Mrs. Wheeler had quietly put down her knife and fork. She looked at her husband in vague alarm, while her fingers moved restlessly about over the tablecloth.
"I thought," Claude went on hastily, "that maybe I would go up to Omaha tomorrow and find out where the training camps are to be located, and have a talk with the men in charge of the enlistment station. Of course," he added lightly, "they may not want me. I haven't an idea what the requirements are."
"No, I don't understand much about it either." Mr. Wheeler rolled his top pancake and conveyed it to his mouth. After a moment of mastication he said, "You figure on going tomorrow?"
"I'd like to. I won't bother with baggage--some shirts and underclothes in my suitcase. If the Government wants me, it will clothe me."
Mr. Wheeler pushed back his plate. "Well, now I guess you'd better come out with me and look at the wheat. I don't know but I'd best plough up that south quarter and put it in corn. I don't believe it will make anything much."
When Claude and his father went out of the door, Dan sprang up with more alacrity than usual and plunged after them. He did not want to be left alone with Mrs. Wheeler. She remained sitting at the foot of the deserted breakfast table. She was not crying. Her eyes were utterly sightless. Her back was so stooped that she seemed to be bending under a burden. Mahailey cleared the dishes away quietly.
Out in the muddy fields Claude finished his talk with his father. He explained that he wanted to slip away without saying good-bye to any one. "I have a way, you know," he said, flushing, "of beginning things and not getting very far with them. I don't want anything said about this until I'm sure. I may be rejected for one reason or another."
Mr. Wheeler smiled. "I guess not. However, I'll tell Dan to keep his mouth shut. Will you just go over to Leonard Dawson's and get that wrench he borrowed? It's about noon, and he'll likely be at home." Claude found big Leonard watering his team at the windmill. When Leonard asked him what he thought of the President's message, he blurted out at once that he was going to Omaha to enlist. Leonard reached up and pulled the lever that controlled the almost motionless wheel.