Carol's heresies, to woo her as he had on the venture to California. She
tried to be inconspicuous, but she was betrayed by her failure to glow
over the boosting. Kennicott believed in it; demanded that she say
patriotic things about the White Way and the new factory. He snorted,
"By golly, I've done all I could, and now I expect you to play the game.
Here you been complaining for years about us being so poky, and now when
Blausser comes along and does stir up excitement and beautify the town
like you've always wanted somebody to, why, you say he's a roughneck,
and you won't jump on the band-wagon."
Once, when Kennicott announced at noon-dinner, "What do you know
about this! They say there's a chance we may get another
factory--cream-separator works!" he added, "You might try to look
interested, even if you ain't!" The baby was frightened by the Jovian
roar; ran wailing to hide his face in Carol's lap; and Kennicott had to
make himself humble and court both mother and child. The dim injustice
of not being understood even by his son left him irritable. He felt
An event which did not directly touch them brought down his wrath.
In the early autumn, news came from Wakamin that the sheriff had
forbidden an organizer for the National Nonpartisan League to speak
anywhere in the county. The organizer had defied the sheriff, and
announced that in a few days he would address a farmers' political
meeting. That night, the news ran, a mob of a hundred business men
led by the sheriff--the tame village street and the smug village faces
ruddled by the light of bobbing lanterns, the mob flowing between the
squatty rows of shops--had taken the organizer from his hotel, ridden
him on a fence-rail, put him on a freight train, and warned him not to
The story was threshed out in Dave Dyer's drug store, with Sam Clark,
Kennicott, and Carol present.
"That's the way to treat those fellows--only they ought to have lynched
him!" declared Sam, and Kennicott and Dave Dyer joined in a proud "You
Carol walked out hastily, Kennicott observing her.
Through supper-time she knew that he was bubbling and would soon boil
over. When the baby was abed, and they sat composedly in canvas chairs
on the porch, he experimented; "I had a hunch you thought Sam was kind
of hard on that fellow they kicked out of Wakamin."
"Wasn't Sam rather needlessly heroic?"
"All these organizers, yes, and a whole lot of the German and
Squarehead farmers themselves, they're seditious as the devil--disloyal,
non-patriotic, pro-German pacifists, that's what they are!"
"Did this organizer say anything pro-German?"
"Not on your life! They didn't give him a chance!" His laugh was stagey.
"So the whole thing was illegal--and led by the sheriff! Precisely how
do you expect these aliens to obey your law if the officer of the law
teaches them to break it? Is it a new kind of logic?"
"Maybe it wasn't exactly regular, but what's the odds? They knew this
fellow would try to stir up trouble. Whenever it comes right down to a
question of defending Americanism and our constitutional rights, it's
justifiable to set aside ordinary procedure."
"What editorial did he get that from?" she wondered, as she protested,
"See here, my beloved, why can't you Tories declare war honestly? You
don't oppose this organizer because you think he's seditious but
because you're afraid that the farmers he is organizing will deprive you
townsmen of the money you make out of mortgages and wheat and shops.
Of course, since we're at war with Germany, anything that any one of us
doesn't like is 'pro-German,' whether it's business competition or
bad music. If we were fighting England, you'd call the radicals
'pro-English.' When this war is over, I suppose you'll be calling them
'red anarchists.' What an eternal art it is--such a glittery delightful
art--finding hard names for our opponents! How we do sanctify our
efforts to keep them from getting the holy dollars we want for
ourselves! The churches have always done it, and the political
orators--and I suppose I do it when I call Mrs. Bogart a 'Puritan' and
"No, I think we can save you that trouble. You don't quite understand.
I am going--I really am--and alone! I've got to find out what my work
"Work? Work? Sure! That's the whole trouble with you! You haven't got
enough work to do. If you had five kids and no hired girl, and had to
help with the chores and separate the cream, like these farmers' wives,
then you wouldn't be so discontented."
"I know. That's what most men--and women--like you WOULD say. That's how
they would explain all I am and all I want. And I shouldn't argue with
them. These business men, from their crushing labors of sitting in an
office seven hours a day, would calmly recommend that I have a dozen
children. As it happens, I've done that sort of thing. There've been a
good many times when we hadn't a maid, and I did all the housework, and
cared for Hugh, and went to Red Cross, and did it all very efficiently.
I'm a good cook and a good sweeper, and you don't dare say I'm not!"
"But was I more happy when I was drudging? I was not. I was just
bedraggled and unhappy. It's work--but not my work. I could run
an office or a library, or nurse and teach children. But solitary
dish-washing isn't enough to satisfy me--or many other women. We're
going to chuck it. We're going to wash 'em by machinery, and come out
and play with you men in the offices and clubs and politics you've
cleverly kept for yourselves! Oh, we're hopeless, we dissatisfied women!
Then why do you want to have us about the place, to fret you? So it's
for your sake that I'm going!"
"Of course a little thing like Hugh makes no difference!"
"Yes, all the difference. That's why I'm going to take him with me."
"Suppose I refuse?"
Forlornly, "Uh----Carrie, what the devil is it you want, anyway?"
"Oh, conversation! No, it's much more than that. I think it's a
greatness of life--a refusal to be content with even the healthiest
"Don't you know that nobody ever solved a problem by running away from
"Perhaps. Only I choose to make my own definition of 'running away' I
don't call----Do you realize how big a world there is beyond this Gopher
Prairie where you'd keep me all my life? It may be that some day I'll
come back, but not till I can bring something more than I have now. And
even if I am cowardly and run away--all right, call it cowardly, call me
anything you want to! I've been ruled too long by fear of being called
things. I'm going away to be quiet and think. I'm--I'm going! I have a
right to my own life."
"So have I to mine!"
"I have a right to my life--and you're it, you're my life! You've made
yourself so. I'm damned if I'll agree to all your freak notions, but I
will say I've got to depend on you. Never thought of that complication,
did you, in this 'off to Bohemia, and express yourself, and free love,
and live your own life' stuff!"
"You have a right to me if you can keep me. Can you?"
He moved uneasily.
For a month they discussed it. They hurt each other very much, and