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Full text of "Jason Edwards, an average man"

LIBRARY 

UNIVERSITY OP 
CALIFORNIA 

SANTA CRUZ 



> 







JASON EDWARDS 






fiamlin garland's BooKs. 



Uniform edition. Each, izmo, cloth, $1.25. 



Wayside Courtships* 

Jason Edwards* 

A Spoil of Office* 

A Member of the Third House* 



A Little Norsk* i6mo. 50 cents. 



D. APPLETON & COMPANY, NEW YORK. 



JASON EDWARDS 

AN AVERAGE MAN 



BY HAMLIN GARLAND 

AUTHOR OF WAYSIDE COURT- 
SHIPS, A SPOIL OF OFFICE, A 
LITTLE NORSK, ETC. :::::: 




NEW YORK 

D. APPLETON AND COMPANY 
M DCCC XCVII 



Copyright, 1897, by 
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY 



Copyright, 1891, by Hamlin Garland 



PS 



JASON EDWARDS. 

PAKT FIRST THE MECHANIC. 
I. 

THERE was a phrase which very com 
pletely defined the character of Wal 
ter Reeves. He was level-headed. He 
faced the street, hideous with mud, and 
tumultuous with the war of belated busi 
ness, with a laughing face and steady 
brown eyes, though the city impressed him 
more than he expected it to do. Fresh 
from college in an interior New England 
town, where life moved quietly this rush 
of men and teams over greasy, black cob 
ble-stones deafened and bewildered him. 

He stood a little while in the mouth of 
the depot, a gloomy, castellated structure. 



JASON EDWARDS. 



His first thought was how to get a board 
ing place. He set off at last, breasting 
the stream of suburban people making 
toward the trains. He was conscious of a 
little feeling of pride in his appearance, 
and was flattered by the pleasant glances 
the young girls gave him as they passed in 
their beautiful blue and wine-colored water 
proof cloaks. 

The boarding-house problem puzzled 
him. Like the thrifty New England boy 
he was, he couldn't think of going to a 
hotel, so he fell into the slender stream of 
people moving off into the heart of the 
city. This brought him inevitably to the 
Common, which he had visited once on a 
Fourth of July excursion. 

It was growing dark now, and the rain 
was falling steadily. The November wind 
had a wild and lonesome sound in the 
branches over his head but he only heard 
that when the heavy gusts came. The 
ceaseless tramp of hooves and the grinding 
roar of the cars deafened and clouded his 
brain. 

He kept on down the plank walk till 



JASON EDWARDS. 



he came to the end of the Common. He 
paused and considered. A fat, very red- 
haired policeman was standing in the mid 
dle of the intersecting streets directing the 
streams of impatient drivers and sheltering 
timid ladies across the way under his chev- 
roned arm. 

Walter had always been told that the 
only safe person to ask a question of on 
the street was a policeman, so he stood an 
instant by the side of the gesticulating 
giant, and asked for a good, cheap boarding- 
house. 

"F'r Gawd's sake!" growled the stupe 
fied officer, looking down into Reeves' face. 
"Where you born? H'yar! What 're 
y' doin' there? G'wan!" he shouted to a 
hackman who was cutting in ahead of a 
car. He then remembered Reeves. "Any 
where. De whole town is full of 'urn" he 
threw out his arm toward the left "Git 
a move on ye there!" 

Walter crossed the street and moved in 
the direction indicated by the policeman. 
It was a noisy and crowded street, and he 
turned off instinctively upon one of the 



JASON EDWARDS. 



side streets. Cards saying "Rooms" were 
in the basement windows here and there, 
and occasionally "Board and Rooms". He 
rang the bell of one of the latter places and 
a tall and handsome woman came to the 
door. 

"I'd like to get board here," he said, 
looking up at her. She studied him as 
was her need. She liked him. 

" Very well. Won't you come in ? " She 
prided herself on being a judge of faces. 

He set as the limit of his board bill five 
dollars per week, and was delighted when 
he found he could get board and room for 
four dollars and seventy-five cents. He set 
his valise down on the floor after the land 
lady had gone, and surveyed his "Hall 
room, one flight". It was exactly six feet 
by twelve, the little cot-bed occupied half 
the width, and a little table and wash- 
stand filled in the chinks. However, it 
was all new and strange and delightful. 
It had some of the effect of camping in 
the woods. 

He lay down on the bed and planned his 
campaign. He had always looked for- 



JASON EDWARDS. 



ward to doing newspaper work, and he 
had long had his eyes fixed on the Events, 
as the paper he would like best to be con 
nected with. He determined to call upon 
the editor of the Events first. He had a 
note of introduction. It was from his 
teacher, who had spent a couple of weeks 
with the editor at a Summer hotel. 

He found him with head immersed in a 
roll-top desk like an ox in a manger of 
hay. He was a kindly man naturally, but 
he was worn and pre-occupied. 

"Sit down si' down!" he said, but as 
the only chair beside his was piled with 
papers, Walter remained standing. 

The editor read the note in a flash, and 
took his pen down from behind his ear 
and began correcting manuscript as he 
replied 

"Glad to see you, Mr. Reeves. You 
might see our Mr. Daggett I'm afraid 
it won't do any good but something's 
turning up almost every day, and" he 
forgot to finish, and Reeves went out. 

He stood out in the counting-room a long 
time and looked up along the line of clerks. 



6 JASON EDWARDS. 

"Where'll I find Mr. Daggett?" 

"First window right," said the youth 
without looking up. He had the tone of 
a clerk who had little to do and didn't 
care to do that. 

"I'd like to see Mr. Daggett," Reeves 
asked at the next window. 

"Four flights," was the reply of clerk 
No. 2 in the same tone. 

Walter was getting angry. He climbed 
the four flights and came into a long room 
with a row of stalls on the right-hand side, 
a window to each stall. A tall old man 
with his hands full of strips of printed 
matter was coming out of the second stall. 

"I'd like to see Mr. Daggett." 

"Eight here, sir." 

A grizzled man with a very ragged coat 
and a shade over his eyes looked up. His 
very glance was a staccato question. 

Walter made his request. 

"Got mor'n we can use now. I wish 
Miller'd stop this thing. There's no place 
for you here." 

"Exactly," said Walter, who was just net 
tled enough to be on his dignity. "Knew 



JASON EDWARDS. 



you'd say just that. Now I want you to 
look at me hard so you'll know me 
again." 

Daggett looked at him in astonishment, 
his grey eyes getting big and round. 

"What the devil do I care how you 
look?" 

" Because I may be sitting in your place 
before five years are up. Here's my card. 
I'm green, but I ain't a salad." 

Daggett laughed. "Well, young man, 
you've got cheek, if nothing more. Go 
ahead, let's see what you can do. 

Thus dismissed, Reeves went down the 
long stairs a little hot, but with the determ 
ination to fulfill his word now, at any cost. 
He w T as not entirely unfamiliar with the 
needs of a newspaper, and so as he sat in 
his little hall bedroom that night, he laid 
out his plan. 

"The first thing a reporter wants to do 
is to know the town. I'll simply get this 
whole city mapped out in my head like a 
cabbage field. The reporter's business is to 
get the news and what the paper wants 
is the news, and news they'll have. I'll 



JASON EDWARDS. 



send in something every day, or break my 
neck tryin', that's all. They won't pay 
for it, but that's nothing they will one o' 
these days." 

So he set to work to ransack the city. 
He first studied the streets. A hack driver 
gave him a clue to the labyrinth. 

"Now here's Washington Street see? 
Well, dat's de backbone o' de hull blame 
town see? An' Tre-mont is jist like it. 
Now w'en you start out to look f'r anny 
place, jist figger out whedder it's on de 
hind-leg 'r de shoulder see?" 

Reeves saw. This luminous description 
of Boston's anatomy was worth more as a 
starter than any map. He soon knew 
every principal street. Next he studied 
the districts of the city. He found that 
the West End held most colored people, 
the North End most Italians, the South 
End most Irish, Harrison Avenue most 
Chinese. He studied the wharves till the 
longshoremen wondered at him. He dis 
covered a great deal about sailors, one 
thing being that they never talked in 
nautical metaphors. 



JASON EDWARDS. 9 

He dressed in plain, thick gray clothes, 
suitable for any place or any weather, and 
looked like a grocer's collection man 
all save his pleasant face and peculiar, 
keen laughing eyes. He went everywhere 
and saw everything from "London Bridge" 
to the Symphony Circuit. 

Everybody liked him. The policemen 
in certain quarters grew to nod and grin 
as he passed along. He told everybody 
frankly that he was going for the Events, 
was after a position. 

One day he looked in on Daggett and 
said 

"Hello! Used my little < story' of the 
row up in Italy, didn't yeh? I'll send in 
my bill one o' these days." 

Daggett gave him one brief glance. 
"You'll own the paper yet." 

"I certainly will." 

"You certainly will if cheek counts," 
growled the editor. He put his head out 
of the stall, twenty minutes later, and 
moralized for the benefit of the other 
stalls. 

"Damned if it ain't pathetic to see a 



10 JASON EDWARDS. 

bright young fellah come down here like 
that to conquer the city. We all did it 
and failed most of us. And he'll fail. 
He's a bright fellow, but nine hundred and 
ninety-nine out of a thousand, fail. If 
youth only knew what was before it, it 
would commit suicide, or words to that 
effect. But it don't. It plunges along, 
down every night, up every morning I 
swear it's tragic." 

There was a dead silence. Then a voice 
said, "Say, Daggett, moralize after two 
o'clock, won't you?" 

As a matter of fact, before the winter 
was over Walter was put on the list at a 
small salary. 

" Just for your cursed impudence," Dag 
gett said with a grin. 

"All right," chirped Reeves " the same 
kind of steam has got to bring me twenty 
dollars see ?" He ended with the inflec 
tion of the street. 

"Devilish clever lad," said Daggett to 
the military editor. "They tell me he 
knows the city like his primer. I'll keep 
an eye on him. The 'old man' must 



JASON EDWARDS. 11 

know of the young fellow. He'll make 
his mark, if he don't get to living too 
fast." 

"No danger o' that." 

"Why so?" 

"He don't drink n'r smoke." 

"Phew! You don't mean it! By jinks, 
he's a sort of phenomenon. Does he 
write well?" 

"M tolerably. A little inclined to 
soar you understand ' silver-lining ' 
6 along our pathway' and the like o' that 
but nothing organic, so to say. He can be 
cured." 

"We'll use that young felleh," said 
Daggett. 

And use him they did. They unloaded 
all sorts of jobs upon him, but he said noth 
ing, for it was opportunity to show what 
was in him that he wanted most of all. 
He did twenty-dollar jobs for ten, and did 
his best. He asked to be assigned to dif 
ferent work. Now to the lectures and 
theatres, now to the private musical-elo- 
cutionals, and he did some political inter 
viewing in short, he worked and studied 



12 JASON EDWARDS. 

to round himself, to give himself thorough 
information in the city's life. 

He made friends and kept them, and 
made mainly good ones, for the men who 
might have been harmful to a weaker man 
were of use to him. He studied them 
closely as facts. He soon knew young 
men of good families, and he began to go 
out a good deal at the end of a couple of 
years. As his salary increased he lived 
better in proportion, surrounding himself 
with books and pictures. 

His room became the meeting place for 
the more ambitious young newspaper fel 
lows, and Daggett came around once in a 
while to growl away in a monotone, in 
his interesting way. The young fellows 
thought it quite an honor. 

Life went on amazingly well for him. 
At the end of his fifth year in Boston, he 
was the "Dramatic Editor" on the Events 
at a good salary. He was a man of large 
acquaintance, and a universal belief in his 
future was expressed by Daggett, " He's a 
born newspaper man. If nothing happens 
to him, he'll get too big for Boston." 



JASON EDWARDS. 13 

"What do you think may happen to 
him?" 

" Settle down into a daily grind like you 
and I," said Daggett with an unusual 
depth of feeling in his voice. Already he 
began to humble himself in the face of 
triumphant youth. 



14 JASON EDWARDS. 



II. 



ONE April day in his fifth year in Bos 
ton he had been in the public libra 
ry studying up for a special article in a 
magazine, and stood at the door looking 
out at the people streaming by. The pent- 
up river of traffic in Boylston street ground 
and thundered by him unnoticed. He was 
thinking of his mountain birth-place the 
unusual blue of the sky brought it all back 
to him. He felt tired and worn with the 
city, and was planning a long vacation 
home when a girl passed! 

Thousands had passed him, myriads of 
smiling girls and splendid women but 
the mysterious had happened. The great, 
wistful eyes, the pre-occupied, unseeing 
expression of the girl's face, and the grace 
of her step, stopped him as if an invisible 
hand had been placed upon his heart. He 



JASON EDWARDS. 15 

marvelled at this astounding psycholog 
ical effect, even while his breath quick 
ened. With a feeling almost of pain, he 
stood irresolute, and watched her disappear 
among the unimpersonal thousands of the 
street. 

" If I were a mediaeval Romeo instead of 
a jaded critic of stage Romeos I'd spring 
to that woman's side and ask her name 
and residence." Ten minutes before he 
wouldn't have owned that any face in the 
world could have moved him so. For a 
month he carried that picture in his mind. 
He pondered on it. She was poor, that 
was evident. She wore no gloves, and her 
dress was very simple. His reportorial 
eye had noted every detail. Her hat was 
graceful, but cheap, and she had a roll of 
music, probably she was a teacher of music 
somewhere in the city. He haunted the 
library at that same hour day after day till 
he grew ashamed and furtive in action, all 
to no purpose. But as the weeks wore on 
the sense of personal loss grew less keen, 
and was felt only when he sat in his room 
at night, writing or dreaming at his desk. 



16 JASON EDWARDS. 

He was thinking of that face one even 
ing in June, when Jerome Austin, an artist 
friend, came into his room, in his impetu 
ous way and sprawled out like a lobster on 
the couch. 

" What's on with you to-night, old man ?" 

"Well, I'd looked forward to a rather 
quiet time of it." 

" Oh, bother ! Come out with me. I've 
a friend (one of the penalties of having 
friends), a girl graduate at the Conserva 
tory, who's going to display her voice and 
gown to-night. There'll be pretty girls till 
you can't rest, and they'll elocute and 
cutely yell " 

"Oh, horrible!" groaned Reeves. 

"I know! It's the state I'm in. If you 
come, I'll introduce you to a lot of girls 
delicious as peaches and cream." 

Austin was always a study to Reeves, 
and never more so than that night. As 
they sat to watch the exercises of the even 
ing, he bubbled over with an innocent 
sort of ribaldry. 

The beautiful little hall was like a huge 
bouquet of flowers, especially the gallery, 



JASON EDWARDS. 17 

where the seats were entirely filled with 
the girls of the Conservatory girls with 
brown eyes, girls with blue eyes, girls 
with hair cut short and curling gracefully 
around their heads, girls with bushy hair 
(very masculine and strong), girls of all 
sorts, save dull girls. These ambitious 
little creatures, with their hopes and fears, 
made the more thoughtful Reeves ponder 
deeply. So bright, so eager, so resolute, 
what will life be to them ten years hence? 
Happy, they think. Full of increasing 
care, Reeves knew. But Austin kept on 
irrepressibly, a sort of chorus through the 
performance. 

" Now you'll hear some dear little creat 
ure no, we have a whole row ah! I 
see! A fan drill. Very good! Arms 
and necks and heads and pretty white- 
slippered toes that one on the right is 
my friend. She mustn't see me. She'd 
laugh. Now see our heads wag! Now 
we'll display our wrists. Ta-ta, turn-turn. 
See the one on the left ain't she a 
daisy?" 

Reeves was looking at the audience, 



18 JASON EDWARDS. 

when Austin said, "Ah! Now we'll have 
a song!" And he turned just in time to 
see a girl slip from the wing and bow to 
the audience. It was his wild bird of the 
street! Her flushed face and eager eyes, 
her slender figure, dressed in white or 
pink, was glorified with a sort of woman's 
pride mixed with an anticipation of tri 
umph, as if she felt in advance the 
applause which really burst forth when 
she had finished her simple little song, 
"Errinnerung," by Brahms. 

Austin commented self-containedly : 

"Voice fair. Good feeling but what 
eyes? Did you notice those eye-lashes? 
They'd make a fortune for an actress. 
Eh?" 

"A very pretty girl," said Reeves, tak 
ing refuge in a conventional tone and 
phrase. 

" Pretty ! Say, I thought you had some 
judgment. That girl's spicy as a June 
meadow. Hang it, man! I wouldn't be a 
reporter for money. There's character in 
her face. How I'd like to paint her? I 
must get an introduction." 



JASON EDWARDS. 19 

"Take me along, too?" asked Reeves 
indifferently lie congratulated himself. 

"Oh, yes, certainly that is I'm sorry 
to be obliged to. That moustache of yours 
is such a killing curl, and mine bristles 
like a nail-brush. I must paste it down 
some way." 

And it was in this way that Reeves met 
her. She was standing in the midst of a 
bevy of girls, her eyes already far off, a 
faint smile on her lips. 

"Allie, dear, let me present my friend, 
Mr. Austin, and his friend, Mr. Reeves. 
Miss Edwards, Mr. Reeves is a horrid 
editor, and we must treat him well, or 
he'll pounce on us. I'll bribe him with 
a rose," she said, detaching one from her 
bouquet. 

"I have nothing but praise to say of 
your work, Miss Edwards," Reeves said a 
few moments later as Miss Caswell turned 
away with Austin. "You are nearly done 
here, I take it." 

"Oh, no. I'm only half-way. I gradu 
ate next year, but I hope to take a post 
graduate course." 



20 JASON EDWARDS. 

"You're ambitious to sing on the plat 
form, I suppose?" 

"Yes, I must earn money, and there is 
more money to be made that way." 

"You are very frank to say you're to 
sing for money. It's common to say, 'I 
love art for art's sake'." 

" That is very well for those who have 
little need of money, but I must earn 
money. I need it, and my parents need 
it. Do you think I can succeed?" she 
asked eagerly. 

"I do, indeed." 

A little girl of eight or thereabouts, 
pulled at her dress, looking shyly at 
Reeves. 

"Allie, papa's waitin'." 

" I must go now. I'm very grateful for 
your kind encouragement." 

"I am always glad to speak such words 
when I can do so honestly, as I can in your 
case. Won't you please let me know when 
you are to sing again? I want to hear 
you and, pardon me, may I call to see 
you? I may be able to advise you." 

"You are very kind, Mr. Reeves/' she 



JASON EDWARDS. 21 

replied with a shadow on her face. "I 
fear our home is too poor rny father is a 
mechanic." 

"Mine was a farmer/' he said with a 
smile. "We haven't got quite to the point 
of despising honest labor." 

"We live at 700 Pleasant Avenue. 
Father will be pleased to know you." 

Reeves chafed at the formal words and 
tones he was forced to use while looking 
down into that sensitive face and those 
clear eyes. He followed them out into the 
hall, and saw them greet a middle-aged 
man with short, grey beard, who did not 
smile as he met his daughter, and did not 
speak of her singing. 

Jason Edwards had that peculiar reserve 
upon all points of tenderness and affection 
so characteristic of the New Englander. 
He merely said, "Who was the man that 
came out behind you, Allie the one with 
the brown moustache? I've seen him 
before." 

"His name is Reeves, father. He liked 
my song very much." 

"Well, I should think he might." 



22 JASON EDWARDS. 

"Didn't she look lovely, poppa?" 

"Sh don't talk so loud, Linnie. Peo 
ple will hear you." 

"I don't care she was just lovely." 

Alice was thinking of that eager look in 
Reeve's eyes, of the little vibrant under 
tone in his voice, as he asked permission 
to call. She was almost frightened at the 
idea. This editor of a great paper for 
she had no very clear idea of an editor 
so big and handsome Was he handsome ? 
"Yes, he was handsome," she decided. His 
clear brown eyes and his brown moustache, 
his brown hair brushed up from his face, 
and his fair complexion, rose before her as 
something fine, honest and manly. 

She turned to her father. He had taken 
her by the wrist with his poor calloused 
hands, cracked and knotted, and grimed 
with a half -century's toil. 

"Oh, father, if my voice could only give 
you rest from your work ! " 

In that cry was her life and aim and res 
olution. If Reeves could have heard it, it 
would have added another distracting train 
of thought to those which kept him awake 



JASON EDWARDS. 23 

till twelve o'clock that night in his rooms 
on Columbus Avenue. 

Often before he had been attracted by 
women, had even felt moved to win them, 
but on nearer approach had found them 
only good friends at best. Would this 
girl continue to grow in interest ? " If she 
does to any considerable extent," he said 
to himself, " I'm of no particular value to 
myself without her." 

"But to think of that beautiful, reso 
lute, pure soul, full of music and exalta 
tion, living on Pleasant Avenue," and 
while puzzling upon this, and planning 
just what to say to her when he should 
call, he fell asleep. 

Life was not the same to him when he 
woke the next morning. He leaped out of 
bed half an hour earlier to do some special 
work, and as he moved about, he sang so 
merrily that the lodger above pounded 
warningly on the floor with his shoe-heel. 



24 JASON EDWARDS. 



III. 



IT was about five o'clock of a stifling hot 
day on Pleasant Avenue. Ironically 
bitter, the name of the street seemed 
now, like many another old-time name in 
Boston. 

The sun had gone out of it, but the 
heat still pulsed from the pavements and 
breathed from the doors and open windows 
of the four-story brick and wooden build 
ings, rising like solid walls on each side of 
the stream of human life which filled the 
crevasse with its slow motion. 

Children, ragged, dirty, half-naked and 
ferocious, swarmed up and down the fur 
nace-like street, swore and screamed in 
high-pitched, unnatural, animal-like voices, 
from which all childish music was lost. 
Frowzy women walking with a gait of 
utter weariness, aged women, bent and 



JASON EDWARDS. 25 

withered, and young women soon to bring 
other mouths and tongues and hands into 
this frightful struggle, straggled along the 
side-walks, laden with parcels, pitifully 
small, filled with food. 

Other women and old people leaned 
from the open windows to get a breath of 
cooler air, frowns of pain on their faces, 
while in narrow rooms foul and crowded, 
invalids tortured by the deafening screams 
of the children, and the thunder of passing 
teams and cars, and unable to reach the 
window to escape the suffocating heat and 
smell of the cooking, turned to the wall, 
dumbly praying for death to end their 
suffering. 

If a young soul from the quiet of sub 
urban life, or a visitor from the country, 
had found himself in the midst of these 
streets and these people, he would have 
trembled with fear and horror. It would 
have seemed to him like a hideous dream 
of hell, but the postman, making his last 
round, whistled as he threaded his way 
amidst the obstructions of the pavements 
whistled and swore good-naturedly, as 



26 JASON EDWARDS. 

the eager children crowded upon him. He 
walked briskly and with alert and pleasant 
eyes, his bag on his left shoulder, his left 
hand filled with badly written letters. 

Through this street, moving toward its 
better quarters, Alice Edwards and Reeves 
were making their way slowly, oppressed 
by the heat and impeded by the riotous 
play of the children and the grimy babes 
rolling on the pavements before the doors. 

They both moved forward with an air 
which plainly showed they were, like the 
postman, accustomed to see this. They 
saw it but saw it as one of the inevitable 
conditions. The children knew them, and 
many spoke to them familiarly, but not 
saucily. 

"Hello, Mr. Reeves!" 

"Hello, Alice!" 

"That your sweetheart?" 

" You dry up ! He'll put you into the 
paper," said a woman with the usual shawl 
thrown over her head, in spite of the heat 
(a relic of barbarism in dress) . 

Alice was dressed in white, such as she 
usually wore when singing, and she looked 



JASON EDWARDS. 27 

like a lost wild dove dropped into this hor 
rible crevasse ; and in her eyes there was a 
look of sorrowful wisdom which showed 
she was not unacquainted with vice and 
misery, though untainted by it. 

They walked in silence mainly, save as 
they greeted the people they met. Reeves 
looked, as usual, shrewd and kindly, but 
under his drooping moustache there was 
the line of his lips to tell how much he felt 
the pity of all this degradation. He was a 
stalwart figure, and set off well the slender 
woman beside him. He was dressed, as 
usual, with uncommon care, wearing the 
conventional Prince Albert coat, but reliev 
ing himself a little of the discomfort by 
leaving it unbuttoned. 

"This dodging the babes on the pave 
ment makes me think of walking in the 
country after a rain-storm, when the toads 
are thick. In the thousands of the city, 
these little mites of humanity have no 
more significance than toads. They lie 
here, squat in the way uncared for, and 
unlovely. What a childhood to look back 
upon." 



