The Harvester stopped at the mail
box on his way home and among the mass of matter it
contained was something from the Girl. It was
a scrap as long as his least finger and three times
as wide, and by the postmark it had lain four days
in the box. On opening it, he found only her card
with a line written across it, but the man went up
the hill and into the cabin as if a cyclone were driving
him, for he read, “Has your bluebird come?”
He threw his travelling bag on the
floor, ran to the telephone, and called the station.
“Take this message,” he said. “Mrs.
David Langston, care of Alexander Herron, 5770 Chestnut
Street, Philadelphia. Found note after four days’
absence. Bluebird long past due. The fairies
have told it that my fate hereafter lies in your hands.
“As always. David.”
The Harvester turned from the instrument
and bent to embrace Belshazzar, leaping in ecstasy
“Understand that, Bel?”
he asked. “I don’t know but it means
something. Maybe it doesn’t not
a thing! And again, there is a chance only
the merest possibility that it does.
We’ll risk it, Bel, and to begin on I have nailed
it as hard as I knew how. Next, we will clean
the house until it shines, and then
we will fill the cupboard, and if anything does happen
we won’t be caught napping. Yes, boy, we
will take the chance! We can’t be any worse
disappointed than we have been before and survived
it. Come along!”
He picked up the bag and arranged
its contents, carefully brushed and folded on his
shelves and in his closet. Then he removed the
travelling suit, donned the old brown clothes and
went to the barn to see that his creatures had been
cared for properly. Early the next morning he
awoke and after feeding and breakfasting instead of
going to harvest spice brush and alder he stretched
a line and hung the bedding from room after room to
air and sun. He swept, dusted, and washed windows,
made beds, and lastly polished the floors throughout
the cabin. He set everything in order, and as
a finishing touch, filled vases, pitchers, and bowls
with the bloom of red bud and silky willow catkins.
He searched the south bank, but there was not a violet,
even in the most exposed places. By night he
was tired and a little of the keen edge of his ardour
was dulled. The next day he worked scrubbing
the porches, straightening the lawn and hedges, even
sweeping the driveway to the bridge clear of wind-whirled
leaves and straw. He scouted around the dry-house
and laboratory, and spent several extra hours on the
barn so that when evening came everything was in perfect
order. Then he dressed, ate his supper and drove
to the city.
He stopped at the mail box, but there
was nothing from the Girl. The Harvester did
not know whether he was sorry or glad. A letter
might have said the same thing. Nothing meant
a delightful possibility, and between the two he preferred
the latter. He whistled and sang as he drove to
Onabasha, and Belshazzar looked at him with mystified
eyes, for this was not the master he had known of
late. He did not recognize the dress or the manner,
but his dog heart was sympathetic to the man’s
every mood, and he remembered times when a drive down
the levee always had been like this, for to-night
the Harvester’s tongue was loosened and he talked
in the old way.
“Just four words, Bel,”
he said. “And, as I remarked before, they
may mean the most wonderful thing on earth, and possibly
nothing at all. But it is in the heart of man
to hope, Bel, and so we are going to live royally
for a week or two, just on hope, old boy. If anything
should happen, we are ready, rooms shining, beds fresh,
fireplaces filled and waiting a match, ice chest cool,
and when we get back it will be stored. Also
a secret, Bel; we are going to a florist and a fruit
store. While we are at it, we will do the thing
right; but we will stay away from Doc, until we are
sure of something. He means well, but we don’t
like to be pitied, do we, Bel? Our friends don’t
manage their eyes and voices very well these days.
Never mind! Our time will come yet. The bluebird
will not fail us, but never before has it been so late.”
On his return he filled the pantry
shelves with packages, stored the ice chest, and set
a basket of delicious fruit on the dining table.
Two boxes remained. He opened the larger one
and took from it an arm load of white lilies that
he carried up the hill and divided between the mounds
under the oak. Then he uncovered his head, and
standing at the foot of them he looked among the boughs
of the big tree and listened intently. After
a time a soft, warm wind, catkin-scented, crept from
the lake, and began a murmur among the clusters of
brown leaves clinging to the branches.
“Mother,” said the Harvester,
“were you with me? Did I do it right?
Did I tell them what you would have had me say for
the boys? Are you glad now you held me to the
narrow way? Do you want me to go before men if
I am asked, as Doc says I will be, and tell them that
the only way to abolish pain is for them to begin
at the foundation by living clean lives? I don’t
know if I did any good, but they listened to me.
Anyway, I did the best I knew. But that isn’t
strange; you ground it into me to do that every day,
until it is almost an instinct. Mother, dear,
can you tell me about the bluebird? Is that softest
little rustle of all your voice? and does it say ‘hope’?
I think so, and I thank you for the word.”
The man’s eyes dropped to earth.
“And you other mother,”
he said, “have you any message for me? Up
where you are can you sweep the world with understanding
eyes and tell me why my bluebird does not come?
