Emil came home at about half-past seven
o'clock that evening. Old Ivar met him at the
windmill and took his horse, and the young man
went directly into the house. He called to his
sister and she answered from her bedroom,
behind the sitting-room, saying that she was
Emil went to her door.
"Can I see you for a minute?" he asked. "I
want to talk to you about something before
Alexandra rose quickly and came to the door.
"Where is Carl?"
"Lou and Oscar met us and said they wanted
to talk to him, so he rode over to Oscar's with
them. Are you coming out?" Emil asked
"Yes, sit down. I'll be dressed in a mo-
Alexandra closed her door, and Emil sank
down on the old slat lounge and sat with his
head in his hands. When his sister came out, he
looked up, not knowing whether the interval
had been short or long, and he was surprised to
see that the room had grown quite dark. That
was just as well; it would be easier to talk if he
were not under the gaze of those clear, deliber-
ate eyes, that saw so far in some directions and
were so blind in others. Alexandra, too, was
glad of the dusk. Her face was swollen from
Emil started up and then sat down again.
"Alexandra," he said slowly, in his deep young
baritone, "I don't want to go away to law
school this fall. Let me put it off another year.
I want to take a year off and look around. It's
awfully easy to rush into a profession you don't
really like, and awfully hard to get out of it.
Linstrum and I have been talking about that."
"Very well, Emil. Only don't go off looking
for land." She came up and put her hand on his
shoulder. "I've been wishing you could stay
with me this winter."
"That's just what I don't want to do, Alex-
andra. I'm restless. I want to go to a new place.
I want to go down to the City of Mexico to join
one of the University fellows who's at the head
of an electrical plant. He wrote me he could
give me a little job, enough to pay my way, and
I could look around and see what I want to do.
I want to go as soon as harvest is over. I guess
Lou and Oscar will be sore about it."
"I suppose they will." Alexandra sat down
on the lounge beside him. "They are very
angry with me, Emil. We have had a quarrel.
They will not come here again."
Emil scarcely heard what she was saying; he
did not notice the sadness of her tone. He was
thinking about the reckless life he meant to live
"What about?" he asked absently.
"About Carl Linstrum. They are afraid I am
going to marry him, and that some of my
property will get away from them."
Emil shrugged his shoulders. "What non-
sense!" he murmured. "Just like them."
Alexandra drew back. "Why nonsense, Emil?"
"Why, you've never thought of such a thing,
have you? They always have to have something to
"Emil," said his sister slowly, "you ought
not to take things for granted. Do you agree
with them that I have no right to change my
way of living?"
Emil looked at the outline of his sister's head
in the dim light. They were sitting close to-
gether and he somehow felt that she could
hear his thoughts. He was silent for a mo-
ment, and then said in an embarrassed tone,
"Why, no, certainly not. You ought to do
whatever you want to. I'll always back you."
"But it would seem a little bit ridiculous to
you if I married Carl?"
Emil fidgeted. The issue seemed to him too
far-fetched to warrant discussion. "Why, no.
I should be surprised if you wanted to. I can't
see exactly why. But that's none of my busi-
ness. You ought to do as you please. Certainly
you ought not to pay any attention to what the
Alexandra sighed. "I had hoped you might
understand, a little, why I do want to. But I
suppose that's too much to expect. I've had a
pretty lonely life, Emil. Besides Marie, Carl is
the only friend I have ever had."
Emil was awake now; a name in her last sen-
tence roused him. He put out his hand and
took his sister's awkwardly. "You ought to do
just as you wish, and I think Carl's a fine fel-
low. He and I would always get on. I don't
believe any of the things the boys say about
him, honest I don't. They are suspicious of him
because he's intelligent. You know their way.
They've been sore at me ever since you let me
go away to college. They're always trying to
catch me up. If I were you, I wouldn't pay
any attention to them. There's nothing to get
upset about. Carl's a sensible fellow. He won't
"I don't know. If they talk to him the way
they did to me, I think he'll go away."
Emil grew more and more uneasy. "Think
so? Well, Marie said it would serve us all right
if you walked off with him."
"Did she? Bless her little heart! SHE would."
Alexandra's voice broke.
Emil began unlacing his leggings. "Why
don't you talk to her about it? There's Carl, I
hear his horse. I guess I'll go upstairs and get
my boots off. No, I don't want any supper. We
had supper at five o'clock, at the fair."
Emil was glad to escape and get to his own
room. He was a little ashamed for his sister,
though he had tried not to show it. He felt
that there was something indecorous in her
proposal, and she did seem to him somewhat
ridiculous. There was trouble enough in the
world, he reflected, as he threw himself upon
his bed, without people who were forty years
old imagining they wanted to get married. In
the darkness and silence Emil was not likely to
think long about Alexandra. Every image
slipped away but one. He had seen Marie in
the crowd that afternoon. She sold candy at the
fair. WHY had she ever run away with Frank
Shabata, and how could she go on laughing and
working and taking an interest in things? Why
did she like so many people, and why had she
seemed pleased when all the French and Bohe-
mian boys, and the priest himself, crowded
round her candy stand? Why did she care
about any one but him? Why could he never,
never find the thing he looked for in her playful,
Then he fell to imagining that he looked once
more and found it there, and what it would be
like if she loved him,--she who, as Alexandra
said, could give her whole heart. In that dream
he could lie for hours, as if in a trance. His spirit
went out of his body and crossed the fields to
At the University dances the girls had often looked wonderingly at the tall young Swede with the fine head, leaning against the wall and frowning, his arms folded, his eyes fixed on the ceiling or the floor. All the girls were a little afraid of him. He was distinguished-looking, and not the jollying kind. They felt that he was too intense and preoccupied. There was some- thing queer about him. Emil's fraternity rather prided itself upon its dances, and some- times he did his duty and danced every dance. But whether he was on the floor or brooding in a corner, he was always thinking about Marie Shabata. For two years the storm had been gathering in him.