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A Mountain Woman Elia W. Peattie

Up the Gulch

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"The wind gits a fine sweep," said Roeder, after having obtained the permission he desired. "Now in the gulch we either had a dead stagnation, or else the wind was tearin' up and down like a wild beast."

Kate did not reply, and they went on together, facing the riotous wind.

"You can't guess how queer it seems t' be here," he said, confidentially. "It seems t' me as if I had come from some other planet. Thar don't rightly seem t' be no place fur me. I tell you what it's like. It's as if I'd come down t' enlist in th' ranks, an' found 'em full, -- every man marchin' along in his place, an' no place left fur me."

Kate could not find a reply.

"I ain't a friend, -- not a friend! I ain't complainin'. It ain't th' fault of any one -- but myself. You don' know what a durned fool I've bin. Someway, up thar in th' gulch I got t' seemin' so sort of important t' myself, and my makin' my stake seemed such a big thing, that I thought I had only t' come down here t' Helena t' have folks want t' know me. I didn't particular want th' money because it wus money. But out here you work fur it, jest as you work fur other things in other places, -- jest because every one is workin' fur it, and it's the man who gets th' most that beats. It ain't that they are any more greedy than men anywhere else. My pile's a pretty good-sized one. An' it's likely to be bigger; but no one else seems t' care. Th' paper printed some pieces about it. Some of th' men came round t' see me; but I saw their game. I said I guessed I'd look further fur my acquaintances. I ain't spoken to a lady, -- not a real lady, you know, -- t' talk with, friendly like, but you, fur -- years."

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His face flushed in that sudden way again. They were passing some of those pretentious houses which rise in the midst of Helena's ragged streets with such an extraneous air, and Kate leaned forward to look at them. The driver, seeing her interest, drew up the horses for a moment.

"Fine, fine!" ejaculated Roeder. "But they ain't got no garden. A house don't seem anythin' t' me without a garden. Do you know what I think would be th' most beautiful thing in th' world? A baby in a rose-garden! Do you know, I ain't had a baby in my hands, excep' Ned Ramsey's little kid, once, for ten year!"

Kate's face shone with sympathy.

"How dreadful!" she cried. "I couldn't live without a baby about."

"Like babies, do you? Well, well. Boys? Like boys?"

"Not a bit better than girls," said Kate, stoutly.

"I like boys," responded Roeder, with conviction. "My mother liked boys. She had three girls, but she liked me a damned sight the best."

Kate laughed outright.

"Why do you swear?" she said. "I never heard a man swear before, -- at least, not one with whom I was talking. That's one of your gulch habits. You must get over it."

Roeder's blond face turned scarlet.

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A Mountain Woman
Elia W. Peattie

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