Part 8 out of 10
The Harvester returned to his task, and the fight went
on. At last the hour came when the temperature fell
lower and lower. The feeble pulses flickered and grew
indiscernible; a gray pallor hovered over the Girl, and a
cold sweat stood on her temples.
``Now!'' said the Harvester. ``Exercise your calling!
Fight like men or devils, but win you must.''
They did work. They administered stimulants; applied
heat to the chilled body; fans swept the room with
vitalized air; hypodermics were used; and every last resort
known to science was given a full test, and the weak
heart throbbed slower and slower, and life ran out with
each breath. The Harvester stood waiting with set
jaws. He could detect no change for the better. At
last he picked up a chilled hand and could discover no
pulse, and the gray nails and the dark tips told a story
of arrested circulation. He laid down the hand and
faced the men.
``This is what you'd call the crisis, Doc?'' he asked
``Are you stemming it? Are you stemming it? Are
you sure she is holding her own?''
Doctor Carey looked at him silently.
``Have you done all you can do?'' asked the Harvester.
``You believe her going out?''
The Harvester turned to Doctor Harmon. ``Do you
concur in that?''
Then to the nurse, ``And you?''
``Then,'' said the Harvester, ``all of you are useless.
Get out of here. I don't want your atmosphere. If you
can believe only in death, leave us! She is my wife, and
if this is the end she belongs to me, and I will do as I
choose with her. All of you go!''
The Harvester stepped to the bathroom door and
called Granny Moreland. ``Granny,'' he said, ``science
has turned tail, and left me in extremity. Fill your hot-
water bottles and come in here with your heart big with
hope and help me save my Dream Girl. She is breathing
Granny; we've got to make her keep it up, that's
all----just keep her breathing.''
He returned to the sunshine room, placed a small
table beside the bed, and on it a glass of water, spoon, and
a hypodermic syringe. When Granny Moreland came
he said: ``Now you begin on her feet and rub with long,
sweeping, upward strokes to drive the blood to her heart.''
Around the Girl he piled hot-water bottles and
breathlessly hung over her, rubbing her hands. He wiped
the perspiration from her forehead, and then dropped
by her bed and for a second laid his face on her cold
``If I am wrong, Heaven forgive me,'' he prayed.
``And you, oh, my darling Dream Girl, forgive me, but
I am forced to try----God helping me! Amen.''
He arose, took a small bottle from his pocket, filled
the spoon with water, and measured into it three drops
of liquid as yellow as gold. Then he held the spoon to
the blue lips, and with his fingers worked apart the set
teeth, and poured the medicine down her throat. Then
they rubbed and muttered snatches of prayer for fifteen
minutes when the Harvester administered another three
drops. It might have been fancy, but it seemed to him
her jaws were not so stiff. Faster flew his hands and he
sent Granny Moreland to refill the hot bottles. When
he gave the Girl the third dose he injected some of
the liquid over her heart and of the glycerine the doctors
had left, in the extremities. He released more air and
began rubbing again.
The second hour started in the same way, and ended
with slowly relaxing muscles and faint tinges of colour
in the white cheeks. The feet were not so cold, and when
the Harvester held the spoon he knew that the Girl
made an effort to swallow, and he could see her eyelids
tremble. Thereupon he pointed these signs to Granny,
and implored her to rub and pray, and pray and rub,
while he worked until the perspiration rolled down his
gray face. At the end of the second hour he began
decreasing the doses and shortening the time, and again he
commenced in a low rumble his song of life and health,
to encourage the Girl as consciousness returned.
Occasionally Doctor Carey opened the door slightly
and peeped in to see if he were wanted, but he received
no invitation to enter. The last time he left with the
impression that the Harvester was raving, while he
worked over a lifeless body. He had the Girl warmly
covered and bent over her face and hands. At her feet
crouched Granny Moreland, rubbing, still rubbing, beneath
the covers, while in a steady stream the Harvester
was pouring out his song. If he had listened
an instant longer he would have recognized that the tone
and the words had changed. Now it was, ``Gently,
breathe gently, Girl! Slowly, steadily, easily! Deeper,
a little deeper, Ruth! Brave Girl, never another so
wonderful! That's my Dream Girl coming from the
shadows, coming to life's sunshine, coming to hope,
coming to love! Deeper, just a little deeper! Smoothly and
evenly! You are making it, Girl! You are making it!
By all that is holy and glorious! Stick to it, Ruth, hold
tight to me! I'll help you, dear! You are coming,
coming back to life and love. Don't worry yourself
trying too hard, if only you can send every breath as
deeply as the last one, you can make it. You brave girl!
You wonderful Dream Girl! Ah, Ruth, the name of this
An hour before Doctor Carey had said to Doctor
Harmon and the nurse, as he softly closed the door: ``It
is over and the Harvester is raving. We'll give him a
little more time and see if he won't realize it himself.
That will be easier for him than for us to try to tell
Now he opened the door, stared a second, and coming
to the opposite side of the bed, he leaned over the Girl.
Then he felt her feet. They were warm and slightly
damp. A surprised look crept over his face. He gently
reached for a hand that the Harvester yielded to him.
It was warm, the blue tips becoming rosy, the wrist
pulse discernible. Then he bent closer, touched her face,
and saw the tremulous eyelids. He turned back the
cover, and held his ear over her heart. When he straightened,
``As God lives, she's got a chance, David!'' he
exulted in an awed whisper.
The Harvester lifted a graven face, down which the
sweat of agony rolled, and his lips parted in a twitching
smile. ``Then this is where love beats the doctors,
Carey!'' he said.
``It is where love has ventured what science dares not.
Love didn't do all of this. In the name of the Almighty,
what did you give her, David?''
``Life!'' cried the Harvester. ``Life! Come on, Ruth,
come on! Out of the valley come to me! You
are well now, Girl! It's all over! The last trace
of fever is gone, the last of the dull ache. Can
you swallow just two more drops of bottled sunshine, Ruth?''
The flickering lids slowly opened, and the big black
eyes looked straight into the Harvester's. He met them
steadily, smiling encouragement.
``Hang on to each breath, dear heart!'' he urged.
``The fever is gone. The pain is over! Long life and
the love you crave are for you. You've only to keep
breathing a few more hours and the battle is yours.
Glorious Girl! Noble! You are doing finely! Ruth,
do you know me?''
Her lips moved.
``Don't try to speak,'' said the Harvester. ``Don't
waste breath on a word. Save the good oxygen to
strengthen your tired body. But if you do know me,
maybe you could smile, Ruth!''
She could just smile, and that was all. Feeble,
flickering, transient, but as it crossed the living face the
Harvester lifted her hands and kissed them over and
over, back, palm, and finger tips.
``Now just one more drop, honey, and then a long rest.
Will you try it again for me?''
She assented, and the Harvester took the bottle from
his pocket, poured the drop, and held the spoon to willing
lips. The big eyes were on him with a question.
Then they fell to the spoon. The Harvester understood.
``Yes, it's mine! It's got sixty years of wonderful
life in it, every one of them full of love and happiness
for my dear Dream Girl. Can you take it, Ruth?''
Her lips parted, the wine of life passed between. She
smiled faintly, and her eyelids dropped shut, but presently
they opened again.
``My Dream Girl!''
``Don't, Ruth! Save every breath to help your heart.''
``Life it is, Girl!'' exulted the Harvester. ``Long
life! Love! Home! The man you love! Every happiness
that ever came to a girl! Nothing shall be denied
you! Nothing shall be lacking! It's all in your hands
now, Ruth. We've all done everything we can; you must
do the remainder. It's your work to send every breath
as deeply as you can. Doc, release another tank of air.
Are her feet warm, Granny? Let the nurse take your
place now. And, honey, go to sleep! I'll keep watch
for you. I'll measure each breath you draw. If they
shorten or weaken, I'll wake you for more medicine. You
can trust me! Always you can trust me, Ruth.''
The Girl smiled and fell into a light, even slumber.
Granny Moreland stumbled to the couch and rolled on
it sobbing with nervous exhaustion. Doctor Carey
called the nurse to take her place. Then he came to the
Harvester's side and whispered, ``Let me, David!''
The Harvester looked up with his queer grin, but he
made no motion to arise.
``Won't you trust me, David? I'll watch as if it
were my own wife.''
