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Finally, and I seem to hear the sigh of relief which is occasionally audible in church at the end of a long sermon, I wish to dip my flag to the latest descendant of Dr. Johnson's genius, the Concise Oxford Dictionary. I own that colossal monument of wordy learning, the New English Dictionary, so far as it is published, but its possession is a species of swank, and I seldom refer to it. But the Concise is ever at hand. It is a masterpiece of reference and condensation. Derivations do not much interest me, but I like to have some idea of the meaning of the words I am using, and, as I dictate more than I write, I have forgotten - if indeed I ever knew how to spell. Every foreign word that has worked its way into our language is given in it, and one small joke, for which I love it. I can imagine several learned old gentlemen, sitting and sipping their port after a dinner at the 'high table' in some Oxford college, debating whether the joke might be permitted: wisely they agreed that it might. Turn to the word 'wing': it is defined, 'One of the limbs or organs by which the flight of a bird, bat, insect, angel, &c., is effected.' How do we know that angels fly? Who ever saw one? But this is no place for skepticism: the authority of the greatest of universities is not to be challenged by an insect.

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THE STUMP FARM. III

A CHRONICLE OF PIONEERING

BY HILDA ROSE

July 6, 1925 THE weeds in the acre on the prairie took me longer than I expected. I'm not used to that kind of work; it takes a Jap to do it, but I experimented, first one way and then another. First I straddled the row on my knees, one knee on each side of the row and with a hand weeder in one hand, hacking at the weeds, and the other hand pulling out plants where they were too thick. I got along pretty good, doing a row in about two hours. But then burning pain came on my knees and I found them red and swollen and some big blisters. That would never do, so I walked to the nearest house and borrowed two gunny sacks and some sack twine. No one lives on the acre I have rented. I rolled a sack around each knee and tied it, and started the second row. I finished the day that way, but it worried me to find that I had slowed down instead of speeding up. As the sun rose higher and became hotter, it was all I could do to keep up my morale and stick her out. I tried all kinds of ways to amuse my mind. I pictured you and the girls drinking iced lemonade on the deck of a beautiful ship, and J. fox-trotting with a handsome lieutenant, going out to the islands. My water jug did n't taste half so lukey after that. The rows were so long they looked like railroad tracks coming together at the far end. It brought a long-forgotten picture to my mind.

Many years ago I saw Mansfield. I don't remember whom he played with, but I think it was Julia Marlowe. There was some misunderstanding and the heroine went back to her humble life in the country. The hero hunted her up and found her in the 'lettuce fields of France.' Those long rows of lettuce looked just like the long rows of beets. So after that it was n't in the beet fields I was weeding, it was in the 'lettuce fields of France.'

I stood it three days on my knees and then they were so bad I sat down and moved along like a frog in little jumps. In two days I did n't have any seat in my overalls and nothing to patch them with. "There's always something to take the joy out of life,' as Daddy says. Then I took the hoe and walked stooped, and hoed and pulled, and next day I could hardly get out of bed. My back seemed to have gone back on me. I made breakfast and washed the dishes three times a day for my board, and I planned to write letters nights, but was too tired. I talked to myself all day long; it helped me to forget the blazing sun overhead and the dust and the long, long rows. The utter hopelessness in Daddy's old eyes drives me on. I have thought how nice it would be if we had old-age pensions. Nothing to dread any more. No hunger, no cold. It would be heaven here on earth.

Boy and I have been reading Alice in Wonderland. He wants my little

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'22' so he can 'get' that March hare who was SO mean to Alice. That March hare lives in the woods just east of us he's seen him lots of times, he says. But out in the beet field the song the Mock Turtle sang rang in my head day after day, but the words were a little different. I tried to get rid of the jingle, but it persisted:

'Will you work a little faster?? said old Summer to the snail.

'For Old Winter's just behind me, and he's treading on my tail.'

