Three days they jolted through Wyoming and west Nebraska. The black cuts of the buttes against the sky, the colors in them like striped fire, the great quiet desolation of the mesa they passed, filled Mazie with some strange unhappiness, more like happiness than anything she had ever known. Anna felt like a bride; riding along, she sang and sang. Sometimes Jim whistled or sang with her in a depthless bass voice. And the wagon made gay silvery sounds accompanying them, and the sun laid warm hands on their backs.
The fourth day they came to South Dakota—breaths caught in sharp wonder at the green stretching for miles, at the small streamlets like open silver veins on the ground, and here and there dots of cattle grazing, heads down. The air was pure and soft like a baby’s skin. “Breathe,” Anna said, “breathe it in, kids.” “Listen, Momma, there’s birds.” Birds, floating round shining