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The Harvester by Gene Stratton Porter

Part 7 out of 10

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``You sit in the carriage until I put away the horse,
and then I'll help you to the cabin, and save you being
alone while I work. Would you like that?''


She leaned her head against the carriage top the
Harvester had raised to screen her, and watched him
stable the horse. Evidently he was very fond of animals
for he talked as if it were a child he was undressing and
kept giving it extra strokes and pats as he led it away.
Ajax disliked the newcomer instantly, noticed the carriage
and the woman's dress, and screamed his ugliest.
The Girl smiled. As the Harvester appeared she inquired,
``Is Ajax now sending a wireless to Ceylon asking
for a mate?''

The Harvester looked at her quizzically and saw a
gleam of mischief in the usually dull dark eyes that
delighted him.

``That is the customary supposition when he finds
voice,'' he said. ``But since this has become your home,
you are bound to learn some of my secrets. One of them
I try to guard is the fact that Ajax has a temper. No
my dear, he is not always sending a wireless, I am sorry
to say. I wish he was! As a matter of fact he is venting
his displeasure at any difference in our conditions. He
hates change. He learned that from me. I will enjoy
seeing him come for favour a year from now, as I learned
to come for it, even when I didn't get much, and the road
lay west of Onabasha. Ajax, stop that! There's no
use to object. You know you think that horse is nice
company for you, and that two can feed you more than
one. Don't be a hypocrite! Cease crying things you
don't mean, and learn to love the people I do. Come
on, old boy!''

The peacock came, but with feathers closely pressed
and stepping daintily. As the bird advanced, the Harvester
retreated, until he stood beside the Girl, and then
he slipped some grain to her hand and she offered it.
But Ajax would not be coaxed. He was too fat and well
fed. He haughtily turned and marched away, screaming
at intervals.

``Nasty temper!'' commented the Harvester. ``Never
mind! He soon will become accustomed to you, and then
he will love you as Belshazzar does. Feed the doves
instead. They are friendly enough in all conscience.
Do you notice that there is not a coloured feather among
them? The squab that is hatched with one you may
have for breakfast. Now let's go find something to eat,
and I will finish the bridge so you can rest there to-night
and watch the sun set on Singing Water.''

So they went into the cabin and prepared food, and
then the Harvester told the Girl to make herself so pretty
that she would be a picture and come and talk to him
while he finished the roof. She went to her room, found
a pale lavender linen dress and put it on, dusted the
pink powder thickly, and went where a wide bench made
an inviting place in the shade. There she sat and
watched her lightly expressed whim take shape.

``Soon as this is finished,'' said the Harvester, ``I am
going to begin on that tea table. I can make it in a
little while, if you want it to match the other furniture.''

``I do,'' said the Girl.

``Wonder if you could draw a plan showing how it
should appear. I am a little shy on tea tables.''

``I think I can.''

The Harvester brought paper, pencil, and a shingle
for a drawing pad.

``Now remember one thing,'' he said. ``If you are
in earnest about using those old blue dishes, this has
got to be a big, healthy table. A little one will appear
top heavy with them. It would be a good idea to set
out what you want to use, arranged as you would like
them, and let me take the top measurement that way.''

``All right! I'll only indicate how its legs should be
and we will find the size later. I could almost weep
because that wonderful set is broken. If I had all of
it I'd be so proud!''

The Girl bent over the drawing. The Harvester
worked with his attention divided between her, the bridge,
and the road. At last he saw the big red car creeping up
the valley.

``Seems to be some one coming, Ruth! Guess it must
be Doc. I'll go open the gate?''

``Yes,'' said the Girl. ``I'm so glad. You won't
forget to ask him to help me if he can?''

The Harvester wheeled hastily. ``I won't forget!''
he said, as he hurried to the gate. The car ran slowly,
and the Girl could see him swing to the step and stand
talking as they advanced. When they reached her they
stopped and all of them came forward. She went to
meet them. She shook hands with Mrs. Carey and
then with the doctor.

``I am so glad you have come,'' she said.

``I hope you are not lonesome already,'' laughed the

``I don't think any one with brains to appreciate half
of this ever could become lonely here,'' answered the
Girl. ``No, it isn't that.''

``A-ha!'' cried the doctor, turning to his wife. ``You
see that the beautiful young lady remembers me, and has
been wishing I would come. I always said you didn't
half appreciate me. What a place you are making,
David! I'll run the car to the shade and join you.''

For a long time they talked under the trees, then they
went to see the new home and all its furnishings.

``Now this is what I call comfort,'' said the doctor.
``David, build us a house exactly similar to this over
there on the hill, and let us live out here also. I'd love
it. Would you, Clara?''

``I don't know. I never lived in the country. One
thing is sure: If I tried it, I'd prefer this to any other
place I ever saw. David, won't you take me far enough
up the hill that I can look from the top to the lake?''

``Certainly,'' said the Harvester. ``Excuse us a little
while, Ruth!''

As soon as they were gone the Girl turned to the

``Doctor Carey, David says you are great. Won't
you exercise your art on me. I am not at all well, and
oh! I'd so love to be strong and sound.''

``Will you tell me,'' asked the doctor, ``just enough to
show me what caused the trouble?''

``Bad air and water, poor light and food at irregular
times, overwork and deep sorrow; every wrong condition
of life you could imagine, with not a ray of hope in the
distance, until now. For the sake of the Harvester, I
would be well again. Please, please try to cure me!''

So they talked until the doctor thought he knew all he
desired, and then they went to see the gold flower garden.

``I call this simply superb,'' said he, taking a seat
beneath the tree roof of her porch. ``Young woman, I
don't know what I'll do to you if you don't speedily grow
strong here. This is the prettiest place I ever saw,
and listen to the music of that bubbling, gurgling little

``Isn't he wonderful?'' asked the Girl, looking up the
hill, where the tall form of the Harvester could be seen
moving around. ``Just to see him, you would think
him the essence of manly strength and force. And he is!
So strong! Into the lake at all hours, at the dry-house,
on the hill, grubbing roots, lifting big pillars to support a
bridge roof, and with it all a fancy as delicate as any
dreaming girl. Doctor, the fairies paint the flowers,
colour the fruit, and frost the windows for him; and the
winds carry pollen to tell him when his growing things
are ready for the dry-house. I don't suppose I can tell
you anything new about him; but isn't he a perpetual
surprise? Never like any one else! And no matter how
he startles me in the beginning, he always ends by
convincing me, at least, that he is right.''

``I never loved any other man as I do him,'' said the
doctor. ``I ushered him into the world when I was a
young man just beginning to practise, and I've known
him ever since. I know few men so scrupulously clean.
Try to get well and make him happy, Mrs. Langston.
He so deserves it.''

``You may be sure I will,'' answered the Girl.

After the visitors had gone, the Harvester told her to
place the old blue dishes as she would like to arrange
them on her table, so he could get a correct idea of the
size, and he left to put a few finishing strokes on the
bridge cover. She went into the dining-room and opened
the china closet. She knew from her peep in the work-
room that there would be more pieces than she had seen
before; but she did not think or hope that a full half dozen
tea set and plates, bowl, platter, and pitcher would be
waiting for her.

``Why Ruth, what made you tire yourself to come
down? I intended to return in a few minutes.''

``Oh Man!'' cried the laughing Girl, as she clung
pantingly to a bridge pillar for support, ``I just had to
come to tell you. There are fairies! Really truly ones!
They have found the remainder of the willow dishes for
me, and now there are so many it isn't going to be a table
at all. It must be a little cupboard especially for them,
in that space between the mantel and the bookcase.
There should be a shining brass tea canister, and a wafer
box like the arts people make, and I'll pour tea and tend
the chafing dish and you can toast the bread with a long
fork over the coals, and we will have suppers on the
living-room table, and it will be such fun.''

``Be seated!'' cried the Harvester. ``Ruth, that's the
longest speech I ever heard you make, and it sounded,
praise the Lord, like a girl. Did Doc say he would fix
something for you?''

``Yes, such a lot of things! I am going to shut my eyes
and open my mouth and swallow all of them. I'm going
to be born again and forget all I ever knew before I came
here, and soon I will be tagging you everywhere, begging
you to suggest designs for my pencil, and I'll simply
force life to come right for you.''

The Harvester smiled.

``Sounds good!'' he said. ``But, Ruth, I'm a little
dubious about force work. Life won't come right for
me unless you learn to love me, and love is a stubborn,
contrary bulldog element of our nature that won't be
driven an inch. It wanders as the wind, and strikes
us as it will. You'll arrive at what I hope for much
sooner if you forget it and amuse yourself and be as
happy as you can. Then, perhaps all unknown to you,
a little spark of tenderness for me will light in your breast;
and if it ever does we will buy a fanning mill and put it
in operation, and we'll raise a flame or know why.''

``And there won't be any force in that?''

``What you can't compel is the start. It's all right to
push any growth after you have something to work on.''

``That reminds me,'' said the Girl, ``there is a question
I want to ask you.''

``Go ahead!'' said the Harvester, glancing at her as he
hewed a joist.

She turned away her face and sat looking across the
lake for a long time.