``I wouldn't trust any man on earth, for the coming
three hours,'' replied the Harvester. ``If I keep this
up that long, she is safe. Go and rest until I call you.''
He again bent over the Girl, one hand on her left
wrist, the other over her heart, his eyes on her lips,
watching the depth and strength of her every breath.
Regularly he administered the medicine he was giving
her. Sometimes she took it half asleep; again she gave
him a smile that to the Harvester was the supreme thing
of earth or Heaven. Toward the end of the long vigil,
in exhaustion he slipped to the floor, and laid his head on
the side of the bed, and for a second his hand relaxed and
he fell asleep. The Girl awakened as his touch loosened
and looking down she saw his huddled body. A second
later the Harvester awoke with a guilty start to find her
fingers twisted in the shock of hair on the top of his head.
``Poor stranded Girl,'' he muttered. ``She's clinging
to me for life, and you can stake all you are worth she's
going to get it!''
Then he gently relaxed her grip, gave her the last dose
he felt necessary, yielded his place to Doctor Carey and
staggered up the hill. As the sun peeped over Medicine
Woods he stretched himself between the two mounds
under the oak, and for a few minutes his body was rent
with the awful, torn sobbing of a strong man. Belshazzar
nosed the twisting figure and whined pitifully. A
chattering little marsh wren tilted on a bush and scolded.
A blue jay perched above and tried to decide whether
there was cause for an alarm signal. A snake coming from
the water to hunt birds ran close to him, and changing
its course, went weaving away among the mosses.
Gradually the pent forces spent themselves, and for hours
the Harvester lay in the deep sleep of exhaustion, and
stretched beside him, Belshazzar guarded with anxious
THE BETTER MAN
In the middle of the afternoon the Harvester
arose and went into the lake, ate a hearty
dinner, and then took up his watch again. For
two days and nights he kept his place, until he had the
Girl out of danger, and where careful nursing was all that
was required to insure life and health. As he sat beside
her the last day, his physical endurance strained to the
breaking point, she laid her hand over his, and looked
long and steadily into his eyes.
``There are so many things I want to know,'' she said.
The Harvester's firm fingers closed over hers. ``Ruth,
have you ever been sorry that you trusted me?''
``Never!'' said the Girl instantly.
``Then suppose you keep it up,'' said he. ``Whatever
it is that you want to know, don't use an iota of
strength to talk or to think about it now. Just say to
yourself, he loves me well enough to do what is right, and
I know that he will. All you have to do is to be patient
until you grow stronger than you ever have been in your
life, and then you shall have exactly what you want,
Ruth. Sleep like a baby for a week or two. Then,
slowly and gradually, we will build up such a constitution
for you that you shall ride, drive, row, swim, dance,
play, and have all that your girlhood has missed in fun
and frolic, and all that your womanhood craves in love
and companionship. Happiness has come at last, Ruth.
Take it from me. Everything you crave is yours. The
love you want, the home, and the life. As soon
as you are strong enough, you shall know all about
it. Your business is to drink stimulants and sleep
``So tired of this bed!''
``It won't be long until you can lie on the couch and
the veranda swing again.''
``Glory!'' said the Girl. ``David, I must have been
full of fever for a long time. I can't remember everything.''
``Don't try, I tell you. Life is coming out right for
you; that's all you need know now.''
``And for you, David?''
``Whenever things are right for you, they are for me,
``Don't you ever think of yourself?''
``Not when I am close you.''
``Ah! Then I shall have to grow strong very soon and
think of you.''
The Harvester's smile was pathetic. He was
unspeakably tired again.
``Never mind me!'' he said. ``Only get well.''
``David, was there a little horse?''
``There certainly was and is,'' said the Harvester.
``You had not named him yet, but in a few days I can
lead him to the window.''
``Was there something said about a boat?''
``Two of them.''
``Yes. A row boat for you, and a launch that will
take you all over the lake with only the exertion of steering
on your part.''
``David, I want my pendant and ring. I am so tired
of lying here, I want to play with them.''
``Where do you keep them, Ruth?''
``In the willow teapot. I thought no one would look
The Harvester laughed and brought the little boxes.
He had to open them, but the Girl put on the ring and
asked him if he would not help her with the pendant. He
slipped the thread around her neck and clasped it. With
a sigh of satisfaction she took the ornament in one hand
and closed her eyes. He thought she was falling asleep,
but presently she looked at him.
``You won't allow them to take it from me?''
``Indeed no! There is no reason on earth why you
should not have that thread around your neck if you want
``I am going to sleep now. I want two things. May
I have them?''
``You may,'' said the Harvester promptly, ``provided
they are not to eat.''
``No,'' said the Girl. ``I've suffered and made others
trouble. I won't bother you by asking for anything more
than is brought me. This is different. You are completely
worn out. Your face frightens me, David, and
white hairs that were not there a few days ago have come
along your temples. I can see them.''
``You gave me a mighty serious scare, Ruth.''
``I know,'' said the Girl. ``Forgive me. I didn't
mean to. I want you to leave me to Doctor Harmon
and the nurse and go sleep a week. Then I will be ready
for the swing, and to hear some more about the trees and
``I can keep it up if you really need me, but if you don't
I am sleepy. So, if you feel safe, I think I will go.''
``Oh I am safe enough,'' said the Girl. ``It isn't that.
I'm so lonely. I've made up my mind not to grieve for
mother, but I miss her so now. I feel so friendless.''
``But, honey,'' said the Harvester, ``you mustn't do
that! Don't you see how all of us love you? Here is
Granny shutting up her house and living here, just to
be with you. The nurse will do anything you say. Here
is the man you know best, and think so much of, staying
in the cabin, and so happy to give you all his time, and
anything else you will have, dear. And the Careys
come every day, and will do their best to comfort you,
and always I am here for you to fall back on.''
``Yes, I'm falling right now,'' said the Girl. ``I
almost wish I had the fever again. No one has touched
me for days. I feel as if every one was afraid of me.''
The Harvester was puzzled.
``Well, Ruth, I'm doing the best I know,'' he said.
``What is it you want?''
``Nothing!'' answered the Girl with slightly dejected
inflection. ``Say good-bye to me, and go sleep your week.
I'll be very good, and then you shall take me a drive up
the hill when you awaken. Won't that be fine?''
``Say good-bye to me!'' She felt a ``little lonely!''
They all acted as if they were ``afraid'' of her. The
Harvester indulged in a flashing mental review and
arrived at a decision. He knelt beside the bed, took both
slender, cool hands and covered them with kisses. Then
he slid a hand under the pillow and raised the tired head.
``If I am to say good-bye, I have to do it in my own
way, Ruth,'' he said.
Thereupon he began at the tumbled mass of hair and
kissed from her forehead to her lips, kisses warm and
``Now you go to sleep, and grow strong enough by the
time I come back to tell me whom you love,'' he said,
and went from the room without waiting for any reply.
With short intervals for food and dips in the lake the
Harvester very nearly slept the week. When he finally
felt himself again, he bathed, shaved, dressed freshly,
and went to see the Girl. He had to touch her to be
sure she was real. She was extremely weak and tremulous,
but her face and hands were fuller, her colour
was good, she was ravenously hungry. Doctor Harmon
said she was a little tryant, and the nurse that she was
plain cross. The first thing the Harvester noticed was
that the dull blue look in the depth of the dark eyes was
gone. They were clear, dusky wells, with shining
lights at the bottom.
``Well I never would have believed it!'' he cried.
``Doctor Harmon, you are a great physician! You have
made her all over new, and in a few more days she will
be on the veranda. This is great!''
``Do I appear so much better to you, Harvester?''
asked the Girl.
``Has no one thought to show you,'' cried the
Harvester. ``Here, let me!'
He stepped to her dressing table, picked up a mirror,
and held it before her so that she could see herself.
``Seems to me I am dreadfully white and thin yet!''
``If you had seen what I saw ten days ago, my Girl,
you would think you appear like a pink, rosy angel now,
or a wonderful dream.''
``Truly, do I in the least resemble a dream, David?''
``You are a dream. The loveliest one a man ever had.
With three months of right care and exercise you'll
be the beautiful woman nature intended. I'm so proud
of you. You are being so brave! Just lie there in
patience a few more days, and out you come again to life;
and life that will thrill your being with joy.''
