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   Chapter 19 No.19

Windy McPherson's Son By Sherwood Anderson Characters: 32411

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


One fine warm morning in the fall Sam was sitting in a little park in the centre of a Pennsylvania manufacturing town watching men and women going through the quiet streets to the factories and striving to overcome a feeling of depression aroused by an experience of the evening before. He had come into town over a poorly made clay road running through barren hills, and, depressed and weary, had stood on the shores of a river, swollen by the early fall rains, that flowed along the edges of the town.

Before him in the distance he had looked into the windows of a huge factory, the black smoke from which added to the gloom of the scene that lay before him. Through the windows of the factory, dimly seen, workers ran here and there, appearing and disappearing, the glare of the furnace fire lighting now one, now another of them, sharply. At his feet the tumbling waters that rolled and pitched over a little dam fascinated him. Looking closely at the racing waters his head, light from physical weariness, reeled, and in fear of falling he had been compelled to grip firmly the small tree against which he leaned. In the back yard of a house across the stream from Sam and facing the factory four guinea hens sat on a board fence, their weird, plaintive cries making a peculiarly fitting accompaniment to the scene that lay before him, and in the yard itself two bedraggled fowls fought each other. Again and again they sprang into the fray, striking out with bills and spurs. Becoming exhausted, they fell to picking and scratching among the rubbish in the yard, and when they had a little recovered renewed the struggle. For an hour Sam had looked at the scene, letting his eyes wander from the river to the grey sky and to the factory belching forth its black smoke. He had thought that the two feebly struggling fowls, immersed in their pointless struggle in the midst of such mighty force, epitomised much of man's struggle in the world, and, turning, had gone along the sidewalks and to the village hotel, feeling old and tired. Now on the bench in the little park, with the early morning sun shining down through the glistening rain drops clinging to the red leaves of the trees, he began to lose the sense of depression that had clung to him through the night.

A young man who walked in the park saw him idly watching the hurrying workers, and stopped to sit beside him.

"On the road, brother?" he asked.

Sam shook his head, and the other began talking.

"Fools and slaves," he said earnestly, pointing to the men and women passing on the sidewalk. "See them going like beasts to their bondage? What do they get for it? What kind of lives do they lead? The lives of dogs."

He looked at Sam for approval of the sentiment he had voiced.

"We are all fools and slaves," said Sam, stoutly.

Jumping to his feet the young man began waving his arms about.

"There, you talk sense," he cried. "Welcome to our town, stranger. We have no thinkers here. The workers are like dogs. There is no solidarity among them. Come and have breakfast with me."

In the restaurant the young man began talking of himself. He was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. His father had died while he was yet in school and had left him a modest fortune, upon the income of which he lived with his mother. He did no work and was enormously proud of the fact.

"I refuse to work! I scorn it!" he declared, shaking a breakfast roll in the air.

Since leaving school he had devoted himself to the cause of the socialist party in his native town, and boasted of the leadership he had already achieved. His mother, he declared, was disturbed and worried because of his connection with the movement.

"She wants me to be respectable," he said sadly, and added, "What's the use trying to explain to a woman? I can't get her to see the difference between a socialist and a direct-action anarchist and I've given up trying. She expects me to end by blowing somebody up with dynamite or by getting into jail for throwing bricks at the borough police."

He talked of a strike going on among some girl employés of a Jewish shirtwaist factory in the town, and Sam, immediately interested, began asking questions, and after breakfast went with his new acquaintance to the scene of the strike.

The shirtwaist factory was located in a loft above a grocery store, and on the sidewalk in front of the store three girl pickets were walking up and down. A flashily dressed Hebrew, with a cigar in his mouth and his hands in his trousers pockets, stood in the stairway leading to the loft and looked closely at the young socialist and Sam. From his lips came a stream of vile words which he pretended to be addressing to the empty air. When Sam walked towards him he turned and ran up the stairs, shouting oaths over his shoulder.

Sam joined the three girls, and began talking to them, walking up and down with them before the grocery store.

"What are you doing to win?" he asked when they had told him of their grievances.

"We do what we can!" said a Jewish girl with broad hips, great motherly breasts, and fine, soft, brown eyes, who appeared to be a leader and spokesman among the strikers. "We walk up and down here and try to get a word with the strikebreakers the boss has brought in from other towns, when they go in and come out."

