Part 5 out of 10
to the side door, slip you in the elevator and to the
fitting room of a store where I know the manager, and
you shall have some pretty clothing while I arrange for
a minister, and I'll come for you with a carriage. That
isn't the kind of wedding you or any other girl should
have, but there are times when a man only can do his
best. You will help me as much as you can, won't
``Anything you choose. It doesn't matter----only
be quick as possible.''
``There are a few details to which I must attend,''
said the Harvester, ``and the time will go faster trying
on dresses than waiting alone. When you are properly
clothed you will feel better. What did you say the
amount you owe is?''
``You may get a draft for fifty dollars. I will pay the
remainder when I earn it.''
``Ruth, won't you give me the pleasure of taking you
home free from the worry of that debt?''
``I am not going to `worry.' I am going to work and
``Very well,'' said the Harvester. ``This is the bank.
We will stop here.''
They went in and he handed her a slip of paper.
``Write the name and address on that?'' he said.
As the slip was returned to him, without a glance he
folded it and slid it under a wicket. ``Write a draft
for fifty dollars payable to that party, and send to that
address, from Miss Ruth Jameson,'' he said.
Then he turned to her.
``That is over. See how easy it is! Now we will go
to the court house. It is very close. Try not to think.
Just move and speak.''
``Hello, Langston!'' said the clerk. ``What can we do
for you here?''
``Show this girl every consideration,'' whispered the
Harvester, as he advanced. ``I want a marriage license in
your best time. I will answer first.''
With the document in his possession, they went to
the store he designated, where he found the Girl a chair
in the fitting room, while he went to see the manager.
``I want one of your most sensible and accommodating
clerks,'' said the Harvester, ``and I would like a few words
When she was presented he scrutinized her carefully
and decided she would do.
``I have many thanks and something more substantial
for a woman who will help me to carry through a slightly
unusual project with sympathy and ability,'' he said,
``and the manager has selected you. Are you willing?''
``If I can,'' said the clerk.
``She has put up your other orders,'' interposed the
manager; ``were they satisfactory?''
``I don't know,'' said the Harvester. ``They have not
yet reached the one for whom they were intended. What
I want you to do,'' he said to the clerk, ``is to go to the
fitting room and dress the girl you find there for her
wedding. She had other plans, but death disarranged
them, and she has only an hour in which to meet the
event most girls love to linger over for months. She
has been ill, and is worn with watching; but some time
she may look back to her wedding day with joy, and if
only you would help me to make the best of it for her,
I would be, as I said, under more obligations than I can
`` I will do anything,'' said the clerk.
``Very well,'' said the Harvester. ``She has come from
the country entirely unprepared. She is delicate and
refined. Save her all the embarrassment you can. Dress
her beautifully in white. Keep a memorandum slip of
what you spend for my account.''
``What is the limit?'' asked the clerk.
``There is none,'' said the Harvester. ``Put the prettiest
things on her you have in the right sizes, and if you are
a woman with a heart, be gentle!''
``Is she ready?'' inquired the manager at the door an
``I am,'' said the Girl stepping through.
The astounded Harvester stood and stared, utterly
oblivious of the curious people.
``Here, here, here!'' suddenly he whistled it, in the
red bird's most entreating tones.
The Girl laughed and the colour in her face deepened.
``Let us go,'' she said.
``But what about you?'' asked the manager of the
``Thunder!'' cried the man aghast. ``I was so busy
getting everything else ready, I forgot all about myself.
I can't stand before a minister beside her, can I?''
``Well I should say not,'' said the manager.
``Indeed yes,'' said the Girl. ``I never saw you in
any other clothing. You would be a stranger of whom
I'd be afraid.''
``That settles it!'' said the Harvester calmly. ``Thank
all of you more than words can express. I will come in
the first of the week and tell you how we get along.''
Then they went to the carriage and started for the
residence of a minister.
``Ruth, you are my Dream Girl to the tips of your
eyelashes,'' said the Harvester. ``I almost wish you
were not. It wouldn't keep me thinking so much of the
remainder of that dream. You are the loveliest sight
I ever saw.''
``Do I really appear well?'' asked the Girl, hungry
``Indeed you do!'' said the Harvester. ``I never could
have guessed that such a miracle could be wrought. And
you don't seem so tired. Were they good to you?''
``Wonderfully! I did not know there was kindness
like that in all the world for a stranger. I did not feel
lost or embarrassed, except the first few seconds when
I didn't know what to do. Oh I thank you for this!
You were right. Whatever comes in life I always shall
love to remember that I was daintily dressed and
appeared as well as I could when I was married. But
I must tell you I am not real. They did everything
on earth to me, three of them working at a time. I feel
an increase in self-respect in some way. David, I do
When she said ``David,'' the Harvester looked out of
the window and gulped down his delight. He leaned
``Shut your eyes and imagine you see the red bird,''
he said. ``In my soul, I am saying to you again and
again just what he sang. You are wonderfully beautiful,
Ruth, and more than wonderfully sweet. Will you
answer me a question?''
``If I can.''
``I love you with all my heart. Will you marry me?''
``I said I would.''
``Then we are engaged, aren't we?''
``Please remove the glove from your left hand. I want
to put on your ring. This will have to be a very short
engagement, but no one save ourselves need know.''
``David, that isn't necessary.''
``I have it here, and believe me, Ruth, it will help in a
few minutes; and all your life you will be glad. It is a
precious symbol that has a meaning. This wedding won't
be hurt by putting all the sacredness into it we can.
``On one condition.''
``What is it?''
``That you will accept and wear my mother's wedding
ring in exchange,'' she said. ``It is all I have.''
``Ruth, do you really wish that?''
``I am more pleased than I can tell you. May I have
She took off her glove and the Harvester held her
hand closely a second, then lifted it to his lips, passionately
kissed it and slipped on a ring, the setting a big,
``I looked at some others,'' he said, ``but nothing
got a second glance save this. They knew you were
coming down the ages, and so they got the pearls ready.
How beautiful it is on your hand! Put on the glove
and wear that ring as if you had owned it for the long,
happy year of betrothal every girl should have. You
can start yours to-day, and if by this time next year I
have not won you to my heart and arms, I'm no man
and not worthy of you. Ruth, you will try just a little
to love me, won't you?''
``I will try with all my heart,'' she said instantly.
``Thank you! I am perfectly happy with that. I
never expected to marry you before a year, anyway.
All the difference will be the blessed fact that instead
of coming to see you somewhere else, I now can have
you in my care, and court you every minute. You
might as well make up your mind to capitulate soon.
It's on the books that you do.''
``If an instant ever comes when I realize that I love
you, I will come straight and tell you; believe me, I
``Thank you!'' said the Harvester. ``This is going
to be quite a proper wedding after all. Here is the
place. It will be over soon and you on the home way.
The Girl smiled at him as he opened the carriage door,
helped her up the steps and rang the bell.
``Be brave now!'' he whispered. ``Don't lose your
lovely colour. These people will be as kind as they were
at the store.''
The minister was gentle and wasted no time. His
wife and daughter, who appeared for witnesses, kissed
Ruth, and congratulated her. She and the Harvester
stood, took the vows, exchanged rings, and returned to
the carriage, a man and his wife by the laws of
``Drive to Seaton's cafe','' the Harvester said.
``Oh David, let us go home!''
``This is so good I hate to stop it for something you
may not like so well. I ordered lunch and if we don't
eat it I will have to pay for it anyway. You wouldn't
want me to be extravagant, would you?''
``No,'' said the Girl, ``and besides, since you mention
it, I believe I am hungry.''
``Good!'' cried the Harvester. ``I hoped so! Ruth,
you wouldn't allow me to hold your hand just until we
reach the cafe'? It might save me from bursting with
``Yes,'' she said. ``But I must take off my lovely
gloves first. I want to keep them forever.''
``I'd hate the glove being removed dreadfully,'' said
the Harvester, his eyes dancing and snapping.
``I'm sorry I am so thin and shaky,'' said the Girl.
``I will be steady and plump soon, won't I?''
``On your life you will,'' said the Harvester, taking
the hand gently.
Now there are a number of things a man deeply in
love can think of to do with a woman's white hand.
