Poor White by Sherwood Anderson
When Clara Butterworth, the daughter of Tom Butterworth, was eighteen years old she graduated from the town high school. Until the summer of her seventeenth year, she was a tall, strong, hard-muscled girl, shy in the presence of strangers and bold with people she knew well. Her eyes were extraordinarily gentle.
The Butterworth house on Medina Road stood back of an apple orchard and there was a second orchard beside the house. The Medina Road ran south from Bidwell and climbed gradually upward toward a country of low hills, and from the side porch of the Butterworth house the view was magnificent. The house itself was a large brick affair with a cupola on top and was considered at that time the most pretentious place in the county.
Behind the house were several great barns for the horses and cattle. Most of Tom Butterworth's farm land lay north of Bidwell, and some of his fields were five miles from his home; but as he did not himself work the land it did not matter. The farms were rented to men who worked them on shares. Beside the business of farming Tom carried on other affairs. He owned two hundred acres of hillside land near his house and, with the exception of a few fields and a strip of forest land, it was devoted to the grazing of sheep and cattle. Milk and cream were delivered each morning to the householders of Bidwell by two wagons driven by his employees. A half mile to the west of his residence there was a slaughter house on a side road and at the edge of a field where cattle were killed for the Bidwell market. Tom owned it and employed the men who did the killing. A creek that came down out of the hills through one of the fields past his house had been dammed, and south of the pond there was an ice house. He also supplied the town with ice. In his orchards beneath the trees stood more than a hundred beehives and every year he shipped honey to Cleveland. The farmer himself was a man who appeared to do nothing, but his shrewd mind was always at work. In the summer throughout the long sleepy afternoons, he drove about over the county buying sheep and cattle, stopping to trade horses with some farmer, dickering for new pieces of land, everlastingly busy. He had one passion. He loved fast trotting horses, but would not humor himself by owning one. "It's a game that only gets you into trouble and debt," he said to his friend John Clark, the banker. "Let other men own the horses and go broke racing them. I'll go to the races. Every fall I can go to Cleveland to the grand circuit. If I go crazy about a horse I can bet ten dollars he'll win. If he doesn't I'm out ten dollars. If I owned him I would maybe be out hundreds for the expense of training and all that." The farmer was a tall man with a white beard, broad shoulders, and rather small slender white hands. He chewed tobacco, but in spite of the habit kept both himself and his white beard scrupulously clean. His wife had died while he was yet in the full vigor of life, but he had no eye for women. His mind, he once told one of his friends, was too much occupied with his own affairs and with thoughts of the fine horses he had seen to concern itself with any such nonsense.
For many years the farmer did not appear to pay much attention to his daughter Clara, who was his only child. Throughout her childhood she was under the care of one of his five sisters, all of whom except the one who lived with him and managed his household being comfortably married. His own wife had been a somewhat frail woman, but his daughter had inherited his own physical strength.
When Clara was seventeen, she and her father had a quarrel that eventually destroyed their relationship. The quarrel began late in July. It was a busy summer on the farms and more than a dozen men were employed about the barns, in the delivery of ice and milk to the town, and at the slaughtering pens a half mile away. During that summer something happened to the girl. For hours she sat in her own room in the house reading books, or lay in a hammock in the orchard and looked up through the fluttering leaves of the apple trees at the summer sky. A light, strangely soft and enticing, sometimes came into her eyes. Her figure that had been boyish and strong began to change. As she went about the house she sometimes smiled at nothing. Her aunt hardly noticed what was happening to her, but her father, who all her life had seemed hardly to take account of her existence, was interested. In her presence he began to feel like a young man. As in the days of his courtship of her mother and before the possessive passion in him destroyed his ability to love, he began to feel vaguely that life about him was full of significance. Sometimes in the afternoon when he went for one of his long drives through the country he asked his daughter to accompany him, and although he had little to say a kind of gallantry crept into his attitude toward the awakening girl. While she was in the buggy with him, he did not chew tobacco, and after one or two attempts to indulge in the habit without having the smoke blow in her face, he gave up smoking his pipe during the drives.
Always before that summer Clara had spent the months when there was no school in the company of the farm hands. She rode on wagons, visited the barns, and when she grew weary of the company of older people, went into town to spend an afternoon with one of her friends among the town girls.
