming in daytime?''
``She got off the Chicago train this morning while I was
helping Daniels load a big truck of express matter.
Some of it was mine, and it was important. Just at the
wrong instant a box fell and knocked down a child and
I got in a jam----''
``And as it was you, of course you stopped to pick up
the child and do everything decent for other folks, before
you thought of yourself, and so you lost her. You needn't
tell me anything more. David, if I find her, and prove
to you that she has been married ten years and has an
interesting family, will you thank me?''
``Can't be done!'' said the Harvester calmly. ``She
has been married only since she gave herself to me in
February, and she is not a mother. You needn't bank
``You are mighty sure!''
``Why not? I told you the dream was real, and now
that I have seen her, and she is in this very town, why
shouldn't I be sure?''
``What have you done?''
The Harvester told him.
``What are you going to do next?''
``Talk it over with you and decide.''
The doctor laughed.
``Well here are a few things that occur to me without
time for thought. Talk to the ticket agents, and leave
her description with them. Make it worth their while to
be on the lookout, and if she goes anywhere to find out
all they can. They could make an excuse of putting her
address on her ticket envelope, and get it that way.
See the baggagemen. Post the day police on Main
Street. There is no chance for her to escape you. A
full-grown woman doesn't vanish. How did she act when
she got off the car? Did she appear familiar?''
``No. She was a stranger. For an instant she looked
around as if she expected some one, then she followed the
crowd. There must have been an automobile waiting
or she took a street car. Something whirled her out of
sight in a few seconds.''
``Well we will get her in range again. Now for the
most minute description you can give.''
The Harvester hesitated. He did not care to describe
the Dream Girl to any one, much less the living, suffering
face and poorly clad form of the reality.
``Cut out your scruples,'' laughed the doctor. ``You
have asked me to help you; how can I if I don't know what
kind of a woman to look for?''
``Very tall and slender,'' said the Harvester. ``Almost
as tall as I am.''
``Unusually tall you think?''
``That's a good point for identification. How about
her complexion, hair, and eyes?''
``Very large, dark eyes, and a great mass of black hair.''
The doctor roared.
``The eyes may help,'' he said. ``All women have
masses of hair these days. I hope----''
``Her hair is fast to her head,'' said the Harvester
indignantly. ``I saw it at close range, and I know. It
went around like a crown.''
The doctor choked down a laugh. He wanted to say
that every woman's hair was like a crown at present, but
there were things no man ventured with David Langston;
those who knew him best, least of any. So he suggested,
``And her colouring?''
``She was white and rosy, a lovely thing in the dream,''
said the Harvester, ``but something dreadful has
happened. That's all wiped out now. She was very pale
when she left the car.''
``Car sick, maybe.''
``Soul sick!'' was the grim reply.
Then Doctor Carey appeared so disturbed the Harvester
``You needn't think I'd be here prating about her if I
wasn't FORCED. If she had been rosy and well as she was
in the dream, I'd have made my hunt alone and found
her, too. But when I saw she was sick and in trouble, it
took all the courage out of me, and I broke for help. She
must be found at once, and when she is you are probably
the first man I'll want. I am going to put up a pretty
stiff search myself, and if I find her I'll send or get her to
you if I can. Put her in the best ward you have and
anything money will do----''
The face of the doctor was growing troubled.
``Day coach or Pullman?'' he asked.
``How was she dressed?''
``Small black hat, very plain. Gray jacket and skirt,
neat as a flower.''
``What you'd call expensively dressed?''
The Harvester hesitated.
``What I'd call carefully dressed, but----but poverty
poor, if you will have it, Doc.''
Doctor Carey's lips closed and then opened in sudden
``David, I don't like it,'' he said tersely.
The Harvester met his eye and purposely misunderstood him.
``Neither do I!'' he exclaimed. ``I hate it! There is
something wrong with the whole world when a woman
having a face full of purity, intellect, and refinement of
extreme type glances around her like a hunted thing;
when her appearance seems to indicate that she has
starved her body to clothe it. I know what is in your
mind, Doc, but if I were you I wouldn't put it into words,
and I wouldn't even THINK it. Has it been your experience
in this world that women not fit to know skimp their
bodies to cover them? Does a girl of light character and
little brain have the hardihood to advance a foot covered
with a broken shoe? If I could tell you that she rode in a
Pullman, and wore exquisite clothing, you would be doing
something. The other side of the picture shuts you up
like a clam, and makes you appear shocked. Let me tell
you this: No other woman I ever saw anywhere on God's
footstool had a face of more delicate refinement, eyes of
purer intelligence. I am of the woods, and while they
don't teach me how to shine in society, they do instil
always and forever the fineness of nature and her ways.
I have her lessons so well learned they help me more than
anything else to discern the qualities of human nature.
If you are my friend, and have any faith at all in my
common sense, get up and do something!''
The doctor arose promptly.
``David, I'm an ass,'' he said. ``Unusually lop-eared,
and blind in the bargain. But before I ask you to forgive
me, I want you to remember two things: First, she
did not visit me in my dreams; and, second, I did not see
her in reality. I had nothing to judge from except what
you said: you seemed reluctant to tell me, and what you
did say was----was----disturbing to a friend of yours.
I have not the slightest doubt if I had seen her I would
agree with you. We seldom disagree, David. Now, will
you forgive me?''
The Harvester suddenly faced a window. When at
last he turned, ``The offence lies with me,'' he said. ``l
was hasty. Are you going to help me?''
``With all my heart! Go home and work until your
head clears, then come back in the morning. She did not
come from Chicago for a day. You've done all I know
to do at present.''
``Thank you,'' said the Harvester.
He went to Betsy and Belshazzar, and slowly drove up
and down the streets until Betsy protested and calmly
turned homeward. The Harvester smiled ruefully as he
allowed her to proceed.
``Go slow and take it easy,'' he said as they reached the
country. ``I want to think.''
