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A Mountain Woman Elia W. Peattie

Jim Lancy's Waterloo

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"WE must get married before time to put in crops," he wrote. "We must make a success of the farm the first year, for luck. Could you manage to be ready to come out West by the last of February? After March opens there will be no let-up, and I do not see how I could get away. Make it February, Annie dear. A few weeks more or less can make no difference to you, but they make a good deal of difference to me."

The woman to whom this was written read it with something like anger. "I don't believe he's so impatient for me!" she said to herself. "What he wants is to get the crops in on time." But she changed the date of their wedding, and made it February.

Their wedding journey was only from the Illinois village where she lived to their Nebraska farm. They had never been much together, and they had much to say to each other.

"Farming won't come hard to you," Jim assured her. "All one needs to farm with is brains."

"What a success you'll make of it!" she cried saucily.

"I wish I had my farm clear," Jim went on; "but that's more than any one has around me. I'm no worse off than the rest. We've got to pay off the mortgage, Annie."

"Of course we must. We'll just do without till we get the mortgage lifted. Hard work will do anything, I guess. And I'm not afraid to work, Jim, though I've never had much experience."

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Jim looked out of the window a long time, at the gentle undulations of the brown Iowa prairie. His eyes seemed to pierce beneath the sod, to the swelling buds of the yet invisible grass. He noticed how disdainfully the rains of the new year beat down the grasses of the year that was gone. It opened to his mind a vision of the season's possibilities. For a moment, even amid the smoke of the car, he seemed to scent clover, and hear the stiff swishing of the corn and the dull burring of the bees.

"I wish sometimes," he said, leaning forward to look at his bride, "that I had been born something else than a farmer. But I can no more help farming, Annie, than a bird can help singing, or a bee making honey. I didn't take to farming. I was simply born with a hoe in my hand."

"I don't know a blessed thing about it," Annie confessed. "But I made up my mind that a farm with you was better than a town without you. That's all there is to it, as far as I am concerned."

Jim Lancy slid his arm softly about her waist, unseen by the other passengers. Annie looked up apprehensively, to see if any one was noticing. But they were eating their lunches. It was a common coach on which they were riding. There was a Pullman attached to the train, and Annie had secretly thought that, as it was their wedding journey, it might be more becoming to take it. But Jim had made no suggestion about it. What he said later explained the reason.

"I would have liked to have brought you a fine present," he said. "It seemed shabby to come with nothing but that little ring. But I put everything I had on our home, you know. And yet, I'm sure you'll think it poor enough after what you've been used to. You'll forgive me for only bringing the ring, my dear?"

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A Mountain Woman
Elia W. Peattie

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