In the summer of her seventeenth year she did none of these things. At the table she ate in silence. The Butterworth household was at that time run on the old-fashioned American plan, and the farm hands, the men who drove the ice and milk wagons and even the men who killed and dressed cattle and sheep, ate at the same table with Tom Butterworth, his sister, who was the housekeeper, and his daughter. Three hired girls were employed in the house and after all had been served they also came and took their places at table. The older men among the farmer's employees, many of whom had known her from childhood, had got into the habit of teasing the daughter of the house. They made comments concerning town boys, young fellows who clerked in stores or who were apprenticed to some tradesman and one of whom had perhaps brought the girl home at night from a school party or from one of the affairs called "socials" that were held at the town churches. After they had eaten in the peculiar silent intent way common to hungry laborers, the farm hands leaned back in their chairs and winked at each other. Two of them began an elaborate conversation touching on some incident in the girl's life. One of the older men, who had been on the farm for many years and who had a reputation among the others of being something of a wit, chuckled softly. He began to talk, addressing no one in particular. The man's name was Jim Priest, and although the Civil War had come upon the country when he was past forty, he had been a soldier. In Bidwell he was looked upon as something of a rascal, but his employer was very fond of him. The two men often talked together for hours concerning the merits of well known trotting horses. In the war Jim had been what was called a bounty man, and it was whispered about town that he had also been a deserter and a bounty jumper. He did not go to town with the other men on Saturday afternoons, and had never attempted to get into the Bidwell chapter of the G. A. R. On Saturdays when the other farm hands washed, shaved and dressed themselves in their Sunday clothes preparatory to the weekly flight to town, he called one of them into the barn, slipped a quarter into his hand, and said, "Bring me a half pint and don't you forget it." On Sunday afternoons he crawled into the hayloft of one of the barns, drank his weekly portion of whisky, got drunk, and sometimes did not appear again until time to go to work on Monday morning. In the fall Jim took his savings and went to spend a week at the grand circuit trotting meeting at Cleveland, where he bought a costly present for his employer's daughter and then bet the rest of his money on the races. When he was lucky he stayed on in Cleveland, drinking and carousing until his winnings were gone.
It was Jim Priest who always led the attacks of teasing at the table, and in the summer of her seventeenth year, when she was no longer in the mood for such horse-play, it was Jim who brought the practice to an end. At the table Jim leaned back in his chair, stroked his red bristly beard, now rapidly graying, looked out of a window over Clara's head, and told a tale concerning an attempt at suicide on the part of a young man in love with Clara. He said the young man, a clerk in a Bidwell store, had taken a pair of trousers from a shelf, tied one leg about his neck and the other to a bracket in the wall. Then he jumped off a counter and had only been saved from death because a town girl, passing the store, had seen him and had rushed in and cut him down. "Now what do you think of that?" he cried. "He was in love with our Clara, I tell you."
After the telling of the tale, Clara got up from the table and ran out of the room. The farm hands joined by her father laughed heartily. Her aunt shook her finger at Jim Priest, the hero of the occasion. "Why don't you let her alone?" she asked.
"She'll never get married if she stays here where you make fun of every young man who pays her any attention." At the door Clara stopped and, turning, put out her tongue at Jim Priest. Another roar of laughter arose. Chairs were scraped along the floor and the men filed out of the house to go back to the work in the barns and about the farm.
In the summer when the change came over her Clara sat at the table and did not hear the tales told by Jim Priest. She thought the farm hands who ate so greedily were vulgar, a notion she had never had before, and wished she did not have to eat with them. One afternoon as she lay in the hammock in the orchard, she heard several of the men in a nearby barn discussing the change that had come over her. Jim Priest was explaining what had happened. "Our fun's over with Clara," he said. "Now we'll have to treat her in a new way. She's no longer a kid. We'll have to let her alone or pretty soon she won't speak to any of us. It's a thing that happens when a girl begins to think about being a woman. The sap has begun to run up the tree."
