She made her second corner successfully, and now the sun was at her back, and that gave her a little ease. This wheat was going to be cut, and hauled to the thresher, and sold in the market, if she did every bit of the work herself. She would show Wes Dean! Let him try to stop her—if he dared!
And there would be money enough for everything the baby might want or might need. Her child should not be born to poverty and skimping. If only the sun didn’t beat so hard on the back of her neck! If only her arms didn’t ache so!
After countless hours of time she overtook Dolcey and Zenas, and the old woman divined her chief discomfort. She snatched the sunbonnet off her own head and handed it up to her.
“Marster in hebben, ef I only had my stren’th!” muttered Zenas as she went on.
“Angels b’arin’ dat chile up wid deir wings,” chanted Aunt Dolcey. Then, descending to more mundane matters, she added a delighted chuckle: “I knowed she’d rise en shine one dese days. Holler at Marse Wes she did, name him names, plenty. Yessuh—laid him out!”
“What you s’pose he up to now?” asked Zenas, looking over his shoulder.
“I dunno—but I bet you he plumb da’nted. Zenas, lak I tol’ you—man may hab plenty debbilment, rip en t’ar, but he’ll stan’ back whenas a ooman meks up her min’ she stood enough.” And Aunt Dolcey had never heard of Rudyard Kipling’s famous line.
“Dat chile might kill he’se’f.”
“When yo’ mad yo’ kin ‘complish de onpossible, en it doan’ hurt yo’,” replied Dolcey, thus going Kipling one better.
But she watched Annie anxiously.
The girl held out, though the jolting and shaking racked her excruciatingly and the pull of the reins seemed to drag the very flesh from her bones. Now and then the golden field swam dark before her eyes, the backs of the horses swelled to giant size and blotted out the sun. But she kept on long after her physical strength was gone; her endurance held her. Slowly, carefully, the machine went round and round the field, and the two bent old figures followed.
And so they came to mid-morning. They had long since ceased to look or care for any sign of the young master of the land. None of them noticed him, coming slowly, slowly from the stables, coming slowly, slowly to the field’s edge and standing there, watching with unbelieving, sullen eyes the progress of the reaper, the wavering arms that guided the horses, the little shaken blue figure that sat high in the driver’s seat. But he was there.
It is said of criminals that a confession can often be extracted by the endless repetition of one question alone; they cannot bear the pressure of its monotony. Perhaps it was the monotony of the measured rattle and clack of the machine going on so steadily that finally impelled Wes Dean, after his long frowning survey of the scene, to vault the low stone wall and approach it.