BELSHAZZAR'S RECORD POINT
The Harvester set the neglected cabin in order; then he carefully and deftly
packed all his dried herbs, barks, and roots. Next came carrying the couch
grass, wild alum, and soapwort into the store-room. Then followed July herbs. He
first went to his beds of foxglove, because the tender leaves of the second year
should be stripped from them at flowering time, and that usually began two weeks
earlier; but his bed lay in a shaded, damp location and the tall bloom stalks
were only in half flower, their pale lavender making an exquisite picture. It
paid to collect those leaves, so the Harvester hastily stripped the amount he
Yarrow was beginning to bloom and he gathered as much as he required, taking
the whole plant. That only brought a few cents a pound, but it was used entire,
so the weight made it worth while.
Catnip tops and leaves were also ready. As it grew in the open in dry soil
and the beds had been weeded that spring, he could gather great arm loads of it
with a sickle, but he had to watch the swarming bees. He left the male fern and
mullein until the last for different reasons.
On the damp, cool, rocky hillside, beneath deep shade of big forest trees,
grew the ferns, their long, graceful fronds waving softly. Tree toads sang on
the cool rocks beneath them, chewinks nested under gnarled roots among them,
rose-breasted grosbeaks sang in grape-vines clambering over the thickets, and
Singing Water ran close beside. So the Harvester left digging these roots until
nearly the last, because he so disliked to disturb the bed. He could not have
done it if he had not been forced. All of the demand for his fern never could be
supplied. Of his products none was more important to the Harvester because this
formed the basis of one of the oldest and most reliable remedies for little
children. The fern had to be gathered with especial care, deteriorated quickly,
and no staple was more subject to adulteration.
So he kept his bed intact, lifted the roots at the proper time, carefully
cleaned without washing, rapidly dried in currents of hot air, and shipped them
in bottles to the trade. He charged and received fifteen cents a pound, where
careless and indifferent workers got ten.
On the banks of Singing Water, at the head of the fern bed, the Harvester
stood under a gray beech tree and looked down the swaying length of delicate
green. He was lean and rapidly bronzing, for he seldom remembered a head
covering because he loved the sweep of the wind in his hair.
"I hate to touch you," he said. "How I wish she could see you before I begin.
If she did, probably she would say it was a sin, and then I never could muster
courage to do it at all. I'd give a small farm to know if those violets revived
for her. I was crazy to ask Doc if they were wilted, but I hated to. If they
were from the ones I gathered that morning they should have been all right."
A tree toad dared him to come on; a chipmunk grew saucy as the Harvester bent
to an unloved task. If he stripped the bed as closely as he dared and not injure
it, he could not fill half his orders; so, deftly and with swift, skilful
fingers and an earnest face, he worked. Belshazzar came down the hill on a rush,
nose to earth and began hunting among the plants. He never could understand why
his loved master was so careless as to go to work before he had pronounced it
safe. When the fern bed was finished, the Harvester took time to make a trip to
town, but there was no word waiting him; so he went to the mullein. It lay on a
sunny hillside beyond the couch grass and joined a few small fields, the only
cleared land of the six hundred acres of Medicine Woods. Over rocks and little
hills and hollows spread the pale, grayish-yellow of the green leaves, and from
five to seven feet arose the flower stems, while the entire earth between was
covered with rosettes of young plants. Belshazzar went before to give warning if
any big rattlers curled in the sun on the hillside, and after him followed the
Harvester cutting leaves in heaps. That was warm work and he covered his head
with a floppy old straw hat, with wet grass in the crown, and stopped
occasionally to rest.
He loved that yellow-faced hillside. Because so much of his reaping lay in
the shade and commonly his feet sank in dead leaves and damp earth, the change
was a rest. He cheerfully stubbed his toes on rocks, and endured the heat
without complaint. It appeared to him as if a member of every species of
butterfly he knew wavered down the hillside. There were golden-brown danais,
with their black-striped wings, jetty troilus with an attempt at trailers, big
asterias, velvety black with longer trails and wide bands of yellow dots. Coenia
were most numerous of all and to the Harvester wonderfully attractive in rich,
subdued colours with a wealth of markings and eye spots. Many small moths, with
transparent wings and noses red as blood, flashed past him hunting pollen.