The puzzled girl lay in the hammock and looked up at the sky. She thought about Jim Priest's words and tried to understand what he meant. Sadness crept over her and tears came into her eyes. Although she did not know what the old man meant by the words about the sap and the tree, she did, in a detached subconscious way, understand something of the import of the words, and she was grateful for the thoughtfulness that had led to his telling the others to stop trying to tease her at the table. The half worn-out old farm hand, with the bristly beard and the strong old body, became a figure full of significance to her mind. She remembered with gratitude that, in spite of all of his teasing, Jim Priest had never said anything that had in any way hurt her. In the new mood that had come upon her that meant much. A greater hunger for understanding, love, and friendliness took possession of her. She did not think of turning to her father or to her aunt, with whom she had never talked of anything intimate or close to herself, but turned instead to the crude old man. A hundred minor points in the character of Jim Priest she had never thought of before came sharply into her mind. In the barns he had never mistreated the animals as the other farm hands sometimes did. When on Sunday afternoons he was drunk and went staggering through the barns, he did not strike the horses or swear at them. She wondered if it would be possible for her to talk to Jim Priest, to ask him questions about life and people and what he meant by his words regarding the sap and the tree. The farm hand was old and unmarried. She wondered if in his youth he had ever loved a woman. She decided he had. His words about the sap were, she was sure, in some way connected with the idea of love. How strong his hands were. They were gnarled and rough, but there was something beautifully powerful about them. She half wished the old man had been her father. In his youth, in the darkness at night or when he was alone with a girl, perhaps in a quiet wood in the late afternoon when the sun was going down, he had put his hands on her shoulders. He had drawn the girl to him. He had kissed her.
Clara jumped quickly out of the hammock and walked about under the trees in the orchard. Her thoughts of Jim Priest's youth startled her. It was as though she had walked suddenly into a room where a man and woman were making love. Her cheeks burned and her hands trembled. As she walked slowly through the clumps of grass and weeds that grew between the trees where the sunlight struggled through, bees coming home to the hives heavily laden with honey flew in droves about her head. There was something heady and purposeful about the song of labor that arose out of the beehives. It got into her blood and her step quickened. The words of Jim Priest that kept running through her mind seemed a part of the same song the bees were singing. "The sap has begun to run up the tree," she repeated aloud. How significant and strange the words seemed! They were the kind of words a lover might use in speaking to his beloved. She had read many novels, but they contained no such words. It was better so. It was better to hear them from human lips. Again she thought of Jim Priest's youth and boldly wished he were still young. She told herself that she would like to see him young and married to a beautiful young woman. She stopped by a fence that looked out upon a hillside meadow. The sun seemed extraordinarily bright, the grass in the meadow greener than she had ever seen it before. Two birds in a tree nearby made love to each other. The female flew madly about and was pursued by the male bird. In his eagerness he was so intent that he flew directly before the girl's face, his wing nearly touching her cheek. She went back through the orchard to the barns and through one of them to the open door of a long shed that was used for housing wagons and buggies, her mind occupied with the idea of finding Jim Priest, of standing perhaps near him. He was not about, but in the open space before the shed, John May, a young man of twenty-two who had just come to work on the farm, was oiling the wheels of a wagon. His back was turned and as he handled the heavy wagon wheels the muscles could be seen playing beneath his thin cotton shirt. "It is so Jim Priest must have looked in his youth," the girl thought.
The farm girl wanted to approach the young man, to speak to him, to ask him questions concerning many strange things in life she did not understand. She knew that under no circumstances would she be able to do such a thing, that it was but a meaningless dream that had come into her head, but the dream was sweet. She did not, however, want to talk to John May. At the moment she was in a girlish period of being disgusted at what she thought of as the vulgarity of the men who worked on the place. At the table they ate noisily and greedily like hungry animals. She wanted youth that was like her own youth, crude and uncertain perhaps, but reaching eagerly out into the unknown. She wanted to draw very near to something young, strong, gentle, insistent, beautiful. When the farm hand looked up and saw her standing and looking intently at him, she was embarrassed. For a moment the two young animals, so unlike each other, stood staring at each other and then, to relieve her embarrassment, Clara began to play a game. Among the men employed on the farm she had always passed for something of a tomboy. In the hayfields and in the barns she had wrestled and fought playfully with both the old and the young men. To them she had always been a privileged person. They liked her and she was the boss's daughter. One did not get rough with her or say or do rough things. A basket of corn stood just within the door of the shed, and running to it Clara took an ear of the yellow corn and threw it at the farm hand. It struck a post of the barn just above his head. Laughing shrilly Clara ran into the shed among the wagons, and the farm hand pursued her.
