The Indian Summer of Dry Valley Johnson (Henry)

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The Indian Summer of Dry Valley Johnson
Summary of the Short Story
from the Collection «Heart of the West»
Microsummary: A middle-aged sheepman tried to recapture his youth by courting a young woman, but after realizing the absurdity of his actions, he returned to his true self and found love unexpectedly.

Dry Valley Johnson, a former sheepman, sold his ranch and moved to Santa Rosa to live a life of leisure. He became obsessed with growing strawberries and spent most of his time tending to his garden. One day, he caught a group of children, including 19-year-old Panchita O'Brien, stealing his strawberries.

Dry Valley Johnson — middle-aged sheepman; serious, silent, and melancholy; later becomes infatuated with a young woman.
Panchita O'Brien — young woman; bold, audacious, and defiant; object of Dry Valley's infatuation.

Dry Valley was captivated by Panchita and decided to court her, despite their age difference. In an attempt to appear younger, Dry Valley bought fashionable clothes and tried to engage in youthful activities. He took Panchita on walks, buggy rides, and to parties, but never spoke much to her. One day, he arrived early at Panchita's house and saw her mocking him by dressing up in similar clothes and imitating his mannerisms.

I'm a pretty looking old rhinoceros to be gettin' stuck on a kid, ain't I, 'Tonia?

Humiliated, Dry Valley returned to his old clothes and confronted Panchita, telling her to stay away from him.

Go home, and don't let me see you no more. Why I done it, will somebody tell me? Go home, and let me try and forget it.

Later, Dry Valley found Panchita in his strawberry patch again. He angrily whipped her, but she continued to approach him with open arms. Confused and moved by her actions, Dry Valley embraced her, and the two found love despite their differences.