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Eugene, OR, USA
Excerpt: ...a clodhopper like me, a canal hand, a rough character. And just as I had plunged myself into the deepest despair, I heard a light footfall, and Virginia knelt down before me on the ground and pulled my hands from my eyes. "Don't cry," said she. "We'll see each other again. I came back to bid you good-by, and to say that you've been so good to me that I can't think of it without tears! Good-by, Jacob!" She lifted my face between her two hands, kissed me the least little bit, and ran off. Back in the darkness I saw the tall figure of Grandma Thorndyke, who seemed to be looking steadily off into the distance. Virginia locked arms with her and they went away leaving me with my cows and my empty wagon--filled with the goods in which I took so much pride when I left Madison. With the first rift of light in the east I rose from my sleepless bed under the wagon--I would not profane her couch inside by occupying it--and yoked up my cattle. Before noon I was in Cedar Falls; and from there west I found the Ridge Road growing less and less a beaten track owing to decreasing travel; but plainly marked by stakes which those two pioneers had driven along the way as I have said for the guidance of others in finding a road which they had missed themselves. We were developing citizenship and the spirit of America. Those wagon loads of stakes cut on the Cedar River in 1854 and driven in the prairie sod as guides for whoever might follow showed forth the true spirit of the American pioneer. But I was in no frame of mind to realize this. I was drawing nearer and nearer my farm, but for a day or so this gave me no pleasure. My mind was on other things. I was lonelier than I had been since I found Rucker in Madison. I talked to no one--I merely followed the stakes--until one morning I pulled into a strange cluster of houses out on the green prairie, the beginning of a village. I drew up in front of its blacksmith shop and asked the name of the place. The smith lifted his...