The Harvester
Gene Stratton Porter

Part 3 out of 10

for the first time in many days he sat long over a candlestick,
and took a farewell peep into her room before he
went to bed.

The next day he worked with all his might harvesting
the last remnants of early spring herbs, in the dry-room
and store-house, and on furniture and candlesticks.

Then he went back to flower gathering and every day
offered bunches of exquisite wood and field flowers and
white and gold water lilies from door to door.

Three weeks later the Harvester, perceptibly thin,
pale, and worried entered the office. He sank into a
chair and groaned wearily.

``Isn't this the bitterest luck!'' he cried. ``I've
finished the town. I've almost walked off my legs. I've
sold flowers by the million, but I've not had a sight of

``It's been almost a tragedy with me,'' said the doctor
gloomily. ``I've killed two dogs and grazed a baby,
because I was watching the sidewalks instead of the
street. What are you going to do now?''

``I am going home and bring up the work to the July
mark. I am going to take it easy and rest a few days
so I can think more clearly. I don't know what I'll
try next. I've punched up the depot and the policemen
again. When I get something new thought out I'll let
you know.''

Then he began emptying his pockets of money and
heaping it on the table, small coins, bills, big and little.

``What on earth is that?''

``That,'' said the Harvester, giving the heap a shove
of contempt, ``that is the price of my pride and humiliation.
That is what it cost people who allowed me to
cheek my way into their homes and rob them, as one
maid said, for my own purposes. Doc, where on earth
does all the money come from? In almost every house
I entered, women had it to waste, in many cases to throw
away. I never saw so much paid for nothing in all my
life. That whole heap is from mushrooms and flowers.''

``What are you piling it there for?''

``For your free ward. I don't want a penny of it. I
wouldn't keep it, not if I was starving.''

``Why David! You couldn't compel any one to buy.
You offered something they wanted, and they paid you
what you asked.''

``Yes, and to keep them from buying, and to make
the stuff go farther, I named prices to shame a shark.
When I think of that mushroom deal I can feel my
face burn. I've made the search I wanted to, and I
am satisfied that I can't find her that way. I have
kept up my work at home between times. I am not
out anything but my time, and it isn't fair to plunder
the city to pay that. Take that cussed money and put
it where I'll never see or hear of it. Do anything you
please, except to ask me ever to profit by a cent. When
I wash my hands after touching it for the last time
maybe I'll feel better.''

``You are a fanatic!''

``If getting rid of that is being a fanatic, I am proud of
the title. You can't imagine what I've been through!''

``Can't I though?'' laughed the doctor. ``In work
of that kind you get into every variety of place; and
some of it is new to you. Never mind! No one can
contaminate you. It is the law that only a man can
degrade himself. Knowing things will not harm you.
Doing them is a different matter. What you know
will be a protection. What you do ruins----if it is
wrong. You are not harmed, you are only disgusted.
Think it over, and in a few days come back and get
your money. It is strictly honest. You earned every
cent of it.''

``If you ever speak of it again or force it on me I'll
take it home and throw it into the lake.''

He went after Betsy and slowly drove to Medicine
Woods. Belshazzar, on the seat beside him, recognized
a silent, disappointed master and whimpered as he rubbed
the Harvester's shoulder to attract his attention.

``This is tough luck, old boy,'' said the Harvester.
``I had such hopes and I worked so hard. I suffered
in the flesh for every hour of it, and I failed. Oh but
I hate the word! If I knew where she is right now, Bel,
I'd give anything I've got. But there's no use to wail
and get sorry for myself. That's against the law of
common decency. I'll take a swim, sleep it off, straighten
up the herbs a little, and go at it again, old fellow; that's
a man's way. She's somewhere, and she's got to be
found, no matter what it costs.''



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 wanted.

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 Girl.

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

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 sniffing.

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

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

``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

``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

``Uncle Henry said he thought he could get fifty cents
a pound for all I could find.''

``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 the subject?''

There was not a change of expression on her white

``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

``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 Harvester.

``Don't think of that! They are of no consequence
to any one. You needn't do anything for me on that

``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 you?''

``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 do!''

``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

``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

``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

``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 tree.

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?''

``Yes sir!''

``Well why didn't we think of it before?''

``I suppose first we would have had to satisfy
ourselves that she wasn't in town, anyway.''

``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 she

``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

``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

``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

``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 hospital.''

``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.''



