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Under the Lion’s Paw
by [?]

“And the ‘hoppers eat ye four years, hand runnin’, did they?”

“Eat! They wiped us out. They chawed everything that was green. They jest set around waitin’ f’r us to die t’ eat us, too. My God! I ust t’ dream of ’em sittin’ ’round on the bedpost, six feet long, workin’ their jaws. They eet the fork-handles. They got worse ‘n’ worse till they jest rolled on one another, piled up like snow in winter. Well, it ain’t no use; if I was t’ talk all winter I couldn’t tell nawthin’. But all the while I couldn’t help thinkin’ of all that land back here that nobuddy was usin’, that I ought ‘o had ‘stead o’ bein’ out there in that cussed country.”

“Waal, why didn’t ye stop an’ settle here ?” asked Ike, who had come in and was eating his supper.

“Fer the simple reason that you fellers wantid ten ‘r fifteen dollars an acre fer the bare land, and I hadn’t no money fer that kind o’ thing.”

“Yes, I do my own work,” Mrs. Council was heard to say in the pause which followed.”I’m a gettin’ purty heavy t’ be on m’laigs all day, but we can’t afford t’ hire, so I keep rackin’ around somehow, like a foundered horse. S’lame—I tell Council he can’t tell howlame I am, f’r I’m jest as lame in one laig as t’ other.” And the good soul laughed at the joke on herself as she took a handful of flour and dusted the biscuit board to keep the dough from sticking.

“Well, I hain’t neverbeen very strong,” said Mrs. Haskins.”Our folks was Canadians an’ small-boned, and then since my last child I hain’t got up again fairly. I don’t like t’ complain—Tim has about all he can bear now—but they was days this week when I jest wanted to lay right down an’ die.”

“Waal, now, I’ll tell ye,” said Council, from his side of the stove silencing everybody with his good-natured roar, “I’d go down and seeButler, anyway,if I was you. I guess he’d let you have his place purty cheap; the farm’s all run down. He’s been anxious t’ let t’ somebuddy next year. It ‘ud be a good chance fer you. Anyhow, you go to bed, and sleep like a babe. I’ve got some ploughing t’ do anyhow, an’ we’ll see if somethin’ can’t be done about your case. Ike, you go out an’ see if the horses is all right, an’ I’ll show the folks t’ bed.”

When the tired husband and wife were lying under the generous quilts of the spare bed, Haskins listened a moment to the wind in the eaves, and then said, with a slow and solemn tone,

“There are people in this world who are good enough t’ be angels, an’ only haff t’ die to beangels.”


Jim Butler was one of those men called in the West “land poor.” Early in the history of Rock River he had come into the town and started in the grocery business in a small way, occupying a small building in a mean part of the town. At this period of his life he earned all he got, and was up early and late sorting beans, working over butter, and carting his goods to and from the station. But a change came over him at the end of the second year, when he sold a lot of land for four times what he paid for it. From that time forward he believed in land speculation as the surest way of getting rich. Every cent he could save or spare from his trade he put into land at forced sale, or mortgages on land, which were “just as good as the wheat,” he was accustomed to say.

Farm after farm fell into his hands, until he was recognized as one of the leading landowners of the county. His mortgages were scattered all over Cedar County, and as they slowly but surely fell in he sought usually to retain the former owner as tenant.

He was not ready to foreclose; indeed, he had the name of being one of the “easiest” men in the town. He let the debtor off again and again, extending the time whenever possible.