Does it know that this year your child and not chance
must settle my fate? Can you look across space
and see if she is even thinking of me? But I
know that! She had to be thinking of me when
she wrote that line. Rather can you tell me will
she come? Do you think I am man enough to be
trusted with her future, if she does? One thing
I promise you: if such joy ever comes to me, I
will know how to meet it gently, thankfully, tenderly,
please God. Good night, little women. I
hope you are sleeping well ”
He turned and went down the hill,
entered the cabin and took from the other box a mass
of Parma violets. He put these in the pink bowl
and placed it on the table beside the Girl’s
bed. He stood for a time, and then began pulling
single flowers from the bowl and dropping them over
the pillow and snowy spread.
“God, how I love her!” he whispered softly.
At last he went out and closed the
door. He was tired and soon fell asleep with
the night breeze stirring his hair, and the glamour
of moonlight flooding the lake touched his face.
Clearly it etched the strong, manly features, the
fine brow and chin, and painted in unusual tenderness
the soft lines around the mouth. The little owl
wavered its love story, a few frogs were piping, and
the Harvester lay breathing the perfumed spring air
deeply and evenly. Near midnight Belshazzar awakened
him by arising from the bedside and walking to the
“What is it, Bel?” inquired the Harvester.
The dog whined softly. The man
turned his head toward the lake. A ray of red
light touched the opposite embankment and came wavering
across the surface. The Harvester sat up.
Two big, flaming eyes were creeping up the levee.
“That,” said the Harvester,
“might be Doc coming for me to help him try
out my bottled sunshine, or it might be my bluebird.”
He tossed back the cover, swung his
feet to the floor, setting each in a slipper beside
the bed, and arose, dressing as he started for the
door. As he opened the screen and stepped on
the veranda a passenger car from the city stopped,
and the Harvester went down the walk to meet it.
His heart turned over when he saw a woman’s
hand on the door.
“Permit me,” he said,
taking the handle and bringing it back with a sweep.
A tall form arose, bent forward, and descended to the
step. The full flare of moonlight fell on the
glowing face of the Girl.
“Harvester, is it you?” she asked.
“Yes,” gasped the man.
Two hands came fluttering out, and
he just had presence of mind to step in range so that
they rested on his shoulders.
“Has the bluebird come?”
“Then I am not too late?”
“Never too late to come to me, Ruth.”
“I am welcome?”
“I have no words to tell you how welcome.”
She swayed forward and the Harvester
tried to reach her lips, but they brushed his cheek
and touched his ear.
“I have brought one more kiss I want to try,”
The Harvester crushed her in his arms
until he frightened himself for fear he had hurt her,
and murmured an ecstasy of indistinct love words to
her. Presently her feet touched the ground and
she drew away from him.
“Harvester,” she whispered,
“I couldn’t wait any longer; indeed I could
not: and I couldn’t leave grandfather and
grandmother, and I didn’t know what in the world
to do, so I just brought them along. Are they
“Aside from you, I would rather
have them than any people on earth,” said the
There were two sounds in the car;
one was an approving murmur, and the other an undeniable
snort. The Harvester felt the reassuring pressure
of the Girl’s hand.
“Please, Ruth,” he said,
“go turn on the light so that I can see to help
A foot stamped before the front seat.
“Madam Herron, if you please!” cried an
said the Harvester gently, as he set a foot on the
step, reached in and bodily picked up a little old
lady and started up the walk with her in his arms.
“Careful there, sir!” roared a voice after
The Harvester could feel the quake
of the laughing woman and he smiled broadly as he
entered the cabin, and placed her in a large chair
before the fire. Then he wheeled and ran back
to the car, reaching it as the man was making an effort
to descend. It could be seen that he had been
tall, before time and sorrow had bent him, and keen
eyes gleamed below shaggy white brows from under his
hat brim. He had a white moustache, and his hair
“Allow me,” said the Harvester reaching
“If you touch me I will cane you,” said
Mr. Alexander Herron.
There was nothing to do but step back.
The cane, wheel, and a long coat skirt interfering,
the old man fell headlong, and only quick hands saved
him a severe jolt and bruises. He stood glaring
in the moonlight while his hat was restored.
“If you run your car to the
curve you can back toward the south and turn easily,”
said the Harvester to the driver. As the automobile
passed them he offered his arm. “May I
show you to the fire? These spring nights are
cold is what they are! I’m frozen to the
bone! This will be the end of us both! Dragging
people of our age around at this hour of night.
Of all the accursed stubbornness!”
“There are three low steps,”
said the Harvester, “now a straight stretch
of walk, now two steps; there you are on the level.
Here is an easy chair. It would be better to
leave on your coat, until I light the fire.”
He knelt and scratched a match, and
almost instantly a flame sprang from the heap of dry
kindling, and began to wrap around the big logs.
“How pretty!” exclaimed a soft voice.
“Kind of a hunting lodge in
the wilds, is it?” growled a rough one.
“Marcella, you will take your death here!”
“I’m sure I feel no exposure.
Really, Alexander, if I had passed away every time
you have prophesied that I would in the past twenty
years you’d have the largest private cemetery
in existence. If you would not be so pessimistic
I could quite enjoy the trip. It’s so long
since I’ve ridden in the cars.”
“Of all the abandoned places!
And for you to be here, after your years in bed!”
“But I’m not nearly so
tired as I am at home, Alexander, truly.”
“Let me help you, grandfather,” offered
She went to him and took his hat and stick.
“Leave me my cane,” he
cried. “Any instant that beast may attack
some of us.”
