Part 6 out of 10
cabin a glamour of light by putting candles in the sticks
he had carved and placing them everywhere.
``There is a lighting plant in the basement,'' he said,
``but I had not expected to use it until winter, and I
have no acetylene. Candles were our grandmothers'
lights and they are the best anyway. Go bathe your
face, Ruth, and wash away all trace of tears. Put on
the pink powder, and in a few weeks you will have
colour to outdo the wildest rose. You must be as gay
as you can the remainder of this night.''
``I will!'' cried the Girl. ``I will! Oh I didn't know
a thing on earth could make me happy! I didn't know
I really could be glad. Oh if the ice in my heart would
melt, and the wall break down, and the girlhood I've
never known would come yet! Oh David, if it would!''
``Before the Lord it shall!'' vowed the Harvester.
``It shall come with the fulness of joy right here in
Medicine Woods. Think it! Believe it! Keep it before
you! Work for it! Happiness is worth while!
All of us have a right to it! It shall be yours and soon.''
``I will try! I will!'' promised the Girl. ``I'll go
right now and I'll put on the blessed pink powder so
thickly you'll never know what is under it, and soon it
won't be needed at all.''
She was laughing as she left the room. The Harvester
restlessly walked the floor a few minutes and then sat
with a notebook and began entering stems.
When the Girl returned, he brought the pillow from her
bed, folded the coverlet, and she lay on them in the big
swing. He covered her with the white shawl, and while
Singing Water sang its loudest, katydids exulted over
the delightful act of their ancestor, and a million gauze-
winged creatures of night hummed against the screen,
in a voice soft and low he told her in a steady stream,
as he swayed her back and forth, what each sound of the
night was, and how and why it was made all the way
from the rumbling buzz of the June bug to the screech
of the owl and the splash of the bass in the lake. All
of it, as it appealed to him, was the story of steady
evolution, the natural processes of reproduction, the joy of
life and its battles, and the conquest of the strong in
nature. At his hands every sound was stripped of terror.
The leaping bass was exulting in life, the screeching owl
was telling its mate it had found a fat mouse for the
children, the nighthawk was courting, the big bull
frogs booming around the lake were serenading the moon.
There was not a thing to fear or a voice left with an
unsympathetic note in it. She was half asleep when at last
he helped her to her room, set a pitcher of frosty, clinking
drink on her table, locked her door and window screens
inside, spread Belshazzar's blanket on her porch, and set
his door wide open, that he might hear if she called, and then
said good night and went back to his memorandum book.
``No bad beginning,'' he muttered softly, ``no bad
beginning, but I'd almost give my right hand if she hadn't
In her room the exhausted Girl slipped the pins from
her hair and sank on the low chair before the dressing-
table. She picked up the shining, silver backed brush
and stared at the monogram, R. F. L, entwined on it.
``My soul!'' she exclaimed. ``WAS HE SO SURE AS THAT?
Was there ever any other man like him?''
She dropped the brush and with tired hands pushed
back the heavy braids. Then she arose and going to
the chest of drawers began lifting lids to find a night
robe. As she searched the boxes she found every dainty,
pretty undergarment a girl ever used and at last the
robes. She shook out a long white one, slipped into it,
and walked to the bed. That stood as he had arranged
it, white, clean, and dainty.
``Everything for me!'' she said softly. ``Everything
for me! Shall there be nothing for him? Oh he makes
it easy, easy!''
She stepped to the closet, picked down a lavender
silk kimona and drawing it over her gown she gathered it
around her and opening the bathroom door, she stepped
into a little hall leading to the dining-room. As she
entered the living-room the Harvester bent over his book.
Her step was very close when he heard it and turned his
head. In an instant she touched his shoulders. The
Harvester dropped the pencil, and palm downward laid
his hands on the table, his promise strong in his heart.
The Girl slid a shaking palm under his chin, leaned
his head against her breast, and dropped a sweet, tear-wet
face on his. With all the strength of her frail arms she
gripped him a second, and then gave the kiss, into which
she tried to put all she could find no words to express.
The Harvester sat at the table in deep thoughts
until the lights in the Girl's room were darkened
and everything was quiet. Then he locked
the screens inside and went into the night. The moon
flooded all the hillside, until coarse print could have been
read with keen eyes in its light. A restlessness, born of
exultation he could not allay or control, was on him. She
had not forgotten! After this, the dream would be
effaced by reality. It was the beginning. He scarcely
had dared hope for so much. Surely it presaged the love
with which she some day would come to him and crown
his life. He walked softly up and down the drive, passing
her windows, unable to think of sleep. Over and over
he dwelt on the incidents of the day, so inevitably he
came to his promise.
``Merciful Heaven!'' he muttered. ``How can such
things happen? The poor, overworked, tired, suffering
girl. It will give her some comfort. She will feel better.
It has to be done. I believe I will do the worst part of it
while she sleeps.''
He went to the cabin, crept very close to one of her
windows and listened intently. Surely no mortal awake
could lie motionless so long. She must be sleeping. He
patted Belshazzar, whispered, ``Watch, boy, watch for
your life!'' and then crossed to the dry-house. Beside
it he found a big roll of coffee sacks that he used in
collecting roots, and going to the barn, he took a spade and
mattock. Then he climbed the hill to the oak; in the
white moonlight laid off his measurements and began
work. His heart was very tender as he lifted the earth,
and threw it into the tops of the big bags he had propped
``I'll line it with a couple of sheets and finish the edge
with pond lilies and ferns,'' he planned, ``and I'll drag
this earth from sight, and cover it with brush until I
Sometimes he paused in his work to rest a few minutes
and then he stood and glanced around him. Several
times he went down the hill and slipped close to a window,
but he could not hear a sound. When his work was
finished, he stood before the oak, scraping clinging earth
from the mattock with which he had cut roots he had
been compelled to remove. He was tired now and he
thought he would go to his room and sleep until daybreak.
As he turned the implement he remembered how through
it he had found her, and now he was using it in her
service. He smiled as he worked, and half listened to
the steady roll of sound encompassing him. A cool
breath swept from the lake and he wondered if it found
her wet, hot cheek. A wild duck in the rushes below
gave an alarm signal, and it ran in subdued voice, note
by note, along the shore. The Harvester gripped the
mattock and stood motionless. Wild things had taught
him so many lessons he heeded their warnings instinctively.
Perhaps it was a mink or muskrat approaching
the rushes. Listening intently, he heard a stealthy step
coming up the path behind him.
The Harvester waited. He soundlessly moved around
the trunk of the big tree. An instant more the night
prowler stopped squarely at the head of the open grave,
and jumped back with an oath. He stood tense a second,
then advanced, scratched a match and dropped it into
the depths of the opening. That instant the Harvester
recognized Henry Jameson, and with a spring landed between
the man's shoulders and sent him, face down, headlong
into the grave. He snatched one of the sacks of
earth, and tipping it, gripped the bottom and emptied
the contents on the head and shoulders of the prostrate
man. Then he dropped on him and feeling across his
back took an ugly, big revolver from a pocket. He swung
to the surface and waited until Henry Jameson crawled
from under the weight of earth and began to rise; then,
at each attempt, he knocked him down. At last he
caught the exhausted man by the collar and dragged
him to the path, where he dropped him and stood gloating.
``So!'' he said; ``It's you! Coming to execute your
threat, are you? What's the matter with my finishing
you, loading your carcass with a few stones into this sack,
and dropping you in the deepest part of the lake.''
There was no reply.
``Ain't you a little hasty?'' asked the Harvester.
``Isn't it rather cold blooded to come sneaking when you
thought I'd be asleep? Don't you think it would be
low down to kill a man on his wedding day?''
Henry Jameson arose cautiously and faced the Harvester.
``Who have you killed?'' he panted.
``No one,'' answered the Harvester. ``This is for the
victim of a member of your family, but I never dreamed
I'd have the joy of planting any of you in it first, even
temporarily. Did you rest well? What I should have
done was to fill in, tread down, and leave you at the
Jameson retreated a few steps. The Harvester laughed
and advanced the same distance.
``Now then,'' he said, ``explain what you are doing
on my premises, a few hours after your threat, and
armed with another revolver before I could return the
one I took from you this afternoon. You must grow
them on bushes at your place, they seem so numerous.
Speak up! What are you doing here?''
There was no answer.
``There are three things it might be,'' mused the
Harvester. ``You might think to harm me, but you're
watched on that score and I don't believe you'd enjoy
the result sure to follow. You might contemplate trying
to steal Ruth's money again, but we'll pass that up.
You might want to go through my woods to inform yourself
as to what I have of value there. But, in all prob-
ability, you are after me. Well, here I am. Go ahead!
Do what you came to!''
The Harvester stepped toward the lake bank and
Jameson, turning to watch him, exposed a face ghastly
through its grime.
``Look here!'' cried the Harvester, sickening. ``We
will end this right now. I was rather busy this afternoon,
but I wasn't too hurried to take that little weapon
of yours to the chief of police and tell him where and how
I got it and what occurred. He was to return it to you
to-morrow with his ultimatum. When I have added
the history of to-night, reinforced by another gun, he
will understand your intentions and know where you
belong. You should be confined, but because your name
is the same as the Girl's, and there is of your blood in her
veins, I'll give you one more chance. I'll let you go this
time, but I'll report you, and deliver this implement to
be added to your collection at headquarters. And I
tell you, and I'll tell them, that if ever I find you on my
premises again, I'll finish you on sight. Is that clear?''