Goldfinches, intent on thistle bloom, wavered through the air trailing mellow,
happy notes behind them, and often a humming-bird visited the mullein. On the
lake wild life splashed and chattered incessantly, and sometimes the Harvester
paused and stood with arms heaped with leaves, to interpret some unusually
appealing note of pain or anger or some very attractive melody. The red-wings
were swarming, the killdeers busy, and he thought of the Dream Girl and smiled.
"I wonder if she would like this," he mused.
When the mullein leaves were deep on the trays of the dry-house he began on
the bloom and that was a task he loved. Just to lay off the beds in swaths and
follow them, deftly picking the stamens and yellow petals from the blooms. These
he would dry speedily in hot air, bottle, and send at once to big laboratories.
The listed price was seventy-five cents a pound, but the beautiful golden
bottles of the Harvester always brought more. The work was worth while, and he
liked the location and gathering of this particular crop: for these reasons he
always left it until the last, and then revelled in the gold of sunshine, bird,
butterfly, and flower. Several days were required to harvest the mullein and
during the time the man worked with nimble fingers, while his brain was
intensely occupied with the question of what to do next in his search for the
When the work was finished, he went to the deep wood to take a peep at acres
of thrifty ginseng, and he was satisfied as he surveyed the big bed. Long years
he had laboured diligently; soon came the reward. He had not realized it before,
but as he studied the situation he saw that he either must begin this harvest at
once or employ help. If he waited until September he could not gather one third
of the crop alone.
"But the roots will weigh less if I take them now," he argued, "and I can
work at nothing in comfort until I have located her. I will go on with my search
and allow the ginseng to grow that much heavier. What a picture! It is folly to
disturb this now, for I will lose the seed of every plant I dig, and that is
worth almost as much as the root. It is a question whether I want to furnish the
market with seed, and so raise competition for my bed. I think, be jabbers, that
I'll wait for this harvest until the seed is ripe, and then bury part of a head
where I dig a root, as the Indians did. That's the idea! The more I grow, the
more money; and I may need considerable for her. One thing I'd like to know: Are
these plants cultivated? All the books quote the wild at highest rates and all
I've ever sold was wild. The start grew here naturally. What I added from the
surrounding country was wild, but through and among it I've sown seed I bought,
and I've tended it with every care. But this is deep wood and wild conditions. I
think I have a perfect right to so label it. I'll ask Doc. And another thing
I'll go through the woods west of Onabasha where I used to find ginseng, and see
if I can get a little and then take the same amount of plants grown here, and
make a test. That way I can discover any difference before I go to market. This
is my gold mine, and that point is mighty important to me, so I'll go this very
day. I used to find it in the woods northeast of town and on the land Jameson
bought, west. Wonder if he lives there yet. He should have died of pure meanness
long ago. I'll drive to the river and hunt along the bank."
Early the following morning the Harvester went to Onabasha and stopped at the
hospital for news. Finding none, he went through town and several miles into the
country on the other side, to a piece of lowland lying along the river bank,
where he once had found and carried home to reset a big bed of ginseng. If he
could get only a half pound of roots from there now, they would serve his
purpose. He went down the bank, Belshazzar at his heels, and at last found the
place. Many trees had been cut, but there remained enough for shade; the fields
bore the ragged, unattractive appearance of old. The Harvester smiled grimly as
he remembered that the man who lived there once had charged him for damage he
might do to trees in driving across his woods, and boasted to his neighbours
that a young fool was paying for the privilege of doing his grubbing. If Jameson
had known what the roots he was so anxious to dispose of brought a pound on the
market at that time, he would have been insane with anger. So the Harvester's
eyes were dancing with fun and a wry grin twisted his lips as he clambered over
the banks of the recently dredged river, and looked at its pitiful condition and
straight, muddy flow.