The Girl laughed merrily.
“Why grandfather!” she
chided, “Bel is the finest dog you ever knew,
he is my best friend here. By the hour he has
protected me, and he is gentle as a kitten. He’s
crazy over my coming home.”
She knelt on the floor, put her arms
around the dog’s neck, and the delighted brute
quivered with the joy of her caress and the sound of
her loved voice.
“Ruthie!” cautioned the gentle lady.
“Put that cur out of doors,
where animals belong,” roared the old man, lifting
“Careful!” warned the grave voice of the
“I thought you said he was gentle as a kitten!”
“Grandfather, I said that,” cried the
“Well wasn’t it the truth?”
“You can see how he loves me.
Didn’t I ever tell you that Bel made the first
friendly overture I ever received in this part of the
country? He’s watched me by the day, even
while I slept.”
“Then what’s all this infernal fuss about?”
“Try striking him if you want
to find out,” explained the Harvester gently.
“You see, Belshazzar and I are accustomed to
living here alone and very quietly. He is excited
over the Girl’s return, because she is his friend,
and he has not forgotten her. Then this is the
first time in his life he ever heard an irritable
voice from a visitor or saw a cane, and it angers
him. He is perfectly safe to guard a baby, if
he is gently treated, but he is a sure throat hold
to a stranger who bespeaks him roughly or attempts
to strike. He would be of no use as a guard to
valuable property while I sleep if he were otherwise.
Bel, come here! Lie still.”
The dog sank to the floor beside the
Harvester, but his sharp eyes followed the Girl, and
the hair arose on his neck at every rasping note of
the old man’s voice.
“I wouldn’t give such
a creature house room for a minute,” insisted
“Wait until you see him work
and become acquainted with him, and you will change
that verdict,” prophesied the Harvester.
“I never was known to change
an opinion. Never, sir! Never!” cried
the testy voice.
“How unfortunate!” remarked the Harvester
“Explain yourself! Explain yourself, sir!”
“There never has been, there
never will be, a man on this earth,” said the
Harvester, “wholly free from mistakes. Are
you warm now?” He turned to the little lady,
cutting off a reply with his question.
“Nice and warm and quite sleepy,” she
“What may I bring you for a light lunch before
you go to bed?”
“Oh, could I have a bite of something?”
“If only I am fortunate enough
to have anything you will care for. What about
a bowl of hot milk and a slice of toast?”
“Why I think that would be just the thing!”
“Excuse me,” said the Harvester rising.
He went to the kitchen and they could hear him moving
“I wish the big brute would
take his beast along,” growled Mr. Alexander
“Come, Bel,” ordered the Girl. “Let’s
go to the kitchen.”
The dog instantly arose and followed her.
“What can I do to help?” she asked as
they reached the door.
“Remain where you won’t
dazzle my eyes,” said the Harvester, “until
I help the gentle lady and the gentle man to bed.”
Presently he came with a white cloth,
two spoons, and a plate of bread. He spread the
cloth on the table, laid the spoons on it, and opening
the little cupboard, took out a long toasting fork,
and sticking it into a slice of bread, he held it
over the coals. When it grew golden brown he
lifted the table beside the chair, and brought a bowl
of scalded milk.
“Marcella, that stuff will be
too smoky for you! Your stomach will rebel at
“Grandfather, there will not
be a suspicion of odour,” said the Girl.
“I have had it that way often.”
“Then no wonder you came from
this place looking like a picked crane, if that is
a sample of what you were fed on!”
The face of the Harvester grew redder
than the heat of the fire necessitated, but at the
ringing laugh of the Girl he set his teeth and went
on toasting bread. Grandmother crumbled some in
the milk and picking up the spoon tested the combination.
She was very hungry, and it was good. She began
eating with relish.
“Alexander, you will be the
loser if you don’t have some of this,”
she said. “It’s just delicious!”
“Maybe smoked spoon victuals
are proper for invalid women,” he retorted,
“but they are mighty thin diet for a hardy man.”
“What about a couple of eggs
and some beef extract?” suggested the cook.
“Sounds more sensible by a long shot.”
“Ruth, you make this toast,” said the
Harvester and disappeared.
Presently he placed before his guest
a couple of eggs poached in milk, a steaming bowl
of beef juice, and a plate of toast. For one instant
the Harvester thought this was going into the fire,
the next a slice was picked up and smelled testily.
The Girl sat on her grandfather’s chair arm,
and breaking a morsel of toast dipped it into the broth
and tasted it.
“Oh but that is good!”
she cried. “Why haven’t I some also?
Am I supposed to have no ’tummy’?”
“Your turn next,” said
the Harvester, as he again gave her the fork and went
to the kitchen.
When he returned and served the Girl
he found her grandfather eating heartily.
“Why I think this is fun,”
said the gentle lady. “I haven’t had
such a fine time in ages. I love the heat of
the flame on my body and things taste so good.
I could go to sleep without any narcotic, right now.”
Close her knee the Harvester knelt
on the hearth with his toasting fork. She leaned
forward and ran her fingers through his hair.
“You’re a braw laddie,”
she said. “Now I see why Ruthie would
The Harvester took the frail hand
and kissed it. “Thank you!” he returned.