He can stroke it, press it tenderly, and lay it against his
lips and his heart. The Harvester lacked experience
in these arts, and yet by some wonderful instinct all
of these things occurred to him. There was real colour
in the Girl's cheeks by the time he helped her into the
cafe'. They were guided to a small room, cool and restful,
close a window, beside which grew a tree covered with
talking leaves. A waiting attendant, who seemed perfectly
adept, brought in steaming bouillon, fragrant tea,
broiled chicken, properly cooked vegetables, a wonderful
salad, and then delicious ices and cold fruit. The happy
Harvester leaned back and watched the Girl daintily
manage almost as much food as he wanted to see her
When they had finished, ``Now we are going home,''
he said. ``Will you try to like it, Ruth?''
``Indeed I will,'' she promised. ``As soon as I grow
accustomed to the dreadful stillness, and learn what
things will not bite me, I'll be better.''
``I'll have to ask you to wait a minute,'' he said.
``One thing I forgot. I must hire a man to take Betsy
``Aren't you going to drive her yourself?''
``No ma'am! We are going in a carriage or a motor,''
said the Harvester.
``Indeed we are not!'' contradicted the Girl. ``You
have had this all your way so far. I am going home
behind Betsy, with Belshazzar at my knee.''
``But your dress! People will think I am crazy to
put a lovely woman like you in a spring wagon.''
``Let them!'' said the Girl placidly. ``Why should
we bother about other people? I am going with Betsy
The Harvester had been thinking that he adored her,
that it was impossible to love her more, but every
minute was proving to him that he was capable of feeling
so profound it startled him. To carry the Girl, his
bride, through the valley and up the hill in the little
spring wagon drawn by Betsy--that would have been
his ideal way. But he had supposed that she would be
afraid of soiling her dress, and embarrassed to ride in
such a conveyance. Instead it was her choice. Yes,
he could love her more. Hourly she was proving that.
``Come this way a few steps,'' he said. ``Betsy is
The Girl laid her face against the nose of the faithful
old animal, and stroked her head and neck. Then she
held her skirts and the Harvester helped her into the
wagon. She took the seat, and the dog went wild with
``Come on, Bel,'' she softly commanded.
The dog hesitated, and looked at the Harvester for
``You may come here and put your head on my knee,''
said the Girl.
``Belshazzar, you lucky dog, you are privileged to sit
there and lay your head on the lady's lap,'' said the
Harvester, and the dog quivered with joy.
Then the man picked up the lines, gave a backward
glance to the bed of the wagon, high piled with large
bundles, and turned Betsy toward Medicine Woods.
Through the crowded streets and toward the country
they drove, when a big red car passed, a man called
to them, then reversed and slowly began backing beside
the wagon. The Harvester stopped.
``That is my best friend, Doctor Carey, of the hospital,
Ruth,'' he said hastily. ``May I tell him, and will you
shake hands with him?''
``Certainly!'' said the Girl.
``Is it really you, David?'' the doctor peered with
gleaming eyes from under the car top.
``Really!'' cried the Harvester, as man greets man with
a full heart when he is sure of sympathy. ``Come, give
us your best send-off, Doc! We were married an hour
ago. We are headed for Medicine Woods. Doctor
Carey, this is Mrs. Langston.''
``Mighty glad to know you!'' cried the doctor, reaching
a happy hand.
The Girl met it cordially, while she smiled on
``How did this happen?'' demanded the doctor. ``Why
didn't you let us know? This is hardly fair of you,
David. You might have let me and the Missus share
``That is to be explained,'' said the Harvester. ``It
was decided on very suddenly, and rather sadly, on
account of the death of Mrs. Jameson. I forced Ruth
to marry me and come with me. I grow rather frightened
when I think of it, but it was the only way I knew. She
absolutely refused my other plans. You see before you
a wild man carrying away a woman to his cave.''
``Don't believe him, Doctor!'' laughed the Girl. ``If
you know him, you will understand that to offer all he
had was like him, when he saw my necessity. You will
come to see us soon?''
``I'll come right now,'' said the doctor. ``I'll bring
my wife and arrive by the time you do.''
``Oh no you won't!'' said the Harvester. ``Do you
observe the bed of this wagon? This happened all
`unbeknownst' to us. We have to set up housekeeping
after we reach home. We will notify you when we are
ready for visitors. Just you subside and wait until you
are sent for.''
``Why David!'' cried the astonished Girl.
``That's the law!'' said the Harvester tersely. ``Good-
bye, Doc; we'll be ready for you in a day or two.''
He leaned down and held out his hand. The grip
that caught it said all any words could convey; and
then Betsy started up the hill.
WHEN THE DREAM CAME TRUE
At first the road lay between fertile farms
dotted with shocked wheat, covered with
undulant seas of ripening oats, and forests
of growing corn. The larks were trailing melody above
the shorn and growing fields, the quail were ingathering
beside the fences, and from the forests on graceful wings
slipped the nighthawks and sailed and soared, dropping
so low that the half moons formed by white spots on
their spread wings showed plainly.
``Why is this country so different from the other side
of the city?'' asked the Girl.
``It is older,'' replied the Harvester, ``and it lies higher.
This was settled and well cultivated when that was a
swamp. But as a farming proposition, the money is
in the lowland like your uncle's. The crops raised there
are enormous compared with the yield of these fields.''
``I see,'' said she. ``But this is much better to look
at and the air is different. It lacks a soggy, depressing
``I don't allow any air to surpass that of Medicine
Woods,'' said the Harvester, ``by especial arrangement
with the powers that be.''
Then they dipped into a little depression and arose to
cross the railroad and then followed a longer valley
that was ragged and unkempt compared with the road
between cultivated fields. The Harvester was busy
trying to plan what to do first, and how to do it most
effectively, and working his brain to think if he had
everything the Girl would require for her comfort; so
he drove silently through the deepening shadows. She
shuddered and awoke him suddenly. He glanced at
her from the corner of his eye.
Her thoughts had gone on a journey, also, and the
way had been rough, for her face wore a strained
appearance. The hands lying bare in her lap were tightly
gripped, so that the nails and knuckles appeared blue.
The Harvester hastily cast around seeking for the cause
of the transformation. A few minutes ago she had
seemed at ease and comfortable, now she was close open
panic. Nothing had been said that would disturb her.
With brain alert he searched for the reason. Then it
began to come to him. The unaccustomed silence and
depression of the country might have been the beginning.
Coming from the city and crowds of people to the gloomy
valley with a man almost a stranger, going she knew not
where, to conditions she knew not what, with the
experiences of the day vivid before her. The black valley
road was not prepossessing, with its border of green
pools, through which grew swamp bushes and straggling
vines. The Harvester looked carefully at the road,
and ceased to marvel at the Girl. But he disliked to let
her know he understood, so he gave one last glance at
those gripped hands and casually held out the lines.
``Will you take these just a second?'' he asked.
``Don't let them touch your dress. We must not lose
of our load, because it's mostly things that will make
you more comfortable.''
He arose, and turning, pretended to see that everything
was all right. Then he resumed his seat and
``I am a little ashamed of this stretch through here,''
he said apologetically. ``I could have managed to have
it cleared and in better shape long ago, but in a way
it yields a snug profit, and so far I've preferred the
money. The land is not mine, but I could grub out
this growth entirely, instead of taking only what I need.''
``Is there stuff here you use?'' the Girl aroused
herself to ask, and the Harvester saw the look of relief
that crossed her face at the sound of his voice.
``Well I should say yes,'' he laughed. ``Those bushes,
numerous everywhere, with the hanging yellow-green
balls, those, in bark and root, go into fever medicines.
They are not so much used now, but sometimes I have
a call, and when I do, I pass the beds on my----on our
land, and come down here and get what is needed.
That bush,'' he indicated with the whip, ``blooms
exquisitely in the spring. It is a relative of flowering
dogwood, and the one of its many names I like best is
silky cornel. Isn't that pretty?''
``Yes,'' she said, ``it is beautiful.''
``I've planted some for you in a hedge along the driveway
so next spring you can gather all you want. I
think you'll like the odour. The bark brings more than
true dogwood. If I get a call from some house that uses
it, I save mine and come down here. Around the edge
are hop trees, and I realize something from them, and
also the false and true bitter-sweet that run riot here.
Both of them have pretty leaves, while the berries of the
true hang all winter and the colour is gorgeous. I've
set your hedge closely with them. When it has grown
a few months it's going to furnish flowers in the spring, a
million different, wonderful leaves and berries in the
summer, many fruits the birds love in the fall, and bright
berries, queer seed pods, and nuts all winter.''
``You planted it for me?''