``What I should do is to plump you squarely into
confinement, as I could easily enough, but that's not my
way. I am going to let you off, but you go knowing the
law. One thing more: Don't leave with any distorted
ideas in your head. I saw Ruth the day she stepped
from the cars in Onabasha and I loved her. I wanted
to court and marry her, as any man would the girl he
loves, but you spoiled that with your woman killing
brutality. So I married her in Onabasha this afternoon.
You can see the records at the county clerk's office and
interview the minister who performed the ceremony,
if you doubt me. Ruth is in her room, comfortable as
I can make her, asleep and unafraid, thank God! This
grave is for her mother. The Girl wants her lifted from
the horrible place you put her, and laid where it is
sheltered and pleasant. Now, I'll see you off my land.
With the Harvester following, Henry Jameson went
back over the path he had come, until he reached and
mounted the horse he had ridden. As the Harvester
watched him, Jameson turned in the saddle and spoke
for the second time.
``What will you give me in cold cash to tell you who
she is, and where her mother's people are?''
The Harvester leaped for the bridle and missed.
Jameson bent over the horse and lashed it to a run.
Half way to the oak the Harvester remembered the
revolver, but being unaccustomed to weapons, he had
forgotten it when he needed it most. He replaced the
earth in the sack and dragged it away, then plunged
into the lake, and afterward went to bed, where he slept
soundly until dawn. First, he slipped into the living-
room and wrote a note to the Girl. Then he fed Belshazzar
and ate a hearty breakfast. He stationed the
dog at her door, gave him the note, and went to the oak.
There he arranged everything neatly and as he desired,
and then hitching Betsy he quietly guided her down the
drive and over the road to Onabasha. He went to an
undertaking establishment, made all his arrangements,
and then called up and talked with the minister who
had performed the marriage ceremony the previous day.
The sun shining in her face awoke Ruth and she lay
revelling in the light. ``Maybe it will colour me faster
than the powder,'' she thought. ``How peculiar for him
to say what he did! I always thought men detested it.
But he is not like any one else. ``She lay looking around
the beautiful room and wondering where the Harvester
was. She could not hear him. Then, slowly and painfully,
she dragged her aching limbs from the bed and
went to the door. The dog was gone from the porch
and she could not see the man at the stable. She
selected a frock and putting it on opened the door.
Belshazzar arose and offered this letter:
I have gone to keep my promise. You are locked in
with Bel. Please obey me and do not step outside the
door until four o'clock. Then put on a pretty white
dress, and with the dog, come to the bridge to meet me.
I hope you will not suffer and fret. Put away your
clothing, arrange the rooms to keep busy, or better
yet, lie in the swing and rest. There is food in the ice
chest, pantry, and cellar. Forgive me for leaving you
to-day, but I thought you would feel easier to have this
over. I am so glad to bring your mother here. I hope
it will make you happy enough to meet us with a smile.
Do not forget the pink box until the reality comes.
The Girl went to the kitchen and found food. She
offered to share with Belshazzar, but she could see from
his indifference he was not hungry. Then she returned
to the room flooded with light, and filled with treasures,
and tried to decide how she would arrange her clothing.
She spent hours opening boxes and putting dainty, pretty
garments in the drawers, hanging the dresses, and placing
the toilet articles. Often she wearily dropped to the
chairs and couches, or gazed from door and windows at
the pictures they framed. ``I wonder why he doesn't
want me to go outside,'' she thought. ``I wouldn't
be afraid in the least, with Bel. I'd just love to go across
to that wonderful little river of Singing Water and sit
in the shade; but I won't open the door until four o'clock,
just as he wrote.''
When she thought of where he had gone, and why, the
swift tears filled her eyes, but she forced them back and
resolutely went to investigate the dining-room. Then
for two hours she was a home builder, with a touch of
that homing instinct found in the heart of every good
woman. First, she looked where the Harvester had said
the dishes were, and suddenly sat on the floor exulting.
There was a quantity of old chipped and cracked white
ware and some gorgeous baking powder prizes; but there
were also big blue, green, and pink bowls, several large
lustre plates, and a complete tea set without chip or
blemish, two beautiful pitchers, and a number of willow
pieces. She set the green bowl on the dining table,
the blue on the living-room, and took the pink herself,
while a beautiful yellow one she placed in the dining-
room window seat.
``Oh, if I only dared fill them with those lovely flowers!''
She stood in the window and gazed longingly toward the
lake. ``I know what colour I'd like to put in each of
them,'' she said, ``but I promised not to touch anything,
and the ones I want most I never saw before, and I'm
not to go out anyway. I can't see the sense in that,
when I'm not at all afraid, but if he does this wonderful
thing for me I must do what he asks. Oh mother,
mother! Are you really coming to this beautiful place
and to rest at last?''
She sank to the window seat and lay trembling, but
she bravely restrained the tears. After a time she
remembered the upstairs and went to see the coverlets.
She found a half dozen beautiful ones, and smiled as
she examined the stiffly conventionalized birds facing
each other in the border designs, and in one corner of
each blanket she read, woven in the cloth----
Peter and John
She took a blue and a green one, several fine skins
from the fur box the Harvester had told her about, and
went downstairs. It required all her strength to push
the heavy tables before the fireplaces. She spread papers
on them to stand on, and tacked a skin above each
mantel. She set all of the candlesticks, except those
she wanted to use, in the lower part of an empty bookcase.
A pair of black walnut she placed on the living-
room mantel, together with a big blue plate, a yellow
one, and an old brass candlestick. She admired the
effect very much. She spread the blue coverlet on
the couch, and arranged the blue bowl and some books
on the table. Here and there she hung a skin across a
chair back, or spread it in a wide window seat. Having
exhausted all her resources, she returned to the dining-
room, spread a skin before the hearth and in each window
seat, set a pink and green lustre plate on the mantel,
and a pair of oak candlesticks, and arranged the lustre
tea set on the side table. The pink coverlet she took
for herself, and after resting a time she was surprised
on going back to the rooms to see how homelike they
At three o'clock she dressed and at almost four unlocked
the screen, called Belshazzar to her side, and slowly
went down the drive to the bridge. She had used the
pink powder, put on a beautiful white dress, carefully
arranged her hair, and she wore the pearl ornament.
Once her fingers strayed to the pendant and she said
softly, ``I think both he and mother would like me to
At the foot of the hill she stopped at a bench and sat
in the shade waiting. Belshazzar stretched beside her,
and gazed at her with questioning, friendly dog eyes.
The Girl looked from Singing Water to the lake, and
up the hill to make sure it was real. She tried to quiet
her quivering muscles and nerves. He had asked her
to meet him with a smile. How could she? He could
not have understood what it meant when he made the
request. There never would be any way to make him
realize; indeed, why should he? The smile must be
ready. He had loved his mother deeply, and yet he
had said he did not grieve to lay her to rest. Earth
had not been kind. Then why should she sorrow for
her mother? Again life had been not only unkind, but
Belshazzar arose and watched down the drive. The
Girl looked also. Through the gate and up the levee
came a strange procession. First walked the Harvester
alone, with bared head, and he carried an arm load of
white lilies. A carriage containing a man and several
women followed. Then came a white hearse with snowy
plumes, and behind that another carriage filled with
people, and Betsy followed drawing men in the spring
wagon. The Girl arose and as she stepped to the drive
she swayed uncertainly an instant.
``Gracious Heaven!'' she gasped. ``He is bringing
her in white, and with flowers and song!''
Then she lifted her head, and with a smile on her lips
she went to meet him. As she reached his side, he
tenderly put an arm around her, and came on steadily.
``Courage Girl!'' he whispered. ``Be as brave as she
Around the driveway and up the hill he half carried
her, to a seat he had placed under the oak. Before her
lay the white-lined grave, and the Harvester arranged
his lilies around it. The teams stopped at the barn and
men came up the hill bearing a white burden. Behind
them followed the minister who yesterday had performed
their marriage ceremony, and after him a choir
of trained singers softly chanting:
``Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord,
For they shall cease from their labours.''
``But David,'' panted the Girl, ``It was mean and
poor. That is not she!''
``Sush!'' said the Harvester. ``It is your mother.
The location was high and dry, and it has been only a
short time. We wrapped her in white silk, laid her
on a soft cushion and pillow, and housed her securely.
She can sleep well now, Ruth. Listen!''
Covered with white lilies, slowly the casket sank into
earth. At its head stood the minister and as it began
to disappear, the white doves, frightened by the strange
conveyances at the stable, came circling above. The
minister looked up. He lifted a clear tenor, and softly
and purely he sang, while at a wave of his hand the choir
``Oh, come angel band! Oh, come, and around me stand!
Oh, bear me away on your snowy wings to my immortal home!''
He uttered a low benediction, and singing, the people
turned and went downhill. The Harvester gathered
the Girl in his arms and carried her to the lake. He
laid her in his boat and taking the oars sent it along the
bank in the shade, and through cool, green places.
``Now cry all you choose!'' he said.