``All right,'' said the Girl, ``I will. David are you
attending to your herbs?''
``Not for a few weeks.''
``You are very much behind?''
``No. Nothing important. I don't make enough
to count on what is ready now. I can soon gather
jimson leaves and seed to fill orders, the hemlock is
about right to take the fruit, the mustard is yet in pod,
and the saffron and wormseed can be attended later.
I can catch up in two days.''
``What about----about the big bed on the hill?''
The Harvester experienced an inward thrill of delight.
She was so impressed with the value of the ginseng she
would not mention it, even before the man she loved----
no more than that----``adored''----``worshipped!''
He smiled at her in understanding.
``I'll have to take a peep at that and report,'' he said.
``Are you rested now?''
``You are dreadfully thin.''
``I always am. I'll pick up a little when I get back to
``David, I want you to go to work now.''
``Can you spare me?''
``Haven't we done well these last few days?''
``I can't tell you how well.''
``Then please go gather everything you need to fill
orders except the big bed, and by that time maybe you
could take another week off, and I could go to the hill
top and on the lake. I'm so anxious to put my feet on
the earth. They feel so dead.''
``Are your feet well rubbed to draw down the circulation?''
``They are rubbed shiny and almost skinned, David.
No one ever had better care, of that I am sure. Go
gather what you should have.''
``All right,'' said the Harvester.
He arose and as he started to leave the room he took
one last look at the Girl to see if he could detect anything
he could suggest for her comfort, and read a message
in her eyes. Instantly there was an answering flash
``I'll be back in a minute,'' he said. ``I just noticed
discorea villosa has the finest rattle boxes formed. I've
been waiting to show you. And the hop tree has its
castanets all green and gold. In a few more weeks it
will begin to play for you. I'll bring you some.''
Soon he returned with the queer seed formations, and
as he bent above her, with his back to Doctor Harmon, he
whispered, ``What is it?''
Her lips barely formed the one word, ``Hurry!''
The Harvester straightened.
``All comfortable, Ruth?'' he asked casually.
``You understand, of course, that there is not the
slightest necessity for my going to work if you really
want me for anything, even if it's nothing more than to
have me within calling distance, in case you SHOULD
want something. The whole lot I can gather now won't
amount to twenty dollars. It's merely a matter of
pride with me to have what is called for. I'd much rather
remain, if you can use me in any way at all.''
``Twenty dollars is considerable, when expenses are
as heavy as now. And it's worth more than any money
to you not to fail when orders come. I have learned that,
and David, I don't want you to either. You must fill
all demands as usual. I wouldn't forgive myself this
winter if you should be forced to send orders only partly
filled because I fell ill and hindered you. Please go and
gather all you possibly will need of everything you take
at this season, only remember!''
``There is no danger of my forgetting. If you are
going to send me away to work, you will allow me to kiss
your hand before I go, fair lady?''
He did it fervently.
``One word with you, Harmon,'' he said as he left the
Doctor Harmon arose and followed him to the gold
garden, and together they stood beside the molten hedge
of sunflowers, coneflowers, elecampane, and jewel flower.
``I merely want to mention that this is your inning,''
said the Harvester. ``Find out if you are essential to the
Girl's happiness as soon as you can, and the day she tells
me so, I will file her petition and take a trip to the city
to study some little chemical quirks that bother me.
The Harvester went to the dry-house for bags and
clipping shears, and the doctor returned to the sunshine room.
``Ruth,'' he said, ``do you know that the Harvester
is the squarest man I ever met?''
``Is he?'' asked the Girl.
``He is! He certainly is!''
``You must remember that I have little acquaintance
with men,'' said she. ``You are the first one I ever knew,
and the only one except him.''
``Well I try to be square,'' said Doctor Harmon,
``but that is where Langston has me beaten a mile. I
have to try. He doesn't. He was born that way.''
The Girl began to laugh.
``His environment is so different,'' she said. ``Perhaps
if he were in a big city, he would have to try
``Won't do!'' said the doctor. ``He chose his location.
So did I. He is a stronger physical man than I ever was
or ever will be. The struggle that bound him to the
woods and to research, that made him the master of
forces that give back life, when a man like Carey says
it is the end, proves him a master. The tumult in his
soul must have been like a cyclone in his forest, when he
turned his back on the world and stuck to the woods.
Carey told me about it. Some day you must hear. It's
a story a woman ought to know in order to arrive at
proper values. You never will understand the man until
you know that he is clean where most of us are blackened
with ugly sins we have no right on God's footstool
to commit and not so much reason as he. Every man
should be as he is, but very few are. Carey says Langston's
mother was a wonderful element in the formation
of his character; but all mothers are anxious, and none
of them can build with no foundation and no soul timber.
She had material for a man to her hand, or she couldn't
have made one.''
``I see what you mean.''
``So far as any inexperienced girl ever sees,'' said the
doctor. ``Some day if you live to fifty you will know,
but you can't comprehend it now.''
``If you think I lived all my life in Chicago's poverty
spots and don't know unbridled human nature!''
``I found you and your mother unusually innocent
women. You may understand some things. I hope
you do. It will help you to decide who is the real man
among the men who come into your life. There are
some men, Ruth, who are fit to mate with a woman,
and to perpetuate themselves and their mental and
moral forces in children, who will be like them, and there
are others who are not. It is these `others' who are
responsible for the sin of the world, the sickness and
suffering. Any time you are sure you have a chance at a
moral man, square and honest, in control of his brain and
body, if you are a wise woman, Ruth, stick to him as the
limpet to the rock.''
``You mean stick to the Harvester?''
``If you are a wise woman!''
``When was a woman ever wise?''
``A few have been. They are the only care-free,
really happy ones of the world, the only wives without
a big, poison, blue-bottle fly in their ointment.''
``I detest flies!'' said the Girl.
``So do I,'' said the doctor. ``For this reason I say
to you choose the ointment that never had one in it.
Take the man who is `master of his fate, captain of his
soul.' Stick to the Harvester! He is infinitely the
``Well have you seen anything to indicate that I
wasn't sticking?'' asked the Girl.
``No. And for your sake I hope I never will.''
She laughed softly.
``You do love him, Ruth?''
``As I did my mother, yes. There is not a trace in
my heart of the thing he calls love.''
``You have been stunted, warped, and the fountains
of life never have opened. It will come with right
conditions of living.''
``Do you think so?''
``I know so. At least there is no one else you love,
``No one except you.''
``And do you feel about me just as you do him?''
``No! It is different. What I owe him is for myself.
What I owe you is for my mother. You saw! You
know! You understand what you did for her, and what
it meant to me. The Harvester must be the finest man
on earth, but when I try to think of either God or Heaven,
your face intervenes.''
``That's all right, Ruth, I'm so glad you told me,''
said Doctor Harmon. ``I can make it all perfectly clear
to you. You just go on and worship me all you please.
It's bound to make a cleaner, better man of me.
What you feel for me will hold me to a higher moral
level all my life than I ever have known before; but never
forget that you are not going to live in Heaven. You
will be here at least sixty years yet, so when you come
to think of selecting a partner for the relations of the
world, you stick to the finest man on earth; see?''
``I do!'' said the Girl. ``I saw you kiss Molly a
week ago. She is lovely, and I hope you will be
perfectly happy. It won't interfere with my worshipping
you; not the least in the world. Go ahead and be
The doctor sprang to his feet in crimson confusion.
The Girl lay and laughed at him.
``Don't!'' she cried. ``It's all right! It takes a weight
off my soul as heavy as a mountain. I do adore you, as
I said. But every hour since I left Chicago a big, black
cloud has hung over me. I didn't feel free. I didn't
feel absolved. I felt that my obligations to you were so
heavy that when I had settled the last of the money debt
I was in honour bound----''
``Don't, Ruth! Forget those dreadful times, as I told
you then! Think only of a happy future!''
``Let me finish,'' said the Girl. ``Let me get this out
of my system with the other poison. From the day I
came here, I've whispered in my heart, `I am not free!'
But if you love another woman! If you are going to take
her to your heart and to your lips, why that is my
release. Oh Man, speak the words! Tell me I am free
``Ruth, be quiet, for mercy sake! You'll raise a
temperature, and the Harvester will pitch me into the lake.
You are free, child, of course! You always have been.
