Each night we went to bed with the roar of rushing water in our ears and at intervals throughout the night men arose to listen; they wandered restlessly to and fro near the river bank, talking in low tones.... The river had broken its banks and was filling ditches and all low places, rushing through weeds and willows with a sound of danger. It was a terrible sound ... mad waters rushing and rising... elemental forces speaking in a voice of finality.

Agnes Smedley, Daughter of Earth, The Feminist Press, New York, 1973, p.58-59.

TIME: 1920's


CIRCUMSTANCE: a springflood threatening to wash away people's homes in the slums



The river rolled on mercilessly, dark and troubled against the gleam of the grey sand bank beyond. It was talking to itself... how strange that voice... it was like the night of the flood when it rushed upon us. This was one thing that you could not make love you... it was worse than an animal. That voice.. fear held me back.... I could not trust a thing with no feeling in it.

Agnes Smedley, Daughter of Earth, The Feminist Press, New York, 1973, p.80-81.

TIME: 1920's.


CIRCUMSTANCE: a young girl contemplating suicide on the bank of a river.



There was the sound of an outside door opening and closing... two steps on the porch outside, one step downward onto the hard earth, three steps more to the street. The old gate, hanging on one hinge, squeaked and flapped to with a dull rotten sound as if a spirit had passed that way. The rag pasted over the broken window pane bulged inward from a wind that swept down the canyons in late autumn. My father breathed heavily, turned without a word, and slammed the kitchen door behind him. The click of his steps crossed a ditch leading toward the railway tracks... the tracks that wound through the city within a few steps of the saloon. The silence of the kitchen was broken only by the beat of my mother's sobs as if they had always been and would always be.

Agnes Smedley, Daughter of Earth, The Feminist Press, New York, 1973, p.85.

TIME: 1920's


CIRCUMSTANCE: the acute hearing of an anxious child after a family quarrel in the next room.