The overstrained Girl covered her face and sobbed
wildly. After a time he began to talk to her gently,
and before she realized it, she was listening.
``Death has been kinder to her than life, Ruth,'' he
said. ``She is lying as you saw her last, I think. We
lifted her very tenderly, wrapped her carefully, and
brought her gently as we could. Now they shall rest
together, those little mothers of ours, to whom men
were not kind; and in the long sleep we must forget, as
they have forgotten, and forgive, as no doubt they have
forgiven. Don't you want to take some lilies to them
before we go to the cabin? Right there on your left
are unusually large ones.''
The Girl sat up, dried her eyes and gathered the white
flowers. When the last vehicle crossed the bridge, the
Harvester tied the boat and helped her up the hill. The
old oak stretched its wide arms above two little mounds,
both moss covered and scattered with flowers. The
Girl added her store and then went to the Harvester, and
sank at his feet.
``Ruth, you shall not!'' cried the man. ``I simply
will not have that. Come now, I will bring you back
He helped her to the veranda and laid her in the swing.
He sat beside her while she rested, and then they went
into the cabin for supper. Soon he had her telling
what she had found, and he was making notes of what
was yet required to transform the cabin into a home.
The Harvester left it to her to decide whether he should
roof the bridge the next day or make a trip for furnishings.
She said he had better buy what they needed
and then she could make the cabin homelike while he
worked on the bridge.
THE HARVESTER INTERPRETS LIFE
They went through the rooms together, and
the Girl suggested the furnishings she thought
necessary, while the Harvester wrote the list. The
following morning he was eager to have her company,
but she was very tired and begged to be allowed to
wait in the swing, so again he drove away and left her
with Belshazzar on guard. When he had gone, she went
through the cabin arranging the furniture the best she
could, then dressed and went to the swinging couch. It
was so wide and heavy a light wind rocked it gently,
and from it she faced the fern and lily carpeted hillside,
the majesty of big trees of a thousand years, and heard
the music of Singing Water as it sparkled diamond-like
where the sun rays struck its flow. Across the drive and
down the valley to the brilliant bit of marsh it hurried
on its way to Loon Lake.
There were squirrels barking and racing in the big trees
and over the ground. They crossed the sodded space
of lawn and came to the top step for nuts, eating them
from cunning paws. They were living life according
to the laws of their nature. She knew that their sharp,
startling bark was not to frighten her, but to warn straying
intruders of other species of their kindred from a nest,
because the Harvester had told her so. He had said
their racing here and there in wild scramble was a game
of tag and she found it most interesting to observe.
Birds of brilliant colour flashed everywhere, singing
in wild joy, and tilted on the rising hedge before her,
hunting berries and seeds. Their bubbling, spontaneous
song was an instinctive outpouring of their joy over
mating time, nests, young, much food, and running water.
Their social, inquiring, short cry was to locate a mate,
and call her to good feeding. The sharp wild scream of a
note was when a hawk passed over, a weasel lurked in
the thicket, or a black snake sunned on the bushes. She
remembered these things, and lay listening intently,
trying to interpret every sound as the Harvester did.
Birds of wide wing hung as if nailed to the sky, or
wheeled and sailed in grandeur. They were searching
the landscape below to locate a hare or snake in the waving
grass or carrion in the fields. The wonderful exhibitions
of wing power were their expression of exultation
in life, just as the song sparrow threatened to rupture
his throat as he swung on the hedge, and the red bird
somewhere in the thicket whistled so forcefully it sounded
as if the notes might hurt him.
On the lake bass splashed in a game with each other.
Grebes chattered, because they were very social. Ducks
dived and gobbled for roots and worms of the lake shore,
and congratulated each other when they were lucky.
Killdeer cried for slaughter, in plaintive tones, as their
white breasts gleamed silver-like across the sky. They
insisted on the death of their ancient enemies, because
the deer had trampled nests around the shore, roiled the
water, spoiled the food hunting, and had been wholly
unmindful of the laws of feathered folk from the beginning.
Behind the barn imperial cocks crowed challenges
of defiance to each other and all the world, because
they once had worn royal turbans on their heads, and
ruled the forests, even the elephants and lions. Happy
hens cackled when they deposited an egg, and wandered
through their park singing the spring egg song
Upon the barn Ajax spread and exulted in glittering
plumage, and screamed viciously. He was sending a
wireless plea to the forests of Ceylon for a gray mate to
come and share the ridge pole with him, and help him
wage red war on the sickening love making of the white
doves he hated.
Everything was beautiful, some of it was amusing,
all instructive, and intensely interesting. The Girl
wanted to know about the brown, yellow, and black
butterflies sailing from flower to flower. She watched
big black and gold bees come from the forest for pollen
and listened to their monotonous bumbling. Her first
humming bird poised in air, and sipped nectar before
her astonished eyes. It was marvellous, but more
wonderful to the Girl than anything she saw or heard was
the fact that because of the Harvester's teachings she
now could trace through all of it the ordained processes
of the evolution of life. Everything was right in its way,
all necessary to human welfare, and so there was nothing
to fear, but marvels to learn and pictures to appreciate.
She would have taken Belshazzar and gone out, but
the Harvester had exacted a promise that she would not.
The fact was, he could see that she was coming gradually
to a sane and natural view of life and living things, and
he did not want some sound or creature to frighten her,
and spoil what he had accomplished. So she swayed
in the swing and watched, and tried to interpret sights
and sounds as he did.
Before an hour she realized that she was coming
speedily into sympathy with the wild life around her; for,
instead of shivering and shrinking at unaccustomed
sounds, she was listening especially for them, and trying
to arrive at a sane version. Instead of the senseless
roar of commerce, manufacture, and life of a city,
she was beginning to appreciate sounds that varied and
carried the Song of Life in unceasing measure and
absorbing meaning, while she was more than thankful
for the fresh, pure air, and the blessed, God-given light.
It seemed to the Girl that there was enough sunshine at
Medicine Woods to furnish rays of gold for the whole
``Bel,'' she said to the dog standing beside her, ``it's a
shame to separate you from the Medicine Man and pen
you here with me. It's a wonder you don't bite off my
head and run away to find him. He's gone to bring more
things to make life beautiful. I wanted to go with him,
but oh Bel, there's something dreadfully wrong with
me. I was afraid I'd fall on the streets and frighten and
shame him. I'm so weak, I scarcely can walk straight
across one of these big, cool rooms that he has built for
me. He can make everything beautiful, Bel, a home,
rooms, clothing, grounds, and life----above everything
else he can make life beautiful. He's so splendid and
wonderful, with his wide understanding and sane
interpretation and God-like sympathy and patience. Why
Belshazzar, he can do the greatest thing in all the world!
He can make you forget that the grave annihilates your
dear ones by hideous processes, and set you to thinking
instead that they come back to you in whispering leaves
and flower perfumes. If I didn't owe him so much that
I ought to pay, if this wasn't so alluringly beautiful, I'd
like to go to the oak and lie beside those dear women
resting there, and give my tired body to furnish sap for
strength and leaves for music. He can take its bitterest
sting----from death, Bel----and that's the most
wonderful thing----in life, Bel----''
Her voice became silent, her eyes closed; the dog
stretched himself beside her on guard, and it was so the
Harvester found them when he drove home from the
city. He heaped his load in the dining-room, stabled
Betsy, carried the things he had brought where he thought
they belonged, and prepared food. When she awakened
she came to him.
``How is it going, Girl?'' asked the Harvester.
``I can't tell you how lovely it has been!''
``Do you really mean that your heart is warming a
little to things here?''
``Indeed I do! I can't tell you what a morning I've had.
There have been such myriad things to see and hear. Oh,
Harvester, can you ever teach me what all of it means?''
``I can right now,'' said the Harvester promptly.
``It means two things, so simple any little child can
understand----the love of God and the evolution of life.
I am not precisely clear as to what I mean when I say
God. I don't know whether it is spirit, matter, or force;
it is that big thing that brings forth worlds, establishes
their orbits, and gives us heat, light, food, and water. To
me, that is God and His love. Just that we are given
birth, sheltered, provisioned, and endowed for our work.
Evolution is the natural consequence of this. It is the
plan steadily unfolding. If I were you, I wouldn't
bother my head over these questions, they never have
been scientifically explained to the beginning; I doubt if
they ever will be, because they start with the origin of
matter and that is too far beyond man for him to
penetrate. Just enjoy to the depths of your soul----that's
worship. Be thankful for everything----that's praising
God as the birds praise him. And `do unto others'
that's all there is of love and religion combined in
one fell swoop.''
``You should go before the world and tell every one
``No! It isn't my vocation,'' said the Harvester.
``My work is to provide pain-killer. I don't believe,
Ruth, that there is any one on the footstool who is doing
a better job along that line. I am boastfully proud of
it----just of sending in the packages that kill fever,
refresh poor blood, and strengthen weak hearts;
unadulterated, honest weight, fresh, and scrupulously clean.
My neighbours have a different name for it; I call it a
``Every one who understands must,'' said the Girl.
``I wish I could help at that. I feel as if it would do
more to wipe out the pain I've suffered and seen her
endure than anything else. Man, when I grow strong
enough I want to help you. I believe that I am going
to love it here.''