Betsy stopped at the barn, the white doves took wing,
and Ajax screamed shrilly before the Harvester aroused
in the slightest to anything around him. Then he looked
at Belshazzar and said emphatically: ``Now, partner,
don't ever again interfere when I am complying with
the observances of my religion. Just look what I'd have
missed if I hadn't made good with that order!''
TO LABOUR AND TO WAIT
We have reached the `beginning of the end,'
Ajax!'' said the Harvester, as the peacock
ceased screaming and came to seek food from
his hand. ``We have seen the Girl. Now we must
locate her and convince her that Medicine Woods is her
happy home. I feel quite equal to the latter proposition,
Ajax, but how the nation to find her sticks me.
I can't make a search so open that she will know and
resent it. She must have all the consideration ever
paid the most refined woman, but she also has got to
be found, and that speedily. When I remember that
look on her face, as if horrors were snatching at her
skirts, it takes all the grit out of me. I feel weak as a
sapling. And she needs all my strength. I've simply
got to brace up. I'll work a while and then perhaps
I can think.''
So the Harvester began the evening routine. He
thought he did not want anything to eat, but when he
opened the cupboard and smelled the food he learned
that he was a hungry man and he cooked and ate a
good supper. He put away everything carefully, for
even the kitchen was dainty and fresh and he wanted to
keep it so for her. When he finished he went into the
living-room, stood before the fireplace, and studied the
collection of half-finished candlesticks grouped upon it.
He picked up several and examined them closely, but
realized that he could not bind himself to the exactions
of carving that evening. He took a key from his pocket
and unlocked her door. Every day he had been going
there to improve upon his work for her, and he loved the
room, the outlook from its windows; he was very proud
of the furniture he had made. There was no paper-
thin covering on her chairs, bed, and dressing table.
The tops, seats, and posts were solid wood, worth hundreds
of dollars for veneer.
To-night he folded his arms and stood on the sill
hesitating. While she was a dream, he had loved to
linger in her room. Now that she was reality, he paused.
In one golden May day the place had become sacred.
Since he had seen the Girl that room was so hers that
he was hesitating about entering because of this fact.
It was as if the tall, slender form stood before the chest
of drawers or sat at the dressing table and he did not
dare enter unless he were welcome. Softly he closed
the door and went away. He wandered to the dry-
house and turned the bark and roots on the trays, but
the air stifled him and he hurried out. He tried to work
in the packing room, but walls smothered him and again
he sought the open.
He espied a bundle of osier-bound, moss-covered ferns
that he had found in the woods, and brought the shovel
to transplant them; but the work worried him, and he
hurried through with it. Then he looked for something
else to do and saw an ax. He caught it up and with
lusty strokes began swinging it. When he had chopped
wood until he was very tired he went to bed. Sleep
came to the strong, young frame and he awoke in the
morning refreshed and hopeful.
He wondered why he had bothered Doctor Carey.
The Harvester felt able that morning to find his Dream
Girl without assistance before the day was over. It
was merely a matter of going to the city and locating
a woman. Yesterday, it had been a question of whether
she really existed. To-day, he knew. Yesterday, it
had meant a search possibly as wide as earth to find her.
To-day, it was narrowed to only one location so small,
compared with Chicago, that the Harvester felt he could
sift its population with his fingers, and pick her from
others at his first attempt. If she were visiting there
probably she would rest during the night, and be on the
When he remembered her face he doubted it. He
decided to spend part of the time on the business streets
and the remainder in the residence portions of the city.
Because it was uncertain when he would return, everything
was fed a double portion, and Betsy was left
at a livery stable with instructions to care for her until
he came. He did not know where the search would
lead him. For several hours he slowly walked the
business district and then ranged farther, but not a
sight of her. He never had known that Onabasha was
so large. On its crowded streets he did not feel that he
could sift the population through his fingers, nor could
he open doors and search houses without an excuse.
Some small boys passed him eating bananas, and the
Harvester looked at his watch and was amazed to find
that the day had advanced until two o'clock in the
afternoon. He was tired and hungry. He went into
a restaurant and ordered lunch; as he waited a girl
serving tables smiled at him. Any other time the
Harvester would have returned at least a pleasant
look, and gone his way. To-day he scowled at her, and
ate in hurried discomfort. On the streets again, he had
no idea where to go and so he went to the hospital.
``I expected you early this morning,'' was the greeting
of Doctor Carey. ``Where have you been and what
have you done?''
``Nothing,'' said the Harvester. ``I was so sure she
would be on the streets I just watched, but I didn't
``We will go to the depot,'' said the doctor. ``The
first thing is to keep her from leaving town.''
They arranged with the ticket agents, expressmen,
telegraphers, and, as they left, the Harvester stopped
and tipped the train caller, offering further reward worth
while if he would find the Girl.
``Now we will go to the police station,'' said the doctor.
``I'll see the chief and have him issue a general order to
his men to watch for her, but if I were you I'd select
a half dozen in the down town district, and give them a
little tip with a big promise!''
``Good Lord! How I hate this,'' groaned the Harvester.
``Want to find her by yourself?'' questioned his friend.
``Yes,'' said the Harvester, ``I do! And I would, if
it hadn't been for her ghastly face. That drives me to
resort to any measures. The probabilities are that she
is lying sick somewhere, and if her comfort depends on
the purse that dressed her, she will suffer. Doc, do you
know how awful this is?''
``I know that you've got a great imagination. If the
woods make all men as sensitive as you are, those who
have business to transact should stay out of them.
Take a common-sense view. Look at this as I do. If
she was strong enough to travel in a day coach from
Chicago; she can't be so very ill to-day. Leaving life
by the inch isn't that easy. She will be alive this time
next year, whether you find her or not. The chances
are that her stress was mental anyway, and trouble
almost never overcomes any one.''
``You, a doctor and say that!''