28 JASON EDWARDS. 

They turned in at last at one of the 
cave-like apertures opening upon the nar 
row walk, and passed into a hall which led 
straight through to the foul-smelling yard 
and alley behind. 

There were two families on each floor, 
and as the doors were open, the smells of 
cooking food were mingled into an inde 
scribable hot stench boiled beef, onions, 
cabbage, fried pork and the smell of vile 
coffee. Babies were squaling, loud-voiced 
women, worried with their cares and bad- 
tempered from weariness, were scolding 
and slapping the children who ran in and 
out with a prodigious clatter, and shrieking 
and squalling. 

Reeves and Alice looked into each oth 
er's faces with a significant glance, and 
mounted the stairs, dodging the children 
that were sliding down the banister and 
leaping across the landing. 

"Did you ever notice how little heat 
affects children, Alice?" inquired Reeves, 
as they paused at the top stair. 

"They are like salamanders. See their 
wonderful activity in spite of the heat." 



JASON EDWARDS. 29 

"Please consider me a martyr to beauty/' 
he said, as he took off his hat and flung 
back his coat. "I'll wear my straw hat 
and light suit next time, if it spoils my 
chances for the presidency." 

Alice smiled. " I didn't ask you to wear 
that." 

Reeves caught a grinning boy by the 
shoulder, as he was trying to slip past him. 
" See here, Patsy, did you leave that bana 
na-skin on the stairs ? I nearly broke my 
neck last Wednesday," he exclaimed to 
Alice. 

The room they entered was the usual 
living-room of the average mechanic, 
except that it had a carpet and piano, as 
if it laid claim to the name of parlor. But 
the table, partly spread for supper, told 
that it was also the dining-room. The 
furniture was of very humble sort, and was 
a peculiar mixture of old-fashioned pieces 
and bargains at the shoddy furniture-rooms 
of the city. 

The carpet on the floor was bright- 
colored. The curtains were very neat and 
clean, and the whole effect was of tasteful 



30 JASON EDWARDS. 

economy, but not comfort. The windows 
of the side, the only windows, looked out 
upon another similar tenement, across a 
narrow side street, along which boomed 
and thundered passing teams loaded with 
heavy plates of iron, or with immense flap 
ping loads of lumber. Venders of fruit 
were crying loudly and unmusically. It 
was very close and unwholesome, and 
Reeves drew a sigh of pain as he glanced 
about the room as Alice sat down on the 
piano stool in a meditative position. 

A little girl peeped in at the door and 
then ran away, and Mrs. Edwards, a gray- 
haired woman with a tired, patient face, 
came to the door which led into the kitchen 
and closed it softly, leaving the two young 
people alone, while she suffered a martyr 
dom of heat within the small cooking 
room. 

It was a strange place for a wooing, one 
would say. From the street foul odors 
and the boom of travel. Overhead some 
one was tramping heavily. In the hall 
the children fought and screamed, and 
clattered up and down the stairs. That 



JASON EDWARDS. 31 

they could sit and talk with such sur 
roundings was sorrowful evidence that it 
was habitual, and to some degree unnoticed. 

Reeves also sank into a chair with a 
sigh, and said, "Another recital like that 
would lay me out in the morgue. That 
tall girl that punished Schumann well, 
let that pass and let's come back to the 
subject in hand. That's all you'll prom 
ise me, is it?" he said, in a tone that 
implied he had returned to an interrupted 
conversation. 

"Yes," answered Alice gravely. 

"To marry me some time." 

"Yes ain't that enough?" A hint of 
a smile. 

"'No, it's too indefinite. Enough to 
a man who wants you and the earth! I 
begin to see there is a radical difference 
between men and women at least, 
between you and me. Now just think 
how indefinite that is some time! Why 
not put a limit and bound to it ? Why not 
say next Fourth of July?" 

She laughed, but shook her head. 

" Well, say Thanksgiving Christmas 



32 JASON EDWARDS. 

Ah! now I'm getting at it! It seems 
now I'm going to make a tremendous sac 
rifice come now, say a year from to-day." 

Alice spoke slowly, with a faint smile on 
her lips, her eyes cast down. 

"Well, I'll think of it." 

"What's that?" 

"I said I'd think of it." 

"Alice, you can be exasperating on 
occasion. To think of the sermons and 
graduating exercises I've endured, to hear 
you sing! To think of the lemonade and 



ice-cream" 



"Walter!" 

"All this haf I endured mit a patient 
shrug," acted Reeves, turning out his palms. 
"All the year, only to be told to wait 
another year," he groaned. 

"How can you make light of it?" said 
Alice, severely, looking up at him. 

"Light of it!" cried he in astonishment. 
"Do I act like a man making light of it ?" 
He rose and paced once across the room, 
and said gravely, "Alice, this is absurd. 
Look at it from my stand-point a moment. 
Here I am, good salary land a little 



JASON EDWARDS. 33 

railway stock my eye on a dove of a 
cottage in Meadow View Queen Anne 
piazza" 

" I know, but" 

"But what?" 

"Why I'm happy now" 

"Well, I ain't." 

"That is," she hastened to explain, "I 
have my music, and I have father and 
mother and Linnie why can't you be 
patient?" 

"I am. Job ain't a circumstance to me." 

"Let me study another year" 

"Can't think of it!" 

"I love my music. I want to do some 
thing in that. I want to earn my own liv 
ing I must help my people" 

"All I have is theirs," said Reeves 
solemnly. 

"No, it ain't," she cried firmly. "I want 
money, all my own that's what I've stud 
ied for, and I can't be dependent." 

"Oh, these modern women!" groaned 
Reeves. 

"You got your place by your own 
work/' she continued in the same tone, 



34 JASON EDWARDS. 

"and I want to show how much I can 
do" 

" You mean how little." 

"I mean how much/' she repeated, with 
a touch of silencing indignation. "I'm 
proud of you because you've got where you 
have, hy your own merit. Now let me see 
if I can't do for myself and my parents 
what" 

" Nonsense ! I can do work enough for 
two. I don't want you to work." 

"I know you don't, Walter, but" 

"But what?" 

" I want to work. Don't you see ? I'm 
happier in my work. Let me have my 
freedom another" 

"Freedom!" cried Reeves in vast aston 
ishment. "Well, now that heads me off! 
As if you couldn't do as you please after 
marrying me." 

The girl, finding herself driven to give 
an explanation which was impossible, 
changed her method of attack. 

"You called me the modern woman?" 

" Yes, for lack of a better characteriza 
tion/' he replied. 



JASON EDWARDS. 35 

"Well," she laughed mockingly, "the 
modern woman doesn't marry young." 

"The modern woman had better look 
out, or she'll get out of the habit and not 
marry at all," grumbled Eeeves. Then 
changing his mode of attack, he rose and 
closed the door, and returning took his 
chair over toward her, and seated himself 
facing her. 

"Say, Alice, do you know I'm getting 
old fast? I'm getting too near thirty. 
See the gray hairs on my head, eh?" 

Alice put out her hand and pushed her 
fingers up through his thick hair a 
caressing movement. 

"Gray! There isn't a gray hair in it 
and if there was" she hesitated. 

" Out with it." 

"It would be due to" 

"Dissipation, eh?" 

"I didn't say that." 

"No, but you meant it." 

"I didn't I meant" 

"Now don't try to switch off on Back 
Bay parties and five o'clock teas. It's due 
to the suffering incident to going to church 



36 JASON EDWARDS. 

and to recitals to hear you sing one poor 
little hymn" 

"Do you good," she laughed. "You 
wouldn't go to church at all otherwise." 

" By the way, I heard Mrs. Hoi way was 
thinking of taking you up." 

"I'm not going to be taken up by any 
such person," said Alice, "She's a coarse, 
ignorant woman. She asked me to-day if 
Wa-agner wasn't French ! " 

" She's pretty dense, that's a fact. About 
the worst Philistines I know are the peo 
ple who think all the rest of the world are 
Philistines." 

They were silent a moment, Alice stand 
ing with her hand on his shoulder. 

"But to return to the discussion," began 
Reeves, after a few moments. 

Alice withdrew her hand and began tak 
ing off her hat. 

"I won't argue any more with you. 
Now you sit down and keep still while I 
help mother." 

"But I" 

Alice hummed a little tune, and then 
turning, asked innocently 



JASON EDWARDS. 37 

"What were you about saying?" 

"I'll go home and write a ferocious edi 
torial on the modern woman attacking 
the whole theory" 

"Do, and I'll add another year to your 
probation," said Alice sweetly. "I must 
teach you patience, or you'll be a tyrant." 

Reeves groaned in mock despair. "Oh, 
that I were born so late ! Oh, for the soft 
and yielding females of romance! They 
did nothing but faint in their lovers' 
arms but these modern women" 

Alice seated herself at the piano and 
touched a few chords. Mrs. Edwards 
opened the door softly, but seeing Reeves 
step to Alice's side and put his hand 
on her shoulder, she discreetly withdrew 
again to her direful hot-box. 

Alice, feeling the hand of her lover, 
ceased to play, and looked up to see a new 
expression on his face. 

"Lovers always enjoy telling each other 
what they thought and felt the first time 
they saw each other" 

"Well, go on," smiled the girl. 

"I never could say just what I felt 



38 JASON EDWARDS. 

when I saw you, but to-day I clipped a 
poem that comes as near to it as any 
words can. 

"Oh, read it to me do!" pleaded 
Alice. 

"How do you know it will please 
you?" 

"I don't." 

" Yes, you do, or you wouldn't ask for 
it." 

He stood now looking down at her, 
seated by the piano, her hands in her lap, 
her eyes upturned while Keeves read 

" She passed me on the street 
And saw me not ! . . . . 
As some sweet singer, safe 
Near its swaying nest 
Beside some half-hid stream 
Far in the wooded west, 
With pure, untroubled, child-like eyes, 
She walked in happy dream, 
Of her own wonder and surprise. 

" Knowing not vice nor hunger's ways ; 
In girlhood's pure and wistful thought, 
She passed me but I caught 
The glorious beauty of her face ! 



JASON EDWARDS. 39 

Beneath her garments perfume-fraught 
She moved with such a splendid grace, 
I knew a strain of music passed 
Her buoyant stepping held me fast ! " 

As Keeves read this, Alice took the hand 
which was on her shoulder, and laid her 
cheek upon it. The tears came in her 
eyes, and when he had finished, she said in 
a low voice 

" Oh, I wish I were worthy that poem." 

"You are worthy it," said Reeves tend 
erly, locking his hands under her chin, and 
kissing her upturned face." 

"Oh, no. It is an ideal it is not me." 

"But you see that's what you are the 
<not-me'." 

A knock on the door brought a grimace 
to his face, and Alice, rising, said, "Come 
in." A large and flabby Irish woman 
entered, and seeing Reeves and Alice alone, 
professed the most voluble contrition. 

"Bad luuk to the sowl av me! It's a 
bloody thief I am to come stalin' in but 
Murtagh'll be home sune, an' it's a cu-up o' 
tay he'll be nadin' ? An' is Mrs. Edwards 
in?" 



40 JASON EDWARDS. 

Mrs. Edwards hearing the high-pitched 
voice of her neighbor, who "borrowed 
things", came in, greeting Mr. Reeves in 
her placid way, in the midst of the never- 
ending clatter of Mrs. Murtagh's tongue. 

"Wull you loan me the lavin' o' tay, 
Mrs. Edwards? I have a cu-up." 

Mrs. Edwards took the cup with an air 
of long-suffering patience, and returned to 
the kitchen. 

"It's the warst I cud do, to be disturbin' 
two swatehaarts sittin' like du-uves in a 
nist" 

"There, there, Mrs. Murtagh," said Alice. 
"Never mind you didn't mean" 

"Mane, t is it? How cud I knaw, an' the 
dure an inch thick, and the babby a squall- 
in' like murther?" 

"Never mind that, madam," said Reeves, 
trying his hand at staying the torrent. 

"D'ye hear that now? Madam, sez he! 
Good luuk to ye f'r that! " 

Reeves resorted to stratagem. Going 
over to the door, he said, " I think I hear 
Teddy fighting again." 

"Fightin' is he? Mother o' God! That 



JASON EDWARDS. 41 

bye's the divil himself. Good luuk to ye, 
darlint ! It's dancin' at y'r weddin' I'll be 
doin' till ye'll think it's bechune sixteen 
an' twinty I am." And with much palaver 
she thanked Mrs. Edwards and withdrew 
with the cup of tea. 

" Heavens and earth ! What a scourge ! " 
said Reeves with a sigh. 

"Oh, she isn't bad. She has a good 
heart. But there are people in our block 
that are dreadful. And it is so hard to 
escape them in the crowded city. 

Reeves shuddered, and said with a ten 
der cadence in his voice, "My poor little 
girl. Let me take you out of this." 

"And leave my parents in it?" she 
asked in a tone which stopped his mouth. 
His face darkened over the problem. He 
dared not push the matter further. 

"Well, I must be going back to the 
office. I'm expected to do an anti-poverty 
lecture to-night." 

"What kind of a lecture?" 

"Why, this abolition of poverty idea, 
started by Henry George perfectly absurd 
idea." Alice looked thoughtful. 



42 JASON EDWARDS. 

"I wish the idea wasn't so absurd. I 
don't understand why poverty should be 
so persistent in the world. Do you?" 

Eeeves was profoundly touched by her 
words and manner. He hesitated and 
finally said, "Come to think of it, it is 
more absurd to think the abolishing of 
poverty absurd. Some way I haven't yet 
seen where the laugh comes in. I've been 
thinking a good deal on these social ques 
tions lately, and writing a good deal in a 
way." He mused again for a moment, 
his eyes on the floor, his hat in his hand. 
He took another bit of paper from his 
pocket. 

"The air is full of revolt against things 
as they are. I don't know why, some 
thing has brought them up. Here's some 
thing I wrote while standing on Brooklyn 
Bridge the other day, looking down on 
New York. 'Over me surged and swung 
those giant cables, etched against the sky, 
delicate as cobwebs. Under my feet that 
marvel of man, the bridge itself. I stood 
there, looking down on that lava-like flood 
of bricks and mortar called New York, 



JASON EDWARDS. 43 

cracked and seamed and piled into hideous 
forms, without grace or charm. I saw 
men rushing to and fro there in those 
gloomy scenes, like ants in the scoria of 
a volcano. I saw pale women sewing in 
dens reeking with pestilence and throbbing 
with heat. I saw myriads of homes where 
the children could play only on the roof 
or in the street. Whole colonies of hope 
less settlers, sixty feet from the pavement. 
And I said, man has invented a thousand 
new ways of producing wealth, but not 
one for properly distributing it. I don't 
understand the problem, but it must be 
solved. Somebody will solve it." 3 

He crumpled the paper away in his 
pocket. "Well, don't mind my firing an 
editorial at you, will you?" He held out 
his hand. 

" Good-by, my liege lady," he said in 
mock homage, kissing her fingers. Alice 
smiled faintly at his playfulness, and after 
he had gone out, turned to her mother 
wearily. 

" And he feels it, too. Oh, isn't it ter 
rible to be poor, mother?" 



44 JASON EDWARDS. 

"Yes, Allie," said Mrs. Edwards with 
quiet pathos; "but I've got used to it I 
don't expect anything else now I don't 
care s' much f'r myself, but I do want to 
see my children saved from it." 

"Oh, how sweet it must be to be free 
from the fears of poverty," cried the girl. 
"To feel that you don't need to scrimp and 
pinch, and turn dresses, and dye feathers, 
and wear old shoes, and pinch every cent 
you have. I wonder how it would seem 
to feel that food would come when you 
needed it. And then to be free to study. 
Oh, that would be heaven ! " 

Mrs. Edwards was moving about the 
room with that mechanical persistency the 
never-resting laborer acquires. The impas 
sioned girl saw this at last, and rising, 
approached her and put her arms around 
the mother's waist. "How patient you 
are, mother." 

"I have to be, dearie. It wouldn't do 
no good to cry an' take on. I've got over 
that." 

" Mother, are there any happy people in 
the world any working people, I mean? 



JASON EDWARDS. 45 

Are they all cross and tired and worried 
and full of care, as we are here?" 

" I don't know, Allie; but when I was a 
girl back in Derry, it seemed as if most 
everybody was fore-handed and had enough 
t' eat. But now it seems as if everybody 
was strugglin' f r dear life. It really does. 
But mercy sakes ! What started us off on 
this strain, I wonder. We mustn't let 
Jason come in and find us like this. Now 
you go wash up an' change your dress or 
put on an apron, an' get the things on. I 
wonder where Linnie is." 

"She's out on the street, waiting for 
father, I guess." 

Mrs. Edwards stopped and looked more 
concerned than she had before. 

"It scares me to have her growin' up on 
the street so, but I can't see no way to 
help it. Things wan't so bad when you 
was little." 

Linnie's voice was heard below. "Pop 
pa's come ! Poppa's come ! " 

Jason Edwards entered the street door 
covered with grime and dust of a machine- 
shop, a small tin pail in his hand. An 



46 JASOX *MlM/,v 

I Inn in romiti'.' h.'in tin- oppoMt,- dinv- 
lion. Mid to liiin \\itli ,i OUriOUl nilh Ottaij 
I in out ol' a job 

! 

li . N '\. -,1ml do\\ n t"r t\\o 
inun I . III.UIIIN r |M.M|IH-- 

I'm .still \\orkm', ;it tin* it l 

tlirir Mrin; H ' of t. n |.,-r vnt. ain't 

likri\ to IT ohangtd, ixotpl |Q ton 

fh| tlh'\'ll rut \f lo\\n. l>r (Job, till 
tlu'v's n;i\\ thin' lit't. All tli.-N \\.int B 

ii.M thr rint on us. an' \\v\\ IK- in 
tlh 

'h-s'll do that 1 

M li- lu-iMii rliiuhin'..' tli- iteil 
\\a\, l.iuuii' runnin- ;ilivul to .union- 

liiiL 1 . A.N lu 1 \\ i nt in, lu- made a 
pout'i-t'ul clTort to ronrcal thr i-loom and 
hittrrni'vs \\hirh was in liis luvirt. 

Linnir in his haml- " M\ 
Ain't wr L-.i'ttin' 1 M-'lu i . - ( , ir 

nu- slip's gTOWin 1 tatu-r in spiu- v>f thr 
heat- > 

As ho hun^; up his roat ami hat, l.innir 
followed him about, talking. * 4 Uh, poppa. 



9BWA&9& 47 



I m:,,|,: ||,,: I,,, M.I -: :.ll |,Y ..MM, II 

|"|M'I i.. i|. m,, | i. niy=tenty Wt, hardly, 

.h.l -,..... m.-MMMftf 11 

I i, ,' my I. Hi.'- k! I '!""'' 1 -""W 

li..w u.'.l I .. |, 

jfOOj "".llM , 

\,,.i. .,),. ,,.,.;.., 

Ultli A!.- . . : nnl I 

I Iflfit ' ITftfBd AH, 

i -! M.I miltd ^htli rlllflg up his 

, "Aha, new we're gettin' to it, 

There e&a't nothing g & in thi ward 

v.'i..ni Mi^ 8rightye8 kawin 9 all 

,1 " I,. u. nt .,{ 

aJ4, {i.iii ,.]...,., ugly= 
i -iunci, dear, ni have te 



\vhat' diJplifte? M asked Linnie 

,, :1 ntl V , v,.ll. lln blliflg ",ll,. l.-.n , : , .,. .: 

..... - I'" "I"" I" 'I" '" 1' 



1 1'< in teaebidg little girl* &t t tell total 
-"I i ^bl f and to keep Irm talking 
LI- i 4dy Murtagb, 11 
(,,, .i..i,,-i t tt y t learn what diset 
but got the tnb yt &! the 



48 JASON EDWARDS. 

case under the mirror, and drew a chair up 
facing the window. "I'm all ready/' she 
cried, as Edwards came out of the kitchen, 
wiping his face and arms. He took his 
seat in a chair, and put Linnie astride his 
knees, in an attitude which was a familiar 
one, and she chattered away childishly. 

" Ain't you glad you've got a little girl 
to comb your hair when you're tired?" 

"I guess so. Without my girls I guess 
we'd surrender, wouldn't we, mother?" 

As Mrs. Edwards nodded, he went on in 
the same tone, "But you're gettin' to be 
such a great big girl, I'm afraid you won't 
do this very long." 

"Yes, I will; I'll do this just as long 
till I'm as big as Alice yes, longer," 
asserted Linnie stoutly. 

"Oh, you'll be goin' off and gettin' mar 
ried one o' these days." 

"I won't neither," said Linnie pouting. 
"Now you stop talkin' that way. I ain't 
goin' to get married 'tall." 

"Don't be too sure of that." 

"I'm goin' to sit here every night just 
as long as I live, and comb your hair for 



JASON EDWARDS. 49 

you, and make you sing songs for me. 
There!" she ended, patting a curl in his 
hair with her little palm. 

Edwards rose, and Linnie put the comb 
back in the case. 

"Well, Jennie," he began in a grave 
and tender tone, "how goes it with you 
to-day? Seems terrible hot here to-night. 
Why don't you have the door open? I 
swear, it's worse than the shop." 

"It always is, Jason, when the wind's 
in the south-west. But I can't stand the 
noise, so I keep the door shut. Sometimes 
it seems 's if I couldn't bear it another 
minute. But I keep goin', by thinkin' 
how much worse some other folks is 
off." 

"Yes, that's about the only way to be 
patient," said Jason bitterly. " Makes me 
almost wild, when I get to thinkin' of it 
sometimes." 

He went to the sofa and dropped heavily 
upon it. Linnie got a fan from the wall, 
and sat down to fan his face. Alice took 
her place by the head of the sofa and 
caressed his forehead. 



50 JASON EDWARDS. 

" Poor poppa ! It's terrible to see you so 
tired. Was it very hard to-day?" 

"Just one eternal tread-mill/' Edwards 
said. "Never a day off. I'm glad I don't 
believe in another world," he said, after a 
pause. "I shouldn't be sure of rest, if I 



was." 



Mrs. Edwards was shocked almost out of 
her slow, placid way. 

"Hush, Jason! It's wicked to talk like 
that. It don't do no good to talk like 
that 'specially 'fore the children. Come 
an' eat something now." 

"What has happened to-day, father?" 
said Alice quietly. " You haven't been so 
discouraged for a long time." 

" Oh, I'm hot and worn out," he replied 
evasively. 

"It does seem dreadful hot for June," 
said Mrs. Edwards, who was seated at the 
table, waiting for the rest to come and eat. 

Edwards raised himself on his elbow, his 
face softened. 

"June? What a lot that word means to 
the folks in the country ! " He sat up and 
looked around with a darkening face, 



JASON EDWARDS. 51 

"Down here, in this cursed alley, we don't 
know anything about June, except it 
makes our tenement hotter an' sicklier 
an' w'y, to-night, girls, if we was only 
back at the old farm, we'd see the mead 
ows knee-deep in grass, and the world 
would smell like a posy-bed. We didn't 
look forward to jest this kind o' thing 
when we left Derry twenty years ago, did 
we, mother?" 

" No, Jason ; but it ain't no use, as I see, 
to worry." 

" Oh, poppa, you promised you'd take us 
back up there didn't he, Allie? I'm so 
tired of these hot streets." 

Edwards put his arm around her. "I'm 
afraid there's no vacation for us this year, 
Linnie. The struggle gets harder and 
harder. Oh, I'm too tired to eat, Jennie," 
he ended, sinking back on the sofa. 

"Come and try to drink a cup of tea, 
father," urged Alice. She had more influ 
ence over him now than his wife, and at 
her urging he rose and took a seat at the 
table, making another effort to throw off 
his gloom. 



52 JASON EDWARDS. 

"Well, Allie, how'd you come on with 
your recital or whatever you call it?" 

"Very well, father; only I wish you'd 
been there to hear me." 

" I wish I had, but I couldn't. I've got 
to keep treadin' to keep our heads above 
water rent and taxes go on when I pic 
nic, but wages don't." 

Linnie sprang down from her chair, as 
if something forgotten had occurred to her. 
She ran to the piano and got a little poster 
or printed letter-sheet. 

"Oh, poppa, a man pushed this under 
the door while we was away to-day." 

It was a notice that after the first of 
July, 1 884, the expiration of his lease, the 
landlord found it necessary to raise the 
rent. Please notify, etc. A messenger 
with a bag full of these notices had been 
sent out to distribute them in the tene 
ments of the great land-holder whose name 
was at the bottom. 

Edwards sat as if stunned by this last 
blow sat and gazed at the paper in his 
hands. In those few moments he had 
traced their devious way about the city. 