"Appears to match the remainder of the Jameson property," he said. "I don't
know who he is or where he came from, but he's no farmer. Perhaps he uses this
land to corral the stock he buys until he can sell it again."
He went down the embankment and began to search for the location where he
formerly had found the ginseng. When he came to the place he stood amazed, for
from seed, roots, and plants he had missed, the growth had sprung up and spread,
so that at a rapid estimate the Harvester thought it contained at least five
pounds, allowing for what it would shrink on account of being gathered early. He
hesitated an instant, and thought of coming later; but the drive was long and
the loss would not amount to enough to pay for a second trip. About taking it,
he never thought at all. He once had permission from the owner to dig all the
shrubs, bushes, and weeds he desired from that stretch of woods, and had paid
for possible damages that might occur. As he bent to the task there did come a
fleeting thought that the patch was weedless and in unusual shape for wild
stuff. Then, with swift strokes of his light mattock, he lifted the roots,
crammed them into his sack, whistled to Belshazzar, and going back to the wagon,
drove away. Reaching home he washed the ginseng, and spread it on a tray to dry.
The first time he wanted the mattock he realized that he had left it lying where
he had worked. It was an implement that he had directed a blacksmith to fashion
to meet his requirements. No store contained anything half so useful to him. He
had worked with it for years and it just suited him, so there was nothing to do
but go back. Betsy was too tired to return that day, so he planned to dig his
ginseng with something else, finish his work the following morning, and get the
mattock in the afternoon.
"It's like a knife you've carried for years, or a gun," muttered the
Harvester. "I actually don't know how to get along without it. What made me so
careless I can't imagine. I never before in my life did a trick like that. I
wonder if I hurried a little. I certainly was free to take it. He always wanted
the stuff dug up. Of all the stupid tricks, Belshazzar, that was the worst. Now
Betsy and a half day of wasted time must pay for my carelessness. Since I have
to go, I'll look a little farther. Maybe there is more. Those woods used to be
full of it."
According to this programme, the next afternoon the Harvester again walked
down the embankment of the mourning river and through the ragged woods to the
place where the ginseng had been. He went forward, stepping lightly, as men of
his race had walked the forest for ages, swerving to avoid boughs, and looking
straight ahead. Contrary to his usual custom of coming to heel in a strange
wood, Belshazzar suddenly darted around the man and took the path they had
followed the previous day. The animal was performing his office in life; he had
heard or scented something unusual. The Harvester knew what that meant. He
looked inquiringly at the dog, glanced around, and then at the earth. Belshazzar
proceeded noiselessly at a rapid pace over the leaves: Suddenly the master saw
the dog stop in a stiff point. Lifting his feet lightly and straining his eyes
before him, the Harvester passed a spice thicket and came in line.
For one second he stood as rigid as Belshazzar. The next his right arm shot
upward full length, and began describing circles, his open palm heavenward, and
into his face leapt a glorified expression of exultation. Face down in the
rifled ginseng bed lay a sobbing girl. Her frame was long and slender, a thick
coil of dark hair; bound her head. A second more and the Harvester bent and
softly patted Belshazzar's head. The beast broke point and looked up. The man
caught the dog's chin in a caressing grip, again touched his head, moved
soundless lips, and waved toward the prostrate figure. The dog hesitated. The
Harvester made the same motions. Belshazzar softly stepped over the leaves,
passed around the feet of the girl, and paused beside her, nose to earth, softly
In one moment she came swiftly to a sitting posture.
"Oh!" she cried in a spasm of fright.
Belshazzar reached an investigating nose and wagged an eager tail.
"Why you are a nice friendly dog!" said the trembling voice.
He immediately verified the assertion by offering his nose for a kiss. The
girl timidly laid a hand on his head.
"Heaven knows I'm lonely enough to kiss a dog," she said, "but suppose you
belong to the man who stole my ginseng, and then ran away so fast he forgot
his——his piece he digged with."
Belshazzar pressed closer.
"I am just killed, and I don't care whose dog you are," sobbed the girl.
She threw her arms around Belshazzar's neck and laid her white face against
his satiny shoulder. The Harvester could endure no more. He took a step forward,
his face convulsed with pain.