``Oh, I mean instantaneously----in a day! Of course
if it grinds away for years! But youth doesn't allow it
to do that. It throws it off, and grows hopeful and happy
again. She won't die; put that out of your mind. If
I were you I would go home now and go straight on with
my work, trusting to. the machinery you have set in
motion. I know most of the men with whom we have
talked. They will locate her in a week or less. It's
their business. It isn't yours. It's your job to be ready
for her, and have enough ahead to support her when
they find her. Try to realize that there are now a dozen
men on hunt for her, and trust them. Go back to your
work, and I will come full speed in the motor when the
first man sights her. That ought to satisfy you. I've
told all of them to call me at the hospital, and I will tell
my assistant what to do in case a call comes while I
am away. Straighten your face! Go back to Medicine
Woods and harvest your crops, and before you know it
she will be located. Then you can put on your Sunday
clothes and show yourself, and see if you can make her
``Idiot!'' exclaimed the Harvester, but he started home.
When he arrived he attended to his work and then sat
down to think.
``Doc is right,'' was his ultimate conclusion. ``She
can't leave the city, she can't move around in it, she
can't go anywhere, without being seen. There's one
more point: I must tell Carey to post all the doctors
to report if they have such a call. That's all I can
think of. I'll go to-night, and then I'll look over the
ginseng for parasites, and to-morrow I'll dive into the
late spring growth and work until I haven't time to think.
I've let cranesbill get a week past me now, and it can't
be dispensed with.''
So the following morning, when the Harvester had
completed his work at the cabin and barn and breakfasted,
he took a mattock and a big hempen bag, and followed
the path to the top of the hill. As it ran along the lake
bank he descended on the other side to several acres of
cleared land, where he raised corn for his stock, potatoes,
and coarser garden truck, for which there was not
space in the smaller enclosure close the cabin. Around
the edges of these fields, and where one of them sloped
toward the lake, he began grubbing a variety of grass
having tall stems already over a foot in height at half
growth. From each stem waved four or five leaves of
six or eight inches length and the top showed forming
clusters of tiny spikelets.
``I am none too early for you,'' he muttered to himself
as he ran the mattock through the rich earth, lifting
the long, tough, jointed root stalks of pale yellow, from
every section of which broke sprays of fine rootlets.
``None too early for you, and as you are worth only
seven cents a pound, you couldn't be considered a `get-
rich-quick' expedient, so I'll only stop long enough with
you to gather what I think my customers will order,
and amass a fortune a little later picking mullein flowers
at seventy-five cents a pound. What a crop I've got
The Harvester glanced ahead, where in the cleared soil
of the bank grew large plants with leaves like yellow-green
felt and tall bloom stems rising. Close them flourished
other species requiring dry sandy soil, that gradually
changed as it approached the water until it became
covered with rank abundance of short, wiry grass, half
the blades of which appeared red. Numerous everywhere
he could see the grayish-white leaves of Parnassus
grass. As the season advanced it would lift heart-
shaped velvet higher, and before fall the stretch of emerald
would be starred with white-faced, green-striped flowers.
``Not a prettier sight on earth,'' commented the
Harvester, ``than just swale wire grass in September
making a fine, thick background to set off those delicate
starry flowers on their slender stems. I must remember
to bring her to see that.''
His eyes followed the growth to the water. As the
grass drew closer moisture it changed to the rank, sweet,
swamp variety, then came bulrushes, cat-tails, water
smartweed, docks, and in the water blue flag lifted
folded buds; at its feet arose yellow lily leaves and farther
out spread the white. As the light struck the surface
the Harvester imagined he could see the little green
buds several inches below. Above all arose wild rice
he had planted for the birds. The red wings swayed on
the willows and tilted on every stem that would bear
their weight, singing their melodious half-chanted notes,
Beneath them the ducks gobbled, splashed, and chattered;
grebe and coot voices could be distinguished;
king rails at times flashed into sight and out again;
marsh wrens scolded and chattered; occasionally a kingfisher
darted around the lake shore, rolling his rattling
cry and flashing his azure coat and gleaming white
collar. On a hollow tree in the woods a yellow
hammer proved why he was named, because he carpentered
industriously to enlarge the entrance to the home he
was excavating in a dead tree; and sailing over the
lake and above the woods in grace scarcely surpassed
by any, a lonesome turkey buzzard awaited his mate's
decision as to which hollow log was most suitable for
The Harvester stuffed the grass roots in the bag until
it would hold no more and stood erect to wipe his face,
for the sun was growing warm. As he drew his handkerchief
across his brow, the south wind struck him with
enough intensity to attract attention. Instantly the
Harvester removed his hat, rolled it up, and put it into
his pocket. He stood an instant delighting in the wind
and then spoke.
``Allow me to express my most fervent thanks for
your kindness,'' he said. ``I thought probably you
would take that message, since it couldn't mean much
to you, and it meant all the world to me. I thought
you would carry it, but, I confess, I scarcely expected
the answer so soon. The only thing that could make me
more grateful to you would be to know exactly where
she is: but you must understand that it's like a peep
into Heaven to have her existence narrowed to one
place. I'm bound to be able to say inside a few days,
she lives at number----I don't know yet, on street----
I'll find out soon, in the closest city, Onabasha. And
I know why you brought her, South Wind. If ever a
girl's cheeks need fanning with your breezes, and painting
with sun kisses, I wouldn't mind, since this is strictly
private, adding a few of mine; if ever any one needed
flowers, birds, fresh air, water, and rest! Good Lord,
South Wind, did you ever reach her before you carried
that message? I think not! But Onabasha isn't so
large. You and the sun should get your innings there.
I do hope she is not trying to work! I can attend to
that; and so there will be more time when she is found,
I'd better hustle now.''
He picked up the bag and returned to the dry-house,
where he carefully washed the roots and spread them
on the trays. Then he took the same bag and mattock
and going through the woods in the opposite direction
he came to a heavy growth in a cleared space of high
ground. The bloom heads were forming and the plant
was half matured. The Harvester dug a cylindrical,
tapering root, wrinkling lengthwise, wiped it clean,
broke and tasted it. He made a wry face. He stood
examining the white wood with its brown-red bark and,
deciding that it was in prime condition, be began digging
the plants. It was common wayside ``Bouncing Bet,''
but the Harvester called it ``soapwort.'' He took every
other plant in his way across the bed, and when he
digged a heavy load he carried it home, stripped the
leaves, and spread them on trays, while the roots he
topped, washed, and put to dry also. Then he whistled
for Belshazzar and went to lunch.