I understood the awful pressure that was on you with
the very first glimpse I had of your mother. Who was
``She never would tell me.''
``She thought you would appeal to her people?''
``She knew I would! I couldn't have helped it.''
``Would you like to know?''
``I never want to. It is too late. I infinitely prefer
to remain in ignorance. Talk of something else.''
``Let me read a wonderful book I found on the
``Anything there will contain wonders, because he only
buys what appeals to him, and it takes a great book to
do that. I am going to learn. He will teach me, and
when I come within comprehending distance of him, then
we are going on together.''
``What an attractive place this is!''
``Isn't it? I only have seen enough to understand the
plan. I scarcely can wait to set my feet on earth and go
into detail. Granny Moreland says that when spring
comes over the hill, and brings up the flowers in the big
woods, she'd rather walk through them than to read
Revelation. She says it gives her an idea of Heaven
she can come closer realizing and it seems more stable.
You know she worries about the foundations. She can't
understand what supports Heaven. But up there in
Medicine Woods the old dear gets so close her God
that some day she is going to realize that her idea
of Heaven there is quite as near right as marble
streets and gold pillars and vastly more probable. The
day I reach that hill top again, Heaven begins for me.
Do you know the wonderful thing the Harvester did up
``Under the oak?''
``Carey told me. It was marvellous.''
``Not such a marvel as another the doctor couldn't have
known. The Harvester made passing out so natural,
so easy, so a part of elemental forces, that I almost have
forgotten her tortured body. When I think of her now,
it is to wonder if next summer I can distinguish her
whisper among the leaves. Before you go, I'll take you
up there and tell you what he says, and show you what
he means, and you will feel it also.''
``What if I shouldn't go?''
``What do you mean?''
``Doctor Carey has offered me a splendid position in
his hospital. There would be work all day, instead of
waiting all day in the hope of working an hour. There
would be a living in it for two from the word go. There
would be better air, longer life, more to be got out of it,
and if I can make good, Carey's work to take up as he
``Take it! Take it quickly!'' cried the Girl. ``Don't
wait a minute! You might wear out your heart in
Chicago for twenty years or forever, and not have an
opportunity to do one half so much good. Take it at
``I was waiting to learn what you and Langston would
``He will say take it.''
``Then I will be too happy for words. Ruth, you have
not only paid the debt, but you have brought me the
greatest joy a man ever had. And there is no need to
wait the ages I thought I must. He can tell in a year if
I can do the work, and I know I can now; so it's all
settled, if Langston agrees.''
``He will,'' said the Girl. ``Let me tell him!''
``I wish you would,'' said the doctor. ``I don't know
just how to go at it.''
Then for two days the Harvester and Belshazzar
gathered herbs and spread them on the drying trays.
On the afternoon of the third, close three, the doctor
came to the door.
``Langston,'' he said, ``we have a call for you. We
can't keep Ruth quiet much longer. She is tired. We
want to change her bed completely. She won't allow
either of us to lift her. She says we hurt her. Will
you come and try it?''
``You'll have to give me time to dip and rub off and
get into clean clothing,'' he said. ``I've been keeping
away, because I was working on time, and I smell to
strangulation of stramonium and saffron.''
``Can't give you ten seconds,'' said the doctor. ``Our
temper is getting brittle. We are cross as the proverbial
fever patient. If you don't come at once we will imagine
you don't want to, and refuse to be moved at all.''
``Coming!'' cried the Harvester, as he plunged his
hands in the wash bowl and soused his face. A second
later he appeared on the porch.
``Ruth,'' he said, ``I am steeped in the odours of
the dry-house. Can't you wait until I bathe and
``No, I can't,'' said a fretful voice. ``I can't endure
this bed another minute.''
``Then let Doctor Harmon lift you. He is so fresh and
The Harvester glanced enviously at the shaven face
and white trousers and shirt of the doctor.
``I just hate fresh, clean men. I want to smell herbs.
I want to put my feet in the dirt and my hands in the
The Harvester came at a rush. He brought a big easy
chair from the living-room, straightened the cover, and
bent above the Girl. He picked her up lightly, gently,
and easing her to his body settled in the chair. She laid her
face on his shoulder, and heaved a deep sigh of content.
``Be careful with my back, Man,'' she said. ``I think
my spine is almost worn through.''
``Poor girl,'' said the Harvester. ``That bed should
``It should not!''contradicted the Girl. ``It should be
much harder. I'm tired of soft beds. I want to lie
on the earth, with my head on a root; and I wish it would
rain dirt on me. I am bathed threadbare. I want to
be all streaky.''
``I understand,'' said the Harvester. ``Harmon, bring
me a pad and pencil a minute, I must write an order
for some things I want. Will you call up town and
have them sent out immediately?''
On the pad he wrote: ``Telephone Carey to get the
highest grade curled-hair mattress, a new pad, and pillow,
and bring them flying in the car. Call Granny
and the girl and empty the room. Clean, air, and fumigate
it thoroughly. Arrange the furniture differently,
and help me into the living-room with Ruth.'' He
handed the pad to the doctor.
``Please attend to that,'' he said, and to the Girl:
``Now we go on a journey. Doc, you and Molly take
the corners of the rug we are on and slide us into the other
room until you get this aired and freshened.''
In the living-room the Girl took one long look at the
surroundings and suddenly relaxed. She cuddled against
the Harvester and lifting a tremulous white hand, drew
it across his unshaven cheek.
``Feels so good,'' she said. ``I'm sick and tired of
The Harvester laughed, tucked her feet in the cover and
held her tenderly. The Girl lay with her cheek against
the rough khaki, palpitant with the excitement of being
``Isn't it great?'' she panted.
He caught the hand that had touched his cheek in a
tender grip, and laughed a deep rumble of exultation
that came from the depths of his heart.
``There's no name for it, honey,'' he said. ``But
don't try to talk until you have a long rest. Changing
positions after you have lain so long may be making
unusual work for your heart. Am I hurting your back?''
``No,'' said the Girl. ``This is the first time I have been
comfortable in ages. Am I tiring you?''
``Yes,'' laughed the Harvester. ``You are almost as
heavy as a large sack of leaves, but not quite equal to a
bridge pillar or a log. Be sure to think of that, and worry
considerably. You are in danger of straining my muscles
to the last degree, my heart included.''
``Where is your heart?'' whispered the Girl.
``Right under your cheek,'' answered the Harvester.
``But for Heaven's sake, don't intimate that you are
taking any interest in it, or it will go to pounding until
your head will bounce. It's one member of my body that
I can't control where you are concerned.''
``I thought you didn't like me any more.''
``Careful!'' warned the Harvester. ``You are yet
too close Heaven to fib like that, Ruth. What have I
done to indicate that I don't love you more than ever?''
``Stayed away nearly every minute for three awful
days, and wouldn't come without being dragged; and
now you're wishing they would hurry and fix that bed,
so you can put me down and go back to your rank old
``Well of all the black prevarications! I went when
you sent me, and came when you called. I'd willingly
give up my hope of what Granny calls `salvation' to
hold you as I am for an hour, and you know it.''
``It's going to be much longer than that,'' said the
Girl nestling to him. ``I asked for you because you
never hurt me, and they always do. I knew you were
so strong that my weight now wouldn't be a load for one
of your hands, and I am not going back to that bed
until I am so tired that I will be glad to lie down.''
For a long time she was so silent the Harvester thought
her going to sleep; and having learned that for him joy
was probably transient, he deliberately got all he could.
He closely held the hand she had not withdrawn, and
often lifted it to his lips. Sometimes he stroked the
heavy braid, gently ran his hands across the tired shoulders,
or eased her into a different position. There was
not a doubt in his mind of one thing. He was having a
royal, good time, and he was thankful for the work he
had set his assistants that kept them out of the room.
They seemed in no hurry, and from scuffling, laughing,
and a steady stream of talk, they were entertained at
least. At last the Girl roused.
``There is something I want to ask you,'' she said.
``I promised Doctor Harmon I would.''
Instantly the heart of the Harvester gave a leap
that jarred the head resting on it.
``You don't like him?'' questioned the Girl.
``I do!'' declared the Harvester. ``I like him immensely.
There is not a fine, manly good-looking feature
about him that I have missed. I don't fail to do
him justice on every point.''