``She is on Henry Jameson's farm, four miles west of
Onabasha,'' said the Harvester, as he opened his
eyes next morning, and laid a caressing hand on
Belshazzar's head. ``At two o'clock we are going to see
her, and we are going to prolong the visit to the ultimate
limit, so we should make things count here before we

He worked in a manner that accomplished much. There
seemed no end to his energy that morning. Despatching
the usual routine, he gathered the herbs that were ready,
spread them on the shelves of the dry-house, found
time to do several things in the cabin, and polish a piece
of furniture before he ate his lunch and hitched Betsy
to the wagon. He also had recovered his voice, and
talked almost incessantly as he worked. When it neared
time to start he dressed carefully. He stood before
his bookcase and selected several pamphlets published
by the Department of Agriculture. He went to his
beds and gathered a large arm load of plants. Then he
was ready to make his first trip to see the Dream Girl,
but it never occurred to him that he was going courting.

He had decided fully that there would be no use to try
to make love to a girl manifestly so ill and in trouble.
The first thing, it appeared to him, was to dispel the
depression, improve the health, and then do the love
making. So, in the most business-like manner possible
and without a shade of embarrassment, the Harvester
took his herbs and books and started for the Jameson
woods. At times as he drove along he espied something
that he used growing beside the road and stopped to
secure a specimen.

He came down the river bank and reached the ginseng
bed at half-past one. He was purposely early. He laid
down his books and plants, and rolled the log on which she
sat the day before to a more shaded location, where a big
tree would serve for a back rest. He pulled away brush
and windfalls, heaped dry brown leaves, and tramped
them down for her feet. Then he laid the books on the
log, the arm load of plants beside them, and went to the
river to wash his soiled hands.

Belshazzar's short bark told him the Girl was coming,
and between the trees he saw the dog race to meet her
and she bent to stroke his head. She wore the same
dress and appeared even paler and thinner. The Harvester
hurried up the bank, wiping his hands on his

``Glad to see you!'' he greeted her casually. ``I've
fixed you a seat with a back rest to-day. Don't be
frightened at the stack of herbs. You needn't gather
all of those. They are only suggestions. They are just
common roadside plants that have some medicinal value
and are worth collecting. Please try my davenport.''

``Thank you!'' she said as she dropped on the log and
leaned her head against the tree. It appeared as if her
eyes closed a few seconds in spite of her, and while they
were shut the Harvester looked steadily and intently on
a face of exquisite beauty, but so marred by pallor and
lines of care that search was required to recognize just
how handsome she was, and if he had not seen her in
perfection in the dream the Harvester might have missed
glorious possibilities. To bring back that vision would
be a task worth while was his thought. With the first
faint quiver of an eyelash the Harvester took a few
steps and bent over a plant, and as he did so the Girl's
eyes followed him.

He appeared so tall and strong, so bronzed by summer
sun and wind, his face so keen and intense, that swift
fear caught her heart. Why was he there? Why should
he take so much trouble for her? With difficulty she
restrained herself from springing up and running away.
Turning with the plant in his hand the Harvester saw the
panic in her eyes, and it troubled his heart. For an
instant he was bewildered, then he understood.

``I don't want you to work when you are not able,'' he
said in his most matter-of-fact voice, ``but if you still
think that you are, I'll be very glad. I need help just
now, more than I can tell you, and there seem to be so
few people who can be trusted. Gathering stuff for drugs
is really very serious business. You see, I've a reputation
to sustain with some of the biggest laboratories in the
country, not to mention the fact that I sometimes try
compounding a new remedy for some common complaint
myself. I rather take pride in the fact that my stuff goes
in so fresh and clean that I always get anywhere from
three to ten cents a pound above the listed prices for it. I
want that money, but I want an unbroken record for doing
a job right and being square and careful, much more.''

He thought the appearance of fright was fading, and a
tinge of interest taking its place. She was looking
straight at him, and as he talked he could see her summoning
her tired forces to understand and follow him, so
he continued:

``One would think that as medicines are required in
cases of life and death, collectors would use extreme caution,
but some of them are criminally careless. It's a
common thing to gather almost any fern for male fern; to
throw in anything that will increase weight, to wash
imperfectly, and commit many other sins that lie with the
collector; beyond that I don't like to think. I suppose
there are men who deliberately adulterate pure stuff to
make it go farther, but when it comes to drugs, I scarcely
can speak of it calmly. I like to do a thing right. I
raise most of my plants, bushes, and herbs. I gather
exactly in season, wash carefully if water dare be used,
clean them otherwise if not, and dry them by a hot air
system in an evaporator I built purposely. Each package
I put up is pure stuff, clean, properly dried, and fresh. If
I caught any man in the act of adulterating any of it I'm
afraid he would get hurt badly--and usually I am a
peaceable man. I am explaining this to show how
very careful you must be to keep things separate and
collect the right plants if you are going to sell stuff to
me. I am extremely particular.''

