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her letters to them there was one which she Anson said nothing, but waited to hear what never read. He knew that this was the letter Bert had brought him out here for. Bert speared which meant the most to her. He saw how away with his knife at a strip of board. Anson those letters affected her, and thought he had sat on a wagon-tongue, his elbows on his knees, divined in what way; and one day when Flaxen, looking intently at the grave face of his comafter reading her letters, sprang up and ran panion. The horses ground cheerily at the hay. into her bedroom, her eyes filled with sudden “Ans', we've got to send Flaxen back to St. tears, Gearheart crooked his finger at Ans', and Peter; she 's so homesick she don't know what they went out to the barn together.
to do." It was nearly one o'clock on an intolerable Ans's eyes fell. day peculiar to the Dakota plain. A frightfully “ I know it. I've be’n hopin' she'd git over hot, withering, and powerful wind was abroad, that, but it 's purty tough on her, after bein' the thermometer stood nearly a hundred in the with the young folks in the city fer a year, to shade, and the wind, so far from being a relief, come back here on a farm — " He did not finwas suffocating because of its heat and the dust ish for a moment. “ But she can't stand it. I'd it swept along with it.
looked ahead to havin' her here till September, The heavy-headed grain and russet grass but I can't stand it to see her cryin' like she writhed and swirled as if in agony, and dashed did to-day. We've got to give up the idee o' high in waves of green and yellow. The corn- her livin' here. I don't see any other way but leaves had rolled up into long cords like the to sell out an' go back East somewhere." lashes of a whip, and beat themselves into tatters Bert saw that Anson was still ignorant of on the dry, smooth spot their blows had made the real state of affairs, but thought he would beneath them; they seemed ready to turn to say nothing for the present. flame in the pitiless, furnace-like blast. Every- “Yes; that's the best thing we can do. We'll where in the air was a silver-white, impalpa- send her right back, an' take our chances on ble mist, which gave to the cloudless sky a the crops. We can git enough to live on an' whitish cast. The glittering gulls were the only keep her at school, I guess.” things that did not move listlessly and did They sat silent for a long time, while the not long for rain. They soared and swooped, wind tore round the shed, Bert spearing at the exulting in the sounding wind; now throw- stick, and Anson watching the hens as they ing themselves upon it, like a swimmer, then vainly tried to navigate in the wind. Finally darting upward with miraculous ease, to dip Anson spoke: again into the shining, hissing, tumultuous “ The fact is, Bert, this ain't no place fer a waves of the grass.
woman, anyway—such a woman as Flaxen 's Along the roads prodigious trains of dust gittin' to be. They ain't nothin' goin' on, nothin' rose hundreds of feet in the air, and drove like to see er hear. You can't expect a girl to be a vast caravan with the wind. So powerful was contented with this country after she 's seen the blast that men hesitated about going out any other. No trees; no flowers; jest a lot o' with carriages, and everybody watched fever- little shanties full o' Aies.” ihly, expecting to see fire break out on the " I knew all that, Ans', a year ago. I knew praine and sweep everything before it. Work she'd never come back here, but I jest said, in the fields had stopped long before dinner, it's the thing to do-give her a chance, if we and the farmers waited, praying or cursing, for don't have a cent; now let 's go back to the the wheat was just at the right point to be house an' tell her she need n't stay here if she blighted.
don't want to.” As the two men went out to the shed side “Wha’ d’ye s'pose was in that letter ?” by side, they looked out on the withering wheat- “Could n't say. Some girl's description of stalks and corn-leaves with gloomy eyes. a picnic er somethin'.” Bert was not yet ready
** Another day like this, an' they won't be to tell what he knew. When they returned to wheat enough in this whole county to make the house the girl was still invisible, in her a cake,” said Anson, with a calm intonation room. Mrs. Green was busy clearing up the which after all betrayed the anxiety he felt. dinner dishes. They sat down in the wagon-shed near the "I don't know 's I ever see such a wind horses' mangers. They listened to the roar of back to Michigan. Seems as if it ’u'd blow the the wind and the pleasant sound of the horses hair off yer head.” a good while before either of them spoke Oh, this ain't nothin'. This is a gentle again. Finally Bert said sullenly:
zephyr. Wait till ye see a wind.” We can't put up hay such a day as this. Wal, I hope to goodness I won't never see You could n't haul it home under lock an' key a wind. Zephyrs is all I can mortally stand.” while this infernal wind is blowin'. It 's git- Anson went through the little sitting-room, tin' worse, if anythin'."
and knocked on Flaxen's door. VOL. XLIV.--6.
