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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesO Pioneers! - PART II - Neighboring Fields - Chapter 11
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O Pioneers! - PART II - Neighboring Fields - Chapter 11 Post by :coachlois Category :Long Stories Author :Willa Cather Date :March 2011 Read :2775

Click below to download : O Pioneers! - PART II - Neighboring Fields - Chapter 11 (Format : PDF)

O Pioneers! - PART II - Neighboring Fields - Chapter 11

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 lying down.

Emil went to her door.

"Can I see you for a minute?" he asked. "I want to talk to you
about something before Carl comes."

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
impatiently.

"Yes, sit down. I'll be dressed in a moment."

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, deliberate 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 crying.

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, Alexandra. 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 in Mexico.

"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 nonsense!" 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 fuss about."

"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 together and he somehow felt that she
could hear his thoughts. He was silent for a moment, 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 business. You ought
to do as you please. Certainly you ought not to pay any attention
to what the boys say."

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 sentence 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 fellow. 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 mind them."

"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 Bohemian 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,
affectionate eyes?

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 Marie Shabata.

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 something queer about
him. Emil's fraternity rather prided itself upon its dances, and
sometimes 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.

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Carl came into the sitting-room while Alexandra was lighting thelamp. She looked up at him as she adjusted the shade. His sharpshoulders stooped as if he were very tired, his face was pale,and there were bluish shadows under his dark eyes. His anger hadburned itself out and left him sick and disgusted."You have seen Lou and Oscar?" Alexandra asked."Yes." His eyes avoided hers.Alexandra took a deep breath. "And now you are going away. Ithought so."Carl threw himself into a chair and pushed the dark lock backfrom his forehead with his white, nervous hand. "What
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While Emil and Carl were amusing themselves at the fair, Alexandrawas at home, busy with her account-books, which had been neglectedof late. She was almost through with her figures when she hearda cart drive up to the gate, and looking out of the window she sawher two older brothers. They had seemed to avoid her ever sinceCarl Linstrum's arrival, four weeks ago that day, and she hurriedto the door to welcome them. She saw at once that they had comewith some very definite purpose. They followed her stiffly intothe sitting-room. Oscar sat down, but Lou walked
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