The Harvester breakfasted, fed the
stock, hitched Betsy to the spring wagon, and went
into the dripping, steamy woods. If anyone had
asked him that morning concerning his idea of Heaven,
he never would have dreamed of describing a place
of gold-paved streets, crystal pillars, jewelled gates,
and thrones of ivory. These things were beyond
the man’s comprehension and he would not have
admired or felt at home in such magnificence if it
had been materialized for him. He would have told
you that a floor of last year’s brown leaves,
studded with myriad flower faces, big, bark-encased
pillars of a thousand years, jewels on every bush,
shrub, and tree, and tilting thrones on which gaudy
birds almost burst themselves to voice the joy of
life, while their bright-eyed little mates peered
questioningly at him over nest rims he
would have told you that Medicine Woods on a damp,
sunny May morning was Heaven. And he would have
added that only one angel, tall and slender, with the
pink of health on her cheeks and the dew of happiness
in her dark eyes, was necessary to enter and establish
glory. Everything spoke to him that morning,
but the Harvester was silent. It had been his
habit to talk constantly to Belshazzar, Ajax, his
work, even the winds and perfumes; it had been his
method of dissipating solitude, but to-day he had no
words, even for these dear friends. He only opened
his soul to beauty, and steadily climbed the hill
to the crest, and then down the other side to the
rich, half-shaded, half-open spaces, where big, rough
mushrooms sprang in a night similar to the one just
He could see them awaiting him from
afar. He began work with rapid fingers, being
careful to break off the heads, but not to pull up
the roots. When four heaping baskets were filled
he cut heavily leaved branches to spread over them,
and started to Onabasha. As usual, Belshazzar
rode beside him and questioned the Harvester when he
politely suggested to Betsy that she make a little
“Have you forgotten that mushrooms
are perishable?” he asked. “If we
don’t get these to the city all woodsy and fresh
we can’t sell them. Wonder where we can
do the best? The hotels pay well. Really,
the biggest prices could be had by ”
Then the Harvester threw back his
head and began to laugh, and he laughed, and he laughed.
A crow on the fence Joined him, and a kingfisher,
heading for Loon Lake, and then Belshazzar caught the
“Begorry! The very idea!”
cried the Harvester. “’Heaven helps them
that help themselves.’ Now you just watch
us manoeuvre for assistance, Belshazzar, old boy!
Here we go!”
Then the laugh began again. It
continued all the way to Onabasha and even into the
city. The Harvester drove through the most prosperous
street until he reached the residence district.
At the first home he stopped, gave the lines to Belshazzar,
and, taking a basket of mushrooms, went up the walk
and rang the bell.
“All groceries should be delivered
at the back door,” snapped a pert maid, before
he had time to say a word.
The Harvester lifted his hat.
“Will you kindly tell the lady
of the house that I wish to speak with her?”
“What name, please?”
“I want to show her some fine mushrooms, freshly
gathered,” he answered.
How she did it the Harvester never
knew. The first thing he realized was that the
door had closed before his face, and the basket had
been picked deftly from his fingers and was on the
other side. After a short time the maid returned.
“What do you want for them, please?”
The last thing on earth the Harvester
wanted to do was to part with those mushrooms, so
he took one long, speculative look down the hall and
named a price he thought would be prohibitive.
“One dollar a dozen.”
“How many are there?”
“I count them as I sell them. I do not
The door closed again. Presently
it opened and the maid knelt on the floor before him
and counted the mushrooms one by one into a dish pan
and in a few minutes brought back seven dollars and
fifty cents. The chagrined Harvester, feeling
like a thief, put the money in his pocket, and turned
“I was to tell you,” said
she, “that you are to bring all you have to
sell here, and the next time please go to the kitchen
“Must be fond of mushrooms,” said the
“They are a great delicacy,
and there are visitors.” The Harvester ached
to set the girl to one side and walk through the house,
but he did not dare; so he returned to the street,
whistled to Betsy to come, and went to the next gate.
Here he hesitated. Should he risk further snubbing
at the front door or go back at once. If he did,
he only would see a maid. As he stood an instant
debating, the door of the house he just had left opened
and the girl ran after him. “If you have
more, we will take them,” she called.