Frank, the University man, spoke up. "We are putting up stickers everywhere," he said. "I myself have put up hundreds of them."

He took from his coat pocket a printed slip, gummed on one side, and told Sam that he had been putting them on walls and telegraph poles about town. The thing was vilely written. "Down with the dirty scabs" was the heading in bold, black letters across the top.

Sam was shocked at the vileness of the caption and at the crude brutality of the text printed on the slip.

"Do you call women workers names like that?" he asked.

"They have taken our work from us," the Jewish girl answered simply and began again, telling the story of her sister strikers and of what the low wage had meant to them and to their families. "To me it does not so much matter; I have a brother who works in a clothing store and he can support me, but many of the women in our union have only their wage here with which to feed their families."

Sam's mind began working on the problem.

"Here," he declared, "is something definite to do, a battle in which I will pit myself against this employer for the sake of these women."

He put away from him his experience in the Illinois town, telling himself that the young woman walking beside him would have a sense of honour unknown to the red-haired young workman who had sold him out to Bill and Ed.

"I failed with my money," he thought, "now I will try to help these girls with my energy."

Turning to the Jewish girl he made a quick decision.

"I will help you get your places back," he said.

Leaving the girls he went across the street to a barber shop where he could watch the entrance to the factory. He wanted to think out a method of procedure and wanted also to look at the girl strikebreakers as they came to work. After a time several girls came along the street and turned in at the stairway. The flashily dressed Hebrew with the cigar still in his mouth was again by the stairway entrance. The three pickets running forward accosted the file of girls going up the stairs, one of whom, a young American girl with yellow hair, turned and shouted something over her shoulder. The man called Frank shouted back and the Hebrew took the cigar out of his mouth and laughed heartily. Sam filled and lighted his pipe, a dozen plans for helping the striking girls running through his mind.

During the morning he went into the grocery store on the corner, a saloon in the neighbourhood, and returned to the barber shop talking to men of the strike. He ate his lunch alone, still thinking of the three girls patiently walking up and down before the stairway. Their ceaseless walking seemed to him a useless waste of energy.

"They should be doing something more definite," he thought.

After lunch he joined the soft-eyed Jewish girl and together they walked along the street talking of the strike.

"You cannot win this strike by just calling nasty names," he said. "I do not like that 'dirty scab' sticker Frank had in his pocket. It cannot help you and only antagonises the girls who have taken your places. Here in this part of town the people want to see you win. I have talked to the men who come into the saloon and the barber shop across the street and you already have their sympathy. You want to get the sympathy of the girls who have taken your places. Calling them dirty scabs only makes martyrs of them. Did the yellow-haired girl call you a name this morning?"

The Jewish girl looked at Sam and laughed bitterly.

"Rather; she called me a loud-mouthed street walker."

They continued their walk along the street, across the railroad track and a bridge, and into a quiet residence street. Carriages stood at the curb before the houses, and pointing to these and to the well-kept houses Sam said, "Men have bought these things for their women."

A shadow fell across the girl's face.

"I suppose all of us want what these women have," she answered. "We do not really want to fight and to stand on our own feet, not when we know the world. What a woman really wants is a man," she added shortly.

Sam began talking and told her of a plan that had come into his mind. He had remembered how Jack Prince and Morrison used to talk about the appeal of the direct personal letter and how effectively it was used by mail order houses.

"We will have a mail order strike here," he said and went on to lay before her the details of his plan. He proposed that she, Frank, and some others of the striking girls, should go about town getting the names and the mail addresses of the girl strikebreakers.

"Get also the names of the keepers of the boarding houses at which these girls live and the names of the men and women who live in the same houses," he suggested. "Then you get the striking girls and women together and have them tell me their stories. We will write letters day after day to the girl strikebreakers, to the women who keep the boarding houses, and to the people who live in the houses and sit at table with them. We won't call names. We will tell the story of what being beaten in this fight means to the women in your union, tell it simply and truthfully as you told it to me this morning."

"It will cost such a lot," said the Jewish girl, shaking her head.

Sam took a roll of bills from his pocket and showed it to her.

"I will pay," he said.

"Why?" she asked, looking at him sharply.

"Because I am a man wanting work just as you want work," he replied, and then went on hurriedly, "It is a long story. I am a rich man wandering about the world seeking Truth. I will not want that known. Take me for granted. You won't be sorry."