``Yes. I think it will be beautiful in a season or two;
it isn't so bad now. I hope it will call myriads of birds
to keep you company. When you cross this stretch of
road hereafter, don't see fetid water and straggling bushes
and vines; just say to yourself, this helps to fill orders!''
``I am perfectly tolerant of it now,'' she said. ``You
make everything different. I will come with you and
help collect the roots and barks you want. Which
bush did you say relieved the poor souls scorching with
The Harvester drew on the lines, Betsy swerved to
the edge of the road, and he leaned and broke a branch.
``This one,'' he answered. ``Buttonbush, because
those balls resemble round buttons. Aren't they
peculiar? See how waxy and gracefully cut and set
the leaves are. Go on, Betsy, get us home before night.
We appear our best early in the morning, when the sun
tops Medicine Woods and begins to light us up, and in
the evening, just when she drops behind Onabasha back
there, and strikes us with a few level rays. Will you
take the lines until I open this gate?''
She laid the twig in her lap on the white gloves and
took the lines. As the gate swung wide, Betsy walked
through and stopped at the usual place.
``Now my girl,'' said the Harvester, ``cross yourself,
lean back, and take your ease. This side that gate
you are at home. From here on belongs to us.''
``To you, you mean,'' said the Girl.
``To us, I mean,'' declared the Harvester. ``Don't
you know that the `worldly goods bestowal' clause in a
marriage ceremony is a partial reality. It doesn't give
you `all my worldly goods,' but it gives you one third.
Which will you take, the hill, lake, marsh, or a part of
all of them.''
``Oh, is there water?''
``Did I forget to mention that I was formerly sole
owner and proprietor of the lake of Lost Loons, also a
brook of Singing Water, and many cold springs. The
lake covers about one third of our land, and my neighbours
would allow me ditch outlet to the river, but they
say I'm too lazy to take it.''
``Lazy! Do they mean drain your lake into the
``They do,'' said the Harvester, ``and make the bed
into a cornfield.''
``But you wouldn't?''
She turned to him with confidence.
``I haven't so far, but of course, when you see it,
if you would prefer it in a corn----Let's play a game!
Turn your head in this direction,'' he indicated with
the whip, ``close your eyes, and open them when I say
``Now!'' said the Harvester.
``Oh,'' cried the Girl. ``Stop! Please stop!''
They were at the foot of a small levee that ran to the
bridge crossing Singing Water. On the left lay the valley
through which the stream swept from its hurried rush
down the hill, a marshy thicket of vines, shrubs, and
bushes, the banks impassable with water growth. Everywhere
flamed foxfire and cardinal flower, thousands of
wild tiger lilies lifted gorgeous orange-red trumpets,
beside pearl-white turtle head and moon daisies, while
all the creek bank was a coral line with the first opening
bloom of big pink mallows. Rank jewel flower poured
gold from dainty cornucopias and lavender beard-tongue
offered honey to a million bumbling bees; water smart-
weed spread a glowing pink background, and twining
amber dodder topped the marsh in lacy mist with its
delicate white bloom. Straight before them a white-
sanded road climbed to the bridge and up a gentle hill
between the young hedge of small trees and bushes,
where again flowers and bright colours rioted and led
to the cabin yet invisible. On the right, the hill, crowned
with gigantic forest trees, sloped to the lake; midway
the building stood, and from it, among scattering trees
all the way to the water's edge, were immense beds of
vivid colour. Like a scarf of gold flung across the face
of earth waved the misty saffron, and beside the road
running down the hill, in a sunny, open space arose
tree-like specimens of thrifty magenta pokeberry. Down
the hill crept the masses of colour, changing from dry
soil to water growth.
High around the blue-green surface of the lake waved
lacy heads of wild rice, lower cat-tails, bulrushes, and
marsh grasses; arrowhead lilies lifted spines of pearly
bloom, while yellow water lilies and blue water hyacinths
intermingled; here and there grew a pink stretch of water
smartweed and the dangling gold of jewel flower. Over
the water, bordering the edge, starry faces of white pond
lilies floated. Blue flags waved graceful leaves, willows
grew in clumps, and vines clambered everywhere.
Among the growth of the lake shore, duck, coot,
and grebe voices commingled in the last chattering
hastened splash of securing supper before bedtime; crying
killdeers crossed the water, and overhead the nighthawks
massed in circling companies. Betsy climbed the
hill and at every step the Girl cried, ``Slower! please go
slower!'' With wide eyes she stared around her.
``WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME IT WOULD BE LIKE THIS?'' she
demanded in awed tones.
``Have I had opportunity to describe much of
anything?'' asked the Harvester. ``Besides, I was born
and reared here, and while it has been a garden of bloom
for the past six years only, it always has been a picture;
but one forgets to say much about a sight seen every
day and that requires the work this does.''
``That white mist down there, what is it?'' she
``Pearls grown by the Almighty,'' answered the
Harvester. ``Flowers that I hope you will love. They
are like you. Tall and slender, graceful, pearl white and
pearl pure----those are the arrowhead Lilies.''
``And the wonderful purplish-red there on the bank?
Oh, I could kneel and pray before colour like that!'
``Pokeberry!'' said the Harvester. ``Roots bring five
cents a pound. Good blood purifier.''
``Man!'' cried the Girl. ``How can you? I'm not
going to ask what another colour is. I'll just worship
what I like in silence.''
``Will you forgive me if I tell you what a woman
whose judgment I respect says about that colour?''
``She says, `God proves that He loves it best of all the
tints in His workshop by using it first and most sparingly.'
Now are you going to punish me by keeping silent?''
``I couldn't if I tried.''
Just then they came upon the bridge crossing
Singing Water, and there was a long view of its
border, rippling bed, and marshy banks; while on
the other hand the lake resembled a richly incrusted
``Is the house close?''
``Just a few rods, at the turn of the drive.''
``Please help me down. I want to remain here a while.
I don't care what else there is to see. Nothing can
equal this. I wish I could bring down a bed and sleep
here. I'd like to have a table, and draw and paint.
I understand now what you mean about the designs
you mentioned. Why, there must be thousands! I
can't go on. I never saw anything so appealing in all
Now the Harvester's mother had designed that bridge
and he had built it with much care. From bark-covered
railings to solid oak floor and comfortable benches
running along the sides it was intended to be a part of
``I'll send Belshazzar to the cabin with the wagon,''
he said, ``so you can see better.''
``But you must not!'' she cried. ``I can't walk. I
wouldn't soil these beautiful shoes for anything.''
``Why don't you change them?'' inquired the Harvester.
``I am afraid I forgot everything I had,'' said the Girl.
``There are shoes somewhere in this load. I thought
of them in getting other things for you, but I had no
idea as to size, and so I told that clerk to-day when she
got your measure to put in every kind you'd need.''
``You are horribly extravagant,'' she said. ``But if
you have them here, perhaps I could use one pair.''
The Harvester mounted the wagon and hunted until
he found a large box, and opening it on the bench he
disclosed almost every variety of shoe, walking shoe
and slipper, a girl ever owned, as well as sandals and high
``For pity sake!'' cried the Girl. ``Cover that box!
You frighten me. You'll never get them paid for.
You must take them straight back.''
``Never take anything back,'' said the Harvester.
`` `Be sure you are right, then go ahead,' is my motto.
Now I know these are your correct size and that for
differing occasions you will want just such shoes as other
girls have, and here they are. Simple as life! I think
these will serve because they are for street wear, yet
they are white inside.''
He produced a pair of canvas walking shoes and kneeling
before her held out his hand.
When he had finished, he loaded the box on the wagon,
gave the hitching strap to Belshazzar, and told him to
lead Betsy to the cabin and hold her until he came.
Then he turned to the Girl.
``Now,'' he said, ``look as long as you choose. But
remember that the law gives you part of this and your
lover, which same am I, gives you the remainder, so
you are privileged to come here at any hour as often as
you please. If you miss anything this evening, you
have all time to come in which to re-examine it.''
``I'd like to live right here on this bridge,'' she said.
``I wish it had a roof.''
``Roof it to-morrow,'' offered the Harvester. ``Simple
matter of a few pillars already cut, joists joined, and
some slab shingles left from the cabin. Anything else
your ladyship can suggest?''
``That you be sensible.''
``I was born that way,'' explained the Harvester,
``and I've cultivated the faculty until I've developed
real genius. Talking of sense, there never was a proper
marriage in which the man didn't give the woman a
present. You seem likely to be more appreciative of
this bridge than anything else I have, so right here and
now would be the appropriate place to offer you my
wedding gift. I didn't have much time, but I couldn't
have found anything more suitable if I'd taken a year.''