"Please don't!" he begged. "I took your ginseng. I'll bring it back
to-morrow. There wasn't more than twenty-five or thirty dollars' worth. It
doesn't amount to one tear."
The girl arose so quickly, the Harvester could not see how she did it. With a
startled fright on her face, and the dark eyes swimming, she turned to him in
one long look. Words rolled from the lips of the man in a jumble. Behind the
tears there was a dull, expressionless blue in the girl's eyes and her face was
so white that it appeared blank. He began talking before she could speak, in an
effort to secure forgiveness without condemnation.
"You see, I grow it for a living on land I own, and I've always gathered all
there was in the country and no one cared. There never was enough in one place
to pay, and no other man wanted to spend the time, and so I've always felt free
to take it. Every one knew I did, and no one ever objected before. Once I paid
Henry Jameson for the privilege of cleaning it from these woods. That was six or
seven years ago, and it didn't occur to me that I wasn't at liberty to dig what
has grown since. I'll bring it back at once, and pay you for the shrinkage from
gathering it too early. There won't be much over six pounds when it's dry.
Please, please don't feel badly. Won't you trust me to return it, and make good
the damage I've done?"
The face of the Harvester was eager and his tones appealing, as he leaned
forward trying to make her understand.
"Certainly!" said the Girl as she bent to pat the dog, while she dried her
eyes under cover of the movement. "Certainly! It can make no difference!"
But as the Harvester drew a deep breath of relief, she suddenly straightened
to full height and looked straight at him.
"Oh what is the use to tell a pitiful lie!" she cried. "It does make a
difference! It makes all the difference in the world! I need that money! I need
it unspeakably. I owe a debt I must pay. What——what did I understand you to say
ginseng is worth?"
"If you will take a few steps," said the Harvester, "and make yourself
comfortable on this log in the shade, I will tell you all I know about it."
The girl walked swiftly to the log indicated, seated herself, and waited. The
Harvester followed to a respectful distance.
"I can't tell to an ounce what wet roots would weigh," he said as easily as
he could command his voice to speak with the heart in him beating wildly, "and
of course they lose greatly in drying; but I've handled enough that I know the
weight I carried home will come to six pounds at the very least. Then you must
figure on some loss, because I dug this before it really was ready. It does not
reach full growth until September, and if it is taken too soon there is a
decrease in weight. I will make that up to you when I return it."
The troubled eyes were gazing on his face intently, and the Harvester studied
them as he talked.
"You would think, then, there would be all of six pounds?
"Yes," said the Harvester, "closer eight. When I replace the shrinkage there
is bound to be over seven."
"And how much did I understand you to say it brought a pound?"
"That all depends," answered he. "If you cure it yourself, and dry it too
much, you lose in weight. If you carry it in a small lot to the druggists of
Onabasha, probably you will not get over five dollars for it."
It was a startled cry.
"How much did you expect?" asked the Harvester gently.
"Uncle Henry said he thought he could get fifty cents a pound for all I could
"If your Uncle Henry has learned at last that ginseng is a salable article he
should know something about the price also. Will you tell me what he said, and
how you came to think of gathering roots for the market?"
"There were men talking beneath the trees one Sunday afternoon about old
times and hunting deer, and they spoke of people who made money long ago
gathering roots and barks, and they mentioned one man who lived by it yet."
"Was his name Langston?"
"Yes, I remember because I liked the name. I was so eager to earn something,
and I can't leave here just now because Aunt Molly is very ill, so the thought
came that possibly I could gather stuff worth money, after my work was finished.
I went out and asked questions. They said nothing brought enough to make it pay
any one, except this ginseng plant, and the Langston man almost had stripped the
country. Then uncle said he used to get stuff here, and he might have got some
of that. I asked what it was like, so they told me and I hunted until I found
that, and it seemed a quantity to me. Of course I didn't know it had to be
dried. Uncle took a root I dug to a store, and they told him that it wasn't much
used any more, but they would give him fifty cents a pound for it. What MAKES
you think you can get five dollars?"
