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42 Works of Hamlin Garland

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A Branch Road

Story type: Literature

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I "Keep the main-travelled road till you come to a branch leading off–keep to the right. " IN the windless September dawn a voice went singing, a man’s voice, singing a cheap and common air. Yet something in the elan of it all told he was young, jubilant, and a happy lover. Above the level […]

Among the Corn Rows

Story type: Literature

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I "But the road sometimes passes a rich meadow, where the songs of larks and bobolinks and blackbirds are tangled. " ROB held up his hands, from which the dough depended in ragged strings. "Biscuits," he said with an elaborate working of his jaws, intended to convey the idea that they were going to be […]

Up the Coulee

Story type: Literature

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I "Keep the main-travelled road up the coulee–it’s the second house after crossin’ the crick. " THE ride from Milwaukee to the Mississippi is a fine ride at any time, superb in summer. To lean back in a reclining chair and whirl away in a breezy July day, past lakes, groves of oak, past fields […]

The Creamery Man

Story type: Literature

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"Along these woods in storm and sun the busy people go. " THE tin-peddler has gone out of the West. Amiable gossip and sharp trader that he was, his visits once brought a sharp business grapple to the farmer’s wife and daughters, after which, as the man of trade was repacking his unsold wares, a […]

Uncle Ethan Ripley

Story type: Literature

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"Like the Main-Travelled Road of Life, it is traversed by many classes of people. " UNCLE ETHAN had a theory that a man’s character could be told by the way he sat in a wagon seat. "A mean man sets right plumb in the middle o’ the seat, as much as to say, ‘Walk, goldarn […]

I LIFE in the small towns of the older West moves slowly–almost as slowly as in the seaport villages or little towns of the East. Towns like Tyre and Bluff Siding have grown during the last twenty years, but very slowly, by almost imperceptible degrees. Lying too far away from the Mississippi to be affected […]

Under the Lion’s Paw

Story type: Literature

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I IT was the last of autumn and first day of winter coming together. All day long the ploughmen on their prairie farms had moved to and fro in their wide level fields through the falling snow, which melted as it fell, wetting them to the skin—all day, notwithstanding the frequent squalls of snow, the […]

A Day’s Pleasure

Story type: Literature

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I "Mainly it is long and weariful, and has a home o’ toil at one end and a dull little town at the other. " WHEN Markham came in from shoveling his last wagon-load of corn into the crib, he found that his wife had put the children to bed, and was kneading a batch […]

The Return of a Private

Story type: Literature

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I The nearer the train drew toward La Crosse, the soberer the little group of “vets” became. On the long way from New Orleans they had beguiled tedium with jokes and friendly chaff; or with planning with elaborate detail what they were going to do now, after the war. A long journey, slowly, irregularly, yet […]

God’s Ravens

Story type: Literature

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I CHICAGO has three winds that blow upon it. One comes from the East, and the mind goes out to the cold gray-blue lake. One from the North, and men think of illimitable spaces of pinelands and maple-clad ridges which lead to the unknown deeps of the arctic woods. But the third is the West […]

Mrs. Ripley’s Trip

Story type: Literature

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"And in winter the winds sweep the snows across it. " The night was in windy November, and the blast, threatening rain, roared around the poor little shanty of "Uncle Ripley," set like a chicken trap on the vast Iowa prairie. Uncle Ethan was mending his old violin, with many York State "dums!" and "I […]

I MARCH Early in the gray and red dawn of a March morning in 1883, two wagons moved slowly out of Boomtown, the two-year-old “giant of the plains.” As the teams drew past the last house, the strangeness of the scene appealed irresistibly to the newly arrived immigrants. The town lay behind them on the […]

A certain guileless trust in human kindToo often leads them into netsSpread by some wandering trader,Smooth, and deft, and sure. UNCLE ETHAN RIPLEY. Uncle Ethan had a theory that a man’s character could be told by the way he sat in a wagon seat. “A mean man sets right plumb in the middle o’ the […]

The lonely center of their social life,The low, square school-house, standsUpon the wind-swept plain,Hacked by thoughtless boyish hands,And gray, and worn, and warped with strifeOf sleet and autumn rain. ELDER PILL, PREACHER. I. Old man Bacon was pinching forked barbs on a wire fence one rainy day in July, when his neighbor Jennings came along […]