``Don't ever suppress your feelings, Ruth!'' hastily
cried the Harvester. ``It will be very bad for you. You
will become wrought up, and `het up,' as Granny Moreland
says, and it will make you very ill. When we drive
the fever from your blood, the ache from your bones, the
poison of wrong conditions from your soul, and good,
healthy, red corpuscles begin pumping through your
little heart like a windmill, you can stake your life you're
going to love it here. And the location and work are
not all you're going to care for either, honey. Now
just wait! That was not `nominated in the bond.' I'm
allowed to talk. I never agreed not to SAY things. What
I promised was not to DO them. So as I said, honey,
sit at this table, and eat the food I've cooked; and by
that time the furniture van will be here, and the men will
unload, and you shall reign on a throne and tell me where
``Oh if I were only stronger, David!''
``You are!'' said the Harvester. ``You are much
better than you were yesterday. You can talk, and that's
all that's necessary. The rooms are ready for furniture.
The men will carry it where you want it. A decorator
is coming to hang the curtains. By night we will be
settled; you can lie in the swing while I read to you a
story so wonderful that the wildest fairy tale you ever
heard never touched it.''
``What will it be, David?''
``Eat all the red raspberries and cream, bread and
butter, and drink all the milk you can. There's blood,
beefsteak, and bones in it. As I was saying, you have
come here a stranger to a strange land. The first thing
is for you to understand and love the woods. Before
you can do that you should master the history of one
tree; just the same as you must learn to know and love
me before your childlike trust in all mankind returns
again. Understand? Well, the fates knew you were on
the way, coming trembling down the brink, Ruth, so
they put it into the heart of a great man to write largely
of a wonderful tree, especially for your benefit. After
it had fallen he took it apart, split it in sections, and year
by year spread out history for all the world to read. It
made a classic story filled with unsurpassed wonders.
It was a pine of a thousand years, close the age of our
mother tree, Ruth, and when we have learned from Enos
Mills how to wrest secrets from the hearts of centuries,
we will climb the hill and measure our oak, and then I
will estimate, and you will write, and we will make a
record for our tree.''
``Oh, I'd like that!''
``So would I,'' said the Harvester. ``And a million
other things I can think of that we can learn together.
It won't require long for me to teach you all I know, and
by that time your hand will be clasped in mine, and
our `hearts will beat as one,' and you will give me a kiss
every night and morning, and a few during the day for
interest, and we will go on in life together and learn songs,
miracles, and wonders until the old oak calls us. Then
we will ascend the hill gladly and lie down and offer
up our bodies, and our children will lay flowers over our
hearts, and gather the herbs and paint the pictures? Amen.
I hear a van on the bridge. Just you go to your room
and lie down until I get things unloaded and where they
belong. Then you and the decorator can make us home-
like, and to-morrow we will begin to live. Won't that
be great, Ruth?''
``With you, yes, I think it will.''
``That will do for this time,'' said the Harvester, as
he opened the door to her room. ``Lie and rest until
I say ready.''
As he went to meet the men, she could hear him singing
lustily, ``Praise God from whom all blessings flow.''
``What a child he is!'' she said. ``And what a man!''
For an hour heavy feet sounded through the cabin
carrying furniture to different rooms. Then with a floor
brush in one hand, and a polishing cloth in the other,
the Harvester tapped at her door and helped the Girl
upstairs. He had divided the space into three large, square
sleeping chambers. In each he had set up a white iron
bed, a dressing table, and wash stand, and placed two
straight-backed and one rocking chair, all white. The
walls were tinted lightly with green added to the plaster.
There was a mattress and a stack of bedding on each bed,
and a large rug and several small ones on the floors. He
led her to the rocking chair in the middle room, where
she could see through the open doors of the other two.
``Now,'' said the Harvester, ``I didn't know whether
the room with two windows toward the lake and one on
the marsh, or two facing the woods and one front, was
the guest chamber. It seemed about an even throw
whether a visitor would prefer woods or water, so I made
them both guest chambers, and got things alike for them.
Now if we are entertaining two, one can't feel more highly
honoured than the other. Was that a scheme?''
``Fine!'' said the Girl. ``I don't see how it could be
`` `Be sure you are right, then go ahead,' '' quoted the
Harvester. ``Now I'll make the beds and Mr. Rogers
can hang the curtains. Is white correct for sleeping
rooms? Won't that wash best and always be fresh?''
``It will,'' said the Girl. ``White wash curtains are
much the nicest.''
``Make them short Mr. Rogers; keep them off the
floor,'' advised the Harvester. ``And simple----don't
arrange any thing elaborate that will tire a woman to
keep in order. Whack them off the right length and pin
them to the poles.''
``How about that, Mrs. Langston?'' asked the decorator.
``I am quite sure that is the very best thing to do,''
said the Girl; and the curtains were hung while the mattress
``Now about this?'' inquired the Harvester. ``Do I
put on sheets and fix these beds ready to use?''
``I would not,'' said the Girl. ``I would spread the
pad and the counterpane and lay the sheets and pillows
in the closet until they are wanted. They can be sunned
and the bed made delightfully fresh.''
``Of course,'' said the Harvester.
When he had finished, he spread a cover on the dressing
table and laid out white toilet articles and grouped a
white wash set with green decorations on the stand.
Then he brushed the floor, spread a big green rug in the
middle and small ones before the bed, stand, and table,
and coming out closed the door.
``Guest chamber with lake view is now ready for
company,'' announced the Harvester. ``Repeat the
operation on the woods room, finished also. Why do
some people make work of things and string them out
eternally and fuss so much? Isn't this simple and easy,
``Yes, if you can afford it,'' said the Girl.
``Forbear!'' cried the Harvester. ``We have the goods,
the dealer has my check. Excuse me ten minutes, until
I furnish another room.''
The laughing Girl could catch glimpses of him busy
over beds and dresser, floor and rugs; then he came where
``Woods guest chamber ready,'' he said. ``Now we
come to the interior apartment, that from its view might
be called the marsh room. Aside from being two windows
short, it is exactly similar to the others. It occurred
to me that, in order to make up for the loss of those
windows, and also because I may be compelled to ask
some obliging woman to occupy it in case your health
is precarious at any time, and in view of the further fact
that if any such woman could be found, and would kindly
and willingly care for us, my gratitude would be
inexpressible; on account of all these things, I got a shade
the BEST furnishings for this room.''
The Girl stared at him with blank face.
``You see,'' said the Harvester, ``this is a question of
ethics. Now what is a guest? A thing of a day! A
person who disturbs your routine and interferes with
important concerns. Why should any one be grateful
for company? Why should time and money be lavished
on visitors? They come. You overwork yourself.
They go. You are glad of it. You return the visit,
because it's the only way to have back at them; but why
pamper them unnecessarily? Now a good housekeeper,
that means more than words can express. Comfort,
kindness, sanitary living, care in illness! Here's to the
prospective housekeeper of Medicine Woods! Rogers,
hang those ruffled embroidered curtains. Observe that
whereas mere guest beds are plain white, this has a
touch of brass. Where guest rugs are floor coverings,
this is a work of art. Where guest brushes are celluloid,
these are enamelled, and the dresser cover is hand
embroidered. Let me also call your attention to the chairs
touched with gold, cushioned for ease, and a decorated
pitcher and bowl. Watch the bounce of these springs
and the thickness of this mattress and pad, and notice
that where guests, however welcome, get a down
cover of sateen, the lady of the house has silkaline.
Won't she prepare us a breakfast after a night in this
``David, are you in earnest?'' gasped the Girl.
``Don't these things prove it?'' asked the Harvester.
``No woman can enter my home, when my necessities
are so great I have to hire her to come, and take the
WORST in the house. After my wife, she gets the best,
every time. Whenever I need help, the woman who will
come and serve me is what I'd call the real guest of the
house. Friend? Where are your friends when trouble
comes? It always brings a crowd on account of the
excitement, and there is noise and racing; but if your soul
is saved alive, it is by a steady, trained hand you pay to
help you. Friends come and go, but a good housekeeper
remains and is a business proposition--one that
if conducted rightly for both parties and on a strictly
common-sense basis, gives you living comfort. Now that
we have disposed of the guests that go and the one that
remains, we will proceed downward and arrange for
``David, did you ever know any one who treated a
housekeeper as you say you would?''
``No. And I never knew any one who raised medicinal
stuff for a living, but I'm making a gilt-edged success of
it, and I would of a housekeeper, too.''
``It doesn't seem----''
``That's the bedrock of all the trouble on the earth,''
interrupted the Harvester. ``We are a nation and a
part of a world that spends our time on `seeming.' Our
whole outer crust is `seeming.' When we get beneath
the surface and strike the BEING, then we live as we are
privileged by the Almighty. I don't think I give
a tinker how anything SEEMS. What concerns me is
how it IS. It doesn't `seem' possible to you to hire a
woman to come into your home and take charge of its
cleanliness and the food you eat--the very foundation
of life--and treat her as an honoured guest,
and give her the best comfort you have to offer. The
cold room, the old covers, the bare floor, and the cast
off furniture are for her. No wonder, as a rule, she
gives what she gets. She dignifies her labour in the
same ratio that you do. Wait until we need a housekeeper,
and then gaze with awe on the one I will raise
to your hand.''