Flaxie, we want to talk to ye.” There was so, the bedroom door opened, and Flaxen's no answer, and he came back and sat down. tearful face looked out at him. He did not Bert pointed to the letter which Flaxen had seem to hear, and she stole up to him and, putflung down on the table. The giant took it, ting her arm around his neck, laid her cheek folded it up, and called, “Here 's yer letter, on his head-a dear, familiar, childish gesture, babe."
used when she wished to propitiate him. He The door opened a little, and a faint, tearful roused himself, and put his arm about her waist, voice said :
tried to speak, and finally said in a sorry at“Read it, if ye want to, boys.” Then the tempt at humor, woefully belied by the tears on door closed tightly again, and they heard her his face and the choking in his throat: fling herself on the bed. Anson handed the “ You tell that feller — if he wants ye, to letter to Bert, who read it in a steady voice. jest come an'- git ye— that 's all !” DEAR DARLING: I have good news to tell you.
Anson's opinion of Mr. Kendall was not faMy uncle was out from Wisconsin to see me, and he was pleased with what I had done, and he vorable, but he held it to be a sort of treason bought out Mr. Ford, and gave me the whole to Elga to think so, and he would not admit half interest. I 'm to pay him back when I it to himself or to Gearheart. They saw Kenplease. Ain't that glorious? Now we can get dall for the first time on the day of the wedmarried right off, can't we, darling?-so you just ding, which came in September. They made show this letter to your father and tell him how some inquiries of the townspeople, and found things stand. I 've got a good business. The that he was a harmless little creature enough, drug-store is worth $1200 a year,—my half,—but small, a little inclined to bow-legs, and dudish knock off fifty per cent. and we could live nicely, in manner. He combed his hair till it shone like Don't you think so? I want to see you so bad ebony, and wore the latest designs in standing and talk things over. If you can't come back soon, collars high on his slim neck. His hands were I will come on. Write soon. Yours till death,
WILL. beautifully small and white and ringed, and he
had the engaging manners of a successful dryFrom the first word Anson winced, grew goods clerk. perplexed, then suffered. His head drooped “He can't abuse her, that 's one good thing forward on his hands, his elbows rested on his about the whelp,” thought Bert, as he crushed vast, spread knees. He drew his breath with a Kendall's slim, lax hand in his just to see him long, grieving gasp. Bert read on steadily to scringe. the end, then glanced at his companion with a As for the bridegroom, he was not a little deep frown darkling his face; but he was not afraid of these fellows, so big and so sullen, and taken by surprise. He had not had paternal tried his best to please them, chirping in his passion change to the passion of a lover only bright way of all kinds of things. to have it swept down like a half-opened flower. “We 're one of the best cities on the river, For the first time in his life the giant writhed you see. Could n't be a better place for a busiin mental agony. He saw it all. It meant ness stand, don't you know? And we 're geteternal separation. It meant a long ache in ting to the front in our wholesale department. his heart which time could scarcely deaden Of course—ha! ha! — my wife's father ought into a tolerable pain.
to know how I am getting on, so you 're welGearheart rose and went out, unwilling to come to come in and look over my books. Our witness the agony of his friend, and desiring trade is a cash trade as far as the retail part himself to be alone. Anson sat motionless, goes, and we are mighty careful who gets tick with his hands covering his wet eyes, going from us on the wholesale trade. The wholesale over the past and trying to figure the future. trade we are developing rapidly, and in less than He began in that storm: felt again the little ten years we will be one of the leading firms form and face of the wailing babe; thought in the valley.” of the frightful struggle against the wind and Elga had been down to St. Peter with her snow; of the touch of the little hands and friends the Holts since that week before harfeet; of her pretty prattle and gleeful laugh- vest when Anson“ discovered the lay of the ter; then of her helpful and oddly womanish land.” It cut him terribly to see how eager she ways as she grew older; of the fresh, clear was to get away, and he grew a little bitter, a voice calling him “pap," and ordering him thing quite unusual for him. about with a roguish air; of her beauty now, “What 's that little whipper-snapper ever when for the first time he had begun to hope done fer her that she should leave us in the that she might be something dearer to him. shade fer him; ferget all we 've done fer her,
How could he live without her? She had an’climb out an' leave us jest at his wink? It grown to be a part of him. He had long ceased beats me; but it 's all right. I don't blame her if to think of the future without her. As he sat she feels so; only it does seem queer, don't it?” ** Purty tough, sure 's yer born. Specially for the lonely man toiling away on his bleak the idee that after bein' raised with a couple farm. These letters were very much alike, telling o' men she 'd go off with a thing like that." mainly of how happy she was, and of what she
Arriving at this understanding, they said no was going to do by and by, on Christmas or more about it, but set to work to make it all Thanksgiving. Once she sent a photograph of as pleasant for Flaxen as possible.