"With your permission," said the Harvester.
He seated himself on the log, drew from his pocket an old pamphlet, and
spreading it before her, ran a pencil along the line of a list of schedule
prices for common drug roots and herbs. Because he understood, his eyes were
very bright, and his voice a trifle crisp. A latent anger springing in his
breast was a good curb for his emotions. He was closely acquainted with all of
the druggists of Onabasha, and he knew that not one of them had offered less
than standard prices for ginseng.
"The reason I think so," he said gently, "is because growing it is the
largest part of my occupation, and it was a staple with my father before me. I
am David Langston, of whom you heard those men speak. Since I was a very small
boy I have lived by collecting herbs and roots, and I get more for ginseng than
anything else. Very early I tired of hunting other people's woods for herbs, so
I began transplanting them to my own. I moved that bed out there seven years
ago. What you found has grown since from roots I overlooked and seeds that fell
at that time. Now do you think I am enough of an authority to trust my word on
There was not a change of expression on her white face.
"You surely should know," she said wearily, "and you could have no possible
object in deceiving me. Please go on."
"Any country boy or girl can find ginseng, gather, wash, and dry it, and get
five dollars a pound. I can return yours to-morrow and you can cure and take it
to a druggist I will name you, and sell for that. But if you will allow me to
make a suggestion, you can get more. Your roots are now on the trays of an
evaporating house. They will dry to the proper degree desired by the trade, so
that they will not lose an extra ounce in weight, and if I send them with my
stuff to big wholesale houses I deal with, they will be graded with the finest
wild ginseng. It is worth more than the cultivated and you will get closer eight
dollars a pound for it than five. There is some speculation in it, and the
market fluctuates: but, as a rule, I sell for the highest price the drug brings,
and, at times when the season is very dry, I set my own prices. Shall I return
yours or may I cure and sell it, and bring you the money?"
"How much trouble would that make you?"
"None. The work of digging and washing is already finished. All that remains
is to weigh it and make a memorandum of the amount when I sell. I should very
much like to do it. It would be a comfort to see the money go into your hands.
If you are afraid to trust me, I will give you the names of several people you
can ask concerning me the next time you go to the city."
She looked at him steadily.
"Never mind that," she said. "But why do you offer to do it for a stranger?
It must be some trouble, no matter how small you represent it to be."
"Perhaps I am going to pay you eight and sell for ten."
"I don't think you can. Five sounds fabulous to me. I can't believe that. If
you wanted to make money you needn't have told me you took it. I never would
have known. That isn't your reason!"
"Possibly I would like to atone for those tears I caused," said the
"Don't think of that! They are of no consequence to any one. You needn't do
anything for me on that account."
"Don't search for a reason," said the Harvester, in his gentlest tones.
"Forget that feature of the case. Say I'm peculiar, and allow me to do it
because it would be a pleasure. In close two weeks I will bring you the money.
Is it a bargain?"
"Yes, if you care to make it."
"I care very much. We will call that settled."
"I wish I could tell you what it will mean to me," said the Girl.
"If you only would," plead the Harvester.
"I must not burden a stranger with my troubles."
"But if it would make the stranger so happy!"
"That isn't possible. I must face life and bear what it brings me alone."
"Not unless you choose," said the Harvester. "That is, if you will pardon me,
a narrow view of life. It cuts other people out of the joy of service. If you
can't tell me, would you trust a very lovely and gentle woman I could bring to
"No more than you. It is my affair; I must work it out myself."
"I am mighty sorry," said the Harvester. "I believe you err in that decision.
Think it over a day or so, and see if two heads are not better than one. You
will realize when this ginseng matter is settled that you profited by trusting
me. The same will hold good along other lines, if you only can bring yourself to
think so. At any rate, try. Telling a trouble makes it lighter. Sympathy should
help, if nothing can be done. And as for money, I can show you how to earn sums
at least worth your time, if you have nothing else you want to do."
The Girl bent toward him.