``Is it a difficult question, Ruth?'' inquired the Harvester
to help her.

``Yes,'' said the Girl. ``I don't know how to make
you see.''

``Take any kind of a plunge. I'm not usually dense.''

``It is really quite simple after all. It's about a
girl----a girl I knew very well in Chicago. She had a
problem----and it worried her dreadfully, and I just
wondered what you would think of it.''

The Harvester shifted his position so that he could
watch the side of the averted face.

``You'll have to tell me, before I can tell you,'' he

``She was a girl who never had anything from life but
work and worry. Of course, that's the only kind I'd
know! One day when the work was most difficult, and
worry cut deepest, and she really thought she was losing
her mind, a man came by and helped her. He lifted her
out, and rescued all that was possible for a man to save
to her in honour, and went his way. There wasn't anything
more. Probably there never would be. His heart
was great, and he stooped and pitied her gently and
passed on. After a time another man came by, a good
and noble man, and he offered her love so wonderful she
hadn't brains to comprehend how or why it was.''

The Girl's voice trailed off as if she were too weary to
speak further, while she leaned her head against a pillar
and gazed with dull eyes across the lake.

``And your question,'' suggested the Harvester at

She roused herself. ``Oh, the question! Why this----
if in time, and after she had tried and tried, love to equal
his simply would not come would----would----she be
wrong to PRETEND she cared, and do the very best she could,
and hope for real love some day? Oh David, would

The Harvester's face was whiter than the Girl's. He
pounded the chisel into the joist savagely.

``Would she, David?''

``Let me understand you clearly,'' said the man in a
dry, breathless voice. ``Did she love this first man to
whom she came under obligations?''

The Girl sat gazing across the lake and the tortured
Harvester stared at her.

``I don't know,'' she said at last. ``I don't know
whether she knew what love was or ever could. She
never before had known a man; her heart was as undeveloped
and starved as her body. I don't think she realized
love, but there was a SOMETHING. Every time she
would feel most grateful and long for the love that was
offered her, that `something' would awake and hurt her
almost beyond endurance. Yet she knew he never would
come. She knew he did not care for her. I don't know
that she felt she wanted him, but she was under such
obligations to him that it seemed as if she must wait to
see if he might not possibly come, and if he did she
should be free.''

``If he came, she preferred him?''

``There was a debt she had to pay----if he asked it.
I don't know whether she preferred him. I do know she
had no idea that he would come, but the POSSIBILITY was
always before her. If he didn't come in time, would she
be wrong in giving all she had to the man who loved

The Harvester's laugh was short and sharp.

``She had nothing to give, Ruth! Talk about worm-
wood, colocynth apples, and hemlock! What sort of
husks would that be to offer a man who gave honest
love? Lie to him! Pretend feeling she didn't experience.
Endure him for the sake of what he offered her? Well
I don't know how calmly any other man would take that
proceeding, Ruth, but tell your friend for me, that if I
offered a woman the deep, lasting, and only loving passion
of my heart, and she gave back a lie and indifferent lips,
I'd drop her into the deepest hole of my lake and take
my punishment cheerfully.''

``But if it would make him happy? He deserves
every happiness, and he need never know!''

The Harvester's laugh raised to an angry roar.

``You simpleton!'' he cried roughly. ``Do you know
so little of human passion in the heart that you think
love can be a successful assumption? Good Lord, Ruth!
Do you think a man is made of wood or stone, that a
woman's lips in her first kiss wouldn't tell him the truth?
Why Girl, you might as well try to spread your tired arms
and fly across the lake as to attempt to pretend a love
you do not feel. You never could!''

``I said a girl I knew!''

`` `A Girl you knew,' then! Any woman! The idea
is monstrous. Tell her so and forget it. You almost
scared the life out of me for a minute, Ruth. I thought
it was going to be you. But I remember your debt is
to be paid with the first money you earn, and you can
not have the slightest idea what love is, if you honestly
ask if it can be simulated. No ma'am! It can't! Not
possibly! Not ever! And when the day comes that
its fires light your heart, you will come to me, and tell
of a flood of delight that is tingling from the soles of your
feet through every nerve and fibre of your body, and you
will laugh with me at the time when you asked if it could
be imitated successfully. No, ma'am! Now let me help
you to the cabin, serve a good supper, and see you eat
like a farmer.''

All evening the Harvester was so gay he kept the
Girl laughing and at last she asked him the cause.

``Relief, honey! Relief!'' cried the man. ``You had
me paralyzed for a minute, Ruth. I thought you were
trying to tell me that there was some one so possessing
your heart that it failed every time you tried to think
about caring for me. If you hadn't convinced me before
you finished that love never has touched you, I'd be
the saddest man in the world to-night, Ruth.''

The Girl stared at him with wide eyes and silently
turned away.

Then for a week they worked out life together in the
woods. The Harvester was the housekeeper and the
cook. He added to his store many delicious broths and
stimulants he brought from the city. They drove every
day through the cool woods, often rowed on the lake in
the evenings, walked up the hill to the oak and scattered
fresh flowers on the two mounds there, and sat beside
them talking for a time. The Harvester kept up his work
with the herbs, and the little closet for the blue dishes
was finished. They celebrated installing them by having
supper on the living-room table, with the teapot on one
end, and the pitcher full of bellflowers on the other.

The Girl took everything prescribed for her, bathed,
slept all she could, and worked for health with all the
force of her frail being, and as the days went by it seemed
to the Harvester her weight grew lighter, her hands hotter,
and she drove herself to a gayety almost delirious. He
thought he would have preferred a dull, stupid sleep of
malaria. There was colour in plenty on her cheeks now,
and sometimes he found her wrapped in the white shawl
at noon on the warmest days Medicine Woods knew in
early August; and on cool nights she wore the thinnest
clothing and begged to be taken on the lake. The
Careys came out every other evening and the doctor
watched and worked, but he did not get the results he
desired. His medicines were not effective.

``David,'' he said one evening, ``I don't like the looks
of this. Your wife has fever I can't break. It is eating
the little store of vitality she has right out of her, and
some of these days she is coming down with a crash.
She should yield to the remedies I am giving her. She
acts to me like a woman driven wild by trouble she is
concealing. Do you know anything that worries her?''

``No,'' said the Harvester, ``but I'll try to find out if
it will help you in your work.''

After they were gone he left the Girl lying in the
swing guarded by the dog, and went across the marsh
on the excuse that he was going to a bed of thorn apple
at the foot of the hill. There he sat on a log and tried
to think. With the mists of night rising around him,
ghosts arose he fain would have escaped. ``What will
you give me in cold cash to tell you who she is, and who
her people are?'' Times untold in the past two weeks
he had smothered, swallowed, and choked it down.
That question she had wanted to ask----was it for a
girl she had known, or was it for herself? Days of
thought had deepened the first slight impression he so
bravely had put aside, not into certainty, but a great
fear that she had meant herself. If she did, what was
he to do? Who was the man? There was a debt she had
to pay if he asked it? What debt could a woman pay
a man that did not involve money? Crouched on a log
he suffered and twisted in agonizing thought. At last
he arose and returned to the cabin. He carried a few
frosty, blue-green leaves of velvet softness and unusual
cutting, prickly thorn apples full of seeds, and some of
the smoother, more yellowish-green leaves of the jimson
weed, to give excuse for his absence.

``Don't touch them,'' he warned as he came to her.
``They are poison and have disagreeable odour. But
we are importing them for medicinal purposes. On the
far side of the marsh, where the ground rises, there is a
waste place just suited to them, and so long as they will
seed and flourish with no care at all, I might as well have
the price as the foreign people who raise them. They
don't bring enough to make them worth cultivating, but
when they grow alone and with no care, I can make
money on the time required to clip the leaves and dry the
seeds. I must go wash before I come close to you.''

The next day he had business in the city, and again
she lay in the swing and talked to the dog while the
Harvester was gone. She was startled as Belshazzar arose
with a gruff bark. She looked down the driveway,
but no one was coming. Then she followed the dog's
eyes and saw a queer, little old woman coming up the
bank of Singing Water from the north. She remembered
what the Harvester had said, and rising she opened
the screen and went down the path. As the Girl
advanced she noticed the scrupulous cleanliness of
the calico dress and gingham apron, and the snowy hair
framing a bronzed face with dancing dark eyes.

``Are you David's new wife?'' asked Granny Moreland
with laughing inflection.

``Yes,'' said the Girl. ``Come in. He told me to
expect you. I am so sorry he is away, but we can get
acquainted without him. Let me help you.''

``I don't know but that ought to be the other way
about. You don't look very strong, child.''

``I am not well,'' said the Girl, ``but it's lovely here,
and the air is so fine I am going to be better soon. Take
this chair until you rest a little, and then you shall see
our pretty home, and all the furniture and my dresses.''

``Yes, I want to see things. My, but David has tried
himself! I heard he was just tearin' up Jack over here,
and I could get the sound of the hammerin', and one
day he asked me to come and see about his beddin'.
He had that Lizy Crofter to wash for him, but if I hadn't
jest stood over her his blankets would have been ruined.
She's no more respect for fine goods than a pig would
have for cream pie. I hate to see woollens abused, as
if they were human. My, but things is fancy here
since what David planted is growin'! Did you ever
live in the country before?''