He held out a small, white velvet case.
``Doesn't that look as if it were made for a bride?''
``It does,'' answered the Girl. ``But I can't take it.
You are not doing right. Marrying as we did, you never
can believe that I love you; maybe it won't ever happen
that I do. I have no right to accept gifts and expensive
clothing from you. In the first place, if the love you
ask never comes, there is no possible way in which I can
repay you. In the second, these things you are offering
are not suitable for life and work in the woods. In the
third, I think you are being extravagant, and I couldn't
forgive myself if I allowed that.''
``You divide your statements like a preacher, don't
you?'' asked the Harvester ingenuously. ``Now sit
thee here and gaze on the placid lake and quiet your
troubled spirit, while I demolish your `perfectly good'
arguments. In the first place, you are now my wife,
and you have a right to take anything I offer, if you
care for it or can use it in any manner. In the second,
you must recognize a difference in our positions. What
seems nothing to you means all the world to me, and you
are less than human if you deprive me of the joy of
expressing feelings I am in honour bound to keep in my
heart, by these little material offerings. In the third
place, I inherited over six hundred acres of land and
water, please observe the water----it is now in evidence
on your left. All my life I have been taught to be
frugal, economical, and to work. All I've earned either
has gone back into land, into the bank, or into books,
very plain food, and such clothing as you now see me
wearing. Just the value of this place as it stands, with
its big trees, its drug crops yielding all the year round,
would be difficult to estimate; and I don't mind telling
you that on the top of that hill there is a gold mine,
and it's mine----ours since four o'clock.''
``A gold mine!''
``Acres and acres of wild ginseng, seven years of age
and ready to harvest. Do you remember what your few
``Why it's worth thousands!''
``Exactly! For your peace of mind I might add that
all I have done or got is paid for, except what I bought
to-day, and I will write a check for that as soon as the
bill is made out. My bank account never will feel it
Truly, Ruth, I am not doing or going to do anything
extravagant. I can't afford to give you diamond necklaces,
yachts, and trips to Europe; but you can have
the contents of this box and a motor boat on the lake,
a horse and carriage, and a trip----say to New York
perfectly well. Please take it.''
``I wish you wouldn't ask me. I would be happier
``Yes, but I do ask you,'' persisted the Harvester.
``You are not the only one to be considered. I have
some rights also, and I'm not so self-effacing that I
won't insist upon them. From your standpoint I am
almost a stranger. You have spent no time considering
me in near relations; I realize that. You feel as if you
were driven here for a refuge, and that is true. I said
to Belshazzar one day that I must remember that you
had no dream, and had spent no time loving me, and I
do I know how this wedding seems to you, but it's
going to mean something different and better soon,
please God. I can see your side; now suppose you
take a look at mine. I did have a dream, it was my
dream, and beyond the sum of any delight I ever
conceived. On the strength of it I rebuilt my home and
remodelled these premises. Then I saw you, and from
that day I worked early and late. I lost you and I
never stopped until I found you; and I would have
courted and won you, but the fates intervened and here
you are! So it's my delight to court and win you now.
If you knew the difference between having a dream that
stirred the least fibre of your being and facing the world in
a demand for realization of it, and then finding what you
coveted in the palm of your hand, as it were, you would
know what is in my heart, and why expression of some
kind is necessary to me just now, and why I'll explode
if it is denied. It will lower the tension, if you will
accept this as a matter of fact; as if you rather expected
and liked it, if you can.''
The Harvester set his finger on the spring.
``Don't!'' she said. ``I'll never have the courage if
you do. Give it to me in the case, and let me open it.
Despite your unanswerable arguments, I am quite sure
that is the only way in which I can take it.''
The Harvester gave her the box.
``My wedding gift!'' she exclaimed, more to herself
than to him. ``Why should I be the buffet of all the
unkind fates kept in store for a girl my whole life, and
then suddenly be offered home, beautiful gifts, and wonderful
loving kindness by a stranger?''
The Harvester ran his fingers through his crisp hair,
pulled it into a peak, stepped to the seat and sitting on
the railing, he lifted his elbows, tilted his head, and
began a motley outpouring of half-spoken, half-whistled
trills and imploring cries. There was enough similarity
that the Girl instantly recognized the red bird. Out
of breath the Harvester dropped to the seat beside her.
``And don't you keep forgetting it!'' he cried. ``Now
open that box and put on the trinket; because I want
to take you to the cabin when the sun falls level on the
She opened the case, exposing a thread of gold that
appeared too slender for the weight of an exquisite
pendant, set with shimmering pearls.
``If you will look down there,'' the Harvester pointed
over the railing to the arrowhead lilies touched with
the fading light, ``you will see that they are similar.''
``They are!'' cried the Girl. ``How lovely! Which is
more beautiful I do not know. And you won't like it
if I say I must not.''
She held the open case toward the Harvester.
`` `Possession is nine points in the law,' '' he quoted.
``You have taken it already and it is in your hands;
now make the gift perfect for me by putting it on and
saying nothing more.''
``My wedding gift!'' repeated the Girl. Slowly she
lifted the beautiful ornament and held it in the light.
``I'm so glad you just force me to take it,'' she said.
``Any half-normal girl would be delighted. I do accept
it. And what's more, I am going to keep and wear it
and my ring at suitable times all my life, in memory
of what you have done to be kind to me on this awful
``Thank you!'' said the Harvester. ``That is a flash
of the proper spirit. Allow me to put it on you.''
``No!'' said the Girl. ``Not yet! After a while! I
want to hold it in my hands, where I can see it!''
``Now there is one other thing,'' said the Harvester.
``If I had known for any length of time that this day was
coming and bringing you, as most men know when a
girl is to be given into their care, I could have made it
different. As it is, I've done the best I knew. All
your after life I hope you will believe this: Just that if
you missed anything to-day that would have made it
easier for you or more pleasant, the reason was because
of my ignorance of women and the conventions, and lack
of time. I want you to know and to feel that in my
heart those vows I took were real. This is undoubtedly
all the marrying I will ever want to do. I am old-fashioned
in my ways, and deeply imbued with the spirit
of the woods, and that means unending evolution along
the same lines.
``To me you are my revered and beloved wife, my
mate now; and I am sure nothing will make me feel
any different. This is the day of my marriage to the
only woman I ever have thought of wedding, and to
me it is joy unspeakable. With other men such a day
ends differently from the close of this with me. Because
I have done and will continue to do the level best I know
for you, this oration is the prologue to asking you for
one gift to me from you, a wedding gift. I don't want
it unless you can bestow it ungrudgingly, and truly want
me to have it. If you can, I will have all from this day
I hope for at the hands of fate. May I have the gift
I ask of you, Ruth?''
She lifted startled eyes to his face.
``Tell me what it is?'' she breathed.
``It may seem much to you,'' said the Harvester;
``to me it appears only a gracious act, from a wonderful
woman, if you will give me freely, one real kiss. I've
never had one, save from a Dream Girl, Ruth, and you
will have to make yours pretty good if it is anything
like hers. You are woman enough to know that most
men crush their brides in their arms and take a thousand.
I'll put my hands behind me and never move a muscle,
and I won't ask for more, if you will crown my wedding
day with only one touch of your lips. Will you kiss
me just once, Ruth?''
The Girl lifted a piteous face down which big tears
``Oh Man, you shame me!'' she cried. ``What
kind of a heart have I that it fails to respond to such
a plea? Have I been overworked and starved so long
there is no feeling in me? I don't understand why
I don't take you in my arms and kiss you a hundred
times, but you see I don't. It doesn't seem as if I ever
``Never mind,'' said the Harvester gently. ``It was
only a fancy of mine, bred from my dream and unreasonable,
perhaps. I am sorry I mentioned it. The sun is
on the stoop now; I want you to enter your home in
its light. Come!''
He half lifted her from the bench. ``I am going to
help you up the drive as I used to assist mother,'' he
said, fighting to keep his voice natural. ``Clasp your
hands before you and draw your elbows to your sides.
Now let me take one in each palm, and you will scoot
up this drive as if you were on wheels.''
``But I don't want to `scoot','' she said unsteadily.
``I must go slowly and not miss anything.''
``On the contrary, you don't want to do any such
thing----you should leave most of it for to-morrow.''