The Girl was leaning toward him, watching his face,
and hers was slowly changing. She was deeply interested,
much impressed, and more at ease. When the Harvester
saw he had talked her into confidence he crossed
the leaves, and sitting on the log beside her, picked up
the books and opened one.

``Oh I will be careful,'' said the Girl. ``If you will
trust me to collect for you, I will undertake only what
I am sure I know, and I'll do exactly as you tell me.''

``There are a dozen things that bring a price ranging
from three to fifteen cents a pound, that are in season
just now. I suppose you would like to begin on
some common, easy things, that will bring the most

Without a breath of hesitation she answered, ``I will
commence on whatever you are short of and need most
to have.''

The heart of the Harvester gave a leap that almost
choked him, for he was vividly conscious of a broken
shoe she was hiding beneath her skirts. He wanted to
say ``thank you,'' but he was afraid to, so he turned the
leaves of the book.

``I am working just now on mullein,'' he said.

``Oh I know mullein,'' she cried, with almost a
hint of animation in her voice. ``The tall, yellow
flower stem rising from a circle of green felt leaves!''

``Good!'' said the Harvester. ``What a pretty way
to describe it! Do you know any more plants?''

``Only a few! I had a high-school course in botany,
but it was all about flower and leaf formation, nothing
at all of what anything was good for. I also learned
a few, drawing them for leather and embroidery designs.''

``Look here!'' cried the Harvester. ``I came with an
arm load of herbs and expected to tell you all about
foxglove, mullein, yarrow, jimson, purple thorn apple,
blessed thistle, hemlock, hoarhound, lobelia, and everything
in season now; but if you already have a profession,
why do you attempt a new one? Why don't you go
on drawing? I never saw anything so stupid as most
of the designs from nature for book covers and
decorations, leather work and pottery. They are the same
old subjects worked over and over. If you can draw
enough to make original copies, I can furnish you with
flowers, vines, birds, and insects, new, unused, and
of exquisite beauty, for every month in the year. I've
looked into the matter a little, because I am rather handy
with a knife, and I carve candlesticks from suitable
pieces of wood. I always have trouble getting my
designs copied; securing something new and unusual,
never! If you can draw just well enough to reproduce
what you see, gathering drugs is too slow and tiresome.
What you want to do is to reproduce the subjects I
will bring, and I'll buy what I want in my work, and
sell the remainder at the arts and crafts stores for you.
Or I can find out what they pay for such designs at
potteries and ceramic factories. You have no time to
spend on herbs, when you are in the woods, if you can

``I am surely in the woods,'' said the Girl, ``and I
know I can copy correctly. I often made designs for
embroidery and leather for the shop mother and I worked
for in Chicago.''

``Won't they buy them of you now?''


``Do they pay anything worth while?''

``I don't know how their prices compare with others.
One place was all I worked for. I think they pay what
is fair.''

``We will find out,'' said the Harvester promptly.

``I----I don't think you need waste the time,'' faltered
the Girl. ``I had better gather the plants for a
while at least.''

``Collecting crude drug material is not easy,'' said
the Harvester. ``Drawing may not be either, but at
least you could sit while you work, and it should bring
you more money. Besides, I very much want a moth
copied for a candlestick I am carving. Won't you
draw that for me? I have some pupae cases and the
moths will be out any day now. If I'd bring you one,
wouldn't you just make a copy?''

The Girl gripped her hands together and stared
straight ahead of her for a second, then she turned to

``I'd like to,'' she said, ``but I have nothing to work
with. In Chicago they furnished my material at the
shop and I drew the design and was paid for the pattern.
I didn't know there would be a chance for anything like
that here. I haven't even proper pencils.''

``Then the way for you to do this is to strip the first
mullein plants you see of the petals. I will pay you
seventy-five cents a pound for them. By the time you
get a few pounds I can have material you need for drawing
here and you can go to work on whatever flowers,
vines, and things you can find in the woods, with no
thanks to any one.''

``I can't see that,'' said the Girl. ``It would appear
to me that I would be under more obligations than I
could repay, and to a stranger.''

