The Wild Land 0 I One January day , thirty years ago ,
the little town of Hanover 1 , anchored on
, was trying not to be blown away .
A mist of fine snowflakes was curling and eddying about the cluster of
low drab buildings 4 huddled on
the gray prairie 5 , under a gray sky .
The dwelling-houses 6 were set about haphazard on the tough prairie sod ; looked as if
they 7 had been moved in overnight , and
others 8 as if
they 8 were straying off by
themselves 8 , headed straight for
the open plain 9 .
had any appearance of permanence , and the howling wind blew under
them 6 as well as over
them 6 .
The main street 10 was
a deeply rutted road , now frozen hard , which ran from
the squat red railway station 11
the grain “ elevator ” 12
the north end of
the town 1 13
the lumber yard 14
the horse pond 15
the south end 16 91
On either side of
this road 10 straggled two uneven rows of
wooden buildings 17 ;
the general merchandise stores 18 ,
the two banks 19 ,
the drug store 20 ,
the feed store 21 ,
the saloon 22 ,
the post-office 23 .
The board sidewalks 24 were gray with trampled snow , but at two o'clock in the afternoon
the shopkeepers 25 , having come back from dinner , were keeping well behind
their 25 frosty windows .
The children 26 were all in
school 27 , and there was
nobody 28 abroad in
the streets 29 but
a few rough-looking countrymen in coarse overcoats 30 , with
their 30 long caps pulled down to
their 30 noses .
had brought to
town 1 , and now and then a red or a plaid shawl flashed out of
one store 32 into the shelter of
another 33 .
At the hitch-bars along
the street 10 a few heavy work-horses , harnessed to
farm wagons 34 , shivered under their blankets .
the station 11 everything was quiet , for there would not be
another train 35 in until night .
the sidewalk 36 in front of one of
the stores 18 sat
a little Swede boy 37 , crying bitterly .
He 37 was about five years old .
His 37 black cloth coat was much too big for
him 37 and made
him 37 look like
a little old man 87 .
His 37 shrunken brown flannel dress had been washed many times and left a long stretch of stocking between the hem of
his 37 skirt and the tops of
his 37 clumsy , copper-toed shoes .
His 37 cap was pulled down over
his 37 ears ;
his 37 nose and
his 37 chubby cheeks were chapped and red with cold .
He 37 cried quietly , and
the few people who hurried by 38 did not notice
him 37 .
He 37 was afraid to stop
any one 39 , afraid to go into
the store 40 and ask for help , so
he 37 sat wringing
his 37 long sleeves and looking up a telegraph pole beside
him 37 , whimpering , “
My 37 kitten , oh ,
my 37 kitten !
Her will fweeze ! ”
At the top of the pole crouched a shivering gray kitten , mewing faintly and clinging desperately to the wood with her claws .
The boy 37 had been left at
the store 40 while went to
the doctor 's office 42 , and in
her 41 absence a dog had chased
his 37 kitten up the pole .
The little creature had never been so high before , and she was too frightened to move .
Her master 37 was sunk in despair .
He 37 was
a little country boy 88 , and
this village 1 was to
a very strange and perplexing place , where
wore fine clothes and had hard hearts 97
He 37 always felt shy and awkward
here 1 , and wanted to hide behind things for fear
some one 85 might laugh at
him 37 .
Just now ,
he 37 was too unhappy to care who laughed .
he 37 seemed to see a ray of hope : was coming , and
he 37 got up and ran toward
her 41 in
his 37 heavy shoes .
a tall , strong girl 89 , and
she 41 walked rapidly and resolutely , as if
she 41 knew exactly where
she 41 was going and what
she 41 was going to do next .
She 41 wore
a man 44 's long ulster ( not as if it were an affliction , but as if it were very comfortable and belonged to
her 41 ; carried it like
a young soldier 81 ) , and a round plush cap , tied down with a thick veil .
She 41 had a serious , thoughtful face , and
her 41 clear , deep blue eyes were fixed intently on the distance , without seeming to see anything , as if
she 41 were in trouble .
She 41 did not notice
the little boy 37 until
he 37 pulled
her 41 by the coat .
she 41 stopped short and stooped down to wipe
his 37 wet face .
“ Why ,
Emil 37 !
I 41 told
you 37 to stay in
the store 40 and not to come out .
What is the matter with
you 37 ? ”
My 37 kitten ,
sister 41 ,
my 37 kitten !
A man 45 put her out , and a dog chased her up there . ”
His 37 forefinger , projecting from the sleeve of
his 37 coat , pointed up to the wretched little creature on the pole .
“ Oh ,
Emil 37 !
I 41 tell
you 37 she 'd get
us 46 into trouble of some kind , if
you 37 brought her ?
you 37 tease
me 41 so ?
But there ,
I 41 ought to have known better
myself 41 . ”
She 41 went to the foot of the pole and held out
her 41 arms , crying , “ Kitty , kitty , kitty , ” but the kitten only mewed and faintly waved its tail .
Alexandra 41 turned away decidedly .
“ No , she wo n't come down .
Somebody 83 will have to go up after her .
I 41 saw
the Linstrums 48
' wagon 47
town 1 .
I 41 'll go and see if
I 41 can find
Carl 49 .
he 49 can do something .
you 37 must stop crying , or
I 41 wo n't go a step .
your 37 comforter ?
you 37 leave it in
the store 40 ?