It hustled me up all right. I had another acre of vegetables and beets at home and I could n't be at it all summer. Well, I finished it in seven days and came home to find my garden choked with weeds and drying up badly. Have been at it ever since. Except for two days when I loused chickens on a hen ranch down on the prairie. Gee, it was hot in that henhouse. I shed everything but my overalls, and I got thirty-five cents an hour, and we, another woman and I, did a hen and a half a minute. That's ninety hens an hour, but experienced workers do a hundred an hour. My job was to catch the hen with a miniature shepherd's crook that caught the leg, put a ring on the right leg, and pass her to the other woman, who put on lice poison and threw her into the hen yard.

The Spokane paper said the heat broke all records, going to 102 in the shade. There was no time for dreaming, or even thinking. I was glad I was little and thin, and my little crook was flying every minute faster and faster. Poor frightened hens! But I was happy, for I was earning a pair of new shoes for Daddy and a sack of flour. Daddy's wheat is all gone and we have been without bread some time. It's been hardest on the boy, but we'll have plenty from now on if I can pick up a

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day's work now and then. The future looks much brighter.

If I were to put down on paper one half of the struggle, one half of the hardships, or picture one winter, day by day, you could hardly believe it to be true, and yet my life is not half so hard as many here, up in these hills. I can plan ahead fairly well; I know food chemistry and what is needed to keep healthy. When winter comes, I'll have about the same amount of wheat for Daddy to thrash out with the old team, enough potatoes and vegetables and sugar beets to make molasses, which will give us all the sweets we need. Fruit is scarce, but I will have crab apples and rhubarb to can, and that will furnish the acids. A cow to make soups for Daddy and Boy. As Daddy says, 'We have taken our noble President's advice and are trying to raise everything we need on the farm.' If everyone would try this, it would be better for them. Every month some family is pulling out because they can't make it. M.'s have gone to live in a logging camp where he can work. S. went back to Oklahoma last week. B.'s lost their place because they could n't pay the interest on the mortgage. L. pulled out with his wife and four lovely children. I asked him, 'Where are you going?' He said, 'God knows.' They lived closest to us, and how little we know even our nearest neighbors. When they left, Mrs. L. and the children walked on ahead and stopped to say good-bye to me. It was exactly twelve o'clock and I had a kettle of soup waiting for Daddy, as he had n't come in yet. The soup was made from field peas and a piece of pork and it was 'licking good,' as Boy says. 'You're starting early,' says I to Mrs. L. 'Have you already had your lunch, or are you going to picnic along the road?' She startled me by saying quietly: 'We haven't had anything to

eat to-day and there's not much show of our getting anything very soon.' I said, 'Come right in. There's soup and bread and butter and rhubarb sauce, lots of it. I'll tell Mr. L. to tie his team and come in too.' I never saw youngsters so hungry in all my life. The little four-year-old girl stood up in her chair and screamed with joy at the sight of the food I put on her plate.

I watched them until they were out of sight over the hill and it was with a feeling of insecurity that I came back into the house. Perhaps it will be me next. There are empty farmhouses all over the West, and each one has its story.

Daddy says every day that he's going to pull out and go to British Columbia. 'Why,' he says, 'it's better than a stump ranch; there'll be grass for the cows and the boy will have a better chance.' I don't want to go. It's so beautiful here. I love it, and I dread the unknown. What could I do there with a feeble old man and a young child?

July 26. — I'm worried to-night, not so much for myself as for my neighbors north a couple of miles. The smoke is rolling up fast, big billows of it in the sky, and one by one the settlers have gone by and none have come back, which means there is a big fire and help needed. I hear S. has been appointed fire warden for this district, and a better man could n't be found, even if he is a bootlegger. A big, clean, helpful man, he was quite downhearted when he got arrested and sentenced to six months in jail. I ought n't to have done it,' he told me, 'but times are so hard.' 'Cheer up,' I said, 'no use to worry about it now, but do keep out of the real penitentiary - it's so disgraceful to your family!' Daddy and I don't believe in bootlegging nor lawbreaking, but you can't do anything

in a community if you antagonize people. I would n't sleep nights if I had helped to put anyone in jail. I love freedom so much myself.