Within an hour he had engaged a large room, paying a month's rent in advance, and into the room chairs and table and typewriters had been brought. He put an advertisement in the evening paper for girl stenographers, and a printer, hurried by a promise of extra pay, ran out for him several thousand letter heads across the top of which in bold, black type ran the words, "The Girl Strikers."

That night Sam held, in the room he had engaged, a meeting of the girl strikers, explaining to them his plan and offering to pay all expenses of the fight he proposed to make for them. They clapped their hands and shouted approvingly, and Sam began laying out his campaign.

One of the girls he told off to stand in front of the factory morning and evening.

"I will have other help for you there," he said. "Before you go home to-night there will be a printer here with a bundle of pamphlets I am having printed for you."

Advised by the soft-eyed Jewish girl, he told off others to get additional names for the mailing list he wanted, getting many important ones from girls in the room. Six of the girls he asked to come in the morning to help him with addressing and mailing letters. The Jewish girl he told to take charge of the girls at work in the room-on the morrow to become also an office-and to superintend getting the names.

Frank rose at the back of the room.

"Who are you anyway?" he asked.

"A man with money and the ability to win this strike," Sam told him.

"What are you doing it for?" demanded Frank.

The Jewish girl sprang to her feet.

"Because he believes in these women and wants to help," she explained.

"Rot," said Frank, going out at the door.

It was snowing when the meeting ended, and Sam and the Jewish girl finished their talk in the hallway leading to her room.

"I don't know what Harrigan, the union leader from Pittsburgh, will say to this," she told him. "He appointed Frank to lead and direct the strike here. He doesn't like interference and he may not like your plan. But we working women need men, men like you who can plan and do things. There are too many men living on us. We need men who will work for all of us as the men work for the women in the carriages and automobiles." She laughed and put out a hand to him. "See what you have got yourself into? I want you to be a husband to our entire union."

The next morning four girl stenographers went to work in Sam's strike headquarters, and he wrote his first strike letter, a letter telling the story of a striking girl named Hadaway, whose young brother was sick with tuberculosis. Sam did not put any flourishes in the letter; he felt that he did not need to. He thought that with twenty or thirty such letters, each telling briefly and truthfully the story of one of the striking girls, he should be able to show one American town how its other half lived. He gave the letter to the four girl stenographers with the mailing list he already had and started them writing it to each of the names.

At eight o'clock a man came in to install a telephone and girl strikers began bringing in new names for the mailing list. At nine o'clock three more stenographers appeared and were put to work, and girls who had been in began sending more names over the 'phone. The Jewish girl walked up and down, giving orders, making suggestions. From time to time she ran to Sam's desk and suggested other sources of names for the mailing list. Sam thought that if the other working girls were timid and embarrassed before him this one was not. She was like a general on the field of battle. Her soft brown eyes glowed, her mind worked rapidly, and her voice had a ring in it. At her suggestion Sam gave the girls at the typewriters lists bearing the names of town officials, bankers and prominent business men, and the wives of all these, also presidents of various women's clubs, society women, and charitable organizations. She called reporters from the town's two daily papers and had them interview Sam, and at her suggestion he gave them copies of the Hadaway girl letter to print.

"Print it," he said, "and if you cannot use it as news, make it an advertisement and bring the bill to me."

At eleven o'clock Frank came into the room bringing a tall Irishman, with sunken cheeks, black, unclean teeth, and an overcoat too small for him. Leaving him standing by the door, Frank walked across the room to Sam.

"Come to lunch with us," he said. He jerked his thumb over his shoulder toward the tall Irishman. "I picked him up," he said. "Best brain that's been in town for years. He's a wonder. Used to be a Catholic priest. He doesn't believe in God or love or anything. Come on out and hear him talk. He's great."

Sam shook his head.

"I am too busy. There is work to be done here. We are going to win this strike."

Frank looked at him doubtfully and then about the room at the busy girls.

"I don't know what Harrigan will think of all this," he said. "He doesn't like interferences. I never do anything without writing him. I wrote and told him what you were doing here. I had to, you know. I'm responsible to headquarters."

In the afternoo

n the Hebrew owner of the shirtwaist factory came in to strike headquarters and, walking through the room took off his hat and sat down by Sam's desk.

"What do you want here?" he asked. "The newspaper boys told me of what you had planned to do. What's your game?"

"I want to whip you," Sam answered quietly, "to whip you good. You might as well get into line. You are going to lose this strike."

