They went through the rooms together,
and the Girl suggested the furnishings she thought
necessary, while the Harvester wrote the list.
The following morning he was eager to have her company,
but she was very tired and begged to be allowed to
wait in the swing, so again he drove away and left
her with Belshazzar on guard. When he had gone,
she went through the cabin arranging the furniture
the best she could, then dressed and went to the swinging
couch. It was so wide and heavy a light wind
rocked it gently, and from it she faced the fern and
lily carpeted hillside, the majesty of big trees of
a thousand years, and heard the music of Singing Water
as it sparkled diamond-like where the sun rays struck
its flow. Across the drive and down the valley
to the brilliant bit of marsh it hurried on its way
to Loon Lake.
There were squirrels barking and racing
in the big trees and over the ground. They crossed
the sodded space of lawn and came to the top step
for nuts, eating them from cunning paws. They
were living life according to the laws of their nature.
She knew that their sharp, startling bark was not
to frighten her, but to warn straying intruders of
other species of their kindred from a nest, because
the Harvester had told her so. He had said their
racing here and there in wild scramble was a game of
tag and she found it most interesting to observe.
Birds of brilliant colour flashed
everywhere, singing in wild joy, and tilted on the
rising hedge before her, hunting berries and seeds.
Their bubbling, spontaneous song was an instinctive
outpouring of their joy over mating time, nests, young,
much food, and running water. Their social, inquiring,
short cry was to locate a mate, and call her to good
feeding. The sharp wild scream of a note was when
a hawk passed over, a weasel lurked in the thicket,
or a black snake sunned on the bushes. She remembered
these things, and lay listening intently, trying to
interpret every sound as the Harvester did.
Birds of wide wing hung as if nailed
to the sky, or wheeled and sailed in grandeur.
They were searching the landscape below to locate a
hare or snake in the waving grass or carrion in the
fields. The wonderful exhibitions of wing power
were their expression of exultation in life, just
as the song sparrow threatened to rupture his throat
as he swung on the hedge, and the red bird somewhere
in the thicket whistled so forcefully it sounded as
if the notes might hurt him.
On the lake bass splashed in a game
with each other. Grèbes chattered, because
they were very social. Ducks dived and gobbled
for roots and worms of the lake shore, and congratulated
each other when they were lucky.
Killdeer cried for slaughter, in plaintive
tones, as their white breasts gleamed silver-like
across the sky. They insisted on the death of
their ancient enemies, because the deer had trampled
nests around the shore, roiled the water, spoiled
the food hunting, and had been wholly unmindful of
the laws of feathered folk from the beginning.
Behind the barn imperial cocks crowed
challenges of defiance to each other and all the world,
because they once had worn royal turbans on their
heads, and ruled the forests, even the elephants and
lions. Happy hens cackled when they deposited
an egg, and wandered through their park singing the
spring egg song unceasingly.
Upon the barn Ajax spread and exulted
in glittering plumage, and screamed viciously.
He was sending a wireless plea to the forests of Ceylon
for a gray mate to come and share the ridge pole with
him, and help him wage red war on the sickening love
making of the white doves he hated.
Everything was beautiful, some of
it was amusing, all instructive, and intensely interesting.
The Girl wanted to know about the brown, yellow, and
black butterflies sailing from flower to flower.
She watched big black and gold bees come from the
forest for pollen and listened to their monotonous
bumbling. Her first humming bird poised in air,
and sipped nectar before her astonished eyes.
It was marvellous, but more wonderful to the Girl
than anything she saw or heard was the fact that because
of the Harvester’s teachings she now could trace
through all of it the ordained processes of the evolution
of life. Everything was right in its way, all
necessary to human welfare, and so there was nothing
to fear, but marvels to learn and pictures to appreciate.
She would have taken Belshazzar and gone out, but
the Harvester had exacted a promise that she would
not. The fact was, he could see that she was coming
gradually to a sane and natural view of life and living
things, and he did not want some sound or creature
to frighten her, and spoil what he had accomplished.
So she swayed in the swing and watched, and tried to
interpret sights and sounds as he did.
Before an hour she realized that she
was coming speedily into sympathy with the wild life
around her; for, instead of shivering and shrinking
at unaccustomed sounds, she was listening especially
for them, and trying to arrive at a sane version.
Instead of the senseless roar of commerce, manufacture,
and life of a city, she was beginning to appreciate
sounds that varied and carried the Song of Life in
unceasing measure and absorbing meaning, while she
was more than thankful for the fresh, pure air, and
the blessed, God-given light. It seemed to the
Girl that there was enough sunshine at Medicine Woods
to furnish rays of gold for the whole world.