The Harvester gasped for breath.
“They have to be used at once,” he suggested.
“She knows that. She wants to treat her
“Well she has got enough for
a banquet,” he said. “I I
don’t usually sell more than a dozen or two
in one place.”
“I don’t see why you can’t let her
have them if you have more.”
“Perhaps I have orders to fill
for regular customers,” suggested the Harvester.
“And perhaps you haven’t,”
said the maid. “You ought to be ashamed
not to let people who are willing to pay your outrageous
prices have them. It’s regular highway
“Possibly that’s the reason
I decline to hold up one party twice,” said
the Harvester as he entered the gate and went up the
walk to the front door.
“You should be taught your place,”
called the maid after him.
The Harvester again rang the bell.
Another maid opened the door, and once more he asked
to speak with the lady of the house. As the girl
turned, a handsome old woman in cap and morning gown
came down the stairs.
“What have you there?” she asked.
The Harvester lifted the leaves and
exposed the musky, crimpled, big mushrooms.
“Oh!” she cried in delight.
“Indeed, yes! We are very fond of them.
I will take the basket, and divide with my sons.
You are sure you have no poisonous ones among them?”
“Quite sure,” said the Harvester faintly.
“How much do you want for the basket?”
“They are a dollar a dozen; I haven’t
“Dear me! Isn’t that rather expensive?”
“It is. Very!” said
the Harvester. “So expensive that most people
don’t think of taking over a dozen. They
are large and very rich, so they go a long way.”
“I suppose you have to spend
a great deal of time hunting them? It does seem
expensive, but they are fresh, and the boys are so
fond of them. I’m not often extravagant,
I’ll just take the lot. Sarah, bring a pan.”
Again the Harvester stood and watched
an entire basket counted over and carried away, and
he felt the robber he had been called as he took the
At the next house he had learned a
lesson. He carpeted a basket with leaves and
counted out a dozen and a half into it, leaving the
remainder in the wagon. Three blocks on one side
of the street exhausted his store and he was showered
with orders. He had not seen any one that even
resembled a dark-eyed girl. As he came from the
last house a big, red motor shot past and then suddenly
slowed and backed beside his wagon.
“What in the name of sense are
you doing?” demanded Doctor Carey.
“Invading the residence district
of Onabasha,” said the Harvester. “Madam,
would you like some nice, fresh, country mushrooms?
I guarantee that there are no poisonous ones among
them, and they were gathered this morning. Considering
their rarity and the difficult work of collecting,
they are exceedingly low at my price. I am offering
these for five dollars a dozen, madam, and for mercy
sake don’t take them or I’ll have no excuse
to go to the next house.”
The doctor stared, then understood,
and began to laugh. When at last he could speak
he said, “David, I’ll bet you started with
three bushels and began at the head of this street,
and they are all gone.”
“Put up a good one!” said
the Harvester. “You win. The first
house I tried they ordered me to the back door, took
a market basket full away from me by force, tried
to buy the load, and I didn’t see any one save
The doctor lay on the steering gear and faintly groaned.
The Harvester regarded him sympathetically.
“Isn’t it a crime?” he questioned.
“Mushrooms are no go. I can see that! or
rather they are entirely too much of a go. I
never saw anything in such demand. I must seek
a less popular article for my purpose. To-morrow
look out for me. I shall begin where I left off
to-day, but I will have changed my product.”
“David, for pity sake,” peeped the doctor.
“What do I care how I do it,
so I locate her?” superbly inquired the Harvester.
“But you won’t find her!” gasped
“I’ve come as close it
as you so far, anyway,” said the Harvester.
“Your mushrooms are on the desk in your office.”
He drove slowly up and down the streets
until Betsy wabbled on her legs. Then he left
her to rest and walked until he wabbled; and by that
time it was dark, so he went home.
At the first hint of dawn he was at
work the following morning. With loaded baskets
closely covered, he started to Onabasha, and began
where he had quit the day before. This time he
carried a small, crudely fashioned bark basket, leaf-covered,
and he rang at the front door with confidence.
Every one seemed to have a maid in
that part of the city, for a freshly capped and aproned
girl opened the door.
