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Among the Corn Rows
by [?]


"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 specially delicious.

Seagraves laughed, but did not enter the shanty door. "How do you like baching it?"

"Oh, don’t mention it!" entreated Rob, mauling the dough again. " Come in an’ sit down. Why in thunder y’ standin’ out there for?"

"Oh, I’d rather be where I can see the prairie. Great weather!"


"How goes breaking?"

"Tip-top! A leetle dry now; but the bulls pull the plow through two acres a day. How’s things in Boomtown?"

"Oh, same old grind. "

"Judge still lyin’?"

"Still at it. "

"Major Mullens still swearin’ to it?"

"You hit it like a mallet. Railroad schemes are thicker’n prairie chickens. You’ve got grit, Rob. I don’t have anything but crackers and sardines over to my shanty, and here you are making soda biscuit. "

"I have t’ do it. Couldn’t break if I didn’t. You editors c’n take things easy, lay around on the prairie, and watch the plovers and medderlarks; but we settlers have got to work. "

Leaving Rob to sputter over his cooking, Seagraves took his slow way off down toward the oxen grazing in a little hollow. The scene was characteristically, wonderfully beautiful. It was about five o’clock in a day in late June, and the level plain was green and yellow, and infinite in reach as a sea; the lowering sun was casting over its distant swells a faint impalpable mist, through which the breaking teams on the neighboring claims plowed noiselessly, as figures in a dream. The whistle of gophers, the faint, wailing, fluttering cry of the falling plover, the whir of the swift-winged prairie pigeon, or the quack of a lonely duck, came through the shimmering air. The lark’s infrequent whistle, piercingly sweet, broke from the longer grass m the swales nearby. No other climate, sky, plain, could produce the same unnamable weird charm. No tree to wave, no grass to rustle; scarcely a sound of domestic life; only the faint melancholy soughing of the wind in the short grass, and the voices of the wild things of the prairie.

Seagraves, an impressionable young man (junior editor of the Boomtown Spike), threw himself down on the sod, pulled his hat rim down over his eyes, and looked away over the plain. It was the second year of Boomtown’s existence, and Seagraves had not yet grown restless under its monotony. Around him the gophers played saucily. Teams were moving here and there across the sod, with a peculiar noiseless, effortless motion that made them seem as calm, lazy, and unsubstantial as the mist through which they made their way; even the sound of passing wagons was a sort of low, well-fed, self-satisfied chuckle.

Seagraves, "holding down a claim" near Rob, had come to see his neighboring "bach" because of feeling the need of company; but now that he was near enough to hear him prancing about getting supper, he was content to lie alone on a slope of the green sod.

The silence of the prairie at night was well-nigh terrible. Many a night, as Seagraves lay in his bunk against the side of his cabin, he would strain his ear to hear the slightest sound, and he listening thus sometimes for minutes before the squeak of a mouse or the step of a passing fox came as a relief to the aching sense. In the daytime, however, and especially on a morning, the prairie was another thing. The pigeons, the larks; the cranes, the multitudinous voices of the ground birds and snipes and insects, made the air pulsate with sound–a chorus that died away into an infinite murmur of music.