``Where do you hail from?''

``Well not from the direction of hail,'' laughed the
Girl. ``I lived in Chicago, but we were----were not
rich, and so I didn't know the luxury of the city; just the
lonely, difficult part.''

``Do you call Chicago lonely?''

``A thousand times more so than Medicine Woods.
Here I know the trees will whisper to me, and the water
laughs and sings all day, and the birds almost split their
throats making music for me; but I can imagine no loneliness
on earth that will begin to compare with being among
the crowds and crowds of a large city and no one has a
word or look for you. I miss the sea of faces and the roar
of life; at first I was almost wild with the silence, but now
I don't find it still any more; the Harvester is teaching
me what each sound means and they seem to be countless.''

``You think, then, you'll like it here?''

``I do, indeed! Any one would. Even more than
the beautiful location, I love the interesting part of the
Harvester's occupation. I really think that gathering
material to make medicines that will allay pain is the
very greatest of all the great work a man can do.''

``Good!'' cried Granny Moreland, her dark eyes
snapping. ``I've always said it! I've tried to encourage
David in it. And he's just capital at puttin' some of his
stuff in shape, and combinin' it in as good medicine as
you ever took. This spring I was all crippled up with
the rheumatiz until I wanted to holler every time I had
to move, and sometimes it got so aggravatin' I'm not
right sure but I done it. 'Long comes David and says,
`I can fix you somethin',' and bless you, if the boy didn't
take the tucks out of me, until here I am, and tickled
to pieces that I can get here. This time last year I didn't
care if I lived or not. Now seems as if I'm caperish
as a three weeks' lamb. I don't see how a man could
do a bigger thing than to stir up life in you like that.''

``I think this place makes an especial appeal to me,
because, shortly before I came, I had to give up my
mother. She was very ill and suffered horribly. Every
time I see David going to his little laboratory on the hill
to work a while I slip away and ask God to help him to
fix something that will ease the pain of humanity as
I should like to have seen her relieved.''

``Why you poor child! No wonder you are lookin'
so thin and peaked!''

``Oh I'll soon be over that,'' said the Girl. ``I am
much better than when I came. I'll be coming over to
trade pie with you before long. David says you are my
nearest neighbour, so we must be close friends.''

``Well bless your big heart! Now who ever heard
of a pretty young thing like you wantin' to be friends with
a plain old country woman?''

``Why I think you are lovely!'' cried the Girl. ``And
all of us are on the way to age, so we must remember
that we will want kindness then more than at any other
time. David says you knew his mother. Sometime won't
you tell me all about her? You must very soon. The
Harvester adored her, and Doctor Carey says she was the
noblest woman he ever knew. It's a big contract to
take her place. Maybe if you would tell me all you can
remember I could profit by much of it.''

Granny Moreland watched the Girl keenly.

``She wa'ant no ordinary woman, that's sure,'' she
commented. ``And she didn't make no common man
out of her son, either. I've always contended she took
the job too serious, and wore herself out at it, but she
certainly done the work up prime. If she's above cloud
leanin' over the ramparts lookin' down----though it gets me
as to what foundation they use or where they get the
stuff to build the ramparts----but if they is ramparts,
and she's peekin' over them, she must take a lot of solid
satisfaction in seeing that David is not only the man she
fought and died to make him, but he's give her quite a
margin to spread herself on. She 'lowed to make him a
big man, but you got to know him close and plenty 'fore it
strikes you jest what his size is. I've watched him pretty
sharp, and tried to help what I could since Marthy went,
and I'm frank to say I druther see David happy than
to be happy myself. I've had my fling. The rest of
the way I'm willin' to take what comes, with the best
grace I can muster, and wear a smilin' face to betoken
the joy I have had; but it cuts me sore to see the young

``Do you think David is unhappy?'' asked the Girl

``I don't see how he could be!'' cried the old lady.
``Of course he ain't! 'Pears as if he's got everythin' to
make him the proudest, best satisfied of men. I'll own I
was mighty anxious to see you. I know the kind o'
woman it would take to make David miserable, and it
seems sometimes as if men----that is good men----are
plumb, stone blind when it comes to pickin' a woman.
They jest hitch up with everlastin' misery easy as dew
rolling off a cabbage leaf. It's sech a blessed sight to
see you, and hear your voice and know you're the woman
anybody can see you be. Why I'm so happy when I
set here and con-tem'-plate you, I want to cackle like a
pullet announcin' her first egg. Ain't this porch the
purtiest place?''

``Come see everything,'' invited the Girl, rising.

Granny Moreland followed with alacrity.

``Bare floors!'' she cried. ``Wouldn't that best you?
I saw they was finished capital when I was over, but
I 'lowed they'd be covered afore you come. Don't you
like nice, flowery Brissels carpets, honey?''

``No I don't,'' said the Girl. ``You see, when rugs
are dusty they can be rolled, carried outside, and cleaned.
The walls can be wiped, the floors polished and that
way a house is always fresh. I can keep this shining,
germ proof, and truly clean with half the work and none
of the danger of heavy carpets and curtains.''

``I don't doubt but them is true words,'' said Granny
Moreland earnestly. ``Work must be easier and sooner
done than it was in my day, or people jest couldn't have
houses the size of this or the time to gad that women
have now. From the looks of tile streets of Onabasha,
you wouldn't think a woman 'ud had a baby to tend, a
dinner pot a-bilin', or a bakin' of bread sence the flood.
And the country is jest as bad as the city. We're a
apin' them to beat the monkeys at a show. I hardly
got a neighbour that ain't got figgered Brissels carpet,
a furnace, a windmill, a pianny, and her own horse and
buggy. Several's got autermobiles, and the young folks
are visitin' around a-ridin' the trolleys, goin' to college,
and copyin' city ways. Amos Peters, next to us; goes
bareheaded in the hay field, and wears gloves to pitch
and plow in. I tell him he reminds me of these city
women that only wears the lower half of a waist and no
sleeves, and a yard of fine goods moppin' the floors.
Well if that don't 'beat the nation! Ain't them Marthy's
old blue dishes?''

``Let me show you!'' The Girl opened the little
cupboard and exhibited the willow ware. The eyes of the
old woman began to sparkle.

``Foundation or no foundation, I do hope them
ramparts is a go!'' she cried. ``If Marthy Langston is
squintin' over them and she sees her old chany put in a
fine cupboard, and her little shawl round as purty a girl
as ever stepped, and knows her boy is gittin' what he
deserves, good Lord, she'll be like to oust the Almighty,
and set on the throne herself! 'Bout everythin' in life
was a disappointment to her, 'cept David. Now if
she could see this! Won't I rub it into the neighbours?
And my boys' wives!''

``I don't understand,'' said the bewildered Girl.

`` 'Course you don't, honey,'' explained the visitor.
``It's like this: I don't know anybody, man or woman,
in these parts, that ain't rampagin' for CHANGE. They
ain't one of them that would live in a log cabin, though
they's not a house in twenty miles of here that fits its
surroundin's and looks so homelike as this. They run
up big, fancy brick and frame things, all turns and
gables and gay as frosted picnic pie, and work and slave
to git these very carpets you say ain't healthy, and the
chairs you say you wouldn't give house room, an' they
use their grandmother's chany for bakin', scraps, and
grease dishes, and hide it if they's visitors. All of them
strainin' after something they can't afford, and that
ain't healthy when they git it, because somebody else
is doin' the same thing. Mary Peters says she is afeared
of her life in their new steam wagon, and she says Andy
gits so narvous runnin' it, he jest keeps on a-jerkin' and
drivin' all night, and she thinks he'll soon go to smash
himself, if the machine doesn't beat him. But they are
keepin' it up, because Graceston's is, and so it goes all
over the country. Now I call it a slap right in the face
to have a Chicagy woman come to the country to live
and enjoy a log cabin, bare floors, and her man's grandmother's
dishes. If there ain't Marthy's old blue coverlid
also carefully spread on a splinter new sofy. Landy,
I can't wait to get to my son John's! He's got a woman
that would take two coppers off the collection plate while
she was purtendin' to put on one, if she could, and then
spend them for a brass pin or a string of glass beads.
Won't her eyes bung when I tell her about this? She
wanted my Peter Hartman kiver for her ironin' board.
Show me the rest!''

``This is the dining-room,'' said the Girl, leading the

Granny Moreland stepped in and sent her keen eyes
ranging over the floor, walls, and furnishings. She sank
on a chair and said with a chuckle, ``Now you go on and
tell me all about it, honey. Jest what things are and why
you fixed them, and how they are used.''

The Girl did her best, and the old woman nodded in
delighted approval.