``I figure it this way,'' said the Harvester, watching
from the corner of his eye. ``I can sell at good prices
all the mullein flowers I can secure. You collect for
me, I buy them. You can use drawing tools; I get
them for you, and you pay me with the mullein or out
of the ginseng money I owe you. You already have
that coming, and it's just as much yours as it will be ten
days from now. You needn't hesitate a second about
drawing on it, because I am in a hurry for the moth
pattern. I find time to carve only at night, you see.
As for being under obligations to a stranger, in the first
place all the debt would be on my side. I'd get the drugs
and the pattern I want; and, in the second place, I
positively and emphatically refuse to be a stranger.
It would be so much better to be mutual helpers and
friends of the kind worth having; and the sooner we
begin, the sooner we can work together to good advantage.
Get that stranger idea out of your head right now,
and replace it with thoughts of a new friend, who is
willing''--the Harvester detected panic in her eyes and
ended casually--``to enter a partnership that will be of
benefit to both of us. Partners can't be strangers, you
know,'' he finished.

``I don't know what to think,'' said the Girl.

``Never bother your head with thinking,'' advised
the Harvester with an air of large wisdom. ``It is
unprofitable and very tiring. Any one can see that you are
too weary now. Don't dream of such a foolish thing as
thinking. Don't worry over motives and obligations.
Say to yourself, `I'll enter this partnership and if it brings
me anything good, I'm that much ahead. If it fails, I
have lost nothing.' That's the way to look at it.''

Then before she could answer he continued: ``Now
I want all the mullein bloom I can get. You'll see the
yellow heads everywhere. Strip the petals and bring
them here, and I'll come for them every day. They
must go on the trays as fresh as possible. On your part,
we will make out the order now.''

He took a pencil and notebook from his pocket.

``You want drawing pencils and brushes; how many,
what make and size?''

The Girl hesitated for a moment as if struggling to
decide what to do; then she named the articles.

``And paper?''

He wrote that down, and asked if there was more.

``I think,'' he said, ``that I can get this order filled
in Onabasha. The art stores should keep these things.
And shouldn't you have water-colour paper and some

Then there was a flash across the white face.

``Oh if I only could!'' she cried. ``All my life I have
been crazy for a box of colour, but I never could afford
it, and of course, I can't now. But if this splendid
plan works, and I can earn what I owe, then maybe
I can.''

``Well this `splendid plan' is going to `work,' don't
you bother about that,'' said the Harvester. ``It has
begun working right now. Don't worry a minute.
After things have gone wrong for a certain length of
time, they always veer and go right a while as
compensation. Don't think of anything save that you are
at the turning. Since it is all settled that we are to be
partners, would you name me the figures of the debt
that is worrying you? Don't, if you mind. I just
thought perhaps we could get along better if I knew.
Is it----say five hundred dollars?''

``Oh dear no!'' cried the Girl in a panic. ``I never
could face that! It is not quite one hundred, and that
seems big as a mountain to me.''

``Forget it!'' he cried. ``The ginseng will pay more
than half; that I know. I can bring you the cash in a
little over a week.''

She started to speak, hesitated, and at last turned to him.

``Would you mind,'' she said, ``if I asked you to keep
it until I can find a way to go to town? It's too far to
walk and I don't know how to send it. Would I dare
put it in a letter?''

``Never!'' said the Harvester. ``You want a draft.
That money will be too precious to run any risks. I'll
bring it to you and you can write a note and explain
to whom you want it paid, and I'll take it to the bank
for you and get your draft. Then you can write a
letter, and half your worry will be over safely.''

``It must be done in a sure way,'' said the Girl. ``If
I knew I had the money to pay that much on what I
owe, and then lost it, I simply could not endure it. I
would lie down and give up as Aunt Molly has.''

``Forget that too!'' said the Harvester. ``Wipe
out all the past that has pain in it. The future is going
to be beautifully bright. That little bird on the bush
there just told me so, and you are always safe when you
trust the feathered folk. If you are going to live in the
country any length of time, you must know them, and
they will become a great comfort. Are you planning
to be here long?''

``I have no plans. After what I saw Chicago do to my
mother I would rather finish life in the open than return
to the city. It is horrible here, but at least I'm not
hungry, and not afraid----all the time.''

``Gracious Heaven!'' cried the Harvester. ``Do you
mean to say that you are afraid any part of the time?
Would you kindly tell me of whom, and why?''

``You should know without being told that when a
woman born and reared in a city, and all her life confined
there, steps into the woods for the first time, she's bound
to be afraid. The last few weeks constitute my entire
experience with the country, and I'm in mortal fear
that snakes will drop from trees and bushes or spring
from the ground. Some places I think I'm sinking,
and whenever a bush catches my skirts it seems as if
something dreadful is reaching up for me; there is a
possibility of horror lurking behind every tree and----''

``Stop!'' cried the Harvester. ``I can't endure it! Do
you mean to tell me that you are afraid here and now?''

