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A Mountain Woman Elia W. Peattie

Jim Lancy's Waterloo

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"But you brought me something better," Annie whispered. She was a foolish little girl. "You brought me love, you know." Then they rode in silence for a long time. Both of them were new to the phraseology of love. Their simple compliments to each other were almost ludicrous. But any one who might have chanced to overhear them would have been charmed, for they betrayed an innocence as beautiful as an unclouded dawn.

Annie tried hard not to be depressed by the treeless stretches of the Nebraska plains.

"This is different from Illinois," she ventured once, gently; "it is even different from Iowa."

"Yes, yes," cried Jim, enthusiastically, "it is different! It is the finest country in the world! You never feel shut in. You can always see off. I feel at home after I get in Nebraska. I'd choke back where you live, with all those little gullies and the trees everywhere. It's a mystery to me how farmers have patience to work there."

Annie opened her eyes. There was evidently more than one way of looking at a question. The farm-houses seemed very low and mean to her, as she looked at them from the window. There were no fences, excepting now and then the inhospitable barbed wire. The door-yards were bleak to her eyes, without the ornamental shrubbery which every farmer in her part of the country was used to tending. The cattle stood un-shedded in their corrals. The reapers and binders stood rusting in the dull drizzle.

"How shiftless!" cried Annie, indignantly. "What do these men mean by letting their machinery lie out that way? I should think one winter of lying out would hurt it more than three summers of using."

"It does. But sheds are not easily had. Lumber is dear."

"But I should think it would be economy even then."

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"Yes," he said, "perhaps. But we all do that way out here. It takes some money for a man to be economical with. Some of us haven't even that much."

There was a six-mile ride from the station. The horses were waiting, hitched up to a serviceable light wagon, and driven by the "help." He was a thin young man, with red hair, and he blushed vicariously for Jim and Annie, who were really too entertained with each other, and at the idea of the new life opening up before them, to think anything about blushing. At the station, a number of men insisted on shaking hands with Jim, and being introduced to his wife. They were all bearded, as if shaving were an unnecessary labor, and their trousers were tucked in dusty top-boots, none of which had ever seen blacking. Annie had a sense of these men seeming unwashed, or as if they had slept in their clothes. But they had kind voices, and their eyes were very friendly. So she shook hands with them all with heartiness, and asked them to drive out and bring their womenkind.

"I am going to make up my mind not to be lonesome," she declared; "but, all the same, I shall want to see some women."

Annie had got safe on the high seat of the wagon, and was balancing her little feet on the inclined foot-rest, when a woman came running across the street, calling aloud, --

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A Mountain Woman
Elia W. Peattie

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