As he passed down the road to the cabin his face was
a study of conflicting emotions, and his eyes had a far
away appearance of deep thought. Every tree of his
stretch of forest was rustling fresh leaves to shelter him;
dogwood, wild crab, and hawthorn offered their flowers;
earth held up her tribute in painted trillium faces, spring
beauties, and violets, blue, white, and yellow. Mosses,
ferns, and lichen decorated the path; all the birds
greeted him in friendship, and sang their purest melodies.
The sky was blue, the sun bright, the air perfumed
for him; Belshazzar, always true to his name, protected
every footstep; Ajax, the shimmering green and gold
wonder, came up the hill to meet him; the white doves
circled above his head. Stumbling half blindly, the
Harvester passed unheeding among them, and went
into the cabin. When he came out he stood a long
time in deep study, but at last he returned to the
``Perhaps they will have found her before night,'' he
said. ``I'll harvest the cranesbill yet, because it's growing
late for it, and then I'll see how they are coming on.
Maybe they'd know her if they met her, and maybe
they wouldn't. She may wear different clothing, and
freshen up after her trip. She might have been car sick,
as Doc suggested, and appear very different when she
He skirted the woods around the northeast end and
stopped at a big bed of exquisite growth. Tall, wiry
stems sprang upward almost two feet in height; leaves
six inches across were cut in ragged lobes almost to the
base, and here and there, enough to colour the entire
bed a delicate rose or sometimes a violet purple, the
first flowers were unfolding. The Harvester lifted a
root and tasted it.
``No doubt about you being astringent,'' he muttered.
``You have enough tannin in you to pucker a mushroom.
By the way, those big, corn-cobby fellows should spring
up with the next warm rain, and the hotels and restaurants
always pay high prices. I must gather a few
He looked over the bed of beautiful wild alum and
``I vow I hate to touch you,'' he said. ``You are a
picture right now, and in a week you will be a miracle.
It seems a shame to tear up a plant for its roots, just at
flowering time, and I can't avoid breaking down half I
don't take, getting the ones I do. I wish you were not
so pretty! You are one of the colours I love most.
You remind me of red-bud, blazing star, and all those
exquisite magenta shades that poets, painters, and the
Almighty who made them love so much they hesitate
about using them lavishly. You are so delicate and
graceful and so modest. I wish she could see you!
I got to stop this or I won't be able to lift a root. I
never would if the ten cents a pound I'll get out of it
were the only consideration.''
The Harvester gripped the mattock and advanced
to the bed. ``What I must be thinking is that you are
indispensable to the sick folks. The steady demand for
you proves your value, and of course, humanity comes
first, after all. If I remain in the woods alone much
longer I'll get to the place where I'm not so sure that
it does. Seems as if animals, birds, flowers, trees, and
insects as well, have their right to life also. But it's
for me to remember the sick folks! If I thought the
Girl would get some of it now, I could overturn the bed
with a stout heart. If any one ever needed a tonic, I
think she does. Maybe some of this will reach her. If
it does, I hope it will make her cheeks just the lovely
pink of the bloom. Oh Lord! If only she hadn't
appeared so sick and frightened! What is there in all
this world of sunshine to make a girl glance around her
like that? I wish I knew! Maybe they will have
found her by night.''
The Harvester began work on the bed, but he knelt
and among the damp leaves from the spongy black
earth he lifted the roots with his fingers and carefully
straightened and pressed down the plants he did not
take. This required more time than usual, but his
heart was so sore he could not be rough with anything,
most of all a flower. So he harvested the wild alum
by hand, and heaped large stacks of roots around the
edges of the bed. Often he paused as he worked and
on his knees stared through the forest as if he hoped
perhaps she would realize his longing for her, and come
to him in the wood as she had across the water.
Over and over he repeated, ``Perhaps they will find
her by night!'' and that so intensified the meaning
that once he said it aloud. His face clouded and grew
``Dealish nice business!'' he said. ``I am here in the
woods digging flower roots, and a gang of men in the
city are searching for the girl I love. If ever a job seemed
peculiarly a man's own, it appears this would be. What
business has any other man spying after my woman?
Why am I not down there doing my own work, as I
always have done it? Who's more likely to find her
than I am? It seems as if there would be an instinct
that would lead me straight to her, if I'd go. And you
can wager I'll go fast enough.''
The Harvester appeared as if he would start that
instant, but with lips closely shut he finally forced
himself to go on with his work. When he had rifled the bed,
and uprooted all he cared to take during one season,
he carried the roots to the lake shore below the curing
house, and spread them on a platform he had built.
He stepped into his boat and began dashing pails of water
over them and using a brush. As he worked he washed
away the woody scars of last year's growth, and the tiny
buds appearing for the coming season.
Belshazzar sat on the opposite bank and watched
the operation; and Ajax came down and, flying to a
dead stump, erected and slowly waved his train to attract
the sober-faced man who paid no heed. He left the
roots to drain while he prepared supper, then placed
them on the trays, now filled to overflowing, and was
glad he had finished. He could not cure anything else
at present if he wanted to. He was as far advanced as
he had been at the same time the previous year. Then
he dressed neatly and locking the Girl's room, and leaving
Belshazzar to protect it, he went to Onabasha.
``Bravo!'' cried Doctor Carey as the Harvester
entered his office. ``You are heroic to wait all day for
news. How much stuff have you gathered?''
``Three crops. How many missing women have you
The doctor laughed. There was no sign of a smile
on the face of the Harvester.
``You didn't really expect her to come to light the
first day? That would be too easy! We can't find her
in a minute.''
``It will be no surprise to me if you can't find her at
all. I am not expecting another man to do what I don't
``You are not hunting her. You are harvesting the
woods. The men you employ are to find her.''