``I'm so glad! Then you will want him to remain.''
``Here?'' asked the Harvester with a light, hot breath.
``In Onabasha! Doctor Carey has offered him the
place of chief assistant at the hospital. There is a good
salary and the chance of taking up the doctor's work as
he grows older. It means plenty to do at once, healthful
atmosphere, congenial society----everything to a young
man. He only had a call once in a while in Chicago,
often among people who received more than they paid,
like me, and he was very lonely. I think it would be
great for him.''
``And for you, Ruth?''
``It doesn't make the least difference to me; but for
his sake, because I think so much of him, I would like
to see him have the place.''
``You still think so much of him, Ruth?''
``More, if possible,'' said the Girl. ``Added to all I
owed him before, he has come here and worked for days
to save me, and it wasn't his fault that it took a bigger
man. Nothing alters the fact that he did all he could,
most graciously and gladly.''
``What do you mean, Ruth?'' stammered the Harvester.
``Oh they have worn themselves out!'' cried the Girl
impatiently. ``First, Granny Moreland told me every
least little detail of how I went out, and you resurrected
me. I knew what she said was true, because she worked
with you. Then Doctor Carey told me, and Mrs. Carey,
and Doctor Harmon, and Molly, and even Granny's
little assistant has left the kitchen to tell me that I
owe my life to you, and all of them might as well have
saved breath. I knew all the time that if ever I came
out of this, and had a chance to be like other women,
it would be your work, and I'm glad it is. I'd hate
to be under obligations to some people I know; but I
feel honoured to be indebted to you.''
``I'm mighty sorry they worried you. I had no idea----''
``They didn't `worry,' me! I am just telling you that
I knew it all the time; that's all!''
``Forget that!'' said the Harvester. ``Come back to
our subject. What was it you wanted, dear?''
``To know if you have any objections to Doctor Harmon
remaining in Onabasha?''
``Certainly not! It will be a fine thing for him.''
``Will it make any difference to you in any way?''
``Ruth, that's probing too deep,'' said the Harvester.
``I don't see why!''
``I'm glad of it!''
``I'd least rather show my littleness to you than to
any one else on earth.''
``Then you have some feeling about it?''
``Perhaps a trifle. I'll get over it. Give me a little
time to adjust myself. Doctor Harmon shall have the
place, of course. Don't worry about that!''
``He will be so happy!''
``And you, Ruth?''
``I'll be happy too!''
``Then it's all right,'' said the Harvester.
He laid down her hand, drew the cover over it, and
slightly shifted her position to rest her. The door
opened, and Doctor Harmon announced that the room
was ready. It was shining and fresh. The bed was
now turned with its head to the north, so that from it one
could see the big trees in Medicine Woods, the sweep
of the hillside, the sparkle of mallow-bordered Singing
Water, the driveway and the gold flower garden. Everything
was so changed that the room had quite a different
appearance. The instant he laid her on it the Girl said,
``This bed is not mine.''
``Yes it is,'' said the Harvester. ``You see, we were
a little excited sometimes, and we spilled a few quarts of
perfectly good medicine on your mattress. It was hopelessly
smelly and ruined; so I am going to cremate it
and this is your splinter new one and a fresh pad and
pillow. Now you try them and see if they are not much
harder and more comfortable.''
``This is just perfect!'' she sighed, as she sank into the bed.
The Harvester bent over her to straighten the cover,
when suddenly she reached both arms around his neck,
and gripped him with all her strength.
``Thank you!'' she said.
``May I hold you to-morrow?'' whispered the Harvester,
emboldened by this.
``Please do,'' said the Girl.
The Harvester, with dog to heel, went to the oak to
``Belshazzar, kommen Sie!'' said the man, dropping
on the seat and holding out his hand. The dog laid his
muzzle in the firm grip.
``Bel,'' said the Harvester, ``I am all at sea. One day
I think maybe I have a little chance, the next----none at
all. I had an hour of solid comfort to-day, now I'm in the
sweat box again. It's a little selfish streak in me, Bel,
that hates to see Harmon go into the hospital and take
my place with the Careys. They are my best and only
friends. He is young, social, handsome, and will be
ever present. In three months he will become so popular
that I might as well be off the earth. I wish I didn't
think it, but I'm so small that I do. And then there is
my Dream Girl, Bel. The girl you found for me, old
fellow. There never was another like her, and she has
my heart for all time. And he has hers. That hospital
plan is the best thing in the world for her. It will keep
her where Carey can have an eye on her, where the air
is better, where she can have company without the city
crush, where she is close the country, and a good living
is assured. Bel, it's the nicest arrangement you ever
saw for every one we know, except us.''
The Harvester laughed shortly. ``Bel,'' he said, ``tell
me! If a man lived a hundred years, could he have the
heartache all the way? Seems like I've had it almost
that long now. In fact, I've had it such ages I'd be
lonesome without it. This is some more of my very
own medicine, so I shouldn't make a wry face over
taking it. I knew what would happen when I sent for
him, and I didn't hesitate. I must not now.
``Only I got to stop one thing, Bel. I told him I
would play square, and I have. But here it ends.
After this, I must step back and be big brother. Lots
of fun in this brother business, Bel. But maybe I am
cut out for it. Anyway it's written! But if it is, how
did she come to allow me such privileges as I took to-
day? That wasn't professional by any means. It
was just the stiffest love-making I knew how to do, Bel,
and she didn't object by the quiver of an eyelash. God
knows I was watching closely enough for any sign that I
was distasteful. And I might have been well enough.
Rough, herb-stained old clothes, unshaven, everything
to offend a dainty girl. She said I might hold her again
to-morrow. And, Bel, what the nation did she hug me
like that for, if she's going to marry him? Boy, I see
my way clear to an hour more. While I'm at it, just to
surprise myself, I believe I'll take it like other men. I
think I'll go on a little bender, and make what probably
will be the last day a plumb good one. Something
worth remembering is better than nothing at all, Bel!
He hasn't told me that he has won. She didn't SAY
she was going to marry him, and she did say he hurt
her, and she wanted me. Bel, how about the grimness
of it, if she should marry him and then discover that
he hurts her, and she wants me. Lord God Almighty,
if you have any mercy at all, never put me up against
that,'' prayed the Harvester, ``for my heart is water
where she is concerned.''
The Harvester arose, and going to the lake, he cut an
arm load of big, pink mallows, covered each mound with
fresh flowers, whistled to the dog, and went to his work.
Many things had accumulated, and he cleaned the barn,
carried herbs from the dry-house to the store-room,
and put everything into shape. Close noon the next
day he went to Onabasha, and was gone three hours.
He came back barbered in the latest style, and carrying
a big bundle. When the hour for arranging the bed
came, he was yet in his room, but he sent word he
would be there in a second.
As he crossed the living-room he pulled a chair to the
veranda and placed a footstool before it. Then he
stepped into the sunshine room. A quizzical expression
crossed the face of Doctor Harmon as he closed the book
he was reading aloud to the Girl and arose. Wholly
unembarrassed the Harvester smiled.
``Have I got this rigging anywhere near right?'' he
``David, what have you done?'' gasped the amazed
``I didn't feel anywhere near up to the `mark of my
high calling' yesterday,'' quoted the Harvester. ``I
don't know how I appear, but I'm clean as shaving,
soap and hot water will make me, and my clothing will
not smell offensively. Now come out of that bed for a
happy hour. Where is that big coverlet? You are going
on the veranda to-day.''
``You look just like every one else,'' complained
``You look perfectly lovely,'' declared the Girl.
``The swale sends you this invitation to come and see
star-shine at the foot of mullein hill,'' said the Harvester,
offering a bouquet. It was a loose bunch of long-
stemmed, delicate flowers, each an inch across, and
having five pearl-white petals lightly striped with pale
green. Five long gold anthers arose, and at their base
gold stamens and a green pistil. The leaves were heart-
shaped and frosty, whitish-green, resembling felt. The
Harvester bent to offer them.
``Have some Grass of Parnassus, my dear,'' he said.
The Girl waved them away. ``Go stand over there by
the door and slowly turn around. I want to see you.''
The Harvester obeyed. He was freshly and carefully
shaven. His hair was closely cropped at the base of
the head, long, heavy, and slightly waving on top. He
wore a white silk shirt, with a rolling collar and tie, white
trousers, belt, hose, and shoes, and his hands were
manicured with care.