JASON EDWARDS. 53 

How they were obliged to leave K Street 
for a poorer place on Carver Street; how 
from there, where his little boy died, they 
were forced again to move to poorer quar 
ters, his work making it necessary for him 
to keep within a certain limit. In his pres 
ent mood all these things assumed a tragic 
aspect. His fear and doubt disturbed 
them, and as his mind ran out into the 
future, his feelings grew too strong for 
retention. He sprang up. His face was 
terrible to see, his hands opened and shut, 
his eyes blazed. 

" Hain't they got no mercy, these human 
wolves? Hain't it all I can stand now? 
Look at it!" he cried, flinging his hand 
out toward the wall. "Look at this tene 
ment hotter, shabbier, rottener but rent 
must go up." His voice choked, he paused 
and sank back into his chair. At last he 
said, "Jennie, children, I don't know what 
we're goin' to do. I don't see what's corn- 
in', but we're bein' squeezed out, that's 



sure." 



Mrs. Edwards was crying quietly, while 
looking at the rent bill. Linnie came to 



54 JASON EDWARDS. 

her father and tried to comfort him with 
patting him with her little hand. 

"Don't cry, poppa. Please don't. It 
makes my throat ache." 

Alice sat white and rigid at the table, 
her eyes fixed on her father's face. Never 
before had he given way like this. There 
was something awful in it. Was he going 
mad? 

"Never mind, Jason. It ain't much. 
We can git along some way. We have 
always" 

At this moment some one pushed the 
door open. A small, pale young man, with 
a peculiar grimy complexion, and cavern 
ous great eyes, came in, holding a similar 
rent notice in his hand. As he came for 
ward, another man with a huge beard and 
smoking a long German pipe, lounged in 
the doorway, with a peculiar stolid face, 
but with a mocking, questioning gleam in 
his eye. 

"Aha!" cried the young man, coming 
forward. "Vat you say now eh? Ees 
it not time for to brodest ? My vages haf 
been reduced tvice alretty during four years. 



JASON EDWARDS. 55 

My rent haf been raised four times. How? 
Ees it not hell? I say, vat you do?" 

Edwards shook his head. "I don't 
know, Berg, I don't know." 

"I know what I doo soon," answered 
the young German darkly, as he turned his 
face to the man in the door-way. " I make 
brodest, zo I shall be heardt." 

"Oh, don't do that," cried Alice, "you 
mustn't do that. Keep away from those 
men who believe in dynamite. They don't 
belong in our free land" 

Berg stopped her with a mocking smile, 
which was dramatic as a gesture. 

"Free? Free to pay rendt in! I fly 
from dyrants, from vork andt no pay, I 
reach a free landt where I am a slave 
under anoder name. I see eferywhere the 
march of feudalism. I lose hope. Ledt 
them beware! They squeeze me to de vail. 
I shall vight. I am a volf at pay. I haf 
reach my las' hope. If I fall now, I trag 
somedings mit me." 

There was a concentration of purpose in 
the man's tone which held them all silent, 
though they could not sympathize with him. 



56 JASON EDWARDS. 

Alice rose and walked up to him. 
"Don't be rash, Mr. Berg. Don't do that 
I mean what you mean. Don't go out 
with those men for your mother's sake." 

The young German gazed at her for a 
moment, then drew a long breath. 

"For your zake I go not oudt." 

" No, no, not for my sake," she protested 
hastily. "For your mother's sake." 

"For your sake," he persisted. "Do 
you hear?" he said to the silent figure. 
"Ich geli nict heraus." 

The man at the door laughed silently 
and went away. Berg also went out, say 
ing, "I come again to see you." 

Alice came back to Edwards with a fire 
in her eyes. "Can't you do something, 
father ? Can't you strike ? " 

"No, we can't strike," said Edwards 
spiritlessly. " At least, it wouldn't do any 
good. What can men do strikin' with 
families like I've got. Rents goin' up and 
wages goin' down. I don't see the end of 
this thing." 

"Don't give up, Jason," said Mrs. Ed 
wards, in her monotonous and hopeless 



JASON EDWARDS. 57 

way. "We'll get along some way. We 
can live in a cheaper tenement." 

"I don't want you to do that, Jennie. 
This is poor enough, God knows." 

"I'll give up my studies, father/' said 
Alice, with a firm look. "I'll teach and 
learn typewriting, and I'll help" 

"It wouldn't save us, my girl. By 
next year the rents will be higher. It 
ain't the present that scares me it's the 
future. There don't seem to be no hope 
for the future. I'm gettin' old. I'm lia 
ble to break down any day, and be sick for 
a week or a month, and if I was, we'd 
need help soon. John's wages jest barely 
support him and wife and baby. He can't 
help us, and Linnie ought to go to school, 
and Allie ought to go on with her music." 

"I can give that up I mean the study 
ing and I'll make it earn me something. 
I'll find a way to help " 

"So'll I," chirped Linnie, who had nest 
led between her father's knees. "Poppa, 
don't you worry we'll earn money." 

"What's the world comin' to, Jason, 
when sober, hard-workin' people can't get 



58 JASON EDWARDS. 

a decent livin'?" sighed Mrs. Edwards, as 
she looked sorrowfully over the uneaten 
supper. 

"I don't know. I tell you, Jennie, I've 
done a pile o' thinkin' down there in the 
shop since my last cut-down. I've looked 
at the whole matter fore and aft, up one 
side and down t'other, an' it's jest a 
plain case of wages goin' down and rents 
goin' up, and us bein' squeezed between 
the two." He thought a moment darkly. 
"Jest look at it! Here we are finally 
squeezed into one o' the worst places in 
the city, simply because rents are so high 
and wages so low, an' we can't afford car 
fare." He was silent a long time. At 
last Mrs. Edwards spoke. 

"Well, less eat some supper, anyway: 
They sat up to the table once more, 
but the meal was a short and scanty one. 
Each was busy with the problem. Alice 
toyed with her spoon and cup, looking 
with wide, unseeing eyes into the future. 
A great sob of disappointment and hope 
less sorrow came in her throat, till it ached 
with physical strain. 



JASON EDWARDS. 59 

Her thoughts flew to Reeves and then to 
her music. As she saw again the vast 
audience in the hall, before whom she had 
sung and whose applause had been like 
some strange, vast assurance of her power, 
and a prophecy of her future triumph, and 
contrasted that scene with this poor little 
home in a tenement house, she was bewil 
dered and despairing. 

The father, sitting there, was so real and 
so tragic, with the tired droop in his shoul 
ders and the shadow of defeat in his eyes. 
The smell of the alley and the so and of the 
swarming life in the tenement, so powerful 
that the music-hall and its gay, flattering 
crowd was like a dream. She was think 
ing again of Reeves, when her father's 
voice recalled her. He was saying in a 
curiously hesitating voice, "If I was a 
young man if I had nobody dependin' on 
me or if you and I was young, Jen 
nie" there was such a terrific rush and 
clatter and screams and sound of blows, 
that his voice was lost, and he motioned to 
Linnie to close the door. "Good heavens! 
It's like livin' in a lunatic asylum." 



60 JASON EDWARDS. 

"That's the reason I keep the door 
shet," said his wife. "I'd sooner smother 
than have that noise dingin' in my ears." 

"If I was a young man," he resumed, 
"and the girls didn't need schooling they'd 
be one way out, just one an' that's to go 
West get a piece of free land" 

Alice turned quickly. "Do it now. Do 
it! We'll go West and help you, won't 
we? Why didn't we think of it before?" 
she went on, warming with the idea. 
" Why, of course, everybody is happy that 
goes West. It's the only chance for peo 
ple like us. Everybody says 'go West!' 
Music teachers do well in the West quite 
a lot of the girls are out there" she 
rushed on, impetuously carried away with 
the idea. 

Edwards rose and went to the wall 
where his coat hung, and got out a bundle 
of maps and posters. 

"Well, now you've said that, Alice, I'll 
own up I've been studyin' the matter for a 
long time. I've jest about wore these 
maps out lookin' at 'em down at the 
shop." 



JASON EDWARDS. 61 

The posters were gaily colored affairs, 
calling attention to the cheap rates to the 
"Garden spot of the West". They were 
the usual western railway folders, with 
large maps of Dakota and Kansas. "Ho! 
for the Golden West ! Free farms for the 
homeless ! " 

Edwards cleared a place on the table, 
and spread them all out. 

"Now, here's Boston, and there's Chi 
cago, and then you go out along that 
black line till you get there, and there's 
free land? Free land, mother!" he said, 
smiling a little for the first time. 

"What's free land?" said Linnie, with 
the Irish inflection. 

"Free land is where they ain't no 
landlords an' no rent," said her father. 
"Where they ain't no rich an' no poor. 
Where they ain't no bosses an' no servants. 
Where people don't live all cooped up in 
dens like this. Where they raise such corn 
as that." Here he unrolled a gaudy poster, 
which showed a bunch of resplendent, enor 
mous ears of corn. "Where people have 
homes of their own, and cows, and trees, 



62 JASON EDWARDS. 

and brooks full o' trout runnin' by like 
this," he ended, displaying a poster, on 
which was an alluring picture of a farm 
house with a broad river in the back 
ground, on which a boat floated idly, 
containing two women, presumably the 
farmer's wife and daughter. The farmer 
himself in the foreground was seated on a 
self-binding reaper, holding the reins over 
an abnormally sleek and prancing pair of 
horses. He wore a fine Kossuth hat and 
a standing collar, and his shirt was immac 
ulate. A deer was looking out at him 
(with pardonable curiosity) from a neigh 
boring wood-lot. It was the ideal farmer, 
and the farm of the land-boomer and the 
self-glorifying American newspaper. 

"Oh, let's go!" the little one cried, tak 
ing it all literally. "Can't I have a 
hen, poppa?" she asked, catching sight 
of a stately flock on parade by the wood- 
side. 

"A dozen of 'em." While Edwards did 
not take the poster literally, he had the 
eastern laborer's ignorance of the West. 
It was all fabulous to him. 



JASON EDWARDS. 63 

"Oh, goody, goody! Let's go to-mor 
row," chattered Liimie. 

"Mother, that's our way out of this hole 
sure enough. Ed. Ruble and his father 
went out there. He wrote to me and two 
of the boys in the shop cracked the 
country up great both gettin' rich, he 
said. We can build a log house that'll 
do for a year or two, till we raise a crop. 
You can stand a log house, can't you, Jen 
nie?" he said tenderly, putting his hand 
on his wife's shoulders. 

"Of course. We won't mind that. But 
how'll we get the money, Jason? We 
ain't got much, an' it'll take a lot o' 
money to git out there an' git settled 
fairly." 

"We'll manage some way, now you've 
agreed to go. We'll have to sell the 
furniture" 

"Oh, will we?" asked Alice. 

"Yes, it wouldn't pay to ship it. Some 
of the things we'll pawn, an' mebbe we can 
redeem 'em after a year or two. I can 
raise a few hundred dollars, I guess, all 
told." 



64 JASON EDWARDS. 

"That old blue Chiny set of mine that 
Grandfather Baldwin give grandmother 
the old man that mends Chiny says its 
worth a lot o' money I'll sell that," put 
in Mrs. Edwards. 

"Good!" said Jason, who was looking 
at the map. "We'll find a way now we've 
made up our minds to go. If I hadn't 
been a fool, we'd 'a' gone long 'fore this." 

"I wonder if John'll go." 

"He would, but his wife won't listen 
to it. I know, 'cause he told me he'd 
talked the whole thing over with her. 
There's the road to health and wealth! 
Good-by to rents." 

Edwards was already expanding with 
the freedom of it all. He let his imagina 
tion have full wing, and as he talked, he 
seemed like a new man. The breath of a 
new life seemed to enter into him. 

" I see the way out now. By the time 
Linnie grows up I'll be able to come back 
here and live independent. I feel as if a 
pile-driver had rolled off my shoulders." 

"You look so, father," smiled Alice. 
"You look more like your real self now. 



JASON EDWARDS. 65 

I'll take my piano and teach music. Per 
haps I can get a place in the schools." 

" We'll find plenty to do out there. 
The thing is, to get out there. Then 
we're all right. When'll we go?" 

"Let's go right off," said Linnie. 

"All right," replied Edwards, as if the 
advice had come from a reliable source. 

He was already full of springing dreams. 
In a vague, sunny field of vision, he saw a 
comfortable home among the trees, a lake 
near at hand (or a river) , golden fields of 
grain, and cattle feeding on green hillsides. 
All the reports of plenty he had ever read 
came back now to fill his mind. Letters 
from friends and relatives, newspaper arti 
cles, lectures, poems, songs, all the legend 
ary, as well as real prosperity and cheer of 
the great West. 

"What was that old song you used to 
sing, Jennie, something about 'O'er the 
hills in legions, boys' can't you remem 
ber it? About buffaloes an' ploughs an' 
rifles" 

Mrs. Edwards, who was busy about the 
table, stopped and hummed an old air. 



66 JASON EDWARDS. 

"That's it! That's it!" said Edwards. 
"Can't you play it, Allie?" 

Alice went to the piano and struck the 
chord s, while Mrs. Edwards sang an old 
song current years ago, a song which is 
full of the breath of hope and the peculiar 
vibrant melody of the pioneer who is born 
and not made a song that makes the 
heart of many a gray-haired man or 
woman thrill with memories of long jour 
neys, stormy nights, sombre forests and 
sunny streams a song that dates far into 
the forties, bringing forward to us to-day 
the boundless energy and freedom and 
imagination of Boone and Crockett, and 
the men they led into the West. 

" Cheer up, brothers, as we go 
O'er the mountains, westward ho ! 
While herds of deer and buffalo 
Furnish the cheer. 
Then o'er the hills in legions, boys, 
Fair freedom's star 
Points to the sunset region, boys, 
Ha, ha! Ha, ha! 

"When we've wood and prairie land 
Won by our toil, 



JASON EDWARDS. 67 

We'll reign like kings in fairy-land, 

Lords of the soil. 

Then o'er the hills in legions, boys, 

Fair fields afar ! 

We'll have our rifles ready, boys, 

Ha, ha! Ha, ha!" 

And as he sang, he seized Linnie and 
danced. 



68 JASON EDWARDS. 



IV. 



EDWARDS' daily walk was down a nar 
row street, a drear, desolate, gray 
crevice, hot and joyless. The hot, dusty 
gray of the cobble-stones, the brown-gray 
of the sidewalks, the sullen drab of the 
houses which lined the way, forming a des 
olate searing attack upon the eyes, unre 
lieved by any touch of coolness, harmony 
or grace. 

There was a full half-mile of this, which 
he traversed daily for twelve years. He 
knew and hated it in all its phases. Sullen 
and sombre when it rained, dusty when 
the wind blew, foul-smelling and damp, 
bleak and deadly when the cold northern 
blasts came roaring through it. 

The ingenuity of man could not have 
devised a more sinister, depressing and 



JASON EDWARDS. 69 

hopeless prospect. The houses, mainly 
wood, opened directly upon the sidewalk. 
The brick blocks, offering only a slight 
variation in ugliness; little bake-shops 
alternated with saloons and fruit-stores, 
where dusty and specked fruit was offered 
for sale to the children. 

This street Edwards followed till it 
reached an end in another thoroughfare, 
along which the horse-cars clashed and 
tinkled. The last half of his daily walk 
was out along a street still more nonde 
script, an indescribable abomination. A 
street lined with tumble-down sheds in 
which rags were picked over; sheds where 
blacksmiths toiled at horse-shoeing or sharp 
ening picks ; sheds alternating with vacant 
lots, with "Free Dump" cards appearing 
there, showing that some speculator was 
not averse to having his lot graded for 
him. 

Frightful stenches were abroad along 
this street, offal wagons passed, heavy 
drays with clashing, clanging loads of iron 
rolled slowly along, drawn by three horses 
tandem. The railway side-tracks and shops 



70 JASON EDWARDS. 

were here, and the sound of engines start 
ing and stopping, coupling and jerking, 
was a daily, hourly tumult. 

Shops and foundries of various kinds 
were located here on this low ground, and 
along the cindery paths, hot as ashes in 
the sun, sticky in the rain, a dreary proces 
sion of workmen like Jason Edwards plod 
ded sullenly, slouching for the 'most part 
with little of the lightness and joy which 
the morning should possess. 

Men with ragged, grimy coats, with din 
ner-pails in their hands and pipes in their 
mouths, went to their work, as prisoners 
to the tread-mill. They had no interest in 
their tasks, they were working in general 
to live and feed their children. They were 
not like craftsmen, but convicts in their 
joyless walk. 

Edwards on this next morning after his 
determination to go West, walked along 
this street like a new man. He saw more 
of the horror or, more exactly acknowl 
edged more of it, than he had ever dared 
before to see or acknowledge. He was like 
a prisoner whose term of confinement was 



JASON EDWARDS. 71 

expiring, and who could therefore afford to 
see the terror of the life he was escaping. 

The smells were never so offensive, and 
the low, ramshackle, dingy shed in which 
he had worked so long never looked so 
horrible before. 

He stopped at the door of the foundry, 
and called to the man who was working at 
the furnace. "Hello, Jerry! Goin' to be 
hot again, ain't it?" 

Jerry Sullivan, a fine, stalwart Irishman, 
came to the door. 

"God sakes, man! Wan day's like 
another to me. But what puts the smile 
on your face this mornin'?" 

"I'm out of it, Jerry." 

" Now what's that ? < Out of it ' ? " 

"I'm goin' West." Jerry dropped his 
bar in astonishment. 

"Ye don't mean it, Edwards?" 

"I do, Jerry. I'll be damned if I'll 
stand this any more. I've walked this 
street for twelve years, and I'm sick of it. 
I'm out of it." 

"I wish to God I was," said Jerry, with 
a touch of despondency. 



72 JASON EDWARDS. 

" Come along ! Try the West." 

"I can't get away." 

There was a little pause. They watched 
the men come in with their ragged coats 
on, and change their tolerably clean shirts 
for the rags and tatters which did duty in 
the shop. 

"Hello, Pat! How are yeh, this morn- 
in'?" called Edwards, as another man 
came up. 

"It's a-all right for him to be shmilin' 
this mornin' he's out of it," exclaimed 
Sullivan. "I wish I could go with yeh 
I'd do it in a minnit damn me sowl, but 
I wud." 

Four or five now gathered around, eager 
to hear the plans of Edwards. Not one 
but said 

"Glad you're gettin' out of it, Edwards. 
If we could go with yeh but it's no use 
talkin'" 

There was something mythic in the 
West to these men. It represented a far 
away, hopeful region, where work was 
plenty and rents low. Most of them knew 
very little about the geography of the 



JASON EDWARDS. 73 

West. Montana and Kansas were about 
the same to most of them, but it was all 
"West". 

It set them dreaming in a curious way, 
this heroic change of their fellow-work 
man. It opened anew the possibilities of 
their going. They crowded around, ask 
ing questions, forgetful that the "boss" 
had entered. 

"Come, get to work here," sounded the 
harsh, almost brutal voice of the foreman. 
"You'd better look out Locke and Bradley 
don't jump on your neck," he said to 
Edwards in a more jovial tone, as he came 
up. 

"They've got through jumpin' on my 
neck," replied Edwards. 

He felt a delicious sense of freedom. He 
could have sung in fact, he did make a 
pleasant noise which he called singing. 
He was in no hurry to go to his own shop, 
so dropped in a moment in a shop where 
wood-work for carriages was turned out. 

A particular friend, an Englishman, by 
the name of Jasper Barker, worked here 
as machinist. He was in earnest conver- 



74 JASON EDWARDS. 

sation with Julius Berg when Edwards 
entered. Both shouted above the noise of 
the shop, and motioned a welcome. 

"I'm goin'," said Edwards with vast 
elation. 

"So 'e tells me. Well, hTm glad some 
body gets hout of it. HTd get out myself 
honly hTm a-gettin' along in years, and the 
children and he very think. H'it's the think 
to do, though. Wen you go?" 

"Eight off next month. Berg says he's 
goin', too." 

"So I am. I shall not stay do vork lige 
a nigger see dose men vork." 

Edwards looked at the two men who 
were bending hot steaming strips of wood 
around huge semi-circular blocks. They 
used heavy machinery, but the work was 
terrific, and the heat intense. One man 
was a bulldog in shape and movement, and 
was a prize-fighter fallen to this or risen 
to this as one looks at it. 

The other was a curious combination of 
timid face, retreating chin, narrow, brain 
less skull, but tremendous power and 
endurance. The sweat streamed in tor- 



JASON EDWARDS. 75 

rents from both. They did not look up. 
They worked as silently as a bulldog fights. 

Together they swung the huge forms to 
the axis, then while the prize-fighter pulled 
down the wide iron band which encircled 
the block, the tall man placed four of the 
steaming felloes upon the band. The 
machinery was started by the fighter, the 
form revolved, the banded wood and iron 
bound upon the same circular block, was 
fastened, and together they lifted the 
heavy block away beside others. 

"Andt all dat for ten tollars a veek," 
said Berg. "They are not men, they are 
masshines." 

Edwards walked on. There were some 
little things he wished to do, and then he 
purposed gathering up his tools. 

"Look here, Edwards, you can't leave 
this way without notice." 

" How much notice are you in the habit 
of givin' the men you discharge?" replied 
Jason. "Besides, I've got a man to take 
my place better man than I am. I've 
got through with you, or anybody like yeh. 
I've been a slave about long enough." 



76 JASON EDWARDS. 

As Edwards looked in at the foundry 
door on his way back, about five o'clock, 
men were "pouring". It was a grew- 
some sight. With grimy, sooty shirts, 
open at the throat, in a temperature 
of deadly heat, they toiled like demons. 
There was little humanity in their faces, 
as the dazzling metal threw a dull-red glow 
on them. 

Here and there, with warning shouts, 
they ran, bent like gnomes, with pots of 
shining, flame-colored liquid lighting their 
grimy faces. Here toiled two stalwart 
fellows, with a huge pot between them; 
with hoarse shouts they drew up beside a 
huge "flask" or moulding-box. The skim 
mer pushed away the slag, the radiant 
metal leaped out and down into the sand, 
sending spurts of yellow-blue flame out of 
a half -hundred crevices. 

There was a man calking the next flask 
with wet sand. He paid no attention to 
the pot of deadly liquid, which passed close 
enough to singe his hair. A little further 
on, another man was knocking off the 
clamps that held the flask together. Every- 



JASON EDWARDS. 77 

where was heat, the smell of burning wood, 
gases, steam, and the sight of leaping, ex 
ploding, shining metal. 

Edwards looked up at Jerry, who stood 
beside the furnace, stripped almost to the 
skin, in a heat that would kill a man unac 
customed to it, heaving scraps of iron into 
the horrible cauldron, which he was obliged 
to stir occasionally with a long bar. Below 
him stood another half-naked man, whose 
business was to alternately open and shut 
the vent of the furnace. 

Sometimes, as he punched his bar into 
the vent and let the terrifying flood of 
gleaming metal out, it exploded all over 
him in showers of bursting sparks, like 
an explosion of Roman candles, making 
him leap aside to avoid the burning 
shower. 

The metal fell with a beautiful parabola 
into the pots held below, while the man 
with the bar seized a handful of fire-clay 
and moulded it upon the long staff, in form 
like a cork, and at the word of the fore 
man, or when pots were filled, he rammed 
the clay into the vent, and the flow ceased, 



78 JASON EDWARDS. 

only to be opened again a few moments 
later, with the same shower of sparks. 

Jason Edwards remained a long time 
looking at this scene. Its terror came in 
upon him as never before. That men 
should toil like that for ten dollars per 
week, as Berg had said, was horrible. 

"I would preak into chail pefore I do 
dat," Berg's words had run. 

A big, hearty man, a little gray in his 
full beard, came out of a dingy little office 
near by, and joined Edwards. 

"I hear you're going to leave us." 

"Who told you?" 

"Jerry." 

"Well, I am. I don't never want to 
see this thing again." 

"Pretty tough job these hot days, sure." 

"And all for ten dollars a week !" 

" And that's all I can afford to pay 'em. 
I won't make five hundred dollars clear of 
expenses this year. I'm pinched, too. I 
don't get anything out of it." 

"Who does? The angels don't get it." 
* * % * # % 

On his way home Edwards stopped foi 



JASON EDWARDS. 79 

a moment at the only pleasant spot on his 
walk, and looked across the flat to the far- 
off hills. As he stood there wondering 
why those hills should be so inaccessible, 
he heard the thrillingly sweet fan-fare of 
a coaching-trumpet, and the next moment 
down the street came two coach-loads of 
young people. 