“Bel,” she said to the
dog standing beside her, “it’s a shame
to separate you from the Medicine Man and pen you
here with me. It’s a wonder you don’t
bite off my head and run away to find him. He’s
gone to bring more things to make life beautiful.
I wanted to go with him, but oh Bel, there’s
something dreadfully wrong with me. I was afraid
I’d fall on the streets and frighten and shame
him. I’m so weak, I scarcely can walk straight
across one of these big, cool rooms that he has built
for me. He can make everything beautiful, Bel,
a home, rooms, clothing, grounds, and life above
everything else he can make life beautiful. He’s
so splendid and wonderful, with his wide understanding
and sane interpretation and God-like sympathy and
patience. Why Belshazzar, he can do the greatest
thing in all the world! He can make you forget
that the grave annihilates your dear ones by hideous
processes, and set you to thinking instead that they
come back to you in whispering leaves and flower perfumes.
If I didn’t owe him so much that I ought to pay,
if this wasn’t so alluringly beautiful, I’d
like to go to the oak and lie beside those dear women
resting there, and give my tired body to furnish sap
for strength and leaves for music. He can take
its bitterest sting from death,
Bel and that’s the most wonderful
thing in life, Bel ”
Her voice became silent, her eyes
closed; the dog stretched himself beside her on guard,
and it was so the Harvester found them when he drove
home from the city. He heaped his load in the
dining-room, stabled Betsy, carried the things he
had brought where he thought they belonged, and prepared
food. When she awakened she came to him.
“How is it going, Girl?” asked the Harvester.
“I can’t tell you how lovely it has been!”
“Do you really mean that your heart is warming
a little to things here?”
“Indeed I do! I can’t
tell you what a morning I’ve had. There
have been such myriad things to see and hear.
Oh, Harvester, can you ever teach me what all of it
“I can right now,” said
the Harvester promptly. “It means two things,
so simple any little child can understand the
love of God and the evolution of life. I am not
precisely clear as to what I mean when I say God.
I don’t know whether it is spirit, matter, or
force; it is that big thing that brings forth worlds,
establishes their orbits, and gives us heat, light,
food, and water. To me, that is God and His love.
Just that we are given birth, sheltered, provisioned,
and endowed for our work. Evolution is the natural
consequence of this. It is the plan steadily
unfolding. If I were you, I wouldn’t bother
my head over these questions, they never have been
scientifically explained to the beginning; I doubt
if they ever will be, because they start with the
origin of matter and that is too far beyond man for
him to penetrate. Just enjoy to the depths of
your soul that’s worship.
Be thankful for everything that’s
praising God as the birds praise him. And ’do
unto others’ that’s all there is of love
and religion combined in one fell swoop.”
“You should go before the world and tell every
“No! It isn’t my
vocation,” said the Harvester. “My
work is to provide pain-killer. I don’t
believe, Ruth, that there is any one on the footstool
who is doing a better job along that line. I am
boastfully proud of it just of
sending in the packages that kill fever, refresh poor
blood, and strengthen weak hearts; unadulterated, honest
weight, fresh, and scrupulously clean. My neighbours
have a different name for it; I call it a man’s
“Every one who understands must,”
said the Girl. “I wish I could help at
that. I feel as if it would do more to wipe out
the pain I’ve suffered and seen her endure than
anything else. Man, when I grow strong enough
I want to help you. I believe that I am going
to love it here.”
“Don’t ever suppress your
feelings, Ruth!” hastily cried the Harvester.
“It will be very bad for you. You will become
wrought up, and ‘het up,’ as Granny Moreland
says, and it will make you very ill. When we drive
the fever from your blood, the ache from your bones,
the poison of wrong conditions from your soul, and
good, healthy, red corpuscles begin pumping through
your little heart like a windmill, you can stake your
life you’re going to love it here. And the
location and work are not all you’re going to
care for either, honey. Now just wait! That
was not ‘nominated in the bond.’
I’m allowed to talk. I never agreed not
to say things. What I promised was not to
do them. So as I said, honey, sit at this
table, and eat the food I’ve cooked; and by that
time the furniture van will be here, and the men will
unload, and you shall reign on a throne and tell me
where and how.”
“Oh if I were only stronger, David!”
“You are!” said the Harvester.
“You are much better than you were yesterday.
You can talk, and that’s all that’s necessary.
The rooms are ready for furniture. The men will
carry it where you want it. A decorator is coming
to hang the curtains. By night we will be settled;
you can lie in the swing while I read to you a story
so wonderful that the wildest fairy tale you ever
heard never touched it.”
“What will it be, David?”