“Are there any young women living
here?” blandly inquired the Harvester.
“What’s that of your business?”
demanded the maid.
The Harvester flushed, but continued,
“I am offering something especially intended
for young women. If there are none, I will not
“There are several.”
“Will you please ask them if
they would care for bouquets of violets, fresh from
“How much are they, and how large are the bunches?”
“Prices differ, and they are
the right size to appear well. They had better
see for themselves.”
The maid reached for the basket, but
the Harvester drew back.
“I keep them in my possession,”
he said. “You may take a sample.”
He lifted the leaves and drew forth
a medium-sized bunch of long-stemmed blue violets
with their leaves. The flowers were fresh, crisp,
and strong odours of the woods arose from them.
“Oh!” cried the maid. “Oh,
She hurried away with them and returned carrying a
“I want two more bunches,” she said.
“How much are they?”
“Are the girls who want them dark or fair?”
“What difference does that make?”
“I have blue violets for blondes,
yellow for brunettes, and white for the others.”
“Well I never! One is fair, and two have
brown hair and blue eyes.”
“One blue and two whites,”
said the Harvester calmly, as if matching women’s
hair and eyes with flowers were an inherited vocation.
“They are twenty cents a bunch.”
“Aha!” he chortled to
himself as he whistled to Betsy. “At last
we have it. There are no dark-eyed girls here.
Now we are making headway.”
Down the street he went, with varying
fortune, but with patience and persistence at every
house he at last managed to learn whether there was
a dark-eyed girl. There did not seem to be many.
Long before his store of yellow violets was gone the
last blue and white had disappeared. But he calmly
went on asking for dark-eyed girls, and explaining
that all the blue and white were taken, because fair
women were most numerous.
At one house the owner, who reminded
the Harvester of his mother, came to the door.
He uncovered and in his suavest tones inquired if
a brunette young woman lived there and if she would
like a nosegay of yellow violets.
“Well bless my soul!”
cried she. “What is this world coming to?
Do you mean to tell me that there are now able-bodied
men offering at our doors, flowers to match our girls’
“Yes madam?” said the
Harvester gravely, “and also selling them as
fast as he can show them, at prices that make a profit
very well worth while. I had an equal number
of blue and white, but I see the dark girls are very
much in the minority. The others were gone long
ago, and I now have flowers to offer brunettes only.”
“Well forever more! And
you don’t call that fiddlin’ business for
a big, healthy, young man?”
The Harvester’s gay laugh was infectious.
“I do not,” he said.
“I have to start as soon as I can see, tramp
long distances in wet woods and gather the violets
on my knees, make them into bunches, and bring them
here in water to keep them fresh. I have another
occupation. I only kill time on these, but I would
be ashamed to tell you what I have gotten for them
“Humph! I’m glad
to hear it!” said the woman. “Shame
in some form is a sign of grace. I have no use
for a human being without a generous supply of it.
There is a very beautiful dark-eyed girl in the house,
and I will take two bunches for her. How much
“I have only three remaining,”
said the Harvester. “Would you like to
allow her to make her own selection?”
“When I’m giving things
I usually take my choice. I want that, and that
“As my stock is so nearly out,
I’ll make the two for twenty,” said the
Harvester. “Won’t you accept the last
one from me, because you remind me just a little of
“I will indeed,” said
she. “Thank you very much! I shall
love to have them as dearly as any of the girls.
I used to gather them when I was a child, but I almost
never see the blue ones any more, and I don’t
know as I ever expected to see a yellow violet again
as long as I live. Where did you get them?”
“In my woods,” said the
Harvester. “You see I grow several members
of the viola pedata family, bird’s
foot, snake, and wood violet, and three of the odorata,
English, marsh, and sweet, for our big drug houses.
They use the flowers in making delicate tests for
acids and alkalies. The entire plant, flower,
seed, leaf, and root, goes into different remedies.
The beds seed themselves and spread, so I have more
than I need for the chemists, and I sell a few.
I don’t use the white and yellow in my business;
I just grow them for their beauty. I also sell
my surplus lilies of the valley. Would you like
to order some of them for your house or more violets
“Well bless my soul! Do
you mean to tell me that lilies of the valley are
The Harvester laughed.