She met his eyes squarely.

``Yes,'' she said. ``It almost makes me ill to sit on
this log without taking a stick and poking all around
it first. Every minute I think something is going to
strike me in the back or drop on my head.''

The Harvester grew very white beneath the tan,
and that developed a nice, sickly green complexion for

``Am I part of your tortures?'' he asked tersely.

``Why shouldn't you be?'' she answered. ``What do
I know of you or your motives or why you are here?''

``I have had no experience with the atmosphere that
breeds such an attitude in a girl.''

``That is a thing for which to thank Heaven. Undoubtedly
it is gracious to you. My life has been different.''

``Yet in mortal terror of the woods, and probably
equal fear of me, you are here and asking for work that
will keep you here.''

``I would go through fire and flood for the money I
owe. After that debt is paid----''

She threw out her hands in a hopeless gesture. The
Harvester drew forth a roll of bills and tossed them
into her lap.

``For the love of mercy take what you need and pay
it,'' he said. ``Then get a floor under your feet, and try,
I beg of you, try to force yourself to have confidence
in me, until I do something that gives you the least
reason for distrusting me.''

She picked up the money and gave it a contemptuous
whirl that landed it at his feet.

``What greater cause of distrust could I have by any
possibility than just that?'' she asked.

The Harvester arose hastily, and taking several steps,
he stood with folded arms, his back turned. The Girl
sat watching him with wide eyes, the dull blue plain
in their dusky depths. When he did not speak, she
grew restless. At last she slowly arose and circling
him looked into his face. It was convulsed with a
struggle in which love and patience fought for supremacy
over honest anger. As he saw her so close, his
lips drew apart, and his breath came deeply, but he did
not speak. He merely stood and looked at her, and
looked; and she gazed at him as if fascinated, but


The call came roaring up the hill. The Girl shivered
and became paler.

``Is that your uncle?'' asked the Harvester.

She nodded.

``Will you come to-morrow for your drawing materials?''


``Will you try to believe that there is absolutely
nothing, either underfoot or overhead, that will harm


``Will you try to think that I am not a menace to
public safety, and that I would do much to help you,
merely because I would be glad to be of service?''


``Will you try to cultivate the idea that there is nothing
in all this world that would hurt you purposely?''

``Ruth!'' came a splitting scream in gruff man-tones,
keyed in deep anger.

``That SOUNDS like it!'' said the Girl, and catching up
her skirts she ran through the woods, taking a different
route toward the house.

The Harvester sat on the log and tried to think; but
there are times when the numbed brain refuses to work,
so he really sat and suffered. Belshazzar whimpered
and licked his hands, and at last the man arose and
went with the dog to the wagon. As they came through
Onabasha, Betsy turned at the hospital corner, but the
Harvester pulled her around and drove toward the
country. Not until they crossed the railroad did he
lift his head and then he drew a deep breath as if starved
for pure air and spoke. ``Not to-day Betsy! I can't
face my friends just now. Someway I am making an
awful fist of things. Everything I do is wrong. She
no more trusts me than you would a rattlesnake,
Belshazzar; and from all appearance she takes me to be
almost as deadly. What must have been her experiences
in life to ingrain fear and distrust in her soul at that
rate? I always knew I was not handsome, but I never
before regarded my appearance as alarming. And I
`fixed up,' too!''

The Harvester grinned a queer little twist of a grin
that pulled and distorted his strained face. ``Might
as well have gone with a week's beard, a soiled shirt,
and a leer! And I've always been as decent as I knew!
What's the reward for clean living anyway, if the girl
you love strikes you like that?''

Belshazzar reached across and kissed him. The
Harvester put his arm around the dog. In the man's
disappointment and heart hunger he leaned his head
against the beast and said, ``I've always got you to love
and protect me, anyway, Belshazzar. Maybe the man
who said a dog was a man's best friend was right. You
always trusted me, didn't you Bel? And you never
regretted it but once, and that wasn't my fault. I
never did it! If I did, I'm getting good and well paid
for it. I'd rather be kicked until all the ribs of one side
are broken, Bel, than to swallow the dose she just handed
me. I tell you it was bitter, lad! What am I going to
do? Can't you help me, Bel?''

Belshazzar quivered in anxiety to offer the comfort
he could not speak.

