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A Yankee from the West by Opie Percival Read

A YANKEE FROM THE WEST.

_FOURTEENTH EDITION._

A YANKEE FROM THE WEST

A Novel

BY

OPIE READ,

AUTHOR OF

"JUDGE ELBRIDGE," "THE WATERS OF CANEY FORK," "AN ARKANSAS PLANTER."

[Illustration]

CHICAGO AND NEW YORK: RAND, McNALLY & COMPANY, PUBLISHERS.

Copyright, 1898, by Rand, McNally & Co.

A YANKEE FROM THE WEST.

CHAPTER I.

MILFORD.

In his mind the traveler holds of Illinois a tiresome picture, the kitchen garden of a great people, a flat and unromantic necessity. The greatest of men have trod the level ground, but it is hard to mark history upon a plane; there is no rugged place on which to hang a wreath, and on the prairie the traveling eye is accommodated by no inn whereat it may halt to rest. Such is the Illinois as remembered by the hastening tourist. But in the southern part of the State there are mountains, and in the north, the scene of this story, there is a spread and a roll of romantic country--the green billows of Wisconsin gently breaking into Illinois; lakes scattered like a handful of jewels thrown broadcast, quiet rivers singing low among the rushes. Traveling north, we have left the slim, man-tended tree of the prairies, and here we find the great oak. There are hillsides where the forest is heavy. There are valleys sweet in a riot of flowers. Along the roads the fences are almost hidden by grape-vines. On a knoll the air is honeyed with wild crab-apple; along a slope the senses tingle with the scent of the green walnut. There are lanes so romantic that cool design could have had no hand in their arrangement--they hold the poetry of accident. The inhabitants of this scope of country have done nothing to beautify it. They have built wooden houses and have scarred the earth, but persistent nature soon hides the scars with vines and grasses. The soil is wastefully strong. In New England and in parts of the South, the feeble corn is a constant care, but here it grows with the rankness of a jungle weed. And yet, moved by our national disease, nervousness, the farmer sells his pastoral dales to buy a wind-swept space of prairie in the far West. A strange shiftlessness, almost unaccountable in a climate so stimulating, has suffered many a farm to lie idle, with fences slowly moldering under flowering vines--a reproach to husbandry, but a contribution to sentiment. Amid these scenes many an astonished muser has asked himself this question: "Where are the poets of this land, where the bluebell nods in metre to the gentle breeze?" Not a poem, not a story has he seen reflecting the life of this rude England in America. In the summer the Sunday newspaper prints the names of persons who, escaping from Chicago, have "sardined" themselves in cottages or suffered heat and indigestion at a farm-house; the maker of the bicycle map has marked the roads and dotted the villages; the pen and ink worker for the daily press has drawn sketches of a lily pad, a tree and a fish much larger than the truth; the reporter has caught a bit of color here and there, but the contemplative writer has been silent and the American painter has shut his eyes to open them upon a wood-shod family group in Germany.


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