“Mush!” exploded the grizzled man in the
When no one wanted more food the Harvester
stacked and carried away the dishes, swept the hearth,
and replaced the toaster.
“Ruth and I often lunched this
way last fall,” he said. “We liked
it for a change.”
“Alexander, have you noticed?”
asked the little woman as she lifted wet eyes to a
beautiful portrait of her daughter beside the chimney.
“D’ye think I’m
blind? Saw it as I entered the door. Poor
taste! Very! Brown may match the rug and
wood-work, but it’s a wretched colour for a
young girl in her gay time. Should be pink and
white with a gold frame.”
“That would be beautiful,”
agreed the Harvester. “We must have one
that way. This is not an expensive picture.
It is only an enlargement from an old photograph.”
“We have a number of very handsome
likenesses. Which one can you spare Ruth, Marcella?”
“The one she likes best,” said the lady
“And the other is your mother,
no doubt. What a girlish, beautiful face!”
“Wonderfully fine!” growled
a gruff old voice tinctured with tears, and the Harvester
began to see light.
The old man arose. “Ruthie,
help your grandmother to bed,” he said.
“And you, sir, have the goodness to walk a few
steps with me.”
The Harvester sprang up and brought
Mr. Herron his coat and hat and held the door.
The Girl brushed past him.
“To the oak,” she whispered.
They went into the night, and without
a word the Harvester took his guest’s arm and
guided him up the hill. When they reached the
two mounds the moon shining between the branches touched
the lily faces with with holy whiteness.
“She sleeps there,” said
the Harvester, indicating the place.
Then he turned and went down the path
a little distance and waited until he feared the night
air would chill the broken old man.
“You can see better to-morrow,”
he said as he touched the shaking figure and assisted
it to arise.
“Your work?” Mr. Alexander
Herron touched the lilies with his walking stick.
The Harvester assented.
“Do you mind if I carry one to Marcella?”
The Harvester trembled as he stooped
to select the largest and whitest, and with sudden
illumination, he fully understood. He helped the
tottering old man to the cabin, where he sat silently
before the fireplace softly touching the lily face
with his lips.
“I have put grandmother in my
bed, tucked her in warmly, and she says it is soft
and fine,” laughed the Girl, coming to them.
“Now you go before she falls asleep, and I hope
you will rest well.”
She bent and kissed him.
The Harvester held the door.
“Can I be of any service?” he inquired.
“No, I’m no helpless child.”
“Then to my best wishes for
sound sleep the remainder of the night, I will add
this,” said the Harvester “You
may rest in peace concerning your dear girl.
I sympathize with your anxiety. Good night!”
Alexander Herron threw out his hands in protest.
“I wouldn’t mind admitting
that you are a gentleman in a month or two,”
he said, “but it’s a demnation humiliation
to have it literally wrung from me to-night!”
He banged the door in the face of
the amazed Harvester, who turned to the Girl as she
leaned against the mantel. He stood absorbing
the glowing picture of beauty and health that she
made. She had removed her travelling dress and
shoes, and was draped in a fleecy white wool kimono
and wearing night slippers. Her hair hung in two
big braids as it had during her illness. She
was his sick girl again in costume, but radiant health
glowed on her lovely face. The Harvester touched
a match to a few candles and turned out the acetylene
lights. Then he stood before her.
“Now, bluebird,” he said
gently. “Ruth, you always know where to
find me, if you will look at your feet. I thought
I loved you all in my power when you went, but absence
has taught its lessons. One is that I can grow
to love you more every day I live, and the other that
I probably trifled with the highest gift you had to
offer, when I sent you away. I may have been
right; Granny and Doc think I was wrong. You know
the answer. You said there was another kiss for
me. Ruth, is it the same or a different one?”
“It is different. Quite, quite different!”
“And when?” The Harvester
stretched out longing arms. The Girl stepped
“I don’t know,”
she said. “I had it when I started, but
I lost it on the way.”
The Harvester staggered under the disappointment.
“Ruth, this has gone far enough
that you wouldn’t play with me, merely for the
sake of seeing me suffer, would you?”
“No!” cried the Girl.
“No! I mean it! I knew just what I
wanted to say when I started; but we had to take grandmother
out of bed. She wouldn’t allow me to leave
her, and I wouldn’t stay away from you any longer.
She fainted when we put her on the car and grandfather
went wild. He almost killed the porters, and
he raved at me. He said my mother had ruined
their lives, and now I would be their death. I
got so frightened I had a nervous chill and I’m
so afraid she will grow worse ”
“You poor child!” shuddered
the Harvester. “I see! I understand!
What you need is quiet and a good rest.”
He placed her in a big easy chair
and sitting on the hearth rug he leaned against her
knee and said, “Now tell me, unless you are so
tired that you should go to bed.”
“I couldn’t possibly sleep
until I have told you,” said the Girl.
“If you’re merciful, cut
it short!” implored the Harvester.
“I think it begins,” she
said slowly, “when I went because you sent me
and I didn’t want to go. Of course, as soon
as I saw grandfather and grandmother, heard them talk,
and understood what their lives had been, and what
might have been, why there was only one thing to do,
as I could see it, and that was to compensate their
agony the best I could. I think I have, David.