``Don't! It's wearing! Come tell me how to make our
living-room less bare than it appears at present.''
They went downstairs together, followed by the
decorator, and began work on the room. The Girl
was placed on a couch and made comfortable and then
the Harvester looked around.
``That bundle there, Rogers, is the curtains we bought
for this room. If you and my wife think they are not
right, we will not hang them.''
The decorator opened the package and took out
curtains of tan-coloured goods with a border of blue and
``Those are not expensive,'' said the Harvester, ``but
to me a window appears bare with only a shade, so I
thought we'd try these, and when they become soiled
we'll burn them and buy some fresh ones.''
``Good idea!'' laughed the Girl. ``As a house
decorator you surpass yourself as a Medicine Man.''
``Fix these as you did those upstairs,'' ordered the
Harvester. ``We don't want any fol-de-rols. Put the
bottom even with the sill and shear them off at the top.''
``No, I am going to arrange these,'' said the decorator,
``you go on with your part.''
``All right!'' agreed the Harvester. ``First, I'll lay
the big rug.''
He cleared the floor, spread a large rug with a rich
brown centre and a wide blue border. Smaller ones of
similar design and colour were placed before each of the
doors leading from the room.
``Now for the hearth,'' said the Harvester, ``I got this
tan goat skin. Doesn't that look fairly well?''
It certainly did; and the Girl and the decorator
hastened to say so. The Harvester replaced the table and
chairs, and then sat on the couch at the Girl's feet.
``I call this almost finished,'' he remarked. ``All we
need now is a bouquet and something on the walls, and
that is serious business. What goes on them usually
remains for a long time, and so it should be selected with
care. Ruth, have you a picture of your mother?''
``None since she was my mother. I have some lovely
``Good!'' cried the Harvester. ``Exactly the thing!
I have a picture of my mother when she was a pretty
girl. We will select the best of yours and have them
enlarged in those beautiful brown prints they make in
these days, and we'll frame one for each side of the
mantel. After that you can decorate the other walls
as you see things you want. Fifteen minutes gone; we
are ready to take up the line of march to the dining-room.
Oh I forgot my pillows! Here are a half dozen tan,
brown, and blue for this room. Ruth, you arrange
The Girl heaped four on the couch, stood one beside
the hearth, and laid another in a big chair.
``Now I don't know what you will think of this,''
said the Harvester. ``I found it in a magazine at the
library. I copied this whole room. The plan was to
have the floor, furniture, and casings of golden oak and
the walls pale green. Then it said get yellow curtains
bordered with green and a green rug with yellow figures,
so I got them. I had green leather cushions made for
the window seats, and these pillows go on them. Hang
the saffron curtains, Rogers, and we will finish in good
shape for dinner by six. By the way, Ruth, when will
you select your dishes? It will take a big set to fill
all these shelves and you shall have exactly what you
``I can use those you have very well.''
``Oh no you can't!'' cried the Harvester. ``I may live
and work in the woods, but I am not so benighted that
I don't own and read the best books and magazines, and
subscribe for a few papers. I patronize the library and
see what is in the stores. My money will buy just as
much as any man's, if I do wear khaki trousers. Kindly
notice the word. Save in deference to your ladyship I
probably would have said pants. You see how ELITE
I can be if I try. And it not only extends to my wardrobe,
to a `yaller' and green dining-room, but it takes in
the `chany' as well. I have looked up that, too. You
want china, cut glass, silver cutlery, and linen. Ye!
Ye! You needn't think I don't know anything but how
to dig in the dirt. I have been studying this especially,
and I know exactly what to get.''
``Come here,'' said the Girl, making a place for him
beside her. ``Now let me tell you what I think. We
are going to live in the woods, and our home is a log
``With acetylene lights, a furnace, baths, and hot and
cold water----'' interpolated the Harvester.
The Girl and the decorator laughed.
``Anyway,'' said she, ``if you are going to let me have
what I would like, I'd prefer a set of tulip yellow dishes
with the Dutch little figures on them. I don't know
what they cost, but certainly they are not so expensive
as cut glass and china.''
``Is that earnest or is it because you think I am
spending too much money?''
``It is what I want. Everything else is different; why
should we have dishes like city folk? I'd dearly love
to have the Dutch ones, and a white cloth with a yellow
border, glass where it is necessary, and silver knives,
forks, and spoons.''
``That would be great, all right!'' endorsed the decorator.
``And you have got a priceless old lustre tea set
there, and your willow ware is as fine as I ever saw. If
I were you, I wouldn't buy a dish with what you have,
except the yellow set.''
``Great day!'' ejaculated the Harvester. ``Will you
tell me why my great grandmother's old pink and green
teapot is priceless?''
The Girl explained pink lustre. ``That set in the
shop I knew in Chicago would sell for from three to five
hundred dollars. Truly it would! I've seen one little
pink and green pitcher like yours bring nine dollars there.
And you've not only got the full tea set, but water and
dip pitchers, two bowls, and two bread plates. They
are priceless, because the secret of making them is lost;
they take on beauty with age, and they were your great-
The Harvester reached over and energetically shook
``Ruth, I'm so glad you've got them!'' he bubbled.
``Now elucidate on my willow ware. What is it? Where
is it? Why have I willow ware and am not informed.
Who is responsible for this? Did my ancestors buy
better than they knew, or worse? Is willow ware a
crime for which I must hide my head, or is it further
riches thrust upon me? I thought I had investigated
the subject of proper dishes quite thoroughly; but I am
very certain I saw no mention of lustre or willow. I
thought, in my ignorance, that lustre was a dress, and
willow a tree. Have I been deceived? Why is a blue
plate or pitcher willow ware?''
``Bring that platter from the mantel,'' ordered the
Girl, ``and I will show you.''
The Harvester obeyed and followed the finger that
traced the design.
``That's a healthy willow tree!'' he commented. ``If
Loon Lake couldn't go ahead of that it should be drained.
And will you please tell me why this precious platter
from which I have eaten much stewed chicken, fried
ham, and in youthful days sopped the gravy----will
you tell me why this relic of my ancestors is called a
willow plate, when there are a majority of orange trees
so extremely fruitful they have neglected to grow a leaf?
Why is it not an orange plate? Look at that boat!
And in plain sight of it, two pagodas, a summer house,
a water-sweep, and a pair of corpulent swallows; you
would have me believe that a couple are eloping in broad
``Perhaps it's night! And those birds are doves.''
``Never!'' cried the Harvester. ``There is a total
absence of shadows. There is no moon. Each orange
tree is conveniently split in halves, so you can see to
count the fruit accurately; the birds are in flight. Only
a swallow or a stork can fly in decorations, either by day
or by night. And for any sake look at that elopment!
He goes ahead carrying a cane, she comes behind lugging
the baggage, another man with a cane brings up the
rear. They are not running away. They have been
married ten years at least. In a proper elopement, they
forget there are such things as jewels and they always
carry each other. I've often looked up the statistics
and it's the only authorized version. As I regard this
treasure, I grow faint when I remember with what
unnecessary force my father bore down when he carved
the ham. I'll bet a cooky he split those orange trees.
Now me----I'll never dare touch knife to it again. I'll
always carve the meat on the broiler, and gently lift it
to this platter with a fork. Or am I not to be allowed
to dine from my ancestral treasure again?''
``Not in a green and yellow room,'' laughed the Girl.
``I'll tell you what I think. If I had a tea table to match
the living-room furniture, and it sat beside the hearth,
and on it a chafing dish to cook in, and the willow ware
to eat from, we could have little tea parties in there,
when we aren't very hungry or to treat a visitor. It
would help make that room `homey,' and it's wonderful
how they harmonize with the other things.''
``How much willow ware have I got to `bestow' on
you?'' inquired the Harvester. ``Suppose you show me
all of it. A guilty feeling arises in my breast, and I fear
me I have committed high crimes!''
``Oh Man! You didn't break or lose any of those
dishes, did you?''
``Show me!'' insisted the Harvester.
The Girl arose and going to the cupboard he had
designed for her china she opened it, and set before him
a teapot, cream pitcher, two plates, a bowl, a pitcher,
the meat platter, and a sugar bowl. ``If there were all
of the cups, saucers, and plates, I know where they would
bring five hundred dollars,'' she said.
``Ruth, are you getting even with me for poking fun
at them, or are you in earnest?'' asked the Harvester.
``I mean every word of it.''
``You really want a small, black walnut table made
especially for those old dishes?''
``Not if you are too busy. I could use it with beautiful
effect and much pleasure, and I can't tell you how proud
I'd be of them.''
The Harvester's face flushed. ``Excuse me,'' he said
rising. ``I have now finished furnishing a house; I will
go and take a peep at the engine.'' He went into the
kitchen and hearing the rattle of dishes the Girl followed.
She stepped in just in time to see him hastily slide something
into his pocket. He picked up a half dozen old
white plates and saucers and several cups and started
toward the evaporator. He heard her coming.
``Look here, honey,'' he said turning, ``you don't want
to see the dry-house just now. I have terrific heat to
do some rapid work. I won't be gone but a few minutes.
You better boss the decorator.
``I'm afraid that wasn't very diplomatic,'' he muttered.
