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38. CHAPTER XXXVIII (continued)
Her active hatred of Gopher Prairie had run out. She saw it now as a toiling new settlement. With sympathy she remembered Kennicott's defense of its citizens as "a lot of pretty good folks, working hard and trying to bring up their families the best they can." She recalled tenderly the young awkwardness of Main Street and the makeshifts of the little brown cottages; she pitied their shabbiness and isolation; had compassion for their assertion of culture, even as expressed in Thanatopsis papers, for their pretense of greatness, even as trumpeted in "boosting." She saw Main Street in the dusty prairie sunset, a line of frontier shanties with solemn lonely people waiting for her, solemn and lonely as an old man who has outlived his friends. She remembered that Kennicott and Sam Clark had listened to her songs, and she wanted to run to them and sing.
"At last," she rejoiced, "I've come to a fairer attitude toward the town. I can love it, now."
She was, perhaps, rather proud of herself for having acquired so much tolerance.
She awoke at three in the morning, after a dream of being tortured by Ella Stowbody and the Widow Bogart.
"I've been making the town a myth. This is how people keep up the tradition of the perfect home-town, the happy boyhood, the brilliant college friends. We forget so. I've been forgetting that Main Street doesn't think it's in the least lonely and pitiful. It thinks it's God's Own Country. It isn't waiting for me. It doesn't care."
But the next evening she again saw Gopher Prairie as her home, waiting for her in the sunset, rimmed round with splendor.
She did not return for five months more; five months crammed with greedy accumulation of sounds and colors to take back for the long still days.
She had spent nearly two years in Washington.
When she departed for Gopher Prairie, in June, her second baby was stirring within her.
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