Ribbons gayly fluttering, eyes dancing 
with pride and pleasure, some of them 
flushed with wine. One young girl held 
the whip, the postilion held the shining 
horn to his lips, signalling all carts and 
drays to get out of the way. "With a 
whirl of dust, and grind of wheels and jin 
gle of chains and bits, the coach-loads 
passed, just as the men in the foundry up 
the street dropped their pots and stripped 
their ragged shirts from their sooty, trem 
ulous muscles. 



80 JASON EDWARDS. 



V. 



IT would not be true to say that Eeeves 
had not estimated fairly the resistance 
which the peculiar feeling of Alice offered 
to his marriage idea. He had already 
learned something of the immense force 
resident in that slender body, and some 
thing of the iron will that lay behind that 
delicate oval of face, from which the brave 
eyes looked unwaveringly. 

He could see them now, as he sat at his 
desk. He had finished his work in the 
office, and was ready to go out. He should 
have been at lunch, but here he sat, dream 
ing of Alice, and studying the problem. 

"There's abundant good sense in what 
she says," he thought, gazing at the flower- 
like electric lamp which hung, a pale-faced 
morning-glory, before him. "It is a hard 
problem. It isn't merely a matter of help- 



JASON EDWARDS. 81 

ing them over a bad spot it's a matter of 
domesticating them in my house, or provid 
ing for their living and to her it has 
something like the air of charity. I sup 
pose she's looking forward to the future, of 
making a big hit, and taking care of them 
herself. Well, there's nothing for it but to 
wait" 

"Hello!" exclaimed Daggett. "Ain't 
you going to attend to the meeting down 
to the Temple?" 

"Of course by Jinks. Eight o'clock 
thanks!" 

"Oh, I know how it is myself," grinned 
Daggett. "Had such moments of dream 
ing myself when I have nothing to do 
now I sleep." 

Reeves went down the elevator, think 
ing about that last phrase. Somehow, it 
bit into his mind. Odd his mind should 
suddenly be made so receptive of these 
ideas. First Alice, and now Daggett, cyn 
ical, hard, dry old Daggett, had set him 
thinking. 

Was it not true that most men, when 
their work was ended had only energy 



82 JASON EDWARDS. 

enough left to sleep? Was it not true 
that American business life was sapping 
too much from the intellectual life of its 
people ? he asked himself as he went down 
the street. 

The immense hall was crowded to the 
doors, and on the stage was a short man 
with a large brow and finely-shaped head, 
speaking with a peculiar, vibrating, crisp 
and expressive intonation, while the audi 
ence was cheering wildly. His words 
were singularly well chosen, and his style 
was simple, bare of ornament, and entirely 
individual. He walked about the plat 
form noiselessly and unconsciously, and 
his face, very sensitive and expressive, 
showed sincerity and enthusiasm. 

The sentences which he heard as he 
entered were the ones which seemed to 
Keeves the most striking of all that was 
said, and lived longest in his mind : 

"We do not believe in charity. We 
hate charity, because it is not justice. It 
is a palliative of the evils caused by injus 
tice. It degrades and debases. It results 
from a system essentially wrong, a sys- 



JASON EDWARDS. 83 

tern which denies human rights. The most 
ominous of all signs is the growth of the 
need of charity in the midst of abounding 
wealth. Equal rights to all, and special 
privileges to none, strictly interpreted, is 
the solution." 

On the whole, Reeves listened to the 
speaker in a professional way, making vari 
ous mental notes for his editorial the next 
day, admiring the spirit of the orator, but 
believing him to be more of a poet than a 
practical economist. The meeting itself, 
however, was a revelation. It told him of 
how much discontent there was in the city 
at large, and in his article the next day he 
said as much under the usual impersonal 



we", 



"Mr. George, whose genius we admire, 
is right in saying that something is wrong, 
but as for his panacea, we do not place 
much importance upon that. But finally, 
we repeat that too much importance can 
not be placed upon the fact that two thou 
sand people met in Tremont Temple to 
cheer the sentiments that social conditions 
are unjust. That is the important thing 



84 JASON EDWARDS. 

to remember not the fine-spun theories 
of a dreamer like Mr. Henry George." 

When he came down to the office next 
morning, the city editor was reading the 
proof of his judgment. 

"You hit it about right/' said he to 
Reeves. "The trouble is deep too deep 
for any such three-cent remedy as taxing 
site value." 

"How's that?" asked Reeves, astonished. 

"I say we've got to have something 
more radical than a system of taxation to 
cure this thing " 

"Say, don't talk so loud," put in the 
exchange editor, who was pillowed in 
the morning papers. "You infernal old 
anarchist" 

"I thought George sufficiently radical," 
said Reeves, taking off his coat. 

"Radical!" said another. "He's a con 
servative from my point of view." 

"Why, Merrill, what's made you break 
out in this new spot?" 

"It ain't a new spot." 

"Ain't?" 

"No, I've been a red-handed-something- 



JASON EDWARDS. 85 

'r-other ever since I bought that land out 
in Dorchester. Paid five hundred for my 
lot, went to work and built a good house 
on it. Next year thought I'd buy a lot for 
my brother's widow to build on by Jinks! 
he wanted a thousand dollars for it." 

"Well, that's all right, ain't it?" said the 
exchange editor. " The land had increased 
in value." 

"Yes my work and money increased 
the value of his lot, and he got it. It's all 
wrong, I tell you!" And he slammed a 
handful of copy into the lift and sent it 
whirling up to the composing-room. 

" Now that's the way some people rea 
son," philosophized Daggett. "By the 
way, there's a note for you on my desk. 
Boy made a mistake and left it in my 
box." 

The note was from Alice, and asked him 
to call soon, as she had something import 
ant to say to him. 

Reeves' spirits rose with a bound. She 
was going to consent. She had thought it 
all over, and was going to give up the 
struggle. He whistled as he worked, and 



86 JASON EDWAEDS. 

his face shone so that his companions 
noticed it. 

"Reeves looks as if he had been made 
over new. I wonder if it can be the result 
of the anti-poverty meeting." 

" Possibly he found out how to get rich. 
If he has, I hope to God he'll let me know 
the secret/' put in the financial editor, 
who was busy over the stock exchange 
reports. 

"Oh, Reeves ain't thinkin' o' that it's 
some girl 'r other," Daggett shouted, 
thrusting his head out of his distant stall. 
"I know all about it. Used to be a great 
hand with the girls myself." 

"Yeh don't say so," said the military 
editor. "Lookin' as you do." 

"Lookin' as I did" Daggett replied. 
"I could whistle, an' chaw gum, an' write 
an editorial all at the same time then. 
By the way, Reeves, that's a very judicious 
little article this morning just the right 
tone. We don't want to jump on a man 
just because he's got a crazy, beautiful 
scheme in his head nothing like getting 
the right tone oh, by the way, Merrill, I 



JASON EDWARDS. 87 

wish you'd write an article column or so 
on that Cobden Club bugbear. I see the 
Chronicle is out with a scare-head this 
morning cut into 'em sharp" 

And so the work went on. At intervals 
Reeves pondered on the subject of that 
letter, and as the hour for his release 
drew near, he was not so happy over it. 
The interview was momentous and meant 
immediate happiness, or a long separation. 
Somehow he couldn't make himself believe 
it was either of these things. It seemed 
impossible that a girl could hold out 
against such great odds. 

It was the play-spell in the office, and 
the editors were smoking and pretending 
to be busy. They saw Reeves beginning 
to get ready to go out, and began : 

"Say, Reeves, I'd like to have you 
throw off a couple of sticks about this 
bloody dog-show," said Daggett. 

"Oh, bother your show!" 

"By the way, Reeves," said the military 
editor, "I heard a capital new story the 
other day about Dr. Johnson sit down 
here" 



88 JASON EDWAEDS. 

"I really don't think that hat becomes 
him well do you?" chimed in the liter 
ary editor. " It gives him a depressed look 
which is out of keeping." 

Reeves fled. They were all good fel 
lows, but he didn't care to be joked this 
night. 



JASON EDWARDS. 89 



VI. 



'"PHE street was again crowded with peo 
ple, but differently they had eaten 
their suppers, young and old, and now in 
the falling dusk, were out of doors to get 
a little rest and fresher air. It was not 
and could not be fresh air. The children 
were playing still, but a little less wildly. 
Girls of fifteen or seventeen, hardly more 
than children, were promenading up and 
down the streets, chatting among them 
selves and exchanging dubious sentences 
with groups of young men and boys stand 
ing in the doorways, insolent and noisy, 
boys with savage, cruel, sneaking mouths, 
and evil eyes. 

Many of these young people, already old 
in vice, were talking horribly and laugh 
ing senselessly, as they stood in dark nooks 
and doorways, while their toil-worn and 



90 JASON EDWARDS. 

weary mothers were working within doors, 
clearing away the supper dishes, or putting 
the younger children to bed, having neither 
time nor patience to watch over their 
grown-up sons and daughters. 

The older men smoked on stolidly, as 
they sat on the door-steps, filling the street 
with poisonous smoke. Some of them 
sauntered down to the saloon on the cor 
ner, and some were talking politics in the 
middle of the street. Most of them paid 
very little attention to Keeves, but the girls 
snickered as he passed. One or two said, 
"Ah, there!" in that indescribable tone 
which is both a jest and an invitation. 
Some of the men looked after him with 
an envious spirit, and some of the young 
men sent out a volley of low-spoken jibes. 
He walked on, with more of pain and dis 
gust than rage in his heart. 

He seemed to see more of the hideous 
future of these people, these young people 
born for a prison or a brothel in so many 
cases. How long can this disease go on 
intensifying, he thought. He stopped a 
moment, and looked at it all with a sud- 



JASON EDWARDS. 91 

den sweep of the eye, a hot, unwhole 
some alley, swarming with vicious and 
desperate life a horribly ugly, graceless, 
badly-lighted alley, poison-tainted, vice- 
infected. He thought of the miles of such 
streets in Boston, a street almost typical. 
Boston was predominantly of this general 
character, as he well knew. The real Bos 
ton does not get itself photographed and 
sent about the country. 

It was quieter up near the Edwards' ten 
ement, and Linnie and Jason sat talking 
in the shadow of the doorway. The pic 
ture of the ideal farm on the poster had 
made a profound impression on the little 
one's mind. 

"And we can have a boat, can't we?" 

"I guess so." 

"And does the grass come right up to 
the door?" 

"Eight smack up to it. When you go 
out the door splush there you are right 
in it." 

"Oh, I wish we was out there now! 
Don't you, poppa? There ain't no birds 
here, 'cept sparrows, and they don't sing." 



92 JASON EDWARDS. 

"They're too busy gettin' a livin' to sing." 

Eeeves stepped up before them. " Good 
evening, Mr. Edwards." 

"Good evening Mr. Reeves didn't see 
yeh. Linnie, run up an' tell Allie Mr. 
Reeves is here. Sorry I can't offer you a 
chair on my verandy but if you'll come 
out West a couple o' years from now, I'll 
doit" 

"Out West!" exclaimed Reeves. "You 
don't mean to say you're going " 

"West just that, exactly. I've stood 
this kind o' thing" he looked around 
"about as long as I can. I've decided to 
make a break fr freedom f'r tall timber, 
as they say out West." 

This involved so much that Reeves was 
silent, waiting for him to go on. 

"There ain't no fair sight f'r me here," 
Edwards went on, "and now mother and 
the girls are ready to go" 

"Is Alice going?" 

"That's the calculation. She thinks 
there'll be a good chance out there to 
teach music. But go up and see her 
she's up stairs." 



JASON EDWARDS. 93 

Reeves went up the stairs slowly, think 
ing rapidly. It was absurd how low his 
spirits had fallen. When he entered the 
door which Linnie held open, Alice was 
seated by the window, gazing at a little 
patch of the sky, which showed between 
the tenement blocks just a hint of the 
sunset's glory. 

"What's this I hear, Alice are you 
going West to grow up with the country?" 
he asked with an assumption of gaiety 
which he did not feel. 

She turned to meet him, very gravely. 
He went on in a different voice then: 

"It can't be possible you are going." 

"Sit down here, Walter I've got so 
much to say to you. Yes, we're going 
as soon as possible. June is a good 
time to go." 

"But I don't understand. It's well 
enough for your father to go, but I can't 
think of your going. I want you to stay 
with me, Alice." 

There was poignant appeal in these few 
words, and they shook her powerfully. 

"I can't do that they need me." She 

7 



94 JASON EDWARDS. 

was not quite decisive, after all, and lie 
did not believe it. 

"What can you do?" 

"I can teach. There are good chances 
in the West for teachers, and I will get a 
school near the farm." 

" But what of me ? What of our plans ? " 

"We must wait." 

Reeves rose and stood beside her chair. 
" Alice, do you know what that means to 
us?" 

"I know what it means to father and 
mother and Linnie," she answered eva 
sively. She took a morbid delight in 
keeping her voice hard and cold. 

"Alice, you're leaving me," he cried 
despairingly. 

"For a short time." 

"I'm afraid for ever." 

"Can't you trust me?" 

"No not two thousand miles away." 

"Then our engagement had better be 
broken off now," she said with quick 
resentment. 

"Be careful!" 

"I mean it. I don't want you to be" 



JASON EDWARDS. 95 

"Alice, you are leaving me." He was 
deeply moved. He could not understand 
her motive or her mood. 

"I begin to lose hope. Will you ever 
come back to me?" 

"Yes, when I can come right. When 
my people are not objects of charity. Now 
please don't talk of that any more now. I 
can't bear it. It is so hard to leave beau 
tiful musical and art life of Boston, just 
when it seems opening to me. Don't 
make it harder for us." 

"Alice," said Eeeves, coming out of a 
deep fit of musing, "if your voice were as 
hard and cold as your words, I'd leave this 
house and never see you again but it 
ain't you do care for me. It is hard for 
you to turn away from me and all that I 
offer, so I hope to have you coming back 
one of these days, like the poor little dove 
you are, to her nest." 

"Would you rather have me come a 
poor helpless thing, or a woman?" 

There was something in her face and 
voice which he could not understand 
a faint light from the patch of sky was on 



96 JASON EDWARDS. 

her averted face, as she asked him that 
question. 

Keeves rose despairingly. "Will you 
write?" 

"I will write yes, of course/' she 
replied, looking at him, and when Mrs. 
Edwards brought the lamp in, Alice was 
still sitting at the window, looking out at 
the fragment of sky, into which a star had 
bloomed. 



JASON EDWARDS. 97 



PART II THE FARMER. 
I. 

IT was a very quiet day in Boomtown, 
an intolerably hot, dry day in early 
July, 1889. The streets were practically 
deserted. Here and there a team, with 
tired, drooping heads, stood panting at the 
blazing wooden side-walks, while their 
drivers sat under the awnings before the 
shops, or clinked beer-mugs inside the cool, 
damp saloon. 

Boomtown was the usual prairie town, 
absolutely treeless, built mainly of wood, 
and scattered about on the dun sod like a 
handful of pine blocks of irregular sizes 
and shapes. 

Most of the buildings had huge battle 
ments fronting the principle streets, and 



JASON EDWARDS. 



awnings over the front, which made an 
admirable lounging place for the clerks, 
who found little to do these hot, dry days 
but sit on nail-kegs and boxes and toss 
pennies. 

It was just before harvest, and the farm 
ers were pushing haying to their utmost, 
and had not yet begun to buy their provis 
ions. Beside, there was not a little uncer 
tainty as to the possibility of a harvest. A 
vast simoon-like wind was sweeping up 
from the South, and it was the critical 
stage between flower and fruit. The 
wheat might be prevented from filling 
this wind had been blowing at intervals 
for a week, and was commencing again on 
this particular morning. 

The radiant sky soaring in incommunica 
ble splendor above the parched plain, with 
its anxious dwellers, had, however, a faint, 
all but imperceptible, whitish tone, as if 
a silvery vail were being slowly drawn 
athwart the blue, from the South. Some 
of those most weather-wise said this meant 
rain, but most observers saw little encour 
agement in such impalpable change. 



JASON EDWARDS. 99 

Judge Balser's office was a favorite 
lounging place for the old settlers of 
Boomtown. It was a small, wooden build 
ing, with an enomous battlement, on which 
was painted in large black letters, (a relic 
of the days of early settlement eight years 
ago) "Judge S. H. Balser, Land Agent and 
Attorney-at-Law. Claims located, Final 
Proofs Made Out, etc., etc." It was on 
the south side of the street, and was one 
of the coolest places in town, a fact well 
known to the loafers. 

The judge looked very natty in his neat 
gray suit, his beard nicely clipped, his cuffs 
immaculate, and was sitting with his 
neatly-shod feet high on his desk beside 
his pearl-gray high hat. He was smoking 
daintily, and reading a paper spread on 
his knee. 

Frank Graham, a stalwart fellow, in his 
shirt-sleeves and with the wicker cuffs com 
monly worn by grocers, on his wrists, was 
also seated with his feet in air, poised on 
the edge of a table which sat in the middle 
of the floor. Hank Whiting, proprietor of 
the "Western House", sat near the win- 



100 JASON EDWARDS. 

dow, his feet on the sill, his vest unbut 
toned, and his hat on his neck. 

It was very still in the office, save when 
the judge rustled a paper so still that 
the flies could be heard buzzing against the 
window-panes, and the distant clink of an 
anvil came with weirdly muffled sounds, 
joined with the occasional clang of the 
bell of the switch engine at the upper 
end of the street. Whiting was dozing, 
Frank was evidently dreaming, but not 
dozing. 

Suddenly the judge yawned, laying 
down his paper and raising his arms above 
his head in a prolonged stretching. " Oh, 
ho, ho ! The ' Argus ' still lives." 

"What's the matter now?" asked Frank 
listlessly. 

"Oh, the same old grind." 

And as the others listened he read in a 
languid way the following editorial, and 
the contrast with the judge's lazy voice was 
very marked. 

"It is with sorrow, therefore, that we 
see the noble profession of journalism 
trampled in the mire by such vandal 



JASON EDWARDS. 101 



hoofs" the judge paused, knocked the 
ashes from his cigar daintily with his 
ringed little finger. 

"Vandal hoofs ain't bad." 

"By such vandal hoofs as those of the 
editor of the 'Bellplain Argus'. Were we 
the only ones to suffer from these vile vitu 
perations of the paltry poltroon and limit 
less liar" 

"Good," said Frank, roused out of his 
listlessness. " Limitless liar is immense 
Shakespearean, in fact. Wilson ought to 
hear that." 

The judge proceeded. "Limitless liar 
and troglodite " 

"Troglodyte! Well, now! Must be a 
new hand on the 'Pulverizer'. Does he 
pay his respects to the 'Spike"! What 
does he call the Major?" 

The judge laid down the paper and 
yawned again heavily, and then rose and 
removed his coat, put his hat on to get it 
out of the way, tipped it back on his neck, 
and sat down at his table before answering. 
" Oh, yes. Same old bluff. Says our boom 
is on the down grade, that the railroad is 



102 JASON EDWARDS. 

going to be extended, and leave us and 
so forth." 

Frank looked slyly around, then said in 
a voice of confidence, "Well, don't let it 
get out. But I haven't averaged twenty- 
dollars' sale this last week." 

Whiting opened his lank jaws at this 
moment to say, "That's nawthin' leetle 
slow now, but things '11 boom in a week 'r 
two." 

The judge was also confident. 

"'Course it will. This is just a sort o' 
breathin' spell. Everybody lettin' go to 
get a better hold." 

"Trouble is there's a lot o' fellows 
never had any kind of a hold to let go of. 
This is the third season of short crops, 
and fellows like John Boyle and Edwards 
are going to let go and go under, unless 
they have help." 

Whiting admitted the truth of this, 
but the judge was irritated by it. He 
brushed the ashes from his cigar and 
spoke with more of feeling than he was 
accustomed to show. " Yes, I know there's 
a lot o' such fellows, cussin' the country, 



JASON EDWARDS. 103 

but what could they expect? Come out 
here expecting to find free land laying 
around loose. A man can't start in a new 
country without money." 

"Where else could he start better?" 
inquired Frank, winking at Whiting. "I 
thought the West was just the place for a 
poor man." 

The judge whirled about impatiently. 
"That's nothing to do with it. As I told 
Edwards when he first came, first man on 
the spot rakes the persimmons you can 
take your choice, go thirty miles from a 
railroad and get government land, or give 
me ten dollars an acre for my land. It 
was his own choice." 

Frank whistled softly to himself, and 
at last said, "A man once jumped over 
board because he wanted to. It was a 
free choice only the ship was on fire 
that's about as much free choice as 
Edwards had." 

"That's none o' my business," said the 
judge, resuming work. " I sell." 

"It's almighty hard lines for Edwards," 
Frank went on. " His crops haven't been 



104 JASON EDWARDS. 

anything extra, and he's in a hole. All 
that keeps 'em from going under is that 
girl. She manages to pay grocery bills 
with her teaching." 

"Fine woman!" observed the judge, 
with mild interest. " By the way, do you 
know anything about her Boston dude?" 

"Not much somebody said he was com 
ing out Nasby Blume, T guess. There's 
nothing like being postmaster to know all 
about such things. Nasby says they write 
a good deal." 

"Has the fellow ever been out here?" 

"I don't think he has. I never saw 
him." 

They all fell silent again, after the man 
ner of sleepy men on a drowsy day, the 
judge scratching away slowly on his paper, 
Frank gazing out of the window. A hen 
began to cackle. "Say, Judge, you'd bet 
ter throttle that hen sounds too pasto 
ral takes the wire-edge off your street 
car talk." The judge wrote on calmly. 

Presently a tall old man in a faded plug 
hat and a linen duster came along the side 
walk, met another somewhat younger man, 



JASON EDWARDS. 105 

a farmer-like person, with an old slouch 
hat and a long, ragged beard. He had a 
rake on his shoulder, and a white jug in 
his hand. 

"How air yeh, Daddy?" he said, greet 
ing the old man in a jocular voice. "How 
is this for high?" 

"Purty high," answered Daddy Ruble. 
" Purty high ! How's the crops ? " 

"Purty dry, purty dry!" 

"Purty tuff on the farmers," went on 
Ruble in a high-keyed voice, as they seated 
themselves on a bench just outside the 
door, and under the window. The back of 
their heads showed comically just above 
the window-sill. 

Frank laughed and winked at Whiting. 
"Sh! There'll be music. They'll fight 
they always do." 

"'Yes, 'specially with sugar-trusts a 
boomin' sugar s' high yeh can't touch it 
with a ten-foot pole," Johnson went on, 
"an' coal kings reg'latin' the price o' coal 
come winter. This administration" 

"Now go on," flared Daddy. "Go on! 
Lay the weather to the administration. 



106 JASON EDWARDS. 

'Course it's the fault o' the administration 
everything can be laid to the" 

"Wai! It 'd help us pull through if the 
administration would let sugar in free " 

"Oh, go on go on!" shrieked Ruble, 
leaping up in a frenzy. 

"Oh, I'm a goin' on don't worry," 
answered Johnson coolly. "Where's the 
boom we was goin' to see when this 
ad " 

"You'd lay the hot wind to the adminis 
tration, I believe, you old fool ! " 

"Se' down set down, Daddy! Don't 
tear y'r shirt. You'll live jest as long." 
With some difficulty Daddy was induced 
to sit down, and the wagging of their heads 
went on, though their words were inaudible. 

The judge paid no attention, but Frank 
was shaking with laughter. "See them 
two old seeds," he whispered tragically to 
Whiting. " They think they run Congress, 
and they neither of 'em know Jack 
son's dead. Now listen ! Johnson'll wind 
Ruble up. He always does. Let her go, 
Gallagher!" 

Johnson's voice, rising above the other 



JASON EDWARDS. 107 

man's murmur, could be heard, " What 
I'm saying is this we don't get no pro 
tection on our wheat, an' too dum much 
on our sugar. I don't believe in no such 
scheme" 

" Shut up, you ol' copper-head ! " shouted 
Euble, shaking his trembling fist in John 
son's face. "You don't know beans, 
you" 

"Set down, you ol' jackass, an' talk 
sense. When I corner yeh, y' alwiz go 
off" 

"I ain't a goin' off! Y' can't corner 
nawthin' I'm goin' to stay right here," 
shrieked Ruble. 

Once more Johnson got him to sit down, 
while he poured poison into his ear. 
Frank, convulsed with laughter, silently 
went to the wall and pretended to crank 
each of them up. Their voices grew angry 
and loud again, and Euble sprang up, 
unable to contain himself. 

"There! I jest callated you'd get to 
that dum taxation scheme finally! I 
won't listen I won't hear a word!" 

"Set down! Don't go off half-cocked!" 



108 JASON EDWARDS. 

roared Johnson. "You've got to listen. 
Set down and take y'r medicine like a 
man you old land-shark!" 

