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The mountain girl


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Title:TheMountainGirl
Author:PayneErskine
Illustrator:J.DuncanGleason
ReleaseDate:May19,2010[EBook#32429]
Language:English

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THEMOUNTAINGIRL


Wewillgohometomyhomejustlikethis,together.

TheMountainGirlByPAYNEERSKINEAuthorofWhentheGatesLiftUp
TheirHeadsWITHFOURILLUSTRATIONSByJ.DUNCANGLEASONA.
L.BURTCOMPANYPublishersNewYork


COPYRIGHT,1911,1912,
BYLITTLE,BROWN,ANDCOMPANY.

Allrightsreserved.



CONTENTS
CHAPTER
PAGE
I. InwhichDavidThryngarrivesatCarew'sCrossing
1
InwhichDavidThryngexperiencestheHospitalityofthe
II.
10
MountainPeople
III. InwhichAuntSallytakesherDepartureandmeetsFrale
25
DavidspendshisFirstDayathisCabin,andFralemakeshis
IV.
35
Confession
InwhichCassandragoestoDavidwithherTrouble,andgives
V.
47
FraleherPromise
VI. InwhichDavidaidsFraletomakehisEscape
59
VII. InwhichFralegoesdowntoFaringtoninhisownWay
68


VIII. InwhichDavidThryngmakesaDiscovery
76
InwhichDavidaccompaniesCassandraonanErrandof
IX.
86
Mercy
InwhichCassandraandDavidvisittheHomeofDecatur
X.
94
Irwin
InwhichSpringcomestotheMountains,andCassandratells
XI.
103
DavidofherFather
XII. InwhichCassandrahearstheVoices,andDavidleasesaFarm
111
XIII. InwhichDaviddiscoversCassandra'sTrouble
120
XIV. InwhichDavidvisitstheBishop,andFraleseeshisEnemy
131
XV. InwhichJerryCarewgivesDavidhisViewsonFuture
Punishment,andLittleHoyle
payshimaVisitandismadeHappy
144
InwhichFralereturnsandlistenstotheComplaintsofDecatur
XVI.
152
Irwin'sWife
XVII. InwhichDavidThryngmeetsanEnemy
164
XVIII. InwhichDavidThryngAwakes
172
XIX. InwhichDavidsendsHokeBelewonaCommission,and
Cassandramakes


aConfession
InwhichtheBishopandhisWifepassanEventfulDayatthe
XX.
FallPlace
XXI. InwhichtheSummerPasses
XXII. InwhichDavidtakeslittleHoyletoCanada
XXIII. InwhichDoctorHoylespeakshisMind
XXIV. InwhichDavidThrynghasNewsfromEngland
XXV. InwhichDavidThryngvisitshisMother
XXVI. InwhichDavidThryngadjustshisLifetoNewConditions
InwhichtheOldDoctorandLittleHoylecomebacktothe
XXVII.
Mountains
XXVIII. InwhichFralereturnstotheMountains
XXIX. InwhichCassandravisitsDavidThryng'sAncestors
InwhichCassandragoestoQueensderryandtakesaDriveina
XXX.
PonyCarriage
XXXI. InwhichDavidandhisMotherdonotAgree
XXXII. InwhichCassandrabringstheHeirofDanesheadCastleback
toherHilltop,
andtheShadowLifts

180
189
198
207
212
218
224
234
244
253
265
276
288

300


ILLUSTRATIONS
"Wewillgohometomyhomejustlikethis,together."FRONTISPIECE.SeePage
311.
"Casabianca,wasit?"saidThryng,smiling.Page17.
"Itakeitback—backfromGod—thepromiseIgaveyoutherebythefall."Page
171.
Cassandrastoodsilent,quiveringlikeoneofherownmountaincreatures
broughttobay.Page286.


