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The Story of the Soil; from the Basis of Absolute Science and Real Life,   By: (1866-1919)

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From the Basis Of Absolute Science and Real Life


Author of "Soil Fertility and Permanent Agriculture"





Truth is better than fiction; and this true story of the soil is written in co operation with the Press of America and in competition with popular fiction.

The scenes described exist; the references given can all be found and verified; and the data quoted are exact, although some of the story dates antedate the scientific data.

As a rule the names employed are substitutes, but the general localities are as specified.

If the Story of the Soil should ever fall into the hands of any individual who suspects that he has contributed to its information, the author begs that he will accept as belonging to himself every gracious attribute and take it for granted that anything of opposite savor was due to autosuggestion.


University of Illinois, Urbana.



PERCY JOHNSTON stood waiting on the broad veranda of an old style Southern home, on a bright November day in 1903. He had just come from Blue Mound Station, three miles away, with suit case in hand.

"Would it be possible for me to secure room and board here for a few days?" he inquired of the elderly woman who answered his knock.

"Would it be possible?" she repeated, apparently asking herself the question, while she scanned the face of her visitor with kindly eyes that seemed to look beneath the surface.

"I beg your pardon, my name is Johnston, Percy Johnston " he said with some embarrassment and hesitation, realizing from her speech and manner that he was not addressing a servant.

"No pardon is needed for that name," she interrupted; "Johnston is a name we're mighty proud of here in the South."

"But I am from the West," he said.

"We're proud of the West, too; and you should feel right welcome here, for this is 'Westover,'" waving her hand toward the inroad fields surrounding the old mansion house. "I am Mrs. West, or at least I used to be. Perhaps the title better belongs to my son's wife at the present time; while I am mother, grandma, and great grandmother.

"Yes, Sir, you will be very welcome to share our home for a few days if you wish; and we'll take you as a boarder. We used to entertain my husband's friends from Richmond, and from Washington, too, before the sixties; but since then we have grown poor, and of late years we take some summer boarders. They have all returned to the city, however, the last of them having left only yesterday; so you can have as many rooms as you like.

"Adelaide!" she called.

A rugged girl of seventeen entered the hall from a rear room.

"This is my granddaughter, Adelaide, Mr. Johnston."

Percy looked into her eyes for an instant; then her lashes dropped. He remembered afterward that they were like her grandmother's, and he found himself repeating, "The eye is the window of the soul."

"My Dear, will you ask Wilkes to show Mr. Johnston to the southwest room, and to put a fire in the grate and warm water in the pitcher?"

"Thank you, that will not be necessary," said Percy. "I wish to see and learn as much as possible of the country hereabout, and particularly of the farm lands; and, if I may leave my suit case to be sent to my room when convenient, I shall take a walk, perhaps a long walk. When should I be back to supper."

"At six or half past. My son Charles has gone to Montplain, but he will be home for dinner. He knows the lands all about here and will be glad, I am sure, to give you any information possible."

With rapid strides Percy followed the private lane to the open fields of Westover.

"Is he a cowboy, Grandma?" asked Adelaide, in a tone which did not suggest a very high regard for cowboys... Continue reading book >>

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