Page:Poor White.djvu/25

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of the Mississippi River, the woman who had become Hugh McVey's second mother and in whose veins flowed the blood of the pioneers, felt herself undefeated and unbeatable. She and her husband would, she felt, stay in the Missouri town for a while and then move on to a larger town and a better position in life. They would move on and up until the little fat man was a railroad president or a millionaire. It was the way things were done. She had no doubt of the future. “Do everything well,” she said to her husband, who was perfectly satisfied with his position in life and had no exalted notions as to his future. "Remember to make your reports out neatly and clearly. Show them you can do perfectly the task given you to do, and you will be given a chance at a larger task. Some day when you least expect it something will happen. You will be called up into a position of power. We won't be compelled to stay in this hole of a place very long."

The ambitious energetic little woman, who had taken the son of the indolent farm hand to her heart, constantly talked to him of her own people. Every afternoon when her housework was done she took the boy into the front room of the house and spent hours laboring with him over his lessons. She worked upon the problem of rooting the stupidity and dullness out of his mind as her father had worked at the problem of rooting the stumps out of the Michigan land. After the lesson for the day had been gone over and over until Hugh was in a stupor of mental weariness, she put the books aside and talked to him. With glowing fervor she made for him a picture of her own youth and the people and places where she had lived. In the picture she represented the New Englanders of the