Pitchforks for Two
In which two gladiators of the harvest take a whirl at the he-man's game of spike pitchin'
R. L. REID
HEY, MILLIE! Who was that just passed?” shouted Peter Henry to was his daughter in the kitchen, as the purr of a motor car gliding down the otherwise deserted roadway, came to our ears.
“I wasn’t in time to see the people, dad, but it’s Zimmerman’s new car,” answered his daughter, coming slowly back from the window to which she had scurried.
“They must be going to the store ... it isn’t mail day.”
“Well, I ain’t got no business sittin’ here, but then I ain’t got no business anywheres else either till the boys get back from the elevator; so I’ll explain why Millie and me make such a point of rubberin’ at that car,” he said, turning to me, and comfortably rearranged his feet and cuspidor. He expectorated luxuriously, crammed a plug of tobacco into a corner of his hairy jaws, gazed a moment with appreciation at a loaded truck awaiting a driver in the yard, and finally spoke.
WE WAS all kind o’ free with our tongues about it, maybe; but of all the howls that went up when the papers first said that eight thousand old-country miners were goin’ to be sent to the Canadian West for the harvest, that put up by Fred Zimmerman, a neighbor of ours, was the loudest and fullest of nasty cracks about floodin’, the country with trash an’ dole-takin bums, etcetry.
Fred come out here in 1911 and took up the section he’s livin’ on now. That’s his place with the big wind-break of poplar and spruce mixed that you see two miles to the south. •
He come straight from Germany and buckled right down, German fashion, to hard work and savin’. We all thought he was poor, and maybe he was too, but when his wife and her young sister Gretel joined him in ’13 they brought a nice bit of money with them. Gretel took hers and bought the half section lyin’ across the road from his buildin’s, and Mrs. Zimmerman fixed up ’round the house till they had the nicest and handiest place in the hull neighborhood.
They were sociable folks too, and when the war broke out they looked on themselves as Canadians, and supported the Patriotic Fund and the Red Cross a dang sight better than some that hollered more. Fred never opened his mouth, and havin’ been natcherlized in ’14 without no trouble, he goes in to vote for Conscription with the rest of us. My boys was all over long before this, an’ I had talked to Fred an’ I know he was for it. Well, sir, if some busybody hadn’t had him struck off the voters’ list as an alien.
Say ! He was that mad he roared around till they put him in the cooler. That cooled him off on the outside, but he stayed hot on the inside, and when a young feller, name of Herman Shantz, came along and owned up that he was skippin’ the draft, Fred took him in and made a reg’lar son of him.
Herman was a big, husky lad even then, and turned out plenty brash, though he was kind of subdued at that time. He did know farm work, havin’ been raised on a farm down East, and he was cute enough to make out that he was sufferin’ from the same sort of unfairness that had put Fred off the voters’ list. He worked on ' Fred’s feelin’s so that when the Exemption Board got wind of where he was—and as my first boy had been over since ’14 I might as well own up I sent ’em word— why, Fred swore he couldn’t handle the land without him, and he’s been Fred’s right-hand ever since.
But this summer Fred’s wheat set for a forty-bushel crop straight through, and he was so dang scared he’d have to hire some of the miners that he got two fellers up from Kansas to ride his binders, at most scand’lous high wages, and figgered on himself and Plerman doin’ the stookin’. And so they might’ve done, but the bold
Frederick broke his arm—crankin’ their old Liz at that, I’ll bet Herman never set the spark back; he was settin. in the car and lettin’ the boss crank, anyways. And so, with the binders a hundred acres ahead of Herman, Fred simply had to go in and get stookers.
