The Harvester finished his evening
work and went to examine the cocoons. Many of
the moths had emerged and flown, but the luna cases
remained in the bottom of the box. As he stood
looking at them one moved and he smiled.
“I’d give something if
you would come out and be ready to work on by to-morrow
afternoon,” he said. “Possibly you
would so interest her that she would forget her fear
of me. I’d like mighty well to take you
along, because she might care for you, and I do need
the pattern for my candlestick. Believe I’ll
lay you in a warmer place.”
The first thing the next morning the
Harvester looked and found the open cocoon and the
wet moth clinging by its feet to a twig he had placed
“Luck is with me!” he
exulted. “I’ll carry you to her and
be mighty careful what I say, and maybe she will forget
about the fear.”
All the forenoon he cut and spread
boneset, saffron, and hemlock on the trays to dry.
At noon he put on a fresh outfit, ate a hasty lunch,
and drove to Onabasha. He carried the moth in
a box, and as he started he picked up a rake.
He went to an art store and bought the pencils and
paper she had ordered. He wanted to purchase everything
he saw for her, but he was fast learning a lesson
of deep caution. If he took more than she ordered,
she would worry over paying, and if he refused to
accept money, she would put that everlasting “why”
at him again. The water-colour paper and paint
he could not forego. He could make a desire to
have the moth coloured explain those, he thought.
Then he went to a furniture store
and bought several articles, and forgetting his law
against haste, he drove Betsy full speed to the river.
He was rather heavily ladened as he went up the bank,
and it was only one o’clock. There was
an hour. He rolled away the log, raked together
and removed the leaves to the ground. He tramped
the earth level and spread a large cheap porch rug.
On this he opened and placed a little folding table
and chair. On the table he spread the pencils,
paper, colour box and brushes, and went to the river
to fill the water cup. Then he sat on the log
he had rolled to one side and waited. After two
hours he arose and crept as close the house as he could
through the woods, but he could not secure a glimpse
of the Girl. He went back and waited an hour
more, and then undid his work and removed it.
When he came to the moth his face was very grim as
he lifted the twig and helped the beautiful creature
to climb on a limb. “You’ll be ready
to fly in a few hours,” he said. “If
I keep you in a box you will ruin your wings and be
no suitable subject, and put you in a cyanide jar I
will not. I am hurt too badly myself. I
wonder if what Doc said was the right way! It’s
certainly a temptation.”
Then he went home; and again Betsy
veered at the hospital, and once more the Harvester
explained to her that he did not want to see the doctor.
That evening and the following forenoon were difficult,
but the Harvester lived through them, and in the afternoon
went back to the woods, spread his rug, and set up
the table. Only one streak of luck brightened
the gloom in his heart. A yellow emperor had emerged
in the night, and now occupied the place of yesterday’s
luna. She never need know it was not the one
he wanted, and it would make an excuse for the colour
He was watching intently and saw her
coming a long way off. He noticed that she looked
neither right nor left, but came straight as if walking
a bridge. As she reached the place she glanced
hastily around and then at him. The Harvester
forgave her everything as he saw the look of relief
with which she stepped upon the carpet. Then she
turned to him.
“I won’t have to ask ‘why’
this time,” she said. “I know that
you did it because I was baby enough to tell what
a coward I am. I’m sure you can’t
afford it, and I know you shouldn’t have done
it, but oh, what a comfort! If you will promise
never to do any such expensive, foolish, kind thing
again, I’ll say thank you this time. I couldn’t
come yesterday, because Aunt Molly was worse and Uncle
Henry was at home all day.”
“I supposed it was something
like that,” said the Harvester.
She advanced and handed him the roll of bills.
“I had a feeling you would be
reckless,” she said. “I saw it in
your face, so I came back as soon as I could steal
away, and sure enough, there lay your money and the
books and everything. I hid them in the thicket,
so they will be all right. I’ve almost prayed
it wouldn’t rain. I didn’t dare carry
them to the house. Please take the money.
I haven’t time to argue about it or strength,
but of course I can’t possibly use it unless
I earn it. I’m so anxious to see the pencils
The Harvester thrust the money into
his pocket. The Girl went to the table, opened
and spread the paper, and took out the pencils.
“Is my subject in here?” she touched the
“No, the other.”
“Is it alive? May I open it?”
“We will be very careful at
first,” said the Harvester. “It only
left its case in the night and may fly. When
the weather is so warm the wings develop rapidly.