"I'm only one," said the Hebrew. "There is an association of us manufacturers of shirtwaists. We are all in this. We all have a strike on our hands. What will you gain if you do beat me here? I'm only a little fellow after all."

Sam laughed and picking up his pen began writing.

"You are unlucky," he said. "I just happened to take hold here. When I have you beaten I will go on and beat the others. There is more money back of me than back of you all, and I am going to beat every one of you."

The next morning a crowd stood before the stairway leading to the factory when the strikebreaking girls came to work. The letters and the newspaper interview had been effective and more than half the strikebreakers did not appear. The others hurried along the street and turned in at the stairway without looking at the crowd. The girl, told off by Sam, stood on the sidewalk passing out pamphlets to the strikebreakers. The pamphlets were headed, "The Story of Ten Girls," and told briefly and pointedly the stories of ten striking girls and what the loss of the strike meant to them and to their families.

After a while there drove up two carriages and a large automobile, and out of the automobile climbed a well-dressed woman who took a bundle of the pamphlets from the girl picket and began passing them about among the people. Two policemen who stood in front of the crowd took off their helmets and accompanied her. The crowd cheered. Frank came hurrying across the street to where Sam stood in front of the barber shop and slapped him on the back.

"You're a wonder," he said.

Sam hurried back to the room and prepared the second letter for the mailing list. Two more stenographers had come to work. He had to send out for more machines. A reporter for the town's evening paper ran up the stairway.

"Who are you?" he asked. "The town wants to know."

From his pocket he took a telegram from a Pittsburgh daily.

"What about mail-order strike plan? Give name and story new strike leader there."

At ten o'clock Frank returned.

"There's a wire from Harrigan," he said. "He's coming here. He wants a mass meeting of the girls for to-night. I've got to get them together. We'll meet here in this room."

In the room the work went on. The list of names for the mailing had doubled. The picket at the shirtwaist factory reported that three more of the strikebreakers had left the plant. The Jewish girl was excited. She went hurrying about the room, her eyes glowing.

"It's great," she said. "The plan is working. The whole town is aroused and for us. We'll win in another twenty-four hours."

And then at seven o'clock that night Harrigan came into the room where Sam sat with the assembled girls, bolting the door behind him. He was a short, strongly built man with blue eyes and red hair. He walked about the room in silence, followed by Frank. Suddenly he stopped and, picking up one of the typewriting machines rented by Sam for the letter writing, raised it above his head and sent it smashing to the floor.

"A hell of a strike leader," he roared. "Look at this. Scab machines!

"Scab stenographers!" he said through his teeth. "Scab printing! Scab everything!"

Picking up a bundle of the letterheads, he tore them across, and walking to the front of the room, shook his fist before Sam's face.

"Scab leader!" he shouted, turning and facing the girls.

The soft-eyed Jewish girl sprang to her feet.

"He's winning for us," she said.

Harrigan walked toward her threateningly.

"Better lose than win a scab victory," he bellowed.

"Who are you anyway? What grafter sent you here?" he demanded, turning to Sam.

He launched into a speech. "I have been watching this fellow, I know him. He has a scheme to break down the union and is being paid by the capitalists."

Sam waited to hear no more. Getting up he pulled on his canvas jacket and started for the door. He saw that already he had involved himself in a dozen violations of the unionist code and the idea of trying to convince Harrigan of his disinterestedness did not occur to him.

"Do not mind me," he said, "I am going."

He walked between the rows of frightened, white-faced girls and unbolted the door, the Jewish girl following. At the head of the stairway leading to the street he stopped and pointed back into the room.

"Go back," he said, handing her a roll of bills. "Carry on the work if you can. Get other machines and new printing. I will help you in secret."

Turning he ran down the stairs, hurried through the curious crowd standing at the foot, and walked rapidly along in front of the lighted stores. A cold rain, half snow, was falling. Beside him walked a young man with a brown pointed beard, one of the newspaper reporters who had interviewed him the day before.

"Did Harrigan trim you?" asked the young man, and then added, laughing, "He told us he intended to throw you down stairs."

Sam walked on in silence, filled with wrath. He turned into a side street and stopped when his companion put a hand upon his arm.

"This is our dump," said the young man, pointing to a long low frame building facing the side street. "Come in and let us have your story. It should be a good one."

