A Deal in Wheat And Other Stories
A Deal In Wheat
I. THE BEAR--WHEAT AT SIXTY-TWO
As Sam Lewiston backed the horse into the shafts of his backboard and began hitching
the tugs to the whiffletree, his wife came out from the kitchen door of the house and drew
near, and stood for some time at the horse's head, her arms folded and her apron rolled
around them. For a long moment neither spoke. They had talked over the situation so
long and so comprehensively the night before that there seemed to be nothing more to
The time was late in the summer, the place a ranch in southwestern Kansas, and Lewiston
and his wife were two of a vast population of farmers, wheat growers, who at that
moment were passing through a crisis--a crisis that at any moment might culminate in
tragedy. Wheat was down to sixty-six.
At length Emma Lewiston spoke.
"Well," she hazarded, looking vaguely out across the ranch toward the horizon, leagues
distant; "well, Sam, there's always that offer of brother Joe's. We can quit--and go to
Chicago--if the worst comes."
"And give up!" exclaimed Lewiston, running the lines through the torets. "Leave the
ranch! Give up! After all these years!"
His wife made no reply for the moment. Lewiston climbed into the buckboard and
gathered up the lines. "Well, here goes for the last try, Emmie," he said. "Good-by, girl.
Maybe things will look better in town to-day."
"Maybe," she said gravely. She kissed her husband good-by and stood for some time
looking after the buckboard traveling toward the town in a moving pillar of dust.
"I don't know," she murmured at length; "I don't know just how we're going to make out."
When he reached town, Lewiston tied the horse to the iron railing in front of the Odd
Fellows' Hall, the ground floor of which was occupied by the post-office, and went across
the street and up the stairway of a building of brick and granite--quite the most
pretentious structure of the town--and knocked at a door upon the first landing. The door
was furnished with a pane of frosted glass, on which, in gold letters, was inscribed,
"Bridges & Co., Grain Dealers."
Bridges himself, a middle-aged man who wore a velvet skull-cap and who was smoking a
Pittsburg stogie, met the farmer at the counter and the two exchanged perfunctory