Summary (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
The price of wheat is the thread holding together this episodic short story. As Sam Lewiston hitches up the buckboard, he and his wife, Emma, anxiously wonder if wheat is still selling for sixty-six cents a bushel. Like so many Kansas farmers, they face economic disaster if the price does not rise. Regardless of the market, Sam must sell his wheat today, and if the bears still rule in Chicago, he and Emma will lose the land they love. Both sense that their worst fears are about to be realized. Looking out across the prairie and into an uncertain future, Emma reminds Sam of his brother Joe’s offer of work in Chicago. Sam resists the idea of giving up, but as he kisses Emma good-bye and rides off to town, the reader knows that hope is all but gone.
On entering the office of Bridges & Co., Grain Dealers, Sam gets the bad news from Bridges himself. Wheat is at sixty-two cents. “It’s Truslow and the bear clique that stick the knife into us,” laments Bridges, who is powerless to help his farmer friends. Sam Lewiston is ruined, and so are many of his neighbors. It costs them a dollar a bushel to raise the wheat, and few, certainly not Sam, can afford to store it any longer. Dazed by this sad turn of events, Sam goes home to Emma. “We’ll go to Chicago,” he tells her. “We’re cleaned out!”
The second episode takes place some months later when Mr. Hornung and the bulls have driven wheat up to $1.10 per bushel. The bears, led by...
(The entire section is 992 words.)
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