herself and husband, and Anson, after studying Anson stood bravely through the ceremony it for a long time, took a pair of shears and cut as the father of the bride, and bore himself with the husband off, and threw him into the fire. his usual massive rude dignity. But he inwardly “That fellow gives me the ague,” he mutwinced as he saw Elga, looking very stately and tered. beautiful in her bride's veil, towering half a Bert did not write, and there was hardly a head above the sleek-haired little clerk. Not night that Ans' lay down on his bed that he a few of the company smiled at the contrast, did not wonder where his chum was, especially but she had no other feeling than perfect love as the winter came on unusually severe, reand happiness.
minding him of that first winter in the TerriWhen the ceremony was over, and Anson tory. Day after day he spent alone in his little looked around for Bert, he was gone. He house, going out only to feed the cattle or to could n't stand the pressure of the crowd and get the mail. But with the passage of time the the whispered comments, and had slipped away pain in his heart lost its intensity. early in the evening.
One day he got a letter from Flaxen that Among the presents which were laid on the startled and puzzled him. It was like a cry for table in the dining-room was a long envelop help, somehow. addressed to Mrs. Will Kendall. It contained “Dear old pap, I wish you was here," and a deed for a house and lot in one of the most then in another place came the piteous cry, desirable parts of the suburbs. It was from “Oh, I wish I had some folks!” Gearheart, but there was no written word else. All night long that cry rang in the man's This gift meant the sale of his claim in Dakota. head with a wailing, falling cadence like the
When Anson got back to the hotel that night, note of a lost little prairie-chicken. wondering and alarmed at his partner's ab- “I wonder what that whelp has been doin' sence, he found a letter from him. It was full now. If he's begun to abuse her I 'll wring of his well-known bitterness.
his neck. She wants me an'da's n't ask me to This climate is getting too frigid for my lungs, both,” he said at last, with sudden resolution.
come. Poor chick, I 'll be pap an' mam to ye, I'm going to emigrate to California. I'made a mistake; I ought to have gone in for stand-up
The day after the receipt of this letter a telecollars, shiny hair, and bow-legs. You 'd better gram was handed to him at the post-office, skip back to Dakota and sell your claim. Keep which he opened with trembling hands. my share of the stock and tools; it ain't worth bothering about. Don't try to live there alone, ANSON WOOD: Your daughter is ill. Wants old man. If you can't sell, marry. Don't let that
Come at once. DOCTOR DIETRICH. girl break you all up too. We are all fools, but some can get over it quicker than others. If that little bow-legged thing gets under your
A glorious winter sun was beginning to light feet or abuses her, just get your toe under him up the frost foliage of the maples lining St. Peand hoist him over into the alley.
ter's streets when Anson, stiff with cold and Good-by and good luck, old man. BERT. haggard with a night of sleepless riding, sprang
off the train and looked about him. The beauty And the next day the doubly bereaved man of the morning made itself felt even through started on his lonely journey back to the Da- his care. These rows of resplendent maples, kota claim, back to an empty house, with a heavy with iridescent frost, were like fairy-land gnawing pain in his heart and a constriction to him, fresh from the treeless prairie. As he ike an iron band about his throat; back to his walked on under them, showers of powdered broad fields to plod to and fro alone. rubies and diamonds fell down upon him; the
As he began to realize it all, and to think how colonnades seemed like those leading to some terrible was this loss, he laid his head down on enchanted palace such as he had read of in the car-seat before him, and cried. His first boyhood. Every shrub in the yards was simigreat trial had come to him, and, meeting it like larly decked, and the snug cottages were like a man, he must now weep like a woman. the little house which he had once seen at the
foot of the Christmas tree in a German church
Feet crunched along cheerily on the sideFLAXEN wrote occasionally during the next walks, bells of dray-teams were beginning to year, letters all too short and too far between sound, and workmen to whistle.