``Of course you are right! You always are, Bel!''
said the Harvester. ``I know what you are trying to
tell me. Sure enough, she didn't have any dream.
I am afraid she had the bitterest reality. She hasn't
been loving a vision of me, working and searching for
me, and I don't mean to her what she does to me. Of
course I see that I must be patient and bide my time.
If there is anything in `like begetting like' she is bound
to care for me some day, for I love her past all expression,
and for all she feels I might as well save my breath.
But she has got to awake some day, Bel. She can make
up her mind to that. She can't see `why.' Over and
over! I wonder what she would think if I'd up and tell
her `why' with no frills. She will drive me to it some
day, then probably the shock will finish her. I wonder
if Doc was only fooling or if he really would do what
he said. It might wake her up, anyway, but I'm dubious
as to the result. How Uncle Henry can roar! He
sounded like a fog horn. I'd love to try my muscle
on a man like that. No wonder she is afraid of him,
if she is of me. Afraid! Well of all things I ever did
expect, Belshazzar, that is the limit.''



The Harvester finished his evening work and went
to examine the cocoons. Many of the moths
had emerged and flown, but the luna cases remained
in the bottom of the box. As he stood looking
at them one moved and he smiled.

``I'd give something if you would come out and be
ready to work on by to-morrow afternoon,'' he said.
``Possibly you would so interest her that she would
forget her fear of me. I'd like mighty well to take
you along, because she might care for you, and I do need
the pattern for my candlestick. Believe I'll lay you in
a warmer place.''

The first thing the next morning the Harvester looked
and found the open cocoon and the wet moth clinging
by its feet to a twig he had placed for it.

``Luck is with me!'' he exulted. ``I'll carry you to
her and be mighty careful what I say, and maybe she will
forget about the fear.''

All the forenoon he cut and spread boneset, saffron,
and hemlock on the trays to dry. At noon he put on a
fresh outfit, ate a hasty lunch, and drove to Onabasha.
He carried the moth in a box, and as he started he picked
up a rake. He went to an art store and bought the
pencils and paper she had ordered. He wanted to purchase
everything he saw for her, but he was fast learning
a lesson of deep caution. If he took more than she
ordered, she would worry over paying, and if he refused
to accept money, she would put that everlasting ``why''
at him again. The water-colour paper and paint he could
not forego. He could make a desire to have the moth
coloured explain those, he thought.

Then he went to a furniture store and bought several
articles, and forgetting his law against haste, he drove
Betsy full speed to the river. He was rather heavily
ladened as he went up the bank, and it was only one
o'clock. There was an hour. He rolled away the log,
raked together and removed the leaves to the ground.
He tramped the earth level and spread a large cheap porch
rug. On this he opened and placed a little folding table
and chair. On the table he spread the pencils, paper,
colour box and brushes, and went to the river to fill
the water cup. Then he sat on the log he had rolled
to one side and waited. After two hours he arose and
crept as close the house as he could through the woods,
but he could not secure a glimpse of the Girl. He
went back and waited an hour more, and then undid
his work and removed it. When he came to the moth
his face was very grim as he lifted the twig and helped
the beautiful creature to climb on a limb. ``You'll
be ready to fly in a few hours,'' he said. ``If I keep you
in a box you will ruin your wings and be no suitable
subject, and put you in a cyanide jar I will not. I am
hurt too badly myself. I wonder if what Doc said was
the right way! It's certainly a temptation.''

Then he went home; and again Betsy veered at the
hospital, and once more the Harvester explained to her
that he did not want to see the doctor. That evening
and the following forenoon were difficult, but the Harvester
lived through them, and in the afternoon went back
to the woods, spread his rug, and set up the table. Only
one streak of luck brightened the gloom in his heart.
A yellow emperor had emerged in the night, and now
occupied the place of yesterday's luna. She never need
know it was not the one he wanted, and it would make
an excuse for the colour box.

He was watching intently and saw her coming a long
way off. He noticed that she looked neither right nor
left, but came straight as if walking a bridge. As she
reached the place she glanced hastily around and then
at him. The Harvester forgave her everything as he
saw the look of relief with which she stepped upon the
carpet. Then she turned to him.

``I won't have to ask `why' this time,'' she said. ``I
know that you did it because I was baby enough to tell
what a coward I am. I'm sure you can't afford it, and
I know you shouldn't have done it, but oh, what a
comfort! If you will promise never to do any such
expensive, foolish, kind thing again, I'll say thank you
this time. I couldn't come yesterday, because Aunt Molly
was worse and Uncle Henry was at home all day.''

``I supposed it was something like that,'' said the

She advanced and handed him the roll of bills.

