It was a question of serious import. A night’s heavy rain would consolidate the soil that blew about with every breeze, revive the suffering wheat and strengthen its abraded stalks against any further attack by the driving sand. Indeed, he thought it would place the crop in security.
He came home for supper, jaded, dusty, and morose, and found that he could scarcely eat when he sat down to the meal. He could not rest when it was over, though he was aching from heavy toil; nor could he fix his attention on any new task; and when dusk was getting near he strolled up and down before the homestead with Edgar. There was a change in the looks of the buildings—all that could be done had been effected—but there was also a change in the man. He was leaner, his face was getting thin, and he looked worn; but he maintained a forced tranquillity.
The sky was barred with cloud now; the great breadth of grain had faded to a leaden hue, the prairie to shadowy gray. The wind had dropped, the air was tense and still; a strange, impressive silence brooded over everything.
Presently Edgar looked up at the clouds.
“They must break at last,” he said. “One can’t help thinking of what they hold—endless carloads of grain, wads of dollar bills for the storekeepers, prosperity for three big provinces. It’s much the same weather right along to the Rockies.”
“I wasn’t considering the three provinces,” said George.
“No,” retorted Edgar. “Your attention was confined to the improvement the rain would make in Sylvia Marston’s affairs. You’re looking forward to sending her a big check after harvest.”
“So far, it has looked more like facing a big deficit.”
“You mean your facing it.”
“Sylvia has nothing except this land.”
“It strikes me she’s pretty fortunate, in one way. You find the working capital and bear the loss, if there is one. I wonder what arrangements you made about dividing a surplus.”
“That,” said George, “is a thing I’ve no intention of discussing with anybody but my co-trustee.”
Edgar smiled; he had hardly expected to elicit much information upon the point, having failed to do so once or twice already.
“Well,” he said, “I believe we’ll see the rain before an hour has passed.”
Soon after he had spoken, a flash leaped from overhead and the prairie was flooded with dazzling radiance. It was followed by a roll of thunder, and a roar as the rain came down. For a few moments the dust whirled up and there was a strong smell of earth; then the air was filled with falling water. George stood still in the deluge, rejoicing, while the great drops lashed his upturned face, until Edgar laughingly pushed him toward the house.
“As I’m wet through, I think I’ll go to bed. At last, you can rest content.”