John May was a very determined man. He was the son of a laborer in Bidwell and for two or three years had been employed about the stable of a doctor, something had happened between him and the doctor's wife and he had left the place because he had a notion that the doctor was becoming suspicious. The experience had taught him the value of boldness in dealing with women. Ever since he had come to work on the Butterworth farm, he had been having thoughts regarding the girl who had now, he imagined, given him direct challenge. He was a little amazed by her boldness but did not stop to ask himself questions, she had openly invited him to pursue her. That was enough. His accustomed awkwardness and clumsiness went away and he leaped lightly over the extended tongues of wagons and buggies. He caught Clara in dark corner of the shed. Without a word he took her tightly into his arms and kissed her, first upon the neck and then on the mouth. She lay trembling and weak in his arms and he took hold of the collar of her dress and tore it open. Her brown neck and one of her hard, round breasts were exposed. Clara's eyes grew big with fright. Strength came back into her body. With her sharp hard little fist she struck John May in the face; and when he stepped back she ran quickly out of the shed. John May did not understand. He thought she had sought him out once and would return. "She's a little green. I was too fast. I scared her. Next time I'll go a little easy," he thought.
Clara ran through the barn and then walked slowly to the house and went upstairs to her own room. A farm dog followed her up the stairs and stood at her door wagging his tail. She shut the door in his face. For the moment everything that lived and breathed seemed to her gross and ugly. Her cheeks were pale and she pulled shut the blinds to the window and sat down on the bed, overcome with the strange new fear of life. She did not want even the sunlight to come into her presence. John May had followed her through the barn and now stood in the barnyard staring at the house. She could see him through the cracks of the blinds and wished it were possible to kill him with a gesture of her hand.
The farm hand, full of male confidence, waited for her to come to the window and look down at him. He wondered if there were any one else in the house. Perhaps she would beckon to him. Something of the kind had happened between him and the doctor's wife and it had turned out that way. When after five or ten minutes he did not see her, he went back to the work of oiling the wagon wheels. "It's going to be a slower thing. She's shy, a green girl," he told himself.
One evening a week later Clara sat on the side porch of the house with her father when John May came into the barnyard. It was a Wednesday evening and the farm hands were not in the habit of going into town until Saturday, but he was dressed in his Sunday clothes and had shaved and oiled his hair. On the occasion of a wedding or a funeral the laborers put oil in their hair. It was indicative of something very important about to happen. Clara looked at him, and in spite of the feeling of repugnance that swept over her, her eyes glistened. Ever since the affair in the barn she had managed to avoid meeting him but she was not afraid. He had in fact taught her something. There was a power within her with which she could conquer men. The touch of her father's shrewdness, that was a part of her nature, had come to her rescue. She wanted to laugh at the silly pretensions of the man, to make a fool of him. Her cheeks flushed with pride in her mastery of the situation.
John May walked almost to the house and then turned along the path that led to the road. He made a gesture with his hand and by chance Tom Butterworth, who had been looking off across the open country toward Bidwell, turned and saw both the movement and the leering confident smile on the farm hand's face. He arose and followed John May into the road, astonishment and anger fighting for possession of him. The two men stood talking for three minutes in the road before the house and then returned. The farm hand went to the barn and then came back along the path to the road carrying under his arm a grain bag containing his work clothes. He did not look up as he went past. The farmer returned to the porch.
The misunderstanding that was to wreck the tender relationship that had begun to grow up between father and daughter began on that evening. Tom Butterworth was furious. He muttered and clinched his fists. Clara's heart beat heavily. For some reason she felt guilty, as though she had been caught in an intrigue with the man. For a long time her father remained silent and then he, like the farm hand, made a furious and brutal attack on her. "Where have you been with that fellow? What you been up to?" he asked harshly.
For a time Clara did not answer her father's question. She wanted to scream, to strike him in the face with her fist as she had struck the man in the shed. Then her mind struggled to take hold of the new situation. The fact that her father had accused her of seeking the thing that had happened made her hate John May less heartily. She had some one else to hate.
Clara did not think the matter out clearly on that first evening but, after denying that she had ever been anywhere with John May, burst into tears and ran into the house. In the darkness of her own room she began to think of her father's words. For some reason she could not understand, the attack made on her spirit seemed more terrible and unforgivable than the attack upon her body made by the farm hand in the shed. She began to understand vaguely that the young man had been confused by her presence on that warm sunshiny afternoon as she had been confused by the words uttered by Jim Priest, by the song of the bees in the orchard, by the love-making of the birds, and by her own uncertain thoughts. He had been confused and he was stupid and young. There had been an excuse for his confusion. It was understandable and could be dealt with. She had now no doubt of her own ability to deal with John May. As for her father--it was all right for him to be suspicious regarding the farm hand, but why had he been suspicious of her?