``I had forgotten there would be any to-morrow. It
seems as if the day would end it and set me adrift
``You are going to awake in the gold room with the
sun shining on your face in the morning, and it's going
to keep on all your life. Now if you've got a smile in
your anatomy, bring it to the surface, for just beyond
this tree lies happiness for you.''
His voice was clear and steady now, his confidence
something contagious. There was a lovely smile on her
face as she looked at him, and stepped into the line of
light crossing the driveway; and then she stopped and
cried, ``Oh lovely! Lovely! Lovely!'' over and over.
Then maybe the Harvester was not glad he had planned,
worked unceasingly, and builded as well as he knew.
The cabin of large, peeled, golden oak logs, oiled to
preserve them, nestled like a big mushroom on the side
of the hill. Above and behind the building the trees
arose in a green setting. The roof was stained to their
shades. The wide veranda was enclosed in screening,
over which wonderful vines climbed in places, and round
it grew ferns and deep-wood plants. Inside hung big
baskets of wild growth; there was a wide swinging seat,
with a back rest, supported by heavy chains. There
were chairs and a table of bent saplings and hickory
withes. Two full stories the building arose, and the
western sun warmed it almost to orange-yellow, while
the graceful vines crept toward the roof.
The Girl looked at the rapidly rising hedge on each
side of her, at the white floor of the drive, and long and
long at the cabin.
``You did all this since February?'' she asked.
``Even to transforming the landscape,'' answered the
``Oh I wish it was not coming night!'' she cried. ``I
don't want the dark to come, until you have told me the
name of every tree and shrub of that wonderful hedge,
and every plant and vine of the veranda; and oh I
want to follow up the driveway and see that beautiful
little creek--listen to it chuckle and laugh! Is it
always glad like that? See the ferns and things that
grow on the other side of it! Why there are big beds of
them. And lilies of the valley by the acre! What is
that yellow around the corner?''
``Never mind that now,'' said the Harvester, guiding
her up the steps, along the gravelled walk to the screen
that he opened, and over a flood of gold light she crossed
the veranda, and entered the door.
``Now here it appears bare,'' said the Harvester,
``because I didn't know what should go on the walls
or what rugs to get or about the windows. The table,
chairs, and couch I made myself with some help from a
carpenter. They are solid black walnut and will age
``They are beautiful,'' said the Girl, softly touching
the shining table top with her fingers. ``Please put
the necklace on me now, I have to use my eyes and hands
for other things.''
She held out the box and the Harvester lifted the
pendant and clasped the chain around her neck. She
glanced at the lustrous pearls and then the fingers of
one hand softly closed over them. She went through
the long, wide living-room, examining the chairs and
mantel, stopping to touch and exclaim over its array
of half-finished candlesticks. At the door of his room
she paused. ``And this?'' she questioned.
``Mine,'' said the Harvester, turning the knob. ``I'll
give you one peep to satisfy your curiosity, and show
you the location of the bridge over which you came to
me in my dream. All the remainder is yours. I reserve
``Will the `goblins git me' if I come here?''
``Not goblins, but a man alive; so heed your warning.
After you have seen it, keep away.''
The floor was cement, three of the walls heavy screening
with mosquito wire inside, the roof slab shingled.
On the inner wall was a bookcase, below it a desk, at
one side a gun cabinet, at the other a bath in a small
alcove beside a closet. The room contained two chairs
like those of the veranda, and the bed was a low oak
couch covered with a thick mattress of hemlock twigs,
topped with sweet fern, on which the sun shone all day.
On a chair at the foot were spread some white sheets,
a blanket, and an oilcloth. The sun beat in, the wind
drifted through, and one lying on the couch could see
down the bright hill, and sweep the lake to the opposite
bank without lifting the head. The Harvester drew the
Girl to the bedside.
``Now straight in a line from here,'' he said, ``across
the lake to that big, scraggy oak, every clear night the
moon builds a bridge of molten gold, and once you walked
it, my girl, and came straight to me, alone and unafraid;
and you were gracious and lovely beyond anything a
man ever dreamed of before. I'll have that to think of
to-night. Now come see the dining-room, kitchen, and
He led her into what had been the front room of the
old cabin, now a large, long dining-room having on each
side wide windows with deep seats. The fireplace
backwall was against that of the living-room, but here
the mantel was bare. All the wood-work, chairs, the
dining table, cupboards, and carving table were golden
oak. Only a few rugs and furnishings and a woman's
touch were required to make it an unusual and beautiful
room. The kitchen was shining with a white hard-wood
floor, white wood-work, and pale green walls. It was a
light, airy, sanitary place, supplied with a pump, sink,
hot and cold water faucets, refrigerator, and every
modern convenience possible to the country.
Then the Harvester almost carried the Girl up the
stairs and showed her three large sleeping rooms, empty
and bare save for some packing cases.
``I didn't know about these, so I didn't do anything.
When you find time to plan, tell me what you want, and
I'll make--or buy it. They are good-sized, cool rooms.
They all have closets and pipes from the furnace, so they
will be comfortable in winter. Now there is your place
remaining. I'll leave you while I stable Betsy and feed
He guided her to the door opening from the living-
room to the east.
``This is the sunshine spot,'' he said. ``It is bathed
in morning light, and sheltered by afternoon shade.
Singing Water is across the drive there to talk to you
always. It comes pelting down so fast it never freezes,
so it makes music all winter, and the birds are so numerous
you'll have to go to bed early for they'll wake you by
dawn. I noticed this room was going to be full of sunshine
when I built it, and I craved only brightness for
you, so I coaxed all of it to stay that I could. Every
stroke is the work of my hands, and all of the furniture.
I hope you will like it. This is the room of which I've
been telling you, Ruth. Go in and take possession,
and I'll entreat God and all His ministering angels to
send you sunshine and joy.''
He opened the door, guided her inside, closed it, and
went swiftly to his work.
The Girl stood and looked around her with amazed
eyes. The floor was pale yellow wood, polished until
it shone like a table top. The casings, table, chairs,
dressing table, chest of drawers, and bed were solid
curly maple. The doors were big polished slabs of it,
each containing enough material to veneer all the furniture
in the room. The walls were of plaster, tinted
yellow, and the windows with yellow shades were
curtained in dainty white. She could hear the Harvester
carrying the load from the wagon to the front porch, the
clamour of the barn yard; and as she went to the north
window to see the view, a shining peacock strutted down
the walk and went to the Harvester's hand for grain,
while scores of snow-white doves circled over his head.
She stepped on deep rugs of yellow goat skins, and,
glancing at the windows on either side, she opened the
Outside it lay a porch with a railing, but no roof.
On each post stood a box filled with yellow wood-flowers
and trailing vines of pale green. A big tree rising through
one corner of the floor supplied the cover. A gate
opened to a walk leading to the driveway, and on either
side lay a patch of sod, outlined by a deep hedge of
bright gold. In it saffron, cone-flowers, black-eyed
Susans, golden-rod, wild sunflowers, and jewel flower
grew, and some of it, enough to form a yellow line, was
already in bloom. Around the porch and down the
walk were beds of yellow violets, pixie moss, and every
tiny gold flower of the woods. The Girl leaned against
the tree and looked around her and then staggered
inside and dropped on the couch.
``What planning! What work!'' she sobbed. ``What
taste! Why he's a poet! What wonderful beauty!
He's an artist with earth for his canvas, and growing
things for colours.''
She lay there staring at the walls, the beautiful wood-
work and furniture, the dressing table with its array of
toilet articles, a low chair before it, and the thick rug
for her feet. Over and over she looked at everything,
and then closed her eyes and lay quietly, too weary and
overwhelmed to think. By and by came tapping at
the door, and she sprang up and crossing to the
dressing table straightened her hair and composed
``Ajax demands to see you,'' cried a gay voice.
The Girl stepped outside.
``Don't be frightened if he screams at you,'' warned
the Harvester as she passed him. ``He detests a stranger,
and he always cries and sulks.''
It was a question what was in the head of the bird as
he saw the strange looking creature invading his domain,
and he did scream, a wild, high, strident wail that
delighted the Harvester inexpressibly, because it sent the
Girl headlong into his arms.
``Oh, good gracious!'' she cried. ``Has such a
beautiful bird got a noise in it like that? Why
I've fed them in parks and I never heard one explode
Then how the Harvester laughed.
``But you see you are in the woods now, and this is
not a park bird. It will be the test of your power to see
how soon you can coax him to your hand.''
``How do I work to win him?''