"Oh please do tell me!" she cried eagerly. "I've tried and tried to find some
way ever since I have been here, but every one else I have met says I can't, and
nothing seems to be worth anything. If you only would tell me something I could
"If you will excuse my saying so," said the Harvester, "it appeals to me that
ease, not work, is the thing you require. You appear extremely worn. Won't you
let me help you find a way to a long rest first?"
"Impossible!" cried the Girl. "I know I am white and appear ill, but truly I
never have been sick in all my life. I have been having trouble and working too
much, but I'll be better soon. Believe me, there is no rest for me now. I must
earn the money I owe first."
"There is a way, if you care to take it," said the Harvester. "In my work I
have become very well acquainted with the chief surgeon of the city hospital.
Through him I happen to know that he has a free bed in a beautiful room, where
you could rest until you are perfectly strong again, and that room is empty just
now. When you are well, I will tell you about the work."
As she arose the Harvester stood, and tall and straight she faced him.
"Impossible!" she said. "It would be brutal to leave my aunt. I cannot pay to
rest in a hospital ward, and I will not accept charity. If you can put me in the
way of earning, even a few cents a day, at anything I could do outside the work
necessary to earn my board here, it would bring me closer to happiness than
anything else on earth."
"What I suggest is not impossible," said the Harvester softly. "If you will
go, inside an hour a sweet and gentle lady will come for you and take you to
ease and perfect rest until you are strong again. I will see that your aunt is
cared for scrupulously. I can't help urging you. It is a crime to talk of work
to a woman so manifestly worn as you are."
"Then we will not speak of it," said the Girl wearily. "It is time for me to
go, anyway. I see you mean to be very kind, and while I don't in the least
understand it, I do hope you feel I am grateful. If half you say about the
ginseng comes true, I can make a payment worth while before I had hoped to. I
have no words to tell you what that will mean to me."
"If this debt you speak of were paid, could you rest then?"
"I could lie down and give up in peace, and I think I would."
"I think you wouldn't," said the Harvester, "because you wouldn't be allowed.
There are people in these days who make a business of securing rest for the
tired and over weary, and they would come and prevent that if you tried it.
Please let me make another suggestion. If you owe money to some one you feel
needs it and the debt is preying on you, let's pay it."
He drew a small check-book from his pocket and slipped a pen from a band.
"If you will name the amount and give me the address, you shall be free to go
to the rest I ask for you inside an hour."
Then slowly from head to foot she looked at him.
"Because your face and attitude clearly indicate that you are over tired.
Believe me, you do yourself wrong if you refuse."
"In what way would changing creditors rest me?"
"I thought perhaps you were owing some one who needed the money. I am not a
rich man, but I have no one save myself to provide for and I have funds lying
idle that I would be glad to use for you. If you make a point of it, when you
are rested, you can repay me."
"My creditor needs the money, but I should prefer owing him rather than a
perfect stranger. What you suggest would help me not at all. I must go now."
"Very well," said the Harvester. "If you will tell me whom to ask for and
where you live, I will come to see you to-morrow and bring you some pamphlets.
With these and with a little help you soon can earn any amount a girl is likely
to owe. It will require but a little while. Where can I find you?"
The Girl hesitated and for the first time a hint of colour flushed her cheek.
But courage appeared to be her strong point.
"Do you live in this part of the country?" she asked.
"I live ten miles from here, east of Onabasha," he answered.
"Do you know Henry Jameson?"
"By sight and by reputation."
"Did you ever know anything kind or humane of him?"
"I never did."
"My name is Ruth Jameson. At present I am indebted to him for the only
shelter I have. His wife is ill through overwork and worry, and I am paying for
my bed and what I don't eat, principally, by attempting her work. It scarcely
would be fair to Uncle Henry to say that I do it. I stagger around as long as I
can stand, then I sit through his abuse. He is a pleasant man. Please don't
think I am telling you this to harrow your sympathy further. The reason I
explain is because I am driven. If I do not, you will misjudge me when I say
that I only can see you here. I understood what you meant when you said Uncle
Henry should have known the price of ginseng if he knew it was for sale. He did.