“I grow immense beds of them
in the woods on the banks of Loon Lake,” he
said. “They are the convallaris majallis
of the drug houses and I scarcely know what the weak-hearted
people would do without them. I use large quantities
in trade, and this season I am selling a few because
people so love them.”
“Lilies in medicine; well dear
me! Are roses good for our innards too?”
Then the Harvester did laugh.
“I imagine the roses you know
go into perfumes mostly,” he answered.
“They do make medicine of Canadian rock rose
and rose bay, laurel, and willow. I grow the
bushes, but they are not what you would consider roses.”
“I wonder now,” said the
woman studying the Harvester closely, “if you
are not that queer genius I’ve heard of, who
spends his time hunting and growing stuff in the woods
and people call him the Medicine Man.”
“I strongly suspect madam, I
am that man,” said the Harvester.
“Well bless me!” cried
she. “I’ve always wanted to see you
and here when I do, you look just like anybody else.
I thought you’d have long hair, and be wild-eyed
and ferocious. And your talk sounds like out of
a book. Well that beats me!”
“Me too!” said the Harvester,
lifting his hat. “You don’t want any
lilies to-morrow, then?”
“Yes I do. Medicine or
no medicine, I’ve always liked ’em, and
I’m going to keep on liking them. If you
can bring me a good-sized bunch after the weak-kneed ”
“Weak-hearted,” corrected the Harvester.
then; it’s all the same thing. If you’ve
got any left, as I was saying, you can fetch them
to me for the smell.”
The Harvester laughed all the way
down town. There he went to Doctor Carey’s
office, examined a directory, and got the names of
all the numbers where he had sold yellow violets.
A few questions when the doctor came in settled all
of them, but the flower scheme was better. Because
the yellow were not so plentiful as the white and blue,
next day he added buttercups and cowslips to his store
for the dark girls. When he had rifled his beds
for the last time, after three weeks of almost daily
trips to town, and had paid high prices to small boys
he set searching the adjoining woods until no more
flowers could be found, he drove from the outskirts
of the city one day toward the hospital, and as he
stopped, down the street came Doctor Carey frantically
waving to him. As the big car slackened, “Come
on David, quick! I’ve seen her!” cried
The Harvester jumped from the wagon,
threw the lines to Belshazzar, and landed in the panting
“For Heaven’s sake where? Are you
The car went speeding down the street.
A policeman beckoned and cried after it.
“It won’t do any good
to get arrested, Doc,” cautioned the Harvester.
“Now right along here,”
panted Doctor Carey. “Watch both sides sharply.
If I stop you jump out, and tell the blame policemen
to get at their job. The party they are hired
to find is right under their noses.”
The Harvester began to perspire.
“Doc, don’t you think you should tell
me? Maybe she is in some store. Maybe I could
do better on foot.”
“Shut up!” growled the
doctor. “I am doing the best I know.”
He hurried up the street for blocks
and back again, and at last stopped before a large
store and went in. When he returned he drove to
the hospital and together they entered the office.
There he turned to the Harvester.
“It isn’t so hard to understand
you now, my boy,” he said. “Shades
of Diana, but she’ll be a beauty when she gets
a little more flesh and colour. She came out
of Whitlaw’s and walked right to the crossing.
I almost could have touched her, but I didn’t
notice. Two girls passed before me, and in hurrying,
a tall, dark one knocked off one of your bunches of
yellow violets. She glanced at it and laughed,
but let it lay. Then your girl hesitated stooped
and picked it up. The crazy policeman yelled
at me to clear the crossing and it didn’t hit
me for a half block how tall and white she was and
how dark her eyes were. I was just thinking about
her picking up the flowers, and that it was queer
for her to do it, when like a brick it hit me, that’s
David’s girl! I tried to turn
around, but you know what Main Street is in the middle
of the day. And those idiots of policemen!
They ordered me on, and I couldn’t turn for
a street car coming, so I called to one of them that
the girl we wanted was down the street, and he looked
at me like an addle-pate and said, ‘What girl?
Move on or you’ll get in a jam here.’