“Eat all the red raspberries
and cream, bread and butter, and drink all the milk
you can. There’s blood, beefsteak, and bones
in it. As I was saying, you have come here a
stranger to a strange land. The first thing is
for you to understand and love the woods. Before
you can do that you should master the history of one
tree; just the same as you must learn to know and
love me before your childlike trust in all mankind
returns again. Understand? Well, the fates
knew you were on the way, coming trembling down the
brink, Ruth, so they put it into the heart of a great
man to write largely of a wonderful tree, especially
for your benefit. After it had fallen he took
it apart, split it in sections, and year by year spread
out history for all the world to read. It made
a classic story filled with unsurpassed wonders.
It was a pine of a thousand years, close the age of
our mother tree, Ruth, and when we have learned from
Enos Mills how to wrest secrets from the hearts of
centuries, we will climb the hill and measure our
oak, and then I will estimate, and you will write,
and we will make a record for our tree.”
“Oh, I’d like that!”
“So would I,” said the
Harvester. “And a million other things I
can think of that we can learn together. It won’t
require long for me to teach you all I know, and by
that time your hand will be clasped in mine, and our
‘hearts will beat as one,’ and you will
give me a kiss every night and morning, and a few
during the day for interest, and we will go on in
life together and learn songs, miracles, and wonders
until the old oak calls us. Then we will ascend
the hill gladly and lie down and offer up our bodies,
and our children will lay flowers over our hearts,
and gather the herbs and paint the pictures? Amen.
I hear a van on the bridge. Just you go to your
room and lie down until I get things unloaded and
where they belong. Then you and the decorator
can make us home-like, and to-morrow we will begin
to live. Won’t that be great, Ruth?”
“With you, yes, I think it will.”
“That will do for this time,”
said the Harvester, as he opened the door to her room.
“Lie and rest until I say ready.”
As he went to meet the men, she could
hear him singing lustily, “Praise God from whom
all blessings flow.”
“What a child he is!” she said. “And
what a man!”
For an hour heavy feet sounded through
the cabin carrying furniture to different rooms.
Then with a floor brush in one hand, and a polishing
cloth in the other, the Harvester tapped at her door
and helped the Girl upstairs. He had divided
the space into three large, square sleeping chambers.
In each he had set up a white iron bed, a dressing
table, and wash stand, and placed two straight-backed
and one rocking chair, all white. The walls were
tinted lightly with green added to the plaster.
There was a mattress and a stack of bedding on each
bed, and a large rug and several small ones on the
floors. He led her to the rocking chair in the
middle room, where she could see through the open doors
of the other two.
“Now,” said the Harvester,
“I didn’t know whether the room with two
windows toward the lake and one on the marsh, or two
facing the woods and one front, was the guest chamber.
It seemed about an even throw whether a visitor would
prefer woods or water, so I made them both guest chambers,
and got things alike for them. Now if we are entertaining
two, one can’t feel more highly honoured than
the other. Was that a scheme?”
“Fine!” said the Girl.
“I don’t see how it could be surpassed.”
“‘Be sure you are right,
then go ahead,’” quoted the Harvester.
“Now I’ll make the beds and Mr. Rogers
can hang the curtains. Is white correct for sleeping
rooms? Won’t that wash best and always be
“It will,” said the Girl.
“White wash curtains are much the nicest.”
“Make them short Mr. Rogers;
keep them off the floor,” advised the Harvester.
“And simple don’t arrange
any thing elaborate that will tire a woman to keep
in order. Whack them off the right length and
pin them to the poles.”
“How about that, Mrs. Langston?” asked
“I am quite sure that is the
very best thing to do,” said the Girl; and the
curtains were hung while the mattress was placed.
“Now about this?” inquired
the Harvester. “Do I put on sheets and fix
these beds ready to use?”
“I would not,” said the
Girl. “I would spread the pad and the counterpane
and lay the sheets and pillows in the closet until
they are wanted. They can be sunned and the bed
made delightfully fresh.”
“Of course,” said the Harvester.
When he had finished, he spread a
cover on the dressing table and laid out white toilet
articles and grouped a white wash set with green decorations
on the stand. Then he brushed the floor, spread
a big green rug in the middle and small ones before
the bed, stand, and table, and coming out closed the
“Guest chamber with lake view
is now ready for company,” announced the Harvester.
“Repeat the operation on the woods room, finished
also. Why do some people make work of things
and string them out eternally and fuss so much?
Isn’t this simple and easy, Ruth?”
“Yes, if you can afford it,” said the
“Forbear!” cried the Harvester.
“We have the goods, the dealer has my check.
Excuse me ten minutes, until I furnish another room.”
The laughing Girl could catch glimpses
of him busy over beds and dresser, floor and rugs;
then he came where she sat.
“Woods guest chamber ready,”
he said. “Now we come to the interior apartment,
that from its view might be called the marsh room.