Gretel drove him in and had his arm set, and they enquired around, but, of course, not a dang man was to be had. At last,, when they had just finished a cup of coffee at the Chink’s, a short-set feller, with his hand tied up, strikes Fred for a job. It appears this Lawrence Pilgrim is fresh out with the eight thousand. He ain’t a miner, but’s been a kind of horse-shoer round the mines, and managed to get out with the miner-harvesters. His train seems to have had a bunch of Bolshevik agitators on board and in decidin’ the best form of government Laurie busts his hand. After one week in Harvestville all the willin’ men have jobs, and the Bolshies are on their way back to Winnipeg, and Laurie’s left alone with mighty little cash. Accordin’ to young Bob, who’s always hangin’ around here to watch our tractor, the conversation run about like this.
“Say, mister, are you lookin’ for a man?” says Laurie nice and polite.
“Ya—a man I vas lookin’ for, bud nod a sparrow mit a broken ving,” says Fred, who could see Englishman written all over Laurie’s clothes, and hear it on his tongue too, for that matter.
“Well, you big Fritz, did you want to buy some work then? I didn’t ask for a ’and-out. I’ll cock up your sheaves at the same price as anyone else, and pay me board out of what I earn. Or I’ll tie up me ’and as tight as yours, and walk all over your big carcass,” comes back Laurie, though as he would say himself, he was fair weak wi’ ’unger.
But Gretel butted in and told Fred to shut up and give the young feller a trial. She drove them home glarin’ at each other, and was no sooner in the house
than she begins to tell the whole story to Mrs. Zimmerman in German, when the new hand interrupts, polite as you please, and lets them know he can sprechen Deutsch as well as they can. Of course, this soon brings it out that he’d been a prisoner just outside Cologne during the last year of the war. That was where Gretel and Mrs. Zimmerman was raised, and they soon checked up on his story and found he had been sent out to work at a little country blacksmith shop owned by a fellow named Griese. The women fair went crazy, young Bob said, for this was their own last name, and this shop belonged to their cousin, and Gretel rushes upstairs and gets a letter from this cousin that tells about a nice young prisoner that helped them out fine in the war time.
About this time Fred and the men comes in, and supper ain’t ready on account of the talkin’. Fred acted sort of peevish, on account both them women have spoiled him with good vittles always ready.
They hustled the food on the table, but he was feelin’ ’ornery, and give a lead to Herman, who begins to get off all the nasty cracks he can on the new feller—thinkin’ as usual to get on the right side of Fred, and keep the talk off how the spark was set when Fred got his ■ arm broke. He must have been layin’ it on pretty thick, ’cause the old binder man from Kansas— who’d never even told them his name yet—looks up from his plate and growls—“shut y er face till his hand’s better”—and goes on eatin’. Herman shuts up, for the old guy had threw a wrench at him the first day he was on the place for tryin’ to tell him how to run a binder, and he had Herman completely buffaloed.
NEXT mornin’ they sends Laurie out to stook on a measured hundred acres of cut grain. He didn’t have the sense to take out a drink, and when Gretel drove out with his lunch he was near dead, and hadn’t enough stooked to pay for the meal. She put him wise to all she knew about stookin’, which wasn’t much, for none of our women around here ever do a tap outside—Oh! I wasn’t knockin’, Millie; I wasn’t thinkin’ of turkeys; I meant field work.
He wallers along to Sunday, doin’ a little better, but not much. The women had filled him up with good grub, and he enjoyed talkin’ to them nights. Young Bob swears his dad used to cock one ear and listen in on this talk, but he never took no part in it—Bob says the old man would even shut Herman up so he could listen, and that made Herman sorer than ever.
The next Sunday morning, we were all hangin’ round our shop kiddin’ Ted, who was tryin’ to shrink a hot iron band around the hub o’ the wheel off an old bundle wagon he should have scrapped years ago. He’d measure around the thing and cut off a bar, but by the time he had his ring welded the dang thing was always too big. Now, Ted’s a crackin’ good mechanic, and if he’d had a lathe he’d have turned out the band just the size he wanted, but this blacksmith business had him beat.
Just as he’s good and mad and ready to throw the hammer at us rubber-necks, up drifts young Bob Zimmerman with this Lawrence Pilgrim in tow. The kid horns right in, and asks what Ted’s boilin’ over about. When he finds out he introduces Pilgrim all round and tells us he’s a blacksmith.
