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A Mountain Woman and Other Stories

Jim Lancy slid his arm softly about her waist, unseen by the other passengers. Annie
looked up apprehensively, to see if any one was noticing. But they were eating their
lunches. It was a common coach on which they were riding. There was a Pullman
attached to the train, and Annie had secretly thought that, as it was their wedding journey,
it might be more becoming to take it. But Jim had made no suggestion about it. What he
said later explained the reason.
"I would have liked to have brought you a fine present," he said. "It seemed shabby to
come with nothing but that little ring. But I put everything I had on our home, you know.
And yet, I'm sure you'll think it poor enough after what you've been used to. You'll
forgive me for only bringing the ring, my dear?"
"But you brought me something better," Annie whispered. She was a foolish little girl.
"You brought me love, you know." Then they rode in silence for a long time. Both of
them were new to the phraseology of love. Their simple compliments to each other were
almost ludicrous. But any one who might have chanced to overhear them would have
been charmed, for they betrayed an innocence as beautiful as an unclouded dawn.
Annie tried hard not to be depressed by the treeless stretches of the Nebraska plains.
"This is different from Illinois," she ventured once, gently; "it is even different from
Iowa."
"Yes, yes," cried Jim, enthusiastically, "it is different! It is the finest country in the world!
You never feel shut in. You can always see off. I feel at home after I get in Nebraska. I'd
choke back where you live, with all those little gullies and the trees everywhere. It's a
mystery to me how farmers have patience to work there."
Annie opened her eyes. There was evidently more than one way of looking at a question.
The farm-houses seemed very low and mean to her, as she looked at them from the
window. There were no fences, excepting now and then the inhospitable barbed wire. The
door-yards were bleak to her eyes, without the ornamental shrubbery which every farmer
in her part of the country was used to tending. The cattle stood unshedded in their corrals.
The reapers and binders stood rusting in the dull drizzle.
"How shiftless!" cried Annie, indignantly. "What do these men mean by letting their
machinery lie out that way? I should think one winter of lying out would hurt it more
than three summers of using."
"It does. But sheds are not easily had. Lumber is dear."
"But I should think it would be economy even then."
"Yes," he said, "perhaps. But we all do that way out here. It takes some money for a man
to be economical with. Some of us haven't even that much."
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