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Winning the Wilderness   By: (1860-1938)

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WINNING THE WILDERNESS

In all the story of the world of man, Who blazed the way to greater, better things? Who stopped the long migration of wild men, And set the noble task of building human homes? The learned recluse? The forum teacher? The poet singer? The soldier, voyager, Or ruler? 'T was none of this proud line. The man who digged the ground foretold the destiny Of men. 'T was he made anchor for the heart; Gave meaning to the hearthstone, and the birthplace, And planted vine and figtree at the door. He made e'en nations possible. Aye, when With his stone axe he made a hoe, he carved, Unwittingly, the scepter of the world. The steps by which the multitudes have climbed Were all rough hewn by this base implement. In its rude path have followed all the minor Arts of men. Hark back along the centuries, And hear its march across the continents. From zone to zone, all 'round the bounteous world, The man whose skill makes rich the barren field And causes grass to grow, and flowers to blow, And fruits to ripen, and grain turn to gold That man is King! Long live the King! Mrs. J. K. Hudson.

[Illustration: They sought the trail and followed it westward in the face of the wind]

WINNING THE WILDERNESS

By

MARGARET HILL McCARTER

Author of "The Price of the Prairie," "A Wall of Men," "The Peace of the Solomon Valley," "A Master's Degree," etc.

Illustrations By

J. N. MARCHAND

Chicago

A. C. McCLURG & CO.

1914

Copyright

A. C. McClurg & Co.

1914

Published September, 1914

Copyrighted in Great Britain

W. F. HALL PRINTING COMPANY, CHICAGO

To

THAT FARMER FATHER AND MOTHER

WITH THEIR HANDS ON TODAY

BUT WITH THEIR EYES ON TOMORROW

WHO THROUGH LABOR AND LONELINESS AND

HOPES LONG DEFERRED

HAVE WON A DESERT TO FRUITFULNESS

A WILDERNESS TO BEAUTY

FOREWORD

A reach of level prairie bounded only by the edge of the world misty ravelings of heliotrope and amber, covered only by the arch of heaven blue, beautiful and pitiless in its far fathomless spaces. To the southwest a triple fold of deeper purple on the horizon line mere hint of commanding headlands thitherward. Across the face of the prairie streams wandering through shallow clefts, aimlessly, somewhere toward the southeast; their course secured by gentle swells breaking into sheer low bluffs on the side next to the water, or by groups of cottonwood trees and wild plum bushes along their right of way. And farther off the brown indefinite shadowings of half tamed sand dunes. Aside from these things, a featureless landscape just grassy ground down here and blue cloud splashed sky up there.

The last Indian trail had disappeared. The hoofprints of cavalry horses had faded away. The price had been paid for the prairie the costly measure of death and daring. But the prairie itself, in its loneliness and loveliness, was still unsubdued. Through the fury of the winter's blizzard, the glory of the springtime, the brown wastes of burning midsummer, the long autumn, with its soft sweet air, its opal skies, and the land a dream of splendor which the far mirage reflects and the wide horizon frames in a curtain of exquisite amethyst through none of these was the prairie subdued. Only to the coming of that king whose scepter is the hoe, did soul of the soil awake to life and promise. To him the wilderness gave up everything except its beauty and the sweep of the freedom breathing winds that still inspire it.

CONTENTS

PART I

CHAPTER PAGE I The Blessing of Asher 1 II The Sign of the Sunflower 16 III The Will of the Wind 30 IV Distress Signals 45 V A Plainsman of the Old School 58 VI When the Grasshopper Was a Burden 82 VII The Last Bridge Burned 103 VIII Anchored Hearthstones 122 IX The Beginning of Service 136 X The Coming of Love 155 XI Lights and Shadows 175 XII The Fat Years 187

PART II

XIII The Rollcall 207 XIV The Second Generation 224 XV The Coburn Book 238 XVI The Humaneness of Champers 263 XVII The Purple Notches 274 XVIII Remembering the Maine 289 XIX The "Fighting Twentieth" 311 XX The Crooked Trail 330 XXI Jane Aydelot's Will 354 XXII The Farther Wilderness 362 XXIII The End of the Wilderness 379 XXIV The Call of the Sunflower 393

ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGE

They sought the trail and followed it westward in the face of the wind 1

"Read these," she said, "then promise me that in the hour when Leigh needs my help you will let me help her" 166

"It's a friendly act on somebody's part... Continue reading book >>




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