… Love and youth pass swiftly: Love sings,And April’s sun fans warmer sunlight from his wings. WILLIAM BACON’S MAN I. The yellow March sun lay powerfully on the bare Iowa prairie, where the plowed fields were already turning warm and brown, and only here and there in a corner or on the north side of […]

A tale of toil that’s never done I tell;Of life where love’s a fleeting wingAbove the woman’s hopeless hellOf ceaseless, year-round journeying. SIM BURNS’S WIFE. I. Lucretia Burns had never been handsome, even in her days of early girlhood, and now she was middle-aged, distorted with work and child-bearing, and looking faded and worn as […]

In mystery of town and playThe splendid lady lives alway,Inwrought with starlight, winds and streams. SATURDAY NIGHT ON THE FARM. A group of men were gathered in Farmer Graham’s barn one rainy day in September; the rain had stopped the stacking, and the men were amusing themselves with feats of skill and strength. Steve Nagle […]

The village life abounds with jokers,Shiftless, conscienceless and shrewd. SOME VILLAGE CRONIES. Colonel Peavy had just begun the rubber with Squire Gordon, of Cerro Gordo County. They were seated in Robie’s grocery, behind the rusty old cannon stove, the checkerboard spread out on their knees. The Colonel was grinning in great glee, wringing his bony […]

Before them, surely, sullenly and slow,The desperate and cheated Indians go. DRIFTING CRANE. The people of Boomtown invariably spoke of Henry Wilson as the oldest settler in the Jim Valley, as he was of Buster County; but the Eastern man, with his ideas of an “old settler,” was surprised as he met the short, silent, […]

Like Scotland’s harper,Or Irish piper, with his droning lays,Before the spread of modern life and lightThe country fiddler slowly disappears. DADDY DEERING. I. They were threshing on Farmer Jennings’ place when Daddy made his very characteristic appearance. Milton, a boy of thirteen, was gloomily holding sacks for the measurer, and the glory of the October […]

“Good night, Lettie!”“Goodnight, Ben!”(The moon is sinking at the west.)“Good night, my sweetheart.” Once againThe parting kiss, while comrades waitImpatient at the roadside gate,And the red moon sinks beyond the west. I John Jennings was not one of those men who go to a donation party with fifty cents’ worth of potatoes and eat and […]

The Grub-Staker

Story type: Literature

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I “There’s gold in the Sierra Blanca country–everybody admits it,” Sherman F. Bidwell was saying as the Widow Delaney, who kept the Palace Home Cooking Restaurant in the town of Delaney (named after her husband, old Dan Delaney), came into the dining-room. Mrs. Delaney paused with a plate of steaming potatoes, and her face was […]

The Cow-Boss

Story type: Literature

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–the reckless cowboy on his watch-eyed broncostill lopes across the grassy foot-hills–or holdshis milling herd in the high parks. I The post-office at Eagle River was so small that McCoy and his herders always spoke of the official within as “the Badger,” saying that he must surely back into his den for lack of room […]

The Lonesome Man

Story type: Literature

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–the murderer still seeks forgetfulness inthe solitude, building his cabin in the shadowof great peaks. The road that leads to the historic north shoulder of Solidor is lonely now. The stages that once crawled painfully upward through its flowery meadows are playhouses for the children of Silver Plume, and the brakes that once howled so […]

The Trail Tramp

Story type: Literature

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–mounted wanderer, horseman of the restless heart,still rides from place to place, contemptuous of gold,carrying in his parfleche all the vanishing traditionsof the West. THE TRAIL TRAMPKELLEY AFOOT I Kelley was in off the range and in profound disgust with himself, for after serving honorably as line-rider and later as cow-boss for ten years or […]

The Leaser

Story type: Literature

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–the tenderfoot hay-roller from theprairies–still tries his luck in someabandoned tunnel–sternly toiling forhis sweetheart far away. The only passenger in the car who really interested me was a burly young fellow who sat just ahead of me, and who seemed to be something more than a tourist, for the conductor greeted him pleasantly and the […]

An At The Beginning

Story type: Literature

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She was in the box; he was far above in the gallery. He looked down and across and saw her sitting there fair as a flower and robed like a royal courtesan in flame and snow. Like a red torch flamed the ruby in her hair. Her shoulders were framed in her cloak, white as […]