"No more a land-shark 'n you be," 
snarled the frenzied old loafer 

"Less see if you haint. What're yeh 
holdin' them lots for?" 

"F'r a higher price. Ain't that all 
right? Ain't that my business?" 

"I don't know whether 'tis or not." 

"Wai, I do." 

"No, y' don't. You'll find out the asses 
sor '11 have sum thin' t' say about that. 
Now, don't git in a sweat. Wha'd yeh 
pay fr them lots?" 

"None o' y'r business fifty dollars." 

"Wha'd yeh sell one f'r t'other day?" 

"Seven hundred; but whose business" 

"Now listen," grinned Frank. "John 
son's goin' t' rip 'im up the back with the 
single-tax idea see his game?" 

"Did you make it worth that money?" 
Johnson was demanding. "Did you ever 
lay a hand to them lots ? Ain't you reapin' 
where you haint sowed, you infernal old 
sponge?" 



JASON EDWARDS. 109 

"Don't you call me a sponge," cried 
Ruble, raising his cane. Frank stepped to 
the door to stop them. 

"That's jest what you are," roared John 
son, also rising. "An' if we don't make 
you sell or use them lots this year, call me 
a sucker!" 

"You're a dumned old alliance crank!" 

"That's what I am. An' you can't set 
around here on your pants an' get rich out 
o' honest men" 

Ruble was about to strike him, when 
Frank, weak with laughter, but outwardly 
calm, called out 

"Hold on, there! No fighting allowed 
on the grounds. Daddy, if you can't keep 
your whipple-tree off the wheel, don't kick 
over the tongue. Gentlemen, both, allow 
me to say that Jackson is dead, and that 
the cruel war is over. In the words of our 
immortal general, 'let's have peace'." 

As Johnson turned to go, he slyly swung 
the tail of his rake around and knocked 
Daddy's hat into the gutter, and scrambled 
wildly away with shouts of laughter, while 
Daddy sputtered and Frank laughed. And 



110 JASON EDWARDS. 

then, as if an echo of his voice, came a 
penetrating, powerful peal of laughter, fol 
lowed by others, in rhythms like the drum 
ming of a partridge an irresistible chorus. 

" Hello ! " said Frank. " Happy Elliott's 
in town no discount on that laugh." 

Elliott came to the door, and bracing 
his hands against the door-frame, looked in 
and laughed. He was a fat man with a 
red face and sandy whiskers. 

"Hello, you old porpus!" said Frank, 
as he sat down again. "How do you 
stand the heat?" 

"Purty nigh unsolders me," answered 
Elliott. "Hello, Judge. Judge always 
looks to me like a red-headed, slick-bel 
lied oF spider waitin' f'r flies." Elliott 
chuckled till he was forced to sit down on 
the door-sill and mop his face. 

"Sweat some these days?" asked Frank. 

"Bout 'nough t' keep me from season- 
checkin'. How goes it?" 

"First rate. How are you?" 

"All broke up on my wheat." 

"You look it," put in the judge. 

Elliott looked at him comically. "All 



JASON EDWARDS. Ill 

that keeps me alive is the hope o' dyin' 
some day, an' goin' t' heaven an' bein' 
able to let down chunks of ice at a thou 
sand dollars a pound to cool the judge 
below." 

" He looks cool and sweet now." 

"Yes; nothin' like holdin' the money 
end of a morgidge eh, Judge?" 

"No, except holding two," the judge 
replied coolly, going on with his work. 

Elliott looked at him admiringly. " Ain't 
he a daisy ! Ain't he a tulip ! While me 
an' Edwards are worried t' death over the 
crops, the judge sits here, cool as a toad in 
a cellar, and harvests his interest slick's 
a cat can lick her ear." 

"Nothin' like it," said the judge. 

"Has he got a heart?" asked Elliott, 
after a pause. 

"Who? Judge? Naw! His heart's 
only a little hydraulic ram?" 

Elliott roared till he nearly fell to the 
floor with exhaustion. The judge calmly 
worked away. 

"Think o' the judge up to his neck in 
brimstone an' prayin' f'r ice 



112 JASON EDWARDS. 

"There's a boomin' oP boomer 

On the lake below, 
Oh, how I long to see that day ; 

Up to his neck in the brimstone flood, 
Oh, how I long to see ! " 

sang Frank, and Elliott joined in. 

" Judgment, judgment, judgment day is a sailin' 
around," 

" Wall, this won't buy the baby a shirt, 
n'r pay f'r the one it has got," said Elliott, 
rising and going out. "Keep an eye on 
him." 

"Elliott sheds trouble like punkins off a 
hay-stack," said Whiting. 

"His laugh's as good as a brass-band," 
replied Frank. "Everybody's got to keep 
step. 

And then a silence fell on them. The 
flies buzzed and butted their heads at the 
window. The crickets and grasshoppers 
kept a steady buzz, and the wind wan 
dered listlessly through the room, scarcely 
adding coolness to the air. At last Frank 
yawned 



JASON EDWARDS. 113 

"Well, this won't do f r me." He rose, 
and going to the door, looked down the 
street. "This is the deadest day I ever 
saw in Boomtown Great Caesar's ghost!" 
he yelled suddenly. 

The judge languidly looked over his 
shoulder, and asked listlessly 

"Dog-fight?" 

"A plug hat!" 

"No!" 

"A tailor-made suit" 

"No, I say," yelled the judge, in great 
excitement. 

"It can't be!" 

"It is!" 

" Where, f 'r heaven's sake ! " 

"'Just come out of the Sherman house. 
Coming this way!" 

They made a rush for the door, where 
all three struggled together to look out. 

"He's aimin' fr here, Judge." 

"He's a tenderfoot, sure." 

"Nail him, Judge." 

"You may trust me. Watch me?" 



114 JASON EDWARDS. 



II. 



DEEVES had never been out to see 
1 * Alice and her people, and for several 
reasons. In the first place, his duties as 
editor were very binding, allowing him 
only two weeks' vacation, and beside, he 
wanted the invitation to come from Alice, 
and he fully expected her "foolish, morbid 
pride" to give way. So he waited. 

She wrote very regularly, but coldly 
and formally. She hoped each year that 
"crops would be better", or "prices higher", 
and avoided a discussion of their life prob 
lem. She asked of the concerts and lec 
tures and theatres, and he sent her books 
and magazines, and so year after year 
went by, very swiftly with him, as with 
most busy men and neither of them had 
made any decisive movement. 



JASON EDWARDS. 115 

There were times when he almost deter 
mined to give her up. He had brought 
his mother from the old town in which he 
was born, and they lived in his fine cottage 
in Meadow View lived very quietly. In 
his study, which he allowed few of his 
friends to enter, he had a life-size portrait 
of Alice, just before him as he sat at his 
desk. It would be betraying a confidence 
to say how many hours, he sat looking into 
those wistful eyes, that affected him as 
some of the songs of Schumann did pro 
ducing a sadness of exquisite pleasure. 

Jerome Austin said to him one day, 
"Most extraordinary case of my experi 
ence. (Jerome had painted the picture.) 
"Quite like the poems we read. Why, 
man, such constancy doth amaze me ! Go 
forth into the world it is full of women, 
and women are flesh and blood and appre 
hensive. Still, I don't deny," he mused 
thoughtfully, stepping back to admire the 
picture, " there is something extraordinary 
about that face. It's got what we paint 
ers call character in it. I wish she was 
here" 



116 JASON EDWARDS. 

"So do I," said Reeves smilingly. 

"So I could paint her from life. I 
remember her color was very delicate, but 
I can't recall just how it played in the 
cheek and chin." 

Reeves used to sit in his study with her 
latest letter in his hand, and wonder, and 
go over and over the problem. 

"It's of no use to say her feeling is mor 
bid and her pride mistaken/' he said once 
to his mother, a quiet, refined woman of 
feeble health, "the feeling exists, and I 
don't see any hope of her yielding as long 
as she feels it her duty to stay with her 
parents. There is nothing to do but to 
wait." 

"But, Walter, I want to see you have a 
wife to take care of you when I am gone. 
I don't know whether you ought to con 
sider yourself bound to her or not" 

"That's hardly the way to put it, 
mother," he said, smiling a little. "I 
couldn't forget her if I tried. I don't 
want to be released I don't want any 
other woman I want her. You" 

"I don't see what there is" 



JASON EDWARDS. 117 

"That's because you didn't see her, 
mother. Love may be a habit it's my 
habit to think of her." 

"Well, I'm sure you need some one to 
look after you and I'm getting old" 

"There, mother, now don't talk that 
way. Why, you're as pretty as a peach, 
and spry why, you are as spry as I am, 

yet." 

It was, however, the death of his mother, 
that decided him to make a visit to the 
prairie and bring Alice back with him. 
He didn't put it otherwise she must 
come back with him. Life was unbearable 
in his empty house, and his heart went 
out in an irresistible impulse toward that 
womanly girl on the far prairie. 

He determined to take her by surprise, 
but relented at the last moment, and sent 
a letter to apprise her of his coming. 
When he left Meadow View, the trees were 
in fullest leaf, the birds were rioting in 
the mid-summer madness of song, and all 
along the way to Chicago and beyond he 
saw the same luxuriance. 

He saw vast fields of broad-leaved corn, 



118 JASON EDWARDS. 

tossing in the brisk wind like an army's 
flashing spears. The bob-o-links soared 
and tinkled, the hawks swam in the lazy 
air, the mowing-machines clattered through 
the thick grass, and here and there around 
a field of rye or barley a reaper was going, 
its reel-blades flashing like swords in the sun. 

On the afternoon of the third day his 
heart began to grow oppressed with the 
level landscape of Western Minnesota. As 
the railway left the Minnesota woods and 
lakes and struck out on the wide prairie, 
dotted here and there with small white 
cottages, he began to wonder if Edwards 
had settled in a land like that; could his 
house be so lone as that ? Night settled 
down over him while the train pushed into 
the lonely land. 

It was seven o'clock in the morning 
when the car came to a stand, and from 
his berth in the sleeper he heard the voices 
of men as they tumbled trunks out of the 
baggage car. He knew that this was his 
destination, and hastily making his toilet, 
he stepped out on the platform, and looked 
upon Boomtown and its famous valley. 



JASON EDWARDS. 119 

He saw one main street dividing in half 
what looked like a miscellaneous heap 
of wooden houses, with here and there 
an ambitious brick building or church- 
spire rising from the crowd. The streets 
stretched away toward an endless sea-like 
infinity of plain. And when he turned 
and looked in the opposite direction it was 
the same level, variegated expanse. The 
line of telegraph poles ran straight as a 
rifle barrel till the curve of the earth hid 
them from sight. It was warm, and the 
sky was perfectly cloudless. 

By the time he had washed the dust and 
grime from his person and got his break 
fast, it was nine o'clock, and he started to 
find the Edwards family. That was his 
main task incidentally the town inter 
ested him. At last he was recommended 
to Judge Balser's as a good place to secure 
information. 

As he neared the door the judge walked 
briskly over to a big book which lay on a 
sort of shelf-desk, and was busily talking 
as Reeves entered. 

"No, Graham, I can't let you have that 



120 JASON EDWARDS. 

lot at any such figure," he said, turning 
and nodding carelessly at Keeves. "How 
de do! How de do! Take a seat be 
with you in a few minutes. No, it's worth 
a thousand dollars, if it's worth a cent," he 
went on to Frank, who was nearly suffo 
cating with laughter. 

At this moment the telephone bell rang, 
and the judge went to it. 

" Hello ! Sherman House ? Oh, it's you, 
Billy. No. Seventeen? All sold, Billy 
awfully sorry I say I'm sorry, but the 
Standard Oil Company wanted the whole 
biz. What? Oh, three thousand for the 
unbroken lot. I don't know put up a 
warehouse, I believe. I say is Godfrey 
there ? Godfrey ! Graham has just offered 
seven-fifty for the lot on number sixteen 
better sell nine hundred, eh? All right. 
Good-by!" 

The judge hung the receiver on its 
hooks, and turned to Graham. "I hate to 
sell the lot at that figure. It's worth more 
money. Can't I suit you with another 
lot?" 

"No; I wanted that identical lot/' said 



JASON EDWARDS. 121 

Frank, gravely. "I don't want a lot om 
the north side at any price." 

The bell rang again, and the judge said, 
"You'll excuse me, won't you?" 

Reeves had a suspicion that they thought 
him a tenderfoot, so assumed the latest 
London accent for their benefit. 

" Certainly. Don't allow me to intef eah 
with your business. Ai just dropped" 

Judge at the telephone " Sherman 
House? All right. Hold on a minute. 
Graham, look up number fourteen there, 
will you ? I think that's a corner lot." 

Frank went to the book where the plots 
were kept. 

"Yes, one lot." 

"Say, Frank," said the judge in a low 
voice, "what's going on at the Sherman 
House ? They's some nigger in the fence. 
Can't be they've got wind of the railroad 
deal" 

The bell rang sharply. 

' " Wait a minute, can't you ? Hello ! 

Yes, I can let you have one lot. Can't 

say now. Call me up again in a few 

minutes. Good-by! I'll just call up the 



122 JASON EDWARDS. 

Major and see what's in the wind/' the 
judge said to Frank, who was studying 
Keeves carefully. 

"Hello! Gimme the Spike office. Hello! 
Major? Say, Major, what's the news from 
Hall? What! You don't say! Good! 
I'm onto their little scheme." 

As the judge sat down to his desk to 
write, Keeves said with an affected drawl, 
"Business is rawther brisk, ai take it." 

"Oh, pretty fair," the judge replied care 
lessly. "But I've some dandy bargains." 

" Ai just dropped in to awsk if you could 
get me" 

"Certainly get you anything," said 
the judge, rising and getting the book and 
placing it on Keeves' knees. " Now, there's 
a lot on nine that's dirt cheap at a thou 
sand dollars. It's a jim dandy! Bound to 
be worth two thousand dollars before snow 
flies." 

"You don't siy!" exclaimed Reeves. 

" I do," replied the judge. 

" "What's going to maike it worth so 
much?" 

"Why, the boom in this town. Look at 



JASON EDWARDS. 123 

the lines of road seven, and a new one 
being graded, will be ironed before snow 
flies. And then there's the plow factory, 
capital one hundred thousand dollars 
and grist-mill" 

"And the twine factory," put in Frank. 

"That's so," exclaimed the judge, with 
unusual enthusiasm. "One o' the biggest 
schemes in the North-west. Millions o' 
tons o' flax burned every year, millions o' 
pounds o' twine bought every year. Now 
a stock company has been formed will 
put up works costing seven hundred and 
fifty thousand dollars" 

"Very intristing, indeed. But I fawn- 
cied you'd be ible to tell me abeout this 
timber-clime mattah. Ai bought a clime 
of a felleh a shawt time since, deon't you 
know, an' when ai saw it to-diy, it hadn't 
a tree in sight!" 

Frank found this a splendid chance to 
explode in laughter, but the judge remained 
calm. 

"A timber claim, my dear sir, is not a 
claim with trees on it, but a claim on 
which the government wants trees put." 



124 JASON EDWARDS. 

"Yeou deon't saiy!" stared Reeves. 

"Oh, yes, that's just what I say." 

"But the felleh said the timber would 
be immensely valuable." 

" So it will, fifty years from now, when 
it has had a chance to grow," laughed 
Frank. 

"Then, according to that, you think 
I'm done," said Reeves, with a kind of 
reproachful look at Frank. 

"Done brown no mistake." 

Reeves looked mildly fierce. 

" Oh, deah ! How I should like to meet 
that felleh agine for one brief moment ! " 

"You wouldn't hurt him!" 

"I'd punch his bloody head?" 

"Oh, that would be cruel! You ought 
to keep your 'valley' on hand to protect 
you." 

"What do you mean by that?" 

"English, I take it?" ' 

"But wdon't yeou tell me heow you 
knew, please?" 

"Each hair o' your head proclaims it," 
said the judge. 

" Yeou deon't saiy ! " 



JASON EDWARDS. 125 

"Oh, yes, I'd gamble on that twist in 
your tongue. Now, see me get you out 
of this scrape," he went on with a fine 
assumption of friendly concern. "You'd 
better invest right here in Boomtown. 
I've got a lot here that I've been saving 
for a friend of mine, but he's lately died, 
and that leaves the lot on my hands. It's 
worth a thousand dollars to-day, but I'll 
sell for seven-fifty. It's bound to go up 
to fifteen hundred." 

"Very kind of you but what's going 
to make it go up as you saiy?" 

"Why, the boom on the town. The 
people coming in the scarcity of land 
see?" 

" But there isn't a scarcity of land. Bai 
George ! I never saw so much land in all 
my life deon't yeou know? And yet you 
charge such prices. Ai thought this was 
a free-land stite." 

"Oh, that's one of the things we print," 
said Frank gravely, "to bring people out 
here. It's free for so much see?" 

Reeves dropped his assumed character. 

" Yes, I see ! I see that and a good deal 



126 JASON EDWARDS. 

more. I see that you are all a set o' 
boomers, and flourish at the expense of the 
real workers of this territory. You can't 
give me any points on that kind o' thing. 
I'm a single-tax man." 

Frank leaped up with a shout 

" What ! You ! Lookin' as you do ? " 

"Looking as I do/' responded Keeves, 
coolly. "See how my hair stands up? 
I've seen the cat." 

Frank seized his hand in a transport of 
friendliness. (The judge took his hat and 
slipped out.) " So've I. Gimme y'r hand." 
They shook and kept shaking. "You look 
like a dude, but you've got the grip of a 
man. I don't know where you come from, 
but I know where you'll go to thunder 
and blue mud! Why didn't y' say so 
before? Goin' to stop long in town?" 

"Several days." 

"Visitin' friends?" 

"Yes the Edwards family." 

Frank gave a whistle of sudden intelli 
gence. "Oh, I see. Certainly. You're 
that man from Boston!" Here he seized 
him by the hand again with a return of 



JASON EDWARDS. 127 

fraternal good-will. " Success to yeh, com 
rade she's a bonanza!" 

"Thank you," smiled Reeves. 

"Oh, I know! Prospected round there 
myself till I saw 'twant no use. Claim 
pre-empted. Case of monopoly. See? 
Say, looky here ! Send your things right 
over to my house not a word got to be 
did. I keep open house to single-taxers " 

" Well, if you insist " 

"I do insist." 

"Well, all. right. I'll just ring up the 
Sherman House and have my valises sent 
right over to your house" 

As Reeves went to the telephone, Frank 
nearly smothered in laughter, but man 
aged to say 

"I would, if I were you." 

Reeves turned the crank, but no bell 
responded turned twice or thrice 

"What do you call this thing?" 

"A coffee-mill," shrieked Frank. 

Reeves ground it once more 

"Well, so should I." 

"Oh, let up on that," exploded Frank. 
"That's only one o' the judge's little 



128 JASON EDWARDS. 

schemes to rope in tenderfeet. But never 
mind I'll send a boy around." 

Reeves looked at the transmitter, then 
at Frank, wide-mouthed with laughter. 

"Now look here! You don't mean to 
say that telephoning was all bogus?" 

"That's what it was. There's a button 
under the desk there that rings the bell" 
here he pushed the button. 

Reeves sank into a chair exhausted. 

" Well, for ways that are dark and tricks 
that are vain ! The Western land-shark is 
peculiar." 

"Almost equal to the stock-gamblers 
and Congressmen in the East," chipped in 
the Westerner. "Well, how goes every 
thing in Boston anyway ? By the way, I 
don't know your name don't make any 
difference a little handier, that's all" 

"Reeves Walter Reeves, Daily Events!' 

"My name's Graham Frank Graham. 
Now, don't worry about your things. I'll 
see that you have 'em. Old man, if I 
wasn't a married man, that girl of yours 
but let that pass. I congratulate you 
and her." 



JASON EDWARDS. 129 

" Can you tell me how things are going 
with them?" 

"Yes they're going pretty bad, as 
they are with most American farmers." 

"In what way?" 

"In all ways." 

"Are they in want?" 

"Well, they're poor enough. But that 
girl! Well, she's the main-stay of the 
family. She's all that keeps 'em up. Old 
man, why don't you step in there an' give 
'em all a lift eh? Excuse I can't 
help" 

"I wanted to, years ago before they 
ever thought of coming West." 

"And she objected?" 

"She objected." 

"Why?" 

"Oh a sort of pride a" 

"I see obstinacy, we'd call it out 
here." 

"No, it ain't that. Edwards is one of 
those men who'd die in the harness before 
he'd give up, and she's a good deal of the 
same spirit she hates to give up." 

"Well, all is old man if you don't 



130 JASON EDWARDS. 

help, or the Lord don't give us a good rain 
soon, they'll go under the wheel, sure as 
shootin'." 

"Did Edwards buy or" 

"Bought and mortgaged, of course. 
There wasn't any free land within forty 
miles of the railroad. Judge here has 
charge of the affairs of a banking estab 
lishment that holds, I suppose, five hundred 
mortgages in this country." 

"By the way, didn't I see the judge's 
name signed to a defiant article directed at 
the Eastern press, denying the poverty of 
the West?" 

"Yes, that was our Balser. All the 
names on that list were either bankers or 
land-holders." 

Keeves grew bitter. 

"With seventy per cent, of your farms 
mortgaged, those men have the nerve to 
send out a paper like that. I begin to think 
that you are the worst cursed part of our 
whole nation. 

"Oh, not so bad as that I'll come back 
East and study you some day and see but 
here comes my wife to call me to dinner." 



JASON EDWARDS. 131 

A very pretty girl, looking almost child 
ish in her wide hat and simple calico dress, 
came to the door. 

"Frank, the dinner is all drying up it 
won't be fit to eat ! " 

" I'm sorry, for we're going to have some 
company. My wife, brother Reeves." 

"Oh, Frank Graham!" scolded the dis 
turbed wife. "How can you bring people 
home when I've nothing to eat ! " 

"Don't worry," said Frank, winking at 
Reeves. "I'll take a can of Boston baked 
beans under my arm if he don't have 
his valise full." 

As they went merrily off up the side 
walk, past the sleepy clerks under the awn 
ings, Judge Balser came out of the Sherman 
House, with a genuine customer whom he 
had found in the bar-room. He gave a fur 
tive look around the office as he came in 

"Oh, the quiet is natural just before the 
harvest. People are getting machinery 
out ready for harvest. We have it every 
year. That's all the better f'r you. That 
lot at seven hundred and fifty dollars is 
sure to go to a thousand by September. 



132 JASON EDWAEDS. 



m. 



IT was hot in the town, it was frightful 
on the prairie, bare of trees as a desert. 
The eyes found no place to rest from the 
hot, brazen glare of everything the grass, 
the grain, the sky. There was absolutely 
no fresh green thing to be seen, no cool 
glint of water, no pleasant shade only a 
radiant, mocking, sinister sky, flecked with 
the white bodies of the gulls that rose and 
fell, swooped and circled in the blazing air. 
The farmers toiled at their scanty crops of 
hay, and eyed the sky with prayers and 
curses alternating on their lips. Every 
year at this same date those blighting 
winds had blown. 

Bare on the immense plain stood the 
small unpainted wooden shanties, unshaded 
and unsheltered, the sun beating down 
upon them with the same merciless sever- 



JASON EDWARDS. 133 

ity the mariners tell of in the tropic seas. 
Like a boat becalmed on a russet sea, each 
little hut parched and cracked and grew 
odorous in the terrific heat. 

The wind was rising, but it had no 
moisture in it, no coolness; it was like the 
wind from a furnace. It appalled the 
stranger, and even to those familiar with 
it, it brought terror. As the men stopped 
in the fields and leaned on their forks and 
turned their throbbing faces to its sweep, 
it brought small relief. 

Many men quit work, or failed to go out 
at all after dinner. The windows and 
doors of every shanty were open to allow 
the wind to pass through. In the shadow 
of the barn or hay-stack the fowls lay 
panting with open beaks, or sidled against 
the wind to the well to look for a drink of 
water to cool their parching throats. 

The Edwards homestead looked like the 
rest a small frame shanty, shelterless on 
a slight swell, beaten upon by the noon 
day sun. It was composed of two parts, 
the upright being sixteen by twenty-four, 
and a story and a half high, while at the 



134 JASON EDWARDS. 

side, serving as a kitchen, was a box-like 
shanty which had been their home for the 
first eighteen months. It was already 
gray with the weather. 

Surrounding the house were signs of a 
garden, but plants and shrubs withered 
and dry pained the eye with their evident 
suffering. A low stable and a few sheds 
stood back of the house. Not a tree or 
shrub tall enough to hide a child was in 
sight. 