``Have I made a mess of it, or do I appear anything
like other men?'' he asked, eagerly.
The Girl lifted her eyes to Doctor Harmon and smiled.
``Do you observe anything messy?'' she inquired.
``You needn't fish for compliments quite so obviously,''
he answered. ``I'll pay them without being asked.
I do not. He is quite correct, and infinitely better
looking than the average. Distinguished is a proper
word for the gentleman in my opinion. But why, in
Heaven's name, have we never had the pleasure of seeing
you thus before?''
``Look here, Doc,'' said the Harvester, ``do you mean
that you enjoy looking at me merely because I am dressed
``I do indeed,'' said the doctor. ``It is good to see
you with the garb of work laid aside, and the stamp of
cleanliness and ease upon you.''
``By gum, that is rubbing it in a little too rough!''
cried the Harvester. ``I bathe oftener than you do. My
clothing is always clean when I start out. Of course,
in my work I come hourly in contact with muck, water,
and herb juices.''
``It's understood that is unavoidable,'' said Doctor
``And if cleanliness is made an issue, I'd rather roll
in any of it than put my finger tips into the daily work
of a surgeon,'' added the Harvester, and the Girl
``That's enough Medicine Man!'' she said. ``You
did not make a `mess' of it, or anything else you ever
attempted. As for appearing like other men, thank
Heaven, you do not. You look just a whole world
bigger and better and finer. Come, carry me out
quickly. I am wild to go. Please put my lovely flowers
in water, Molly, only give me a few to hold.''
The Harvester arranged the pink coverlet, picked up
the Girl, and carried her to the living-room.
``We will rest here a little,'' he said, ``and then, if you
feel equal to it, we will try the veranda. Are you easy
She nestled her face against the soft shirt and smiled
at him. She lifted her hand, laid it on his smooth cheek
and then the crisp hair.
``Oh Man!'' she cried. ``Thank God you didn't give
me up, too! I want life! I want LIFE!''
The Harvester tightened his grip just a trifle. ``Then
I thank God, too,'' he said. ``Can you tell me how you
are, dear? Is there any difference?''
``Yes,'' she answered. ``I grow tired lying so long,
but there isn't the ghost of an ache in my bones. I can
just feel pure, delicious blood running in my veins. My
hands and feet are always warm, and my head cool.''
The Harvester's face drew very close. ``How about
your heart, honey?'' he whispered. ``Anything new there?''
``Yes, I am all over new inside and out. I want to
shout, run, sing, and swim. Oh I'd give anything to
have you carry me down and dip me in the lake right
``Soon, Girl! That will come soon,'' prophesied the
``I scarcely can wait. And you did say a saddle,
didn't you? Won't it be great to come galloping up the
levee, when the leaves are red and the frost is in the air.
Oh am I going fast enough?''
``Much faster than I expected,'' said the Harvester.
``You are surprising all of us, me most of any. Ruth,
you almost make me hope that you regard this as home.
Honey, you are thinking a little of me these days?''
The hand that had fallen from his hair lay on his
shoulder. Now it slid around his neck, and gripped him with
all its strength.
``Heaps and heaps!'' she said. ``All I get a chance to,
for being bothered and fussed over, and everlastingly
read mushy stuff that's intended for some one else.
Please take me to the veranda now; I want to tell you
His head swam, but the Harvester set his feet firmly,
arose, and carried his Dream Girl back to outdoor life.
When he reached the chair, she begged him to go a few
steps farther to the bench on the lake shore.
``I am afraid,'' said the man.
``It's so warm. There can't be any difference in the
air. Just a minute.''
The Harvester pushed open the screen, went to the
bench, and seating himself, drew the cover closely around
``Don't speak a word for a long time,'' he said. ``Just
rest. If I tire you too much and spoil everything, I
will be desperate.''
He clasped her to him, laid his cheek against her hair,
and his lips on her forehead. He held her hand and
kissed it over and over, and again he watched and could
find no resentment. The cool, pungent breeze swept
from the lake, and the voices of wild life chattered at
their feet. Sometimes the water folks splashed, while a
big black and gold butterfly mistook the Girl's dark hair
for a perching place and settled on it, slowly opening
its wonderful wings.
``Lie quietly, Girl,'' whispered the Harvester. ``You
are wearing a living jewel, an ornament above price, on
your hair. Maybe you can see it when it goes. There!''
``Oh I did!'' she cried. ``How I love it here! Before
long may I lie in the dining-room window a while so I
can see the water. I like the hill, but I love the lake
``Now if you just would love me,'' said the
Harvester, ``you would have all Medicine Woods in your
``Don't hurry me so!'' said the Girl. ``You gave me a
year; and it's only a few weeks, and I've not been myself,
and I'm not now. I mustn't make any mistake, and all
I know for sure is that I want you most, and I can rest
best with you, and I miss you every minute you are
gone. I think that should satisfy you.''
``That would be enough for any reasonable man,''
said the Harvester angrily. ``Forgive me, Ruth, I have
been cruel. I forgot how frail and weak you are. It is
having Harmon here that makes me unnatural. It almost
drives me to frenzy to know that he may take you
``Then send him away!''
``SEND HIM AWAY?''
``Yes, send him away! I am tired to death of his
poetry, and seeing him spoon around. Send both of
them away quickly!''
The Harvester gulped, blinked, and surreptitiously felt
for her pulse.
``Oh, I've not developed fever again,'' she said. ``I'm
all right. But it must be a fearful expense to have both
of them here by the week, and I'm so tired of them,
Granny says she can take care of me just as well, and the
girl who helps her can cook. No one but you shall lift
me, if I don't get my nose Out until I can walk alone
Both of them are perfectly useless, and I'd much rather
you'd send them away.''
``There, there! Of course!'' said the Harvester
soothingly. ``I'll do it as soon as I possibly dare. You
don't understand, honey. You are yet delicate beyond
measure, internally. The fever burned so long. Every
morsel you eat is measured and cooked in sterilized vessels,
and I'd be scared of my life to have the girl undertake it.''
``Why she is doing it straight along now! She and
Granny! Molly isn't out of Doctor Harmon's sight long
enough to cook anything. Granny says there is `a lot of
buncombe about what they do, and she is going to tell
them so right to their teeth some of these days, if they
badger her much more,' and I wish she would, and you,
The Harvester gathered the Girl to him in one
crushing bear hug.
``For the love of Heaven, Ruth, you drive me crazy!
Answer me just one question. When you told me that
you `adored and worshipped' Doctor Harmon, did you
mean it, or was that the delirium of fever?''
``I don't know WHAT I told you! If I said I `adored'
him, it was the truth. I did! I do! I always will!
So do I adore the Almighty, but that's no sign I want
him to read poetry to me, and be around all the time
when I am wild for a minute with you. I can worship
Doctor Harmon in Chicago or Onabasha quite as well.
Fire him! If you don't, I will!''
``Good Lord!'' cried the Harvester, helpless until
the Girl had to cling to him to prevent rolling from his
nerveless arms. ``Ruth, Ruth, will you feel my pulse?''
``No, I won't! But you are going to drop me. Take
me straight back to my beautiful new bed, and send them
``A minute! Give me a minute!'' gasped the
Harvester. ``I couldn't lift a baby just now. Ruth, dear, I
thought you LOVED the man.''
``What made you think so?''
``I didn't either! I never said I loved him. I said
I was under obligations to him; but they are as well
repaid as they ever can be. I said I adored him, and I
tell you I do! Give him what we owe him, both of us,
in money, and send them away. If you'd seen as much
of them as I have, you'd be tired of them, too. Please,
``Yes,'' said the Harvester, arising in a sudden tide
of effulgent joy. ``Yes, Girl, just as quickly as I can
with decency. I----I'll send them on the lake, and I'll
take care of you.''
``You won't read poetry to me?''
``I will not.''
``You won't moon at me?''
``Then hurry! But have them take your boat. I am
going to have the first ride in mine.''