``It's the purtiest thing I ever saw,'' she announced.
``A minute ago, I'd 'a' said them blue walls back there,
jest like October skies in Indian summer, and the brown
rugs, like leaves in the woods, couldn't be beat; but this
green and yaller is purtier yet. That blue room will
keep the best lookin' part of fall on all winter, and with
a roarin' wood fire, it'll be capital, and no mistake; but
this here is spring, jest spring eternal, an' that's best of
all. Looks like it was about time the leaves was bustin'
and things pushin' up. It wouldn't surprise me a mite
to see a flock of swallers come sailin' right through these
winders. And here's a place big enough to lay down
and rest a spell right handy to the kitchen, where a-body
gits tiredest, without runnin' a half mile to find a bed,
and in the mornin' you can look down to the `still waters';
and in the afternoon, when the sun gits around here, you
can pull that blind and `lift your eyes to the hills,' like
David of the Bible says. My, didn't he say the purtiest
things! I never read nothin' could touch him!''

``Have you seen the Psalms arranged in verse as we
would write it now?''

``You don't mean to tell me David's been put into
real poetry?''

``Yes. Some Bibles have all the poetical books in
our forms of verse.''

``Well! Sometimes I git kind o' knocked out! As
a rule I hold to old ways. I think they're the healthiest
and the most faver'ble to the soul. But they's some
changes come along, that's got sech hard common-sense
to riccomend them, that I wonder the past generations
didn't see sooner. Now take this! An hour ago I'd
told you I'd read my father's Bible to the end of my
days. But if they's a new one that's got David, Solomon,
and Job in nateral form, I'll have one, and I'll git a joy
I never expected out of life. I ain't got so much poetry
in me, but it always riled me to read, `7. The law of
the Lord is perfect, covertin' the soul. 8. The statutes
of the Lord are right. 9. The fear of the Lord is clean.'
And so it goes on, 'bout as much figgers as they is poetry.
Always did worry me. So if they make Bibles 'cordin'
to common sense, I'll have one to-morrow if I have to
walk to Onabasha to get it. Lawsy me! if you ain't
gathered up Marthy's old pink tea set, and give it a
show, too! Did you do that to please David, or do you
honestly think them is nice dishes?''

``I think they are beautiful,'' laughed the Girl, sinking
to a chair. ``I don't know that it did please him. He
had been studying the subject, but something saved him
from buying anything until I came. I'd have felt dreadfully
if he had gotten what he wanted.''

``What did he want, honey?'' asked the old lady in an
awestruck whisper.

``Egg-shell china and cut glass.''

``And you wouldn't let him! Woman! What do you

``A set of tulip-yellow dishes, with Dutch little figures
on them. They are so quaint and they would harmonize
perfectly with this room.''

The old lady laughed gleefully.

``My! I wouldn't 'a' missed this for a dollar,'' she cried.
``It jest does my soul good. More'n that, if you really
like Marthy's dishes and are going to take care of them
and use them right, I'll give you mine, too. I ain't never
had a girl. I've always hoped she'd 'a' had some jedgment
of her own, and not been eternally apin', if I had, but
the Lord may 'a' saved me many a disappointment by
sendin' all mine boys. Not that I'm layin' the babies on
to the Lord at all----I jest got into the habit of sayin'
that, 'cos everybody else does, but all mine, I had a purty
good idy how I got them. If a girl of mine wouldn't
'a' had more sense, raised right with me, I'd' a' been purty
bad cut up over it. Of course, I can't be held responsible
for the girls my boys married, but t'other day Emmeline
----that's John's wife----John is the youngest, and I
sort o' cling to him----Emmeline she says to me,
`Mother, can't I have this old pink and green teapot?' My
heart warmed right up to the child, and I says, `What do
you want it for, Emmeline?' And she says, `To draw the
tea in.' Cracky Dinah! That fool woman meant to set
my grandmother's weddin' present from her pa and ma,
dishes same as Marthy Washington used, on the stove
to bile the tea in. I jest snorted! `No, says I, `you
can't! 'Fore I die,' says I, `I'll meet up with some
woman that 'll love dishes and know how to treat them.'
I think jest about as much of David as I do my own boys,
and I don't make no bones of the fact that he's a heap
more of a man. I'd jest as soon my dishes went to his
children as to John's. I'll give you every piece I got,
if you'll take keer of them.''

``Would it be right?'' wavered the girl.

``Right! Why, I'm jest tellin' you the fool wimmen
would bile tea in them, make grease sassers of them, and
use them to dish up the bakin' on! Wouldn't you
a heap rather see them go into a cupboard like David's
ma's is in, where they'd be taken keer of, if they was
yours? I guess you would!''

``Well if you feel that way, and really want us to
have them, I know David will build another little cupboard
on the other side of the fireplace to put yours in,
and I can't tell you how I'd love and care for them.''

``I'll jest do it!'' said Granny Moreland. ``I got
about as many blue ones as Marthy had an' mine are
purtier than hers. And my lustre is brighter, for I
didn't use it so much. Is this the kitchen? Well if
I ever saw sech a cool, white place to cook in before!
Ain't David the beatenest hand to think up things?
He got the start of that takin' keer of his ma all his
life. He sort of learned what a woman uses, and how
it's handiest. Not that other men don't know; it's
jest that they are too mortal selfish and keerless to fix
things. Well this is great! Now when you bile cabbage
and the wash, always open your winders wide and let
tho steam out, so it won't spile your walls.''

``I'll be very careful,'' promised the Girl. ``Now come
see my bathroom, closet and bedroom.''

``Well as I live! Ain't this fine. I'll bet a purty
that if I'd 'a' had a room and a trough like this to soak in
when I was wore to a frazzle, I wouldn't 'a' got all twisted
up with rheumatiz like I am. It jest looks restful to
see. I never washed in a place like this in all my days.
Must feel grand to be wet all over at once! Now everybody
ought to have sech a room and use it at all hours,
like David does the lake. Did you ever see his beat to
go swimmin'? He's always in splashin'! Been at it
all his life. I used to be skeered when he was a little
tyke. He soaked so much 'peared like he'd wash all the
substance out of him, but it only made him strong.''

``Has he ever been ill?''

``Not that I know of, and I reckon I'd knowed it if
he had. Well what a clothespress! I never saw so
many dresses at once. Ain't they purty? Oh I wish
I was young, and could have one like that yaller. And
I'd like to have one like your lavender right now. My!
You are lucky to have so many nice clothes. It's a
good thing most girls haven't got them, or they'd stand
primpin' all day tryin' to decide which one to put on.
I don't see how you tell yourself.''

``I wear the one that best hides how pale I am,''
answered the Girl. ``I use the colours now. When I
grow plump and rosy, I'll wear the white.''

Granny Moreland dropped on the couch and assured
herself that it was Martha's pink Peter Hartman. Then
she examined the sunshine room.

``Well I got to go back to the start,'' she said at last.
``This beats the dinin'-room. This is the purtiest thing
I ever saw. Oh I do hope they ain't so run to white
in Heaven as some folks seem to think! Used to be
scandalized if a-body took anythin' but a white flower
to a funeral. Now they tell me that when Jedge Stilton's
youngest girl come from New York to her pa's
buryin' she fetched about a wash tub of blood-red roses.
Put them all over him, too! Said he loved red roses
livin' and so he was goin' to have them when he passed
over. Now if they are lettin' up a little on white on
earth, mebby some of the stylish ones will carry the
fashion over yander. If Heaven is like this, I won't spend
none of my time frettin' about the foundations. I'll
jest forget there is any, even if we do always have to be
so perticler to get them solid on earth. Talk of gold
harps! Can't you almost hear them? And listen to
the birds and that water! Say, you won't get lonesome
here, will you?''

``Indeed no!'' answered the Girl. ``Wouldn't you
like to lie on my beautiful couch that the Harvester made
with his own hands, and I'll spread Mother Langston's
coverlet over you and let you look at all my pretty things
while I slip away a few minutes to something I'd like
to do?''

``I'd love to!'' said the old woman. ``I never had a
chance at such fine things. David told me he was makin'
your room all himself, and that he was goin' to fill it
chuck full of everythin' a girl ever used, and I see he
done it right an' proper. Away last March he told me he
was buildin' for you, an' I hankered so to have a woman
here again, even though I never s'posed she'd be sochiable
like you, that I egged him on jest all I could. I
never would 'a' s'posed the boy could marry like this----
all by himself.''

The Girl went to the ice chest to bring some of the
fruit juice, chilled berries, and to the pantry for bread and
wafers to make a dainty little lunch that she placed on
the veranda table; and then she and Granny Moreland
talked, until the visitor said that she must go. The
Girl went with her to the little bridge crossing Singing
Water on the north. There the old lady took her

``Honey,'' she said, ``I'm goin' to tell you somethin'.
I am so happy I can purt near fly. Last night I was
comin' down the pike over there chasin' home a contrary
old gander of mine, and I looked over on your land and
I see David settin' on a log with his head between his
hands a lookin' like grim death, if I ever see it. My
heart plum stopped. Says I, `she's a failure! She's a
bustin' the boy's heart! I'll go straight over and tell
her so.' I didn't dare bespeak him, but I was on nettles
all night. I jest laid a-studyin' and a-studyin', and I
says, `Come mornin' I'll go straight and give her a curry-
combin' that'll do her good.' And I started a-feelin'
pretty grim, and here you came to meet me, and wiped
it all out of my heart in a flash. It did look like the boy
was grievin'; but I know now he was jest thinkin' up what
to put together to take the ache out of some poor old
carcass like mine. It never could have been about you.
Like a half blind old fool I thought the boy was sufferin',
and here he was only studyin'! Like as not he was thinkin'
what to do next to show you how he loves you. What
an old silly I was! I'll sleep like a log to-night to pay
up for it. Good-bye, honey! You better go back and
lay down a spell. You do look mortal tired.''

