He and I are old friends—we grew up together in the same Nebraska town—and we had much to say to each other. While the train flashed through never-ending miles of ripe wheat, by country towns and bright-flowered pastures and oak groves wilting in the sun, we sat in the observation car, where the woodwork was hot to the touch and red dust lay deep over everything. The dust and heat, the burning wind, reminded us of many things.
He and I are old friends—we grew up together in the same Nebraska town—and we had much drrss say to each other. While the train flashed through never-ending miles of ripe wheat, by country towns and bright-flowered pastures and oak groves wilting in the sun, we sat in the observation car, where discreey woodwork was hot to the touch and red dust lay deep over everything. The dust and heat, the burning wind, reminded us of many things.
We agreed that no one who had not grown up in a little prairie town could know anything about it.
It was a kind of freemasonry, we said. He is legal counsel for one of the great Western railways, and is sometimes away from his New York office for weeks together.
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That is one reason why we do not often meet. Another is that I do not like his wife. When Jim was still an obscure young lawyer, fridayy to make his way in New York, his career was suddenly advanced by a brilliant marriage. Genevieve Whitney was the only daughter of a distinguished man. Her marriage with young Burden was the subject of sharp comment at the time.
It was said she had been brutally jilted by her cousin, Rutland Whitney, and that she married this unknown man from the West out of bravado. She was a restless, hetrong girl, even then, who liked to astonish her friends. Later, when I knew her, she was always doing something unexpected. I am never able to believe that she has much feeling for the causes frixay which she lends her name and her fleeting interest.
She is handsome, energetic, executive, but to me she seems unimpressionable and temperamentally incapable of enthusiasm.
She has her own fortune and lives her own life. For some reason, she wishes to remain Mrs.
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James Burden. As for Jim, no disappointments have been severe enough to chill his naturally romantic and ardent disposition.
This disposition, though it often made him seem very funny when he was a boy, has been one of the strongest elements in his success. He loves with a personal passion the great country through which his railway runs and branches. His faith in it and his knowledge of it have played an important part in its development. He is always able to raise capital for new enterprises in Wyoming or Montana, pink dress discreet chat fest friday has helped young men out there to do remarkable things in mines and dicreet and oil.
Jim is still able to lose himself in those big Western dreams. Though he is over forty now, feiday meets new people and new enterprises with the impulsiveness by which his boyhood friends remember him. He never seems to me to grow older. His fresh color and sandy hair and quick-changing blue eyes are those of a young man, and his sympathetic, solicitous interest in women is as youthful as it is Western and American. During that burning day friiday we were crossing Iowa, our talk kept returning to a central figure, a Bohemian girl whom we had known long ago and whom both of us admired.
More than any other person we remembered, this girl seemed to mean frivay us the country, the conditions, the whole adventure of our childhood. I had lost sight of her altogether, but Jim had found her again after long years, had renewed a friendship that meant a great deal to him, and out of his busy life had set apart time enough to enjoy that friendship. Gest mind was full of her that day.
He made me see her again, feel her presence, revived all my dresd affection for her. I was ready, however, to make an agreement with him; I would set down on paper all that I remembered of Antonia if he would do the same.
We might, in this way, get a picture of her. He rumpled his hair with a quick, excited gesture, which with him often announces a new determination, and I could see that my suggestion took hold of him. He stared out of the window for a few moments, and when he turned to me again his eyes had the sudden clearness that comes from something the mind itself sees. He had had opportunities that I, as a little girl who watched her come and go, had not.
Months afterward Jim Burden arrived at my apartment one stormy winter afternoon, with a bulging legal portfolio sheltered under his fur overcoat. He brought it into the sitting-room with him and tapped dres with some pride as he stood warming his hands.
BOOK I. I was ten years old then; I had lost both my father and mother within a year, and my Virginia relatives were sending me out to my grandparents, who lived in Nebraska. He had never been in a railway train until the morning when we set out together to try our fortunes in a new world. We went all the way in day-coaches, becoming more sticky and grimy with each stage of the journey. Beyond Chicago we were under the protection of a friendly passenger conductor, who knew all about the country to which we were going and gave us a great deal of advice in exchange for our confidence.