I really think I have made them almost happy.
But I told them all any one could tell about you in
the start, and from the first grandmother would have
been on your side; but you see how grandfather is,
and he was absolutely determined that I should live
with them, in their home, all their lives. He
thought the best way to accomplish that would be to
separate me from you and marry me to the son of his
“There are rooms packed with
the lovely things they bought me, David, and everything
was as I wrote you. Some of the people who came
were wonderful, so gracious and beautiful, I loved
almost all of them. They took me places where
there were pictures, plays, and lovely parties, and
I studied hard to learn some music, to dance, ride
and all the things they wanted me to do, and to read
good books, and to learn to meet people with graciousness
to equal theirs, and all of it. Every day I grew
stronger and met more people, and there were different
places to go, and always, when anything was to be
done, up popped Mr. Herbert Kennedy and said and did
exactly the right thing, and he could be extremely
“I haven’t a doubt!”
said the Harvester, laying hold of her kimono.
“And he popped up so much that
at last I saw he was either pretending or else he
really was growing very fond of me, so one day when
we were alone I told him all about you, to make him
see that he must not. He laughed at me, and said
exactly what you did, that I didn’t love you
at all, that it was gratitude, that it was the affection
of a child. He talked for hours about how grandfather
and grandmother had suffered, how it was my duty to
live with them and give you up, even if I cared greatly
for you; but he said what I felt was not love at all.
Then he tried to tell me what he thought love was,
and I could see very clearly that if it was like that,
I didn’t love you, but I came a whole world
closer it than loving him, and I told him so.
He laughed again and said I was mistaken, and that
he was going to teach me what real love was, and then
I could not be driven back to you. After that,
everybody and everything just pushed me toward him
with both hands, except one person. She was a
young married woman and I met her at the very first.
She was the only real friend I ever had, and at last,
the latter part of February, when things were the
very worst, I told her. I told her every single
thing. She was on your side. She said you
were twice the man Herbert Kennedy was, and as soon
as I found I could talk to her about you, I began
going there and staying as long as I could, just to
talk and to play with her baby.
“Her husband was a splendid
young fellow, and I grew very fond of him. I
knew she had told him, because he suddenly began talking
to me in the kindest way, and everything he said seemed
to be what I most wanted to hear. I got along
fairly well until hints of spring began to come, and
then I would wonder about my hedge, and my gold garden,
and if the ice was off the lake, and about my boat
and horse, and I wanted my room, and oh, David, most
of all I wanted you! Just you! Not because
you could give me anything to compare in richness
with what they could, not because this home was the
best I’d ever known except theirs, not for any
reason at all only just that I wanted to see your face,
hear your voice, and have you pick me up and take
me in your arms when I was tired. That was when
I almost quit writing. I couldn’t say what
I wanted to, and I wouldn’t write trivial things,
so I went on day after day just groping.”
“And you killed me alive,” said the Harvester.
“I was afraid of that, but I
couldn’t write. I just couldn’t!
It was ten days ago that I thought of the bluebird’s
coming this year and what it would mean to you, and
that killed me, Man! It just hurt my heart
until it ached, to know that you were out here alone;
and that night I couldn’t sleep, because I was
thinking of you, and it came to me that if I had your
lips then I could give you a much, much better kiss
than the last, and when it was light I wrote that
“Nearly a week later I got your
answer early in the morning, and it almost drove me
wild. I took it and went for the day with May,
and I told her. She took me upstairs, and we
talked it over, and before I left she made me promise
that I would write you and explain how I felt, and
ask you what you thought. She wanted you to come
there and see if you couldn’t make them at least
respect you. I know I was crying, and she was
bathing the baby. She went to bring something
she had forgotten, and she gave him to me to hold,
just his little naked body. He stood on my lap
and mauled my face, and pulled my hair, and hugged
me with his stout little arms and kissed me big, soft,
wet kisses, and something sprang to life in my heart
that never before had been there. I just cried
all over him and held him fast, and I couldn’t
give him up when she came back. I saw why I’d
wanted a big doll all my life, right then; and oh,
dear! the doll you sent was beautiful, but, David,
did you ever hold a little, living child in your arms
“I never did,” said the Harvester huskily.
He looked at her face and saw the
tears rolling, but he could say no more, so he leaned
his head against her knee, and finding one of her
hands he drew it to his lips.
“It is wonderful,” said
the Girl softly. “It awakens something in
your heart that makes it all soft and tender, and you
feel an awful responsibility, too. Grandmother
had them telephone at last, and May helped me bathe
my face and fix my hat. When we went to the carriage
Mr. Kennedy was there to take me home. We went
past grandmother’s florist to get her some violets David,
she is sleeping under yours, with just a few touching
her lips. Oh it was lovely of you to get them;
your fairies must have told you! She has them
every day, and one of the objections she made to coming
here was that she couldn’t do without them in
winter, and she found some on her pillow the very
first thing. David, you are wonderful! And
grandfather with his lily! I know where he found
that! I knew instantly. Ah, there are fairies
who tell you, because you deserve to know.”