The Girl said good-bye and staggering a few steps
sank on a log and sat staring at the sky.

``Oh he was suffering, and about me!'' she gasped.
A chill began to shake her and feverish blood to race
through her veins. ``He does and gives everything; I
do and give nothing! Oh why didn't I stay at Uncle
Henry's until it ended? It wouldn't have been so bad
as this. What will I do? Oh what will I do? Oh
mother, mother! if I'd only had the courage you did.''

She arose and staggered up the hill, passed the cabin
and went to the oak. There she sank shivering to earth,
and laid her face among the mosses. The frightened
Harvester found her at almost dusk when he came from
the city with the Dutch dishes, and helped a man launch
a gay little motor boat for her on the lake.

``Why Ruth! Ruth-girl!'' he exclaimed, kneeling
beside her.

She lifted a strained, distorted face.

``Don't touch me! Don't come near me!'' she cried.
``It is not true that I am better. I am not! I am worse!
I never will be better. And before I go I've got to tell
you of the debt I owe; then you will hate me, and then I
will be glad! Glad, I tell you! Glad! When you despise
me? then I can go, and know that some day you will
love a girl worthy of you. Oh I want you to hate me
I am fit for nothing else.''

She fell forward sobbing wildly and the Harvester
tried in vain to quiet her. At last he said, ``Well then
tell me, Ruth. Remember I don't want to hear what
you have to say. I will believe nothing against you, not
even from your own lips, when you are feverish and
excited as now, but if it will quiet you, tell me and have
it over. See, I will sit here and listen, and when you
have finished I'll pick you up and carry you to your room,
and I am not sure but I will kiss you over and over.
What is it you want to tell me, Ruth?''

She sat up panting and pushed back the heavy coils
of hair.

``I've got to begin away at the beginning to make you
see,'' she said. ``The first thing I can remember is a small,
such a small room, and mother sewing and sometimes
a man I called father. He was like Henry Jameson made
over tall and smooth, and more, oh, much more heartless!
He was gone long at a time, and always we had most to
eat, and went oftener to the parks, and were happiest
with him away. When I was big enough to understand,
mother told me that she had met him and cared for him
when she was an inexperienced girl. She must have
been very, very young, for she was only a girl as I first
remember her, and oh! so lovely, but with the saddest
face I ever saw. She said she had a good home and
every luxury, and her parents adored her; but they knew
life and men, and they would not allow him in their home,
and so she left it with him, and he married her and
tried to force them to accept him, and they would not.
At first she bore it. Later she found him out, and
appealed to them, but they were away or would not forgive,
and she was a proud thing, and would not beg more after
she had said she was wrong, and would they take her

``I grew up and we were girls together. We embroidered,
and I drew, and sometimes we had little treats
and good times, and my father did not come often, and
we got along the best we could. Always it was worse on
her, because she was not so strong as I, and her heart
was secretly breaking for her mother, and she was afraid
he would come back any hour. She was tortured that
she could not educate me more than to put me through
the high school. She wore herself out doing that, but
she was wild for me to be reared and trained right. So
every day she crouched over delicate laces and embroidery,
and before and after school I carried it and got
more, and in vacation we worked together. But living
grew higher, and she became ill, and could not work,
and I hadn't her skill, and the drawings didn't bring much,
and I'd no tools----''

``Ruth, for mercy sake let me take you in my arms.
If you've got to tell this to find peace, let me hold you
while you do it.''

``Never again,'' said the Girl. ``You won't want to
in a minute. You must hear this, because I can't bear
it any longer, and it isn't fair to let you grieve and think
me worth loving. Anyway, I couldn't earn what she did,
and I was afraid, for a great city is heartless to the poor.
One morning she fainted and couldn't get up. I can see
the awful look in her eyes now. She knew what was
coming. I didn't. I tried to be brave and to work.
Oh it's no use to go on with that! It was just worse and
worse. She was lovely and delicate, she was my mother,
and I adored her. Oh Man! You won't judge harshly?''

``No!'' cried the Harvester, ``I won't judge at all,
Ruth. I see now. Get it over if you must tell me.''

``One day she had been dreadfully ill for a long time
and there was no food or work or money, and the last
scrap was pawned, and she simply would not let me
notify the charities or tell me who or where her people
were. She said she had sinned against them and broken
their hearts, and probably they were dead, and I was
desperate. I walked all day from house to house where I
had delivered work, but it was no use; no one wanted anything
I could do, and I went back frantic, and found her
gnawing her fingers and gibbering in delirium. She did not
know me, and for the first time she implored me for food.

``Then I locked the door and went on the street and I
asked a woman. She laughed and said she'd report me
and I'd be locked up for begging. Then I saw a man
I passed sometimes. I thought he lived close. I went
straight to him, and told him my mother was very ill, and
asked him to help her. He told me to go to the proper
authorities. I told him I didn't know who they were
or where, and I had no money and she was a woman of
refinement, and never would forgive me. I offered, if he
would come to see her, get her some beef tea, and take
care of her while she lived, that afterward----''

The Girl's frail form shook in a storm of sobs. At
last she lifted her eyes to the Harvester's. ``There must
be a God, and somewhere at the last extremity He must
come in. The man went with me, and he was a young
doctor who had an office a few blocks away, and he knew
what to do. He hadn't much himself, but for several
weeks he divided and she was more comfortable and not
hungry when she went. When it was over I dressed
her the best I could in my graduation dress, and folded
her hands, and kissed her good-bye, and told him I was
ready to fulfill my offer; and oh Man!----He said
he had forgotten!''

``God!'' panted the Harvester.

``We couldn't bury her there. But I remembered
my father had said he had a brother in the country,
and once he had been to see us when I was very little,
and the doctor telegraphed him, and he answered
that his wife was sick, and if I was able to work I could
come, and he would bury her, and give me a home.
The doctor borrowed the money and bought the
coffin you found her in. He couldn't do better or he
would, for he learned to love her. He paid our
fares and took us to the train. Before I started I
went on my knees to him and worshipped him as the
Almighty, and I am sure I told him that I always would
be indebted to him, and any time he required I would
pay. The rest you know.''

``Have you heard from him, Ruth?''


``It WAS yourself the other day on the bridge?''


``Did he love you?''

``Not that I know of. No! Nobody but you would
love a girl who appeared as I did then.''

The Harvester strove to keep a set face, but his lips
drew back from his teeth.

``Ruth, do you love him?''

``Love!'' cried the Girl. ``A pale, expressionless word!
Adore would come closer! I tell you she was delirious
with hunger, and he fed her. She was suffering horrors
and he eased the pain. She was lifeless, and he kept
her poor tired body from the dissecting table. I would
have fulfilled my offer, and gone straight into the lake,
but he spared me, Man! He spared me! Worship
is a good word. I think I worship him. I tried to tell
you. Before you got that license, I wanted you to

``I remember,'' said the Harvester. ``But no man
could have guessed that a girl with your face had agony
like that in her heart, not even when he read deep trouble

``I should have told you then! I should have forced
you to hear! I was wild with fear of Uncle Henry,
and I had nowhere to go. Now you know! Go away,
and the end will come soon.''

The Harvester arose and walked a few steps toward
the lake, where he paused stricken, but fighting for
control. For him the light had gone out. There was
nothing beyond. The one passion of his life must live
on, satisfied with a touch from lips that loved another
man. Broken sobbing came to him. He did not even
have time to suffer. Stumblingly he turned and going
to the Girl he picked her up, and sat on the bench holding
her closely.

``Stop it, Ruth!'' he said unsteadily. ``Stop this!
Why should you suffer so? I simply will not have it.
I will save you against yourself and the world. You
shall have all happiness yet; I swear it, my girl! You
are all right. He was a noble man, and he spared
you because he loved you, of course. I will make you
well and rosy again, and then I will go and find
him, and arrange everything for you. I have spared
you, too, and if he doesn't want you to remain
here with me, Mrs. Carey would be glad to have you
until I can free you. Judges are human. It will be
a simple matter. Hush, Ruth, listen to me! You shall
be free! At once, if you say so! You shall have him!
I will go and bring him here, and I will go away.
Ruth, darling, stop crying and hear me. You will grow
better, now that you have told me. It is this secret
that has made you feverish and kept you ill. Ruth,
you shall have happiness yet, if I have got to circle
the globe and scale the walls of Heaven to find it for

She struggled from his arms and ran toward the lake.
When the Harvester caught her, she screamed wildly,
and struck him with her thin white hands. He lifted and
carried her to the laboratory, where he gave her a few
drops from a bottle and soon she became quiet. Then
he took her to the sunshine room, laid her on the bed,
locked the screens and her door, called Belshazzar to
watch, and ran to the stable. A few minutes later with
distended nostrils and indignant heart Betsy, under the
flail of an unsparing lash, pounded down the hill toward



The Harvester placed the key in the door and
turned to Doctor Carey and the nurse.

