THE NEW MOVERS
Far away, across the wide gray plain, appeared a tiny dot, apparently an unimportant fixture of the landscape. An hour earlier it might not have been observed at all by even the keenest eye, and it would have needed yet more time to assure an observer even now that the dot was a moving object. Under the shifting play of the prairie sun the little object appeared now dark, now light in colour, but became gradually more distinct. It came always crawling steadily on. Presently an occasional side-blown puff of dust added a certain heraldry, and thus finally the white-topped wagon and its plodding team came fully into view, crawling ever persistently from the East into the West.
Meantime, from the direction of the north, there came travelling across the prairie another cloud of dust more rapid than that stirred up by the slow-moving emigrant wagon. Sam, the stage driver, was crossing on his regular buckboard trip from Ellisville to Plum Centre, and was now nearly half-way on his journey. Obviously the courses of these two vehicles must intersect, and at the natural point of this intersection the driver of the faster pulled up and waited for the other. “Movers” were not yet so common in that region that the stage driver, natural news agent, must not pause for investigation.
The driver of the wagon, a tall, dark man, drew rein with a grave salutation, his tired horses standing with drooping heads while there took place one of the pregnant conversations of the Plains.
“Mornin’, friend,” said Sam.
“Mornin’, sir,” said the other.
“Which way you headin’, friend?” asked Sam.
“Well, sir,” came the answer, slowly, “I rather reckon you’ve got me. I’ve just been movin’ on out. I want to locate, but I reckon my team could travel a little further if they had to.” This with a certain grimness in his smile, as though he realized the whimsicality of the average motive which governed in that day in quests like his. “Is there much travel comin’ through here this season?” he resumed, turning in his seat and resting one foot on the wheel as he sat still perched on the high wagon seat.
“Well,” replied Sam, “they ain’t so much just yet, but they will be pretty soon. You see, the Land Office is about sixty mile east of here yet, and folks is mostly stoppin’ in there. Land around here is pretty much all open yet. If they move the Land Office to the track-end, of course all this land will be taken up a good deal faster.”
“Is it good farmin’ land around here?”
“Sure. Better’n it is farther west, and just as good as it is farther east. Wheat’ll do well here, and it ain’t too cold for corn. Best cow country on earth.”
“How is Ellisville doing now?”
“Yes, sir, so I heard farther back. Is it goin’ to be a real town?”