``I had a feeling you would be reckless,'' she said. ``I
saw it in your face, so I came back as soon as I could
steal away, and sure enough, there lay your money and
the books and everything. I hid them in the thicket,
so they will be all right. I've almost prayed it wouldn't
rain. I didn't dare carry them to the house. Please
take the money. I haven't time to argue about it or
strength, but of course I can't possibly use it unless
I earn it. I'm so anxious to see the pencils and

The Harvester thrust the money into his pocket. The
Girl went to the table, opened and spread the paper,
and took out the pencils.

``Is my subject in here?'' she touched the colour box.

``No, the other.''

``Is it alive? May I open it?''

``We will be very careful at first,'' said the Harvester.
``It only left its case in the night and may fly. When
the weather is so warm the wings develop rapidly. Perhaps
if I remove the lid----''

He took off the cover, exposing a big moth, its lovely,
pale yellow wings, flecked with heliotrope, outspread as
it clung to a twig in the box. The Girl leaned forward.

``What is it?'' she asked.

``One of the big night moths that emerge and fly a
few hours in June.''

``Is this what you want for your candlestick?''

``If I can't do better. There is one other I prefer,
but it may not come at a time that you can get it right.''

``What do you mean by `right'?''

``So that you can copy it before it wants to fly.''

``Why don't you chloroform and pin it until I am

``I am not in the business of killing and impaling
exquisite creatures like that.''

``Do you mean that if I can't draw it when it is just
right you will let it go?''

``I do.''


``I told you why.''

``I know you said you were not in the business, but why
wouldn't you take only one you really wanted to use?''

``I would be afraid,'' replied the Harvester.

``Afraid? You!''

``I must have a mighty good reason before I kill,''
said the man. ``I cannot give life; I have no right to
take it away. I will let my statement stand. I am

``Of what please?''

``An indefinable something that follows me and makes
me suffer if I am wantonly cruel.''

``Is there any particular pose in which you want this
bird placed?''

``Allow me to present you to the yellow emperor,
known in the books as eacles imperialis,'' he said. ``I
want him as he clings naturally and life size.''

She took up a pencil.

``If you don't mind,'' said the Harvester, ``would you
draw on this other paper? I very much want the colour,
also, and you can use it on this. I brought a box along,
and I'll get you water. I had it all ready yesterday.''

``Did you have this same moth?''

``No, I had another.''

``Did you have the one you wanted most?''

``Yes----but it's no difference.''

``And you let it go because I was not here?''

``No. It went on account of exquisite beauty. If
kept in confinement it would struggle and break its
wings. You see, that one was a delicate green, where
this is yellow, plain pale blue green, with a lavender
rib here, and long curled trailers edged with pale yellow,
and eye spots rimmed with red and black.''

As the Harvester talked he indicated the points of
difference with a pencil he had picked up; now he laid it
down and retreated beyond the limits of the rug.

``I see,'' said the Girl. ``And this is colour?''

She touched the box.

``A few colours, rather,'' said the Harvester. ``I
selected enough to fill the box, with the help of the clerk
who sold them to me. If they are not right, I have
permission to return and exchange them for anything you

With eager fingers she opened the box, and bent over
it a face filled with interest.

``Oh how I've always wanted this! I scarcely can
wait to try it. I do hope I can have it for my very own.
Was it quite expensive?''

``No. Very cheap!'' said the Harvester. ``The paper
isn't worth mentioning. The little, empty tin box was
only a few cents, and the paints differ according to
colour. Some appear to be more than others. I was
surprised that the outfit was so inexpensive.''

A skeptical little smile wavered on the Girl's face as
she drew her slender fingers across the trays of bright

``If one dared accept your word, you really would be
a comfort,'' she said, as she resolutely closed the box,
pushed it away, and picked up a pencil.

``If you will take the trouble to inquire at the banks,
post office, express office, hospital or of any druggist
in Onabasha, you will find that my word is exactly as
good as my money, and taken quite as readily.''

``I didn't say I doubted you. I have no right to
do that until I feel you deceive me. What I said was
`dared accept,' which means I must not, because I have
no right. But you make one wonder what you would
do if you were coaxed and asked for things and led by

``I can tell you that,'' said the Harvester. ``It would
depend altogether on who wanted anything of me and
what they asked. If you would undertake to coax and
insinuate, you never would get it done, because I'd see
what you needed and have it at hand before you had

The Girl looked at him wonderingly.

``Now don't spring your recurrent `why' on me,''
said the Harvester. ``I'll tell you `why' some of these
days. Just now answer me this question: Do you want
me to remain here or leave until you finish? Which
way would you be least afraid?''

