In The Song of the Lark (Willa Cather's third novel, published in 1915), Thea Kronberg goes to one of her father's regular prayer meetings in Moonstone, Colorado, and hears an old woman who “never missed a Wednesday night [and] came all the way up from the depot settlement.” Cather describes the woman this way:
She always wore a black crocheted “fascinator” over her thin white hair, and she made long, tremulous prayers, full of railroad terminology. She had six sons in the service of different railroads, and she always prayed “for the boys on the road, who know not at what moment they may be cut off. When, in Thy divine wisdom, their hour is upon them, may they, O our Heavenly Father, see only white lights along the road to Eternity.” She used to speak, too, of “the engines that race with death”; and though she looked so old and little when she was on her knees, and her voice was so shaky, her prayers had a thrill of speed and danger in them; they made one think of the deep black cañons, the slender trestles, the pounding trains. Thea liked to look at her sunken eyes that seemed full of wisdom, at her black thread gloves, much too long in the fingers and so meekly folded one over the other. Her face was brown, and worn away as rocks are worn by water. There are many ways of describing that colour of age, but in reality it is not like parchment, or like any of the things it is said to be like. That brownness and that texture of skin are found only in the faces of old human creatures, who have worked hard and who have always been poor.