Perhaps if I remove the lid ”
He took off the cover, exposing a
big moth, its lovely, pale yellow wings, flecked with
heliotrope, outspread as it clung to a twig in the
box. The Girl leaned forward.
“What is it?” she asked.
“One of the big night moths that emerge and
fly a few hours in June.”
“Is this what you want for your candlestick?”
“If I can’t do better.
There is one other I prefer, but it may not come at
a time that you can get it right.”
“What do you mean by ’right’?”
“So that you can copy it before it wants to
“Why don’t you chloroform and pin it until
I am ready?”
“I am not in the business of
killing and impaling exquisite creatures like that.”
“Do you mean that if I can’t
draw it when it is just right you will let it go?”
“I told you why.”
“I know you said you were not
in the business, but why wouldn’t you take only
one you really wanted to use?”
“I would be afraid,” replied the Harvester.
“I must have a mighty good reason
before I kill,” said the man. “I
cannot give life; I have no right to take it away.
I will let my statement stand. I am afraid.”
“Of what please?”
“An indefinable something that
follows me and makes me suffer if I am wantonly cruel.”
“Is there any particular pose in which you want
this bird placed?”
“Allow me to present you to
the yellow emperor, known in the books as eagles imperialis,”
he said. “I want him as he clings naturally
and life size.”
She took up a pencil.
“If you don’t mind,”
said the Harvester, “would you draw on this other
paper? I very much want the colour, also, and
you can use it on this. I brought a box along,
and I’ll get you water. I had it all ready
“Did you have this same moth?”
“No, I had another.”
“Did you have the one you wanted most?”
“Yes but it’s no difference.”
“And you let it go because I was not here?”
“No. It went on account
of exquisite beauty. If kept in confinement it
would struggle and break its wings. You see, that
one was a delicate green, where this is yellow, plain
pale blue green, with a lavender rib here, and long
curled trailers edged with pale yellow, and eye spots
rimmed with red and black.”
As the Harvester talked he indicated
the points of difference with a pencil he had picked
up; now he laid it down and retreated beyond the limits
of the rug.
“I see,” said the Girl. “And
this is colour?”
She touched the box.
“A few colours, rather,”
said the Harvester. “I selected enough to
fill the box, with the help of the clerk who sold
them to me. If they are not right, I have permission
to return and exchange them for anything you want.”
With eager fingers she opened the
box, and bent over it a face filled with interest.
“Oh how I’ve always wanted
this! I scarcely can wait to try it. I do
hope I can have it for my very own. Was it quite
“No. Very cheap!”
said the Harvester. “The paper isn’t
worth mentioning. The little, empty tin box was
only a few cents, and the paints differ according
to colour. Some appear to be more than others.
I was surprised that the outfit was so inexpensive.”
A skeptical little smile wavered on
the Girl’s face as she drew her slender fingers
across the trays of bright colour.
“If one dared accept your word,
you really would be a comfort,” she said, as
she resolutely closed the box, pushed it away, and
picked up a pencil.
“If you will take the trouble
to inquire at the banks, post office, express office,
hospital or of any druggist in Onabasha, you will
find that my word is exactly as good as my money, and
taken quite as readily.”
“I didn’t say I doubted
you. I have no right to do that until I feel
you deceive me. What I said was ‘dared accept,’
which means I must not, because I have no right.
But you make one wonder what you would do if you were
coaxed and asked for things and led by insinuations.”
“I can tell you that,”
said the Harvester. “It would depend altogether
on who wanted anything of me and what they asked.
If you would undertake to coax and insinuate, you
never would get it done, because I’d see what
you needed and have it at hand before you had time.”
The Girl looked at him wonderingly.
“Now don’t spring your
recurrent ‘why’ on me,” said the
Harvester. “I’ll tell you ‘why’
some of these days. Just now answer me this question:
Do you want me to remain here or leave until you finish?
Which way would you be least afraid?”
“I am not at all afraid on the
rug and with my work,” she said. “If
you want to hunt ginseng go by all means.”
“I don’t want to hunt
anything,” said the Harvester. “But
if you are more comfortable with me away, I’ll
be glad to go. I’ll leave the dog with
He gave a short whistle and Belshazzar
came bounding to him. The Harvester stepped to
the Girl’s side, and dropping on one knee, he
drew his hand across the rug close to her skirts.
