Elisa Allen is tending her chrysanthemums. Strong, with a handsome face she skilfully and proudly cultivates the best in the valley. Tonight, her husband is taking her to town. While she works, a squeak of heels and a plod of hoofs bring a curious vehicle, curiously drawn: a tradesman looking for directions and a job. He is met with curt replies and a hardened resistance. Then he notices her chrysanthemums.
With his characteristic insight and evocative language, John Steinbeck creates a short story of a brief but striking encounter. Set in Salinas Valley, where he grew up, it dissects the myriad complexities of humanity, society and hidden longings.