``I am not at all afraid on the rug and with my work,''
she said. ``If you want to hunt ginseng go by all

``I don't want to hunt anything,'' said the Harvester.
``But if you are more comfortable with me away, I'll
be glad to go. I'll leave the dog with you.''

He gave a short whistle and Belshazzar came bounding
to him. The Harvester stepped to the Girl's side,
and dropping on one knee, he drew his hand across the
rug close to her skirts.

``Right here, Belshazzar,'' he said. ``Watch! You
are on guard, Bel.''

``Well of all names for a dog!'' exclaimed the Girl.
``Why did you select that?''

``My mother named my first dog Belshazzar, and
taught me why; so each of the three I've owned since have
been christened the same. It means `to protect' and
that is the office all of them perform; this one especially
has filled it admirably. Once I failed him, but
he never has gone back on me. You see he is not a
particle afraid of me. Every step I take, he is at my

``So was Bill Sikes' dog, if I remember.''

The Harvester laughed.

``Bel,'' he said, ``if you could speak you'd say that was
an ugly one, wouldn't you?''

The dog sprang up and kissed the face of the man
and rubbed a loving head against his breast.

``Thank you!'' said the Harvester. ``Now lie down
and protect this woman as carefully as you ever watched
in your life. And incidentally, Bel, tell her that she
can't exterminate me more than once a day, and the
performance is accomplished for the present. I refuse
to be a willing sacrifice. `So was Bill Sikes' dog!' What
do you think of that, Bel?''

The Harvester arose and turned to go.

``What if this thing attempts to fly?'' she asked.

``Your pardon,'' said the Harvester. ``If the emperor
moves, slide the lid over the box a few seconds, until he
settles and clings quietly again, and then slowly draw it
away. If you are careful not to jar the table heavily
he will not go for hours yet.''

Again he turned.

``If there is no danger, why do you leave the dog?''

``For company,'' said the Harvester. ``I thought
you would prefer an animal you are not afraid of to a
man you are. But let me tell you there is no necessity
for either. I know a woman who goes alone and unafraid
through every foot of woods in this part of the
country. She has climbed, crept, and waded, and she
tells me she never saw but two venomous snakes this
side of Michigan. Nothing ever dropped on her or
sprang at her. She feels as secure in the woods as she
does at home.''

``Isn't she afraid of snakes?''

``She dislikes snakes, but she is not afraid or she would
not risk encountering them daily.''

``Do you ever find any?''

``Harmless little ones, often. That is, Bel does. He
is always nosing for them, because he understands that
I work in the earth. I think I have encountered three
dangerous ones in my life. I will guarantee you will
not find one in these woods. They are too open and
too much cleared.''

``Then why leave the dog?''

``I thought,'' said the Harvester patiently, ``that your
uncle might have turned in some of his cattle, or if pigs
came here the dog could chase them away.''

She looked at him with utter panic in her face.

``I am far more afraid of a cow than a snake!'' she
cried. ``It is so much bigger!''

``How did you ever come into these woods alone far
enough to find the ginseng?'' asked the Harvester.
``Answer me that!''

``I wore Uncle Henry's top boots and carried a rake,
and I suffered tortures,'' she replied.

``But you hunted until you found what you wanted,
and came again to keep watch on it?''

``I was driven--simply forced. There's no use to
discuss it!''

``Well thank the Lord for one thing,'' said the
Harvester. ``You didn't appear half so terrified at the sight
of me as you did at the mere mention of a cow. I have
risen inestimably in my own self-respect. Belshazzar,
you may pursue the elusive chipmunk. I am going to
guard this woman myself, and please, kind fates, send
a ferocious cow this way, in order that I may prove my

The Girl's face flushed slightly, and she could not
restrain a laugh. That was all the Harvester hoped for
and more. He went beyond the edge of the rug and
sat on the leaves under a tree. She bent over her work
and only bird and insect notes and occasionally Belshazzar's
excited bark broke the silence. The Harvester
stretched on the ground, his eyes feasting on the Girl.
Intensely he watched every movement. If a squirrel
barked she gave a nervous start, so precipitate it seemed
as if it must hurt. If a windfall came rattling down
she appeared ready to fly in headlong terror in any
direction. At last she dropped her pencil and looked
at him helplessly.

``What is it?'' he asked.

``The silence and these awful crashes when one doesn't
know what is coming,'' she said.

``Will it bother you if I talk? Perhaps the sound


Back to Full Books