“Right here, Belshazzar,”
he said. “Watch! You are on guard,
“Well of all names for a dog!”
exclaimed the Girl. “Why did you select
“My mother named my first dog
Belshazzar, and taught me why; so each of the three
I’ve owned since have been christened the same.
It means ’to protect’ and that is the
office all of them perform; this one especially has
filled it admirably. Once I failed him, but he
never has gone back on me. You see he is not
a particle afraid of me. Every step I take, he
is at my heels.”
“So was Bill Sikes’ dog, if I remember.”
The Harvester laughed.
“Bel,” he said, “if
you could speak you’d say that was an ugly one,
The dog sprang up and kissed the face
of the man and rubbed a loving head against his breast.
“Thank you!” said the
Harvester. “Now lie down and protect this
woman as carefully as you ever watched in your life.
And incidentally, Bel, tell her that she can’t
exterminate me more than once a day, and the performance
is accomplished for the present. I refuse to be
a willing sacrifice. ‘So was Bill Sikes’
dog!’ What do you think of that, Bel?”
The Harvester arose and turned to go.
“What if this thing attempts to fly?”
“Your pardon,” said the
Harvester. “If the emperor moves, slide
the lid over the box a few seconds, until he settles
and clings quietly again, and then slowly draw it
away. If you are careful not to jar the table
heavily he will not go for hours yet.”
Again he turned.
“If there is no danger, why do you leave the
“For company,” said the
Harvester. “I thought you would prefer an
animal you are not afraid of to a man you are.
But let me tell you there is no necessity for either.
I know a woman who goes alone and unafraid through
every foot of woods in this part of the country.
She has climbed, crept, and waded, and she tells me
she never saw but two venomous snakes this side of
Michigan. Nothing ever dropped on her or sprang
at her. She feels as secure in the woods as she
does at home.”
“Isn’t she afraid of snakes?”
“She dislikes snakes, but she
is not afraid or she would not risk encountering them
“Do you ever find any?”
“Harmless little ones, often.
That is, Bel does. He is always nosing for them,
because he understands that I work in the earth.
I think I have encountered three dangerous ones in
my life. I will guarantee you will not find one
in these woods. They are too open and too much
“Then why leave the dog?”
“I thought,” said the
Harvester patiently, “that your uncle might have
turned in some of his cattle, or if pigs came here
the dog could chase them away.”
She looked at him with utter panic in her face.
“I am far more afraid of a cow
than a snake!” she cried. “It is so
“How did you ever come into
these woods alone far enough to find the ginseng?”
asked the Harvester. “Answer me that!”
“I wore Uncle Henry’s
top boots and carried a rake, and I suffered tortures,”
“But you hunted until you found
what you wanted, and came again to keep watch on it?”
“I was driven simply
forced. There’s no use to discuss it!”
“Well thank the Lord for one
thing,” said the Harvester. “You didn’t
appear half so terrified at the sight of me as you
did at the mere mention of a cow. I have risen
inestimably in my own self-respect. Belshazzar,
you may pursue the elusive chipmunk. I am going
to guard this woman myself, and please, kind fates,
send a ferocious cow this way, in order that I may
prove my valour.”
The Girl’s face flushed slightly,
and she could not restrain a laugh. That was
all the Harvester hoped for and more. He went
beyond the edge of the rug and sat on the leaves under
a tree. She bent over her work and only bird
and insect notes and occasionally Belshazzar’s
excited bark broke the silence. The Harvester
stretched on the ground, his eyes feasting on the
Girl. Intensely he watched every movement.
If a squirrel barked she gave a nervous start, so
precipitate it seemed as if it must hurt. If
a windfall came rattling down she appeared ready to
fly in headlong terror in any direction. At last
she dropped her pencil and looked at him helplessly.
“What is it?” he asked.
“The silence and these awful
crashes when one doesn’t know what is coming,”
“Will it bother you if I talk?
Perhaps the sound of my voice will help?”
“I am accustomed to working
when people talk, and it will be a comfort. I
may be able to follow you, and that will prevent me
from thinking. There are dreadful things in my
mind when they are not driven out. Please talk!
Tell me about the herbs you gathered this morning.”
