Kurt hurried away to get a bucket and tin cup. As he drew water from the well he was thinking rather vaguely that it was somehow embarrassing— the fact of Mr. Anderson being accompanied by his daughter. Kurt was afraid of his father. But then, what did it matter? When he returned to the yard he found the rancher sitting in the shade of one of the few apple-trees, and the young lady was standing near, in the act of removing bonnet and veil.
She had thrown the linen coat over the seat of an old wagon-bed that lay near.
Decline in climate resilience of European wheat
He dropped the cup and stared. Then hurriedly, with flushing face, he bent over to recover and refill it. I'm—clumsy," he managed to say, and as he handed the cup to her he averted his gaze. For more than a year the memory of this very girl had haunted him. He had seen her twice—the first time at the close of his one year of college at the University of California, and the second time on the street in Spokane.
In a glance he had recognized the strong, lithe figure, the sunny hair, the rare golden tint of her complexion, the blue eyes, warm and direct. And he had sustained a shock which momentarily confused him. Come down in the foot-hills an' I'll show you.
My ranch 's called 'Many Waters,' an' you can't keep your feet dry. The warm breath that blew in from the wheatlands felt dry and smelled dry. This summer? Boy, do you know that wheat is the most important thing in the world to-day? But father doesn't see that. All he sees is—if we have rain we'll have bumper crops. That big field there would be a record—at war prices And he wouldn't be ruined!
Oh, he means I'd close on him Say, what do you see in a big wheat yield—if it rains? Anderson, I'd like to see our debt paid, but I'm thinking most of wheat for starving peoples. I—I've studied this wheat question.
It's the biggest question in this war. Kurt had forgotten the girl and was unaware of her eyes bent steadily upon him.go to link
Decline in climate resilience of European wheat
Anderson had roused to the interest of wheat, and to a deeper study of the young man. We have had three bad years. If the wheat fails this summer—we lose the land, that's all. She's dead. Father is German. He's old. He's rabid since the President declared war. He'll never change. Father and I quarreled over that until I had to give in. He's hard—he's impossible I'll wait for the draft and hope I'm called. Have you a brother? Humor him. An' when you're called—go an' fight. You'll come back. It sure is hard. But it'll be the makin' of a great country.
It'll weed out the riffraff See here, Kurt, I'm goin' to give you a hunch. Have you had any dealin's with the I. When I was in Spokane last month I heard a good deal. Strangers have approached us here, too—mostly aliens. I have no use for them, but they always get father's ear. And now! To tell the truth, I'm worried. I'm goin' to let you read over the laws of that I. You're to keep mum now, mind you.
I belong to the Chamber of Commerce in Spokane. Somebody got hold of these by-laws of this so-called labor union. We've had copies made, an' every honest farmer in the Northwest is goin' to read them. But carryin' one around is dangerous, I reckon, these days.
- The Desert Of Wheat;
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- Desert Wheat, First Edition.
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Anderson hesitated a moment, peered cautiously around, and then, slipping folded sheets of paper from his inside coat pocket, he evidently made ready to hand them to Kurt. Kurt thrilled at the soft sound of her voice.
It was something to have been haunted by a girl's face for a year and then suddenly hear her voice. Read that. An' if you don't get red-headed—". Without finishing his last muttered remark, he opened the sheets of manuscript and spread them out to the young man. Curiously, and with a little rush of excitement, Kurt began to read. The very first rule of the I. Kurt read on with slowly growing amaze, consternation, and anger. When he had finished, his look, without speech, was a question Anderson hastened to answer.
We made certain before we acted. Now how do they strike you?
I—I don't know what! There's trouble in Montana and Idaho. Strangers are driftin' into Washington from all over. We must organize to meet them—to prevent them gettin' a hold out here. It's a labor union, mostly aliens, with dishonest an' unscrupulous leaders, some of them Americans.
They aim to take advantage of the war situation. In the newspapers they rave about shorter hours, more pay, acknowledgment of the union. But any fool would see, if he read them laws I showed you, that this I.
But you'll have to organize somethin'. Up here in this desert you could have a heap of trouble if that outfit got here strong enough. You'd better tell every farmer you can trust about this I. And there's—". She spoke demurely, with laughter in her low voice. It made Dorn dare to look at her, and he met a blue blaze that was instantly averted. Anderson growled, evidently some very hard names, under his breath; his look just then was full of characteristic Western spirit.
Then he got up. But father is in bad mood. We just quarreled. Anderson,—I'm—I'm a little afraid he'll—". You talk to Lenore. He knew what an ordeal awaited the rancher, and he hated the fact that it could not be avoided. Then Kurt was confused, astounded, infuriated with himself over a situation he had not brought about and could scarcely realize.
He became conscious of pride and shame, and something as black and hopeless as despair. Have you? It was a relief to find that she still averted her face.