Exposure and a lung wound from a rebel bullet had sent Wade home an invalid, and during the five years which had followed, he had realized only too well how little help he had been to her.
Before the eyes of Jacob and Sarah Wade there had hovered, like a promise, the picture of the snug farm that could be evolved from this virgin soil.
It seemed pitifully meager to Wade at that despondent moment, exhausted as he was by the long, hard journey and the sultry heat.
Not that he was ever deliberately cruel, but there was an insensibility to the feelings of others, a capacity placidly to ignore them, that made Wade tremble for the future.
I reckon," Wade analysed laboriously, "it's because I'm gettin' less able all the time and he's growing so fast--him limber an' quick, and me all thumbs.
It was a hard bargain, but one that Wade could afford to take up, for if the wheat were to freeze out, or if the grasshoppers should eat it, or the chinch bugs ruin it, or a hail storm beat it down into the mud, or if any of the many hatreds Stepmother Nature holds out toward those trusting souls who would squeeze a living from her hard hands--if any of these misfortunes should transpire, he would be out nothing but labor, and that was the one thing he and Martin could afford to risk.
Dawn was breaking over them when Wade, surrendering to a surge of pity, put his arms around her with awkward gentleness.
Wade took the long drive Martin, under his father's guidance, chopped down enough trees to build a little lean-to kitchen and make-shift stable.
Day by day Wade was growing weaker, and it was Mrs.
Wade consulted more and more with him, relied more and more upon his judgment.
Wade toiled early and late, doing part of the chores and double her share of the Spring plowing that Martin, as well as Nellie, could attend school in Fallon.
Perry lived twenty miles from the Wades and a whole day was consumed with each load.