The perplexed girl sat down in the darkness on the edge of the bed, and a hard look came into her eyes. After a time her father came up the stairs and knocked at her door. He did not come in but stood in the hallway outside and talked. She remained calm while the conversation lasted, and that confused the man who had expected to find her in tears. That she was not seemed to him an evidence of guilt.
Tom Butterworth, in many ways a shrewd, observing man, never understood the quality of his own daughter. He was an intensely possessive man and once, when he was newly married, there had been a suspicion in his mind that there was something between his wife and a young man who had worked on the farm where he then lived. The suspicion was unfounded, but he discharged the man and one evening, when his wife had gone into town to do some shopping and did not return at the accustomed time, he followed, and when he saw her on the street stepped into a store to avoid a meeting. She was in trouble. Her horse had become suddenly lame and she had to walk home. Without letting her see him the husband followed along the road. It was dark and she heard the footsteps in the road behind her and becoming frightened ran the last half mile to her own house. He waited until she had entered and then followed her in, pretending he had just come from the barns. When he heard her story of the accident to the horse and of her fright in the road he was ashamed; but as the horse, that had been left in a livery stable, seemed all right when he went for it the next day he became suspicious again.
As he stood outside the door of his daughter's room, the farmer felt as he had felt that evening long before when he followed his wife along the road. When on the porch downstairs he had looked up suddenly and had seen the gesture made by the farm hand, he had also looked quickly at his daughter. She looked confused and, he thought, guilty. "Well, it is the same thing over again," he thought bitterly, "like mother, like daughter--they are both of the same stripe." Getting quickly out of his chair he had followed the young man into the road and had discharged him. "Go, to-night. I don't want to see you on the place again," he said. In the darkness before the girl's room he thought of many bitter things he wanted to say. He forgot she was a girl and talked to her as he might have talked to a mature, sophisticated, and guilty woman. "Come," he said, "I want to know the truth. If you have been with that farm hand you are starting young. Has anything happened between you?"
Clara walked to the door and confronted her father. The hatred of him, born in that hour and that never left her, gave her strength. She did not know what he was talking about, but had a keen sense of the fact that he, like the stupid, young man in the shed, was trying to violate something very precious in her nature. "I don't know what you are talking about," she said calmly, "but I know this. I am no longer a child. Within the last week I've become a woman. If you don't want me in your house, if you don't like me any more, say so and I'll go away."
The two people stood in the darkness and tried to look at each other. Clara was amazed by her own strength and by the words that had come to her. The words had clarified something. She felt that if her father would but take her into his arms or say some kindly understanding word, all could be forgotten. Life could be started over again. In the future she would understand much that she had not understood. She and her father could draw close to each other. Tears came into her eyes and a sob trembled in her throat. As her father, however, did not answer her words and turned to go silently away, she shut the door with a loud bang and afterward lay awake all night, white and furious with anger and disappointment.
Clara left home to become a college student that fall, but before she left had another passage at arms with her father. In August a young man who was to teach in the town schools came to Bidwell, and she met him at a supper given in the basement of the church. He walked home with her and came on the following Sunday afternoon to call. She introduced the young man, a slender fellow with black hair, brown eyes, and a serious face, to her father who answered by nodding his head and walking away. She and the young man walked along a country road and went into a wood. He was five years older than herself and had been to college, but she felt much the older and wiser. The thing that happens to so many women had happened to her. She felt older and wiser than all the men she had ever seen. She had decided, as most women finally decide, that there are two kinds of men in the world, those who are kindly, gentle, well-intentioned children, and those who, while they remain children, are obsessed with stupid, male vanity and imagine themselves born to be masters of life. Clara's thoughts on the matter were not very clear. She was young and her thoughts were indefinite. She had, however, been shocked into an acceptance of life and she was made of the kind of stuff that survives the blows life gives.