``It savoured a little of being sent back. But if what
she says is right, and she should know if they handle
such stuff at that art store, she will feel considerably
better not to see this.''
He set his load at the door, drew an old blue saucer
from his pocket and made a careful examination. He
pulled some leaves from a bush and pushed a greasy
cloth out of the saucer, wiped it the best he could, and
held it to light.
``That is a crime!'' he commented. ``Saucer from your
maternal ancestors' tea set used for a grease dish. I am
afraid I'd better sink it in the lake. She'd feel worse
to see it than never to know. Wish I could clean off
the grease! I could do better if it was hot. I can set it
on the engine.''
The Harvester placed the saucer on the engine, entered
the dry-house, and closed the door. In the stifling air
he began pouring seed from beautiful, big willow plates
to the old white ones.
``About the time I have ruined you,'' he said to a white
plate, ``some one will pop up and discover that the art
of making you is lost and you are priceless, and I'll have
been guilty of another blunder. Now there are the
dishes mother got with baking powder. She thought
they were grand. I know plenty well she prized them
more than these blue ones or she wouldn't have saved
them and used these for every day. There they set,
all so carefully taken care of, and the Girl doesn't even
look at them. Thank Heaven, there are the four remaining
plates all right, anyway! Now I've got seed in some
of the saucers; one is there; where on earth is the last one?
And where, oh unkind fates! are the cups?''
He found more saucers and set them with the plates.
As he passed the engine he noticed the saucer on it was
bubbling grease, literally exuding it from the particles
``Hooray!'' cried the Harvester. He took it up, but
it was so hot he dropped it. With a deft sweep he caught
it in air, and shoved it on a tray. Then he danced and
blew on his burned hand. Snatching out his handkerchief
he rubbed off all the grease, and imagined the saucer
``If `a little is good, more is better,' '' quoted the
Wadding the handkerchief he returned the saucer to
the engine. Then he slipped out, dripping perspiration,
glanced toward the cabin, and ran into the work room.
The first object he saw was a willow cup half full of red
paint, stuck and dried as if to remain forever. He took
his knife and tried to whittle it off, but noticing that he
was scratching the cup he filled it with turpentine, set
it under a work bench, turned a tin pan over it, and
covered it with shavings. A few steps farther brought one
in sight, filled with carpet tacks. He searched everywhere,
but could find no more, so he went to the laboratory.
Beside his wash bowl at the door stood the last
willow saucer. He had used it for years as a soap dish.
He scraped the contents on the bench and filled the dish
with water. Four cups held medicinal seeds and were in
good condition. He lacked one, although he could not
remember of ever having broken it. Gathering his
collection, he returned to the dry-house to see how the
saucer was coming on. Again it was bubbling, and he
polished off the grease and set back the dish. It certainly
was growing better. He carried his treasures into the
work room, and went to the barn to feed. As he was
leaving the stable he uttered a joyous exclamation and
snatched from a window sill a willow cup, gummed and
smeared with harness oil.
``The full set, by hokey!'' marvelled the Harvester.
``Say, Betsy, the only name for this is luck! Now if
I only can clean them, I'll be ready to make her tea table,
whatever that is. My I hope she will stay away until
I get these in better shape!''
He filled the last cup with turpentine, set it with the
other under the work bench, stacked the remaining pieces,
polished the saucer he was baking, and went to bring a
dish pan and towel. He drew some water from the pipes
of the evaporator, put in the soap, and carried it to the
work room. There he carefully washed and wiped all
the pieces, save two cups and one saucer. He did not
know how long it would require to bake the grease from
that, but he was sure it was improving. He thought he
could clean the paint cup, but he imagined the harness
oil one would require baking also.
As he stood busily working over the dishes, with light
step the Girl came to the door. She took one long look
and understood. She turned and swiftly went back to
the cabin, but her shoulders were shaking. Presently
the Harvester came in and explained that after finishing
in the dry-house he had gone to do the feeding. Then he
suggested that before it grew dark they should go through
the rooms and see how they appeared, and gather the
flowers the Girl wanted. So together they decided everything
was clean, comfortable, and harmonized.
Then they went to the hillside sloping to the lake. For
the dining-room, the Girl wanted yellow water lilies, so
the Harvester brought his old boat and gathered enough
to fill the green bowl. For the living-room, she used wild
ragged robins in the blue bowl, and on one end of the
mantel set a pitcher of saffron and on the other arrowhead
lilies. For her room, she selected big, blushy
mallows that grew all along Singing Water and around
``Isn't that slightly peculiar?'' questioned the Harvester.
``Take a peep,'' said the Girl, opening her door.
She had spread the pink coverlet on her couch, and
when she set the big pink bowl filled with mallows on the
table the effect was exquisite.
``I think perhaps that's a little Frenchy,'' she said,
``and you may have to be educated to it; but salmon
pink and buttercup yellow are colours I love in combination.''
She closed the door and went to find something to
eat, and then to the swing, where she liked to rest, look,
and listen. The Harvester suggested reading to her, but
she shook her head.
``Wait until winter,'' she said, ``when the days are
longer and cold, and the snow buries everything, and
then read. Now tell me about my hedge and the things
you have planted in it.''
The Harvester went out and collected a bunch of twigs.
He handed her a big, evenly proportioned leaf of ovate
shape, and explained: ``This is burning bush, so called
because it has pink berries that hang from long, graceful
stems all winter, and when fully open they expose a
flame-red seed pod. It was for this colour on gray and
white days that I planted it. In the woods I grow it in
thickets. The root bark brings twenty cents a pound,
at the very least. It is good fever medicine.''
``Is it poison?''
``No. I didn't set anything acutely poisonous in
your hedge. I wanted it to be a mass of bloom you were
free to cut for the cabin all spring, an attraction to birds
in summer, and bright with colour in winter. To draw
the feathered tribe, I planted alder, wild cherry, and
grape-vines. This is cherry. The bark is almost as
beautiful as birch. I raise it for tonics and the birds
love the cherries. This fern-like leaf is from mountain
ash, and when it attains a few years' growth it will flame
with colour all winter in big clusters of scarlet berries.
That I grow in the woods is a picture in snow time, and
the bark is one of my standard articles.''
The Girl raised on her elbow and looked at the hedge.
``I see it,'' she said. ``The berries are green now. I
suppose they change colour as they ripen.''
``Yes,'' said the Harvester. ``And you must not
confuse them with sumac. The leaves are somewhat similar,
but the heads differ in colour and shape. The sumac and
buckeye you must not touch, until we learn what they
will do to you. To some they are slightly poisonous, to
others not. I couldn't help putting in a few buckeyes
on account of the big buds in early spring. You will
like the colour if you are fond of pink and yellow in
combination, and the red-brown nuts in grayish-yellow,
prickly hulls, and the leaf clusters are beautiful, but you
must use care. I put in witch hazel for variety, and I
like its appearance; it's mighty good medicine, too; so
is spice brush, and it has leaves that colour brightly, and
red berries. These selections were all made for a purpose.
Now here is wafer ash; it is for music as well as medicine.
I have invoked all good fairies to come and dwell in this
hedge, and so I had to provide an orchestra for their
dances. This tree grows a hundred tiny castanets in a
bunch, and when they ripen and become dry the wind
shakes fine music from them. Yes, they are medicine;
that is, the bark of the roots is. Almost without
exception everything here has medicinal properties. The
tulip poplar will bear you the loveliest flowers of all,
and its root bark, taken in winter, makes a good fever
``How would it do to eat some of the leaves and see
if they wouldn't take the feverishness from me?''
``It wouldn't do at all,'' said the Harvester. ``We
are well enough fixed to allow Doc to come now, and he
is the one to allay the fever.''
``Oh no!'' she cried. ``No! I don't want to see a
doctor. I will be all right very soon. You said I was
``You are,'' said the Harvester. ``Much better! We
will have you strong and well soon. You should have
come in time for a dose of sassafras. Your hedge is
filled with that, because of its peculiar leaves and odour.
I put in dogwood for the white display around the little
green bloom, lots of alder for bloom and berries, haws
for blossoms and fruit for the squirrels, wild crab apples
for the exquisite bloom and perfume, button bush for the
buttons, a few pokeberry plants for the colour, and I
tried some mallows, but I doubt if it's wet enough for
them. I set pecks of vine roots, that are coming nicely,
and ferns along the front edge. Give it two years and
that hedge will make a picture that will do your eyes
``Can you think of anything at all you forgot?''
``Yes indeed!'' said the Harvester. ``The woods are
full of trees I have not used; some because I overlooked
them, some I didn't want. A hedge like this, in
perfection, is the work of years. Some species must be cut
back, some encouraged, but soon it will be lovely, and
its colour and fruit attract every bird of the heavens
and butterflies and insects of all varieties. I set several
common cherry trees for the robins and some blackberry
and raspberry vines for the orioles. The bloom is pretty
and the birds you'll have will be a treat to see and hear,
if we keep away cats, don't fire guns, scatter food, and
move quietly among them. With our water attractions
added, there is nothing impossible in the way of making
friends with feathered folk.''
``There is one thing I don't understand,'' said the Girl.