“Not rightly,” says the feller. “In England we divide our trades up rather more than you Canadians do. I’m by way of bein’ a horse-shoer.” Well, I could o’ laughed—thinks I, he’s been shootin’ the bull about what he can do, and is tryin’ to crawl out o’ showin’ up his ignerance.
But no—Bobby begins coaxin’ him, and tells him that Ted’s the champeen stooker of the whole country, and if he helps him out witl this job, prob’ly Ted’ll give him some pointers on how to set up sheaves fast enough to pay for his meals. Ted’s an awful nice kid too, and when the Englishman sees Ted won’t be sore, he takes the hammer.
Say, boy! He could p.ay ragtime on that anvil, and make red iron just crawl round after the hammer-head. His fiqst ring dropped on easy when she was good and red, and when he doused her with water she drew that old hub together , so the putty Ted had filled her with squirted in my eye. His hands were all cut to pieces tryin’ to stook by pickin’ up bundles by the twine, and he hadn’t had no gloves. We made a fuss over him though, and he’d been under-dog so long I guess a little praise felt good; and he started to do some o’ the slickest stunts with the hammer you ever see. This was meat for them boys of mine; and he even got me to bust my nose tryin’ to lower a fourteen-pound sledge, held at arm’s length by the very end of the handle, slowly from bein’ upright till it rested on my forehead. Yes,.sir, it started slow, but I couldn’t stop it till it bumped on my nose, and, of course, the boys thought this was a great joke. We fooled around to noon, and then b5>rl ’OTn in to eat.
Millie, here, took a shine to him, and in talkin’ about the Zimmerman women, kinda drug out o’ him how much he wanted to make good, on account they had treated him so fine. She must o’ put a flea in Ted’s ear, for after dinner Ted got two pair of nice soft horsehide gloves, and takes him over to where we’d knocked down a quarter section with the binder, when we thought the combine was goin’ to turn out a fizzle.
I WENT into the room and had a bit of a doze, and when I woke up there’s not a soul in sight. Lookin’ across to the field I sees about ten acres stooked up, and them three boys o’ mine, that pestered me into buyin’ a combine to get out o’ stookin’, each cornin’ down a windrow of sheaves with Millie holdin’ the watch on ’em, and the Zimmerman kid whoopin’ in a shameful way, considerin’ it.was Sunday. This was money found for me, but curiousity got the best of me, and I trots to see what’s up. It appears this Englishman’s got thèse efficiency ideas the same as Ted, and findin’ that out Ted would be willin’ to teach him all he knew. It didn’t take very long either; Ted showed him how to pick up a sheaf in each hand, takin’ it by the straw just below the heads, bump ’em down together, and repeat with no lost motion.. Pilgrim’s hand was still sore, but the feel of them good gloves made him forget it. He copied every move so slick that Ted got quite worked up, and by the time my boys finished their pipes and followed out to the field, this feller could lay up twelve bundles into so pretty a stook,: and do it so quick, that the boys couldn’t hardly believe it when he told them that he’d only made fifteen acres in the last three days.
“But this geh’lman has put me on to the gime now,” says he, “an’ he says that big ’Erman’s not so good after all, and mybe I can show him up.”
My boys tried to teach him something in the stookin’ line, and it ended up with the three o’ them stookin’ a fifteen-minute burst at a cent a sheaf—everybody to pay what he finished behind the winner. I just seen the boys doin’ theirs, and if yellin’ and gruntin’ and wavin’ arms would o’ won they were all winners. The Englishman didn’t have no money, but Bob did and nagged him into takin’ a whirl; and I thought I could clean up on the bunch of them; so we starts, with Millie clockin' us.