THEMOUNTAINGIRL


CHAPTERI
INWHICHDAVIDTHRYNGARRIVESATCAREW'S
CROSSING
Thesnowhadceasedfalling.Nowindstirredamongthetreesthatcoveredthe
hillsides,andeveryshrub,everyleafandtwig,stillboreitsfeathery,whiteload.
Slowlythetrainlaboredupward,withtwoenginestotakeitthesteepestpartof
theclimbfromthevalleybelow.DavidThrynggazedoutintothequiet,white
wilderness and was glad. He hoped Carew's Crossing was not beyond all this,
wheretheraggededgeofcivilization,outofwhichthetoilingtrainhadsolately
liftedthem,wouldbeginagain.
Heglancedfromtimetotimeattheyoungwomannearthedoorwhosatasthe
bishophadlefther,oneslighthandgraspingthehandleofherbasket,andwith
an expression on her face as placid and fraught with mystery as the scene
without.Thetrainbegantocrawlmoreheavily,and,lookingdown,Thryngsaw
thattheywerecrossingatrestleoveradeepgorgebeforeskirtingthemountain
ontheotherside.Suddenlyitoccurredtohimthathemightbecarriedbeyond
his station. He stopped the smiling young brakeman who was passing with his
flag.
"LetmeknowwhenwecometoCarew'sCrossing,willyou?"
"Nextstop,suh.Areyoufohthere,suh?"
"Yes.Howsoon?"
"Half an houh mo', suh. I'll be back d'rectly and help you off, suh. It's a flag
station. We don't stoptherein winter'thoutwe'recalledto,suh.Hotel'sclosed
now."
"Hotel?Isthereahotel?"Thryng'svoicebetokeneddismay.
"Yes,suh.It'sarightgaylittleplaceinsummah,suh."Hepassedon,andThryng
gatheredhisscatteredeffects.Illandweary,hewasgladtofindhislongjourney
sonearlyatanend.


On either side of the track, as far as eye could see, was a snow-whitened
wilderness, seemingly untouched by the hand of man, and he felt as if he had
been carried back two hundred years. The only hint that these fastnesses had
beeninvadedbyhumanbeingswasanoccasionalrough,deeplyredwagonroad,
windingoffamongthehills.
The long trestle crossed, the engines labored slowly upward for a time, then,
turning a sharp curve, began to descend, tearing along the narrow track with a
speedthatcausedthecoachestorockandsway;andthustheyreachedCarew's
Crossing,droppingdowntoitlikearushingtorrent.
ImmediatelyThryngfoundhimselfdepositedinthemeltingsnowsomedistance
from the station platform, and at the same instant, above the noise of the
retreating train, he heard a cry: "Oh, suh, help him, help him! It's poor little
Hoyle!" The girl whom he had watched, and about whom he had been
wondering,flashedbyhimandcaughtatthebridleofafractiouscolt,thatwas
rearingandplungingnearthecornerofthestation.
"Poor little Hoyle! Help him, suh, help him!" she cried, clinging desperately,
whilethefranticanimalswungheroffherfeet,closetotheflyingheelsofthe
kickingmuleathisside.
Undertheheavyvehicletowhichtheill-assortedanimalswereattached,achild
lay unconscious, and David sprang forward, his weakness forgotten in the
demandforaction.Inaninstanthehaddrawnthelittlechapfromhisperilous
positionand,seizingthemule,succeededinbackinghimtohisplace.Thecause
ofitsfrighthavingbythistimedisappeared,thecoltbecametractableandstood
quiveringandsnorting,asDavidtookthebridlefromthegirl'shand.
"I'll quiet them now," he said, and she ran to the boy, who had recovered
sufficientlytositupandgazeinadazedwayabouthim.Asshebentoverhim,
murmuring soothing words, he threw his arms around her neck and burst into
wildsobbing.
"There,honey,there!Nooneishurt.Youarenot,areyou,honeyson?"
"Icouldn'tkeepaholtof'em,"hesobbed.
"Youshouldn'thavedoneit,honey.YoushouldhaveletmegethomeasbestI
could." Her face was one which could express much, passive as it had been
before."WherewasFrale?"


