(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Tim Haskins, with wife and children, have been driven from their farm by bad luck and a scourge of grasshoppers. On their way to an undetermined destination, they reach Stephen Council’s farm and ask to rest there before continuing their journey. Council and his wife not only give them food and a place to rest but also, after hearing Haskins’s story, persuade him to consider settling on a nearby vacated farm.

The farm is owned by Jim Butler, who acquired it along with several other farms through legal but ethically questionable mortgage foreclosures. Council, apparently unaware of Butler’s methods of land speculation, assumes Butler is an honorable businessperson who will give Haskins a good deal. He introduces them, and they soon agree that Haskins can rent the place. Because it is quite dilapidated, Butler sets the rent and the selling price quite low, commensurate with the farm’s poor condition (and to some extent clearly within Haskins’s ability to pay). Though Haskins can barely afford to make such a commitment, he agrees to rent for three years with an option to either renew the lease or buy the farm at the end of the three-year period.

For three years, Haskins, with his wife and children, works the farm. Council and some of the other farmers in the area lend him tools and seed, and with backbreaking toil, the Haskins family brings about a metamorphosis in the place. They make all kinds of improvements: new fencing, a garden, a...

(The entire section is 491 words.)