The Girl bent and slipping her arm
around his neck hugged him tight an instant, and then
she continued unsteadily: “While he was
in the shop Harvester, this is
like your wildest dream, but it’s truest truth a
boy came down the walk crying papers, and as I live,
he called your name. I knew it had to be you
because he said, ’First drug farm in America!
Wonderful medicine contributed to the cause of science!
David Langston honoured by National Medical Association!’
I just stood in the carriage and screamed, ‘Boy!
Boy!’ until the coachman thought I had lost
my senses. He whistled and got me the paper.
I was shaking so I asked him how to find anything
you wanted quickly, and he pointed the column where
events are listed; and when I found the third page
there was your face so splendidly reproduced, and
you seemed so fine and noble to me I forgot about
the dress suit and the badge in your buttonhole, or
to wonder when or how or why it could have happened.
I just sat there shouting in my soul, ‘David!
David! Medicine Man! Harvester Man!’
again and again.”
“I don’t know what I said
to Mr. Kennedy or how I got to my room. I scanned
it by the column, at last I got to paragraphs, and
finally I read all the sentences. David, I kissed
that newspaper face a hundred times, and if you could
have had those, Man, I think you would have said they
were right. David, there is nothing to cry over!”
“I’m not!” said
the Harvester, wiping the splashes from her hand.
“But, Ruth, forget what I said about being brief.
I didn’t realize what was coming. I should
have said, if you’ve any mercy at all, go slowly!
This is the greatest thing that ever happened or ever
will happen to me. See that you don’t leave
out one word of it.”
“I told you I had to tell you first,”
said the Girl.
“I understand now,” said
the Harvester, his head against her knee while he
pressed her hand to his lips. “I see!
Your coming couldn’t be perfect without knowing
this first. Go on, dear heart, and slowly!
You owe me every word.”
“When I had it all absorbed,
I carried the paper to the library and said, ’Grandfather,
such a wonderful thing has happened. A man has
had a new idea, and he has done a unique work that
the whole world is going to recognize. He has
stood before men and made a speech that few, oh so
few, could make honestly, and he has advocated right
living, oh so nobly, and he has given a wonderful
gift to science without price, because through it
he first saved the life he loved best. Isn’t
that marvellous, grandfather?’ And he said,
’Very marvellous, Ruth. Won’t you
sit down and read to me about it?’ And I said,
’I can’t, dear grandfather, because I
have been away from grandmother all day, and she is
fretting for me, and to-night is a great ball, and
she has spent millions on my dress, I think, and there
is an especial reason why I must go, and so I have
to see her now; but I want to show you the man’s
face, and then you can read the story.’
“You see, I knew if I started
to read it he would stop me; but if I left him alone
with it he would be so curious he would finish.
So I turned your name under and held the paper and
said, ’What do you think of that face, grandfather?
Study it carefully,’ and, Man, only guess what
he said! He said, ‘I think it is the face
of one of nature’s noblemen.’ I just
kissed him time and again and then I said, ’So
it is grandfather, so it is; for it is the face of
the man who twice saved my life, and lifted my mother
from almost a pauper grave and laid her to rest in
state, and the man who found you, and sent me to you
when I was determined not to come.’ And
I just stood and kissed that paper before him and
cried, again and again, ’He is one of nature’s
noblemen, and he is my husband, my dear, dear husband
and to-morrow I am going home to him.’
Then I laid the paper on his lap and ran away.
I went to grandmother and did everything she wanted,
then I dressed for the ball. I went to say good-bye
to her and show my dress and grandfather was there,
and he followed me out and said, ‘Ruth, you didn’t
mean it?’ I said, ‘Did you read the paper,
grandfather?’ and he said ‘Yes’;
and I said, ’Then I should think you would know
I mean it, and glory in my wonderful luck. Think
of a man like that, grandfather!’
“I went to the ball, and I danced
and had a lovely time with every one, because I knew
it was going to be the very last, and to-morrow I must
start to you.
“On the way home I told Mr.
Kennedy what paper to get and to read it. I said
good-bye to him, and I really think he cared, but I
was too happy to be very sorry. When I reached
my room there was a packet for me and, Man, like David
of old, you are a wonderful poet! Oh Harvester!
why didn’t you send them to me instead of the
cold, hard things you wrote?”
“What do you mean, Ruth?”
“Those letters! Those wonderful
outpourings of love and passion and poetry and song
and broken-heartedness. Oh Man, how could you
write such things and throw them in the fire?
Granny Moreland found them when she came to bring
you a pie, and she carried them to Doctor Carey, and
he sent them to me, and, David, they finished me.
Everything came in a heap. I would have come
without them, but never, never with quite the understanding,
for as I read them the deeps opened up, and the flood
broke, and there did a warm tide go through all my
being, like you said it would; and now, David, I know
what you mean by love. I called the maids and
they packed my trunk and grandmother’s, and I
had grandfather’s valet pack his, and go and
secure berths and tickets, and learn about trains,
and I got everything ready, even to the ambulance
and doctor; but I waited until morning to tell them.
I knew they would not let me come alone, so I brought
them along. David, what in the world are we going
to do with them?”
The Harvester drew a deep breath and
looked at the flushed face of the Girl.