Beyond his necessity, a tired man is not apt to be polite. This Mrs. Miner had generalized from long experience with her husband. She knew at a distance, by the way he wore his hat when he came in out of the field, whether he was in a peculiarly savage mood, or only in his […]

Of Those Who Seek

Story type: Literature

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I. THE PRISONED SOUL. The Capitol swarmed with people. Groups of legislators tramped noisily along the corridors, laughing loudly, gesticulating with pointed fingers or closed fists. Squads of ragged, wondering, and wistful-eyed negroes, splashed with orange-colored mud from the fields, moved timidly on from magnificence to magnificence, keeping close to each other, solemn and silent. […]

Upon Impulse

Story type: Literature

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The seminary buildings stood not far from the low, lodgelike railway station, and a path led through a gap in the fence across the meadow. People were soberly converging toward its central building, as if proceeding to church. Among the people who alighted from the two o’clock train were Professor Blakesly and his wife and […]

They lay on the cliff where the warm sun fell. Beneath them were rocks, lichen-spotted above, and orange and russet and pink beneath. Around the headland the ocean ravened with roaring breath, flinging itself ceaselessly on the land, only to fall back with clutching snarl over the pebbles. The smell of hot cedars was in […]

William Bacon’s Man

Story type: Literature

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I The yellow March sun lay powerfully on the bare Iowa prairie, where the ploughed fields were already turning warm and brown, and only here and there in a corner or on the north side of the fence did the sullen drifts remain, and they were so dark and low that they hardly appeared to […]

Elder Pill, Preacher

Story type: Literature

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I Old man Bacon was pinching forked barbs on a wire fence one rainy day in July, when his neighbor Jennings came along the road on his way to town. Jennings never went to town except when it rained too hard to work outdoors, his neighbors said; and of old man Bacon it was said […]

A Day Of Grace

Story type: Literature

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Sunday is the day for courtship on the prairie. It has also the piety of cleanliness. It allows the young man to get back to a self-respecting sweetness of person, and enables the girls to look as nature intended, dainty and sweet as posies. The change from everyday clothing on the part of young workmen […]

Lucretia Burns

Story type: Literature

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I Lucretia Burns had never been handsome, even in her days of early girlhood, and now she was middle-aged, distorted with work and child-bearing, and looking faded and worn as one of the boulders that lay beside the pasture fence near where she sat milking a large white cow. She had no shawl or hat […]

Daddy Deering

Story type: Literature

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I They were threshing on Farmer Jennings’s place when Daddy made his very characteristic appearance. Milton, a boy of thirteen, was gloomily holding sacks for the measurer, and the glory of the October day was dimmed by the suffocating dust, and poisoned by the smarting beards and chaff which had worked their way down his […]

A Stop-Over At Tyre

Story type: Literature

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I Albert Lohr was studying the motion of the ropes and lamps, and listening to the rumble of the wheels and the roar of the ferocious wind against the pane of glass that his head touched. It was the midnight train from Marion rushing toward Warsaw like some savage thing unchained, creaking, shrieking, and clattering […]

A funeral is a depressing affair under the best circumstances, but a funeral in a lonely farm-house in March, the roads full of slush, the ragged gray clouds leaping the sullen hills like eagles, is tragic. The teams arrived splashed with mud, the women blue with cold under their scanty cotton-quilt lap robes, their hats […]

A Fair Exile

Story type: Literature

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The train was ambling across the hot, russet plain. The wind, strong and warm and dry, sweeping up from the south, carried with it the subtle odor of September grass and gathered harvests. Out of the unfenced roads the dust arose in long lines, like smoke from some hidden burning which the riven earth revealed. […]

An Alien In The Pines

Story type: Literature

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I A man and a woman were pacing up and down the wintry station platform, waiting for a train. On every side the snow lay a stained and crumpled blanket, with here and there a light or a chimney to show the village sleeping beneath. The sky was a purple-black hemisphere, out of which the […]

Matilda Bent was dying; there was no doubt of that now, if there had been before. The gruff old physician–one of the many overworked and underpaid country doctors–shook his head and pushed by Joe Bent, her husband, as he passed through the room which served as dining-room, sitting-room, and parlor. The poor fellow slouched back […]

I The train drew out of the great Van Buren Street depot at 4.30 of a dark day in late October. A tall young man, with a timid look in his eyes, was almost the last passenger to get on, and his pale face wore a worried look as he dropped into an empty seat […]