"Hetooktheothahho'seandlitout.Theywasaftahhim.They—"
"S-sh.There,hush!Youcanstandnow;try,Hoyle.Youareamannow."
The little fellow rose, and, perceiving Thryng for the first time, stepped shyly
behind his sister. David noticed that he had a deformity which caused him to
carry his head twisted stiffly to one side, and also that he had great, beautiful
browneyes,solikethoseofahuntedfawnasheturnedthemuponthestranger
withwideappeal,thatheseemedaveritablecreatureofthewildernessbywhich
theyweresurrounded.
Then the girl stepped forward and thanked him with voice and eyes; but he
scarcelyunderstoodthewordsshesaid,ashertonestrailedlingeringlyoverthe
vowels,andalmosteliminatedthe"r,"solightlywasittouched,whileheraccent
fellutterlystrangeuponhisEnglishear.Shelookedtotheharnesswithpractised
eye, and then laid her hand beside Thryng's, on the bridle. It was a strong,
shapelyhandandwrist.
"Icanmanagenow,"shesaid."Hoyle,getmybasketfohme."
But Thryng suggested that she climb in and take the reins first, although the
animalsstoodquietlyenoughnow;themulelookedevendejected,withhanging
headandforward-droopingears.
Thegirlspokegentlytothecolt,strokinghimalongthesideandmurmuringto
himinacooingvoiceasshemountedtothehighseatandgatheredupthereins.
Then the two beasts settled themselves to their places with a wontedness that
assuredThryngtheywouldbeperfectlymanageableunderherhand.
David turned to the child, relieved him of the basket, which was heavy with
unusualweight,andwouldhaveliftedhimup,butHoyleeludedhisgrasp,and,
scramblingoverthewheelwithcatlikeagility,slippedshylyintohisplaceclose
tothegirl'sside.Then,withmorethanchildlikethoughtfulness,theboylooked
upintoherfaceandsaidinalowvoice:—
"The gen'l'man's things is ovah yandah by the track, Cass. He cyant tote 'em
alone,Ireckon.Wharishegoin'?"
ThenThryngrememberedhimselfandhisneeds.Helookedatthelineoftrack
curving away up the mountain side in one direction, and in the other lost in a
deepcutinthehills;atthesteepredbanksrisinghighoneachside,archedover
by leafy forest growth, with all the interlacing branches and smallest twigs


bearingtheirdelicateburdenofwhite,featherysnow.Hecaughthisbreathasa
senseofthestrange,untamedbeauty,marvellousandutterlylonely,struckupon
him. Beyond the tracks, high up on the mountain slope, he thought he spied,
well-nighhidfromsightbythepines,thegambrelroofofalargebuilding—or
wasitasnow-coveredrock?
"Isthatahouseupthere?"heasked,turningtothegirl,whosatleaningforward
andlookingsteadilydownathim.
"Thatisthehotel."
"Aroadmustleadtoit,then.IfIcouldgetupthere,Icouldsenddownformy
things."
"They is no one thar," piped the boy; and Thryng remembered the brakeman's
words,andhowhehadrebelledatthethoughtofahotelincongruouslysetamid
thisprimevalbeauty;butnowhelongedforthecomfortofawarmroomandtea
atahospitabletable.Hewishedhehadacceptedthebishop'sinvitation.Itwasa
predicamenttobedroppedinthiswildspot,withoutastore,acabin,orevena
thread of blue smoke to be seen as indicating a human habitation, and no soul
nearsavethesetwochildren.
Thesunwassinkingtowardthewesternhilltops,andachillnessbegancreeping
about him as the shadows lengthened across the base of the mountain, leaving
onlytheheightsintheglowinglight.
"Really,youknow,Ican'tsaywhatIamtodo.I'mastrangerhere—"
Itseemedoddtohimatthemoment,butherface,framedinthehugesunbonnet,
—adelicateflowersetinaroughcalyx,—suddenlylostallexpression.She did
not move nor open her lips. Thryng thought he detected a look of fear in the
boy'seyes,ashecreptclosertoher.
Inaflashcametohimtherealizationofthedifficulty.Hisfriendhadtoldhimof
thesepeople,—theiroccupations,theirfearoftheworldoutsideandbelowtheir
fastnesses, and how zealously they guarded their homes and their rights from
outside intrusion, yet how hospitable and generous they were to all who could
notbeconsideredtheirhereditaryenemies.
He hastened to speak reassuring words, and, bethinking himself that she had
calledtheboyHoyle,heexplainedhowoneAdamHoylehadsenthim.