Anson was met at the door by a hard-faced, “Perhaps if I found my aunt she 'd look middle-aged woman.
like mama, an' I 'd know then how mama “ How 's my girl ?” he asked.
looked, would n't I? Perhaps if the wheat is Oh, she 's nicely. Walk in.”
good this year we can go back an' find her, “ Can I see her now?"
can't we?" Then her words melted into a moan “She 's sleepin’; I guess you better wait a of physical pain, and the nurse said: little while till after breakfast.”
“Now I guess you 'd better go an' see if you • Where's Kendall ?" was his next question. can't hurry the doctor up. Yes; now he 's got
“I d’n’ know. Hain't seen 'im sence yester- to go,” she went on to Flaxen, drowning out day. He don't amount to much, anyway, and in her voice and putting her imploring hands back these cases there ain't no dependin'on a boy like upon the bed. that. It 's nachel fer girls to call on their moth- Anson saw it all now. In her fear and pain ers an' fathers in such cases."
she had turned to him,-poor motherless little Anson was about to ask her what the trouble bird,- forgetting her boy husband, or feeling was with his girl, when she turned away. She the need of a broader breast and stronger hand. could not be dangerously ill; anyway, there It was a beautiful trust, and as the great shaggy was comfort in that.
man went out into the morning he was exalted After he had eaten a slight breakfast of bad by the thought. “My little babe-my Flaxen!" coffee and yellow biscuits, Mrs. Stickney came he said with unutterable love and pity. back.
Again his mind ran over the line of his life“She 's awake an’ wants to see ye. Now the cabin, the dead woman, the baby face nesdon't get excited. She ain't dangerous.” tling at his throat, the girl coming to him with
Anson was alarmed and puzzled at her her trials and triumphs. His heart swelled so manner.
that he could not have spoken, but deep in his “What is the matter ?” he demanded. throat he muttered a dumb prayer. And how
Her reply was common enough, but it he suffered that day, hearing her babble mixed stopped him with his foot on the threshold. with moanings every time the door opened. He understood at last. The majesty and mys- Once the doctor said: tery of birth was like a light in his face, and “ It 's no use for you to stand here, Wood. dazzled him. He was awed and exalted at the It only makes you suffer, and don't help her a same time.
particle." Open the door; I want to see her," he said “ It seems 's if it helped her, an’so- I guess in a new tone.
I 'll stay. She may call fer me, an' if she does As they entered the darkened chamber he I 'm goin'in, doctor. How is she now ?” heard his girl's eager cry.
“She 's slightly delirious now, but still she “ Is that you, pap?" wailed her faint, sweet knows you 're here. She now and then speaks voice.
of you, but does n't call for you." “Yes; it's me, Flaxie.” He crossed the room, But she did call for him, and he went in, and, and knelt by the bed. She flung her arms kneeling by her side, he talked to her and held around his neck.
her hands, stroked her hair and soothed her as “O pappy, pappy! I wanted you. Oh, my he used to when a little child unable to speak poor mama! o pap, I don't like her,” she save in her pretty Norseland tongue, and at last whispered, indicating the nurse with her eyes. when opiates were given, and he rose and stag“O pap, I hate to think of mother lying there gered from the room, it seemed as though he in the snow-an' Bert — where is Bert, pap? had lived years. Perhaps he's in the blizzard too_"
So weary was he that when the doctor came “She's a little flighty," said the nurse in her out and said, “ You may go to sleep now,” he matter-of-fact tone.
dropped heavily on a lounge and fell asleep alAnson groaned as he patted the pale cheek most with the motion. Even the preparations of the sufferer.
for breakfast made by the hoarse-voiced ser“Don't worry, Flaxie; Bert 's all right. He'll vant-girl did not wake him, but the drawling, come home soon. Why don't you send for the nasal tone of Kendall did. He sat up and doctor ?” he said to the nurse.
looked at the oily little clerk. It was after seven “ He 'll be here soon. Don't worry over o'clock. that," indicating Flaxen, who was whispering "Hello!” said Kendall," when d' you get to herself.
in ?" “ Do you s'pose I can find my folks if I go Shortly after you went out,” said Anson in back to Norway ?” she said to Anson a little reply. after.
