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A “Good Fellow’s” Wife
by [?]


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 by the lumber interest, they are merely trading points for the farmers, with no perceivable germs of boom in their quiet life.

A stranger coming into Belfast, Minnesota, excites much the same lanquid but persistent inquiry as in Belfast, New Hampshire. Juries of men, seated on salt barrels and nall kegs, discuss the stranger’s appearance and his probable action, just as in Kittery, Maine, but with a lazier speech tune and with a shade less of apparent interest.

On such a rainy day as comes in May after the corn is planted–a cold, wet rainy day–the usual crowd was gathered in Wilson’s grocery store at Bluff Siding, a small town in the "coulee country. " They were farmers, for the most part, retired from active service. Their coats were of cheap diagonal or cassimere, much faded and burned by the sun; their hats, flapped about by winds and soaked with countless rains, were also of the same yellow-brown tints. One or two wore paper collars on their hickory shirts.

Mcllvaine, farmer and wheat buyer, wore a paper collar and a butterfly necktie, as befitted a man of his station in life. He was a short, squarely made Scotchman, with sandy whiskers much grayed and with a keen, intensely blue eye.

"Say," called McPhail, ex-sheriff of the county, in the silence that followed some remark about the rain, "any o’ you fellers had any talk with this feller Sanford?"

"I hain’t," said Vance. "You, Bill?"

"No; but somebody was sayin’ he thought o’ startin’ in trade here. "

"Don’t Sam know? He generally knows what’s goin’ on.’,

"Knows he registered from Pittsfield, Mass. , an’ that’s all. Say, that’s a mighty smart-lookin’ woman o’ his. "

"Vance always sees how the women look, Where’d you see her?"

"Came in here the other day to look up prices. "

"Wha’d she say ’bout settlin’?"

"Hadn’t decided yet. "

"He’s too slick to have much business in him. That waxed mustache gives ‘im away. "

The discussion having reached that point where his word would have most effect, Steve Gilbert said, while opening the hearth to rap out the ashes of his pipe, "Sam’s wife heerd that he was kind o’ thinkin’ some of goin’ into business here, if things suited ‘im first-rate. "

They all knew the old man was aching to tell something, but they didn’t purpose to gratify him by any questions. The rain dripped from the awning in front and fell upon the roof of the storeroom at the back with a soft and steady roar.

"Good f’r the corn," MePhail said after a long pause.

"Purty cold, though. "

Gilbert was tranquil–he had a shot in reserve. "Sam’s wife said his wife said he was thinkin’ some of goin’ into a bank here–"

"A bank!"

"What in thunder–"

Vance turned, with a comical look on his long, placid face, one hand stroking his beard.

"Well, now, gents, I’ll tell you what’s the matter with this town. It needs a bank. Yes, sir! I need a bank. "


"Yes, me. I didn’t know just what did ail me, but I do how. It’s the need of a bank that keeps me down. "

"Well, you fellers can talk an’ laugh, but I tell yeb they’s a boom goin’ to strike this town. It’s got to come. . W’y, just look at Lumberville!"