``Maybe I am, and maybe I am not,'' said the Harvester
slowly. ``To me it appears to be a poor stick of a man
who coolly proceeds with money making, and trusts to
men who haven't even seen her to search for the girl
he loves. I think a few hours of this is about all my
patience will endure.''
``What are you going to do?''
``I don't know,'' said the Harvester. ``But you can
bank on one thing sure----I'm going to do something!
I've had my fill of this. Thank you for all you've done,
and all you are going to do. My head is not clear enough
yet to decide anything with any sense, but maybe I'll
hit on something soon. I'm for the streets for a while.''
``Better go home and go to bed. You seem very
``I am,'' said the Harvester. ``The only way to
endure this is to work myself down. I'm all right, and
I'll be careful, but I rather think I'll find her myself.''
``Better go on with your work as we planned.''
``I'll think about it,'' said the Harvester as he went
Until he was too tired to walk farther he slowly paced
the streets of the city, and then followed the home road
through the valley and up the hill to Medicine Woods.
When he came to Singing Water, Belshazzar heard his
steps on the bridge, and came bounding to meet him. The
Harvester stretched himself on a seat and turned his
face to the sky. It was a deep, dark-blue bowl, closely
set with stars, and a bright moon shed a soft May radiance
on the young earth. The lake was flooded with light,
and the big trees of the forest crowning the hill were
silver coroneted. The unfolding leaves had hidden the
new cabin from the bridge, but the driveway shone white,
and already the upspringing bushes hedged it in. Insects
were humming lazily in the perfumed night air,
and across the lake a courting whip-poor-will was
explaining to his sweetheart just how much and why he
loved her. A few bats were wavering in air hunting
insects, and occasionally an owl or a nighthawk crossed
the lake. Killdeer were glorying in the moonlight and
night flight, and cried in pure, clear notes as they sailed
over the water. The Harvester was tired and filled
with unrest as he stretched on the bridge, but the longer
he lay the more the enfolding voices comforted him.
All of them were waiting and working out their lives
to the legitimate end; there was nothing else for him to
do. He need not follow instinct or profit by chance.
He was a man; he could plan and reason.
The air grew balmy and some big, soft clouds swept
across the moon. The Harvester felt the dampness
of rising dew, and went to the cabin. He looked at
it long in the moonlight and told himself that he could
see how much the plants, vines, and ferns had grown
since the previous night. Without making a light, he
threw himself on the bed in the outdoor room, and lay
looking through the screening at the lake and sky. He
was working his brain to think of some manner in which
to start a search for the Dream Girl that would have
some probability of success to recommend it, but he
could settle on no feasible plan. At last he fell asleep,
and in the night soft rain wet his face. He pulled an
oilcloth sheet over the bed, and lay breathing deeply of
the damp, perfumed air as he again slept. In the morning
brilliant sunshine awoke him and he arose to find the
``If ever there was a perfect mushroom day!'' he said
to Belshazzar. ``We must hurry and feed the stock and
ourselves and gather some. They mean real money.''
THE QUEST OF THE DREAM GIRL
The Harvester breakfasted, fed the stock, hitched
Betsy to the spring wagon, and went into the
dripping, steamy woods. If anyone had asked
him that morning concerning his idea of Heaven, he
never would have dreamed of describing a place of gold-
paved streets, crystal pillars, jewelled gates, and thrones
of ivory. These things were beyond the man's comprehension
and he would not have admired or felt at home
in such magnificence if it had been materialized for him.
He would have told you that a floor of last year's brown
leaves, studded with myriad flower faces, big, bark-
encased pillars of a thousand years, jewels on every
bush, shrub, and tree, and tilting thrones on which
gaudy birds almost burst themselves to voice the joy
of life, while their bright-eyed little mates peered
questioningly at him over nest rims----he would have told you
that Medicine Woods on a damp, sunny May morning
was Heaven. And he would have added that only
one angel, tall and slender, with the pink of health
on her cheeks and the dew of happiness in her dark
eyes, was necessary to enter and establish glory.
Everything spoke to him that morning, but the Harvester
was silent. It had been his habit to talk constantly
to Belshazzar, Ajax, his work, even the winds and perfumes;
it had been his method of dissipating solitude,
but to-day he had no words, even for these dear friends.
He only opened his soul to beauty, and steadily climbed
the hill to the crest, and then down the other side to the
rich, half-shaded, half-open spaces, where big, rough
mushrooms sprang in a night similar to the one just
He could see them awaiting him from afar. He began
work with rapid fingers, being careful to break off the
heads, but not to pull up the roots. When four heaping
baskets were filled he cut heavily leaved branches to
spread over them, and started to Onabasha. As usual,
Belshazzar rode beside him and questioned the Harvester
when he politely suggested to Betsy that she
make a little haste.
``Have you forgotten that mushrooms are perishable?''
he asked. ``If we don't get these to the city all woodsy
and fresh we can't sell them. Wonder where we can
do the best? The hotels pay well. Really, the biggest
prices could be had by----''
Then the Harvester threw back his head and began
to laugh, and he laughed, and he laughed. A crow on
the fence Joined him, and a kingfisher, heading for Loon
Lake, and then Belshazzar caught the infection.
``Begorry! The very idea!'' cried the Harvester.
`` `Heaven helps them that help themselves.' Now you
just watch us manoeuvre for assistance, Belshazzar, old
boy! Here we go!''
Then the laugh began again. It continued all the
way to Onabasha and even into the city. The Harvester
drove through the most prosperous street until he reached
the residence district. At the first home he stopped,
gave the lines to Belshazzar, and, taking a basket of
mushrooms, went up the walk and rang the bell.
``All groceries should be delivered at the back door,''
snapped a pert maid, before he had time to say a word.
The Harvester lifted his hat.
``Will you kindly tell the lady of the house that I
wish to speak with her?''
``What name, please?''
``I want to show her some fine mushrooms, freshly
gathered,'' he answered.