"Thedoctorismyfriend,youknow.Hebuiltacabinsomewherewithinaday's
walk, he told me, of Carew's Crossing, on a mountain top. Maybe you knew
him?"
Aslightsmilecreptaboutthegirl'slips,andhereyesbrightened."Yes,suh,weallknowDoctahHoyle."
"Iamtohavethecabin—ifIcanfindit—livethereashedid,andseewhatyour
hills will do for me." He laughed a little as he spoke, deprecating his evident
weakness,and,liftinghiscap,wipedthecoldmoisturefromhisforehead.
Shenotedhisfatigueandhesitated.Theboy'squestioningeyeswerefixedonher
face, and she glanced down into them an answering look. Her lips parted, and
her eyes glowed as she turned them again on David, but she spoke still in the
samepassivemonotone.
"Oh, yes. My little brothah was named foh him,—Adam Hoyle,—but we only
call him Hoyle. It's a right long spell since the Doctah was heah. His cabin is
rightnighus,alittlehighahup.Theahisnoplacewheahyoucouldstopnighah
thanouahs.Hoyle,jumpoutandhelpfetchhisthingsovah.Youcanputthemin
the back of the wagon, suh, and ride up with us. I have a sight of room foh
them."
Thechildwasoutandacrossthetracksinaninstant,seizingavalisemuchtoo
heavyforhim,andThryngcuthisthanksshorttogotohisrelief.
"Ikintoteit,"saidtheboyshrilly.
"No,no.Iamthebiggest,soI'lltakethebigones.Youbringthebundlewiththe
straparoundit—so.Nowweshallgeton,shan'twe?Butyouareprettystrong
foralittlechap;"andthechild'sfaceradiatedsmilesatthepraise.
Then David tossed in valise and rug, without which last no Englishman ever
goesonajourney,andwithmuchefforttheymanagedtopulltheboxalongand
hoist it also into the wagon, the body of which was filled with corn fodder,
coveredwithanoldpatchworkquilt.
Thewagonwasoftherudest,clumsiestconstruction,theheavyboxsetonaxles
without springs, but the young physician was thankful for any kind of a
conveyance.Hehadbeenusedtolifeinthewild,takingthingsashefoundthem
—bunkinginatent,aboardshanty,oroutundertheopensky;withmenbrought
heterogeneously together, some merely rough woodsmen in their natural


environment, others the scum of the cities to whom crime was become first
nature,decencysecond,andothers,fleeingfromjusticeandcivilizedlaw,hiding
ofttimes afinenaturedelicatelyreared.Duringthis timehehadseldomseena
womanotherthananoccasionalcampfollowerofthemostdegradedsort.
Inuredthus,hedidnotfindhisride,embeddedwithgoodcornfodder,muchofa
hardship,eveninaspringlesswagonovermountainroads.Wrappedinhisrug,
he braced himself against his box, with his face toward the rear of the wagon,
andgazedoutfromunderitsarchingcanvashoodatthewildway,asitslowly
unrolledbehindthem,and waspleasedthathedidnothavetospend thenight
undertheleeofthestation.
The lingering sunlight made flaming banners of the snow clouds now slowly
drifting across the sky above the white world, and touched the highest peaks
with rose and gold. The shadows, ever changing, deepened from faintest pinkmauve through heliotrope tints, to the richest violet in the heart of the gorges.
Over and through all was the witching mystery of fairy-like, snow-wreathed
branchesandtwigs,interwovenandarchingupandupinfaintperspectivetothe
heightsabove,anddown,fardown,tothedepthsoftheregionsbelowthem;and
allthetime,mingledwiththemurmurofthevoicesbehindhim,andthecreaking
ofthevehicleinwhichtheyrode,andthetrampoftheanimalswhentheycame
toahardroadbedwithrockfoundation,—noiseswhichwerenotloud,butwhich
seemed to be covered and subdued by the soft snow even as it covered
everything,—couldbeheardalightdroppingandpattering,astheoverladenlast
year'sleavesandtwigsdroppedtheirwhiteburdentotheground.Sometimesthe
greathoodofthewagonstruckanoverhangingboughandsentthesnowdownin
showersastheypassed.
Heavilytheyclimbedup,andwarilymadetheirdescentofrockysteeps,passing
throughboggyplacesorsplashinginclearstreamswhichissuedfromspringsin
themountainsideorfellfromsomedistantheight,thenclimbingagainonlyto
windaboutandagaindescend.Oftenthewaywasroughwithbouldersthathad
never been blasted out,—sometimes steeply shelving where the gorge was
deepest and the precipice sheerest. Past all dangers the girl drove with skilful
hand, now encouraging her team with her low voice, now restraining them,
wheretheirloadcrowdeduponthemoverslippery,shelvingrocks,withstrong
pullsandsharpcommand.Davidmarvelledatherserenityunderthestrain,and
athercourageanddeftness.Withthecalmnessoftheboynestlingatherside,he
resignedhimselftothesweetwitcheryofthetimeandplace.Glancingupatthe
highseatbehindhim,hesawthechild'sfeetdangling,andknewtheymustbe