The Harvester gave the Girl one long
look as she bent over her work. He was vividly
conscious of the graceful curves of her little figure,
the coil of dark, silky hair, softly waving around
her temples and neck, and when her eyes turned in
his direction he knew that it was only the white,
drawn face that restrained him. He was almost
forced to tell her how he loved and longed for her;
about the home he had prepared; of a thousand personal
interests. Instead, he took a firm grip and said
casually, “Foxglove harvest is over. This
plant has to be taken when the leaves are in second
year growth and at bloom time. I have stripped
my mullein beds of both leaves and flowers. I
finished a week ago. Beyond lies a stretch of
Parnassus grass that made me think of you, it was so
white and delicate. I want you to see it.
It will be lovely in a few weeks more.”
“You never had seen me a week ago.”
“Oh hadn’t I?” said
the Harvester. “Well maybe I dreamed about
you then. I am a great dreamer. Once I had
a dream that may interest you some day, after you’ve
overcome your fear of me. Now this bed of which
I was speaking is a picture in September. You
must arrange to drive home with me and see it then.”
“For what do you sell foxglove and mullein?”
“Foxglove for heart trouble,
and mullein for catarrh. I get ten cents a pound
for foxglove leaves and five for mullein and from seventy-five
to a dollar for flowers of the latter, depending on
how well I preserve the colour in drying them.
They must be sealed in bottles and handled with extreme
“Then if I wasn’t too
childish to be out picking them, I could be earning
seventy-five cents a pound for mullein blooms?”
“Yes,” said the Harvester,
“but until you learned the trick of stripping
them rapidly you scarcely could gather what would weigh
two pounds a day, when dried. Not to mention
the fact that you would have to stand and work mostly
in hot sunshine, because mullein likes open roads and
fields and sunny hills. Now you can sit securely
in the shade, and in two hours you can make me a pattern
of that moth, for which I would pay a designer of
the arts and crafts shop five dollars, so of course
you shall have the same.”
“Oh no!” she cried in
swift panic. “You were charged too much!
It isn’t worth a dollar, even!”
“On the contrary the candlestick
on which I shall use it will be invaluable when I
finish it, and five is very little for the cream of
my design. I paid just right. You can earn
the same for all you can do. If you can embroider
linen, they pay good prices for that, too and wood
carving, metal work, or leather things. May I
see how you are coming on?”
“Please do,” she said.
The Harvester sprang up and looked
over the Girl’s shoulder. He could not
suppress an exclamation of delight.
“Perfect!” he cried.
“You can surpass their best drafting at the shop!
Your fortune is made. Any time you want to go
to Onabasha you can make enough to pay your board,
dress you well, and save something every week.
You must leave here as soon as you can manage it.
When can you go?”
“I don’t know,”
she said wearily. “I’d hate to tell
you how full of aches I am. I could not work
much just now, if I had the best opportunities in
the world. I must grow stronger.”
“You should not work at anything
until you are well,” he said. “It
is a crime against nature to drive yourself.
Why will you not allow ”
“Do you really think, with a
little practice, I can draw designs that will sell?”
The Harvester picked up the sheet.
The work was delicate and exact. He could see
no way to improve it.
“You know it will sell,”
he said gently, “because you already have sold
“But not for the prices you offer.”
“The prices I name are going
to be for new, original designs.
I’ve got a thousand in my head, that old Mother
Nature shows me in the woods and on the water every
“But those are yours; I can’t take them.”
“You must,” said the Harvester.
“I only see and recognize studies; I can’t
materialize them, and until they are drawn, no one
can profit by them. In this partnership we revolutionize
decorative art. There are actually birds besides
fat robins and nondescript swallows. The crane
and heron do not monopolize the water. Wild rose
and golden-rod are not the only flowers. The
other day I was gathering lobelia. The seeds
are used in tonic preparations. It has an upright
stem with flowers scattered along it. In itself
it is not much, but close beside it always grows its
cousin, tall bell-flower. As the name indicates,
the flowers are bell shape and I can’t begin
to describe their grace, beauty, and delicate blue
colour. They ring my strongest call to worship.
My work keeps me in the woods so much I remain there
for my religion also. Whenever I find these flowers
I always pause for a little service of my own that
begins by reciting these lines:
cloistered boughs, each floral bell that swingeth
tolls its perfume on the passing air,
Makes Sabbath in the
fields, and ever ringeth
call to prayer.”
“Beautiful!” said the Girl.
“It’s mighty convenient,”
explained the Harvester. “By my method,
you see, you don’t have to wait for your day
and hour of worship. Anywhere the blue bell rings
its call it is Sunday in the woods and in your heart.
After I recite that, I pray my prayer.”