You can use me for a football if I don’t go back
and smash him. Paid him five dollars myself less
than two weeks ago to keep his eyes open. ’To
keep his eyes open!’”
panted the doctor, shaking his fist at David.
“Yes sir! ‘To keep his eyes open!’
And he motioned for things to come along, and so I
lost her too.”
“I think we had better go back
to the street,” said the Harvester.
“Oh, I’d been back and
forth along that street for nearly an hour before
I gave up and came here to see if I could find you,
and we’ve hunted it an hour more! What’s
the use? She’s gone for this time, but by
gum, I saw her! And she was worth seeing!”
“Did she appear ill to you?”
The doctor dropped on a chair and threw out his hands
“This was awful sudden, David,”
he said. “I was going along as I told you,
and I noticed her stop and thought she had a good head
to wait a second instead of running in before me,
and there came those two girls right under the car
from the other side. I only had a glimpse of her
as she stooped for the flowers. I saw a big braid
of hair, but I was half a block away before I got
it all connected, and then came the crush in the street,
and I was blocked.”
The doctor broke down and wiped his
face and expressed his feelings unrestrainedly.
“Don’t!” said the
Harvester patiently. “It’s no use
to feel so badly, Doc. I know what you would
give to have found her for me. I know you did
all you could. I let her escape me. We will
find her yet. It’s glorious news that she’s
in the city. It gives me heart to hear that.
Can’t you just remember if she seemed ill?”
The doctor meditated.
“She wasn’t the tallest
girl I ever saw,” he said slowly, “but
she was the tallest girl to be pretty. She had
on a white waist and a gray skirt and black hat.
Her eyes and hair were like you said, and she was plain,
white faced, with a hue that might possibly be natural,
and it might be confinement in bad light and air and
poor food. She didn’t seem sick, but she
isn’t well. There is something the matter
with her, but it’s not immediate or dangerous.
She appeared like a flower that had got a little moisture
and sprouted in a cellar.”
“You saw her all right!”
said the Harvester, “and I think your diagnosis
is correct too. That’s the way she seemed
to me. I’ve thought she needed sun and
air. I told the South Wind so the other day.”
“Why you blame fool!”
cried the doctor. “Is this thing going to
your head? Say, I forgot! There is something
else. I traced her in the store. She was
at the embroidery counter and she bought some silk.
If she ever comes again the clerk is going to hold
her and telephone me or get her address if she has
to steal it. Oh, we are getting there! We
will have her pretty soon now. You ought to feel
better just to know that she is in town and that I’ve
“I do!” said the Harvester. “Indeed
“It can’t be much longer,”
said the doctor. “She’s got to be
located soon. But those policemen! I wouldn’t
give a nickel for the lot! I’ll bet she’s
walked over them for two weeks. If I were you
I’d discharge the bunch. They’d be
peacefully asleep if she passed them. If they’d
let me alone, I’d have had her. I could
have turned around easily. I’ve been in
dozens of closer places.”
“Don’t worry! This
can’t last much longer. She’s of and
in the city or she wouldn’t have picked up the
flowers. Doc, are you sure they were mine?”
“Yes. Half the girls have
been tricked out in yours the past two weeks.
I can spot them as far as I can see.”
“Dear Lord, that’s getting
close!” said the Harvester intensely. “Seems
as if the violets would tell her.”
“Now cut out flowers talking
and the South Wind!” ordered the doctor.
“This is business. The violets prove something
all right, though. If she was in the country,
she could gather plenty herself. She is working
at sewing in some room in town, either over a store
or in a house. If she hadn’t been starved
for flowers she never would have stopped for them on
the street. I could see just a flash of hesitation,
but she wanted them too much. David, one bouquet
will go in water and be cared for a week. Man,
it’s getting close! This does seem like
“Since you say it, possibly
I dare agree with you,” said the Harvester.
“How near are you through with that canvass
“About three fourths.”
“Well I’d go on with it.
After all we have got to find her ourselves.
Those senile policemen!”
“I am going on with it; you
needn’t worry about that. But I’ve
got to change to other flowers. I’ve stripped
the violet beds. There’s quite a crop of
berries coming, but they are not ripe yet, and a tragedy
to pick. The pond lilies are just beginning to
open by the thousand. The lake border is blue
with sweet-flag that is lovely and the marsh pale
gold with cowslips. The ferns are prime and the
woods solid sheets of every colour of bloom.