“With no time to mature a plan,
I would say that we are going to love them, care for
them, gradually teach them our work, and interest them
in our plans here; and so soon as they become reconciled
we will build them such a house as they want on the
hill facing us, just across Singing Water, and there
they may have every luxury they can provide for themselves,
or we can offer, and the pleasure of your presence,
and both of them can grow strong and happy. I’ll
have grandmother on her feet in ten days, and the
edge off grandfather’s tongue in three.
That bluster of his is to drown tears, Ruth; I saw
it to-night. And when they pass over we will
carry them up and lay them beside her under the oak,
and we can take the house we build for them, if you
like it better, and use this for a store-room.”
“Never!” said the Girl.
“Never! My sunshine room and gold garden
so long as I live. Never again will I leave them.
If this cabin grows too small, we will build all over
the hillside; but my room and garden and this and
the dining-room and your den there must remain as they
The Harvester arose and drew the davenport
before the fireplace, and heaped pillows. “You
are so tired you are trembling, and your voice is
quivering,” he said. He lifted the Girl,
laid her down and arranged the coverlet.
“Go to sleep!” he ordered
gently. “You have made me so wildly happy
that I could run and shout like a madman. Try
to rest, and maybe the fairies who aid me will put
my kiss back on your lips. I am going to the hill
top to tell mother and my God.”
He knelt and gathered her in his arms
a second, then called Belshazzar to guard, and went
into the sweet spring night, to jubilate with that
wild surge of passion that sweeps the heart of a strong
man when he is most nearly primal. He climbed
the hill at a rush, and standing beneath the oak on
the summit, he faced the lake, and stretching his arms
widely, he waved them, merely to satisfy the demand
for action. When urgency for expression came
upon him, he laughed a deep rumble of exultation.
The night wind swept the lake and
lifted his hair, the odour of spring was intoxicating
in his nostrils, small creatures of earth stirred
around him, here and there a bird, restless in the
delirium of mating fever, lifted its head and piped
a few notes on the moon-whitened air. The frogs
sang uninterruptedly at the water’s edge.
The Harvester stood rejoicing. Beating on his
brain came a rush of love words uttered in the Girl’s
dear voice. “I wanted you! Just you!
He is my husband! My dear, dear husband!
To-morrow I am going home! Now, David, I know
what you mean by love!” The Harvester laughed
again and sounds around him ceased for a second, then
swelled in fuller volume than before. He added
his voice. “Thank God! Oh, thank God!”
he cried. “And may the Author of the Universe,
the spirits of the little mothers who loved us, and
all the good fairies who guide us, unite to bring
unbounded joy to my Dream Girl and to guard her safely.”
The cocks of Medicine Woods began
their second salute to dawn. At this sound and
with the mention of her name, the Harvester turned
down the hill, and striding forcefully approached
the cabin. As he passed the Girl’s room
he stepped softly, smiling as he wondered if its unexpected
occupants were resting. He followed Singing Water,
and stood looking at the hillside, studying the exact
location most suitable for a home for the old people
he was so delighted to welcome. That they would
remain he never doubted. His faith in the call
of the wild had been verified in the Girl; it would
reach them also. The hill top would bind them.
Their love for the Girl would compel them. They
would be company for her and a new interest in life.
“Couldn’t be better, not
possibly!” commented the delighted Harvester.
He followed the path down Singing
Water until he reached the bridge where it turned
into the marsh. There he paused, looking straight
“Wonder if I would frighten
her?” he mused. “I believe I’ll
He walked on rapidly, vaulted the
fence enclosing his land, crossed the road, and unlatched
the gate. As he did so, the door opened, and Granny
Moreland stood on the sill, waiting with keen eyes.
“Well I don’t need neither
specs nor noonday sun to see that you’re steppin’
like the blue ribbon colt at the County Fair, and lookin’
like you owned Kingdom Come,” she said.
“What’s up, David?”
“You are right, dear,”
said the Harvester. “I have entered my kingdom.
The Girl has come and crowned me with her love.
She had decided to return, but the letters you sent
made her happier about it. I wanted you to know.”
Granny leaned against the casing,
and began to sob unrestrainedly.
The Harvester supported her tenderly.
“Why don’t do that, dear.
Don’t cry,” he begged. “The
Girl is home for always, Granny, and I’m so
happy I am out to-night trying to keep from losing
my mind with joy. She will come to you to-morrow,
Granny tremulously dried her eyes.
“What an old sap-head I am!”
she commented. “I stole your letters from
your fireplace, pitched a willer plate into the lake you
got to fish that out, come day, David fooled
you into that trip to Doc Carey to get him to mail
them to Ruth, and never turned a hair. But after
I got home I commenced thinkin’ ’twas
a pretty ticklish job to stick your nose into other
people’s business, an’ every hour it got
worse, until I ain’t had a fairly decent sleep
since. If you hadn’t come soon, boy, I’d
‘a’ been sick a-bed. Oh, David!
Are you sure she’s over there, and loves you
to suit you now?”
“Yes dear, I am absolutely certain,”
said the Harvester. “She was so determined
to come that she brought the invalid grandmother she
couldn’t leave and her grandfather. They
arrived at midnight. We are all going to live
“Well bless my stars! Fetched
you a family! David, I do hope to all that’s
peaceful I hain’t put my foot in it. The
moon is the deceivingest thing on earth I know, but
does her family ’pear to be an a-gré’-able
family, by its light?”