``I drugged her into unconsciousness before I
left, but she may have returned, at least partially. Miss
Barnet, will you kindly see if she is ready for the doctor?
You needn't be in the least afraid. She has no strength,
even in delirium.''

He opened the door, his head averted, and the nurse
hurried into the room. The Girl on the bed was beginning
to toss, moan, and mutter. Skilful hands straightened
her, arranged the covers, and the doctor was called.
In the living-room the Harvester paced in misery too
deep for consecutive thought. As consciousness returned,
the Girl grew wilder, and the nurse could not follow the
doctor's directions and care for her. Then Doctor
Carey called the Harvester. He went in and sitting
beside the bed took the feverish, wildly beating hands
in his strong, cool ones, and began stroking them and

``Easy, honey,'' he murmured softly. ``Lie quietly
while I tell you. You mustn't tire yourself. You are
wasting strength you need to fight the fever. I'll hold
your hands tight, I'll stroke your head for you. Lie
quietly, dear, and Doctor Carey and his head nurse
are going to make you well in a little while. That's
right! Let me do the moving; you lie and rest. Only
rest and rest, until all the pain is gone, and the strong
days come, and they are going to bring great joy, love,
and peace, to my dear, dear girl. Even the moans take
strength. Try just to lie quietly and rest. You can't
hear Singing Water if you don't listen, Ruth.''

``She doesn't realize that it is you or know what you
say, David,'' said Doctor Carey gently.

``I understand,'' said the Harvester. ``But if you
will observe, you will see that she is quiet when I stroke
her head and hands, and if you notice closely you will
grant that she gets a word occasionally. If it is the
right one, it helps. She knows my voice and touch, and
she is less nervous and afraid with me. Watch a

The Harvester took both of the Girl's fluttering hands
in one of his and with long, light strokes gently brushed
them, and then her head, and face, and then her hands
again, and in a low, monotonous, half sing-song voice he
crooned, ``Rest, Ruth, rest! It is night now. The
moon is bridging Loon Lake, and the whip-poor-will
is crying. Listen, dear, don't you hear him crying?
Still, Girl, still! Just as quiet! Lie so quietly. The
whip-poor-will is going to tell his mate he loves her,
loves her so dearly. He is going to tell her, when you
listen. That's a dear girl. Now he is beginning. He
says, `Come over the lake and listen to the song I'm
singing to you, my mate, my mate, my dear, dear mate,'
and the big night moths are flying; and the katydids are
crying, positive and sure they are crying, a thing that's
past denying. Hear them crying? And the ducks are
cheeping, soft little murmurs while they're sleeping,
sleeping. Resting, softly resting! Gently, Girl, gently!
Down the hill comes Singing Water, laughing, laughing!
Don't you hear it laughing? Listen to the big owl courting;
it sees the coon out hunting, it hears the mink softly
slipping, slipping, where the dews of night are dripping.
And the little birds are sleeping, so still they are sleeping.
Girls should be a-sleeping, like the birds a-sleeping, for
to-morrow joy comes creeping, joy and life and love come
creeping, creeping to my Girl. Gently, gently, that's
a dear girl, gently! Tired hands rest easy, tired head
lies still! That's the way to rest----''

On and on the even voice kept up the story. All over
and around the lake, the length of Singing Water, the
marsh folk found voices to tell of their lives, where it
was a story of joy, rest, and love. Up the hill ranged the
Harvester, through the forest where the squirrels slept,
the owl hunted, the fire-flies flickered, the fairies squeezed
flower leaves to make colour to paint the autumn foliage,
and danced on toadstool platforms. Just so long as
his voice murmured and his touch continued, so long the
Girl lay quietly, and the medicines could act. But no
other touch would serve, and no other voice would answer.
If the harvester left the room five minutes to show the
nurse how to light the fire, and where to find things, he
returned to tossing, restless delirium.

``It's magic David,'' said Doctor Carey. ``Magic!''

``It is love,'' said the Harvester. ``Even crazed with
fever, she recognizes its voice and touch. You've got
your work cut out, Doc. Roll your sleeves and collect
your wits. Set your heart on winning. There is one
thing shall not happen. Get that straight in your mind,
right now. And you too, Miss Barnet! There is nothing
like fighting for a certainty. You may think the
Girl is desperately ill, and she is, but make up your minds
that you are here to fight for her life, and to save it.
Save, do you understand? If she is to go, I don't need
either of you. I can let her do that myself. You are
here on a mission of life. Keep it before you! Life
and health for this Girl is the prize you are going to win.
Dig into it, and I'll pay the bills, and extra besides. If
money is any incentive, I'll give you all I've got for life
and health for the Girl. Are you doing all you know?''

``I certainly am, David.''

``But when day comes you'll have to go back to the
hospital and we may not know how to meet crises that
will arise. What then? We should have a competent
physician in the house until this fever breaks.''

``I had thought of that, David. I will arrange to send
one of the men from the hospital who will be able to
watch symptoms and come for me when needed.''

``Won't do!'' said the Harvester calmly. ``She has
no strength for waiting. You are to come when you can,
and remain as long as possible. The case is yours; your
decisions go, but I will select your assistant. I know the
man I want.''

``Who is he, David?''

``I'll tell you when I learn whether I can get him.
Now I want you to give the Girl the strongest sedative
you dare, take off your coat, roll your sleeves, and see
how well you can imitate my voice, and how much you
have profited by listening to my song. In other words,
before day calls, I want you to take my place so successfully
that you deceive her, and give me time to make a
trip to town. There are a few things that must be done,
and I think I can work faster in the night. Will

Doctor Carey bent over the bed. Gently he slipped
a practised hand under the Harvester's and made the
next stroke down the white arm. Gradually he took
possession of the thin hands and his touch fell on the
masses of dark hair. As the Harvester arose the doctor
took the seat.

``You go on!'' he ordered gruffly. ``I'll do better

The Harvester stepped back. The doctor's touch was
easy and the Girl lay quietly for an instant, then she
moved restlessly.

``You must be still now,'' he said gently. ``The moon
is up, the lake is all white, and the birds are flying all
around. Lie still or you'll make yourself worse. Stiller
than that! If you don't you can't hear things courting.
The ducks are quacking, the bull frogs are croaking, and
everything. Lie still, still, I tell you!''

``Oh good Lord, Doc!'' groaned the Harvester in desperation.

The Girl wrenched her hands free and her head rolled
on the pillow.

``Harvester! Harvester!'' she cried.

The doctor started to arise.

``Sit still!'' commanded the Harvester. ``Take her
hands and go to work, idiot! Give her more sedative,
and tell her I'm coming. That's the word, if she realizes
enough to call for me.''

The doctor possessed himself of the flying hands, and
gently held and stroked them.

``The Harvester is coming,'' he said. ``Wait just a
minute, he's on the way. He is coming. I think I hear
him. He will be here soon, very soon now. That's
a good girl! Lie still for David. He won't like it if you
toss and moan. Just as still, lie still so I can listen. I
can't tell whether he is coming until you are quiet.''

Then he said to the Harvester, ``You see, I've got it
now. I can manage her, but for pity sake, hurry man!
Take the car! Jim is asleep on the back seat----Yes, yes,
Girl! I'm listening for him. I think I hear him! I
think he's coming!''

Here and there a word penetrated, and she lay more
quietly, but not in the rest to which the Harvester had
lulled her.

``Hurry man!'' groaned the doctor in a whispered
aside, and the Harvester ran to the car, awakened the
driver and told him he had a clear road to Onabasha, to
speed up.

``Where to?'' asked the driver.

``Dickson, of the First National.''

In a few minutes the car stopped before the residence
and the Harvester made an attack on the front door.
Presently the man came.

``Excuse me for routing you out at this time of night,''
said the Harvester, ``but it's a case of necessity. I have
an automobile here. I want you to go to the bank with
me, and get me an address from your draft records.
I know the rules, but I want the name of my wife's
Chicago physician. She is delirious, and I must telephone

The cashier stepped out and closed the door.

``Nine chances out of ten it will be in the vault,''
he said.

``That leaves one that it won't,'' answered the
Harvester. ``Sometimes I've looked in when passing in the
night, and I've noticed that the books are not always
put away. I could see some on the rack to-night. I
think it is there.''

It was there, and the Harvester ordered the driver to
hurry him to the telephone exchange, then take the
cashier home and return and wait. He called the Chicago
Information office.

``I want Dr. Frank Harmon, whose office address is 1509
Columbia Street. I don't know the 'phone number.''

Then came a long wait, and after twenty minutes the
blessed buzzing whisper, ``Here's your party.''

``Doctor Harmon?''


``You remember Ruth Jameson, the daughter of a
recent patient of yours?''

``I do.''

``Well my name is Langston. The Girl is in my home
and care. She is very ill with fever, and she has much
confidence in you. This is Onabasha, on the Grand
Rapids and Indiana. You take the Pennsylvania at
seven o'clock, telegraph ahead that you are coming so
that they will make connection for you, change at twelve-
twenty at Fort Wayne, and I will meet you here. You
will find your ticket and a check waiting you at the
Chicago depot. Arrange to remain a week at least.
You will be paid all expenses and regular prices for your
time. Will you come?''