Inside the newspaper office another young man sat with his head lying on a flat-top desk. He was clad in a strikingly flashy plaid coat, had a little wizened, good-natured face and seemed to have been drinking. The young man with the beard explained Sam's identity, taking the sleeping man by the shoulder and shaking him vigorously.

"Wake up, Skipper! There's a good story here!" he shouted. "The union has thrown out the mail-order strike leader!"

The Skipper got to his feet and began shaking his head.

"Of course, of course, Old Top, they would throw you out. You've got some brains. No man with brains can lead a strike. It's against the laws of Nature. Something was bound to hit you. Did Roughneck come out from Pittsburgh?" he asked, turning to the young man of the brown beard.

Then reaching above his head and taking a cap that matched his plaid coat from a nail on the wall, he winked at Sam. "Come on, Old Top. I've got to get a drink."

The two men went through a side door and down a dark alley, going in at the back door of a saloon. Mud lay deep in the alley and The Skipper sloshed through it, splattering Sam's clothes and face. In the saloon at a table facing Sam, with a bottle of French wine between them, he began explaining.

"I've a note coming due at the bank in the morning and no money to pay it," he said. "When I have a note coming due I always have no money and I always get drunk. Then next morning I pay the note. I don't know how I do it, but I always come out all right. It's a system-Now about this strike." He plunged into a discussion of the strike while men came in and out, laughing and drinking. At ten o'clock the proprietor locked the front door, drew the curtain, and coming to the back of the room sat down at the table with Sam and The Skipper, bringing another bottle of the French wine from which the two men continued drinking.

"That man from Pittsburgh busted up your place, eh?" he said, turning to Sam. "A man came in here to-night and told me. He sent for the typewriter people and made them take away the machines."

When they were ready to leave, Sam took money from his pocket and offered to pay for the bottle of French wine ordered by The Skipper, who arose and stood unsteadily on his feet.

"Do you mean to insult me?" he demanded indignantly, throwing a twenty-dollar bill on the table. The proprietor gave him back only fourteen dollars.

"I might as well wipe off the slate while you're flush," he observed, winking at Sam.

The Skipper sat down again, taking a pencil and pad of paper from his pocket, and throwing them on the table.

"I want an editorial on the strike for the Old Rag," he said to Sam. "Do one for me. Do something strong. Get a punch into it. I want to talk to my friend here."

Putting the pad of paper on the table Sam began writing his newspaper editorial. His head seemed wonderfully clear, his command of words unusually good. He called the attention of the public to the situation, the struggles of the striking girls and the intelligent fight they had been making to win a just cause, following this with paragraphs pointing out how the effectiveness of the work done had been annulled by the position taken by the labour and socialist leaders.

"These fellows at bottom care nothing for results," he wrote. "They are not thinking of the unemployed women with families to support, they are thinking only of themselves and their puny leadership which they fear is threatened. Now we shall have the usual exhibition of all the old things, struggle, and hatred and defeat."

When he had finished The Skipper and Sam went back through the alley to the newspaper office. The Skipper sloshed again through the mud and carried in his hand a bottle of red gin. At his desk he took the editorial from Sam's hands and read it.

"Perfect! Perfect to the thousandth part of an inch, Old Top," he said, pounding Sam on the shoulder. "Just what the Old Rag wanted to say about the strike." Then climbing upon the desk and putting the plaid coat under his head he went peacefully to sleep, and Sam, sitting beside the desk in a shaky office chair, slept also. At daybreak a black man with a broom in his hand woke them, and going into a long low room filled with presses The Skipper put his head under a water tap and came back waving a soiled towel and with water dripping from his hair.

"Now for the day and the labours thereof," he said, grinning at Sam and taking a long drink out of the gin bottle.

After breakfast he and Sam took up their stand in front of the barber shop opposite the stairway leading to the shirtwaist factory. Sam's girl with the pamphlets was gone as was also the soft-eyed Jewish girl, and in their places Frank and the Pittsburgh leader named Harrigan walked up and down. Again carriages and automobiles stood by the curb, and again a well-dressed woman got out of a machine and went toward three striking girls approaching along the sidewalk. The woman was met by Harrigan, shaking his fist and shouting, and getting back into the machine she drove off. From the stairway the flashily-dressed Hebrew looked at the crowd and laughed.

"Where is the new strike leader-the mail-order strike leader?" he called to Frank.