``I am afraid I can't tell you that,'' said the Harvester.
``I had to invent a plan for myself. It required a long
time and much petting, and my methods might not
avail for you. It will interest you to study that out.
But the member of the family it is positively essential
that you win to a life and death allegiance is Belshazzar.
If you can make him love you, he will protect you at
every turn. He will go before you into the forest and
all the crawling, creeping things will get out of his way.
He will nose around the flowers you want to gather, and
if he growls and the hair on the back of his neck rises,
never forget that you must heed that warning. A few
times I have not stopped for it, and I always have been
sorry. So far as anything animate or uncertain footing
is concerned, you are always perfectly safe if you obey
him. About touching plants and flowers, you must
confine yourself to those you are certain you know,
until I can teach you. There are gorgeous and wonderfully
attractive things here, but some of them are rank
poison. You won't handle plants you don't know,
until you learn, Ruth?''
``I will not,'' she promised instantly.
She went to the seat under the porch tree and leaning
against the trunk she studied the hill, and the rippling
course of Singing Water where it turned and curved
before the cabin, and started across the vivid little
marsh toward the lake. Then she looked at the Harvester.
He seated himself on the low railing and smiled at
``You are very tired?'' he asked.
``No,'' she said. ``You are right about the air being
better up here. It is stimulating instead of depressing.''
``So far as pure air, location, and water are concerned,''
said the Harvester, ``I consider this place ideal. The
lake is large enough to cool the air and raise sufficient
moisture to dampen it, and too small to make it really
cold and disagreeable. The slope of the hill gives perfect
drainage. The heaviest rains do not wet the earth for
more than three hours. North, south, and west breezes
sweep the cool air from the water to the cabin in summer.
The same suns warm us here on the winter hillside.
My violets, spring beauties, anemones, and dutchman's
breeches here are always two weeks ahead of those in
the woods. I am not afraid of your not liking the location
or the air. As for the cabin, if you don't care for
that, it's very simple. I'll transform it into a laboratory
and dry-house, and build you whatever you want,
within my means, over there on the hill just across
Singing Water and facing the valley toward Onabasha.
That's a perfect location. The thing that worries me
is what you are going to do for company, especially while
I am away.''
``Don't trouble yourself about anything,'' she said.
``Just say in your heart, `she is going to be stronger than
she ever has been in her life in this lovely place, and she
has more right now than she ever had or hoped to have.'
For one thing, I am going to study your books. I never
have had time before. While we sewed or embroidered,
mother talked by the hour of the great writers of the
world, told me what they wrote, and how they expressed
themselves, but I got to read very little for myself.''
``Books are my company,'' said the Harvester.
``Do your friends come often?''
``Almost never! Doc and his wife come most, and
if you look out some day and see a white-haired, bent
old woman, with a face as sweet as dawn, coming up the
bank of Singing Water, that will be my mother's friend,
Granny Moreland, who joins us on the north over there.
She is frank and brusque, so she says what she thinks
with unmistakable distinctness, but her heart is big and
tender and her philosophy keeps her sweet and kindly
despite the ache of rheumatism and the weight of seventy years.''
``I'd love to have her come,'' said the Girl. ``Is that
``Your favourite word,'' laughed the Harvester. ``The
reason lies with me, or rather with my mother. Some
day I will tell you the whole story, and the cause. I
think now I can encompass it in this. The place is an
experiment. When medicinal herbs, roots, and barks
became so scarce that some of the most important were
almost extinct, it occurred to me that it would be a
good idea to stop travelling miles and poaching on the
woods of other people, and turn our land into an herb
garden. For four years before mother went, and six
since, I've worked with all my might, and results are
beginning to take shape. While I've been at it, of course,
my neighbours had an inkling of what was going on,
and I've been called a fool, lazy, and a fanatic, because
I did not fell the trees and plow for corn. You readily
can see I'm a little short of corn ground out there,''
he waved toward the marsh and lake, ``and up there,''
he indicated the steep hill and wood. ``But somewhere
on this land I've been able to find muck for mallows,
water for flags and willows, shade for ferns, lilies, and
ginseng, rocky, sunny spaces for mullein, and open, fertile
beds for Bouncing Bet----just for examples. God never
evolved a place better suited for an herb farm; from
woods to water and all that goes between, it is perfect.''
``And indescribably lovely,'' added the Girl.
``Yes, I think it is,'' said the Harvester. ``But in
the days when I didn't know how it was coming out,
I was sensitive about it; so I kept quiet and worked,
and allowed the other fellow to do the talking. After
a while the ginseng bed grew a treasure worth guarding,
and I didn't care for any one to know how much I had
or where it was, as a matter of precaution. Ginseng
and money are synonymous, and I was forced to be away
some of the time.''
``Would any one take it?''
``Certainly!'' said the Harvester. ``If they knew it
was there, and what it is worth. Then, as I've told you,
much of the stuff here must not be handled except
by experts, and I didn't want people coming in my
absence and taking risks. The remainder of my reason
for living so alone is cowardice, pure and simple.''
``Cowardice? You! Oh no!''
``Thank you!'' said the Harvester. ``But it is!
Some day I'll tell you of a very solemn oath I've had to
keep. It hasn't been easy. You wouldn't understand,
at least not now. If the day ever comes when I think
you will, I'll tell you. Just now I can express it by
that one word. I didn't dare fail or I felt I would be
lost as my father was before me. So I remained away
from the city and its temptations and men of my age,
and worked in the woods until I was tired enough to
drop, read books that helped, tinkered with the carving,
and sometimes I had an idea, and I went into that little
building behind the dry-house, took out my different
herbs, and tried my hand at compounding a new cure
for some of the pains of humanity. It isn't bad work,
Ruth. It keeps a fellow at a fairly decent level, and some
good may come of it. Carey is trying several formulae
for me, and if they work I'll carry them higher. If
you want money, Girl, I know how to get it for you.''
``Don't you want it?''
``Not one cent more than I've got,'' said the Harvester
emphatically. ``When any man accumulates more than
he can earn with his own hands, he begins to enrich
himself at the expense of the youth, the sweat, the
blood, the joy of his fellow men. I can go to the city,
take a look, and see what money does, as a rule, and
it's another thing I'm afraid of. You will find me a
dreadful coward on those two points. I don't want
to know society and its ways. I see what it does to
other men; it would be presumption to reckon myself
stronger. So I live alone. As for money, I've watched
the cross cuts and the quick and easy ways to accumulate
it; but I've had something in me that held me to
the slow, sure, clean work of my own hands, and it's
yielded me enough for one, for two even, in a reasonable
degree. So I've worked, read, compounded, and carved.
If I couldn't wear myself down enough to sleep by any
other method, I went into the lake, and swam across and
back; and that is guaranteed to put any man to rest,
clean and unashamed.''
``Six years,'' said the Girl softly, as she studied him.
``I think it has set a mark on you. I believe I can trace
it. Your forehead, brow, and eyes bear the lines and
the appearance of all experience, all comprehension,
but your lips are those of a very young lad. I shouldn't
be surprised if I had that kiss ready for you, and I really
believe I can make it worth while.''
``Oh good Lord!'' cried the Harvester, turning a
backward somersault over the railing and starting in
big bounds up the drive toward the stable. He passed
around it and into the woods at a rush and a few seconds
later from somewhere on the top of the hill his strong,
deep voice swept down, ``Glory, glory hallelujah!''
He sang it through at the top of his lungs, that
majestic old hymn, but there was no music at all, it was
simply a roar. By and by he came soberly to the barn
and paused to stroke Betsy's nose.
``Stop chewing grass and listen to me,'' he said. ``She's
here, Betsy! She's in our cabin. She's going to remain,
you can stake your oats on that. She's going to be the
loveliest and sweetest girl in all the world, and because
you're a beast, I'll tell you something a man never could
know. Down with your ear, you critter! She's going
to kiss me, Betsy! This very night, before I lay me,
her lips meet mine, and maybe you think that won't
be glorious. I supposed it would be a year, anyway,
but it's now! Ain't you glad you are an animal, Betsy,
and can keep secrets for a fool man that can't?''
He walked down the driveway, and before the Girl
had a chance to speak, he said, ``I wonder if I had not
better carry those things into your room, and arrange
your bed for you.''
``I can,'' she said.
``Oh no!'' exclaimed the Harvester. ``You can't lift
the mattress and heavy covers. Hold the door and tell
He laid a big bundle on the floor, opened it, and took
out the shoes.