``All right. Make no failure. Good-bye.''

Then the Harvester left an order with the telephone
company to run a wire to Medicine Woods the first thing
in the morning, and drove to the depot to arrange for
the ticket and check. In less than an hour he was holding
the Girl's hands and crooning over her.

``Jerusalem!'' said Doctor Carey, rising stiffly. ``I'd
rather undertake to cut off your head and put it back
on than to tackle another job like that. She's quite
delirious, but she has flashes, and at such times she knows
whom she wants; the rest of the time it's a jumble and
some of it is rather gruesome. She's seen dreadful
illness, hunger, and there's a debt she's wild about. I
told you something was back of this. You've got to find
out and set her mind at ease.''

``I know all about it,'' said the Harvester patiently
between crooning sentences to the Girl. ``But the crash
came before I could convince her that it was all right and
I could fix everything for her easily. If she only could
understand me!''

``Did you find your man?''

``Yes. He will be here this afternoon.''

``Quick work!''

``This takes quick work.''

``Do you know anything about him?''

``Yes. He is a young fellow, just starting out. He is
a fine, straight, manly man. I don't know how much
he knows, but it will be enough to recognize your
ability and standing, and to do what you tell him.
I have perfect confidence in him. I want you to come
back at one, and take my place until I go to meet

`I can bring him out.''

``I have to see him myself. There are a few words
to be said before he sees the Girl.''

``David, what are you up to?''

``Being as honourable as I can. No man gets any too
decent, but there is no law against doing as you would
be done by, and being as straight as you know how.
When I've talked to him, I'll know where I am and I'll
have something to say to you.''

``David, I'm afraid----''

``Then what do you suppose I am?'' said the Harvester.
``It's no use, Doc. Be still and take what comes!
The manner in which you meet a crisis proves you a
whining cur or a man. I have got lots of respect for a
dog, as a dog; but I've none for a man as a dog. If you've
gathered from the Girl's delirium that I've made a mistake,
I hope you have confidence enough in me to believe
I'll right it, and take my punishment without
whining. Go away, you make her worse. Easy, Girl, the
world is all right and every one is sleeping now, so you
should be at rest. With the day the doctor will come,
the good doctor you know and like, Ruth. You haven't
forgotten your doctor, Ruth? The kind doctor who cared
for you. He will make you well, Ruth; well and oh,
so happy! Harmon, Harmon, Doctor Harmon is coming
to you, Girl, and then you will be so happy!''

``Why you blame idiot!'' cried Doctor Carey in a
harsh whisper. ``Have you lost all the sense you ever
had? Stop that gibber! She wants to hear about the
birds and Singing Water. Go on with that woods line of
talk; she likes that away the best. This stuff is making
her restless. See!''

``You mean you are,'' said the Harvester wearily.
``Please leave us alone. I know the words that will
bring comfort. You don't.''

He began the story all over again, but now there ran
through it a continual refrain. ``Your doctor is coming,
the good doctor you know. He will make you
well and strong, and he will make life so lovely for

He was talking without pause or rest when Doctor
Carey returned in the afternoon to take his place. He
brought Mrs. Carey with him, and she tried a woman's
powers of soothing another woman, and almost drove the
Girl to fighting frenzy. So the doctor made another
attempt, and the Harvester raced down the hill to the
city. He went to the car shed as the train pulled in, and
stood at one side while the people hurried through the
gate. He was watching for a young man with a travelling
bag and perhaps a physician's satchel, who would be
looking for some one.

``I think I'll know him,'' muttered the Harvester
grimly. ``I think the masculine element in me will
pop up strongly and instinctively at the sight of this man
who will take my Dream Girl from me. Oh good God!
Are You sure You ARE good?''

In his brown khaki trousers and shirt, his head bare,
his bronze face limned with agony he made no attempt to
conceal, the Harvester, with feet planted firmly, and
tightly folded arms, his head tipped slightly to one side,
braced himself as he sent his keen gray eyes searching the
crowd. Far away he selected his man. He was young,
strong, criminally handsome, clean and alert; there was
discernible anxiety on his face, and it touched the
Harvester's soul that he was coming just as swiftly as he
could force his way. As he passed the gates the Harvester
reached his side.

``Doctor Harmon, I think,'' he said.


``This way! If you have luggage, I will send for it

The Harvester hurried to the car.

``Take the shortest cut and cover space,'' he said to
the driver. The car kept to the speed limit until toward
the suburbs.

Doctor Harmon removed his hat, ran his fingers
through dark waving hair and yielded his body to the
swing of the car. Neither man attempted to talk.
Once the Harvester leaned forward and told the driver
to stop on the bridge, and then sat silently. As the
car slowed down, they alighted.

``Drive on and tell Doc we are here, and will be up
soon,'' said the Harvester. Then he turned to the
stranger. ``Doctor Harmon, there's little time for words.
This is my place, and here I grow herbs for medicinal

``I have heard of you, and heard your stuff
recommended,'' said the doctor.

``Good!'' exclaimed the Harvester. ``That saves
time. I stopped here to make a required explanation
to you. The day you sent Ruth Jameson to Onabasha,
I saw her leave the train and recognized in her my ideal
woman. I lost her in the crowd and it took some time
to locate her. I found her about a month ago. She
was miserable. If you saw what her father did to her
and her mother in Chicago, you should have seen what
his brother was doing here. The end came one day in
my presence, when I paid her for ginseng she had found
to settle her debt to you. He robbed her by force.
I took the money from him, and he threatened her. She
was ill then from heat, overwork, wrong food----every
misery you can imagine heaped upon the dreadful conditions
in which she came. It had been my intention
to court and marry her if I possibly could. That day
she had nowhere to go; she was wild with fear; the fever
that is scorching her now was in her veins then. I did
an insane thing. I begged her to marry me at once and
come here for rest and protection. I swore that if she
would, she should not be my wife, but my honoured
guest, until she learned to love me and released me from
my vow. She tried to tell me something; I had no idea
it was anything that would make any real difference, and
I wouldn't listen. Last night, when the fever was
beginning to do its worst, she told me of your entrance into
her life and what it meant to her. Then I saw that I
had made a mistake. You were her choice, the man
she could love, not me, so I took the liberty of sending
for you. I want you to cure her, court her, marry her,
and make her happy. God knows she has had her share
of suffering. You recognize her as a girl of refinement?''

``I do.''

``You grant that in health she would be lovelier than
most women, do you not?''

``She was more beautiful than most in sickness and

``Good!'' cried the Harvester. ``She has been here
two weeks. I give you my word, my promise to her has
been kept faithfully. As soon as I can leave her to
attend to it, she shall have her freedom. That will be
easy. Will you marry her?''

The doctor hesitated.

``What is it?'' asked the Harvester.

``Well to be frank,'' said Doctor Harmon, ``it is
money! I'm only getting a start. I borrowed funds
for my schooling and what I used for her. She is
in every way attractive enough to be desired by
any man, but how am I to provide a home and
support her and pay these debts? I'll try it, but I
am afraid it will be taking her back to wrong conditions

``If you knew that she owned a comfortable cottage
in the suburbs, where it is cool and clean, and had,
say a hundred a month of her own for the coming three
years, could you see your way?''

``That would make all the difference in the world. I
thought seriously of writing her. I wanted to, but I
concluded I'd better work as hard as I could for some
practice first, and see if I could make a living for two,
before I tried to start anything. I had no idea she would
not be comfortably cared for at her uncle's.''

``I see,'' said the Harvester. ``If I had kept out, life
would have come right for her.''

``On the contrary,'' said the doctor, ``it appears very
probable that she would not be living.''

``It is understood between us, then, that you will
court and marry her so soon as she is strong enough?''

``It is understood,'' agreed the doctor.

``Will you honour me by taking my hand?'' asked the
Harvester. ``I scarcely had hoped to find so much of a
man. Now come to your room and get ready for the
stiffest piece of work you ever attempted.''

The Harvester led the way to the guest chamber over
looking the lake, and installed its first occupant. Then he
hurried to the Girl. The doctor was holding her head
and one hand, his wife the other, and the nurse her feet.
It took the Harvester ten strenuous minutes to make
his touch and presence known and to work quiet. All
over he began crooning his story of rest, joy, and love.
He broke off with a few words to introduce Doctor
Harmon to the Careys and the nurse, and then calmly
continued while the other men stood and watched him.

``Seems rather cut out for it,'' commented Doctor

``I never yet have seen him attempt anything that he
didn't appear cut out for,'' answered Doctor Carey.

``Will she know me?'' inquired the young man,
approaching the bed.

When the Girl's eyes fell on him she grew rigid and lay
staring at him. Suddenly with a wild cry she struggled
to rise.

``You have come!'' she cried. ``Oh I knew you would
come! I felt you would come! I cannot pay you now!
Oh why didn't you come sooner?''

The young doctor leaned over and took one of the
white hands from the Harvester, stroking it gently.