He knew what he could get for it, and what he meant to pay me. That is one of
his original methods with a woman. If he thought I could earn anything worth
while, he would allow me, if I killed myself doing it; and then he would take
the money by force if necessary. So I can meet you here only. I can earn just
what I may in secret. He buys cattle and horses and is away from home much of
the day, and when Aunt Molly is comfortable I can have a few hours."
"I understand," said the Harvester. "But this is an added hardship. Why do
you remain? Why subject yourself to force and work too heavy for you?"
"Because his is the only roof on earth where I feel I can pay for all I get.
I don't care to discuss it, I only want you to say you understand, if I ask you
to bring the pamphlets here and tell me how I can earn money."
"I do," said the Harvester earnestly, although his heart was hot in protest.
"You may be very sure that I will not misjudge you. Shall I come at two o'clock
to-morrow, Miss Jameson?"
"If you will be so kind."
The Harvester stepped aside and she passed him and crossing the rifled
ginseng patch went toward a low brown farmhouse lying in an unkept garden,
beside a ragged highway. The man sat on the log she had vacated, held his head
between his hands and tried to think, but he could not for big waves of joy that
swept over him when he realized that at last he had found her, had spoken with
her, and had arranged a meeting for the morrow.
"Belshazzar," he said softly, "I wish I could leave you to protect her. Every
day you prove to me that I need you, but Heaven knows her necessity is greater.
Bel, she makes my heart ache until it feels like jelly. There seems to be just
one thing to do. Get that fool debt paid like lightning, and lift her out of
here quicker than that. Now, we will go and see Doc, and call off the watch-dogs
of the law. Ahead of them, aren't we, Belshazzar? There is a better day coming;
we feel it in our bones, don't we, old partner?"
The Harvester started through the woods on a rush, and as the exercise warmed
his heart, he grew wonderfully glad. At last he had found her. Uncertainty was
over. If ever a girl needed a home and care he thought she did. He was so
jubilant that he felt like crying aloud, shouting for joy, but by and by the
years of sober repression made their weight felt, so he climbed into the wagon
and politely requested Betsy to make her best time to Onabasha. Betsy had been
asked to make haste so frequently of late that she at first almost doubted the
sanity of her master, the law of whose life, until recently, had been to take
his time. Now he appeared to be in haste every day. She had become so accustomed
to being urged to hurry that she almost had developed a gait; so at the
Harvester's suggestion she did her level best to Onabasha and the hospital,
where she loved to nose Belshazzar and rest near the watering tap under a big
The Harvester went down the hall and into the office on the run, and his face
appeared like a materialized embodiment of living joy. Doctor Carey turned at
his approach and then bounded half way across the room, his hands outstretched.
"You've found her, David!"
The Harvester grabbed the hand of his friend and stood pumping it up and down
while he gulped at the lump in his throat, and big tears squeezed from his eyes,
but he could only nod his proud head.
"Found her!" exulted Doctor Carey. "Really found her! Well that's great! Sit
down and tell me, boy! Is she sick, as we feared? Did you only see her or did
you get to talk with her?"
"Well sir," said the Harvester, choking back his emotions, "you remember that
ginseng I told you about getting on the old Jameson place last night. To-day, I
learned I'd lost that hand-made mattock I use most, and I went back for it, and
there she was."
"In the country?"
"Well why didn't we think of it before?"
"I suppose first we would have had to satisfy ourselves that she wasn't in
"Sure! That would be the logical way to go at it! And so you found her?"
"Yes sir, I found her! Just Belshazzar and I! I was going along on my way to
the place, and he ran past me and made a stiff point, and when I came up, there
"There she was?"
"Yes sir; there she was!"
They shook hands again.
"Then of course you spoke to her."
"Yes I spoke to her."
"Were you pleased?"
"With her speech and manner?——yes. But, Doc, if ever a woman needed
everything on earth!"
"Well did you get any kind of a start made?"
"I couldn't do so very much. I had to go a little slow for fear of
frightening her, but I tried to get her to come here and she won't until a debt
she owes is paid, and she's in no condition to work."