“Go on!” said the Girl. “This
is no place to stop.”
“It is always one and the same
prayer, and there are only two lines of it,”
said the Harvester. “It runs this way
Let me take your pencil and I will write it for you.”
He bent over her shoulder, and traced
these lines on a scrap of the wrapping paper:
Evolver of the Universe:
me to keep my soul and body clean,
And at all times to
do unto others as I would be done by.
The Girl took the slip and sat studying
it; then she raised her eyes to his face curiously,
but with a tinge of awe in them.
“I can see you standing over
a blue, bell-shaped flower reciting those exquisite
lines and praying this wonderful prayer,” she
said. “Yesterday you allowed the moth you
were willing to pay five dollars for a drawing of,
to go, because you wouldn’t risk breaking its
wings. Why you are more like a woman!”
A red stream crimsoned the Harvester’s face.
“Well heretofore I have been
considered strictly masculine,” he said.
“To appreciate beauty or to try to be just commonly
decent is not exclusively feminine. You must
remember there are painters, poets, musicians, workers
in art along almost any line you could mention, and
no one calls them feminine, but there is one good thing
if I am. You need no longer fear me. If
you should see me, muck covered, grubbing in the earth
or on a raft washing roots in the lake, you would not
consider me like a woman.”
“Would it be any discredit if
I did? I think not. I merely meant that
most men would not see or hear the blue bell at all and
as for the poem and prayer! If the woods make
a man with such fibre in his soul, I must learn them
if they half kill me.”
“You harp on death. Try to forget the word.”
“I have faced it for months,
and seen it do its grinding worst very recently to
the only thing on earth I loved or that loved me.
I have no desire to forget! Tell me more about
“Forgive me,” said the
Harvester gently. “Just now I am collecting
catnip for the infant and nervous people, hoarhound
for colds and dyspepsia, boneset heads and flowers
for the same purpose. There is a heavy head of
white bloom with wonderful lacy leaves, called yarrow.
I take the entire plant for a tonic and blessed thistle
leaves and flowers for the same purpose.”
“That must be what I need,”
interrupted the Girl. “Half the time I
believe I have a little fever, but I couldn’t
have dyspepsia, because I never want anything to eat;
perhaps the tonic would make me hungry.”
“Promise me you will tell that
to the doctor who comes to see your aunt, and take
what he gives you.”
“No doctor comes to see my aunt.
She is merely playing lazy to get out of work.
There is nothing the matter with her.”
“Then why ”
“My uncle says that. Really,
she could not stand and walk across a room alone.
She is simply worn out.”
“I shall report the case,” said the Harvester
“You better not!” said
the Girl. “There must be a mistake about
you knowing my uncle. Tell me more of the flowers.”
The Harvester drew a deep breath and continued:
“These I just have named I take
at bloom time; next month come purple thorn apple,
jimson weed, and hemlock.”
“Isn’t that poison?”
“Half the stuff I handle is.”
“Aren’t you afraid?”
“Terribly,” said the Harvester
in laughing voice. “But I want the money,
the sick folk need the medicine, and I drink water.”
The Girl laughed also.
“Look here!” said the
Harvester. “Why not tell me just as closely
as you can about your aunt, and let me fix something
for her; or if you are afraid to trust me, let me
have my friend of whom I spoke yesterday.”
“Perhaps I am not so much afraid
as I was,” said the Girl. “I wish
I could! How could I explain where I got it and
I wonder if she would take it.”
“Give it to her without any
explanation,” said the Harvester. “Tell
her it will make her stronger and she must use it.
Tell me exactly how she is, and I will fix up some
harmless remedies that may help, and can do no harm.”
“She simply has been neglected,
overworked, and abused until she has lain down, turned
her face to the wall, and given up hope. I think
it is too late. I think the end will come soon.
But I wish you would try. I’ll gladly pay ”
“Don’t!” said the
Harvester. “Not for things that grow in
the woods and that I prepare. Don’t think
of money every minute.”
“I must,” she said with
forced restraint. “It is the price of life.
Without it one suffers horribly as
I know. What other plants do you gather?”
“Saffron,” answered the
Harvester. “A beautiful thing! You
must see it. Tall, round stems, lacy, delicate
leaves, big heads of bright yellow bloom, touched
with colour so dark it appears black one
of the loveliest plants that grows. You should
see my big bed of it in a week or two more. It
makes a picture.”
