Friday, January 29, 2010

THE ROAD TO CONTENT CORNERS, part 1 of 5, by C. Courtenay Savage (1922)

It was still early in the morning of the Fourth when Boyce Hewett turned his automobile from the state highway to the country road that led to Content Corners. The sun was hot and Boyce had taken off his coat and opened the soft collar of his shirt. He looked much younger than his thoughts, which were entirely of how cheaply he could buy and at what a large figure he might be able to sell.

It was all very familiar country to Hewett. He was born on a farm a mile away from Content Corners, lived there until after his mother's death, when he went to the city where his rise in the business world was almost spectacular.

He was figuring, as he drove alone, that while the Board of Directors had made him no outright offer, he believed that they were thinking of asking him to represent them in Content Corners. Yesterday afternoon he had learned that the Directors had positively decided to build a branch of the railroad through to Content Corners; that was why he was hurrying to buy up as many land options as possible before the farmers and small-town folk became aware of the fortune that awaited them. Land in Content Corners was going to be valuable, especially when it was known that the sole purpose of the men who were to build the branch railroad, was to take advantage of the water power from the hill and build several manufacturing plants.

He had planned his campaign hastily but accurately, making mental note of the places on which he wanted options. The prime site of all was the four or five acres of land where the two small rivers met. He wished the land did not belong to Betty. Of course, Mrs. Sawtell, Betty's mother, had often said that the land was not worth its taxes but just the same, he could not convince himself that it was entirely fair to take advantage of Mrs. Sawtell and her daughter.

If he married Betty--well, that would be different. But was he going to marry her? She was very beautiful but a very simple little lady, after all. He was going to be so very rich, so very successful, that he wondered if he ought not to have a smart, up-to-date city bride? He shrugged his shoulders, shifted his thoughts and began to wonder if the Cummings' field would be suitable for exploitation. The field was on a straight line with the proposed railroad and there were two swift streams that joined the river at that point. When he made the turn beyond the Cummings' farmhouse, he drew his car to the side of the road and jumped out.