Aside from being two windows short, it is exactly
similar to the others. It occurred to me that,
in order to make up for the loss of those windows,
and also because I may be compelled to ask some obliging
woman to occupy it in case your health is precarious
at any time, and in view of the further fact that
if any such woman could be found, and would kindly
and willingly care for us, my gratitude would be inexpressible;
on account of all these things, I got a shade the
best furnishings for this room.”
The Girl stared at him with blank face.
“You see,” said the Harvester,
“this is a question of ethics. Now what
is a guest? A thing of a day! A person who
disturbs your routine and interferes with important
concerns. Why should any one be grateful for
company? Why should time and money be lavished
on visitors? They come. You overwork yourself.
They go. You are glad of it. You return the
visit, because it’s the only way to have back
at them; but why pamper them unnecessarily? Now
a good housekeeper, that means more than words can
express. Comfort, kindness, sanitary living, care
in illness! Here’s to the prospective housekeeper
of Medicine Woods! Rogers, hang those ruffled
embroidered curtains. Observe that whereas mere
guest beds are plain white, this has a touch of brass.
Where guest rugs are floor coverings, this is a work
of art. Where guest brushes are celluloid, these
are enamelled, and the dresser cover is hand embroidered.
Let me also call your attention to the chairs touched
with gold, cushioned for ease, and a decorated pitcher
and bowl. Watch the bounce of these springs and
the thickness of this mattress and pad, and notice
that where guests, however welcome, get a down cover
of sateen, the lady of the house has silkaline.
Won’t she prepare us a breakfast after a night
in this room?”
“David, are you in earnest?” gasped the
“Don’t these things prove
it?” asked the Harvester. “No woman
can enter my home, when my necessities are so great
I have to hire her to come, and take the worst
in the house. After my wife, she gets the best,
every time. Whenever I need help, the woman who
will come and serve me is what I’d call the
real guest of the house. Friend? Where are
your friends when trouble comes? It always brings
a crowd on account of the excitement, and there is
noise and racing; but if your soul is saved alive,
it is by a steady, trained hand you pay to help you.
Friends come and go, but a good housekeeper remains
and is a business proposition one that
if conducted rightly for both parties and on a strictly
common-sense basis, gives you living comfort.
Now that we have disposed of the guests that go and
the one that remains, we will proceed downward and
arrange for ourselves.”
“David, did you ever know any
one who treated a housekeeper as you say you would?”
“No. And I never knew any
one who raised medicinal stuff for a living, but I’m
making a gilt-edged success of it, and I would of a
“It doesn’t seem ”
“That’s the bedrock of
all the trouble on the earth,” interrupted the
Harvester. “We are a nation and a part of
a world that spends our time on ‘seeming.’
Our whole outer crust is ‘seeming.’
When we get beneath the surface and strike the being,
then we live as we are privileged by the Almighty.
I don’t think I give a tinker how anything seems.
What concerns me is how it is. It doesn’t
‘seem’ possible to you to hire a woman
to come into your home and take charge of its cleanliness
and the food you eat the very foundation
of life and treat her as an honoured guest,
and give her the best comfort you have to offer.
The cold room, the old covers, the bare floor, and
the cast off furniture are for her. No wonder,
as a rule, she gives what she gets. She dignifies
her labour in the same ratio that you do. Wait
until we need a housekeeper, and then gaze with awe
on the one I will raise to your hand.”
“I wonder ”
wearing! Come tell me how to make our living-room
less bare than it appears at present.”
They went downstairs together, followed
by the decorator, and began work on the room.
The Girl was placed on a couch and made comfortable
and then the Harvester looked around.
“That bundle there, Rogers,
is the curtains we bought for this room. If you
and my wife think they are not right, we will not hang
The decorator opened the package and
took out curtains of tan-coloured goods with a border
of blue and brown.
“Those are not expensive,”
said the Harvester, “but to me a window appears
bare with only a shade, so I thought we’d try
these, and when they become soiled we’ll burn
them and buy some fresh ones.”
“Good idea!” laughed the
Girl. “As a house decorator you surpass
yourself as a Medicine Man.”
“Fix these as you did those
upstairs,” ordered the Harvester. “We
don’t want any fol-de-rols.
Put the bottom even with the sill and shear them off
at the top.”
“No, I am going to arrange these,”
said the decorator, “you go on with your part.”
“All right!” agreed the
Harvester. “First, I’ll lay the big
He cleared the floor, spread a large
rug with a rich brown centre and a wide blue border.
Smaller ones of similar design and colour were placed
before each of the doors leading from the room.
“Now for the hearth,”
said the Harvester, “I got this tan goat skin.
Doesn’t that look fairly well?”
It certainly did; and the Girl and
the decorator hastened to say so. The Harvester
replaced the table and chairs, and then sat on the
couch at the Girl’s feet.
“I call this almost finished,”
he remarked. “All we need now is a bouquet
and something on the walls, and that is serious business.