Kendall felt the rebuke, and, as he twisted “ Yes; I guess so, little one. When you get his cufts into place, said, “Well, ye see I could n't well, we 'll try an' see.”
do no good—a man ain't any good in such
cases, anyway — so I just thought I'd run down him as long as she could avoid it; and when he to St. Paul an' do a little buying."
approached the baby or took it in his arms a Anson turned away and went into the kitchen jealous frown came on her face. to wash his face and to comb his hair, glad to As for Anson, he grew to hate the sound of get rid of the sight of Kendall for a moment. that little chuckle of Kendall's; the part in the Mrs. Stickney was toasting some bread. man's hair and the hang of his cutaway coat
"She 's awake an’ wants to see you when made him angry. The trim legs, a little bowed, you woke up. It 's a girl — thought I 'd tell the big cuffs hiding the small, cold hands, and ye-yes; she's comfortable. Say, 'tween you the peculiar set of his faultless collar, grew daily an' me, a man 'at 'u'd run off — waal —” she more insupportable. ended expressively.
“Say, looky here, Kendall," said he in desOnce more Anson caught his breath as he peration one day, “ I wish you did n't like me entered the darkened chamber. But the figure quite so well. We don't hitch fust-rate — at on the bed was tranquil now, and the voice, least I don't. Seems to me you 're neglectin' though weak and low, was Flaxen's own. your business too much.”
He stopped as his eyes fell on her. She was He was going to tell him to keep away, but no longer a girl. The majesty of maternity was he relented as he looked down at the harmless on her pale face and in her great eyes. A faint, little man, with his thin, boyish face. expectant smile was on her lips, her eyes were “Oh, my business is all right. Gregory fixed on his face as she drew the cover from looks after it mostly, anyhow. But, I say, if you the little red, weirdly wrinkled face at her throat. wanted to go into the dray business, there's a
Before he could speak, and while he was first-class opening now. Clark wants to sell.” looking down at the mite of humanity, Kendall It ended in Anson seeing Clark and buying stepped into the room.
out his line of drays, turning in his claim to- Hello, Ellie! How are—”
ward the payment, a transaction which made A singular revulsion came out on her face. Flaxen laugh for joy, for she had not felt cer** Make him go 'way; I don't want him." tain before that he would remain in St. Peter.
* All right,” said Kendall, cheerfully, glad to She was getting about the house now, lookescape.
ing very wifely in her long, warm wraps, her “Isn't she beautiful?" the mother whispered. slow motions contrasting strongly with the old * Does she look like me?" she asked artlessly. restless, springing steps Anson remembered so
“She's beautiful to me because she's yours, well. Flaxie," replied Anson, with a delivery all the Night after night, as he sat beside the fire and more striking because of the contrast with his held baby, listening to the changed voice of his great frame and hard, rough hands. “But girl, and watching the grave new expressions there, my girl, go to sleep like baby, an' don't of her face, the tooth of time took hold upon - worry any more.”
him powerfully, and he would feel his shaggy * You ain't goin'away while I 'm sick ? " she beard and think, “I'll soon be gray, soon be asked, following him with her eyes unnaturally gray!” while the little one cooed, and sprang, large.
and pulled at his beard, which had grown long " I won't never go 'way again if you don't again and had white hairs in it. want me to,” he replied.
Kendall spent most of his time at the store, “Oh, I 'm so glad!" she sighed restfully. or down-town somewhere, and so all of those
He was turning to go when she wailed re- long, delicious winter evenings were Flaxen's proachfully, “ Pap, you did n't kiss baby!” and Anson's. And his enjoyment of them was
Anson turned and came back. “She 's pathetic. The cheerful little sitting-room, the sleepin', an' I thought it was n't right to kiss open grate, the gracious, ever-growing womana girl without she said so."
liness of Elga, the pressure of soft little limbs, This made Flaxen smile, and Anson went and the babble of a liquid baby-language, out with a lighter heart than he had had for were like the charm of an unexpected Indiantwo rears. Kendall met him outside, and said summer day between two gray November confidentially:
storms. ** I don't s'pose it was just the thing for me One night Kendall did not come home, and to do; bui-confound it !- I never could stand early the next morning an officer came to the a sick-room, anyway. I could n't do any good, door to inquire if he were in. On being told anyway — just been in the way. She 'll get that he was not at home, and that they did over her mad in a few days. Think so ?” not know where he was, the sheriff said to his
But she did not. Her singular and sudden companion: dislike of him continued, and though she pas- “ Skipped between two days." sively submitted to his being in the room, she And so it came out that Kendall had purwould not speak a word to him nor look at chased goods on credit, gambled his money