``Indeed you are, and soon, too!'' said the Harvester,
marching up the hill as if he were leading hosts to
He laid the Girl on the bed and covered her, and called
Granny Moreland to sit beside her a few minutes. He
went into the gold garden and proposed that the doctor
and the nurse go rowing until supper time, and they
went with alacrity. When they started he returned to
the Girl and, sitting beside her, he told Granny to take
a nap. Then he began to talk softly all about wild music,
and how it was made, and what the different odours
sweeping down the hill were, and when the red leaves
would come, and the nuts rattle down, and the frost
fairies enamel the windows, and soon she was sound asleep.
Granny came back, and the Harvester walked around
the lake shore to be alone a while and think quietly,
for he was almost too dazed and bewildered for full
As he softly followed the foot path he heard voices,
and looking down, he saw the boat lying in the shade and
beneath a big tree on the bank sat the doctor and the
nurse. His arm was around her, and her head was on
his shoulder; and she said very distinctly, ``How long
will it be until we can go without offending him?''
A VERTICAL SPINE
By middle September the last trace of illness
had been removed from the premises, and it
was rapidly disappearing from the face and form
of the Girl. She was showing a beautiful roundness,
there was lovely colour on her cheeks and lips, and in
her dark eyes sparkled a touch of mischief. Rigidly
she followed the rules laid down for diet and exercise,
and as strength flowed through her body, and no trace
of pain tormented her, she began revelling in new and
delightful sensations. She loved to pull her boat as
she willed, drive over the wood road, study the books,
cook the new dishes, rearrange furniture, and go with
the Harvester everywhere.
But that was greatly the management of the man.
He was so afraid that something might happen to undo
all the wonders accomplished in the Girl, and again
whiten her face with pain, that he scarcely allowed her
out of his sight. He remained in the cabin, helping
when she worked, and then drove with her and a big
blanket to the woods, arranged her chair and table,
found some attractive subject, and while the wind
ravelled her hair and flushed her cheeks, her fingers
drew designs. At noon they went to the cabin to lunch,
and the Girl took a nap, while the Harvester spread
his morning's reaping on the shelves to dry. They
returned to the woods until five o'clock; then home again
and the Girl dressed and prepared supper, while the
Harvester spread his stores and fed the stock. Then
he put on white clothing for the evening. The Girl
rested while he washed the dishes, and they explored
the lake in the little motor boat, or drove to the city
for supplies, or to see their friends.
``Are you even with your usual work at this time of
the year?'' she asked as they sat at breakfast.
``I am,'' said the Harvester. ``The only things that
have been crowded out are the candlesticks. They
will have to remain on the shelf until the herbs and roots
are all in, and the long winter evenings come. Then
I'll use the luna pattern and finish yours first of all.''
``What are you going to do to-day?''
``Start on a regular fall campaign. Some of it for the
sake of having it, and some because there is good money
in it. Will you come?''
``Indeed yes. May I help, or shall I take my drawing
``Bring your drawing. Next fall you may help, but as
yet you are too close suffering for me to see you do anything
that might be even a slight risk. I can't endure it.''
``Baby!'' she jeered.
``Christen me anything you please,'' laughed the
Harvester. ``I'm short on names anyway.''
He went to harness Betsy, and the Girl washed the
dishes, straightened the rooms, and collected her drawing
material. Then she walked up the hill, wearing a shirt
and short skirt of khaki, stout shoes, and a straw hat
that shaded her face. She climbed into the wagon,
laid the drawing box on the seat, and caught the lines
as the Harvester flung them to her. He went swinging
ahead, Belshazzar to heel, the Girl driving after. The
white pigeons circled above, and every day Ajax allowed
his curiosity to overcome his temper, and followed a
``Whoa, Betsy!'' The Girl tugged at the lines; but
Betsy took the bit between her teeth, and plodded after
the Harvester. She pulled with all her might, but her
strength was not nearly sufficient to stop the stubborn
``Whoa, David!'' cried the Girl.
``What is it?'' the Harvester turned.
``Won't you please wait until I can take off my hat?
I love to ride bareheaded through the woods, and Betsy
won't stop until you do, no matter how hard I pull.''
``Betsy, you're no lady!'' said the Harvester. ``Why
don't you stop when you're told?''
``I shan't waste any more strength on her,'' said the
Girl. ``Hereafter I shall say, `Gee, David,' `Haw, David,'
`Whoa, David,' and then she will do exactly as you.''
The Harvester stopped half way up the hill, and
beside a large, shaded bed spread the rug, and set up the
little table and chair for the Girl.
``Want a plant to draw?'' he asked. ``This is very
important to us. It has a string of names as long as a
princess, but I call it goldenseal, because the roots are
yellow. The chemists ask for hydrastis. That sounds
formidable, but it's a cousin of buttercups. The woods
of Ohio and Indiana produce the finest that ever grew,
but it is so nearly extinct now that the trade can be
supplied by cultivation only. I suspect I'm responsible
for its disappearance around here. I used to get a dollar
fifty a pound, and most of my clothes and books when
a boy I owe to it. Now I get two for my finest grade;
that accounts for the size of these beds.''
``It's pretty!'' said the Girl, studying a plant
averaging a foot in height. On a slender, round, purplish
stem arose one big, rough leaf, heavily veined, and having
from five to nine lobes. Opposite was a similar leaf,
but very small, and a head of scarlet berries resembling a
big raspberry in shape. The Harvester shook the
black woods soil from the yellow roots, and held up the
``You won't enjoy the odour,'' he said.
``Well I like the leaves. I know I can use them some
way. They are so unusual. What wonderful colour in
``One of its names is Indian paint,'' explained the
Harvester. ``Probably it furnished the squaws of these
woods with colouring matter. Now let's see what we
can get out of it. You draw the plant and I'll dig the
For a time the Girl bent over her work and the
Harvester was busy. Belshazzar ranged the woods chasing
chipmunks. The birds came asking questions. When
the drawing was completed, other subjects were found
at every turn, and the Girl talked almost constantly,
her face alive with interest. The May-apple beds lay
close, and she drew from them. She learned the uses
and prices of the plant, and also made drawings of
cohosh, moonseed and bloodroot. That was so wonderful
in its root colour, the Harvester filled the little cup
with water and she began to paint. Intensely absorbed
she bent above the big, notched, silvery leaves and
the blood-red roots, testing and trying to match them
exactly. Every few minutes the Harvester leaned over
her shoulder to see how she was progressing and to
offer suggestions. When she finished she picked up a
trailing vine of moonseed.
``You have this on the porch,'' she said. ``I think it
is lovely. There is no end to the beautiful combinations
of leaves, and these are such pretty little grape-like
clusters; but if you touch them the slightest you soil
the wonderful surface.''
``And that makes the fairies very sad,'' said the
Harvester. ``They love that vine best of any, because
they paint its fruit with the most care. `Bloom' the
scientists call it. You see it on cultivated plums, grapes,
and apples, but never in any such perfection as on moonseed
and black haws in the woods. You should be able
to design a number of pretty things from the cohosh
leaves and berries, too. You scarcely can get a start
this fall, but early in the spring you can begin, and follow
the season. If your work comes out well this winter,
I'll send some of it to the big publishing houses, and
you can make book and magazine covers and decorations,
if you would like.''
`` `If I would like!' How modest! You know perfectly
well that if I could make a design that would be
accepted, and used on a book or magazine, I would almost
fly. Oh do you suppose I could?''
``I don't `suppose' anything about it, I know,'' said
the Harvester. ``It is not possible that the public can
be any more tired of wild roses, golden-rod, and swallows
than the poor art editors who accept them because
they can't help themselves. Dangle something fresh
and new under their noses and see them snap. The next
time I go to Onabasha I'll get you some popular magazines,
and you can compare what is being used with
what you see here, and judge for yourself how glad they
would be for a change. And potteries, arts and crafts
shops, and wall paper factories, they'd be crazy for the
designs I could furnish them. As for money, there's
more in it than the herbs, if I only could draw.''
``I can do that,'' said the Girl. ``Trail the vine and
give me an idea how to scale it. I'll just make studies
now, and this winter I'll conventionalize them and work
them into patterns. Won't that be fun?''
``That's more than fun, Ruth,'' said the Harvester
solemnly. ``That is creation. That touches the
provinces of the Almighty. That is taking His unknown
wonders and making them into pleasure and benefit
for thousands, not to mention filling your face with awe
divine, and lighting your eyes with interest and ambition.
That is life, Ruth. You are beginning to live right now.''