What goes on them usually remains for a long time,
and so it should be selected with care. Ruth,
have you a picture of your mother?”
“None since she was my mother.
I have some lovely girl photographs.”
“Good!” cried the Harvester.
“Exactly the thing! I have a picture of
my mother when she was a pretty girl. We will
select the best of yours and have them enlarged in
those beautiful brown prints they make in these days,
and we’ll frame one for each side of the mantel.
After that you can decorate the other walls as you
see things you want. Fifteen minutes gone; we
are ready to take up the line of march to the dining-room.
Oh I forgot my pillows! Here are a half dozen
tan, brown, and blue for this room. Ruth, you
The Girl heaped four on the couch,
stood one beside the hearth, and laid another in a
“Now I don’t know what
you will think of this,” said the Harvester.
“I found it in a magazine at the library.
I copied this whole room. The plan was to have
the floor, furniture, and casings of golden oak and
the walls pale green. Then it said get yellow
curtains bordered with green and a green rug with
yellow figures, so I got them. I had green leather
cushions made for the window seats, and these pillows
go on them. Hang the saffron curtains, Rogers,
and we will finish in good shape for dinner by six.
By the way, Ruth, when will you select your dishes?
It will take a big set to fill all these shelves and
you shall have exactly what you want.”
“I can use those you have very well.”
“Oh no you can’t!”
cried the Harvester. “I may live and work
in the woods, but I am not so benighted that I don’t
own and read the best books and magazines, and subscribe
for a few papers. I patronize the library and
see what is in the stores. My money will buy just
as much as any man’s, if I do wear khaki trousers.
Kindly notice the word. Save in deference to
your ladyship I probably would have said pants.
You see how elite I can be if I try. And
it not only extends to my wardrobe, to a ‘yaller’
and green dining-room, but it takes in the ‘chany’
as well. I have looked up that, too. You
want china, cut glass, silver cutlery, and linen.
Ye! Ye! You needn’t think I don’t
know anything but how to dig in the dirt. I have
been studying this especially, and I know exactly what
“Come here,” said the
Girl, making a place for him beside her. “Now
let me tell you what I think. We are going to
live in the woods, and our home is a log cabin ”
“With acetylene lights, a furnace,
baths, and hot and cold water ”
interpolated the Harvester.
The Girl and the decorator laughed.
“Anyway,” said she, “if
you are going to let me have what I would like, I’d
prefer a set of tulip yellow dishes with the Dutch
little figures on them. I don’t know what
they cost, but certainly they are not so expensive
as cut glass and china.”
“Is that earnest or is it because
you think I am spending too much money?”
“It is what I want. Everything
else is different; why should we have dishes like
city folk? I’d dearly love to have the Dutch
ones, and a white cloth with a yellow border, glass
where it is necessary, and silver knives, forks, and
“That would be great, all right!”
endorsed the decorator. “And you have got
a priceless old lustre tea set there, and your willow
ware is as fine as I ever saw. If I were you,
I wouldn’t buy a dish with what you have, except
the yellow set.”
“Great day!” ejaculated
the Harvester. “Will you tell me why my
great grandmother’s old pink and green teapot
The Girl explained pink lustre.
“That set in the shop I knew in Chicago would
sell for from three to five hundred dollars. Truly
it would! I’ve seen one little pink and
green pitcher like yours bring nine dollars there.
And you’ve not only got the full tea set, but
water and dip pitchers, two bowls, and two bread plates.
They are priceless, because the secret of making them
is lost; they take on beauty with age, and they were
The Harvester reached over and energetically shook
“Ruth, I’m so glad you’ve
got them!” he bubbled. “Now elucidate
on my willow ware. What is it? Where is
it? Why have I willow ware and am not informed.
Who is responsible for this? Did my ancestors
buy better than they knew, or worse? Is willow
ware a crime for which I must hide my head, or is
it further riches thrust upon me? I thought I
had investigated the subject of proper dishes quite
thoroughly; but I am very certain I saw no mention
of lustre or willow. I thought, in my ignorance,
that lustre was a dress, and willow a tree. Have
I been deceived? Why is a blue plate or pitcher
“Bring that platter from the
mantel,” ordered the Girl, “and I will
The Harvester obeyed and followed
the finger that traced the design.
“That’s a healthy willow
tree!” he commented. “If Loon Lake
couldn’t go ahead of that it should be drained.
And will you please tell me why this precious platter
from which I have eaten much stewed chicken, fried
ham, and in youthful days sopped the gravy will
you tell me why this relic of my ancestors is called
a willow plate, when there are a majority of orange
trees so extremely fruitful they have neglected to
grow a leaf? Why is it not an orange plate?
