My Antonia, Willa Cather
The following is an excerpt from a novel about life on the American prairie in the early 20th century.
1. TWO YEARS AFTER I left Lincoln, I completed my
2. academic course at Harvard. Before I entered the Law
3. School I went home for the summer vacation. On the night
4. of my arrival, Mrs. Harling and Frances and Sally came
5. over to greet me. Everything seemed just as it used to be.
6. My grandparents looked very little older. Frances Harling
7. was married now, and she and her husband managed the
8. Harling interests in Black Hawk. When we gathered in
9. grandmother's parlour, I could hardly believe that I had
10. been away at all. One subject, however, we avoided all
12. When I was walking home with Frances, after we had left
13. Mrs. Harling at her gate, she said simply, 'You know, of
14. course, about poor Antonia.'
15. Poor Antonia! Everyone would be saying that now, I
16. thought bitterly. I replied that grandmother had written me
17. how Antonia went away to marry Larry Donovan at some
18. place where he was working; that he had deserted her, and
19. that there was now a baby. This was all I knew.
20. 'He never married her,' Frances said. 'I haven't seen her
21. since she came back. She lives at home, on the farm, and
22. almost never comes to town. She brought the baby in to
23. show it to mama once. I'm afraid she's settled down to be
24. Ambrosch's drudge for good.'
25. I tried to shut Antonia out of my mind. I was bitterly
26. disappointed in her. I could not forgive her for becoming
27. an object of pity, while Lena Lingard, for whom people
28. had always foretold trouble, was now the leading
29. dressmaker of Lincoln, much respected in Black Hawk.
30. Lena gave her heart away when she felt like it, but she kept
31. her head for her business and had got on in the world.
32. Just then it was the fashion to speak indulgently of Lena
33. and severely of Tiny Soderball, who had quietly gone West
34. to try her fortune the year before. A Black Hawk boy, just
35. back from Seattle, brought the news that Tiny had not gone
36. to the coast on a venture, as she had allowed people to
37. think, but with very definite plans. One of the roving
38. promoters that used to stop at Mrs. Gardener's hotel owned
39. idle property along the waterfront in Seattle, and he had
40. offered to set Tiny up in business in one of his empty
41. buildings. She was now conducting a sailors' lodging-
42. house. This, everyone said, would be the end of Tiny. Even
43. if she had begun by running a decent place, she couldn't
44. keep it up; all sailors' boarding-houses were alike.
45. When I thought about it, I discovered that I had never
46. known Tiny as well as I knew the other girls. I
47. remembered her tripping briskly about the dining-room on
48. her high heels, carrying a big trayful of dishes, glancing
49. rather pertly at the spruce travelling men, and
50. contemptuously at the scrubby ones—who were so afraid
51. of her that they didn't dare to ask for two kinds of pie. Now
52. it occurred to me that perhaps the sailors, too, might be
53. afraid of Tiny. How astonished we should have been, as
54. we sat talking about her on Frances Harling's front porch,
55. if we could have known what her future was really to be!
56. Of all the girls and boys who grew up together in Black
57. Hawk, Tiny Soderball was to lead the most adventurous
58. life and to achieve the most solid worldly success.
59. This is what actually happened to Tiny: While she was
60. running her lodging-house in Seattle, gold was discovered
61. in Alaska. Miners and sailors came back from the North
62. with wonderful stories and pouches of gold. Tiny saw it
63. and weighed it in her hands. That daring, which nobody
64. had ever suspected in her, awoke. She sold her business
65. and set out for Circle City, in company with a carpenter
66. and his wife whom she had persuaded to go along with her.
67. They reached Skaguay in a snowstorm, went in dog-
68. sledges over the Chilkoot Pass, and shot the Yukon in
69. flatboats. They reached Circle City on the very day when
70. some Siwash Indians came into the settlement with the
71. report that there had been a rich gold strike farther up the
72. river, on a certain Klondike Creek. Two days later Tiny
73. and her friends, and nearly everyone else in Circle City,
74. started for the Klondike fields on the last steamer that went
75. up the Yukon before it froze for the winter. That boatload
76. of people founded Dawson City. Within a few weeks there
77. were fifteen hundred homeless men in camp. Tiny and the
78. carpenter's wife began to cook for them, in a tent. The
79. miners gave her a building lot, and the carpenter put up a
80. log hotel for her. There she sometimes fed a hundred and
81. fifty men a day. Miners came in on snowshoes from their
82. placer claims twenty miles away to buy fresh bread from
83. her, and paid for it in gold.
84. That winter Tiny kept in her hotel a Swede whose legs had
85. been frozen one night in a storm when he was trying to
86. find his way back to his cabin. The poor fellow thought it
87. great good fortune to be cared for by a woman, and a
88. woman who spoke his own tongue. When he was told that
89. his feet must be amputated, he said he hoped he would not
90. get well; what could a working-man do in this hard world
91. without feet? He did, in fact, die from the operation, but
92. not before he had deeded Tiny Soderball his claim on
93. Hunker Creek. Tiny sold her hotel, invested half her
94. money in Dawson building lots, and with the rest she
95. developed her claim. She went off into the wilds and lived
96. on the claim. She bought other claims from discouraged
97. miners, traded or sold them on percentages.
98. After nearly ten years in the Klondike, Tiny returned, with
99. a considerable fortune, to live in San Francisco. I met her
100. in Salt Lake City in 1908. She was a thin, hard-faced
101. woman, very well-dressed, very reserved in manner.
102. Curiously enough, she reminded me of Mrs. Gardener, for
103. whom she had worked in Black Hawk so long ago. She
104. told me about some of the desperate chances she had taken
105. in the gold country, but the thrill of them was quite gone.
106. She said frankly that nothing interested her much now but
107. making money. The only two human beings of whom she
108. spoke with any feeling were the Swede, Johnson, who had
109. given her his claim, and Lena Lingard. She had persuaded
110. Lena to come to San Francisco and go into business there.
111. 'Lincoln was never any place for her,' Tiny remarked. 'In a
112. town of that size Lena would always be gossiped about.
113. Frisco's the right field for her. She has a fine class of trade.
114. Oh, she's just the same as she always was! She's careless,
115. but she's level-headed. She's the only person I know who
116. never gets any older. It's fine for me to have her there;
117. somebody who enjoys things like that. She keeps an eye on
118. me and won't let me be shabby. When she thinks I need a
119. new dress, she makes it and sends it home with a bill that's
120. long enough, I can tell you!'
121. Tiny limped slightly when she walked. The claim on
122. Hunker Creek took toll from its possessors. Tiny had been
123. caught in a sudden turn of weather, like poor Johnson. She
124. lost three toes from one of those pretty little feet that used
125. to trip about Black Hawk in pointed slippers and striped
126. stockings. Tiny mentioned this mutilation quite casually—
127. didn't seem sensitive about it. She was satisfied with her
128. success, but not elated. She was like someone in whom the
129. faculty of becoming interested is worn out.
Cather, Willa. My Antonia. N.p.: The Floating Press, 1918. Proquest Ebook Library. Web. 23 Mar. 2016.
According to paragraph 4 (lines 20-24), it can be inferred that Antonia works for whom?