The words recalled him to the Girl.
He turned to study her. He forgot his commission
and chafed at conventions that prevented his doing
what he saw was required so urgently. Fearing
she would notice, he gazed away through the forest
and tried to think, to plan.
“You are not making noise enough,” she
So absorbed was the Harvester he scarcely
heard her. In an attempt to obey he began to
whistle softly. A tiny goldfinch in a nest of
thistle down and plant fibre in the branching of a
bush ten feet above him stuck her head over the brim
and inquired, “P’tseet?” “Pt’see!”
answer the Harvester. That began the duet.
Before the question had been asked and answered a
half dozen times a catbird intruded its voice and hearing
a reply came through the bushes to investigate.
A wren followed and became very saucy. From one
could not see where, came a vireo, and almost at the
same time a chewink had something to say.
Instantly the Harvester answered.
Then a blue jay came chattering to ascertain what
all the fuss was about, and the Harvester carried on
a conversation that called up the remainder of the
feathered tribe. A brilliant cardinal came tearing
through the thicket, his beady black eyes snapping,
and demanded to know if any one were harming his mate,
brooding under a wild grape leaf in a scrub elm on
the river embankment. A brown thrush silently
slipped like a snake between shrubs and trees, and
catching the universal excitement, began to flirt his
tail and utter a weird, whistling cry.
With one eye on the bird, and the
other on the Girl sitting in amazed silence, the Harvester
began working for effect. He lay quietly, but
in turn he answered a dozen birds so accurately they
thought their mates were calling, and closer and closer
they came. An oriole in orange and black heard
his challenge, and flew up the river bank, answering
at steady intervals for quite a time before it was
visible, and in resorting to the last notes he could
think of a quail whistled “Bob White”
and a shitepoke, skulking along the river bank, stopped
and cried, “Cowk, cowk!”
At his limit of calls the Harvester
changed his notes and whistled and cried bits of bird
talk in tone with every mellow accent and inflection
he could manage. Gradually the excitement subsided,
the birds flew and tilted closer, turned their sleek
heads, peered with bright eyes, and ventured on and
on until the very bravest, the wren and the jay, were
almost in touch. Then, tired of hunting, Belshazzar
came racing and the little feathered people scattered
in precipitate flight.
“How do you like that kind of
a noise?” inquired the Harvester.
The Girl drew a deep breath.
“Of course you know that was
the most exquisite sight I ever saw,” she said.
“I never shall forget it. I did not think
there were that many different birds in the whole
world. Of all the gaudy colours! And they
came so close you could have reached out and touched
“Yes,” said the Harvester
calmly. “Birds are never afraid of me.
At Medicine Woods, when I call them like that, many,
most of them, in fact, eat from my hand. If you
ever have looked at me enough to notice bulgy pockets,
they are full of wheat. These birds are strangers,
but I’ll wager you that in a week I can make
them take food from me. Of course, my own birds
know me, because they are around every day. It
is much easier to tame them in winter, when the snow
has fallen and food is scarce, but it only takes a
little while to win a bird’s confidence at any
“Birds don’t know what
there is to be afraid of,” she said.
“Your pardon,” said the
Harvester, “but I am familiar with them, and
that is not correct. They have more to fear than
human beings. No one is going to kill you merely
to see if he can shoot straight enough to hit.
Your life is not in danger because you have magnificent
hair that some woman would like for an ornament.
You will not be stricken out in a flash because there
are a few bits of meat on your frame some one wants
to eat. No one will set a seductive trap for you,
and, if you are tempted to enter it, shut you from
freedom and natural diet, in a cage so small you can’t
turn around without touching bars. You are in
a secure and free position compared with the birds.
I also have observed that they know guns, many forms
of traps, and all of them decide by the mere manner
of a man’s passing through the woods whether
he is a friend or an enemy. Birds know more than
many people realize. They do not always correctly
estimate gun range, they are foolishly venturesome
at times when they want food, but they know many more
things than most people give them credit for understanding.
The greatest trouble with the birds is they are too
willing to trust us and be friendly, so they are often
“That sounds as if you were right,” said
“I am of the woods, so I know I am,” answered
“Will you look at this now?”
He examined the drawing closely.
“Where did you learn?” he inquired.
“My mother. She was educated
to her finger tips. She drew, painted, played
beautifully, sang well, and she had read almost all
the best books. Besides what I learned at high
school she taught me all I know. Her embroidery
always brought higher prices than mine, try as I might.