Look at that boat! And in plain sight of it,
two pagodas, a summer house, a water-sweep, and a pair
of corpulent swallows; you would have me believe that
a couple are eloping in broad daylight.”
“Perhaps it’s night! And those birds
“Never!” cried the Harvester.
“There is a total absence of shadows. There
is no moon. Each orange tree is conveniently split
in halves, so you can see to count the fruit accurately;
the birds are in flight. Only a swallow or a
stork can fly in decorations, either by day or by night.
And for any sake look at that elopement! He goes
ahead carrying a cane, she comes behind lugging the
baggage, another man with a cane brings up the rear.
They are not running away. They have been married
ten years at least. In a proper elopement, they
forget there are such things as jewels and they always
carry each other. I’ve often looked up the
statistics and it’s the only authorized version.
As I regard this treasure, I grow faint when I remember
with what unnecessary force my father bore down when
he carved the ham. I’ll bet a cooky he split
those orange trees. Now me I’ll
never dare touch knife to it again. I’ll
always carve the meat on the broiler, and gently lift
it to this platter with a fork. Or am I not to
be allowed to dine from my ancestral treasure again?”
“Not in a green and yellow room,”
laughed the Girl. “I’ll tell you what
I think. If I had a tea table to match the living-room
furniture, and it sat beside the hearth, and on it
a chafing dish to cook in, and the willow ware to
eat from, we could have little tea parties in there,
when we aren’t very hungry or to treat a visitor.
It would help make that room ‘homey,’
and it’s wonderful how they harmonize with the
“How much willow ware have I
got to ‘bestow’ on you?” inquired
the Harvester. “Suppose you show me all
of it. A guilty feeling arises in my breast,
and I fear me I have committed high crimes!”
“Oh Man! You didn’t
break or lose any of those dishes, did you?”
“Show me!” insisted the Harvester.
The Girl arose and going to the cupboard
he had designed for her china she opened it, and set
before him a teapot, cream pitcher, two plates, a
bowl, a pitcher, the meat platter, and a sugar bowl.
“If there were all of the cups, saucers, and
plates, I know where they would bring five hundred
dollars,” she said.
“Ruth, are you getting even
with me for poking fun at them, or are you in earnest?”
asked the Harvester.
“I mean every word of it.”
“You really want a small, black
walnut table made especially for those old dishes?”
“Not if you are too busy.
I could use it with beautiful effect and much pleasure,
and I can’t tell you how proud I’d be of
The Harvester’s face flushed.
“Excuse me,” he said rising. “I
have now finished furnishing a house; I will go and
take a peep at the engine.” He went into
the kitchen and hearing the rattle of dishes the Girl
followed. She stepped in just in time to see him
hastily slide something into his pocket. He picked
up a half dozen old white plates and saucers and several
cups and started toward the evaporator. He heard
“Look here, honey,” he
said turning, “you don’t want to see the
dry-house just now. I have terrific heat to do
some rapid work. I won’t be gone but a
few minutes. You better boss the decorator.
“I’m afraid that wasn’t
very diplomatic,” he muttered. “It
savoured a little of being sent back. But if
what she says is right, and she should know if they
handle such stuff at that art store, she will feel
considerably better not to see this.”
He set his load at the door, drew
an old blue saucer from his pocket and made a careful
examination. He pulled some leaves from a bush
and pushed a greasy cloth out of the saucer, wiped
it the best he could, and held it to light.
“That is a crime!” he
commented. “Saucer from your maternal ancestors’
tea set used for a grease dish. I am afraid I’d
better sink it in the lake. She’d feel
worse to see it than never to know. Wish I could
clean off the grease! I could do better if it
was hot. I can set it on the engine.”
The Harvester placed the saucer on
the engine, entered the dry-house, and closed the
door. In the stifling air he began pouring seed
from beautiful, big willow plates to the old white
“About the time I have ruined
you,” he said to a white plate, “some one
will pop up and discover that the art of making you
is lost and you are priceless, and I’ll have
been guilty of another blunder. Now there are
the dishes mother got with baking powder. She
thought they were grand. I know plenty well she
prized them more than these blue ones or she wouldn’t
have saved them and used these for every day.
There they set, all so carefully taken care of, and
the Girl doesn’t even look at them. Thank
Heaven, there are the four remaining plates all right,
anyway! Now I’ve got seed in some of the
saucers; one is there; where on earth is the last
one? And where, oh unkind fates! are the cups?”
He found more saucers and set them
with the plates. As he passed the engine he noticed
the saucer on it was bubbling grease, literally exuding
it from the particles of clay.
“Hooray!” cried the Harvester.
He took it up, but it was so hot he dropped it.
With a deft sweep he caught it in air, and shoved it
on a tray. Then he danced and blew on his burned
hand. Snatching out his handkerchief he rubbed
off all the grease, and imagined the saucer was brighter.
