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God’s Ravens
by [?]


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 of Southwest wind, dry, magnetic, full of smell of unmeasured miles of growing grain in summer, or ripening corn and wheat in autumn. When it comes in winter the air glitters with incredible brilliancy. The snow of the country dazzles and flames in the eyes; deep blue shadows everywhere stream like stains of ink. Sleigh bells wrangle from early morning till late at night, and every step is quick and alert. In the city, smoke dims its clarity, but it is welcome.

But its greatest moment of domination is spring. The bitter gray wind of the East has held unchecked rule for days, giving place to its brother the North wind only at intervals, till some day in March the wind of the southwest begins to blow. Then the eaves begin to drip. Here and there a fowl (in a house that is really a prison) begins to sang the song it sang on the farm, and toward noon its song becomes a chant of articulate joy.

Then the poor crawl out of their reeking hovels on the South and West sides to stand in the sun–the blessed sun–and felicitate themselves on being alive. Windows of sickrooms are opened, the merry small boy goes to school without his tippet, and men lay off their long ulsters for their beaver coats. Caps give place to hats, and men women pause to chat when they meet each other the street. The open door is the sign of the great change of wind.

There are imaginative souls who are stirred yet deeper by this wind–men like Robert Bloom, to whom come vague and very sweet reminiscences of farm life when the snow is melting and the dry ground begins to appear. To these people the wind comes from the wide unending spaces of the prairie West. They can smell the strange thrilling odor of newly uncovered sod and moist brown plowed lands. To them it is like the opening door of a prison.

Robert had crawled downtown and up to his office high in the Star block after a month’s sickness. He had resolutely pulled a pad of paper under his hand to write, but the window was open and that wind coming in, and he could not write–he could only dream.

His brown hair fell over the thin white hand which propped his head. His face was like ivory with dull yellowish stains in it. His eyes did not see the mountainous roofs humped and piled into vast masses of brick and stone, crossed and riven by streets, and swept by masses of gray-white vapor; they saw a little valley circled by low-wooded bluffs–his native town in Wisconsin.

As his weakness grew his ambition fell away, and his heart turned back to nature and to the things he had known in his youth, to the kindly people of the olden time. It did not occur to him that the spirit of the country might have changed.

Sitting thus, he had a mighty longing come upon him to give up the struggle, to go back to the simplest life with his wife and two boys. Why should he tread in the mill, when every day was taking the lifeblood out of his heart?

Slowly his longing took resolution. At last he drew his desk down, and as the lock clicked it seemed like the shutting of a prison gate behind him.