I believe I’ll go ahead with the wild flowers.”
“I would too! David, you do feel better,
“I certainly do, Doctor. Surely it won’t
be long now!”
The Harvester was so hopeful that
he whistled and sang on the return to Medicine Woods,
and that night for the first time in many days he sat
long over a candlestick, and took a farewell peep into
her room before he went to bed.
The next day he worked with all his
might harvesting the last remnants of early spring
herbs, in the dry-room and store-house, and on furniture
Then he went back to flower gathering
and every day offered bunches of exquisite wood and
field flowers and white and gold water lilies from
door to door.
Three weeks later the Harvester, perceptibly
thin, pale, and worried entered the office. He
sank into a chair and groaned wearily.
“Isn’t this the bitterest
luck!” he cried. “I’ve finished
the town. I’ve almost walked off my legs.
I’ve sold flowers by the million, but I’ve
not had a sight of her.”
“It’s been almost a tragedy
with me,” said the doctor gloomily. “I’ve
killed two dogs and grazed a baby, because I was watching
the sidewalks instead of the street. What are
you going to do now?”
“I am going home and bring up
the work to the July mark. I am going to take
it easy and rest a few days so I can think more clearly.
I don’t know what I’ll try next.
I’ve punched up the depot and the policemen
again. When I get something new thought out I’ll
let you know.”
Then he began emptying his pockets
of money and heaping it on the table, small coins,
bills, big and little.
“What on earth is that?”
“That,” said the Harvester,
giving the heap a shove of contempt, “that is
the price of my pride and humiliation. That is
what it cost people who allowed me to cheek my way
into their homes and rob them, as one maid said, for
my own purposes. Doc, where on earth does all
the money come from? In almost every house I
entered, women had it to waste, in many cases to throw
away. I never saw so much paid for nothing in
all my life. That whole heap is from mushrooms
“What are you piling it there for?”
“For your free ward. I
don’t want a penny of it. I wouldn’t
keep it, not if I was starving.”
“Why David! You couldn’t
compel any one to buy. You offered something
they wanted, and they paid you what you asked.”
“Yes, and to keep them from
buying, and to make the stuff go farther, I named
prices to shame a shark. When I think of that
mushroom deal I can feel my face burn. I’ve
made the search I wanted to, and I am satisfied that
I can’t find her that way. I have kept up
my work at home between times. I am not out anything
but my time, and it isn’t fair to plunder the
city to pay that. Take that cussed money and put
it where I’ll never see or hear of it.
Do anything you please, except to ask me ever to profit
by a cent. When I wash my hands after touching
it for the last time maybe I’ll feel better.”
“You are a fanatic!”
“If getting rid of that is being
a fanatic, I am proud of the title. You can’t
imagine what I’ve been through!”
“Can’t I though?”
laughed the doctor. “In work of that kind
you get into every variety of place; and some of it
is new to you. Never mind! No one can contaminate
you. It is the law that only a man can degrade
himself. Knowing things will not harm you.
Doing them is a different matter. What you know
will be a protection. What you do ruins if
it is wrong. You are not harmed, you are only
disgusted. Think it over, and in a few days come
back and get your money. It is strictly honest.
You earned every cent of it.”
“If you ever speak of it again
or force it on me I’ll take it home and throw
it into the lake.”
He went after Betsy and slowly drove
to Medicine Woods. Belshazzar, on the seat beside
him, recognized a silent, disappointed master and
whimpered as he rubbed the Harvester’s shoulder
to attract his attention.
“This is tough luck, old boy,”
said the Harvester. “I had such hopes and
I worked so hard. I suffered in the flesh for
every hour of it, and I failed. Oh but I hate
the word! If I knew where she is right now, Bel,
I’d give anything I’ve got. But there’s
no use to wail and get sorry for myself. That’s
against the law of common decency. I’ll
take a swim, sleep it off, straighten up the herbs
a little, and go at it again, old fellow; that’s
a man’s way. She’s somewhere, and
she’s got to be found, no matter what it costs.”