“If ‘a little is good,
more is better,’” quoted the Harvester.
Wadding the handkerchief he returned
the saucer to the engine. Then he slipped out,
dripping perspiration, glanced toward the cabin, and
ran into the work room. The first object he saw
was a willow cup half full of red paint, stuck and
dried as if to remain forever. He took his knife
and tried to whittle it off, but noticing that he was
scratching the cup he filled it with turpentine, set
it under a work bench, turned a tin pan over it, and
covered it with shavings. A few steps farther
brought one in sight, filled with carpet tacks.
He searched everywhere, but could find no more, so
he went to the laboratory. Beside his wash bowl
at the door stood the last willow saucer. He had
used it for years as a soap dish. He scraped
the contents on the bench and filled the dish with
water. Four cups held medicinal seeds and were
in good condition. He lacked one, although he
could not remember of ever having broken it.
Gathering his collection, he returned to the dry-house
to see how the saucer was coming on. Again it
was bubbling, and he polished off the grease and set
back the dish. It certainly was growing better.
He carried his treasures into the work room, and went
to the barn to feed. As he was leaving the stable
he uttered a joyous exclamation and snatched from
a window sill a willow cup, gummed and smeared with
“The full set, by hokey!”
marvelled the Harvester. “Say, Betsy, the
only name for this is luck! Now if I only can
clean them, I’ll be ready to make her tea table,
whatever that is. My I hope she will stay away
until I get these in better shape!”
He filled the last cup with turpentine,
set it with the other under the work bench, stacked
the remaining pieces, polished the saucer he was baking,
and went to bring a dish pan and towel. He drew
some water from the pipes of the evaporator, put in
the soap, and carried it to the work room. There
he carefully washed and wiped all the pieces, save
two cups and one saucer. He did not know how
long it would require to bake the grease from that,
but he was sure it was improving. He thought he
could clean the paint cup, but he imagined the harness
oil one would require baking also.
As he stood busily working over the
dishes, with light step the Girl came to the door.
She took one long look and understood. She turned
and swiftly went back to the cabin, but her shoulders
were shaking. Presently the Harvester came in
and explained that after finishing in the dry-house
he had gone to do the feeding. Then he suggested
that before it grew dark they should go through the
rooms and see how they appeared, and gather the flowers
the Girl wanted. So together they decided everything
was clean, comfortable, and harmonized.
Then they went to the hillside sloping
to the lake. For the dining-room, the Girl wanted
yellow water lilies, so the Harvester brought his old
boat and gathered enough to fill the green bowl.
For the living-room, she used wild ragged robins in
the blue bowl, and on one end of the mantel set a
pitcher of saffron and on the other arrowhead lilies.
For her room, she selected big, blushy mallows that
grew all along Singing Water and around the lake.
“Isn’t that slightly peculiar?”
questioned the Harvester.
“Take a peep,” said the Girl, opening
She had spread the pink coverlet on
her couch, and when she set the big pink bowl filled
with mallows on the table the effect was exquisite.
“I think perhaps that’s
a little Frenchy,” she said, “and you may
have to be educated to it; but salmon pink and buttercup
yellow are colours I love in combination.”
She closed the door and went to find
something to eat, and then to the swing, where she
liked to rest, look, and listen. The Harvester
suggested reading to her, but she shook her head.
“Wait until winter,” she
said, “when the days are longer and cold, and
the snow buries everything, and then read. Now
tell me about my hedge and the things you have planted
The Harvester went out and collected
a bunch of twigs. He handed her a big, evenly
proportioned leaf of ovate shape, and explained:
“This is burning bush, so called because it
has pink berries that hang from long, graceful stems
all winter, and when fully open they expose a flame-red
seed pod. It was for this colour on gray and white
days that I planted it. In the woods I grow it
in thickets. The root bark brings twenty cents
a pound, at the very least. It is good fever medicine.”
“Is it poison?”
“No. I didn’t set
anything acutely poisonous in your hedge. I wanted
it to be a mass of bloom you were free to cut for
the cabin all spring, an attraction to birds in summer,
and bright with colour in winter. To draw the
feathered tribe, I planted alder, wild cherry, and
grape-vines. This is cherry. The bark is
almost as beautiful as birch. I raise it for
tonics and the birds love the cherries. This fern-like
leaf is from mountain ash, and when it attains a few
years’ growth it will flame with colour all
winter in big clusters of scarlet berries. That
I grow in the woods is a picture in snow time, and
the bark is one of my standard articles.”
The Girl raised on her elbow and looked at the hedge.
“I see it,” she said.
“The berries are green now. I suppose they
change colour as they ripen.”
“Yes,” said the Harvester.
“And you must not confuse them with sumac.