How she did it the Harvester never knew. The
first thing he realized was that the door had closed
before his face, and the basket had been picked deftly
from his fingers and was on the other side. After a
short time the maid returned.
``What do you want for them, please?''
The last thing on earth the Harvester wanted to do
was to part with those mushrooms, so he took one long,
speculative look down the hall and named a price he
thought would be prohibitive.
``One dollar a dozen.''
``How many are there?''
``I count them as I sell them. I do not know.''
The door closed again. Presently it opened and the
maid knelt on the floor before him and counted the
mushrooms one by one into a dish pan and in a few minutes
brought back seven dollars and fifty cents. The
chagrined Harvester, feeling like a thief, put the money
in his pocket, and turned away.
``I was to tell you,'' said she, ``that you are to bring
all you have to sell here, and the next time please go
to the kitchen door.''
``Must be fond of mushrooms,'' said the disgruntled
``They are a great delicacy, and there are visitors.''
The Harvester ached to set the girl to one side and
walk through the house, but he did not dare; so he
returned to the street, whistled to Betsy to come, and went
to the next gate. Here he hesitated. Should he risk
further snubbing at the front door or go back at once.
If he did, he only would see a maid. As he stood an
instant debating, the door of the house he just had
left opened and the girl ran after him. ``If you have
more, we will take them,'' she called.
The Harvester gasped for breath.
``They have to be used at once,'' he suggested.
``She knows that. She wants to treat her friends.''
``Well she has got enough for a banquet,'' he said.
``I--I don't usually sell more than a dozen or two in
``I don't see why you can't let her have them if you
``Perhaps I have orders to fill for regular customers,''
suggested the Harvester.
``And perhaps you haven't,'' said the maid. ``You
ought to be ashamed not to let people who are willing
to pay your outrageous prices have them. It's regular
``Possibly that's the reason I decline to hold up one
party twice,'' said the Harvester as he entered the gate
and went up the walk to the front door.
``You should be taught your place,'' called the maid
The Harvester again rang the bell. Another maid
opened the door, and once more he asked to speak with
the lady of the house. As the girl turned, a handsome
old woman in cap and morning gown came down the
``What have you there?'' she asked.
The Harvester lifted the leaves and exposed the
musky, crimpled, big mushrooms.
``Oh!'' she cried in delight. ``Indeed, yes! We are
very fond of them. I will take the basket, and divide
with my sons. You are sure you have no poisonous
ones among them?''
``Quite sure,'' said the Harvester faintly.
``How much do you want for the basket?''
``They are a dollar a dozen; I haven't counted them.''
``Dear me! Isn't that rather expensive?''
``It is. Very!'' said the Harvester. ``So expensive
that most people don't think of taking over a dozen.
They are large and very rich, so they go a long
``I suppose you have to spend a great deal of time
hunting them? It does seem expensive, but they are
fresh, and the boys are so fond of them. I'm not often
extravagant, I'll just take the lot. Sarah, bring a pan.''
Again the Harvester stood and watched an entire
basket counted over and carried away, and he felt the
robber he had been called as he took the money.
At the next house he had learned a lesson. He carpeted
a basket with leaves and counted out a dozen and a
half into it, leaving the remainder in the wagon. Three
blocks on one side of the street exhausted his store and
he was showered with orders. He had not seen any
one that even resembled a dark-eyed girl. As he came
from the last house a big, red motor shot past and then
suddenly slowed and backed beside his wagon.
``What in the name of sense are you doing?'' demanded
``Invading the residence district of Onabasha,'' said
the Harvester. ``Madam, would you like some nice,
fresh, country mushrooms? I guarantee that there are
no poisonous ones among them, and they were gathered
this morning. Considering their rarity and the difficult
work of collecting, they are exceedingly low at my price.
I am offering these for five dollars a dozen, madam,
and for mercy sake don't take them or I'll have no excuse
to go to the next house.''
The doctor stared, then understood, and began to
laugh. When at last he could speak he said, ``David,
I'll bet you started with three bushels and began at the
head of this street, and they are all gone.''
``Put up a good one!'' said the Harvester. ``You
win. The first house I tried they ordered me to the
back door, took a market basket full away from me
by force, tried to buy the load, and I didn't see any
one save a maid.''
The doctor lay on the steering gear and faintly groaned.
The Harvester regarded him sympathetically. ``Isn't
it a crime?'' he questioned. ``Mushrooms are no go.
I can see that!----or rather they are entirely too much
of a go. I never saw anything in such demand. I
must seek a less popular article for my purpose. To-
morrow look out for me. I shall begin where I left off
to-day, but I will have changed my product.''
``David, for pity sake,'' peeped the doctor.
``What do I care how I do it, so I locate her?''
superbly inquired the Harvester.
``But you won't find her!'' gasped the doctor.
``I've come as close it as you so far, anyway,'' said
the Harvester. ``Your mushrooms are on the desk in
He drove slowly up and down the streets until Betsy
wabbled on her legs. Then he left her to rest and walked
until he wabbled; and by that time it was dark, so he
At the first hint of dawn he was at work the following
morning. With loaded baskets closely covered, he
started to Onabasha, and began where he had quit the
day before. This time he carried a small, crudely
fashioned bark basket, leaf-covered, and he rang at the
front door with confidence.
Every one seemed to have a maid in that part of the
city, for a freshly capped and aproned girl opened the
``Are there any young women living here?'' blandly
inquired the Harvester.
``What's that of your business?'' demanded the
The Harvester flushed, but continued, ``I am offering
something especially intended for young women. If
there are none, I will not trouble you.''
``There are several.''
``Will you please ask them if they would care for
bouquets of violets, fresh from the woods?''
``How much are they, and how large are the bunches?''
``Prices differ, and they are the right size to appear
well. They had better see for themselves.''
The maid reached for the basket, but the Harvester
``I keep them in my possession,'' he said. ``You may
take a sample.''
He lifted the leaves and drew forth a medium-sized
bunch of long-stemmed blue violets with their leaves.
The flowers were fresh, crisp, and strong odours of the
woods arose from them.