I never saw any one else make such a dainty, accurate
little stitch as she could.”
“If this is not perfect, I don’t
know how to criticise it. I can and will use
it in my work. But I have one luna cocoon remaining
and I would give ten dollars for such a drawing of
the moth before it flies. It may open to-night
or not for several days. If your aunt should be
worse and you cannot come to-morrow and the moth emerges,
is there any way in which I could send it to you?”
“What could I do with it?”
“I thought perhaps you could
take a piece of paper and the pencils with you, and
secure an outline in your room. It need not be
worked up with all the detail in this. Merely
a skeleton sketch would do. Could I leave it
at the house or send it with some one?”
“No! Oh no!” she
cried. “Leave it here. Put it in a
box in the bushes where I hid the books. What
are you going to do with these things?”
“Hide them in the thicket and scatter leaves
“What if it rains?”
“I have thought of that.
I brought a few yards of oilcloth to-day and they
will be safe and dry if it pours.”
“Good!” she said.
“Then if the moth comes out you bring it, and
if I am not here, put it under the cloth and I will
run up some time in the afternoon. But if I were
you, I would not spread the rug until you know if
I can remain. I have to steal every minute I am
away, and any day uncle takes a notion to stay at
home I dare not come.”
“Try to come to-morrow.
I am going to bring some medicine for your aunt.”
“Put it under the cloth if I
am not here; but I will come if I can. I must
go now; I have been away far too long.”
The Harvester picked up one of the
drug pamphlets, laid the drawing inside it, and placed
it with his other books. Then he drew out his
pocket book and laid a five-dollar bill on the table
and began folding up the chair and putting away the
things. The Girl looked at the money with eager
“Is that honestly what you would
pay at the arts and crafts place?”
“It is the customary price for my patterns.”
“And are you sure this is as good?”
“I can bring you some I have
paid that for, and let you see for yourself that it
“I wish you would!” she
cried eagerly. “I need that money, and I
would like to have it dearly, if I really have earned
it, but I can’t touch it if I have not.”
“Won’t you accept my word?”
“No. I will see the other
drawings first, and if I think mine are as good, I
will be glad to take the money to-morrow.”
“What if you can’t come?”
“Put them under the oilcloth.
I watch all the time and I think Uncle Henry has trained
even the boys so they don’t play in the river
on his land. I never see a soul here; the woods,
house, and everything is desolate until he comes home
and then it is like ” she
“I’ll say it for you,”
said the Harvester promptly. “Then it is
“At its worst,” supplemented
the Girl. Taking pencils and a sheet of paper
she went swiftly through the woods. Before she
left the shelter of the trees, the Harvester saw her
busy her hands with the front of her dress, and he
knew that she was concealing the drawing material.
The colour box was left, and he said things as he
put it with the chair and table, covered them with
the rug and oilcloth, and heaped on a layer of leaves.
Then he drove to the city and Betsy
turned at the hospital corner with no interference.
He could face his friend that day. Despite all
discouragements he felt reassured. He was progressing.
Means of communication had been established.
If she did not come, he could leave a note and tell
her if the moth had not emerged and how sorry he was
to have missed seeing her.
“Hello, lover!” cried
Doctor Carey as the Harvester entered the office.
“Are you married yet?”
“No. But I’m going
to be,” said the Harvester with confidence.
“Have you asked her?”
“No. We are getting acquainted.
She is too close to trouble, too ill, and too worried
over a sick relative for me to intrude myself; it would
be brutal, but it’s a temptation. Doc, is
there any way to compel a man to provide medical care
for his wife?”
“Can he afford it?”
Worth thousands in land and nobody knows what in money.
It’s Henry Jameson.”
“The meanest man I ever knew.
If he has a wife it’s a marvel she has survived
this long. Won’t he provide for her?”
“I suppose he thinks he has
when she has a bed to lie on and a roof to cover her.
He won’t supply food she can eat and medicine.
He says she is lazy.”
“What do you think?”
“I quote Miss Jameson.
She says her aunt is slowly dying from overwork and
“David, doesn’t it seem
pretty good, when you say ’Miss Jameson’?”
“Loveliest sound on earth, except the remainder
“Jove! That is a beautiful
name. Ruth Langston. It will go well, won’t
“Music that the birds, insects,
Singing Water, the trees, and the breeze can’t
ever equal. I’m holding on with all my might,
but it’s tough, Doc. She’s in such
a dreadful place and position, and she needs so much.
