A Mountain Woman and Other Stories
Jim Lancy's Waterloo
"WE must get married before time to put in crops," he wrote. "We must make a success
of the farm the first year, for luck. Could you manage to be ready to come out West by
the last of February? After March opens there will be no let-up, and I do not see how I
could get away. Make it February, Annie dear. A few weeks more or less can make no
difference to you, but they make a good deal of difference to me."
The woman to whom this was written read it with something like anger. "I don't believe
he's so impatient for me!" she said to herself. "What he wants is to get the crops in on
time." But she changed the date of their wedding, and made it February.
Their wedding journey was only from the Illinois village where she lived to their
Nebraska farm. They had never been much together, and they had much to say to each
"Farming won't come hard to you," Jim assured her. "All one needs to farm with is
"What a success you'll make of it!" she cried saucily.
"I wish I had my farm clear," Jim went on; "but that's more than any one has around me.
I'm no worse off than the rest. We've got to pay off the mortgage, Annie."
"Of course we must. We'll just do without till we get the mortgage lifted. Hard work will
do anything, I guess. And I'm not afraid to work, Jim, though I've never had much
Jim looked out of the window a long time, at the gentle undulations of the brown Iowa
prairie. His eyes seemed to pierce beneath the sod, to the swelling buds of the yet
invisible grass. He noticed how disdainfully the rains of the new year beat down the
grasses of the year that was gone. It opened to his mind a vision of the season's
possibilities. For a moment, even amid the smoke of the car, he seemed to scent clover,
and hear the stiff swishing of the corn and the dull burring of the bees.
"I wish sometimes," he said, leaning forward to look at his bride, "that I had been born
something else than a farmer. But I can no more help farming, Annie, than a bird can help
singing, or a bee making honey. I didn't take to farming. I was simply born with a hoe in
"I don't know a blessed thing about it," Annie confessed. "But I made up my mind that a
farm with you was better than a town without you. That's all there is to it, as far as I am