cold.
"Why can't your little brother sit back here with me?" he said; "I'll cover him
withmyrug,andwe'llkeepeachotherwarm."
Hesawthesmallhunchedbackstiffen,andtrytoappearbigandmanly,butshe
checkedtheteamataleveldipintheroad.
"Yes, sonny, get ovah theah with the gentleman. It'll be some coldah now the
sun's gone." But the little man was shyly reluctant to move. "Come, honey.
Sistah'daheaprathahyouwould."
Then David reached up and gently lifted the atom of manhood, of pride,
sensitiveness, and affection, over where he caused him to snuggle down in the
fodderclosetohisside.
Forawhilethechildsatstifflyaloof,butgraduallyhislittleformrelaxed,and
his head drooped sideways in the hollow of the stranger's shoulder, held
comfortably by Thryng's kindly encircling arm. Soon, with his small feet
wrappedinthewarm,softrug,hesleptsoundlyandsweetly,rocked,albeitrather
roughly,inthejoltingwagon.
Thryngalsodreamed,butnotinsleep.Hismindwasstirredtounusualdepthsby
hisstrangesurroundings—thesilence,themystery,thebeautyofthenight,and
thesuggestionsofgrandeurandpowerdimlyrevealedbythemoonlightwhich
bathedtheworldinafloodofglory.
Hewasupliftedanddrawnoutofhimself,andatthesametimehewasthrown
back to review his life and to see his most inward self, and to marvel and
question the wherefore of it all. Why was he here, away from the active,
practical affairs which interest other men? Was he a creature of ideals only, or
washealsoapracticalman,takingthewisestmeansofreachingandachieving
resultsmostworthwhile?Hesawhimselfinhischildhood—inhisyouth—inhis
young manhood—even to the present moment, jogging slowly along in a far
country,roughandwild,utterlydependentonthecourtesyofaslightgirl,who
held,forthemoment,hislifeinherhands;foroften,ashegazedintothevoidof
darkness over narrow ledges, he knew that only the skill of those two small
handskeptthemfromslidingintoeternity:yettherewasabouthersuchanairof
wontednesstothesituationthathewasstirredbynosenseofanxietyforhimself
orforher.