The Harvester’s laugh boomed a half mile down
“Finest people on earth, next
to you, dear. I’m mighty glad to have them.
I’m going to build them a house on my best location,
and we are all going to be happy from now on.
Go to bed! This night air may chill you.
I can’t sleep. I wanted you to know first so
I came over. In mother’s stead, will you
kiss me, and wish me happiness, dear friend?”
Granny Moreland laid an eager, withered
hand on each shoulder, and bent to the radiant young
“God bless you, lad, and grant
you as great happiness as life ort to fetch every
clean, honest man,” she prayed fervently, with
closed eyes and her lined old face turned skyward.
“And, O God, bless Ruth, and help her as You
never helped mortal woman before to know her own mind
without ‘variableness, neither shadow of turnin’.’”
The Harvester was on Singing Water
bridge before he gave way. There he laughed as
never before in his life. Finally he controlled
himself and started toward the cabin; but he was chuckling
as he passed the driveway, and walked down the broad
cement floor leading to his bathing pool, where the
moonlight bridged the lake, and fell as a benediction
all around him.
He stood a long time, when he recognized
the familiar crash of a breaking backlog falling together,
and heard the customary leap of the frightened dog.
He walked to his door and listened intently, but there
was no sound; so he decided the Girl had not been awakened.
In the midst of a whitening sheet of gold the Harvester
dropped to his stoop and leaned his head against the
broad casing. He broke a twig from a hawthorn
bush beside him, and sat twisting it in his fingers
as he stared down the line of the gold bridge.
Never had it seemed so material, so like a path that
might be trodden by mortal feet and lead them straight
to Heaven. As on the hill top, night again surrounded
him and the Harvester’s soul drank deep wild
draughts of a new joy. Sleep was out of the question.
He was too intensely alive to know that he ever again
could be weary. He sat there in the moonlight,
and with unbridled heart gloried in the joy that had
come to him.
He turned his face from the bridge
as he heard the click of Belshazzar’s nails
on the floor of the bathing pool. Then his heart
and breath stopped an instant. Beside the dog
walked the Girl, one hand on his head the other holding
the flowing white robe around her and grasping one
of the Harvester’s lilies. His first thought
was sheer amazement that she was not afraid, for it
was evident now that the backlog had awakened her,
and she had taken the dog and gone to her mother.
Then she had followed the path leading down the hill,
around the cabin, and into the sheet of moonlight
gilding the shore. She stood there gazing over
the lake, oblivious to all things save the entrancing
allurement of a perfect spring night beside undulant
water. Screened from her with bushes and trees
the Harvester scarcely breathed lest he startle her.
Then his head swam, and his still heart leaped wildly.
She was coming toward him. On her left lay the
path to the hill top. A few steps farther she
could turn to the right and follow the driveway to
the front of the cabin. He leaned forward watching
in an agony of suspense. Her beautiful face was
transfigured with joy, aflame with love, radiant with
smiles, and her tall figure fleecy white, rimmed in
gold. Up the shining path of light she steadily
advanced toward his door. Then the Harvester
understood, and from his exultant heart burst the wordless
“Lord god almighty, help
me to be A man!”
With outstretched arms he arose to meet her.
“My Dream Girl!” he cried hoarsely.
“My Dream Girl!”
“Coming, Harvester!” she
answered in tones of joy, as she dropped the white
flower and lifted her hands to draw his face toward
“Is that the kiss you wanted?” she questioned.
“Yes, Ruth,” breathed the Harvester.
“Then I am ready to be your
wife,” she said. “May I share all
the remainder of life’s joys and sorrows with
The Harvester gathered her in his
arms and carried her to the bench on the lake shore.
He wrapped the white robe around her and clasped her
tenderly as behooved a lover, yet with arms that she
knew could have crushed her had they willed.
The minutes slipped away, and still he held her to
his heart, the reality far surpassing his dream; for
he knew that he was awake, and he realized this as
the supreme hour that comes to the strongman who knows
his love requited.
When the first banner of red light
arose above Medicine Woods and Singing Water the cocks
on the hillside announced the dawn. As the gold
faded to gray, a burst of bubbling notes swelled from
a branch almost over their heads where stood a bark-enclosed
“Ruth, do you hear that?” asked the Harvester
“Yes,” she answered, “and
I see it. A wonderful bird, with Heaven’s
deepest blue on its back and a breast like a russet
autumn leaf, came straight up the lake from the south,
and before it touched the limb that song seemed to
gush from its throat.”
“And for that reason, the greatest
nature lover who ever lived says that it ‘deserves
preeminence.’ It always settles from its
long voyage through the air in an ecstasy of melody.
Do you know what it is, Ruth?”
The Girl laid a hand on his cheek
and turned his eyes from the bird to her face as she
answered, “Yes, Harvester-man, I know. It
is your first bluebird but it is
far too late, and Belshazzar has lost high office.
I have usurped both their positions. You remain
in the woods and reap their harvest, you enter the
laboratory and make wonderful, life-giving medicines,
you face the world and tell men of the high and holy
life they may live if they will, and then always
and forever, you come back to Medicine Woods and to