At about two o'clock a young woman 
came out of the house and took a seat in 
the scanty shade of the house, beside a 
small stand, and began sewing. As she 
worked, she looked often across the prairie 
toward the distant Boomtown weird and 
insubstantial in the mist. 

It was Alice Edwards, worn and weary, 
and looking ten years older. She was 
always womanly, but now she was grave 
and almost stern. She was plainly look 
ing for some one, and her eyes scanned the 
prairie with painful intentness. A girlish 
voice was to be heard, singing to the 
accompaniment of a piano, a rhythmical 



JASON EDWARDS. 135 

negro melody. It ceased at length and 
Linnie came out. 

"My goodness! Ain't it hot? I hope 
mother won't try to come home till 
after supper. It's ninety-eight in the 
shade. Do you suppose he got in last 
night?" 

"I don't know," replied Alice wearily. 
"I've looked so long across this endless 
prairie that my eyes ache. Come and 
look," she said, rising. "Is there a team 
coming? Don't that look like a carriage 
there? Just rising that swell by Peter 
son's house?" 

Linnie looked leisurely and critically 
from under her hand. 

" Yup a top-buggy, sure." 

"Oh, if it shouldn't be Walter, Linnie, 
I should sink with disappointment. See 
how plain the team can be seen now I 
know it is Walter. His letter said he'd 
get in yesterday. How silently and how 
swiftly it comes! Oh, the plain!" she 
cried with a voice of utter weariness. 
"It's so lonesome! There is no place so 
dreary to wait and watch in! It is so piti- 



136 JASON EDWARDS. 

less, so beautiful but so impassive like 
a dead sea. It crushes me." 

"I'm sick of it, too. It's almost as bad 
as living in Pleasant Street, ain't it?" 

"Almost not quite." 

"I don't know," said Linnie musingly. 
"I wisht I could hear the little German 
band that used to play down by McBreen's 
saloon on the corner, an' see the circus 
parades, an* the boys' regiment. A mon 
key and a hand-organ would be just gor 
geous out here. Oh, I'm sick an' tired of 
the hot, lonesome prairie I wish that 
team'd hurry up," she grumbled, looking 
away. "I don't know which I'd ruther 
die of lonesomeness, 'r starve to death in 
a crowd." 

Alice was not listening; her hands had 
fallen to her lap. "I think it must be 
Walter he's at the second moggason 



now." 



" What ye goin' t' do if 'tis him?" 
"Oh, I don't know I don't know!" 
"I know what I'd do. I wish I had a 

Boston editor that wanted to marry me. 

You bet I'd let him." 



JASON EDWARDS. 137 

"Linnie, what do you mean?" 

"Mean what I say," said Linnie stur 
dily. "I'd ruther die an old maid in Bos 
ton than have forty husbands out here/' 
she concluded with much decision. 

Alice rose and walked about uneasily. 
She was tense with excitement, and her 
hands clasped and unclasped themselves 
constantly. 

" I wish I knew" 

"I wish I did but I don't," put in the 
practical Linnie. " He's a drivin' f 'r all in 
sight, whoever he is. He's gettin' there! 
I hope he won't stay to supper, whoever he 
is," she added after a pause. "It's too 
hot for company. It's awful on the wheat. 
Father's just about crazy. See him down 
there ? He don't do nothin' else but walk 
around and look at that wheat." 

Alice started to go in, but Linnie stopped 
her by saying : 

"Ain't yeh goin' to wait an' see who 
'tis?" 

"No, I must go in; I can't stand here 
and stare at him as he comes. I I" 

"Well, I can. I'm goin' to stay right 



138 JASON EDWAKDS. 

here and see who it is. Beaux are too 
scarce these times to lose sight 'o one. It 
may be Frank Graham. Say, Allie, here 
comes poppa after a jug o' water." 

Alice turned with a new concern in her 
face. "Oh, don't say anything to him 
about Walter's coming, will you, dear? I 
don't want to trouble him if I can help 
it. And I want to see Walter alone, if 
possible." 

"All right!" nodded Linnie, with her 
eyes on the approaching carriage. 

Jason Edwards came in with a water-jug 
in his hands, and proceeded to fill it from 
the water bucket which Linnie raised from 
the well. 

"How's the hayin' to-day, poppa." 

"Tumble hot." 

" Poor poppa ! Why don't you come an* 
sit down here in the shade?" 

Edwards took off his torn straw hat and 
wiped his face with his sleeve. He was 
much grayer, and was bent and lame. 

"They ain't no rest f'r me. If I should 
set around in the shade, my girl wouldn't 
have any home when winter came. Rain 



JASON EDWARDS. 139 

'r shine, wet 'r dry, I've got to keep movin'. 
Where's mother?" 

"Over to Mrs. Elliott's." 

"Where's Allie?" 

"She's in the house layin' down. She 
don't seem very well to-day." 

Edwards sighed deeply. "Poor girl! 
She ought 'o stayed in Boston; but it 'ud 
'a' killed mother an' me. I don't see how 
we could 'a' pulled through without her." 

He took up his jug to go, and scanned 
the horizon closely. He was pathetic 
almost to the point of being tragic as he 
stood there. His coarse shirt was open at 
the throat, his whiskers, much whitened, 
were wet with sweat. His face was 
flushed in a way that would have startled 
an experienced eye. His hand trembled 
with fatigue, and his poor, patient eyes 
were dim with sweat. 

The girl saw a little of the infinite 
pathos in his face and figure, and she went 
up to him. 

"Poor dear old poppa! How hard you 
work ! I wish I was a boy so I could help 
you." 



140 JASON EDWARDS. 

Edwards felt the comfort in her voice, 
and turned and put his arm over her shoul 
der, pressing her face to his side. 

"You can help me more this way," he 
said. "Poor little sweetheart, growin' 
up here without schooling without com 
pany oh, it's awful!" 

"Never mind, poppa never mind. It 
ain't so bad. Allie teaches me, and I go to 
school summer-terms, anyway." 

Edwards looked at the sky. " Seems as 
if it gets hotter every minute." 

"Don't work too hard you'll get a sun 
stroke," warned Linnie. 

"If it would only rain," he groaned. 
"But it won't. They ain't no rain left in 
the sky. Oh, God ! What can I do ! " 

Linnie burst out in tears as he staggered 
rather than walked off toward the field 
but as she heard the trample of hoofs, her 
face cleared, and she cried 

"Allie, Allie! It is Walter. No other 
man would ever wear a plug-hat out in 
this wind." 

Then she seated herself coolly on the 
door-step and awaited his approach, with 



JASON EDWARDS. 141 

her chin in her hands and her eyes fixed on 
him. 

Eeeves drove up to the post near the 
well, and leaped out. After hitching one 
of the horses with trembling hands, he 
came up the slope toward the door. 

"Is Miss Edwards" 

Alice came to the door. For a moment 
they looked into each other's faces, as if to 
read all intervening history, then Eeeves 
opened his arms. 

"Alice!" he cried. 

And she came to his arms. After a 
moment's silence, Eeeves raised her face. 

"What! Crying? I thought you'd 
laugh oh, it's your guilty conscience!" 

Then more gravely, as he saw the 
change in her 

"My sweetheart that face is sad, tired 
life out here is killing you." 

Alice tried to smile. 

" Oh, no ; we women cry when we're 
pleased and" 

"Laugh when you're angry" 

"Oh, Walter I've looked forward so 

long to seeing you! I've watched the road 
10 



142 JASON EDWARDS. 

for days and days, and counted the 
hours it was so lonely here!" 

"Your letters didn't read so/' said Wal 
ter quizzically, as he led her to the chair. 
" They were cold and formal enough, I can 
tell you that." 

"I didn't dare write my real self." 

"Why not?" 

"Oh, because because I was afraid" 

"Afraid I'd come and get you eh?" 

"Don't ask me to explain now tell 
me all about yourself; but first let me get 
you a glass of lemonade, you must be 
thirsty." 

Reeves gazed at her fondly. 

"Yes thirsty for the sight of you." 

Alice, flushed and smiling, went into the 
house, calling Linnie, who had promptly 
and considerately disappeared. Reeves got 
up and walked about, eying the plain 
keenly. 

"So this is the reality of the dream! 
This is the < homestead in the Golden West, 
embowered in trees, beside the purling 
brook ! ' A shanty on a barren plain, hot 
and lone as a desert. My God ! What a 



JASON EDWARDS. 143 

place for her my beautiful girl for any 
body's girl! A wide-walled grave, arched 
by a mocking, sinister sky" 

Alice entered with a glass of lemonade, 
and as he took it he said, "In a land like 
this the sight of water must mean as it does 
with the Arabs the highest hospitality." 

Reeves looked older. Gray had come 
into his hair at the temples, and his sunny 
smile was less frequent. Alice studied 
him with hungry eyes. " Oh, I'm so glad 
to see you, I can't say" 

"Don't try," interrupted he, putting his 
arm about her. "I'll say enough for 
two. What in the world is that child 
doing with my team?" he exclaimed, look 
ing over the well-curb. "She's unhitching 
them! She'll have a runaway" 

He ran down to where Linnie was at 
work preparing to put the horses in the 
barn. 

Alice was thinking distractedly. "How 
can I let him go again! But I must, I 
must. I can't leave my father now." 

Walter came back with Linnie on his 
arm. 



144 JASON EDWARDS. 

"Why, you're a regular little horse- 
jockey, ain't you?" 

Linnie laughed. 

"That's nothin'! Allie and I hitch up 
and drive the plow-teams, and I drive the 
mower and reaper, don't I, Allie?" 

"Do you do that?" asked Reeves in 
grave surprise. "With this hand?" he 
added, taking her hand and stroking it. 

"You don't seem to mind about my 
hand," pouted Linnie, as she entered the 
house. "I don't count." 

"Not yet," smiled Reeves. Then turn 
ing to Alice, he said, as if he could not 
believe it 

"And you live in that den?" 

"Yes," said Alice simply, "with my 
people." 

"All through your horrible weather?" 

"Yes, and there are the days when 
it seems like a palace. Days and days 
we can't leave the house. Last winter 
it seemed as if the snow would never 
rest." 

Reeves was horrified. " What a prison ! 
And yet I saw a dozen not so good as I 



JASON EDWARDS. 145 

came along the road. With all this bound 
less space you are living as closely as in 
your rooms on Pleasant Street." 

"We lived in that shanty-part a year 
and a half." 

" And this is the free and glorious West ! " 
cried Reeves, lifting his head. "And you 
have lived all these years in that hole 
rather than with me in a home! Oh, it 
makes me wild to think of it!" 

"There was no other way," replied Alice 
simply. " They couldn't live without me. 
My teaching here has kept us in groceries 
and there have been days and weeks 
when father was too lame to take care of 
the cattle, and I have done it." 

Reeves seized her hands. 

"Don't tell me any more I'll rage 
I'll swear I can't stand it!" 

"We must bear it." 

" Bear it ! I won't bear it. I'll expose 
the whole infernal country in a four-col 
umn editorial. I'll smash the next boomer 
that says land to me free land! If this 
is free land, what in the devil" 

"Sh!" interposed Alice, putting her 



146 JASON EDWARDS. 

hand over his mouth but he freed him 
self and went on 

"If this is free land, what in the devil's 
name is paying for land? You and these 
families around you have purchased these 
bare and miserable acres with all that 
makes life worth living." 

"I know it, but it only makes it worse 
to know it." 

"Well, forget it, then," said Reeves, as 
he took her hands. "For you know what 
I'm here for. I've come to take you out 
of it hush, now! Let me go on. I've let 
you spoil the best years of our lives, and 
you sha'n't spoil any more." 

He held her fast as she struggled to free 
herself. 

"I can't I can't I" 

" You must," said Reeves, almost angrily. 
" I'm master of you now." 

She ceased struggling, but there was a 
look in her eyes that freed her hands. 

"You are not," she cried with a gesture 
of repulsion. "You go too far " 

"Alice, listen!" entreated Reeves. "I 
didn't mean that forgive me" 



JASON EDWARDS. 147 

"You did you meant it. It was the 
man's tone. Listen to me." 

"I will listen when you talk sense," 
Eeeves impetuously went on. "I've come 
for you I won't be put off. If you 
refuse" 

"Suppose I do what then?" asked 
Alice in fine scorn. 

" Then we never see each other again." 

Alice was shaken by his tone, which was 
one of deadly earnestness. 

"There is a limit to my patience, Alice. 
Be careful how you answer." 

"You are the one to be careful. You 
are unjust. Am I here to please myself? 
You are cruel, harsh, unfeeling" 

"Alice Alice!" 

"It is true. Do my sufferings count for 
nothing my sacrifices? I see and feel 
all that you do, but I owe something to 
my parents. I can't leave them here, and 
I won't leave them now." 

"What good has your sacrifice done?" 

"See these hands," she went on, impet 
uously. "You don't know half. I help 
keep this home in bread. I plow, I milk 



148 JASON EDWARDS. 

the cows every hand is needed on the 
American farm. There's no law against 
child-labor or woman-labor here. But I 
could bear all this, if you did not sneer 
if you appreciated what I am doing." 

(Reeves bowed his head under the 
rebuke.) 

"Walter I didn't expect that from 
you!" 

When Reeves spoke again, it was in a 
changed voice all the anger gone out of 
it. He was almost awed by her face and 
voice. 

"I don't mean to be hard but you for 
get my side of it all. I've waited five 
years and now you say wait one year 
more. Another year and we may be dead. 
A railway accident" she started, "a stray 
bullet on the street, and I'm cheated. Oh, 
Alice, Alice," he pleaded, "don't send me 
back with empty hands don't do it. I 
can't bear it you are sacrificing us both." 

"We must wait there is no other 
way." She was almost ready to give up, 
but he did not see it. 

"Then I know you care nothing for 



JASON EDWARDS. 149 

me," cried Reeves, leaping up in despairing 
rage. " If you did you couldn't be so hard." 

"Walter you have hurt me!" she 
said, shrinking as if from a blow. 

"No no; I don't mean that don't 
mind me but you must not persist in 
staying here. It is the law of life for 
daughters to leave their parents." 

Alice shook her head, her steady eyes 
looking above his head. "It is not the law 
of my life. The walls of the beautiful 
home you offer me couldn't shut out the 
memory of the sorrow and loneliness of 
this home." 

"Think consider!" he pleaded. 

"Think!" she cried with a sudden and 
thrilling passion. " Think ! I have thought 
till my brain whirled. In the awful silence 
of the prairie one thinks till he goes mad. 
While I saw my father toiling in the burn 
ing fields, my sister growing up in igno 
rance, I've thought and thought I've 
tried to understand my duty" 

"Let me help you, dear," he said, 
tenderly, approaching her. "Let me put 
your father on his feet" 



150 JASON EDWARDS. 

"I knew you'd say that," said Alice, 
with great love in her face; "but father 
wouldn't consent. He never can consent 
to be a burden on your charity he's too 
proud. As long as he can earn enough to 
shelter and feed us, he never'll submit to 
be helped. When he bends he'll break. 
He needs money, but he needs me more 
than he needs money. Mother is no com 
fort to him now, and Linnie is only a 
child. No, Walter," she ended, shak 
ing her head firmly, "there is no present 
help for it, as I can see. Things may 
change, but you must go back to your 
splendid life in the city, and I must fight 
my battle here." She raised her hand to 
silence him "It is useless, cruel to press 
me further. I have decided once for all." 

"I can't submit to this folly!" 

"Walter, you must!" 

She faced him with a look of stern and 
gloomy determination on her face. They 
stood face to face in a silent battle of wills. 
She, poor, morbid, unhappy girl, and he 
indignant, hurt and puzzled his strength 
and experience of no value to him. 



JASON EDWARDS. 151 

There was no yielding in her steady 
eyes, and he turned with a sudden anger. 
She relaxed and her eyes closed; but as 
he turned she raised her head and resumed 
her implacable mood. He hesitated a 
moment, bowed and walked away. 

She stood gazing at him till he entered 
his carriage, and drove rapidly away. 
Then she sank slowly into her chair and 
buried her face in her arms. 



152 JASON EDWARDS. 



IV. 



AT four o'clock the wind was still blow 
ing warm from the South, but here 
and there were to be seen, lying far down 
around the horizon snowy thunder-heads 
rising out of the sea of pink mist in which 
they swam. The wind was more fitful, 
too, and blew as if weary. The crick 
ets, mainly silent in the middle of the 
day, were singing, and the grasshoppers, 
snapping and buzzing, rose and fell in the 
grass like flakes of gold. 

The gulls still swooped and circled in 
the wind, but they were beginning to move 
northward toward the lake, where they 
rested at night. The wheat, as the sun 
fell less powerfully upon it and as the wind 
stirred it less, looked greener and less 
withered though it was only in appear 
ance. The leaves of the corn rolled 



JASON EDWARDS. 153 

together by the dry wind and beaten into 
strips against each other, hung like battle- 
flags after the conflict is over. 

Overhead a keen eye could see the mist 
from the South, faint, almost impercepti 
ble, meeting the northern current and 
being turned back by it. This double 
motion was a dangerous sign, and many of 
the men who saw it shook their heads, and 
prophesied great things to come before 
night. As the wind ceased, the heat to 
these workers seemed more oppressive than 
before. 

Mrs. Edwards had just returned from 
her visit. Elliott, who was out in the 
road talking with a neighbor, had brought 
her home. Alice was seated at the little 
table one arm flung wearily across it, 
and her pale face wearing a look of sorrow 
that was almost despair. Linnie was 
washing some potatoes in a pan. 

"Linnie, girl, did you shut up the little 
turkies, as I told y' to?" 

"Yes, ma but you needn't think it's 
goin' to rain. I believe as father does, 
that it can't rain." 



154 JASON EDWARDS. 

"Where is he?" 

"Putting up hay over there don't you 
see him?" 

Mrs. Edwards sighed. "Well! I guess 
you'd better start a fire." 

"Oh, it's too hot to start a fire. Let's 
eat bread and milk to-night!" 

"No; your pa ought to have a good sup 
per to-night. He haint had much appetite 
lately." 

Alice turned to her mother. 

"Mother Linnie don't tell father any 
thing about Walter's being here please! 
Poor poppa ! He has all he can bear now. 
I don't want to burden him with my 
troubles." 

As Linnie went into the house, Mrs. 
Edwards said, with a peculiar inflection of 
placid sorrow 

"I know what he wanted." 

" Yes, he wanted me. He came expect 
ing me to return with him." 

"Poor child! I wish you could go." 

"And leave you here alone!" cried 
Alice, almost fiercely. " Alone, now ! And 
Linnie needing me more every day. I'm 



JASON EDWARDS. 155 

not quite so selfish as that. But I don't 
see why life should be one relentless, horri 
ble struggle." 

"I don't see how we'd git along why 
didn't he stay an' see father?" 

"Because I sent him away. I could 
n't hold out much longer. Oh, mother, 
mother!" cried the suffering girl, throwing 
herself before her mother's feet and bury 
ing her face in the faithful lap, " did I do 
right?" 

"I'm afraid not, Allie!" the mother 
replied, stroking her hair, while the tears 
fell upon it. "I'm afraid you ought 'o 
gone." 

"And, oh, mother, I had to send him 
away angry, without a good-by. I didn't 
dare to be tender to him, I was so weak. 
Oh, will the night of our poverty never 
lift?" 

"I suppose it's the Lord's will." 

"I don't," said Alice, raising her tear- 
stained face. "I don't. The Lord is 
good, men are bad. He never intended 
that his creatures should suffer hunger and 
cold." 



156 JASON EDWARDS. 

Mrs. Edwards was shocked. 

"Allie, how can you talk so!" 

" We are not living here because He 
requires it of us/' the girl went on bitterly, 
"but because men push us out." 

"There, there, dear! Don't take on so/' 
said Mrs. Edwards soothingly. As she 
rose to go in, a young man's voice, clear 
and joyous, could be heard far out on the 
prairie 

"The West, the West, the beautiful West, 
I can see thee in my dreams ; 
From a far-off soil my feet have pressed 
I could see thy laughing streams." 

"He doesn't mean our West," said Alice 
bitterly, as Elliott came up to the well, jok 
ing with Linnie and Mrs. Edwards. He took 
a sip of water, tasted it with care, cocked 
his head on one side, and at last said 
gravely 

"I don't see anything special in this 
water. But they tell me young fellers go 
four miles out of their way to get a taste 
of it." 



JASON EDWARDS. 157 

"Now what you drivin' at tell me," 
demanded Linnie. 

"I suppose they can't find the dipper 
obliged to call f'r a glass. Oh, I'm on 
to all these little dodges! Was young 
myself" 

"When?" inquired Linnie, as he stopped 
to laugh. 

" Oh, way back in the dark ages, when 
I was on earth the first time. By the 
way, Mrs. Edwards, you'd better think 
twice about that offer o' mine on the 
6 spark arrester'. It won't be six months 
till you'll be overrun with sparks." 

" What in the world you talkin' about?" 
said Linnie, coming nearer him. 

"Spark arrester prevents sparks from 
comin' out indispensable to all mothers 
of girls." He roared till he was as red 
as a beet. He turned suddenly to Mrs. 
Edwards "Which 'd you ruther do, die 
or go a-fishing?" 

"Go fishing. Oh, I long for fish," said 
Mrs. Edwards, with more of real emotion 
than she had shown in many a serious cri 
sis. "I never lived before where there 
11 



158 JASON EDWARDS. 

wasn't fish and lobster" (she called it lob- 
steh, of course). "I'd give anything for a 
good fresh lobster!" 

"Lobster!" exclaimed Elliott, who was 
inland born; "I'd as soon eat a t'rant'la." 

Alice, who had paid little attention to 
Elliott, put on her hat and said, " I'll go 
call father to supper," and moved off 
toward the field. 

Elliott looked down the road. "Hello! 
Who's this? Some thirsty souls, I guess. 
I begin to see what Frank means when 
he says all the trails on the prairie lead 
to Jason Edwards'. f Strike a trail any 
where,' he says, 'and follow it, it'll bring 
you to Edwards' well." 3 

A carriage drove slowly up the road and 
turned in toward the well. It was Frank 
Graham and Judge Balser. Frank was 
leaning back in the carriage, his coat off, 
his feet on the dashboard. He pulled up, 
and pointing dramatically, sang 

"Don't y' see de dark cloud 
Risin' ober yonder? 
Don't y' tink wese goin' to hab a rain ? 
Oh, yes, as sure as shootin', 



JASON EDWARDS. 159 

See the lightnin* scooting 

Sartin sure wese goin' to hab a rain." 



As -he closed in a conversational voice 
like a negro minstrel, he leaped out and 
came forward, making a prodigious start 
at seeing Elliott. 

" Ett two, Brooty ! Elliott, I'm pained 
I truly am ! A man of your weight in the 
community. How de do, folkses Miss 
Linnie, will you bring me a glass?" 

"Same old trick!" yelled Elliott, scream 
ing with laughter. " There's the dipper in 
the bucket." 

"Why, so it is!" cried Graham in vast 
astonishment. "Have a drink, Judge 
if you dare!" 

As the judge was drinking, Alice came 
back for the purpose of speaking to the 
judge, and while the others were talking 
and laughing at the well, she drew him 
aside. 

"I'd like to speak with you." 

"Desire is mutual," responded the judge, 
with elaborate courtesy. 

"Judge, can't you be easy on father? 



160 JASON EDWARDS. 

Can't you let the mortgage run 1 ? I'm 
afraid he'll go crazy with the worry the 
crops are so bad. Oh, if you only would " 

The judge replied quickly 

" I should be most happy, Miss Edwards, 
but you see I've nothing to do with it. 
I'm merely the agent of the syndicate. 
Beside, there are so many others in the 
same box, and if I let one off, they'd 
all" 

"Then take the land!" cried Alice, 
despairingly. "Don't delude us with 
the idea of ownership where we're only 
tenants." 

"But we don't want the land," explained 
the judge. "All we want is the interest. 
We've got more land than we know what 
to do with." 

He had made it too plain. The girl's face 
lifted, lit by a bitter indignant smile 

"I see! It's cheaper to let us think we 
own the land than it is to pay us wages. 
You're right your system is perfect 
and heartless. It means death to us and 
all like us!" she said, as the whole truth 
came upon her. " We'll be homeless again." 



JASON EDWARDS. 161 

She rushed away blindly, escaping the 
judge's bland smile. 

"Now what's the meaning of that, I 
wonder," Frank Graham said to himself, 
as he saw Alice go away. Elliott and Lin- 
nie were scuffling. 

" Go away and sit down! " 

" Oh, ain't we savage ! What a fuss we 
make about an arm about our waist, don't 
we?" 

