"I expected to be stirred up and shocked," she explained to the major. But somehow, the Western type did not appear. Common- place women with worn faces -- browned and seamed, though not aged -- were at the stations, waiting for something or some one. Men with a hurried, nervous air were everywhere. Kate looked in vain for the gayety and heartiness which she had always associated with the West.
After they got beyond the timber country and rode hour after hour on a tract smooth as a becalmed ocean, she gave herself up to the feeling of immeasurable vastness which took possession of her. The sun rolled out of the sky into oblivion with a frantic, head- long haste. Nothing softened the aspect of its wrath. Near, red, familiar, it seemed to visibly bowl along the heavens. In the morning it rose as baldly as it had set. And back and forth over the awful plain blew the winds, -- blew from east to west and back again, strong as if fresh from the chambers of their birth, full of elemental scents and of mighty murmurings.
"This is the West!" Kate cried, again and again.
The major listened to her unsmilingly. It always seemed to him a waste of muscu- lar energy to smile. He did not talk much. Conversation had never appealed to him in the light of an art. He spoke when there was a direction or a command to be given, or an inquiry to be made. The major, if the truth must be known, was material. Things that he could taste, touch, see, appealed to him. He had been a volunteer in the civil war, -- a volunteer with a good record, -- which he never mentioned; and, having acquitted himself decently, let the matter go without asking reprisal or pay- ment for what he had freely given. He went into business and sold cereal foods.
"I believe in useful things," the major expressed himself. "Oatmeal, wheat, -- men have to have them. God intended they should. There's Jack -- my son -- Jack Shelly -- lawyer. What's the use of litigation? God didn't design litigation. It doesn't do anybody any good. It isn't justice you get. It's something entirely different, -- a verdict according to law. They say Jack's clever. But I'm mighty glad I sell wheat."
He didn't sell it as a speculator, how- ever. That wasn't his way.
"I earn what I make," he often said; and he had grown rich in the selling of his wholesome foods.
. . . . . . .