The leaves are somewhat similar, but the heads differ
in colour and shape. The sumac and buckeye you
must not touch, until we learn what they will do to
you. To some they are slightly poisonous, to others
not. I couldn’t help putting in a few buckeyes
on account of the big buds in early spring. You
will like the colour if you are fond of pink and yellow
in combination, and the red-brown nuts in grayish-yellow,
prickly hulls, and the leaf clusters are beautiful,
but you must use care. I put in witch hazel for
variety, and I like its appearance; it’s mighty
good medicine, too; so is spice brush, and it has leaves
that colour brightly, and red berries. These
selections were all made for a purpose. Now here
is wafer ash; it is for music as well as medicine.
I have invoked all good fairies to come and dwell
in this hedge, and so I had to provide an orchestra
for their dances. This tree grows a hundred tiny
castanets in a bunch, and when they ripen and become
dry the wind shakes fine music from them. Yes,
they are medicine; that is, the bark of the roots
is. Almost without exception everything here has
medicinal properties. The tulip poplar will bear
you the loveliest flowers of all, and its root bark,
taken in winter, makes a good fever remedy.”
“How would it do to eat some
of the leaves and see if they wouldn’t take
the feverishness from me?”
“It wouldn’t do at all,”
said the Harvester. “We are well enough
fixed to allow Doc to come now, and he is the one
to allay the fever.”
“Oh no!” she cried.
“No! I don’t want to see a doctor.
I will be all right very soon. You said I was
“You are,” said the Harvester.
“Much better! We will have you strong and
well soon. You should have come in time for a
dose of sassafras. Your hedge is filled with
that, because of its peculiar leaves and odour.
I put in dogwood for the white display around the
little green bloom, lots of alder for bloom and berries,
haws for blossoms and fruit for the squirrels, wild
crab apples for the exquisite bloom and perfume, button
bush for the buttons, a few pokeberry plants for the
colour, and I tried some mallows, but I doubt if it’s
wet enough for them. I set pecks of vine roots,
that are coming nicely, and ferns along the front edge.
Give it two years and that hedge will make a picture
that will do your eyes good.”
“Can you think of anything at all you forgot?”
“Yes indeed!” said the
Harvester. “The woods are full of trees
I have not used; some because I overlooked them, some
I didn’t want. A hedge like this, in perfection,
is the work of years. Some species must be cut
back, some encouraged, but soon it will be lovely,
and its colour and fruit attract every bird of the
heavens and butterflies and insects of all varieties.
I set several common cherry trees for the robins and
some blackberry and raspberry vines for the orioles.
The bloom is pretty and the birds you’ll have
will be a treat to see and hear, if we keep away cats,
don’t fire guns, scatter food, and move quietly
among them. With our water attractions added,
there is nothing impossible in the way of making friends
with feathered folk.”
“There is one thing I don’t
understand,” said the Girl. “You wouldn’t
risk breaking the wing of a moth by keeping it when
you wanted a drawing very much; you don’t seem
to kill birds and animals that other people do.
You almost worship a tree; now how can you take a knife
and peel the bark to sell or dig up beautiful bushes
by the root.”
“Perhaps I’ve talked too
much about the woods,” said the Harvester gently.
“I’ve longed inexpressibly for sympathetic
company here, because I feel rooted for life, so I
am more than anxious that you should care for it.
I may have made you feel that my greatest interest
is in the woods, and that I am not consistent when
I call on my trees and plants to yield of their store
for my purposes. Above everything else, the human
proposition comes first, Ruth. I do love my trees,
bushes, and flowers, because they keep me at the fountain
of life, and teach me lessons no book ever hints at;
but above everything come my fellow men. All
I do is for them. My heart is filled with feeling
for the things you see around you here, but it would
be joy to me to uproot the most beautiful plant I
have if by so doing I could save you pain. Other
men have wives they love as well, little children
they have fathered, big bodies useful to the world,
that are sometimes crippled with disease. There
is nothing I would not give to allay the pain of humanity.
It is not inconsistent to offer any growing thing
you soon can replace, to cure suffering. Get
that idea out of your head! You said you could
worship at the shrine of the pokeberry bed, you feel
holier before the arrowhead lilies, your face takes
on an appearance of reverence when you see pink mallow
blooms. Which of them would you have hesitated
a second in uprooting if you could have offered it
to subdue fever or pain in the body of the little
mother you loved?”
“Oh I see!” cried the
Girl. “Like everything else you make this
different. You worship all this beauty and grace,
wrought by your hands, but you carry your treasure
to the market place for the good of suffering humanity.
Oh Man! I love the work you do!”
“Good!” cried the Harvester.
“Good! And Ruth-girl, while you are about
it, see if you can’t combine the man and his
occupation a little.”