"Elliott," said Frank severely, "such 
conduct is unseemly. Come, Judge, you 
infernal old land-shark, let us be getting 
home before the lightning strikes you and 
injures me. Elliott, come along home." 

After they had all gone, Mrs. Edwards 
and Linnie began setting the table outside, 
in the shadow of the house it was cooler 
and pleasanter. At last Mrs. Edwards 
said 

"Well, there! We're most ready. Can 
you see y'r pa comin'?" 

" Yes, here he comes with Alice." 

" Well, set the tea on an' see if the p'ta- 
toes are done." 

Edwards had a handful of wheat in his 



162 JASON EDWARDS. 

hands, which he had pulled up by the roots. 
It was dry and whitish-yellow in color 
blighted, in short. Alice was walking by 
his side, trying to cheer him up. 

"It's going to rain, father, I know it is. 
See the clouds gathering over there? 
You'll hear the thunder-giant begin to walk 
pretty soon." 

"Rain! It can't rain now," replied 
Edwards, with a tone of despairing bitter 
ness that was terrible to hear. "Them 
clouds'll pass right by, jest's they've all 
done f'r the last four weeks. See that 
wheat swash like water! You wouldn't 
think to see it from here that it's dry as 
dust, but it is. Rain ! A man might pray 
and pull till his eyes dropped out, an' he 
couldn't draw one cloud an inch out of the 
way. We might jest as well give it up," 
he ended, flinging the handful of wheat to 
the ground. 

"Don't talk so, father, please don't. It 
hurts us. Mother, talk to him cheer 
him up," she appealed to Mrs. Edwards. 

But Mrs. Edwards had reached that 
stage of dumb patience which is near to 



JASON EDWARDS. 163 

insensibility, and her comfort was mainly 
physical. 

"Can't you eat sumpthin', Jason? Set 
up an' have some tea. Linnie, pour him a 
cup o' tea." 

" Don't give up," pleaded Alice. "Let's 
fight as long as we can." 

" It ain't no use, Allie, m' girl. Every 
thing's against us" 

"But if the rain comes now" 

"It can't save it. See them white spots 
out there?" 

"Yes, what does it mean?" asked Alice, 
looking away with strained and tearful gaze. 

"'It means blight. It means that every 
stalk is like them" he put his foot on the 
scattered straws he had thrown down. 
"It means failure." 

" Failure ! Is there no hope ? " 

" None that I can see. We're squeezed 
out ag'in. Squeezed out of the city, and 
now we're squeezed out of a country of 
free land I'm just about ready to quit." 

"I wish I could do something to help 
you. It scares me to have you fail 
you've been so brave." 



164 JASON EDWARDS. 

"It scares me to think of my family. 
There's a quarter section of wheat dry 
enough to burn. A field of empty heads 
empty as my hands when they should be 
as heavy as my head feels. Oh, I can't 
stand it. It'll make me crazy!" 

He rose and walked to and fro in agony, 
till Mrs. Edwards came and laid her hand 
on his arm. "Come, Jason, git ready f'r 
supper." 

"Oh, I can't eat," he burst out. "I 
don't feel as if I could eat another mouth 
ful as long as I live." 

"Try to eat for my sake poppa," 
she said, using the old childish name. 
Edwards paused, sat down at the table, but 
did not eat. 

"It ain't no use at all, Jennie, children. 
I've got to the end of my rope. I've lost my 
last chance the great free West! Free 
to starve in. I've strained ev'ry muscle 
to pay f'r my free land, but when I had a 
crop it wasn't worth anything, and now 
there ain't enough on the whole farm to 
pay interest on the mortgage, say nothin' 
of other debts and expenses." 



JASON EDWARDS. 165 

Alice went to him, soothing him, cares 
sing his gray hair. He went on, an infi 
nite pathos in his voice and in the droop 
of his head. 

"My life is a failure I don't know 
why. Don't seem 's if it was my fault. 
I know it ain't yours, mother. Fifty years 
of work an' here we be! I've worked 
every well day of my life since I was ten 
years old; we've worked early and late, 
an' pinched an' saved. I never was a 
drinker, we ain't had the necessities of 
life rent went up an' fuel went up, an' 
wages went down an' here we are." 

Faint, far away was heard the boom of 
thunder 

"Hark!" called Linnie, leaping up and 
clapping her hands "It's going to rain!" 
She ran to the corner of the house to see, 
and cried again, "It's going to rain, sure!" 

"The world has been jest a place to 
work in," Edwards went on in the same 
bitter tone, "an' now I'm wore out." 

"Can't we sell an' go back?" asked his 
wife eagerly. 

"Sell! We ain't got nothin' to sell; 



166 JASON EDWARDS. 

an' if we had, who'd buy it in this God 
forsaken country. Jest look at it here 
we've worked" 

Again the thunder broke in on his voice, 
unmistakably nearer. The wind had died 
down. Mrs. Edwards rose, like the care 
ful housewife she was 

"It's goin' to rain I must go an' see 
that the windows are shet." 

The sun was already veiled by the rag 
ged edges of the rushing cloud wide, 
horizon-grasping and menacing. As the 
thunder broke out at shorter intervals, 
Edwards rose and joined Alice, who was 
looking anxiously at the approach of the 
storm, whose foot-falls shook the earth. A 
shadow already lay across the prairie, 
deepening swiftly. 

On came the wind-driven mass, preceded 
by a colossal dust-colored roll of vapor, 
which stretched like a looped scarf from 
east to west across the blue-black cloud 
behind. It tumbled and twisted as it came, 
trailing a dense shadow, and the lightning 
flamed in branching streams from it, and 
dust and leaves caught up from the plain 



JASON EDWARDS. 167 

beneath kept pace with it. Yet it was per 
fectly breathless where the watchers stood. 
An ominous hush, hot and full of growing 
gray shadow. 

"Oh, father, see!" said Alice, pointing. 
A vast swirl had appeared in the clouds 
beneath the scarf-like wind-wrack, a vortex 
from which shone a greenish light. This 
light grew till it looked like a gigantic sin 
ister eye. An instant more, and a long, sil 
very-white veil seemed to drop from it, and 
spreading as it fell, trailed along the earth. 

Alice was fascinated with the majesty of 
the scene the wide plain, the boom of 
thunder, the rolling and spreading of the 
clouds, and the dazzling lightning's spang 
ling thrust. But Edwards, with a darken 
ing face and closed lip, gazed only at the 
marvelous beauty of that strange veil that 
streamed down from the cloud. It came 
drifting along the plain with incredible 
speed, shimmering like snow. A hissing, 
roaring sound now grew upon the ear, the 
wheat was trampled by the coming storm. 
Edwards comprehended it now he turned 
to his family, and cried hoarsely 



168 JASON EDWARDS. 

" In with yeh ! 

Mrs. Edwards and Linnie huddled in the 
doorway, waiting for Alice and her father. 

Edwards, with set and sullen face, made 
livid by the lightning's glare, lifted his 
hand, and half groaned, half imprecated 

"Hail! by the livin' God ! " 

The next moment, before he could turn 
to Alice, the storm-wind rushed upon them, 
carrying away the roof of the kitchen and 
dashing out every window, filling the room 
with floods of water and rebounding 
hailstones. In the deafening, distracting 
tumult, Linnie and her mother saw 
Edwards put his hand to his head and sink 
slowly to the ground, with Alice clinging 
to him. 



JASON EDWARDS. 169 



V. 



ALICE never could tell just how she 
dragged her father into the house, 
out she must have done it alone, for her 
mother and Linnie were confused and weak 
with fear. Somehow, in the midst of that 
horrible crackling roar, in the midst of the 
incessant glare of the lightning, while the 
wind and hail dashed out the window- 
panes and flooded the floor with water, she 
dragged the unconscious man across the sill 
and closed the door. 

It seemed hours to her as she sat there 
drenched and white, looking down at the 
gray head dabbled in the water, as if it 
were blood, while she rubbed the cold hands 
and temples. 

The wind tore through the house, strip 
ping the curtains from the windows, and 



170 JASON EDWARDS. 

the pictures and little ornaments from the 
walls, littering the floor with broken glass. 
It seemed as if the roof would be torn from 
their heads, and all be left naked to the 
storm. Mrs. Edwards and Linnie cowered, 
stunned and helpless, in the corner, while 
the water flooded the room, and hail 
stormed on the roof. 

She could hear the sobbing of the half- 
crazed child on the bed, the dim, gray light 
lit by flashes of blue flame, showed her 
Mrs. Edwards with Linnie in her arms, 
staring wildly at the open window. She 
seemed dumb with the stress of her horror. 
Alice was alone with her father, who 
seemed to be dying, or dead. 

At last the roar changed its key; from 
being sharp, harsh, it sank to a deeper, 
softer note, as the hail gave place to rain, 
and then for a quarter of an hour the rain 
fell so fast the air was a solid cataract of 
water. In turn, this died out, and the 
thunder went bellowing off to the East. 

"Mother Linnie the storm is over." 
Alice shook her mother by the shoulder, as 
if she were asleep. 



JASON EDWARDS. 171 

"Oh, he's dead I know he is," she said, 
in utter depth of passionless despair. 

"No, he isn't. Linnie, you must run to 
Mr. Elliot's, quick." 

She roused Linnie and started her out 
into the slackening drizzle, but Mrs. 
Edwards was of no use to her. She still 
sat in that dazed and helpless way, gazing 
at the desolation around her. Edwards 
lay in a sort of coma, breathing heavily, 
but curiously like sleep. 

' The sky lightened. In the west a cres 
cent of sky, flaming as burnished copper, 
told of a fair sky beyond. Its light 
seemed a bitter mockery to the girl, 
kneeling beside her father in a desolated 
home. 

In thirty minutes the storm was over, 
and the chickens were paddling about in 
the pools of water here and there in the 
hollows, and caw-cawing gaily. The plain 
looked deliciously cool and moist, the lark's 
clear piping was heard in a kind of thanks 
giving note, and only a practised eye could 
see the terrible effect of the hailstorm on 
the wheat. 



172 JASON EDWARDS. 

Where it had stood tall and yellow and 
hot an hour ago, it now lay broken, beaten 
to the ground, wet, tangled and twisted 
into knots. It was mangled beyond any 
possible recovery; escaping the drouth, it 
was now trampled into the muddy earth. 



JASON EDWARDS. 173 



VI. 



REEVES rode away across the prairie in 
a turmoil of anger and sorrow. He 
felt wronged and cheated. He drove furi 
ously toward the town, intending to take 
the train, but as he rode he thought, and 
thinking, softened. That sweet face, the 
haunting pathos of those work-calloused 
hands, those sad eyes, came over him, mak 
ing him shudder and groan. 

The team fell into a walk, his head sank 
low as he went over the whole matter. 
Over him the wide blue clouds rose unseen, 
and far-off lightning flashed silently along 
the vast blue-black mass of vapor in the 
west. He saw nothing outside. He was 
going over the interview. 

How pitiful it all seemed now ! He had 
12 



174 JASON EDWARDS. 

gone to her with such expectation of suc 
cess. She loved him so, she could not con 
ceal that, and yet her duty to her father 
and sister were insuperable barriers. His 
joy and buoyancy of greeting had a ter^ 
rible mockery now, as he remembered 
them. 

He thought of his own father, a hard 
working carpenter. Would he have gone 
to live on his son-in-law as long as he had 
an arm to swing or a leg to stalk about 
on ? No ! He saw clearly now the feeling 
of Edwards, who still hoped against hope; 
his soldierly pride not permitting him to 
go to the hospital or acknowledge defeat. 

He was roused by a peal of thunder, and 
turning, saw that terrible vortex of clouds 
moving down upon him. With a sudden 
determination, he turned his horses and 
drove rapidly back toward the Edwards 
claim. He must see her and ask her for 
giveness for his anger, and yes, promise 
to give up his Boston life for her life. 

"Anything, anything for her!" he said. 
But the storm drove him into Elliott's 
yard, and as he turned into an open shed 



JASON EDWARDS. 175 

and hitched his team, Frank Graham came 
dashing out of the house. 

"Git inside, quick! It's goin' to rain 
an' blow great shakes ! " 

As they ran to the house, they saw 
Elliott putting boards up before the 
windows. 

"What's that for?" asked Reeves. 

Hail," said Frank briefly. See ? " He 
pointed out of the door at the back, and as 
Reeves looked, the dash of hail crashed 
on the roof, and for the next twenty min 
utes conversation was impossible. 

Mrs. Elliott, a tall woman with a thin, 
melancholy face, moved about in the dark 
ness, lighting a lamp. Elliott laughed 
silently or at least, his laugh was not 
heard. The judge smoked calmly, Frank 
and Reeves stood at the eastern window, 
looking out at the cataract of water and 
the leaping hail. 

Elliott came up at last, and shouted in 
the ear of Frank, "This knocks the wheat 
galley west," and carried it off as if it were 
all a great joke. As they all stood there, 
a box, barrels and a tin boiler, together 



176 JASON EDWARDS. 

with pieces of boards and other light arti 
cles, were carried by, and disappeared in 
the gray flood. 

Occasionally a lightning flash laid the 
ground bare to the sight, the grass show 
ing flat as if rolled, the water drifting 
before the wind, the leaping globes of ice 
forming a terrifying vista to be lost a 
moment later in the gray gloom. 

At last, as the rain began to cease and 
the roar of the hail to die out, Elliott 
said 

"If this don't lay some o' these shanties 
out flatter 'n a hoe-cake, I miss my guess." 

"Is there any danger to Edwards' 
house?" Eeeves asked anxiously. 

"No, I guess not. It's built pretty solid. 
Still, you can't tell, these cyclones are so 
damned curious. I've seen a house blowed 
clear out o' sight, and a hay-stack right 
near by scarcely touched. There! I can 
see the house now. It's all right, as far as 
I can see. Looks 's if the winders was out, 
that's all. If they didn't put something 
up before 'm, they are, you can bet high 
on that." 



JASON EDWARDS. Ill 

Reeves was now so uneasy that he paced 
the room, waiting for the rain to cease. 
His fears grew. It seemed so brutal in 
him to have left Alice at such a time, and 
he was ready to reproach himself with 
criminal neglect. 

"There's somebody comin' down the 
road looks like a girl," said Elliott at 
the window. 

"It is a girl," said Frank. "It's Linnie 
running like a deer. Something's up, sure's 
shootin'." 

He rushed out into the road. The rain 
had nearly ceased, and the girl could be 
plainly seen. 

"Here, Reeves, jump in! We'll meet 
her!" 

" I'm with you," said Reeves, seizing the 
horses by the heads and backing them out 
of the shed. By the time they had wheeled 
them into the road Linnie, white, breath 
less, horrified, came flying into the yard. 

"Oh, come quick! The house is blown 
down and poppa's killed. Get the doctor, 
quick!" 

"Judge, bring the doctor," said Frank, 



178 JASON EDWARDS. 

feeling the complete truth of the story told 
by Linnie's face. 

"Git in here," he called to the girl. 
Reeves reached down and drew her in, and 
in an instant they had whirled into the 
road, driving at a tearing run toward the 
shanty a mile away. 

Linnie lay in Reeves' arms, too exhausted 
to speak, her bright eyes turned now on 
the flying horses, and now on the face of 
the driver. 

"Is Alice hurt?" 

"No she's all right it's poppa." 

"The house seems to be standing," Frank 
said. 

"It's the other part the windows are 
all out," Linnie answered. 

"See that grain," said Frank, nodding 
his head over his shoulder. "Look's like 
a crop, don't it ? A few more like that '11 
raise a crop o' suicides." 

As they dashed up to the door of the 
upright, they saw the yard littered with 
fragments of straw, shavings, boards, fur 
niture, and through the door Reeves saw 
Alice bending over her father. 



JASON EDWARDS. 179 

She uttered a word of joy as she saw 
him. Then, as she looked around the room 
and back to the prostrate figure before her, 
she said with a terrible bitterness 

"See what God has done!" 

Reeves lifted the senseless old man to a 
place on the bed, and fell to chafing his 
hands and feet. 

"He can't stay here the bed is wet. 
The stove is filled with water, an' pipe 
blown down," said Frank. " There ain't any 
room for him at Elliott's. There's nothing 
to do but take him down to my house. 
Wrap him in warm, dry quilts." 

"Help me get his wet clothes off," said 
Reeves. "Alice, are there any dry clothes 
in the house?" 

As they worked, they discussed the best 
thing to do. Mrs. Edwards had recovered 
a little, but still wore a dull and dazed 
look, and offered little help. Elliott came 
rushing over, and offered his house, of 
course, but Reeves said 

"If he must be moved a mile, we may 
as well take him to Graham's. We'll 
meet the doctor quicker." 



180 JASON EDWARDS. 

"He may die on the way/' Alice cried 
in an agony of fear. 

"I don't think so. His pulse is slow, 
but regular. It's a sort of coma I've 
seen something like it before. I don't 
think it is dangerous." 

The sun was just setting, as Reeves and 
Alice drove slowly off down the road, hav 
ing in the open carriage the death-like 
presence of Jason Edwards. Alice sat 
beside her father, watching for signs of 
life, fearing each moment to see the shadow 
of death on the rigid face. 

That ride they will never forget. The 
deadly white face of the wronged and 
cheated man looking toward the sky the 
poor, lax hands falling empty the glory 
of the sunset, the piping of the cheerful 
lark, the trill of the cricket, and the smell 
of the moist and tangled wheat. 

Then came the curious faces of the neigh 
bors, the falling dusk of evening, and the 
flower-like stars opening in the solemnity 
of the windless sky. Then came the light 
of the town into view, and the journey was 
nearly done, and the two young spirits in 



JASON EDWARDS. 181 

the stress of this terrible moment, gazing 
at each other, had small need of words. 
They seemed able to read each other's souls. 
There was reliance, trust in her eyes, and 
comfort in his presence, and strength and 
forbearance in the eyes of Reeves. 

Once he lifted one of the empty hands, 
so calloused and cracked and lumpish with 
toil. 

" Poor hands," he said, and for the first 
time since the coming of the storm, the 
girl wept freely. Once she asked him how 
he came to be so near, and he told her, and 
said, "I was coming back to ask forgive 
ness for my brutal anger." 

She shook her head and looked down at 
the silent figure stretched on the blankets. 
It was a sort of unfaithfulness to think of 
anything else now, and he perceived it. 

When kind hands lifted the weight of 
her father from her knees, she was numb 
with the cramping position, and sick with 
an indefinable loathing and despair. She 
tottered unsteadily on her feet, and Reeves 
took her in his arms and helped her into 
the house. Mrs. Graham, with an infinite 



182 JASON EDWARDS. 

compassion on her beautiful, matronly face, 
received her on her bosom. Strong as she 
was, she had nearly reached the limit of 
her strength. 

The sun came up next morning on a 
cool, sweet landscape, but night and morn 
ing were alike to Jason Edwards, lying 
there on the bed charity had extended to 
him. The sky was cloudless. A gentle 
wind stirred from the infinite fresh spaces 
of the west; under the window in the wet 
and tangled sunflowers crickets and cicadas 
were singing. 

Sitting by his side, Reeves felt again the 
force of Nature's forgetfulness of man. 
She neither loves nor hates. Her storms 
have no regard for life. Her smiling 
calms do not recognize death. Sometimes 
her storms coincide with death, sometimes 
her calms run parallel to men's desires. 
She knows not, and cares nothing. 



JASON EDWARDS. 183 



VII. 

BOOMTOWN was full of teams the next 
morning by ten o'clock. Men from 
the South and North and East and West 
hitched up and drove into town to compare 
notes and see how matters stood. The 
Wamburger grocery was full of brown and 
grizzled farmers, swearing or laughing, 
according to their temperaments. Judge 
Balser's office was also full of men who 
had come in to get appraisements on the 
damage to their crops, the judge being an 
agent of an insurance company. 

Out by Larson's blacksmith shop, on 
Sheridan Avenue, there was a crowd of 
men pitching " quates " . Elliott was there, 
and Frank Graham, and Tonguey Thomp 
son, who usually acted as judge of the 
game, and Hank Whiting, and two or 
three more, including Larson, the black- 



184 JASON EDWARDS. 

smith, who hammered but fitfully on his 
anvil, the game being so exciting. 

The game was proceeding. For quoits, 
they used horse-shoes, and for pegs, teeth 
from an old harrow. Elliott was stripped 
to his shirt, and his shirt was open at the 
neck, and so far as could be discovered, he 
had no thought save to win the game and 
get the treat on the other fellow. 

"How's Edwards this mornin'?" two or 
three inquired, as Frank joined them. 

Johnson came along the street with a 
sickle on his shoulder, and after watching 
the game a moment, left the sickle inside 
the shop and went up to his old antagonist, 
Euble, who was seated on a soap-box at the 
corner of the shop. Johnson was in a bad 
mood. He gave Kuble a blow on the back 
that nearly knocked him down. 

"Ain't yeh got nothin' to do but this?" 

"No, I hain't/' said Ruble, in rising rage. 

"Well, yeh might pray f'r a wind to 
h'ist the grain. Some fields look as if a 
herd of elephunts had summered into 'em." 

Elliott and Frank Graham were having 
a scuffle, and the crowd was laughing 



JASON EDWARDS. 185 

so heartily that Johnson was forced to 
raise his voice. The judge stood placidly 
smoking. 

"Old Jason Edwards' grain is worse 'n 
mine jest pounded clean out o' sight an' 
sound. Yeh couldn't raise it with Gabri 
el's trumpet." 

"Can't lay this to the administration, or 
taxation or anything, can yeh?" 

"I'll bet I can. If we hadn't give away 
s' much land to the railroad an' let land- 
sharks gobble it up, an' if we'd taxed 'em 
as we ought to, we wouldn't be crowded 
way out here where it can't rain without 
blowing hard enough to tear the ears off 
a cast-iron bull-dog" 

"At it again," said Frank, pointing at 
Johnson, who was gesticulating violently. 

" Why don't you old seeds quit quarrel- 
in an' go to fightin' ?" 

"I'm goin' to git out o' this God-for 
saken country," said Johnson, bitterly, 
going off up the street. 

"Oh, no, you won't," laughed Frank. 
"You'll be braggin' about the climate in 
less 'n two days I know yeh." 



186 JASON EDWARDS. 

Reeves was studying them, and thinking 
of the difference between their laughter and 
apparent freedom from care, and the ques 
tion of life and death which was being 
worked out in the silent room he had just 
left. 

"How'd you leave him?" asked Frank, 
coming over to Reeves. 

"Not much change doctor don't seem 
to know what to do. If he don't change 
for the better soon, I shall telegraph to St. 
Paul for a physician. By the way, this 
scene is a study to me. I can't realize that 
the land was swept last night by a terrible 
storm, to see these fellows out here, cheer 
ful as crickets. So goes the world com 
edy and tragedy side by side." 

"Oh, they'd take anything so I mean 
these fellers. They's always a set of these 
lahees, myself included, who'd laugh if 
their mother-in-law died." 

Reeves looked out on the glorious land 
scape, retaining still much of its morning 
freshness the sky just specked with bits 
of impalpable white vapor. 

"Your climate is so sinister in its beauty, 



JASON EDWARDS. 187 

so delusive, I can't realize what has been 
done. The horror of last night is like an 
exaggeration of a dream. There is no 
receding swell this morning, as there would 
be on the ocean, to hint of the storm just 
passed." 

"I guess Alice Edwards ain't likely to 
forget it right away." 

Reeves turned and put his hand on 
Frank's shoulder 

" It's due to you that they have a quiet 
room and careful" 

" Oh, drop that! that's nothin'." 

"I guess the old man's work is about 
done," said Reeves, after a pause, during 
which Elliott led the crowd into the Oatbin 
saloon. 

"It isn't the thing to be altogether sorry 
for, either. I don't suppose he ever knew 
freedom from care few of us do. Our 
whole infernal civilization is a struggle. We 
are like hunters climbing a perpendicular 
cliff, a bottomless gulf below, clinging 
wildly to tiny roots and crevices, and toil 
ing upward, eyes fixed on the green and 
alluring slopes above. We strain and 



188 JASON EDWARDS. 

strive, now slipping, now gaining, while 
our hair whitens with the agony of our 
aching, failing muscles. One by one we 
give up and fall with curse or groan, but 
the others keep on, not daring to look 
down. There is no rest from the fear of 
fall, save in the black depths below. 
Graham, the most of us will never know 
what rest is. It makes me savage to think 
of men like Edwards toiling all their lives 
to die at sixty, unrewarded and unsatisfied." 

Frank was powerfully moved, and his 
reply was as characteristic as it was full 
of meaning. 

" Knocks an eye out of the American 
eagle, don't it?" 

