“He that tilleth his land shall
be satisfied with bread; but
he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding.”—Prov. 12:11.
Widow Ames had homesteaded one hundred and sixty acres of government land in Dry Hollow. That was a subject for a two days’ gossip in the town. There was speculation about what she wanted with a dry ravine in the hills, and many shook their heads in condemnation. However, it set some to thinking and moved one man, at least, to action. Jed Bolton, the same day that he heard of it, rode up into the hills above town. Sure enough, there was a rough shanty nearly finished; some furrows had been plowed, and every indication of settlement was present. Mr. Bolton bit his lip and used language which, if it did not grate on his own ears, could not on the only other listener, his horse.
Rupert was on the roof of his shanty, and Mr. Bolton greeted him as he rode up.
“Hello, Rupe, what’re ye doin’?”
“Just finishin’ my house. It looks like more rain, an’ I must have the roof good an’ tight.”
“You’re not goin’ to live here?”
“Oh, yes, part of the time.”
“What’s that for?”
“To secure our claim. Mother’s homesteaded one hundred and sixty acres of this land.”
“What in the world are you goin’ to do with it?”
“We’ll farm some of it, of course, an’ we’ll find some use for another part after awhile, I guess.”
Then Mr. Bolton changed his tactics. He tried to discourage the boy by telling him that it was railroad land, and even if it wasn’t, his own adjacent claim took it all in anyway; Rupert did not scare, but said, “I guess not,” as he went on quietly fitting and pounding.
The man had to give it up. “That Ames kid” had gotten the best of him.
This was four years ago, and wonderful changes had taken place since then. Rupert had begun work on his reservoir the spring after they had taken possession. He had a most beautiful site for one; and when the melting winter snows and spring rains filled Dry Hollow creek, most of it was turned into the Basin. It slowly spread out, filled the deep ravines, and crept up to Rupert’s embankment. Then he turned the stream back into its natural channel again. Many came to look at the wonder. Some of his neighbor “dry-benchers” offered to join him and help him for a share in the water. The reservoir could be greatly enlarged, and the canal leading from it around the side-hills to the bench had yet to be dug; so Rupert and his mother accepted the offers of help and the work went on rapidly. The next year Dry Bench had water. New ground was broken and cleared. Trees were set out. There was new life on the farm, and new hopes within the hearts of Widow Ames and her children.