With the words, a working man with a dinner pail on his arm ran out of the crowd and knocked the Jew back into the stairway.

"Punch him! Punch the dirty scab leader!" yelled Frank, dancing up and down on the sidewalk.

Two policemen running forward began leading the workingman up the street, his dinner pail still clutched in one hand.

"I know something," The Skipper shouted, pounding Sam on the shoulder. "I know who will sign that note with me. The woman Harrigan drove back into her machine is the richest woman in town. I will show her your editorial. She will think I wrote it and it will get her. You'll see." He ran off up the street, shouting back over his shoulder, "Come over to the dump, I want to see you again."

Sam returned to the newspaper office and sat down waiting for The Skipper who, after a time, came in, took off his coat and began writing furiously. From time to time he took long drinks out of the bottle of red gin, and after silently offering it to Sam, continued reeling off sheet after sheet of loosely-written matter.

"I got her to sign the note," he called over his shoulder to Sam. "She was furious at Harrigan and when I told her we were going to attack him and defend you she fell for it quick. I won out by following my system. I always get drunk and it always wins."

At ten o'clock the newspaper office was in a ferment. The little man with the brown pointed beard, and another, kept running to The Skipper asking advice, laying typewritten sheets before him, talking as he wrote.

"Give me a lead. I want one more front page lead," The Skipper kept bawling at them, working like mad.

At ten thirty the door opened and Harrigan, accompanied by Frank, came in. Seeing Sam they stopped, looking at him uncertainly, and at the man at work at the desk.

"Well, speak up. This is no ladies' reception room. What do you fellows want?" snapped The Skipper, glaring at them.

Frank, coming forward, laid a typewritten sheet on the desk, which the newspaper man read hurriedly.

"Will you use it?" asked Frank.

The Skipper laughed.

"Wouldn't change a word of it," he shouted. "Sure I'll use it. It's what I wanted to make my point. You fellows watch me."

Frank and Harrigan went out and The Skipper, rushing to the door, began yelling into the room beyond.

"Hey, you Shorty and Tom, I've got that last lead."

Coming back to his desk he began writing again, grinning as he worked. To Sam he handed the typewritten sheet prepared by Frank.

"Dastardly attempt to win the cause of the working girls by dirty scab leaders and butter-fingered capitalist class," it began, and after this followed a wild jumble of words, words without meaning, sentences without point in which Sam was called a mealy-mouthed mail-order musser and The Skipper was mentioned incidentally as a pusillanimous ink slinger.

"I'll run the stuff and comment on it," declared The Skipper, handing Sam what he had written. It was an editorial inviting the public to read the article prepared for publication by the strike leaders and sympathising with the striking girls that their cause had to be lost because of the incompetence and lack of intelligence of their leaders.

"Hurrah for Roughhouse, the brave man who leads working girls to defeat in order that he may retain leadership and drive intelligent effort out of the cause of labour," wrote The Skipper.

Sam looked at the sheets and out of the window where a snow storm raged. It seemed to him that a crime was being done and he was sick and disgusted at his own inability to stop it. The Skipper lighted a short black pipe and took his cap from a nail on the wall.

"I'm the smoothest little newspaper thing in town and some financier as well," he declared. "Let's go have a drink."

After the drink Sam walked through the town toward the country. At the edge of town where the houses became scattered and the road started to drop away into a deep valley some one helloed behind him. Turning, he saw the soft-eyed Jewish girl running along a path beside the road.

"Where are you going?" he asked, stopping to lean against a board fence, the snow falling upon his face.

"I'm going with you," said the girl. "You're the best and the strongest man I've ever seen and I'm not going to let you get away. If you've got a wife it don't matter. She isn't what she should be or you wouldn't be walking about the country alone. Harrigan and Frank say you're crazy, but I know better. I am going with you and I'm going to help you find what you want."

Sam wondered. She took a roll of bills from a pocket in her dress and gave it to him.

"I spent three hundred and fourteen dollars," she said.

They stood looking at each other. She put out a hand and laid it on his arm. Her eyes, soft and now glowing with eager light looked into his. Her round breasts rose and fell.

"Anywhere you say. I'll be your servant if you ask it of me."

A wave of hot desire ran through Sam followed by a quick reaction. He thought of his months of weary seeking and his universal failure.

"You are going back to town if I have to drive you there with stones," he told her, and turning ran down the valley leaving her standing by the board fence, her head buried in her arms.

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