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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesO Pioneers! - PART III - Winter Memories - Chapter 2
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O Pioneers! - PART III - Winter Memories - Chapter 2 Post by :lilbiz Category :Long Stories Author :Willa Cather Date :March 2011 Read :1230

Click below to download : O Pioneers! - PART III - Winter Memories - Chapter 2 (Format : PDF)

O Pioneers! - PART III - Winter Memories - Chapter 2

If Alexandra had had much imagination she might have guessed what
was going on in Marie's mind, and she would have seen long before
what was going on in Emil's. But that, as Emil himself had more
than once reflected, was Alexandra's blind side, and her life had
not been of the kind to sharpen her vision. Her training had all
been toward the end of making her proficient in what she had undertaken
to do. Her personal life, her own realization of herself, was
almost a subconscious existence; like an underground river that
came to the surface only here and there, at intervals months apart,
and then sank again to flow on under her own fields. Nevertheless,
the underground stream was there, and it was because she had so much
personality to put into her enterprises and succeeded in putting
it into them so completely, that her affairs prospered better than
those of her neighbors.

There were certain days in her life, outwardly uneventful, which
Alexandra remembered as peculiarly happy; days when she was close
to the flat, fallow world about her, and felt, as it were, in her
own body the joyous germination in the soil. There were days,
too, which she and Emil had spent together, upon which she loved
to look back. There had been such a day when they were down on
the river in the dry year, looking over the land. They had made
an early start one morning and had driven a long way before noon.
When Emil said he was hungry, they drew back from the road, gave
Brigham his oats among the bushes, and climbed up to the top of a
grassy bluff to eat their lunch under the shade of some little elm
trees. The river was clear there, and shallow, since there had
been no rain, and it ran in ripples over the sparkling sand. Under
the overhanging willows of the opposite bank there was an inlet where
the water was deeper and flowed so slowly that it seemed to sleep
in the sun. In this little bay a single wild duck was swimming and
diving and preening her feathers, disporting herself very happily
in the flickering light and shade. They sat for a long time,
watching the solitary bird take its pleasure. No living thing
had ever seemed to Alexandra as beautiful as that wild duck. Emil
must have felt about it as she did, for afterward, when they were
at home, he used sometimes to say, "Sister, you know our duck down
there--" Alexandra remembered that day as one of the happiest in
her life. Years afterward she thought of the duck as still there,
swimming and diving all by herself in the sunlight, a kind of
enchanted bird that did not know age or change.

Most of Alexandra's happy memories were as impersonal as this one;
yet to her they were very personal. Her mind was a white book,
with clear writing about weather and beasts and growing things.
Not many people would have cared to read it; only a happy few.
She had never been in love, she had never indulged in sentimental
reveries. Even as a girl she had looked upon men as work-fellows.
She had grown up in serious times.

There was one fancy indeed, which persisted through her girlhood.
It most often came to her on Sunday mornings, the one day in
the week when she lay late abed listening to the familiar morning
sounds; the windmill singing in the brisk breeze, Emil whistling
as he blacked his boots down by the kitchen door. Sometimes, as
she lay thus luxuriously idle, her eyes closed, she used to have
an illusion of being lifted up bodily and carried lightly by some
one very strong. It was a man, certainly, who carried her, but
he was like no man she knew; he was much larger and stronger and
swifter, and he carried her as easily as if she were a sheaf of
wheat. She never saw him, but, with eyes closed, she could feel
that he was yellow like the sunlight, and there was the smell of
ripe cornfields about him. She could feel him approach, bend over
her and lift her, and then she could feel herself being carried
swiftly off across the fields. After such a reverie she would rise
hastily, angry with herself, and go down to the bath-house that
was partitioned off the kitchen shed. There she would stand in a
tin tub and prosecute her bath with vigor, finishing it by pouring
buckets of cold well-water over her gleaming white body which no
man on the Divide could have carried very far.

As she grew older, this fancy more often came to her when she was
tired than when she was fresh and strong. Sometimes, after she had
been in the open all day, overseeing the branding of the cattle or
the loading of the pigs, she would come in chilled, take a concoction
of spices and warm home-made wine, and go to bed with her body
actually aching with fatigue. Then, just before she went to sleep,
she had the old sensation of being lifted and carried by a strong
being who took from her all her bodily weariness.

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