"Look at 'em come, Jesse! More and more! Must be forty or fifty families." Molly Wingate, middle-aged, portly, dark browed and strong, stood at the door of the rude tent which for the time made her home. She was pointing down the road which lay like an ecru ribbon thrown down across the prairie grass, bordered beyond by the timber-grown bluffs of the Missouri. Jesse Wingate allowed his team of harness-marked horses to continue their eager drinking at the watering hole of the little stream near which the camp was pitched until, their thirst quenched, they began burying their muzzles and blowing into the water in sensuous enjoyment. He stood, a strong and tall man of perhaps forty-five years, of keen blue eye and short, close-matted, tawny beard. His garb was the loose dress of the outlying settler of the Western lands three-quarters of a century ago. A farmer he must have been back home. Could this encampment, on the very front of the American civilization, now be called a home? Beyond the prairie road could be seen a double furrow of jet-black glistening sod, framing the green grass and its spangling flowers, first browsing of the plow on virgin soil. It might have been the opening of a farm. But if so, why the crude bivouac? Why the gear of travelers? Why the massed arklike wagons, the scores of morning fires lifting lazy blue wreaths of smoke against the morning mists?