``Oh!'' cried the maid. ``Oh, how lovely!''
She hurried away with them and returned carrying
``I want two more bunches,'' she said. ``How much
``Are the girls who want them dark or fair?''
``What difference does that make?''
``I have blue violets for blondes, yellow for brunettes,
and white for the others.''
``Well I never! One is fair, and two have brown hair
and blue eyes.''
``One blue and two whites,'' said the Harvester calmly,
as if matching women's hair and eyes with flowers were
an inherited vocation. ``They are twenty cents a
``Aha!'' he chortled to himself as he whistled to Betsy.
``At last we have it. There are no dark-eyed girls here.
Now we are making headway.''
Down the street he went, with varying fortune, but
with patience and persistence at every house he at last
managed to learn whether there was a dark-eyed girl.
There did not seem to be many. Long before his store
of yellow violets was gone the last blue and white had
disappeared. But he calmly went on asking for dark-
eyed girls, and explaining that all the blue and white
were taken, because fair women were most numerous.
At one house the owner, who reminded the Harvester
of his mother, came to the door. He uncovered and in
his suavest tones inquired if a brunette young woman lived
there and if she would like a nosegay of yellow violets.
``Well bless my soul!'' cried she. ``What is this
world coming to? Do you mean to tell me that there
are now able-bodied men offering at our doors, flowers
to match our girls' complexions?''
``Yes madam?'' said the Harvester gravely, ``and
also selling them as fast as he can show them, at prices
that make a profit very well worth while. I had an
equal number of blue and white, but I see the dark
girls are very much in the minority. The others were
gone long ago, and I now have flowers to offer brunettes
``Well forever more! And you don't call that fiddlin'
business for a big, healthy, young man?''
The Harvester's gay laugh was infectious.
``I do not,'' he said. ``I have to start as soon as I
can see, tramp long distances in wet woods and gather
the violets on my knees, make them into bunches, and
bring them here in water to keep them fresh. I have
another occupation. I only kill time on these, but I would
be ashamed to tell you what I have gotten for them this
``Humph! I'm glad to hear it!'' said the woman.
``Shame in some form is a sign of grace. I have no use
for a human being without a generous supply of it.
There is a very beautiful dark-eyed girl in the house,
and I will take two bunches for her. How much are
``I have only three remaining,'' said the Harvester.
``Would you like to allow her to make her own selection?''
``When I'm giving things I usually take my choice. I
want that, and that one.''
``As my stock is so nearly out, I'll make the two for
twenty,'' said the Harvester. ``Won't you accept the
last one from me, because you remind me just a little
of my mother?''
``I will indeed,'' said she. ``Thank you very much!
I shall love to have them as dearly as any of the girls.
I used to gather them when I was a child, but I almost
never see the blue ones any more, and I don't know as
I ever expected to see a yellow violet again as long as I
live. Where did you get them?''
``In my woods,'' said the Harvester. ``You see I
grow several members of the viola pedata family, bird's
foot, snake, and wood violet, and three of the odorata,
English, marsh, and sweet, for our big drug houses.
They use the flowers in making delicate tests for acids
and alkalies. The entire plant, flower, seed, leaf, and
root, goes into different remedies. The beds seed
themselves and spread, so I have more than I need for the
chemists, and I sell a few. I don't use the white and
yellow in my business; I just grow them for their beauty.
I also sell my surplus lilies of the valley. Would you
like to order some of them for your house or more
violets for to-morrow?''
``Well bless my soul! Do you mean to tell me that
lilies of the valley are medicine?''
The Harvester laughed.
``I grow immense beds of them in the woods on the
banks of Loon Lake,'' he said. ``They are the convallaris
majallis of the drug houses and I scarcely know what
the weak-hearted people would do without them. I
use large quantities in trade, and this season I am selling
a few because people so love them.''
``Lilies in medicine; well dear me! Are roses good
for our innards too?''
Then the Harvester did laugh.
``I imagine the roses you know go into perfumes
mostly,'' he answered. ``They do make medicine of
Canadian rock rose and rose bay, laurel, and willow.
I grow the bushes, but they are not what you would
``I wonder now,'' said the woman studying the
Harvester closely, ``if you are not that queer genius I've
heard of, who spends his time hunting and growing
stuff in the woods and people call him the Medicine
``I strongly suspect madam, I am that man,'' said
``Well bless me!'' cried she. ``I've always wanted to
see you and here when I do, you look just like anybody
else. I thought you'd have long hair, and be wild-
eyed and ferocious. And your talk sounds like out of
a book. Well that beats me!''
``Me too!'' said the Harvester, lifting his hat. ``You
don't want any lilies to-morrow, then?''
``Yes I do. Medicine or no medicine, I've always
liked 'em, and I'm going to keep on liking them. If
you can bring me a good-sized bunch after the weak-
``Weak-hearted,'' corrected the Harvester.
``Well `weak-hearted,' then; it's all the same thing.
If you've got any left, as I was saying, you can fetch
them to me for the smell.''
The Harvester laughed all the way down town. There
he went to Doctor Carey's office, examined a directory,
and got the names of all the numbers where be had sold
yellow violets. A few questions when the doctor came
in settled all of them, but the flower scheme was
better. Because the yellow were not so plentiful as the
white and blue, next day he added buttercups and cowslips
to his store for the dark girls. When he had rifled
his beds for the last time, after three weeks of almost
daily trips to town, and had paid high prices to small
boys he set searching the adjoining woods until no more
flowers could be found, he drove from the outskirts of
the city one day toward the hospital, and as he stopped,
down the street came Doctor Carey frantically waving
to him. As the big car slackened, ``Come on David,
quick! I've seen her!'' cried the doctor.
The Harvester jumped from the wagon, threw the
lines to Belshazzar, and landed in the panting car.
``For Heaven's sake where? Are you sure?''
The car went speeding down the street. A policeman
beckoned and cried after it.
``It won't do any good to get arrested, Doc,'' cautioned
``Now right along here,'' panted Doctor Carey. ``Watch
both sides sharply. If I stop you jump out, and tell the
blame policemen to get at their job. The party they
are hired to find is right under their noses.''