Say, it cost me two dollars,' and I’d sneaked in some ten-bundle stooks at that. Millie says Laurie—that’s what we were all callin’ him by now—lay just behind Ted, and followed all his moves so perfect you’d have thought he was Ted’s shadow. Of course, Ted won, as we might have known, but a single half-dollar paid Laurie’s losin’s, and them big wallopers of mine had to cough up close to ten dollars between the three of them. I said it was a dang good job we had a combine, but they claimed they was just too long-geared for that stookin’ game. Millie cracks a good one, she says, “Mo, you mean too long-eared.”
We kept them for supper and had a real old talkfest about the war. I liked the feller a lot, but he was just like my boys and Ted, he thought lots o’ the Germans was fine fellers.. Seems like me and Millie here are the only ones left to cuss them now, and we agree that all the Krauts in this neighborhood is exceptions.
WELL, it was harvestin’ weather, and we didn’t hear no more till Bob come tearin’ in one night on his pony, lookin’ for their bull. We’d got the bull shut up, so he set and told us how things was goin’. Laurie was stookin’ three acres a day more than Herman now, and Fred cofildn’t make it out. Herman swore the binders were leavin’ his windrows ragged, but somebody must have told Old Kansas; for he made Fred and Herman get in the flivver about eleven at night, after chewin’ the rag since supper, and run down a half mile of his windrows where Herman was stookin’, and Bob swore they only passed two odd sheaves, they were laid that nice. Then, whatever Herman done, Bob didn’t know, but Laurie trimmed him to a peak one night, and Old Kansas held Fred by the shirt-front, pretendin’ to have something important to say, and wouldn’t let him go to stop it. Fred was roarin’ around, Bob said, swearin’ he’d fire every consarned man on the place. They was gettin’ along fine with the work though, and nearly through cuttin’, so Fred took it out in frettin’ because he couldn’t do more himself, and the women scolded him, and pointed out that the two Kansas men and the Englishman were tearin’ down and stookin’ more grain with less fuss than any bunch that had ever been on the place.
The weather stayed so fine and we got along so slick here, that when Ted suggested that he fix up our old separator to do his threshin’ and the bit we’d cut with the binders, we told him to hop to it. He lived about three days inside her, and said she’d go. When we tried her out, she turned over so smooth that we went to Fred Zimmerman and a coupla others, and promised to thresh them if they’d put their men and teams on the crew. It was only a scratch outfit, but they knew it would be mighty cheap threshin’ an’ rigs were scarce.
The first morning all the teams acted green, and I didn’t notice any one as being clumsier than the other; but at dinner Laurie and Ted weren’t in when the others began eatin’, and Herman started to make some nasty knocks on Laurie. He made a joke of the way Laurie he was harnessing up that morning, and he kept on at it until my oldest boy, Joe, opened up on him. Joe don’t usually open his trap at mealtime except to eat.
“Yuh dumb fool,”, says Joe. “I don’t suppose you ever saw a closed-top collar in your life? Laurie’s used to them in England, and it only goes to show that he’s handled horses. He can steer them half-broke broncs you sawed off on him up to the machine a dang sight better than you could. And right now he’s doin’ a job in the blacksmith shop for Ted. So shut your gab and eat.”
Gretel was over helping Millie, ’cause, Ma had made up her mind to stay in the States until after election, and when Joe gets through she starts pushing all her fanciest grub up to him, and Millie winks at me and runs out.
Ted and Laurie was sittin’ at the table after the rest of us pulled back, and Millie was standin’'behind Ted, maulin’ him in that shameless way you seen at noon, when dang me, if Gretel didn’t start fussin’ over that Englishman as if she thought he hadn’t et for a week.
We run our little bit through in two days, and pulled, over to Ted’s; Millie and Gretel still feedin’ us here. Iwas lookin’ ‘ after the grain, and Ted was lookin’ after the rig. He could handle both ends because the engine was new and run like a watch, but it kept him as busy as a cat, so once when my grain was pilin’ up in the spout, Laurie hopped off his rack and was rakin’ it back in the wagon box just as I come up. I see him pick, up a big heavy, four-prong hay fork and go back to pitchin’ sheaves with it. I t.ells Ted about ft, and we decided it must be another of Herman’s tricks;’’cause Fred Zimmerman ain’t the feller to pay a man for swingin’ a fork twice as heavy as need be.
