Song of the Lark HTML version

Chapter I.6
Seen from a balloon, Moonstone would have looked like a Noah's ark town set
out in the sand and lightly shaded by gray-green tamarisks and cottonwoods. A
few people were trying to make soft maples grow in their turfed lawns, but the
fashion of planting incongruous trees from the North Atlantic States had not
become general then, and the frail, brightly painted desert town was shaded by
the light-reflecting, wind-loving trees of the desert, whose roots are always
seeking water and whose leaves are always talking about it, making the sound of
rain. The long porous roots of the cottonwood are irrepressible. They break into
the wells as rats do into granaries, and thieve the water.
The long street which connected Moonstone with the depot settlement
traversed in its course a considerable stretch of rough open country, staked out
in lots but not built up at all, a weedy hiatus between the town and the railroad.
When you set out along this street to go to the station, you noticed that the
houses became smaller and farther apart, until they ceased altogether, and the
board sidewalk continued its uneven course through sunflower patches, until you
reached the solitary, new brick Catholic Church. The church stood there because
the land was given to the parish by the man who owned the adjoining waste lots,
in the hope of making them more salable-"Farrier's Addition," this patch of prairie
was called in the clerk's office. An eighth of a mile beyond the church was a
washout, a deep sand-gully, where the board sidewalk became a bridge for
perhaps fifty feet. Just beyond the gully was old Uncle Billy Beemer's grove,--
twelve town lots set out in fine, well-grown cottonwood trees, delightful to look
upon, or to listen to, as they swayed and rippled in the wind. Uncle Billy had been
one of the most worthless old drunkards who ever sat on a store box and told
filthy stories. One night he played hide-and-seek with a switch engine and got his
sodden brains knocked out. But his grove, the one creditable thing he had ever
done in his life, rustled on. Beyond this grove the houses of the depot settlement
began, and the naked board walk, that had run in out of the sunflowers, again
became a link between human dwellings.
One afternoon, late in the summer, Dr. Howard Archie was fighting his way
back to town along this walk through a blinding sandstorm, a silk handkerchief
tied over his mouth. He had been to see a sick woman down in the depot
settlement, and he was walking because his ponies had been out for a hard drive
that morning.
As he passed the Catholic Church he came upon Thea and Thor. Thea was
sitting in a child's express wagon, her feet out behind, kicking the wagon along
and steering by the tongue. Thor was on her lap and she held him with one arm.
He had grown to be a big cub of a baby, with a constitutional grievance, and he
had to be continually amused. Thea took him philosophically, and tugged and
pulled him about, getting as much fun as she could under her encumbrance. Her