``Why you did pay, Ruth! How did you come to
forget? Don't you remember the draft you sent me?
I didn't come for money; I came to visit you, to nurse
you, to do all I can to make you well. I am going to
take care of you now so finely you'll be out on the lake
and among the flowers soon. I've got some medicine
that makes every one well. It's going to make you strong,
and there's something else that's going to make you
happy; and me, I'm going to be the proudest man alive.''

He reached over and took possession of the other hand,
stroking them softly, and the Girl lay tensely staring
at him and gradually yielding to his touch and voice.
The Harvester arose, and passing around the bed, he
placed a chair for Doctor Harmon and motioning for
Doctor Carey left the room. He went to the shore to
his swimming pool, wearily dropped on the bench, and
stared across the water.

``Well thank God it worked, anyway!'' he muttered.

``What's that popinjay doing here?'' thundered
Doctor Carey. ``Got some medicine that cures everybody.
Going to make her well, is he? Make the cows,
and the ducks, and the chickens, and the shitepokes well,
and happy----no name for it! After this we are all
going to be well and happy! You look it right now,
David! What under Heaven have you done?''

``Left my wife with the man she loves, and to whom I
release her, my dear friend,'' said the Harvester. ``And
it's so easy for me that you needn't give making it a
little harder, any thought.''

``David, forgive me!'' cried Doctor Carey. ``I don't
understand this. I'm almost insane. Will you tell
me what it means?''

``Means that I took advantage of the Girl's illness, utter
loneliness, and fear, and forced her into marrying me for
shelter and care, when she loved and wanted another
man, who was preparing to come to her. He is her Chicago
doctor, and fine in every fibre, as you can see. There
is only one thing on earth for me to do, and that is to
get out of their way, and I'll do it as soon as she is well;
but I vow I won't leave her poor, tired body until she
is, not even for him. I thought sure I could teach her to
love me! Oh but this is bitter, Doc!''

``You are a consummate fool to bring him here!''
cried Doctor Carey. ``If she is too sick to realize the
situation now, she will be different when she is normal
again. Any sane girl that wouldn't love you, David,
ain't fit for anything!''

``Yes, I'm a whale of a lover!'' said the Harvester
grimly. ``Nice mess I've made of it. But there is no real
harm done. Thank God, Harmon was not the only
white man.''

``David, what do you mean?''

``Is it between us, Doc?''


``For all time?''

``It is.''

The Harvester told him. He ended, ``Give the fellow
his dues, Doc. He had her at his mercy, utterly alone
and unprotected, in a big city. There was not a living
soul to hold him to account. He added to his burdens,
borrowed more money, and sent her here. He thought
she was coming to the country where she would be safe
and well cared for until he could support her. I did the
remainder. Now I must undo it, that's all! But
you have got to go in there and practise with him.
You've got to show him every courtesy of the profession.
You must go a little over the rules, and teach him all
you can. You will have to stifle your feelings, and be
as much of a man as it is in you to be, at your level

``I'm no good at stifling my feelings!''

``Then you'll have to learn,'' said the Harvester.
``If you'd lived through my years of repression in the
woods you'd do the fellow credit. As I see it, his side
of this is nearly as fine as you make it. I tell you she was
utterly stricken, alone, and beautiful. She sought his
assistance. When the end came he thought only of her.
Won't you give a young fellow in a place like Chicago
some credit for that? Can't you get through you what
it means?''

Doctor Carey stood frowning in deep thought, but the
lines of his face gradually changed.

``I suppose I've got to stomach him,'' he said.

The nurse came down the gravel path.

``Mr. Langston, Doctor Harmon asked me to call
you,'' she said.

The Harvester arose and went to the sunshine room.

``What does he want, Molly?'' asked the doctor.

``Wants to turn over his job,'' chuckled the nurse. ``He
held it about seven minutes in peace, and then she began
to fret and call for the Harvester. He just sweat blood
to pacify her, but he couldn't make it. He tried to
hold her, to make love to her, and goodness knows what,
but she struggled and cried, `David,' until he had to give
it up and send me.''

``Molly,'' said Doctor Carey, ``we've known the
Harvester a long time, and he is our friend, isn't he?''

``Of course!'' said the nurse.

``We know this is the first woman he ever loved,
probably ever will, as he is made. Now we don't like
this stranger butting in here; we resent it, Molly. We
are on the side of our friend, and we want him to win.
I'll grant that this fellow is fine, and that he has done
well, but what's the use in tearing up arrangements
already made? And so suitable! Now Molly, you are
my best nurse, and a good reliable aid in times like this.
I gave you instructions an hour ago. I'll add this to
them. YOU ARE ON THE HARVESTER'S SIDE. Do you understand?
In this, and the days to come, you'll have a
thousand chances to put in a lick with a sick woman.
Put them in as I tell you.''

``Yes, Doctor Carey.''

``And Molly! You are something besides my best
nurse. You're a smashing pretty girl, and your occupation
should make you especially attractive to a young
doctor. I'm sure this fellow is all right, so while you are
doing your best with your patient for the Harvester, why
not have a try for yourself with the doctor? It couldn't
do any harm, and it might straighten out matters. Anyway,
you think it over.''

The nurse studied his face silently for a time, and then
she began to laugh softly.

``He is up there doing his best with her,'' she said.

The doctor threw out his hands in a gesture of disdain,
and the nurse laughed again; but her cheeks were pink
and her eyes flashing as she returned to duty.

``Random shot, but it might hit something, you
never can tell,'' commented the doctor.

The Harvester entered the Girl's room and stood still.
She was fretting and raising her temperature rapidly.
Before he reached the door his heart gave one great leap
at the sound of her voice calling his name. He knew what
to do, but he hesitated.

``She seems to have become accustomed to you, and at
times does not remember me,'' said Doctor Harmon. ``I
think you had better take her again until she grows quiet.''

The Harvester stepped to the bed and looked the
doctor in the eye.

``I am afraid I left out one important feature in our
little talk on the bridge,'' he said. ``I neglected to tell
you that in your fight for this woman's life and love you
have a rival. I am he. She is my wife, and with the
last fibre of my being I adore her. If you win, and she
wants you to take her away, I will help you; but my heart
goes with her forever. If by any chance it should occur
that I have been mistaken or misinterpreted her delirium
or that she has been deceived and finds she prefers me and
Medicine Woods, to you and Chicago, when she has had
opportunity to measure us man against man, you must
understand that I claim her. So I say to you frankly,
take her if you can, but don't imagine that I am passive.
I'll help you if I know she wants you, but I fight you
every inch of the way. Only it has got to be square and
open. Do you understand?''

``You are certainly sufficiently clear.''

``No man who is half a man sees the last chance of
happiness go out of his life without putting up the stiffest
battle he knows,'' said the Harvester grimly. ``Ruth-
girl, you are raising the fever again. You must be quiet.''

With infinite tenderness he possessed himself of her
hands and began stroking her hair, and in a low and soothing
voice the story of the birds, flowers, lake, and woods
went on. To keep it from growing monotonous the
Harvester branched out and put in everything he knew.
In the days that followed he held a position none could
take from him. While the doctors fought the fever,
he worked for rest and quiet, and soothed the tortured
body as best he could, that the medicines might act.

But the fever was stubborn, and the remedies were
slow; and long before the dreaded coming day the doctors
and nurse were quietly saying to each other that when
the crisis came the heart would fail. There was no
vitality to sustain life. But they did not dare tell the
Harvester. Day and night he sat beside the maple
bed or stretched sleeping a few minutes on the couch
while the Girl slept; and with faith never faltering and
courage unequalled, he warned them to have their remedies
and appliances ready.

``I don't say it's going to be easy,'' he said. ``I just
merely state that it must be done. And I'll also mention
that, when the hour comes, the man who discovers that
he could do something if he had digitalis, or a remedy he
should have had ready and has forgotten, that man had
better keep out of my sight. Make your preparations
now. Talk the case over. Fill your hypodermics. Clean
your air pumps. Get your hot-water bottles ready.
Have system. Label your stuff large and set it conveniently.
You see what is coming, be prepared!''

One day, while the Girl lay in a half-drugged, feverish
sleep, the Harvester went for a swim. He dressed a little
sooner than was expected and in crossing the living-room
he heard Doctor Harmon say to Doctor Carey on the
veranda, ``What are we going to do with him when the
end comes?''

The Harvester stepped to the door. ``That won't
be the question,'' he said grimly. ``It will be what will
HE do with us?''

Then, with an almost imperceptible movement, he
caught Doctor Harmon at the waist line, and lifted and
dangled him as a baby, and then stood him on the floor.
``Didn't hardly expect that much muscle, did you?''
he inquired lightly. ``And I'm not in what you could call
condition, either. Instead of wasting any time on fool
questions like that, you two go over your stuff and ask
each other, have we got every last appliance known to
physics and surgery? Have we got duplicates on hand
in case we break delicate instruments like hypodermic
syringes and that sort of thing? Engage yourselves with
questions pertaining to life; that is your business.
Instead of planning what you'll do in failure, bolster your
souls against it. Granny Moreland beats you two put
together in grip and courage.''

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