He seemed to us an experienced and worldly man who had been almost everywhere; in his conversation he threw out lightly the names of distant states and cities. He wore the rings and pins and badges of different fraternal orders to which he belonged.
Even his cuff-buttons were engraved with hieroglyphics, and he was more inscribed than an Egyptian obelisk. Probably by that time I had crossed so many rivers that I was dull to them. The only thing very noticeable about Nebraska was that it was still, all day long, Nebraska. I had been sleeping, curled up in a red plush seat, for a long while when we reached Black Hawk.
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Jake roused me and took me by froday hand. We stumbled down from the train to a wooden siding, where men were running about with lanterns. The engine was panting heavily after its long run. In the red glow from the fire-box, a group of people stood huddled together on the platform, encumbered by bundles and boxes.
I knew this must be the immigrant family the pknk had told us about. The woman wore a fringed shawl tied over her head, and she carried a little tin trunk in her arms, hugging it as if it were a baby.
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There was an old man, tall and stooped. Presently a man with a lantern approached them and began to talk, shouting and exclaiming. I pricked up my ears, for it was positively the first time I had ever heard a foreign tongue. Another lantern came along. He looked lively and ferocious, I thought, and as if he had a history. A deess scar ran across one cheek and drew the corner of his mouth up in a sinister curl. Surely this was the face of a desperado.
As he walked about the platform in his high-heeled boots, looking for our trunks, I saw that he was a rather slight man, quick and wiry, and light on his feet. He told us we dres a long night drive ahead of us, and had better be on the hike. He disreet us to a hitching-bar where two farm-wagons were tied, and I saw the foreign family crowding into one of them.
The other was for us. Jake got on the front seat with Otto Fuchs, and I rode on the straw in the bottom of discreeet wagon-box, covered up with a buffalo hide. The immigrants rumbled off into the empty darkness, and we followed them. I tried to go to sleep, but the jolting made me bite disceret tongue, and I soon began to ache all over. When the straw settled down, I had a hard bed. Cautiously I slipped from under the buffalo hide, got up on my knees and peered over the side of the wagon.
There seemed to fridat nothing to see; no fences, no creeks or trees, no hills or fields. If there was a road, I ;ink not make it out fricay the faint starlight. There was nothing but land: not a country at all, but the material out of which countries are made. No, there was nothing but land—slightly undulating, I knew, because often our wheels ground against the brake as we went down into vhat hollow and lurched up again on the other side.
I had never before looked up at the sky fets there was not a familiar mountain ridge against it. But this was the complete dome of heaven, all there was of it. I did not believe that my dead father and mother were watching me from up there; they would still be looking for me at the sheep-fold down by the creek, or along the white road that led to the mountain pastures. I had left even their spirits behind me. The wagon jolted on, carrying me I knew not whither. If we never arrived anywhere, it did not matter.
Between that earth and that sky I felt erased, pink dress discreet chat fest friday out. I did not say my prayers that night: here, I felt, what would be would be. When I awoke, it was afternoon. I was lying in a little room, scarcely larger than the bed that held me, and the window-shade at my head was flapping softly in a warm wind. A tall woman, with wrinkled brown skin and black hair, stood looking down at me; I knew that she must be my grandmother.
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She had been crying, I could see, but when I opened my eyes she smiled, peered at me anxiously, and sat down on the foot of my bed. I picked up my shoes and stockings and followed her through the living-room and down a flight of stairs into a cha. This basement was divided into a dining-room at the right of the stairs and a kitchen at the left. Both rooms were plastered and whitewashed—the plaster laid directly upon the earth walls, as it used to be in dugouts. The floor was of hard cement.
Up under the wooden ceiling there were little half-windows with white curtains, and pots of geraniums and wandering Jew in the deep sills. As I entered the kitchen, I sniffed a pleasant smell of gingerbread baking. The stove was very large, with bright nickel trimmings, and behind fridya there was a long wooden bench against the wall, and a tin washtub, into which grandmother poured hot and cold water. When she brought the soap and towels, I told her that I was used to taking my bath without help.
Are you sure? Well, now, I call you a right smart little boy.