That afternoon, J.P. Roebuck, who had seen my smoke, came over to welcome me home and to talk politics with me. We must have a township for ourselves, he said. Now look at the situation in the school. We had a big school in the Vandemark schoolhouse, thirteen scholars being enrolled. We had a good teacher, too, Virginia Royall. But there wasn’t enough fuel to last two days, and those Monterey Centre folks were dead on their feet and nobody seemed to care if the school closed down. He went on with his argument for a separate township organization; I all the time thinking with my mind in a whirl that Virginia was near, and I could see her next day. When he said that we would have to get the vote of Doc Bliven, who was a member of the Board of Supervisors, I began to take notice.
“Bliven always seemed to like you,” said Roebuck. “We all kind of wish you’d see what you can do for us with him.”
“I think I can get his vote,” I said, after thinking it over for a while—and as I thought of it, the Dubuque ferry in 1855, the arrest of Bliven in the queue of people waiting at the post-office, my smuggled passenger, and the uplift I felt as the Iowa prairie opened to my view as we drew out of the ravines to the top of the hills—all this rolled over my memory. Roebuck looked at me like a person facing a medium in a trance.
“Yes,” I said, “I believe I can get his vote. I’ll try.”
JUST AS GRANDMA THORNDYKE EXPECTED
I was surprised next morning to note the change which had taken place in the weather. It had been cold and raw when I was crossing the prairies to my farm, with the wind in the southeast, and filled with a bitter chill In the night the wind had gone down, and it was as still as death in the morning. For the first time in my life, and it has happened but twice since, I heard the whistles of the engines on the railroad twelve miles away to the north. There was a little beard of hoar frost along the side of every spear of grass and weed; which, as the sun rose higher, dropped off and lay under every twig and bent, in a little heap if it stood up straight, or in a windrow if it slanted; for so still was the air that the frost went straight down, and lay as it fell. I could hear the bawling of the cattle in every barnyard for miles around, and the crowing of roosters as the fowls strutted about in the warm sun. It was thawing by ten o’clock. The temperature had run up as the wind dropped; and as I now know, with the lowering of the pressure of the barometer, if we had had one.
“This is a weather-breeder!”
This was my way of telling to myself what a scientist would have described as marked low barometer; and he would have predicted from his maps that we should soon find ourselves in the northwest quadrant of the “low” with high winds and falling temperature. It all comes to the same thing.