" Fine morning, after the shower," put 
in the judge, sauntering forward. 

" Call it a shower, do you ? " 

" Oh, yes. A little severe, of course 
grain blown down a little here and there. 
Every State in the Union liable to such. 
Damage merely nominal wind'll lift it 
during the day." 

" The judge has just the same tone, you 
see, that these reports of the prosperity of 



JASON EDWARDS. 189 

the West have when issued by land-hold 
ers and mortgage companies," commented 
Frank. " They issued one last week, deny 
ing the poverty of the country; but I 
noticed it was signed by men who had 
land to rent or sell bankers or mortgage 
companies." 

" We've noticed that/' Reeves said. 

" I'll tell yeh one thing the wind won't 
lift, Judge, and that's the mortgage you 
hold on Jason Edwards and the rest of 'em." 

"Gents, come in an' take something" 
roared Elliott from the side door of the 
saloon. 

"Don't care if I do lemonade," said 
the judge, glad of the diversion. 

Elliott turned his head and spoke to the 
bar-keeper within. "Mix one o' the 
judge's lemonades. Come in, Frank 
to-day won't count. Come in, Mr. Reeves." 

"Every day counts with me," said 
Frank. "If you want to shorten y'r life 
ten years, go ahead. Life ain't so cheap 
as that with me." 

"Well, I must go back to the house an* 
see how Edwards is." 

18 



190 JASON EDWARDS. 

"Ain't it singular the way Mrs. Edwards 
goes on sort of dazed?" 

"Well, as I look at it Mrs. Edwards, like 
Macbeth, has supped full of horrors. I 
don't suppose anything could bring an out 
cry from her. It's terrible to me to see 
her go about in that numb way. Graham, 
I almost fear for Alice's reason. Her life 
out here has made terrible havoc in her 
girlhood." 

What he would have said more was 
stopped by the return of the crowd, led 
by Elliott and the judge. Elliott was talk 
ing very earnestly. 

The crowd burst into wild laughter. In 
the midst of it Johnson returned from 
up the street. His face was full of a 
strange emotion. He silenced them with 
a stern gesture 

"Say! You fellers are awful chipper 
but just look there ! " 

They all looked where he pointed. Two 
men were bringing a third man down the 
walk, holding him lightly by the elbows. 
Behind them came a woman with a baby 
in her arms and a little one toddling at 



JASON EDWARDS. 191 

her side. One of the men was Major Mul- 
lins, a tall and dignified man, with flowing 
whiskers and clear brown eyes, now sad 
and thoughtful. 

"There goes Charley Severson," John 
son went on in the same bitter voice. 
"One o' the best fellers in the country, 
on his way to the train to go to the insane 
asylum a ravin' maniac. He couldn't 
stand t%e strain. He's rich now!" 

A hush fell on the crowd that was pain 
ful. Tears started to Keeves' eyes as he 
looked into the desolate face of the Nor 
wegian girl. The little one at her side 
clung to her skirts, and avoided the eye 
like a young partridge. But the man was 
happy at last. His care was over. He 
was laughing and talking, his eyes roving 
about he knew no one. He tugged at 
the major's arm, and turned toward the 
silent group of men the major humored 
him. 

"Hallo, fallars! Yo' gat mae latter? 
Ay gaet ten tousant dollars ay sail mae 
horses on Yimtown. Ay gat plows ay 
go'n sail plows hundert tousant dollar. 



192 JASON EDWARDS. 

Ay dam reich, yo' bait yo' ! Ay go Chicago. 
Ay buy more horses ay gaet money" 

"Come, Charley/' said the major, soft as 
velvet. "Come, it's time" 

He turned suddenly, a wild glare in his 
eyes. 

"Who yo* baen, anyhow? Ay not go 
vit yo', ay bait ! " 

"We must go to Chicago after those 
horses, Charley." 

The maniac hesitated a moment. 

"All right ay go. Ay gaet more 
horses ay sail 'em, make beeg money" 

With the incessant talk of money, they 
lured him on toward the station. Here 
was something which surpassed quoits in 
interest. 

It was pitiful, tragic to see the wife and 
mother stand with her little ones about 
her, seeking her husband's eye, and finding 
only a swift, unrecognizing glare. The 
chubby little flaxen-haired baby seemed 
somehow to divine that it must not speak 
to its father, and it stood silent. 

Several kind women and neighbors sur 
rounded the wife and tried to comfort her, 



JASON EDWARDS. 193 

but there was no comfort. She stood 
dumb, wordless, with blank face of infin 
ite despair and suffering. She refused to 
yield her infants, shook her head slowly, 
and kept her eyes upon the restless man 
who paced up and down the board walk, 
pouring out disconnected accounts of imag 
inary investments which had made him a 
millionaire. 

He was apparently perfectly happy. He 
laughed easily. His fine face was a little 
flushed. He walked with a grace and ease 
that would have been attractive, if it were 
not for the wildness of his eyes. 

"A product of our civilization," said 
Beeves, as the train drew up, and the man 
was coaxed and pushed into it. 

" Sharley ! " wailed the woman, speaking 
for the first time. He turned at her voice, 
but did not know her. She extended the 
baby toward him, as if hoping that might 
reach him. "Sharley!" 

The man laughed and went on, and the 
train rolled away. 

"What is civilization with all its glory 
and grandeur of invention worth to that 



J94 JASON EDWARDS. 

woman?" asked Reeves, when he could 
speak. 

"Nothing," replied Frank, and they 
walked in silence, a terrible indignation 
in the constriction of their throats. There 
were half a dozen loafers around the black 
smith shop, pitching quoits, and the black 
smith was whistling while he hammered 
on Johnson's sickle. 



JASON EDWARDS. 195 



VIII. 

TASON EDWARDS could hardly be said 
*J to have awakened from that strange, 
baffling sleep till the second morning after 
the storm, though Reeves, who watched 
with him the first and second nights as 
well, said he stirred and opened his eyes 
twice, but apparently without seeing or 
realizing anything. 

When the cool dawn of the second 
morning came, Reeves, weary with watch 
ing, went to the window and gazed afar 
out on the beautiful plain. He could hear 
the clanging of the engine-bells further 
down town, and the clatter of 'busses as 
they took early passengers down to the 
St. Paul train. The air was marvel- 
ously clear, and the sky was cloudless, 
save the bands of smoke from engines or 
chimneys. It was only by an effort, or 



196 JASON EDWARDS. 

by a glance at the old man lying deathly 
still, that he could persuade himself of the 
reality of that storm. 

He was still standing there, thinking it 
all over for the twentieth time, when 
Frank Graham came in, and motioned to 
him to come out into the sitting-room 
adjoining. 

"Now, I'll stay here while you go out 
and catch a snack. I'll give you a 
pointer go to the restaurant at the cor 
ner down this street and get a cup of coffee 
to kind o' keep you steady, and I'll have 
breakfast ready by six-thirty. But don't 
let anyone hear us my wife ain't just up 
on coffee see? And they are down there. 
The walk'll do you good. Then come back, 
eat a beefsteak and go to bed." 

Reeves was glad to get out into the 
inexpressibly sweet and peaceful morning. 
To look up at the sky which no storm can 
permanently impress, and hear the cheer 
ful voices of nature's never-complaining 
children, after a night of gloomy philoso 
phizing, was sweet as sleep. 

Frank, left alone, peeped in at the silent 



JASON EDWARDS. 197 

figure, drew a morning paper from his 
pocket, and sank into one of the gaily 
upholstered chairs. The room was cheer 
ful in a determined sort of way. A 
chromo or two on the wall, bright-colored 
carpet, organ of an ambitious pattern, 
centre-table supporting the family Bible, 
and a basket of stereopticon views on a 
bright-colored tidy. It was prosperous and 
American in its entire appearance. Frank 
took a pride in it from the fact that his 
wife did the planning mainly. 

He looked up at hearing the door open, 
and Alice, pale but resolute and self-con 
tained, entered. 

" Good morning, Mr. Graham. Did you 
is he still sleeping?" 

"He's layin' there perfectly still, and 
seems to be comfortable." 

Alice went into the bedroom and bent 
above her father's bed, and kissed him 
softly on the hair. 

"Did you see the doctor when he was 
here last night?" she asked, returning and 
closing the door. "What did he say?" 

"Not much of anything; pinched his 



198 JASON EDWARDS. 

chin and looked wise. I take it he's in no 
present danger. Sort of nervous prostra 
tion very fashionable just now." 

"When did Walter go away?" 

" Just now." 

"Why, he promised to call you and be 
relieved at midnight." 

"Well, he didn't he stayed here all 
night. Just gone out to catch a cup o' 
coffee. Be back soon." 

Alice was going back into the other 
room, as she stopped and said, "Did he 
look tired?" 

"Well, yes he looked ugly as a bear 

with a sore ear in fly-time. Now, let me 

.advise you," he said, rising, significantly. 

"Whatever plan he makes, you carry out 

see?" 

"What do you mean?" 

"Just what I say," said Frank, mysteri 
ously, as he went out. 

Alice was busied, moving about with a 
cloth and brush, silently removing the dis 
order of the night, when Eeeves re-entered, 
and stood looking at her for a little time. 

She was so wifely in her whole air, so 



JASON EDWARDS. 199 

sweet and strong, his heart went out to her 
as never before, and yet, because she was 
strong and sweet, he knew how difficult it 
would be to bring her to accept his plans. 

She turned and saw him, and her face 
lighted into a sort of sad smile that did not 
reach the lips, but she came into the little 
parlor and closed the door. " Oh, Walter, 
how good how generous you are!" 

"Nothing of the kind, I assure you/' 
answered Reeves, as he seized her out 
stretched hand. "I'm selfish as a lover. 
We're all egoists at bottom, even in our 
sacrifices I'm no exception." 

"Do you think he will live?" she cried 
eagerly, ignoring his deeper meaning. 

" I do." 

"Oh, what a load that lifts from my 
heart! I've found out how you obey my 
orders. Oh, what a dreadful two days this 
has been!" 

"What a dreadful four years this has 
been!" Eeeves replied, meaningly. 

"What would we have done without 
you?" she said, and her voice quivered. 

"What will I do without my girl? 



200 JASON EDWARDS. 

Alice my sweetheart! Are you satis 
fied? Will you give up the struggle?" 
He drew her to him, but she remained with 
eyes downcast in thought. He went on 
tenderly 

"It has been a hopeless struggle from 
the first. I offer help and a home you 
are helpless and homeless. Will you 
refuse it again?" 

"My first duty is to my parents," said 
Alice evasively, still undecided. " Think 
of the unutterable tragedy of their lives ! " 

"Don't evade me," he persisted firmly. 
"You sha'n't evade me. Will you take my 
help and my home? Don't look away 
look at me! Are you ready to come to 
me you and yours?" 

Alice stood for a moment silent, her 
pride and resolution giving way. She 
turned to him 

"If I am worth so much." 

"So much! You're worth acres of dia 
monds!" he caught her face between his 
hands and kissed it. 

She smiled a little "You say so now." 

"And I say so ever/' he went on in 



JASON EDWARDS. 201 

triumphant strain. "Now let Rome in 
Tiber melt, and the wide-arched empire 
what's the rest of it? Ah, Alice, what 
a tragedy had been had I married one of 
those other Boston girls during these 
years." 

" I was afraid you would/' she said smil 
ing a little. "I couldn't blame you I 
had no claim on you." 

Reeves gave a profound and expressive 
sigh. "All that saved me was the tradi 
tional constitution of the masculine heart. 
The more I couldn't get you the more I 
wanted you it's the way." 

" According to that reasoning, I've done 
wrong to promise anything now." 

"That's a <non sequitor'," he replied 
quickly. " You're mine now." 

Yes but" 

"But me no buts I won't stand it!" 

"But father is so inflexible; he hates 
charity so, he may not consent." 

"Trust the whole matter to me. I'll 
come in here as a sort of special prov 
idence nothing flatters a man more than 
to be a sort of lieutenant to God. I've 



202 JASON EDWARDS. 

been waiting for the chance for years." 
He softened, as he thought of it. "Ah, 
Alice, what happy years we've wasted, 
just on account of his pride and your 
willfulness." 

"It was not willfulness it was" 

"I'll retract I'll retract!" he cried 
hastily. "It was heroism, only forget it 
now. Let the hand of labor swell and the 
weary head bow let the wind lay hard 
on the icy plain, and the hail of summer 
trample the wheat let the rush of trade 
go on in its granite grooves you are out 
of the press. My dearest, my life's work 
is to keep you safe from sorrow,," 

Alice was sad again. Her eyes were 
deeply thoughtful, the rising sun moving 
to the southward threw a square of light 
upon her head, bringing out the grave, 
strong lines of her face. When she spoke, 
she stood for the modern woman who 
wishes to do, whose individuality is too 
high to enable her to tamely submit to 
social limitation. 

"I am out of the press, but not by my 
own merits." He started to speak 



JASON EDWARDS. 203 

" Hush ! You know what I mean. I hate 
charity, and after all, I'm saved by a sort 
of charity. I'll try to be patient, but the 
problem is not solved for us it's only put 
off." 



204 JASON EDWAEDS. 



IX. 

THEY were all looking down at him 
when Jason Edwards opened his eyes, 
clear and quiet. Alice and her mother 
fell on their knees beside the bed in a 
transport of relief. Eeeves stood looking 
at them all. Linnie alone was wanting to 
make up the group. She, silenced by 
Reeves' finger, stood in the door poised, 
waiting. 

Edwards moved his lips painfully before 
speaking in a husky, monotonous tone 
"Is the storm passed off?" 

"All quiet and beautiful, Jason." 

He looked around, put one hand feebly 
up to Alice's face "Where's my baby ?" 

"Here I be, poppa," cried Linnie, bound 
ing forward, and almost leaping upon the 
bed, where she snuggled down beside him. 
His eyes rested on Reeves again. 

" How d' do, Mr. Reeves ? I didn't know 



JASON EDWARDS. 205 

yell." He was puzzled at the room. "This 
ain't Boston?" 

" This is Frank Graham's house," replied 
Alice. Edwards seemed now to recollect, 
and his face darkened. 

"Then our house was bio wed down?" 

"Yes, father the shed was carried 
away and all the windows broken." 

"An* the wheat cut to pieces?" 

"Yes, Jason worse 'n you can think." 

His face grew bitter, and after a long 
pause, he said, "Then I may jest as well 
die. It ain't no use I can't never git up 
with all them mortgages" 

"Oh, Jason, Jason!" pleaded his wife. 

"Have courage for our sakes, father," 
said Alice. 

" I'd only be a burden to you instead of 
a blessin'," the steady voice went on. "I'm 
old old! So old I don't feel like m'self 
an' it was all tramped down?" he said 
to Reeves, with a rising reflection. 

"All destroyed. The center of the 
storm" 

"Of course," broke in the despairing, 
infinitely-bitter voice. " God and man has 

14 



206 JASON EDWARDS. 

joined hands to break me down." He 
went on after a pause, speaking in a slow 
monotone. "They drove me out o' Deny, 
an' they drove me out o' Boston, an' they'll 
drive me out o' here. They ain't but one 
place left jest one little spot made an' 
pervided fr such as me an' that's the 
grave. An' they'd crowd me out o' that 
if they could but they can't. They ain't 
no landlords in the grave." 

All were weeping, Alice was stroking 
his hair, Linnie sobbing by his side. Mrs. 
Edwards rose hastily. 

" I'll go an* get yeh some tea, Jason 
that'll hearten you up some." As she 
went out, Alice said 

" Linnie, run and get an extra pillow to 
prop him up. I'll get some water." As 
they went out, Edwards said, "I guess I'll 
try to set up." 

Reeves stepped forward to assist him, 
when he was stopped by the look of fear 
and horror on the old man's face. He was 
looking down toward his feet, and had the 
appearance of a man struggling to extricate 
himself from a trap. 



JASON EDWARDS. 207 

"My God!" he whispered hoarsely, as 
the truth came to him. 6 I can't move my 
feet I'm paralyzed ! " 

"No, no! Not that! It's only tempo 
rary it's caused by lying still" 

The old sufferer silenced him with a 
look the women were returning "Don't 
tell them," he commanded, and fell back 
upon his pillow. 

This terrible visitation, seemingly so 
mysterious and malignant, was very natu 
ral and might have been inferred. A small 
blood vessel had been ruptured in the 
brain, and a clot had formed, resting upon 
that part of the brain controlling the feet. 
It might be finally absorbed it might 
extend until it affected the whole of 
one side of the body. The whole out-come 
was problematical. 

Reeves could have wept every time he 
met the eyes of the old man, as the women 
moved about him. He seemed to be afraid 
that they would find out this last great 
blow. He said little, and at last grew 
drowsy and slept. Reeves was also think 
ing, and as he went with Frank for a spin 



208 JASON EDWARDS. 

in the open air, he could not shake off the 
feeling that he had been in the presence of 
a typical American tragedy the collapse 
of a working man. 

The common fate of the majority of 
American farmers and mechanics dying 
before their time. Going to pieces at 
forty, fifty or sixty years of age, from 
under-pay and over-work. "Yes, Edwards 
is a type," he concluded with Graham. 

The next day, as Jason was sitting in 
his easy chair, with Linnie by his side, and 
Alice moving about the room, Reeves 
entered. The old toiler, a mere hulk of his 
once magnificent manhood, looked at him 
steadily and unsmilingly, and said slowly, 
as Reeves came to his side and stood 
silently waiting 

"You've been a good friend to us all, 
young man you've been patient you'll 
never git y'r pay fr it." 

Reeves put out his arm and stopped 
Alice, as she was passing. 

"Yes, I will here." 

"I don't like to pay yeh that way," said 
Edwards, steadily. 



JASON EDWARDS. 209 

" Why not * " 

u Because it ain't right I don't like to 
pay my debts that way I don't like to 
sell my girl so cheap." 

" Father ! " exclaimed Alice. 

Reeves checked her. " I understand him 
- it is cheap." 

" It hurts me, but it's got to be done," 
the father went on. "I've got through. 
If I could jest kind o' crawl back to the old 
town where I could see a green hill once 
more, an' hear the sound o' the river, I'd 
kind o' die easier some way." 

" Listen to me a moment," broke in 
Reeves eagerly. " I'm going to take 
things into my own hands now. I'm 
going to take you all to the East. I've 
got an empty house standing back there, 
and from this time forward, my home is 
your home. You needn't worry about 
your future only enjoy " 

Edwards stopped him with a gesture. 
He was broken, but not subdued. The 
pride rose in him yet the pride of an 
American who will never surrender his 
freedom while he lives. 



210 JASON EDWARDS. 

" Hold on, young man ! I'm sixty years 
of age. For fifty years I've traveled, an' 
I've always paid my way, up to this day. 
I've earned every dollar I ever had with 
these hands" he held up his trembling, 
crooked fingers. "I never was beholden 
to any man for a meal o' vittles, an' I 
wouldn't be now, if I was alone." 

He lay silent for a moment, his face 
working, the tears running down his 
wrinkled face. 

"I'm a failure but don't talk to me of 
en joy in' a pauper!" 

Alice leaped up. " You're not a pauper ! " 

" He's a hero ! " exclaimed Reeves, with 
kindling eyes. "He has fought heroically. 
No battle can test the courage of a man so 
much as this endless struggle against the 
injustice of the world this silent, cease 
less war against hunger and cold." He 
bent over Jason now, and his voice was 
indescribably winning. "I understand. I 
know how hard it is for a brave man to go 
to the rear. I've heard my father say that 
men used to tie up their own wounds and 
fight on, streaming with blood, rather than 



JASON EDWARDS. 211 

be taken to the rear, and that when at last 
they fell and the column passed on, they'd 
wave their bandaged arms and shout, wav 
ing their comrades into the cannon-smoke. 
Now to me, you're a soldier fighting a 
greater and fiercer battle than the Wilder 
ness a battle as wide as the world, in 
which women and children fight and die. 
You are old and disabled let me carry 
you to the rear. Let me take you back to 
Derry." 

"Yes, father," pleaded Alice, "my cour 
age is gone I can't fight alone." 

Edwards tried twice before he spoke. 
"I surrender. I'm beat." Alice flung her 
arms about his neck. 

"For your sakes I give up," he went on; 
"but it hurts it hurts. I'm like an old 
broken scythe ready to be hung up to 
rust in the rain. I ain't any use to you 
now, Jennie. Young man, here's my 
hand. Take her back to Boston, where 
she belongs, and take me back to Derry, if 
I'm worth so much, an' let me die there. 
That's all I ask for myself it ain't much 
I can't die out here on this prairie, with 



212 JASON EDWARDS. 

no trees to be buried under. I feel 's if I 
couldn't rest there and rest is the sweet 
est thing in the world for a man like me. 
I can't afford to lose that." 

Beeves stood up, his face beamed. " You 
are doing me the favor/' and he quoted 
from Shelley 

" The world is weary of the past, 
The day of justice blooms at last." 

But Edwards, with the mist of coming 
night in his eyes and the numbness of 
death in his limbs, could not thrill to the 
young man's enthusiasm. He could only 
try to be patient and wait for death 
calmly. Life had brought him nothing 

death had no terror. 

****** 

When they entered Massachusetts soil, 
Jason roused up and asked to be propped 
up so that he could look out. The train 
was rushing along a brawling stream 
between rocky, rounded, wooded hills. 
The landscape was as fresh as June with 
recent rains, but here and there, amid the 



JASON EDWARDS. 213 

the greens, was a dash of color that showed 
the ripeness of August. The distant hills 
stood purple-blue against the red of the 
morning sky. The still pools were starred 
with lilies, and in their clear, still nooks 
reflected the sky and wood with marvelous 
clearness. 

"How do you feel this morning?" asked 
Eeeves cheerily. 

Edwards looked across the aisle of the 
beautiful car, the sun was streaming across 
the heads of his daughters. He did not 
feel strong enough to speak, but he smiled. 



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D. APPLETON & CO.'S PUBLICATIONS. 

RUDYARD KIPLING'S NEW BOOK. 

SEVEN SEAS. A new volume of poems by 
RUDYARD KIPLING, author of " Many Inventions," " Barrack- 
Room Ballads," etc. I2mo. Cloth, $1.50 ; half calf, $3.00 ; 
morocco, $5.00. 

" The spirit and method of Kipling's fresh and virile song have taken the English 
reading world. . . . When we turn to the larger portion of ' The Seven Seas/ how 
imaginative it is, how impassioned, how superbly rhythmic and sonorous ! . . . The 
ring and diction of this verse add new elements to our song. . . . The true laureate 
of Greater Britain." . C. Stedman, in the Book Buyer. 

" The most original poet who has appeared in his generation. . . . His is the lusti 
est voice now lifted in the world, the clearest, the bravest, with the fewest false notes 
in it. ... I do not see why, in reading his book, we should not put ourselves in the 
presence of a great poet again, and consent to put off our mourning for the high ones 
lately dead." W. D. Howells. 

" The new poems of Mr. Rudyard Kipling have all the spirit and swing of their 
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his, and which have made, and seem likely to keep, for him his position and wide 
popularity." London Times. 

" He has the very heart of movement, for the lack of which no metrical science 
eculd atone. He goes far because he can." London Academy. 

" ' The Seven Seas ' is the most remarkable book of verse that Mr. Kipling has 
given us. Here the human sympathy is broader and deeper, the patriotism heartier 
and fuller, the intellectual and spiritual insight keener, the command of the literary 
vehicle more complete and sure, than in any previous verse work by the author. The 
volume pulses with power power often rough and reckless in expression, but invariably 
conveying the effect intended. There is scarcely a line which does not testify to the 
strong individuality of the writer." London Globe. 

" If a man holding this volume in his hands, with all its extravagance and its savage 
realism, is not aware that it is animated through and through with indubitable genius 
then he must be too much the slave of the conventional and the ordinary to understand 
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and indefeasible justification is truth." London Daily Telegraph. 

" ' The Seven Seas ' is packed with inspiration, with humor, with pathos, and with 
the old unequaled insight into the mind'of the rank and file." London Daily Chronicle. 

" Mr. Kipling's ' The Seven Seas ' is a distinct advance upon his characteristic 
lines. The surpassing strength, the almost violent originality, the glorious swish and 
swing of his lines all are there in increased measure. . . . The book is a marvel of 
originality and genius a brand-new landmark in the history of English letters." 
Chicago Tribune. 

" In ' The Seven Seas ' are displayed all of Kipling's prodigious gifts. . . . Whoever 
reads ' The Seven Seas ' will be vexed by the desire to read it again. The average 
charm of the gifts alone is irresistible." Boston Journal. 



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THE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY 
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA CRUZ 

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