``You wouldn't risk breaking the wing of a moth by keeping
it when you wanted a drawing very much; you don't
seem to kill birds and animals that other people do. You
almost worship a tree; now how can you take a knife
and peel the bark to sell or dig up beautiful bushes by
``Perhaps I've talked too much about the woods,''
said the Harvester gently. ``I've longed inexpressibly
for sympathetic company here, because I feel rooted for
life, so I am more than anxious that you should care for
it. I may have made you feel that my greatest interest
is in the woods, and that I am not consistent when I
call on my trees and plants to yield of their store for my
purposes. Above everything else, the human proposition
comes first, Ruth. I do love my trees, bushes,
and flowers, because they keep me at the fountain of life,
and teach me lessons no book ever hints at; but above
everything come my fellow men. All I do is for them.
My heart is filled with feeling for the things you see
around you here, but it would be joy to me to uproot
the most beautiful plant I have if by so doing I could
save you pain. Other men have wives they love as well,
little children they have fathered, big bodies useful to
the world, that are sometimes crippled with disease.
There is nothing I would not give to allay the pain of
humanity. It is not inconsistent to offer any growing
thing you soon can replace, to cure suffering. Get that
idea out of your head! You said you could worship at
the shrine of the pokeberry bed, you feel holier before
the arrowhead lilies, your face takes on an appearance of
reverence when you see pink mallow blooms. Which
of them would you have hesitated a second in uprooting
if you could have offered it to subdue fever or pain in the
body of the little mother you loved?''
``Oh I see!'' cried the Girl. ``Like everything else
you make this different. You worship all this beauty
and grace, wrought by your hands, but you carry your
treasure to the market place for the good of suffering
humanity. Oh Man! I love the work you do!''
``Good!'' cried the Harvester. ``Good! And Ruth-
girl, while you are about it, see if you can't combine the
man and his occupation a little.''
GRANNY MORELAND'S VISIT
The following morning the Girl was awakened by
wheels on the gravel outside her window, and
lifted her head to see Betsy passing with a load
of lumber. Shortly afterward the sound of hammer
and saw came to her, and she knew that Singing Water
bridge was being roofed to provide shade for her. She
dressed and went to the kitchen to find a dainty breakfast
waiting, so she ate what she could, and then washed the
dishes and swept. By that time she was so tired she
dropped on a dining-room window seat, and lay looking
toward the bridge. She could catch glimpses of the
Harvester as he worked. She watched his deft ease in
handling heavy timbers, and the assurance with which
he builded. Sometimes he stood and with tilted head
studied his work a minute, then swiftly proceeded. He
placed three tree trunks on each side for pillars, laid
joists across, formed his angle, and nailed boards as a
foundation for shingling. Occasionally he glanced toward
the cabin, and finally came swinging up the drive. He
entered the kitchen softly, but when he saw the Girl
in the window he sat at her feet.
``Oh but this is a morning, Ruth!'' he said.
She looked at him closely. He radiated health and
good cheer. His tanned cheeks were flushed red with
exercise, and the hair on his temples was damp.
``You have been breaking the rules,'' he said. ``It
is the law that I am to do the work until you are well
and strong again. Why did you tire yourself?''
``I am so perfectly useless! I see so many things that
I would enjoy doing. Oh you can do everything else,
make me well! Make me strong!''
``How can I, when you won't do as I tell you?''
``I will! Indeed I will!''
``Then no more attempts to stand over dishes and
clean big floors. You mustn't overwork yourself at
anything. The instant you feel in the least tired you must
lie down and rest.''
``But Man! I'm tired every minute, with a dead, dull
ache, and I don't feel as if I ever would be rested again
in all the world.''
The Harvester took one of her hands, felt its fevered
palm, fluttering wrist pulse, and noticed that the brilliant
red of her lips had extended to spots on her cheeks. He
formed his resolution.
``Can't work on that bridge any more until I drive
in for some big nails,'' he said. ``Do you mind being
left alone for an hour?''
``Not at all, if Bel will stay with me. I'll lie in the
``All right!'' answered the Harvester. ``I'll help you
out and to get settled. Is there anything you want
``No, not a thing!''
``Oh but you are modest!'' cried the Harvester. ``I
can sit here and name fifty things I want for you.''
``Oh but you are extravagant!'' imitated the Girl.
``Please, please, Man, don't! Can't you see I have so
much now I don't know what to do with it? Sometimes
I almost forget the ache, just lying and looking at all the
wonderful riches that have come to me so suddenly.
I can't believe they won't vanish as they came. By
the hour in the night I look at my lovely room, and I
just fight my eyes to keep them from closing for fear
they'll open in that stifling garret to the heat of day and
work I have not strength to do. I know yet all this will
prove to be a dream and a wilder one than yours.''
The face of the Harvester was very anxious.
``Please to remember my dream came true,'' he said,
``and much sooner than I had the least hope that it would.
I'm wide awake or I couldn't be building bridges; and
you are real, if I know flesh and blood when I touch
``If I were well, strong, and attractive, I could
understand,'' she said. ``Then I could work in the house, at
the drawings, help with the herbs, and I'd feel as if I
had some right to be here.''
``All that is coming,'' said the Harvester. ``Take
a little more time. You can't expect to sin steadily
against the laws of health for years, and recover in a
day. You will be all right much sooner than you think
``Oh I hope so!'' said the Girl. ``But sometimes I
doubt it. How I could come here and put such a burden
on a stranger, I can't see. I scarcely can remember what
awful stress drove me. I had no courage. I should
have finished in my garret as my mother did. I must
have some of my father's coward blood in me. She
never would have come. I never should!''
``If it didn't make any real difference to you, and meant
all the world to me, I don't see why you shouldn't humour
me. I can't begin to tell you how happy I am to have
you here. I could shout and sing all day.''
``It requires very little to make some people happy.''
``You are not much, but you are going to be more
soon,'' laughed the Harvester, as he gently picked up
the Girl and carried her to the swing, where he covered
her, kissed her hot hand, and whistled for Belshazzar.
He pulled the table close and set a pitcher of iced fruit
juice on it. Then he left her and she could hear the rattle
of wheels as he crossed the bridge and drove away.
``Betsy, this is mighty serious business,'' said the
Harvester. ``The Girl is scorching or I don't know fever.
I wonder----well, one thing is sure----she is bound to
be better off in pure, cool air and with everything I can
do to be kind, than in Henry Jameson's attic with
everything he could do to be mean. Pleasant men those
Jamesons! Wonder if the Girl's father was much like
her Uncle Henry? I think not or her refined and lovely
mother never would have married him. Come to think
of it, that's no law, Betsy. I've seen beautiful and
delicate women fall under some mysterious spell, and
yoke their lives with rank degenerates. Whatever he
was, they have paid the price. Maybe the wife deserved
it, and bore it in silence because she knew she did, but
it's bitter hard on Ruth. Girls should be taught to think
at least one generation ahead when they marry. I
wonder what Doc will say, Betsy? He will have to come
and see for himself. I don't know how she will feel about
that. I had hoped I could pull her through with care,
food, and tonics, but I don't dare go any farther alone.
Betsy, that's a thin, hot, little hand to hold a man's
only chance for happiness.''
``Well, bridegroom! I've been counting the days!''
said Doctor Carey. ``The Missus and I made it up this
morning that we had waited as long as we would. We
are coming to-night. David''
``It's all right, Doc,'' said the Harvester. ``Don't
you dare think anything is wrong or that I am not the
proudest, happiest man in this world, because I appear
anxious. I am not trying to conceal it from you. You
know we both agreed at first that Ruth should be in the
hospital, Doc. Well, she should! She is what would
be a lovely woman if she were not full of the poison of
wrong food and air, overwork, and social conditions that
have warped her. She is all I dreamed of and more,
but I've come for you. She is too sick for me. I hoped
she would begin to gain strength at once on changed
conditions. As yet I can't see any difference. She needs
a doctor, but I hate for her to know it. Could you come
out this afternoon, and pretend as if it were a visit?
Bring Mrs. Carey and watch the Girl. If you need an
examination, I think she will obey me. If you can avoid
it, fix what she should have and send it back to me
by a messenger. I don't like to leave her when she is
``I'll come at once, David.''
``Then she will know that I came for you, and that
will frighten her. You can do more good to wait until
afternoon, and pretend you are making a social call.
I must go now. I'd have brought her in, but I have no
proper conveyance yet. I'm promised something soon,
perhaps it is ready now. Good-bye! Be sure to come!''
The Harvester drove to a livery barn and examined a
little horse, a shining black creature that seemed gentle
and spirited. He thought favourably of it. A few days
before he had selected a smart carriage, and with this
outfit tied behind the wagon he returned to Medicine
Woods. He left the horse at the bridge, stabled Betsy,
and then returned for the new conveyance, driving it
to the hitching post. At the sound of unexpected wheels
the Girl lifted her head and stared at the turnout.
``Come on!'' cried the Harvester opening the screen.
``We are going to the woods to initiate your carriage.''
She went with little cries of surprised wonder.
``This is how you travel to Onabasha to do your shopping,
to call on Mrs. Carey and the friends you will
make, and visit the library. When I've tried out Mr.
Horse enough to prove him reliable as guaranteed, he
is yours, for your purposes only, and when you grow
wonderfully well and strong, we'll sell him and buy you a
real live horse and a stanhope, such as city ladies have;
and there must be a saddle so that you can ride.''