That night Ted fitted kim up with a nice whippy old bundle fork of his own, and a long lesson on the theery and practice of eefficiency in pitchin’ sheaves. He modelled after Old Kansas, and when their racks was both at the feeder together they’d race their loads off, and it was a pleasure to watch them. I could see the number .of. half-bushel dumps from the weigher speed up, and there wouldn’t be s single slug from the cylinder. They’d both yip their teams away together and race for the field again. Old Kansas always claimed to win on account of the tobacco he spit in on his side of the centreboard. I says to him one day, maybe he don’t load as heavy as you, and he gave me one look.
“I been on threshin’ crews for fifty years,” says, he, “an I don’t fun with, anybody I don’t like. : That young feller asked me how many sheaves he "ought to put on a load the first mornin’ he was here and he’s puttin' on just ten more than I told him, and that’s seventy-five more, than that big Heinie’s got on his load now and I’ve fifty dollars to say I can guess any load of bundles within ten.” .. -The weather kept good, and for an old separator, and what we called a scratch gang, we were turnin’ out a daily tally that beat lots o’ rigs bigger than we were, and our crew did more work with less bossin’ than any outfit I ever seen..
YWJE FIN’LLY pulled into Fred W Zimmerman’s. Fred put on an extra man—they weren’t so scarce now— to help me with the grain, and pottered ’round himself and helped everybody as much as he could with his arm in a sling.
One day at the granary when nobody but me and him were there, I lit into him about lettin’ Herman ride the Englishmanso hard—which he was doin’ constant, but in such a slick way that Laurie never got a right chance to calk him out and give him another trimmin’. Laurie could do this, and Herman knew it, for when the gang was foolin' with the gloves on Sunday, Ted and him could give as pretty an exhibition of science as you’d wish to see, and when our big Joe tells Laurie to cut loose, Laurie pops him on the button, and Joe goes right out. Say!
I didn’t think you could knock Joe out with an axe, and Laurie tears off the gloves and near cries about it, while them two brothers of Joe’s laughs fit to bust.
I cracked a smile myself at the look on Joe when he sat up and stared around.1 , “High explosive,” says Joe, “andI. didn’t hear it whizz in time to make a-; dug-out.”
So I tells Fred he’s got a dang good man in the Englishman, and he ought tp keep him on when threshin’ over.
“Nein,” says Fred, “he works all right.
I pay him good, too. But he iss Englisher —he want one hour pay for fifty-nine minutes work.” “
“Why, you’re crazy, man,” I says, “that boy’s been workin’ in the blacksmith shop until ’leven many a night with Ted, and he ain’t sent me no bill. He moves as many sheaves as any man in the. outfit, and does many a chore for the . women that Herman has let them do for themselves for the last ten years.”
“Dot vas id,” growled old Fred. “Der vimmin, der vimmin, dey tink he iss der big cheese; even der kid tink he iss der fine feller. Und you stick in your oar fer him, too, Pete Henry.” About here he’d begun to wave his arms and yell. ‘T tell you now, I hire a man to vork—and Herman he pitch more loads than that spieler—and Herman he stay—und you can tell dot Gretel she needn’t sic de neighbors onto me.”-
“Oh, all right ! All right ! Only Gretel never said anything to me about it; and twenty big loads is better than twentytwo little ones; and you listen to that cylinder slug right now—I’ll bet you that’s your lollipop Herman with his dumb pitchin’.”
We look over to the machine and, sure enough, there was Herman pitchin’ his head off, and stoppin’ the feeder with . crossed sheaves. Then he pulled away, ■ and took a strip off the feeder’s sideboard with the corner of his rack as he went.
. “Dose crews all yump Herman and get his nerfs,” said Fred.
“Yah,” says I, “go and help Ted fix the feeder, and ask him how many hours that dumb-bell has cost us this fall.”