July 30. Mrs. F.'s house is gone. She lost everything, which was n't much, but all she had. More work for our Club. All the men except Daddy are gone there. He can't go any more. A strong wind is blowing the flames north, but if it changes, it will be so thick with smoke one can hardly breathe. We are not in any danger, as there is a road between us, and that's a fine firebreak.

There's about a hundred settlers fighting it, and the logging company just sent down as many more to help. Mrs. L. got out in time. These fires roll awfully fast when it's dry, and there's plenty of slashings to feed it along. I see the smoke clouds rolling faster and faster. And what do you think started it? An orphaned boy that's been working around for his board set fire to a yellow jacket's (yellow hornet's) nest in the woods. Those yellow jackets are pesky, but that orphan had better vanish from this neck of the woods or he might get strung up. We consider anyone that starts a fire as worse than any other criminal. It's looking bad. I go out to look at it every few minutes. It looks awfully close. There are several families that will have to get out before very long. It seems to be only a city block away, but that's on account of the hills and the dense smoke. I can tell when the fire strikes into green timber and when it's in slashings. The smoke is so different. It's interesting to watch it, but I feel bad over the homes that are going. Nothing much in the way of buildings - just shacks mostly but they sheltered from the storms and each was a home.

Latest reports from the fire: A man just came by and says the Forest

Reserve has sent help and that the L. home is n't burned yet, and it may be saved; but they are all out, in case the wind comes up.

August 2. The fire is still bad and cars are running back and forth all night with men. The wind has changed and it's racing up into the mountains on the reserve. It gives the settlers a chance to back-fire before the wind changes again.

You have reason to be proud of your children. When I see fine children, I know they have pure-bred parents, speaking in stock terms. Many times have I wondered why I married an old man, but I'd do it over again to get my boy. Daddy's ancestors are the finest in Scotland and England. I believe in blood and good breeding and I love Daddy for the beauty of his mind, which is the result of generations. What I mean is this: Leisure is needed to cultivate the mind in music, literature, and so forth. Therefore my boy is more receptive and by instinct chooses the better things because I chose for him a father of that type. There are members of the family still living in the ancestral castle in Scotland. His grandfather was a captain in the British navy and we have his old telescope and several other old keep sakes.

I told Daddy to-day that I was ready to pull out any time he was. If he thought it best to go, I was willing to follow him and work for him. If things get much harder than they are, we can't even exist here and we must go like the others, but never to a city. I'd take up a homestead in British Columbia before I'd live in a city. The country has got into my very bones. I love it the trees and birds and growing things. that give me? starve my soul. with a flower in

And city, what would
A little comfort and
Better to die fasting
my
hand.

FORT VERMILION, ALBERTA
July 14, 1926

It did take grit to go to a strange land and my courage almost failed me many times, for I didn't know a soul here or anyone who had ever been here. There were only the government statistics to go by. But when you're down and out there's not much to lose, so I staked my all to get here and I'm not sorry yet. The captain of the steamer was surprised when I told him to land us at a certain point and he told us there was only one white settler there. But he said it did n't matter to him, and he dumped my belongings off on a mud bank where there was no sign of human habitation. I felt like Robinson Crusoe as I stood on the shore of this mighty river and looked at the swamp that edged it, so dense and luxuriant that I had never seen anything like it. The mosquitoes soon put an end to dreaming and we all got busy gathering sticks for a nice smoky fire. The potatoes and bacon cooked over it tasted good in spite of the cinders that got into the pan. We rolled the boy up in a blanket so even his nose could n't be found by the singing chorus. It looked like rain, so we covered our boxes with the tent and spent the night by the fire. Daddy fell asleep and I covered him up from the mosquitoes with a piece of old canvas. A hard bed for old bones, but the best I could do for that night. I sat there alone, thinking of all that lay ahead to do. No home, no shelter, and a long winter ahead. Two o'clock the heavy dew quieted the mosquitoes and I turned the three old horses loose to feed in the swamp. Following them, I was soon lost in the heavy undergrowth, higher than my head, and I called and called, getting more frightened every moment, and at last I heard Daddy's halloo and he came to meet me through the brush. I was trembling all over when he found

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