``Oh I'd love that!'' cried the Girl. ``I always wanted
to ride! Where are we going?''
``To show you Medicine Woods,'' said the Harvester.
``I've been waiting for this. You see there are several
hundred acres of trees, thickets, shrubs, and herb beds
up there, and if the wagon road that winds between
them were stretched straight it would be many miles in
length, so we have a cool, shaded, perfumed driveway
all our own. Let me get you a drink before you start
and the little shawl. It's chilly there compared with
here. Now are you comfortable and ready?''
``Yes,'' said the Girl. ``Hurry! I've just longed
to go, but I didn't like to ask.''
``I am sorry,'' said the Harvester. ``Living here for
years alone and never having had a sister, how am I
going to know what a girl would like if you don't tell
me? I knew it would be too tiresome for you to walk,
and I was waiting to find a reliable horse and a suitable
``You won't scratch or spoil it up there?''
``I'll lower the top. It is not as wide as the wagon,
so nothing will touch it.''
``This is just so lovely, and such a wonderful treat, do
you observe that I'm not saying a word about extravagance?''
asked the Girl, as she leaned back in the carriage
and inhaled the invigorating wood air.
The horse climbed the hill, and the Harvester guided
him down long, dim roads through deep forest, while
he explained what large thickets of bushes were, why he
grew them, how he collected the roots or bark, for what
each was used and its value. On and on they went,
the way ahead always appearing as if it were too narrow
to pass, yet proving amply wide when reached. Excited
redbirds darted among the bushes, and the Harvester
answered their cry. Blackbirds protested against
the unusual intrusion of strange objects, and a brown
thrush slipped from a late nest close the road wailing in
One after another the Harvester introduced the Girl
to the best trees, speculated on their age, previous history,
and pointed out which brought large prices for
lumber and which had medicinal bark and roots. On
and on they slowly drove through the woods, past the
big beds of cranesbill, violets, and lilies. He showed her
where the mushrooms were most numerous, and for the
first time told the story of how he had sold them and the
violets from door to door in Onabasha in his search for
her, and the amazed Girl sat staring at him. He told
of Doctor Carey having seen her once, and inquired
as they passed the bed if the yellow violets had revived.
He stopped to search and found a few late ones, deep
among the leaves.
``Oh if I only had known that!'' cried the Girl, ``I would
have kept them forever.''
``No need,'' said the Harvester. ``Here and now I
present you with the sole ownership of the entire white
and yellow violet beds. Next spring you shall fill your
room. Won't that be a treat?''
``One money never could buy!'' cried the Girl.
``Seems to be my strong point,'' commented the
Harvester. ``The most I have to offer worth while is
something you can't buy. There is a fine fairy platform.
They can spare you one. I'll get it.''
The Harvester broke from a tree a large fan-shaped
fungus, the surface satin fine, the base mossy, and
explained to the Girl that these were the ballrooms of the
woods, the floors on which the little people dance in
the moonlight at their great celebrations. Then he
added a piece of woolly dog moss, and showed her how
each separate spine was like a perfect little evergreen
``That is where the fairies get their Christmas pines,''
``Do you honestly believe in fairies?''
``Surely!'' exclaimed the Harvester. ``Who would
tell me when the maples are dripping sap, and the mushrooms
springing up, if the fairies didn't whisper in the
night? Who paints the flower faces, colours the leaves,
enamels the ripening fruit with bloom, and frosts the
window pane to let me know that it is time to prepare
for winter? Of course! They are my friends and
everyday helpers. And the winds are good to me.
They carry down news when tree bloom is out, when
the pollen sifts gold from the bushes, and it's time to
collect spring roots. The first bluebird always brings
me a message. Sometimes he comes by the middle of
February, again not until late March. Always on his
day, Belshazzar decides my fate for a year. Six years
we've played that game; now it is ended in blessed reality.
In the woods and at my work I remain until I die, with
a few outside tries at medicine making. I am putting
up some compounds in which I really have faith. Of
course they have got to await their time to be tested, but
I believe in them. I have grown stuff so carefully,
gathered it according to rules, washed it decently, and
dried and mixed it with such scrupulous care. Night
after night I've sat over the books until midnight and
later, studying combinations; and day after day I've
stood in the laboratory testing and trying, and two or three
will prove effective, or I've a disappointment coming.''
``You haven't wasted time! I'd much rather take
medicines you make than any at the pharmacies. Several
times I've thought I'd ask you if you wouldn't give me
some of yours. The prescription Doctor Carey sent
does no good. I've almost drunk it, and I am constantly
tired, just the same. You make me something from
these tonics and stimulants you've been telling me about.
Surely you can help me!''
``I've got one combination that's going to save life,
in my expectations. But Ruth, it never has been tried,
and I couldn't experiment on the very light of my eyes
with it. If I should give you something and you'd
grow worse as a result--I am a strong man, my girl,
but I couldn't endure that. I'd never dare. But
dear, I am expecting Carey and his wife out any time;
probably they will come to-day, it's so beautiful; and
when they do, for my sake, won't you talk with him, tell
him exactly what made you ill, and take what he gives
you? He's a great man. He was recently President
of the National Association of Surgeons. Long ago he
abandoned general practice, but he will prescribe for you;
all his art is at your command. It's quite an honour,
Ruth. He performs all kinds of miracles, and saves
life every day. He had not seen you, and what he gave
me was only by guess. He may not think it is the right
thing at all after he meets you.''
``Then I am really ill?''
``No. You only have the germs of illness in your blood,
and if you will help me that much we can eliminate
them; and then it is you for housekeeper, with first assistant
in me, the drawing tools, paint box, and all the woods
for subjects. So, as I was going to tell you, Belshazzar
and I have played our game for the last time. That
decision was ultimate. Here I will work, live, and die.
Here, please God, strong and happy, you shall live with
me. Ruth, you have got to recover quickly. You will
consult the doctor?''
``Yes, and I wish he would hurry,'' said the Girl.
``He can't make me new too soon to suit me. If I had
a strong body, oh Man, I just feel as if you could find a
soul somewhere in it that would respond to all these
wonders you have brought me among. Oh! make me well,
and I'll try as woman never did before to bring you
happiness to pay for it.''
``Careful now,'' warned the Harvester. ``There is
to be no talk of obligations between you and me.
Your presence here and your growing trust in me are all
I ask at the hands of fate at present. Long ago I learned
to `labour and to wait.' By the way----here's my
most difficult labour and my longest wait. This is the
precious gingseng bed.''
``How pretty!'' exclaimed the Girl.
Covering acres of wood floor, among the big trees,
stretched the lacy green carpet. On slender, upright
stalks waved three large leaves, each made up of five
stemmed, ovate little leaves, round at the base, sharply
pointed at the tip. A cluster of from ten to twenty small
green berries, that would turn red later, arose above.
The Harvester lifted a plant to show the Girl that the
Chinese name, Jin-chen, meaning man-like, originated
because the divided root resembled legs. Away through
the woods stretched the big bed, the growth waving
lightly in the wind, the peculiar odour filling the air.
``I am going to wait to gather the crop until the seeds
are ripe,'' said the Harvester, ``then bury some as I
dig a root. My father said that was the way of the
Indians. It's a mighty good plan. The seeds are
delicate, and difficult to gather and preserve properly.
Instead of collecting and selling all of them to start rivals
in the business, I shall replant my beds. I must find
a half dozen assistants to harvest this crop in that way,
and it will be difficult, because it will come when my
neighbours are busy with corn.''
``Maybe I can help you.''
``Not with ginseng digging,'' laughed the Harvester.
``That is not woman's work. You may sit in an especially
attractive place and boss the job.''
``Oh dear!'' cried the Girl. ``Oh dear! I want to
get out and walk.''
Gradually they had climbed the summit of the hill,
descended on the other side, and followed the road through
the woods until they reached the brier patches, fruit
trees; and the garden of vegetables, with big beds of sage,
rue, wormwood, hoarhound, and boneset. From there
to the lake sloped the sunny fields of mullein and catnip,
and the earth was molten gold with dandelion creeping
``Too hot to-day,'' cautioned the Harvester. ``Too
rough walking. Wait until fall, and I have a treat
there for you. Another flower I want you to love because
``I will,'' said the Girl promptly. ``I feel it in my
``Well I am glad you feel something besides the ache
of fever,'' said the Harvester. Then noticing her tired
face he added: ``Now this little horse had quite a trip
from town, and the wheels cut deeply into this woods
soil and make difficult pulling, so I wonder if I had not
better put him in the stable and let him become
acquainted with Betsy. I don't know what she will think.
She has had sole possession for years. Maybe she will be
jealous, perhaps she will be as delighted for company
as her master. Ruth, if you could have heard what
I said to Belshazzar when he decided I was to go courting
this year, and seen what I did to him, and then take
a look at me now----merciful powers, I hope the
dog doesn't remember! If he does, no wonder he forms a
new allegiance so easily. Have you observed that lately
when I whistle, he starts, and then turns back to see if
you want him? He thinks as much of you as he does of
me right now.''
``Oh no!'' cried the Girl. ``That couldn't be possible.
You told me I must make friends with him, so I have
given him food, and tried to win him.''