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Prairie Folks   By: (1860-1940)

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PRAIRIE FOLKS

By HAMLIN GARLAND, AUTHOR OF "MAIN TRAVELED ROADS," "A MEMBER OF THE THIRD HOUSE," "A SPOIL OF OFFICE," ETC., ETC.

F. J. SCHULTE & COMPANY

PUBLISHERS CHICAGO. M DCCC XCIII

Copyright, 1892, by HAMLIN GARLAND.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Prairie Folks.

Pioneers.

They rise to mastery of wind and snow; They go like soldiers grimly into strife, To colonize the plain; they plow and sow, And fertilize the sod with their own life As did the Indian and the buffalo.

Settlers.

Above them soars a dazzling sky, In winter blue and clear as steel, In summer like an Arctic sea Wherein vast icebergs drift and reel And melt like sudden sorcery.

Beneath them plains stretch far and fair, Rich with sunlight and with rain; Vast harvests ripen with their care And fill with overplus of grain Their square, great bins.

Yet still they strive! I see them rise At dawn light, going forth to toil: The same salt sweat has filled my eyes, My feet have trod the self same soil Behind the snarling plow.

CONTENTS

UNCLE ETHAN'S SPECULATION 11

THE TEST OF ELDER PILL 33

WILLIAM BACON'S HIRED MAN 73

SIM BURNS'S WIFE 101

SATURDAY NIGHT ON THE FARM 143

VILLAGE CRONIES 169

DRIFTING CRANE 187

OLD DADDY DEERING 201

THE SOCIABLE AT DUDLEY'S 227

PART I.

UNCLE ETHAN'S SPECULATION IN PATENT MEDICINES

A certain guileless trust in human kind Too often leads them into nets Spread by some wandering trader, Smooth, and deft, and sure.

UNCLE ETHAN RIPLEY.

Uncle Ethan had a theory that a man's character could be told by the way he sat in a wagon seat.

"A mean man sets right plumb in the middle o' the seat, as much as to say, 'Walk, gol darn yeh, who cares?' But a man that sets in one corner o' the seat, much as to say, 'Jump in cheaper t' ride 'n to walk,' you can jest tie to."

Uncle Ripley was prejudiced in favor of the stranger, therefore, before he came opposite the potato patch, where the old man was "bugging his vines." The stranger drove a jaded looking pair of calico ponies, hitched to a clattering democrat wagon, and he sat on the extreme end of the seat, with the lines in his right hand, while his left rested on his thigh, with his little finger gracefully crooked and his elbows akimbo. He wore a blue shirt, with gay colored armlets just above the elbows, and his vest hung unbuttoned down his lank ribs. It was plain he was well pleased with himself.

As he pulled up and threw one leg over the end of the seat, Uncle Ethan observed that the left spring was much more worn than the other, which proved that it was not accidental, but that it was the driver's habit to sit on that end of the seat.

"Good afternoon," said the stranger, pleasantly.

"Good afternoon, sir."

"Bugs purty plenty?"

"Plenty enough, I gol! I don't see where they all come fum."

"Early Rose?" inquired the man, as if referring to the bugs.

"No; Peachblows an' Carter Reds. My Early Rose is over near the house. The old woman wants 'em near. See the darned things!" he pursued, rapping savagely on the edge of the pan to rattle the bugs back.

"How do yeh kill 'em scald 'em?"

"Mostly. Sometimes I"

"Good piece of oats," yawned the stranger, listlessly.

"That's barley."

"So 'tis. Didn't notice."

Uncle Ethan was wondering what the man was. He had some pots of black paint in the wagon, and two or three square boxes... Continue reading book >>




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