Never mind .
Hold still , till
I 41 put this on
you 37 . ”
She 41 unwound the brown veil from
her 41 head and tied it about
his 37 throat .
, stopped and gazed stupidly at the shining mass of hair
A shabby little traveling man , who was just then coming out of
the store 40
the saloon 22 50
she 41 bared when
she 41 took off
her 41 veil ; two thick braids , pinned about
her 41 head in the German way , with a fringe of reddish-yellow curls blowing out from under
her 41 cap .
He 50 took
his 50 cigar out of
his 50 mouth and held the wet end between the fingers of
his 50 woolen glove .
girl 41 , what a head of hair ! ”
he 50 exclaimed , quite innocently and foolishly .
She 41 stabbed
him 50 with a glance of Amazonian fierceness and drew in
her 41 lower lip -- most unnecessary severity .
the little clothing drummer 50 such a start that
he 50 actually let
his 50 cigar fall to
the sidewalk 36 and went off weakly in the teeth of the wind to
the saloon 22 .
His 50 hand was still unsteady when
he 50 took
his 50 glass from
the bartender 52 .
His 50 feeble flirtatious instincts had been crushed before , but never so mercilessly .
He 50 felt cheap and ill-used , as if
some one 86 had taken advantage of
him 50 .
a drummer 53 had been knocking about in
little drab towns 54 and crawling across
the wintry country 55 in
dirty smoking-cars 56 , was
he 57 to be blamed if , when
he 57 chanced upon
a fine human creature 58 ,
he 57 suddenly wished
himself 57 more of
a man 57 ?
the little drummer 50 was drinking to recover
his 50 nerve ,
Alexandra 41 hurried to
the drug store 20 as
the most likely place to find
Carl Linstrum 49 98
he 49 was , turning over a portfolio of chromo “ studies ” which
the druggist 59 sold to
women who did china-painting 60
Alexandra 41 explained
her 41 predicament , and
the boy 49 followed
her 41 to the corner , where
Emil 37 still sat by the pole .
I 49 'll have to go up after her ,
Alexandra 41 .
I 49 think at
the depot 62
they 63 have some spikes
I 49 can strap on
my 49 feet .
Wait a minute . ”
Carl 49 thrust
his 49 hands into
his 49 pockets , lowered
his 49 head , and darted up
the street 10 against the north wind .
He 49 was
a tall boy of fifteen , slight and narrow-chested 92 .
he 49 came back with the spikes ,
Alexandra 41 asked
him 49 what
he 49 had done with
his 49 overcoat .
I 49 left it in
the drug store 20 .
I 49 could n't climb in it , anyhow .
me 49 if
I 49 fall ,
Emil 37 , ”
he 49 called back as
he 49 began
his 49 ascent .
Alexandra 41 watched
him 49 anxiously ; the cold was bitter enough on
the ground 64 .
The kitten would not budge an inch .
Carl 49 had to go to the very top of the pole , and then had some difficulty in tearing her from her hold .
he 49 reached
the ground 64 ,
he 49 handed the cat to
her tearful little master 37 .
“ Now go into
the store 40 with her ,
Emil 37 , and get warm . ”
He 49 opened the door for
the child 37 .
“ Wait a minute ,
Alexandra 41 .
Why ca n't
I 49 drive for
you 46 as far as ?
It 's getting colder every minute .
you 41 seen
the doctor 67 ? ”
“ Yes .
He 67 is coming over to-morrow .
he 67 says
father 68 ca n't get better ; ca n't get well . ”
The girl 41 's lip trembled .
She 41 looked fixedly up
the bleak street 10 as if
she 41 were gathering
her 41 strength to face something , as if
she 41 were trying with all
her 41 might to grasp a situation which , no matter how painful , must be met and dealt with somehow .
The wind flapped the skirts of
her 41 heavy coat about
her 41 .
Carl 49 did not say anything , but
she 41 felt
his 49 sympathy .
He 49 , too , was lonely .
He 49 was
a thin , frail boy , with brooding dark eyes 93 , very quiet in all
his 49 movements .
There was a delicate pallor in
his 49 thin face , and
his 49 mouth was too sensitive for
a boy 69 's .
The lips had already a little curl of bitterness and skepticism .
The two friends 70 stood for a few moments on
the windy street corner 71 , not speaking a word , as
two travelers , who have lost
way , sometimes stand and admit
perplexity in silence 72
Carl 49 turned away
he 49 said , “
I 49 'll see to
your 46 team . ”
Alexandra 41 went into
the store 40 to have
her 41 purchases packed in the egg-boxes , and to get warm before
she 41 set out on
her 41 long cold drive .
she 41 looked for
Emil 37 ,
she 41 found
him 37 sitting on a step of
the staircase that led up to the clothing and carpet department 73 .
He 37 was playing with
a little Bohemian girl 74 ,
Marie Tovesky 94 , who was tying
her 74 handkerchief over the kitten 's head for a bonnet .
Marie 74 was
, having come from
a stranger in
the country 75 96
Omaha 76 with to visit ,
Joe Tovesky 90 .
She 74 was
a dark child , with brown curly hair , like a brunette doll 's , a coaxing little red mouth , and round , yellow-brown eyes 95 .
Every one 79 noticed
her 74 eyes ; the brown iris had golden glints that made them look like gold-stone , or , in softer lights , like that
Colorado 80 mineral called tiger-eye .