"Got any idea how much it is?"
"No, but it can't be any large sum. I tried to offer to pay it, but she had
no hesitation in telling me she preferred owing a man she knew to a stranger."
"Well if she is so particular, how did she come to tell you first thing that
she was in debt?"
The Harvester explained.
"Oh I see!" said the doctor. "Well you'll have to baby her along with the
idea that she is earning money and pay her double until you get that off her
mind, and while you are at it, put in your best licks, my boy; perk right up and
court her like a house afire. Women like it. All of them do. They glory in
feeling that a man is crazy about them."
"Well I'm insane enough over her," said the Harvester, "but I'd hate like the
nation for her to know it. Seems as if a woman couldn't respect such an
addle-pate as I am lately."
"Don't you worry about that," advised the doctor. "Just you make love to her.
Go at it in the good old-fashioned way."
"But maybe the 'good old-fashioned way' isn't my way."
"What's the difference whose way it is, if it wins?"
"But Kipling says: 'Each man makes love his own way!'"
"I seem to have heard you mention that name be fore," said the doctor. "Do
you regard him as an authority?"
"I do!" said the Harvester. "Especially when he advises me after my own heart
and reason. Miss Jameson is not a silly girl. She's a woman, and twenty-four at
least. I don't want her to care for a trick or a pretence. I do want her to love
me. Not that I am worth her attention, but because she needs some strong man
fearfully, and I am ready and more 'willing' than the original Barkis. But, like
him, I have to let her know it in my way, and court her according to the
promptings of my heart."
"You deceive yourself!" said the doctor flatly. "That's all bosh! Your tongue
says it for the satisfaction of your ears, and it does sound well. You will
court her according to your ideas of the conventions, as you understand them,
and strictly in accordance with what you consider the respect due her. If you
had followed the thing you call the 'promptings of your heart,' you would have
picked her up by main force and brought her to my best ward, instead of merely
suggesting it and giving up when she said no. If you had followed your heart,
you would have choked the name and amount out of her and paid that devilish
debt. You walk away in a case like that, and then have the nerve to come here
and prate to me about following your heart. I'll wager my last dollar your heart
is sore because you were not allowed to help her; but on the proposition that
you followed its promptings I wouldn't stake a penny. That's all tommy-rot!"
"It is," agreed the Harvester. "Utter! But what can a man do?"
"I don't know what you can do! I'd have paid that debt and brought her to the
"I'll go and ask Mrs. Carey about your courtship. I want her help on this,
anyway. I can pick up Miss Jameson and bring her here if any man can, but she is
nursing a sick woman who depends solely on her for care. She is above average
size, and she has a very decided mind of her own. I don't think you would use
force and do what you think best for her, if you were in my place. You would
wait until you understood the situation better, and knew that what you did was
for the best, ultimately."
"I don't know whether I would or not. One thing is sure: I'm mighty glad you
have found her. May I tell my wife?"
"Please do! And ask her if I may depend on her if I need a woman's help. Now
I'll call off the valiant police and go home and take a good, sound sleep.
Haven't had many since I first saw her."
So Betsy trotted down the valley, up the embankment, crossed the railroad,
over the levee across Singing Water, and up the hill to the cabin. As they
passed it, the Harvester jumped from the wagon, tossed the hitching strap to
Belshazzar, and entered. He walked straight to her door, unlocked it, and
uncovering, went inside. Softly he passed from piece to piece of the furniture
he had made for her, and then surveyed the walls and floor.
"It isn't half good enough," he said, "but it will have to answer until I can
do better. Surely she will know I tried and care for that, anyway. I wonder how
long it will take me to get her here. Oh, if I only could know she was
comfortable and happy! Happy! She doesn't appear as if she ever had heard that
word. Well this will be a good place to teach her. I've always enjoyed myself
here. I'm going to have faith that I can win her and make her happy also. When I
go to the stable to do my work for the night if I could know she was in this
cabin and glad of it, and if I could hear her down here singing like a happy
care-free girl, I'd scarcely be able to endure the joy of it."