In the wood with the young school teacher, Clara began an experiment. Evening came on and it grew dark. She knew her father would be furious that she did not come home but she did not care. She led the school teacher to talk of love and the relationships of men and women. She pretended an innocence that was not hers. School girls know many things that they do not apply to themselves until something happens to them such as had happened to Clara. The farmer's daughter became conscious. She knew a thousand things she had not known a month before and began to take her revenge upon men for their betrayal of her. In the darkness as they walked home together, she tempted the young man into kissing her, and later lay in his arms for two hours, entirely sure of herself, striving to find out, without risk to herself, the things she wanted to know about life.
That night she again quarreled with her father. He tried to scold her for remaining out late with a man, and she shut the door in his face. On another evening she walked boldly out of the house with the school teacher. The two walked along a road to where a bridge went over a small stream. John May, who was still determined that the farmer's daughter was in love with him, had on that evening followed the school teacher to the Butterworth house and had been waiting outside intending to frighten his rival with his fists. On the bridge something happened that drove the school teacher away. John May came up to the two people and began to make threats. The bridge had just been repaired and a pile of small, sharp-edged stones lay close at hand. Clara picked one of them up and handed it to the school teacher. "Hit him," she said. "Don't be afraid. He's only a coward. Hit him on the head with the stone."
The three people stood in silence waiting for something to happen. John May was disconcerted by Clara's words. He had thought she wanted him to pursue her. He stepped toward the school teacher, who dropped the stone that had been put into his hand and ran away. Clara went back along the road toward her own house followed by the muttering farm hand who, after her speech at the bridge, did not dare approach. "Maybe she was making a bluff. Maybe she didn't want that young fellow to get on to what is between us," he muttered, as he stumbled along in the darkness.
In the house Clara sat for a half hour at a table in the lighted living room beside her father, pretending to read a book. She half hoped he would say something that would permit her to attack him. When nothing happened she went upstairs and to bed, only again to spend the night awake and white with anger at the thought of the cruel and unexplainable things life seemed trying to do to her.
In September Clara left the farm to attend the State University at Columbus. She was sent there because Tom Butterworth had a sister who was married to a manufacturer of plows and lived at the State Capital. After the incident with the farm hand and the misunderstanding that had sprung up between himself and his daughter, he was uncomfortable with her in the house and was glad to have her away. He did not want to frighten his sister by telling of what had happened, and when he wrote, tried to be diplomatic. "Clara has been too much among the rough men who work on my farms and had become a little rough," he wrote. "Take her in hand. I want her to become more of a lady. Get her acquainted with the right kind of people." In secret he hoped she would meet and marry some young man while she was away. Two of his sisters had gone away to school and it had turned out that way.
During the month before his daughter left home the farmer tried to be somewhat more human and gentle in his attitude toward her, but did not succeed in dispelling the dislike of himself that had taken deep root in her nature. At table he made jokes at which the farm hands laughed boisterously. Then he looked at his daughter who did not appear to have been listening. Clara ate quickly and hurried out of the room. She did not go to visit her girl friends in town and the young school teacher came no more to see her. During the long summer afternoons she walked in the orchard among the beehives or climbed over fences and went into a wood, where she sat for hours on a fallen log staring at the trees and the sky. Tom Butterworth also hurried out of his house. He pretended to be busy and every day drove far and wide over the country. Sometimes he thought he had been brutal and crude in his treatment of his daughter, and decided he would speak to her regarding the matter and ask her to forgive him. Then his suspicion returned. He struck the horse with the whip and drove furiously along the lonely roads. "Well, there's something wrong," he muttered aloud. "Men don't just look at women and approach them boldly, as that young fellow did with Clara. He did it before my very eyes. He's been given some encouragement." An old suspicion awoke in him. "There was something wrong with her mother, and there's something wrong with her. I'll be glad when the time comes for her to marry and settle down, so I can get her off my hands," he thought bitterly.
On the evening when Clara left the farm to go to the train that was to take her away, her father said he had a headache, a thing he had never been known to complain of before, and told Jim Priest to drive her to the station. Jim took the girl to the station, saw to the checking of her baggage, and waited about until her train came in. Then he boldly kissed her on the cheek. "Good-by, little girl," he said gruffly. Clara was so grateful she could not reply. On the train she spent an hour weeping softly. The rough gentleness of the old farm hand had done much to take the growing bitterness out of her heart. She felt that she was ready to begin life anew, and wished she had not left the farm without coming to a better understanding with her father.