It was always just a little further on—across the lake—beyond the river—over the mountains —a little further on. There the rain always falls just right; the late frost never comes; the soil is better and deeper than it is here; the crops never fail. The hay land, the plow land and the timber lie alongside in the same quarter section in that country; running water is everywhere; the chinch bug and the cut-worm have never been seen over there; there are no cold winters and cattle eat root-cured hay on the hillsides the year round; the hail and cyclone storms pass by that favored region.
How many times we have heard of it! Since we left the home of our childhood how many long pulls we have made trying to get to that country! Sometimes we thought we had found it. The country was new, the soil was deep, the wild fruits were so abundant we almost forgot the old orchards; the winter was a reprint of autumn; the early and latter rains fell; never had we seen such potatoes, Georgia never shipped such watermelons, the sod corn that had never known cultivation filled our pole cribs with the abundance of Egypt; the native grass was better than timothy—what wonderful stories we wmte back to the friends at the old home. Don’t we recall even now the inspiration of a new, unsettled country, the strange plants, the queer new settlers from all points of the compass, the novelty and delight there were in rough cabins and soddy gardens? But some way it wouldn’t last. The drouth came. (Strange that drouth never comes the first season a country is settled.) The chinch bug came as though telegraphed for. The potatoes grew small and the sod corn was cut up for fodder. Frost came along early and got away with the sorghum and pumpkins. It snowed that winter, something that hadn’t been heard of for twenty years. The cattle got thin and we lost several cows (about calving time) in the spring. Backsetting was worse than breaking and a horse died. There was a backset indeed. We began to feel as though this wasn’t the country after all. If only that first fortunate season would return. But it didnt. Next year there was a snow storm and freeze-up in May. \Ve had no wil(l plums that fall. There was a light wheat crop and corn was a failure. It was all a mistake. The good country was further on. The man who had “Money to Loan” came along that season. He transacted business with us and we staved another year. There couldn’t be three crop failures in succession. Luck must change if we staved with it. Sure enough there was a good crop that year. It wasn't like the first crop that came without effort. This crop took long clays of unremitting toil to secure. It took machinery. It took a great deal of planning nights. \Ve didn’t go to the Fourth of July that year, and the children felt sore over it for a whole month. \Ve got in the crop and the threshing was done. A load was taken to market. It seemed incredible that grain worth a dollar and a quarter in the spring should go begging at forty cents in the fall. It was that way, however. The railroads charged a big rate to Chicago. India grain was selling in Liverpool at peon prices and American farmers must meet them or quit the business. Perhaps there might be a foreign war. It did seem as though those fellows over in Europe would never get through talking and begin fighting—and they didn’t. The fellow who had our note in the bank did, however. He began a flank movement and the grain went for what it would bring. There wasn’t any money for a new house that fall and the same old overcoat went to town with us all the winter. It was a dead certainty this was not that good country now. It was up in Montana where they irrigated and always had sure crops and high
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