IT WAS young Bob that nagged Laurie into the final set-to. The old separator was shakin’ to pieces, and we had about a day’s threshin’ left to do when Herman tumbled to the fact that he could raise on a straight lift more than any man on the outfit. He was that pleased with himself he talked too much, and it ended up by his claimin’ to be the best pitcher on the crew. Several of the other boys would have taken him up, but Laurie was too quick for them. .
“I’m the green Englishman on this machine,” says he, Jp>ut I’ll take you on for a day’s pitchïalifC^here’s any way to arrange it.”:
í Here young Bob pulls out his twentydollar bill, and offers* to bet it on Laurie. ;'Course, they wouldn’t, lét the kid bet, but that clinched the matter.
Fred, he says, “Nein, fair iss fair. Herman is a hard, big feller; mit a pitchfork dis Pilgrim he don’t stan’ no chance.” “Like to go double or quits on the fifty dollars you owe me?” says Old Kansas. “I figger Laurie can give him a thousand bundles, and beat him in a long day.”
“Iss dot so?” says Fred, kind o’ peeved. “Veil, mister, I got to stay on dot separator roof all day like a monkey anyway, ’cause dot veigh-machine don’t dump by himself,. so.if you trust my count, let dem two boys haf free vay to dot feeder, and I count sheafs till dis field iss all. Dot won’t be night, but you odder fellers go easy.”
“How about that little bet?” says Kansas.
“ Nein,” says Fred, “I neffer bet. But so you don’t tink I’m cheap, I gif twenty dollar to der vinner.”
Me and the boys were sleepin’ at home, while Millie was stayin’ with Gretel, and she said afterward that Herman swelled ’round all evenin’, until at last-Fred told him to get off to bed and rest up for a big day, and give them a chance to do the same.
NEXT day the old mill was turnin’ at seven sharp—about as early as a man could see, but both Herman and Laurie had a whalin’ big load ready and waitin’. Herman had his load off and was away a good bit the soonest, for Laurie seemed to be loafin’ on the job. Laurie piled on a gosh-awful second load, and Herman was half through pitching off before he even pulled in. We had a rule that whoever was at the machine was to make way for either of them no matter if his own load was only half off.
Herman finished and was off on the run, and Old Kansas pulled in opposite Laurie. The old feller stuck his fork against the dividin’ board and began to bend it ver his way to give Laurie more than half the feed trough, but Laurie grinned and shook his head.
“I’ll beat ’im fair, matey, don’t worry,” he yelled, over the noise of the machine. “I ’aven’t been pitching yet. ’E keeps the blame machine stopped ’alf the time.” That was right too; I’d known Herman was a rough pitcher, but I’d never realized how much it held us back till Laurie started to slide them in in earnest. Ted jazzed up the engine a little, and the old man held back.
Laurie slid them over the side of that rack so fast it made you dizzy. They lapped head on band without a break, and so neat that not half a dozen of his sheaves toppled back the whole day. You know what I mean—if you pile ’em high enough so they won’t go under the guard, one or maybe two or three rears up and comes over backwards, and you got to wait while they straighten out and it takes the time you could o' put in a dozen. Kansas beckoned to Ted and whispered something, and Ted tightened up the friction on the feeder, but Laurie kept them lapped like scales on a fish, and Fred got rattled—the dumps come so fast—and let the grain bung up.
That stopped the machine, of course, and was straight out of Laurie’s time because Herman could go on loading, but Laurie never acted sore a bit, and was going to climb up and help clean out, only Fred waved him back.
“You vas two hunnert behind, yoong man. Promise you anyways you lose no more time from me,” he shouts, quite decent and friendly.
Laurie’s last bundle was going in when Herman gallops up, roarin’ at Old Kansas to get outen his way. He did when he got good and ready, just slow enough to make Herman stop his team dead, but not so slow as to give grounds for a kick. Herman’s load was criss-cross and full o’ holes, and he blame near fell in the machine a coupla times. He put his fork against the centre-board and shoved it over to give himself more trough; slipped —and let his fork go into the machine !