The Harvester began to perspire. ``Doc, don't you
think you should tell me? Maybe she is in some store.
Maybe I could do better on foot.''
``Shut up!'' growled the doctor. ``I am doing the
best I know.''
He hurried up the street for blocks and back again,
and at last stopped before a large store and went in.
When he returned he drove to the hospital and together
they entered the office. There he turned to the
``It isn't so hard to understand you now, my boy,''
he said. ``Shades of Diana, but she'll be a beauty when
she gets a little more flesh and colour. She came out
of Whitlaw's and walked right to the crossing. I almost
could have touched her, but I didn't notice. Two girls
passed before me, and in hurrying, a tall, dark one knocked
off one of your bunches of yellow violets. She glanced
at it and laughed, but let it lay. Then your girl hesitated
stooped and picked it up. The crazy policeman yelled
at me to clear the crossing and it didn't hit me for a
half block how tall and white she was and how dark
her eyes were. I was just thinking about her picking
up the flowers, and that it was queer for her to do it,
when like a brick it hit me, THAT'S DAVID'S GIRL! I tried
to turn around, but you know what Main Street is in
the middle of the day. And those idiots of policemen!
They ordered me on, and I couldn't turn for a street car
coming, so I called to one of them that the girl we wanted
was down the street, and he looked at me like an addle-
pate and said, `What girl? Move on or you'll get
in a jam here.' You can use me for a football if I
don't go back and smash him. Paid him five dollars
myself less than two weeks ago to keep his eyes open.
`TO KEEP HIS EYES OPEN!' '' panted the doctor, shaking
his fist at David. ``Yes sir! `To keep his eyes open!'
And he motioned for things to come along, and so I
lost her too.''
``I think we had better go back to the street,'' said
``Oh, I'd been back and forth along that street for
nearly an hour before I gave up and came here to see
if I could find you, and we've hunted it an hour more!
What's the use? She's gone for this time, but by gum,
I saw her! And she was worth seeing!''
``Did she appear ill to you?''
The doctor dropped on a chair and threw out his hands
``This was awful sudden, David,'' he said. ``I was
going along as I told you, and I noticed her stop and
thought she had a good head to wait a second instead
of running in before me, and there came those two girls
right under the car from the other side. I only had
a glimpse of her as she stooped for the flowers. I saw
a big braid of hair, but I was half a block away before
I got it all connected, and then came the crush in the
street, and I was blocked.''
The doctor broke down and wiped his face and
expressed his feelings unrestrainedly.
``Don't!'' said the Harvester patiently. ``It's no use
to feel so badly, Doc. I know what you would give to
have found her for me. I know you did all you could.
I let her escape me. We will find her yet. It's glorious
news that she's in the city. It gives me heart to hear
that. Can't you just remember if she seemed ill?''
The doctor meditated.
``She wasn't the tallest girl I ever saw,'' he said slowly,
``but she was the tallest girl to be pretty. She had on a
white waist and a gray skirt and black hat. Her eyes
and hair were like you said, and she was plain, white
faced, with a hue that might possibly be natural, and
it might be confinement in bad light and air and poor
food. She didn't seem sick, but she isn't well. There
is something the matter with her, but it's not immediate
or dangerous. She appeared like a flower that had got
a little moisture and sprouted in a cellar.''
``You saw her all right!'' said the Harvester, ``and
I think your diagnosis is correct too. That's the way
she seemed to me. I've thought she needed sun and air.
I told the South Wind so the other day.''
``Why you blame fool!'' cried the doctor. ``Is this
thing going to your head? Say, I forgot! There is
something else. I traced her in the store. She was at
the embroidery counter and she bought some silk. If
she ever comes again the clerk is going to hold her and
telephone me or get her address if she has to steal it. Oh,
we are getting there! We will have her pretty soon now.
You ought to feel better just to know that she is in town
and that I've seen her.''
``I do!'' said the Harvester. ``Indeed I do!''
``It can't be much longer,'' said the doctor. ``She's
got to be located soon. But those policemen! I wouldn't
give a nickel for the lot! I'll bet she's walked over
them for two weeks. If I were you I'd discharge the
bunch. They'd be peacefully asleep if she passed them.
If they'd let me alone, I'd have had her. I could have
turned around easily. I've been in dozens of closer
``Don't worry! This can't last much longer. She's
of and in the city or she wouldn't have picked up the
flowers. Doc, are you sure they were mine?''
``Yes. Half the girls have been tricked out in yours
the past two weeks. I can spot them as far as I can
``Dear Lord, that's getting close!'' said the Harvester
intensely. ``Seems as if the violets would tell her.''
``Now cut out flowers talking and the South Wind!''
ordered the doctor. ``This is business. The violets
prove something all right, though. If she was in the
country, she could gather plenty herself. She is working
at sewing in some room in town, either over a store
or in a house. If she hadn't been starved for flowers
she never would have stopped for them on the street.
I could see just a flash of hesitation, but she wanted them
too much. David, one bouquet will go in water and be
cared for a week. Man, it's getting close! This does
seem like a link.''
``Since you say it, possibly I dare agree with you,''
said the Harvester.
``How near are you through with that canvass of
``About three fourths.''
``Well I'd go on with it. After all we have got to
find her ourselves. Those senile policemen!''
``I am going on with it; you needn't worry about
that. But I've got to change to other flowers. I've
stripped the violet beds. There's quite a crop of berries
coming, but they are not ripe yet, and a tragedy to
pick. The pond lilies are just beginning to open by
the thousand. The lake border is blue with sweet-flag
that is lovely and the marsh pale gold with cowslips.
The ferns are prime and the woods solid sheets of every
colour of bloom. I believe I'll go ahead with the wild
`` I would too! David, you do feel better, don't you?''
``I certainly do, Doctor. Surely it won't be long
The Harvester was so hopeful that he whistled and
sang on the return to Medicine Woods, and that night