PART I. The Wild Land
5. CHAPTER V
Alexandra and Emil spent five days down among the river farms,
driving up and down the valley. Alexandra talked to the men about
their crops and to the women about their poultry. She spent a
whole day with one young farmer who had been away at school, and
who was experimenting with a new kind of clover hay. She learned
a great deal. As they drove along, she and Emil talked and planned.
At last, on the sixth day, Alexandra turned Brigham's head northward
and left the river behind.
"There's nothing in it for us down there, Emil. There are a few
fine farms, but they are owned by the rich men in town, and couldn't
be bought. Most of the land is rough and hilly. They can always
scrape along down there, but they can never do anything big. Down
there they have a little certainty, but up with us there is a big
chance. We must have faith in the high land, Emil. I want to hold
on harder than ever, and when you're a man you'll thank me." She
urged Brigham forward.
When the road began to climb the first long swells of the Divide,
Alexandra hummed an old Swedish hymn, and Emil wondered why his
sister looked so happy. Her face was so radiant that he felt shy
about asking her. For the first time, perhaps, since that land
emerged from the waters of geologic ages, a human face was set toward
it with love and yearning. It seemed beautiful to her, rich and
strong and glorious. Her eyes drank in the breadth of it, until
her tears blinded her. Then the Genius of the Divide, the great,
free spirit which breathes across it, must have bent lower than
it ever bent to a human will before. The history of every country
begins in the heart of a man or a woman.
Alexandra reached home in the afternoon. That evening she held
a family council and told her brothers all that she had seen and