Fred had been countin’ sheaves, but the racket of that fork goin’ through woke him up to the fact of just how dang clumsy Herman really was. Fred cussed to himself, but when I went to hand Herman a crooked fork—which I was just mean enough to do—the old sinner was still rootin’ for him, and made me give him a straight one. Just the same, he called me up on the machine and said it would have served him dang well right, for he didn’t believe Herman had feel enough in his hands to know the difference.
Laurie was in again by the time Herman got away, with another big load piled solid and careful, and the old man scooted in on the other side with a short load. Fred had the hardest work of his life to dump the half-bushels and count the bundles too, but he’d ’a’ died on the
job before he’d ’a’ let the grain bung up or miss a sheaf, for he knew Kansas was keeping tab, too.
I BEEN threshin’ thirty seasons, and I never see a thirty-six-inch machine run wheat f aster. And yet you might say all feedin’ was bein’ done by one pitcher. Say, man! That boy was smooth as oil and fast as lightning. His good loadbuildin’ in the field paid well at the machine, and he never lifted ’em an inch more than was needed, nor yet ever struck the edge of his rack once. He neve) took a drink till lunch come out at ten, when he stopped to take his reg’lar snack, while Herman drank a buckut o’ water, and swore a reel man only needed three meals a day—though this sound d like he’d only come to manhood that day, an’ the boys sure told him so.
At noon Fred wouldn’t give us the tally, but he told hú Missus, and from her it went to Gretel and Millie, and from their grins we figured Laurie must be up even anyway. Millie’s never told us yet how it did stand. He man begins to get wild about two in the afternoon, and anybody could see that. He begins to pitch two at a time—and that might work on a fifty-inch machine, but its lost mus de on a thirty-six with the centre-board in. He hollers to take it out and let him show some reel pitchin’, but Fred says, no, the rules is made.
I’m sure Herman had the idea he was way ahead, for he had never been in the same time as Laurie after the first loads in the morning; and though all that time Laurie was movin’ like a snake’s tongue, Herman didn’t know it. They’d been bringin’ in load for load, but one was built and the other loose, w„ich makes a difference, I’ll tell you.
Then along about four, we woke up to it that there was only four more loads o’ bundles in the field, and everybody laid off to watch. Afternoon lunch come out, and nobody et, and the three women stayed to see the finish. The two come in together, of course, when the last bundle was picked up, and everybody yelled when they started to pitch into the feeder.
Why! Laurie made a goat of that big bum. He’d lap three sheaves, and then leave a hole, and Herman just about got in one as often as the gaps came. Then Herman threw one clear across and hit Laurie. Laurie yelled for him to look out for number ten, and when he come to the tenth bundle after that, he shot it butt first at Herman’s face, so fast Herman dropped his fork gettin’ his hands up in time, and had to climb out of the rack and get it—’cause every soul claimed it would break the rules to hand it up to him.
We closed down, and Fred just handed the money to Laurie, sayin’ he got it fair. Then Herman put up an awful howl and wanted to know how that could be when he put in an extra load.
“Veil, Herman,” says Fred, kind o’ sad, “if you vant to know, I tell you. Dot Englisher beat you tree tousand sheafs, an’ he got ten dollar beside dot tventy cornin’ to make it von cent for each.”
By jingo ! I could hardly believe it, and Herman sure didn’t. But after ten years of workin’ for Fred, he knew better than to doubt his word out loud.
“Them loads o’ yours was too full o’ holes for anybody to size up, Herman,” grumbles Kansas, “I figgered you wás beat by about two thousand.”
Well, we been busy and ain’t seen nobody from up there since, and we’re all keyed up to see who Fred is going to keep on for the winter . . .
“Dad,” fairly screamed Millie from the kitchen, “here comes Zimmerman’s car with Laurie driving, and Gretel showing him how!”