``I see,'' said the Girl. ``I understand! I am!''
``You get your subjects now. When the harvest is
over I'll show you what I have in my head, and before
Christmas the fun will begin.''
``Sketch a sarsaparilla plant and this yam vine. It
grows on your veranda too----the rattle box, you
remember. The leaves and seeding arrangements are
wonderful. You can do any number of things with them,
and all will be new.''
He called her attention to and brought her samples
of ginger leaves, Indian hemp, queen-of-the-meadow,
cone-flower, burdock, baneberry, and Indian turnip,
as he harvested them in turn. When they came to the
large beds of orange pleurisy root the Girl cried out with
``We will take its prosaic features first,'' said the
Harvester. ``It is good medicine and worth handling.
Forget that! The Bird Woman calls it butterfly flower.
That's better. Now try to analyze a single bloom of
this gaudy mass, and you will see why there's poetry
He knelt beside the Girl, separating the blooms and
pointing out their marvellous colour and construction.
She leaned against his shoulder, and watched with breathless
interest. As his bare head brought its mop of damp
wind-rumpled hair close, she ran her fingers through it,
and with her handkerchief wiped his forehead.
``Sometimes I almost wish you'd get sick,'' she said
``In the name of common sense, why?'' demanded the
``Oh it must be born in the heart of a woman to want
to mother something,'' answered the Girl. ``I feel
sometimes as if I would like to take care of you, as if
you were a little fellow. David, I know why your mother
fought to make you the man she desired. You must
have been charming when small. I can shut my eyes
and just see the boy you were, and I should have loved
you as she did.''
``How about the man I am?'' inquired the Harvester
promptly. ``Any leanings toward him yet, Ruth?''
``It's getting worser and worser every day and hour,''
said the Girl. ``I don't understand it at all. I wouldn't
try to live without you. I don't want you to leave my
sight. Everything you do is the way I would have it.
Nothing you ever say shocks or offends me. I'd love
to render you any personal service. I want to take you
in my arms and hug you tight half a dozen times a
day as a reward for the kind and lovely things you do
A dull red flamed up the neck and over the face of the
Harvester. One arm lifted to the chair back, the other
dropped across the table so that the Girl was almost
``For the love of mercy, Ruth, why haven't I had a
hint of this before?'' he cried.
``You said you'd hate me. You said you'd drop me
into the deepest part of the lake if I deceived you; and
if I have to tell the truth, why, that is all of it. I think
it is nonsense about some wonderful feeling that is going
to take possession of your heart when you love any one.
I love you so much I'd gladly suffer to save you pain or
sorrow. But there are no thrills; it's just steady, sober,
common sense that I should love you, and I do. Why
can't you be satisfied with what I can give, David?''
``Because it's husks and ashes,'' said the Harvester
grimly. ``You drive me to desperation, Ruth. I am
almost wild for your love, but what you offer me is plain,
straight affection, nothing more. There isn't a trace of
the feeling that should exist between man and wife in it.
Some men might be satisfied to be your husband, and
be regarded as a father or brother. I am not. The red
bird didn't want a sister, Ruth, he was asking for a mate.
So am I. That's as plain as I know how to put it.
There is some way to awaken you into a living, loving
woman, and, please God, I'll find it yet, but I'm slow
about it; there's no question of that. Never you mind!
Don't worry! Some of these days I have faith to believe
it will sweep you as a tide sweeps the shore, and then I
hope God will be good enough to let me be where you
will land in my arms.''
The Girl sat looking at him between narrowed lids.
Suddenly she took his head between her hands, drew his
face to hers and deliberately kissed him. Then she drew
away and searched his eyes.
``There!'' she challenged. ``What is the matter with
The Harvester's colour slowly faded to a sickly white.
``Ruth, you try me almost beyond human endurance,''
he said. `` `What's the matter with that?' '' He arose,
stepped back, folded his arms, and stared at her. `` `What's
the matter with that?' '' he repeated. ``Never was I so
sorely tempted in all my life as I am now to lie to you,
and say there is nothing, and take you in my arms and
try to awaken you to what I mean by love. But suppose
I do----and fail! Then comes the agony of slow endurance
for me, and the possibility that any day you may
meet the man who can arouse in you the feelings I
cannot. That would mean my oath broken, and my heart
as well; while soon you would dislike me beyond tolerance,
even. I dare not risk it! The matter is, that was the
loving caress of a ten-year-old girl to a big brother she
admired. That's all! Not much, but a mighty big
defect when it is offered a strong man as fuel on which
to feed consuming passion.''
``Consuming passion,'' repeated the Girl. ``David
you never lie, and you never exaggerate. Do you
honestly mean that there is something----oh, there is!
I can see it! You are really suffering, and if I come to
you, and try my best to comfort you, you'll only call it
baby affection that you don't want. David, what am
I going to do?''
``You are going to the cabin,'' said the Harvester, ``and
cook us a big supper. I am dreadfully hungry. I'll be along
presently. Don't worry, Ruth, you are all right! That
kiss was lovely. Tell me that you are not angry with me.''
Her eyes were wet as she smiled at him.
``If there is a bigger brute than a man anywhere on the
footstool, I should like to meet it,'' said the Harvester,
``and see what it appears like. Go along, honey; I'll
be there as soon as I load.''
He drove to the dry-house, washed and spread his
reaping on the big trays, fed the stock, dressed in the
white clothing and entered the kitchen. That the Girl
had been crying was obvious, but he overlooked it,
helped with the work, and then they took a boat ride.
When they returned he proposed that she should select
her favourite likeness of her mother, and the next time
he went to the city he would take it with his, and order
the enlargements he had planned. To save carrying a
lighted lamp into the closet he brought her little trunk
to the living-room, where she opened it and hunted the
pictures. There were several, and all of them were of a
young, elegantly dressed woman of great beauty. The
Harvester studied them long.
``Who was she, Ruth?'' he asked at last.
``I don't know, and I have no desire to learn.''
``Can you explain how the girl here represented came
to marry a brother of Henry Jameson?''
``Yes. I was past twelve when my father came the
last time, and I remember him distinctly. If Uncle
Henry were properly clothed, he is not a bad man in
appearance, unless he is very angry. He can use proper
language, if he chooses. My father was the best in him,
refined and intensified. He was much taller, very good
looking, and he dressed and spoke well. They were
born and grew to manhood in the East, and came out
here at the same time. Where Uncle Henry is a trickster
and a trader in stock, my father went a step higher, and
tricked and traded in men----and women! Mother
told me this much once. He saw her somewhere and
admired her. He learned who she was, went to her
father's law office and pretended he was representing
some great business in the West, until he was welcomed
as a promising client. He hung around and when she
came in one day her father was forced to introduce them.
The remainder is the same world-old story----a good
looking, glib-tongued man, plying every art known to
an expert, on an innocent girl.''
``Is he dead, Ruth?''
``We thought so. We hoped so.''
``Your mother did not feel that her people might be
suffering for her as she was for them?''
``Not after she appealed to them twice and received
``Perhaps they tried to find her. Maybe she has a
father or mother who is longing for word from her now.
Are you very sure you are right in not wanting to know?''
``She never gave me a hint from which I could tell
who or where they were. In so gentle a woman as my
mother that only could mean she did not want them to
know of her. Neither do I. This is the photograph
I prefer; please use it.''
``I'll put back the trunk in the morning, when I can
see better,'' said the Harvester.
The Girl closed it, and soon went to bed. But there
was no sleep for the man. He went into the night, and
for hours he paced the driveway in racking thought.
Then he sat on the step and looked at Belshazzar before
``Life's growing easier every minute, Bel,'' said the
Harvester. ``Here's my Dream Girl, lovely as the most
golden instant of that wonderful dream, offering me----
offering me, Bel----in my present pass, the lips and the
love of my little sister who never was born. And I've
hurt Ruth's feelings, and sent her to bed with a heartache,
trying to make her see that it won't do. It won't,
Bel! If I can't have genuine love, I don't want anything.
I told her so as plainly as I could find words, and set her
crying, and made her unhappy to end a wonderful day.
But in some way she has got to learn that propinquity,
tolerance, approval, affection, even----is not love. I
can't take the risk, after all these years of waiting for
the real thing. If I did, and love never came, I would end
----well, I know how I would end----and that would