The story is set in Texas just before the First World War.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
A young man from Chicago following the harvest.
The beautiful young woman he loves.
The owner of a vast wheat ranch ("bonanza") in the
Abby's younger sister, a reckless child of14.
The bonanza foreman, an enemy of the newcomers.
Chief domestic at the Belvedere, Chuck's home.
A young pilot who interests Ursula.
A PREACHER, A DOCTOR, AN ORGANIST, VARIOUS HARVEST HANDS,
LAWMEN, VAUDEVILLIANS, etc.
"Troops of nomads swept over the country at harvest time
like a visitation of locusts, reckless young fellows,
handsome, profane, licentious, given to drink, powerful but
inconstant workmen, quarrelsome and difficult to manage at
all times. They came in the season when work was plenty and
wages high. They dressed well, in their own peculiar
fashion, and made much of their freedom to come and go."
"They told of the city, and sinister and poisonous
jungles all cities seemed in their stories. They were
scarred with battles. They came from the far-away and
unknown, and passed on to the north, mysterious as the
flight of locusts, leaving the people of Sun Prairie quite
as ignorant of their real names and characters as upon the
first day of their coming."
Hamlin Garland, Boy Life on the Prairie (1899)
1INT. CHICAGO MILL - SERIES OF ANGLES
WORKERS in a dark Chicago mill pound molten iron
out in flaming sheets. The year is 1916.
BILL, a handsome young man from the slums, and
STEVE sit outside on their lunch break talking with an
older man named BLACKIE. By the look of his flashy clothes
Blackie is not a worker.
Listen, if I ever seen a tit, this here's a tit.
You understand? Candy. My kid sister could do this one. Pure
fucking candy'd melt in your hand. Don't take brains. Just a
set of rocks. I told you this already.
Blackie, you told me it was going to snow in the
winter, I'd go out and bet against it. You know?
There is nothing, nothing in the world, dumber
than a dumb guinea.
Okay, all right, fine. Why should I be doing
favors for a guy that isn't doing me any favors? I must be
losing my grip.
I got to give it to you, though. Couple of guys
look like you just rolled in on a wagonload of chickens. You
ever get laid?
Without a lot of talk, I mean? 'Cause I'm
beginning to understand these guys, go down the hotel, pick
something up for a couple of bucks. It's clean, and you know
what you're in for.
Sam the Collector's GANG swaggers around in the
alley behind a textile plant. ONE of them has filed his
teeth down to points and stuck diamonds in between them.
ANOTHER wears big suspenders.
Sam and Bill appear to know one another.
Hey, Billy, you made a mistake. You made
somebody mad. Nothing personal, okay? It's just gotta be
done. You made a mistake. Happens in the best of families.
I paid you everything I have. Search me. The
rest he gets next week.
Listen, what happens if I don't do this?
I gotta leave town?
I could do something, you know. You guys wanta
do something to me, I know who to tell about it. You guys
ought to think about that.
You maybe already did something. Maybe that's
why you're here, on account of you already done something.
I haven't done anything.
Then you're all right, Billy.
You got nothing to worry about.
Cut it out, Billy, all right? You know what can
happen to a guy that doesn't wanta do what people tell him?
You know. So don't give us a lot of trouble. You're liable
to get everybody all pissed off.