``Your shoe box is in the closet there.''
``I didn't know what that door was, so I didn't
``That is a part of my arrangements for you,'' said
the Harvester. ``Here is a closet with shelves for your
covers and other things. They are bare because I
didn't know just what should be put on them. This
is the shoe box here in the corner; I'll put these in it
He knelt and in a row set the shoes in the curly maple
box and closed it.
``There you are for all kinds of places and varieties of
weather. This adjoining is your bathroom. I put
in towels, soaps; brushes, and everything I could think
of, and there is hot water ready for you----rain water,
The Girl followed and looked into a shining little
bathroom, with its white porcelain tub and wash bowl,
enamelled wood-work, dainty green walls, and white
curtains and towels. She could see no accessory she
knew of that was missing, and there were many things
to which she never had been accustomed. The Harvester
had gone back to the sunshine room, and was kneeling
on the floor beside the bundle. He began opening
boxes and handing her dresses.
``There are skirt, coat, and waist hangers on the
hooks,'' he said. ``I only got a few things to start on,
because I didn't know what you would like. Instead
of being so careful with that dress, why don't you take
it off, and put on a common one? Then we will have
something to eat, and go to the top of the hill and watch
the moon bridge the lake.''
While she hung the dresses and selected the one to
wear, he placed the mattress, spread the padding and
sheets, and encased the pillow. Then he bent and pressed
the springs with his hands.
``I think you will find that soft and easy enough for
health,'' he said. ``All the personal belongings I had
that clerk put up for you are in that chest of drawers
there. I put the little boxes in the top and went down.
You can empty and arrange them to-morrow. Just
hunt out what you will need now. There should be
everything a girl uses there somewhere. I told them to
be very careful about that. If the things are not right
or not to your taste, you can take them back as soon as
you are rested, and they will exchange them for you.
If there is anything I have missed that you can think
of that you need to-night, tell me and I'll go and get it.''
The Girl turned toward him.
``You couldn't be making sport of me,'' she said,
``but Man! Can't you see that I don't know what to
do with half you have here? I never saw such things
closely before. I don't know what they are for. I
don't know how to use them. My mother would have
known, but I do not. You overwhelm me! Fifty
times I've tried to tell you that a room of my very own,
such a room as this will be when to-morrow's sun comes
in, and these, and these, and these,'' she turned from
the chest of boxes to the dressing table, bed, closet, and
bath, ``all these for me, and you know absolutely
nothing about me----I get a big lump in my throat,
and the words that do come all seem so meaningless,
I am perfectly ashamed to say them. Oh Man, why do
you do it?''
``I thought it was about time to spring another `why'
on me,'' said the Harvester. ``Thank God, I am now
in a position where I can tell you `why'! I do it because
you are the girl of my dream, my mate by every law of
Heaven and earth. All men build as well as they know
when the one woman of the universe lays her spell on
them. I did all this for myself just as a kind of
expression of what it would be in my heart to do if I
could do what I'd like. Put on the easiest dress you can
find and I will go and set out something to eat.''
She stood with arms high piled with the prettiest
dresses that could be selected hurriedly, the tears running
down her white cheeks and smiled through them at him.
``There wouldn't be any of that liquid amber would
there?'' she asked.
``Quarts!'' cried the Harvester. ``I'll bring some.
. . . Does it really hit the spot, Ruth?'' he
questioned as he handed her the glass.
She heaped the dresses on the bed and took it.
``It really does. I am afraid I am using too much.''
``I don't think it possibly can hurt you. To-morrow
we will ask Doc. How soon will you be ready for
``I don't want a bite.''
``You will when you see and smell it,'' said the
Harvester. ``I am an expert cook. It's my chiefest
accomplishment. You should taste the dishes I improvise.
But there won't be much to-night, because I want you
to see the moon rise over the lake.''
He went away and the Girl removed her dress and
spread it on the couch. Then she bathed her face and
hands. When she saw the discoloured cloth, it proved
that she had been painted, and made her very indignant.
Yet she could not be altogether angry, for that flush
of colour had saved the Harvester from being pitied by
his friend. She stood a long time before the mirror,
staring at her gaunt, colourless face; then she went
to the dressing table and committed a crime. She
found a box of cream and rubbed it on for a foundation.
Then she opened some pink powder, and carefully dusted
``I am utterly ashamed,'' she said to the image in the
mirror, ``but he has done so much for me, he is so, so----
I don't know a word big enough----that I can't bear him
to see how ghastly I am, how little worth it. Perhaps
the food, better air, and outdoor exercise will give me
strength and colour soon. Until it does I'm afraid I'm
going to help out all I can with this. It is wonderful
how it changes one. I really appear like a girl instead
of a bony old woman.''
Then she looked over the dresses, selected a pretty
white princesse, slipped it on, and went to the kitchen.
But the Harvester would not have her there. He seated
her at the dining table, beside the window overlooking
the lake, lighted a pair of his home-made candles in his
finest sticks, and placed before her bread, butter, cold
meat, milk, and fruit, and together they ate their first
meal in their home.
``If I had known,'' said the Harvester, ``Granny
Moreland is a famous cook. She is a Southern woman,
and she can fry chicken and make some especial dishes
to surpass any one I ever knew. She would have been
so pleased to come over and get us an all-right supper.''
``I'd much rather have this, and be by ourselves,'' said
``Well, you can bank on it, I would,'' agreed the
Harvester. ``For instance, if any one were here, I
might feel restrained about telling you that you are
exactly the beautiful, flushed Dream Girl I have adored
for months, and your dress most becoming. You are
a picture to blind the eyes of a lonely bachelor, Ruth.''
``Oh why did you say that?'' wailed the Girl. ``Now
I've got to feel like a sneak or tell you----and I didn't
want you to know.''
``Don't you ever tell me or any one else anything you
don't want to,'' said the Harvester roundly. ``It's
``But I must! I can't begin with deception. I was
fool enough to think you wouldn't notice. Man, they
painted me! I didn't know they were doing it, but when
it all washed off, I looked so ghastly I almost frightened
myself. I hunted through the boxes they put up for
you and found some pink powder----''
``But don't all the daintiest women powder these
days, and consider it indispensable? The clerk said so,
and I've noticed it mentioned in the papers. I bought
it for you to use.''
``Yes, just powder, but Man, I put on a lot of cold
cream first to stick the powder good and thick. Oh
I wish I hadn't!''
``Well since you've told it, is your conscience
perfectly at ease? No you don't! You sit where you are!
You are lovely, and if you don't use enough powder to
cover the paleness, until your colour returns, I'll hold
you and put it on. I know you feel better when you
appear so that every one must admire you.''
``Yes, but I'm a fraud!''
``You are no such thing!'' cried the Harvester hotly.
``There hasn't a woman in ten thousand got any such
rope of hair. I have been seeing the papers on the hair
question, too. No one will believe it's real. If they
think your hair is false, when it is natural, they won't
be any more fooled when they think your colour is real,
and it isn't. Very soon it will be and no one need ever
know the difference. You go on and fix up your level
best. To see yourself appearing well will make you
ambitious to become so as soon as possible.''
``Harvester-man,'' said the Girl, gazing at him with
wet luminous eyes, ``for the sake of other women, I
could wish that all men had an oath to keep, and had
been reared in the woods.''
``Here is the place we adjourn to the moon,'' cried
the Harvester. ``I don't know of anything that can cure
a sudden accession of swell head like gazing at the heavens.
One finds his place among the atoms naturally and
instantaneously with the eyes on the night sky. Should
you have a wrap? You should! The mists from the
lake are cool. I don't believe there is one among my
orders. I forgot that. But upstairs with mother's
clothing there are several shawls and shoulder capes.
All of them were washed and carefully packed. Would
you use one, Ruth?''
``Why not give it to me. Wouldn't she like me to
wear her things better than to have them lying in moth
The Harvester looked at her and shook his head,
``I can't tell how pleased she would be,'' he said.
``Where are her belongings?'' asked the Girl. ``I
could use them to help furnish the house, and it wouldn't
appear so strange to you.''
The Harvester liked that.
``All the washed things are in those boxes upstairs;
also some fine skins I've saved on the chance of wanting
them. Her dishes are in the bottom of the china closet
there; she was mighty proud of them. The furniture
and carpets were so old and abused I burned them. I'll
go bring a wrap.''
He took the candle and climbed the stairs, soon
returning with a little white wool shawl and a big pink
``Got this for her Christmas one time,'' he said. ``She'd
never had a white one and she thought it was pretty.''
