THE STORY OF THE SOIL
THE STORY OF THE SOIL
CYRIL G. HOPKINS
Author of "Soil Fertility and Permanent Agriculture"
TO MY WIFE
Truth is better than fiction; and this true story of the soil is
written in co-operation with the Press of America and in competition
with popular fiction.
The scenes described exist; the references given can all be found
and verified; and the data quoted are exact although some of the
story dates antedate the scientific data.
As a rule the names employed are substitutes but the general
localities are as specified.
If the Story of the Soil should ever fall into the hands of any
individual who suspects that he has contributed to its information
the author begs that he will accept as belonging to himself every
gracious attribute and take it for granted that anything of opposite
savor was due to autosuggestion.
CYRIL G. HOPKINS.
University of Illinois Urbana.
THE OLD SOUTH
PERCY JOHNSTON stood waiting on the broad veranda of an old-style
Southern home on a bright November day in 1903. He had just come
from Blue Mound Station three miles away with suit-case in hand.
"Would it be possible for me to secure room and board here for a few
days?" he inquired of the elderly woman who answered his knock.
"Would it be possible?" she repeated apparently asking herself the
question while she scanned the face of her visitor with kindly eyes
that seemed to look beneath the surface.
"I beg your pardon my name is Johnston--Percy Johnston--" he said
with some embarrassment and hesitation realizing from her speech
and manner that he was not addressing a servant.
"No pardon is needed for that name" she interrupted; "Johnston is a
name we're mighty proud of here in the South."
"But I am from the West" he said.
"We're proud of the West too; and you should feel right welcome
here for this is 'Westover'" waving her hand toward the inroad
fields surrounding the old mansion house. "I am Mrs. West or at
least I used to be. Perhaps the title better belongs to my son's
wife at the present time; while I am mother grandma and
"Yes Sir you will be very welcome to share our home for a few days
if you wish; and we'll take you as a boarder. We used to entertain
my husband's friends from Richmond--and from Washington too
before the sixties; but since then we have grown poor and of late
years we take some summer boarders. They have all returned to the
city however the last of them having left only yesterday; so you
can have as many rooms as you like.
"Adelaide!" she called.
A rugged girl of seventeen entered the hall from a rear room.
"This is my granddaughter Adelaide Mr. Johnston."
Percy looked into her eyes for an instant; then her lashes dropped.
He remembered afterward that they were like her grandmother's and
he found himself repeating "The eye is the window of the soul."
"My Dear will you ask Wilkes to show Mr. Johnston to the southwest
room and to put a fire in the grate and warm water in the pitcher?"
"Thank you that will not be necessary" said Percy. "I wish to see
and learn as much as possible of the country hereabout and
particularly of the farm lands; and if I may leave my suit-case to
be sent to my room when convenient I shall take a walk--perhaps a
long walk. When should I be back to supper."
"At six or half past. My son Charles has gone to Montplain but he
will be home for dinner. He knows the lands all about here and will
be glad I am sure to give you any information possible."
With rapid strides Percy followed the private lane to the open
fields of Westover.
"Is he a cowboy Grandma?" asked Adelaide in a tone which did not
suggest a very high regard for cowboys. "Anyway" she continued
detecting a shade of disapproval in the grandmother's face "he has
a cowboy's hat but he doesn't wear buckskin trousers or spurs."
Percy's hat was a relic of college life. Two years before he had
completed the agricultural course at one of the state universities
in the corn belt. Somewhat above the average in size well
proportioned accustomed to the heaviest farm work and trained in
football at college he was a sturdy young giant--" strong as an ox