She is sick. Can’t you give me a prescription
for each of them?”
“You just bet I can,”
said the doctor, “if you can engineer their taking
“I suppose you’d hold
their noses and pour stuff down them.”
“I would if necessary.”
“Well, it is.”
“All right I’ll fix
something, and you see that they use it.”
“I can try,” said the Harvester.
“Try! Pah! You aren’t half a
“That’s a half more than being a woman,
“She called you feminine, did
she?” cried the doctor, dancing and laughing.
“She ought to see you harvesting skunk cabbage
and blue flag or when you are angry enough.”
The doctor left the room and it was a half hour before
“Try that on them according
to directions,” he said, handing over a couple
“Thank you!” said the Harvester, “I
“That sounds manly enough.”
“Oh pother! It’s
not that I’m not a man, or a laggard in love;
but I’d like to know what you’d do to
a girl dumb with grief over the recent loss of her
mother, who was her only relative worth counting, sick
from God knows what exposure and privation, and now
a dying relative on her hands. What could you
“I’d marry her and pick her out of it!”
“I wouldn’t have her, if she’d leave
a sick woman for me!”
“I wouldn’t either.
She’s got to stick it out until her aunt grows
better, and then I’ll go out there and show you
how to court a girl.”
“I guess not! You keep
the girl you did court, courted, and you’ll have
your hands full. How does that appear to you?”
The Harvester opened the pamphlet
he carried and held up the drawing of the moth.
The doctor turned to the light.
“Good work!” he cried. “Did
she do that?”
“She did. In a little over an hour.”
“Fine! She should have a chance.”
“She is going to. She is
going to have all the opportunity that is coming to
“Good for you, David! Any time I can help!”
The Harvester replaced the sketch
and went to the wagon; but he left Belshazzar in charge,
and visited the largest dry goods store in Onabasha,
where he held a conference with the floor walker.
When he came out he carried a heaping load of boxes
of every size and shape, with a label on each.
He drove to Medicine Woods singing and whistling.
“She didn’t want me to
go, Belshazzar!” he chuckled to the dog.
“She was more afraid of a cow than she was of
me. I made some headway to-day, old boy.
She doesn’t seem to have a ray of an idea what
I am there for, but she is going to trust me soon
now; that is written in the books. Oh I hope
she will be there to-morrow, and the luna will be out.
Got half a notion to take the case and lay it in the
warmest place I can find. But if it comes out
and she isn’t there, I’ll be sorry.
Better trust to luck.”
The Harvester stabled Betsy, fed the
stock, and visited with the birds. After supper
he took his purchases and entered her room. He
opened the drawers of the chest he had made, and selecting
the labelled boxes he laid them in. But not a
package did he open. Then he arose and radiated
conceit of himself.
“I’ll wager she will like
those,” he commented proudly, “because
Kane promised me fairly that he would have the right
things put up for a girl the size of the clerk I selected
for him, and exactly what Ruth should have. That
girl was slenderer and not quite so tall, but he said
everything was made long on purpose. Now what
else should I get?”
He turned to the dressing table and
taking a notebook from his pocket made this list:
Rugs for bed and bath
Dresses for all occasions.
All kinds of shoes and
“There are gloves, too!”
exclaimed the Harvester. “She has to have
some, but how am I going to know what is right?
Oh, but she needs shoes! High, low, slippers,
everything! I wonder what that clerk wears.
I don’t believe shoes would be comfortable without
being fitted, or at least the proper size. I
wonder what kind of dresses she likes. I hope
she’s fond of white. A woman always appears
loveliest in that. Maybe I’d better buy
what I’m sure of and let her select the dresses.
But I’d love to have this room crammed with
girl-fixings when she comes. Doesn’t seem
as if she ever has had any little luxuries. I
can’t miss it on anything a woman uses.
Let me think!”
Slowly he wrote again:
“I never can get them!
I think that will keep me busy for a few days,”
said the Harvester as he closed the door softly, and
went to look at the pupae cases. Then he carved
on the vine of the candlestick for her dressing table;
with one arm around Belshazzar, re-read the story of
John Muir’s dog, went into the lake, and to bed.
Just as he was becoming unconscious the beast lifted
an inquiring head and gazed at the man.
“More ’fraid of cow,”
the Harvester was muttering in a sleepy chuckle.