He folded it around the Girl's shoulders and picked
up the coverlet.
``You're never going to take that to the woods!'' she
She took it in her hands to find a corner.
``Just as I thought! It's a genuine Peter Hartman!
It's one of the things that money can't buy, or, rather,
one that takes a mint of money to own. They are
heirlooms. They are not manufactured any more.
At the art store where I worked they'd give you fifty
dollars for that. It is not faded or worn a particle.
It would be lovely in my room; you mustn't take a
treasure like that out of doors.''
``Ruth, are you in earnest?'' demanded the Harvester.
``I believe there are six of them upstairs.''
``Plutocrat!'' cried the Girl. ``What colours?''
``More of this pinkish red, blue, and pale green.''
``Famous! May I have them to help furnish with
``Certainly! Anything you can find, any way on earth
you want it, only in my room. That is taboo, as I told
you. What am I going to take to-night?''
``Isn't the rug you had in the woods in the wagon yet?
``Of course! The very thing! Bel, proceed!''
``Are you going to leave the house like this?''
``Suppose some one breaks in!''
``Nothing worth carrying away, except what you have
on. No one to get in. There is a big swamp back of
our woods, marsh in front, we're up here where we can
see the drive and bridge. There is nothing possible
from any direction. Never locked the cabin in my life,
except your room, and that was because it was sacred,
not that there was any danger. Clear the way, Bel!''
``Clear it of what?''
``Katydids, hoptoads, and other carnivorous animals.''
``Now you are making fun of me! Clear it of what?''
``A coon that might go shuffling across, an opossum,
or a snake going to the lake. Now are you frightened
so that you will not go?''
``No. The path is broad and white and surely you
and Bel can take care of me.''
``If you will trust us we can.''
``Well, I am trusting you.''
``You are indeed,'' said the Harvester. ``Now see
if you think this is pretty.''
He indicated the hill sloping toward the lake. The
path wound among massive trees, between whose branches
patches of moonlight filtered. Around the lake shore
and climbing the hill were thickets of bushes. The
water lay shining in the light, a gentle wind ruffled the
surface in undulant waves, and on the opposite bank
arose the line of big trees. Under a giant oak widely
branching, on the top of the hill, the Harvester spread
the rug and held one end of it against the tree trunk to
protect the Girl's dress. Then he sat a little distance
away and began to talk. He mingled some sense with
a quantity of nonsense, and appreciated every hint of a
laugh he heard. The day had been no amusing matter
for a girl absolutely alone among strange people and
scenes. Anything more foreign to her previous environment
or expectations he could not imagine. So he
talked to prevent her from thinking, and worked for a
laugh as he laboured for bread.
``Now we must go,'' he said at last. ``If there is the
malaria I strongly suspect in your system, this night air
is none too good for you. I only wanted you to see the
lake the first night in your new home, and if it won't
shock you, I brought you here because this is my holy
of holies. Can you guess why I wanted you to come,
``If I wasn't so stupid with alternate burning and
chills, and so deadened to every proper sensibility, I
suppose I could,'' she answered, ``but I'm not brilliant.
I don't know, unless it is because you knew it would be
the loveliest place I ever saw. Surely there is no other
spot in the world quite so beautiful.''
``Then would it seem strange to you,'' asked the
Harvester going to the Girl and gently putting his arms
around her, ``would it seem strange to you, that a woman
who once homed here and thought it the prettiest place
on earth, chose to remain for her eternal sleep, rather
than to rest in a distant city of stranger dead?''
He felt the Girl tremble against him.
``Where is she?''
``Very close,'' said the Harvester. ``Under this oak.
She used to say that she had a speaking acquaintance
with every tree on our land, and of them all she loved
this big one the best. She liked to come here in winter,
and feel the sting of the wind sweeping across the lake,
and in summer this was her place to read and to think.
So when she slept the unwaking sleep, Ruth, I came
here and made her bed with my own hands, and then
carried her to it, covered her, and she sleeps well. I
never have regretted her going. Life did not bring her
joy. She was very tired. She used to say that after
her soul had fled, if I would lay her here, perhaps the
big roots would reach down and find her, and from
her frail frame gather slight nourishment and then
her body would live again in talking leaves that would
shelter me in summer and whisper her love in winter.
Of all Medicine Woods this is the dearest spot to me.
Can you love it too, Ruth?''
``Oh I can!'' cried the Girl; ``I do now! Just to see
the place and hear that is enough. I wish, oh to my
soul I wish----''
``You wish what?'' whispered the Harvester
``I dare not! I was wild to think of it. I would be
ungrateful to ask it.''
``You would be ungracious if you didn't ask anything
that would give me the joy of pleasing you. How long
is it going to require for you to learn, Ruth, that to make
up for some of the difficulties life has brought you would
give me more happiness than anything else could?
Tell me now.''
He gathered her closer.
``Ruth, there is no reason why you should be actively
unkind to me. What is it you wish?''
She struggled from his arms and stood alone in white
moonlight, staring across the lake, along the shore, deep
into the perfumed forest, and then at the mound she now
could distinguish under the giant tree. Suddenly she
went to him and with both shaking hands gripped his
``My mother!'' she panted. ``Oh she was a beautiful
woman, delicately reared, and her heart was crushed and
broken. By the inch she went to a dreadful end I could
not avert or allay, and in poverty and grime I fought
for a way to save her body from further horror, and it's
all so dreadful I thought all feeling in me was dried
and still, but I am not quite calloused yet. I suffer
it over with every breath. It is never entirely out of
my mind. Oh Man, if only you would lift her from the
horrible place she lies, where briers run riot and cattle
trample and the unmerciful sun beats! Oh if only you'd
lift her from it, and bring her here! I believe it would
take away some of the horror, the shame, and the heartache.
I believe I could go to sleep without hearing the
voice of her suffering, if I knew she was lying on this hill,
under your beautiful tree, close the dear mother you
love. Oh Man, would you----?''
The Harvester crushed the Girl in his arms and
shuddering sobs shook his big frame, and choked his voice.
``Ruth, for God's sake, be quiet!'' he cried. ``Why I'd
be glad to! I'll go anywhere you tell me, and bring her,
and she shall rest where the lake murmurs, the trees
shelter, the winds sing, and earth knows the sun only
in long rays of gold light.''
She stared at him with strained face.
``You----you wouldn't!'' she breathed.
``Ruth, child,'' said the Harvester, ``I tell you I'd be
happy. Look at my side of this! I'm in search of bands
to bind you to me and to this place. Could you tell
me a stronger than to have the mother you idolized
lie here for her long sleep? Why Girl, you can't know
the deep and abiding joy it would give me to bring
her. I'd feel I had you almost secure. Where is she
``In that old unkept cemetery south of Onabasha,
where it costs no money to lay away your loved ones.''
``Close here! Why I'll go to-morrow! I supposed
she was in the city.''
She straightened and drew away from him.
``How could I? I had nothing. I could not have
paid even her fare and brought her here in the cheapest
box the decency of man would allow him to make if
her doctor had not given me the money I owe. Now
do you understand why I must earn and pay it myself?
Save for him, it was charity or her delicate body to
horrors. Money never can repay him.''
``Ruth, the day you came to Onabasha was she with
``In the express car,'' said the Girl.
``Where did you go when you left the train shed?''
``Straight to the baggage room, where Uncle Henry
was waiting. Men brought and put her in his wagon,
and he drove with me to the place and other men lowered
her, and that was all.''
``You poor Girl!'' cried the Harvester. ``This time
to-morrow night she shall sleep in luxury under this oak,
so help me God! Ruth, can you spare me? May I
go at once? I can't rest, myself.''
``You will?'' cried the Girl. ``You will?''
She was laughing in the moonlight. ``Oh Man, I
can't ever, ever tell you!''
``Don't try,'' said the Harvester. ``Call it settled.
I will start early in the morning. I know that little
cemetery. The man whose land it is on can point me
the spot. She is probably the last one laid there. Come
now, Ruth. Go to the room I made for you, and sleep
deeply and in peace. Will you try to rest?''
``Oh David!'' she exulted. ``Only think! Here where
it's clean and cool; beside the lake, where leaves fall gently
and I can come and sit close to her and bring flowers; and
she never will be alone, for your dear mother is here. Oh
``It is better. I can't thank you enough for thinking
of it. Come now, let me help you.''
He half carried her down the hill. Then he made the