Hetookouthispipeandsmoked,stilldreaming,comparing,andquestioning.Of
ancient family, yet the younger son of three generations of younger sons, all
probabilityofgreatinheritanceortitlesofarremovedfromhim,itbehoovedthat
hebuildforhimself—what?Fortune,name,everything.Character?Ah,thatwas
his heritage, all the heritage the laws of England allowed him, and that not by
right of English law, but because, fixed in the immutable, eternal Will, some
laws there are beyond the power of man to supersede. With an involuntary
stiffeningofhisbody,hedisturbedforaninstanttheslumberingchild,andquite
asinvoluntarilyhedrewhimcloserandsoothedhimbacktoforgetfulness;and
they both dreamed on, the child in his sleep, and the man in his wide
wakefulnessandintensesearching.
Hisuncle,itistrue,wouldhaveboostedhimfartowardcreatingbothnameand
fameforhimself,ineitherarmyornavy,buthewouldnoneofit.Therewashis
older brother to be advanced, and the younger son of this same uncle to be
placedinlife,ormarriedtowealth.Thisalsohemighthavedone;wellmarried
hemighthavebeenerenow,andcouldbestill,forshewaswaiting—only—an
idealstoodinhisway.Whomhewouldmarryhewouldlove.Notmerelyrespect
orlike,—notevenboth,—butlovehemust;andinordertoholdtothisidealhe
mustflythecountry,orremaintobeundulyurgedtohisowndiscomfitureand
possiblytotheirmutualundoing.
Asforthealternatives,thearmyorthenavy,againhisidealshadformedforhim
impassablebars.Hewouldfoundhiscareeronthesavingratherthanthetaking
oflife.Perhapshemightyetfollowinthewakeofarmiestomendbodiesthey
havetornandcutandmaimed,andhealdiseasestheyhaveengendered—yes—
perhaps—the ideals loomed big. But what had he done? Fled his country and
deftlyavoidedthemostheart-satisfyingofhumandelights—childrentocallhim
father,andwifetomakehimahome;peaceandwealth;thrustasidethehelping
handtopowerandacareerconsideredmostworthyofastrongandresourceful
man,andthrownpersonalambitiontothewinds.Why?Becauseofhisideals—
preferringtomendratherthantomarhisneighbor.
Surelyhewasright—andyet—andyet.Whathadheaccomplished?Takenthe
makingofhislifeintohisownhandsandlost—all—ifhealthwerereallygone.
Onethingremainedtohim—thelastragandremnantofhischerishedideals—to
livelongenoughtotriumphoverhisowndiseaseandtakeupworkagain.Why
shouldhesuccumb?Wasitfate?Wastheretheguidanceofahigherwill?Might
hereachoutandpartakeoftheDivinepower?Butonethingheknew;butone
thingcouldhedo.Asthegloryofwhitelightaroundhimservedtorevealafew


feet only of the way, even as the density beyond seemed impenetrable, still it
was but seeming. There was a beyond—vast—mysterious—which he must
searchout,slowly,painfully,ifneedbe,seeingalittlewayonly,butseeingthat
little clearly, revealed by the white light of spirit. His own or God's? Into the
infinitehemustsearch—search—andatlastsurelyfind.


CHAPTERII
INWHICHDAVIDTHRYNGEXPERIENCESTHE
HOSPITALITYOFTHEMOUNTAINPEOPLE.
Suddenly the jolting ceased. The deep stillness of the night seemed only
intensified by the low panting of the animals and the soft dropping of the wet
snowfromthetrees.
"Whatisit?"saidThryng,peeringfromunderthecanvascover."Anythingthe
matter?"
Thebeastsstoodwithlow-swungheads,thevaporrisingwhitefromtheirwarm
bodies,wetwiththemeltingsnow.Hisquestionfellunheard,andthegirlwho
wasclimbingdownoverthefrontwheelbegantounhitchtheteaminsilence.He
rolledthesleepingchildinhisrugandleapedout.
"Letmehelpyou.Whatisthetrouble?Oh,areyouathome?"
"Icandothis,suh.Ihavedoneitaheapoftimes.Don'tgonighPete,suh.He's
mighty quick, and he's mean." The beast laid back his ears viciously as David
approached.
"Yououghtnotgonearhimyourself,"hesaid,takingafirmgripofthebridle.
"Oh, he's safe enough with me—or Frale. Hold him tight, suh, now you have
him,tillIgetroundthere.Keephisheadtowa'dsyou.Hecertainlyismean."
Thecoltwalkedofftoalowstackofcornfodder,assheturnedhimloosewitha
light slap on the flank; and the mule, impatient, stamping and sidling about,
stretched forth his nose and let out his raucous and hideous cry. While he was
thusoccupied,thegirlslippedoffhisharnessand,takingthebridle,ledthebeast
away to a small railed enclosure on the far side of the stack; and David stood
aloneinthesnowandlookedabouthim.
Hesawalow,ramblinghouse,which,althoughonestructure,appearedtobea
series of houses, built of logs plastered with clay in the chinks. It stood in a
tangleofwildgrowth,onwhatseemedtobeawideledgejuttingoutfromthe


side of the mountain, which loomed dark and high behind it. An incessant,
rushingsoundpervadedtheplace,asitwereapartofthesilenceorabreathing
ofthemountainitself.Wasitwindamongthetrees,ortherushingofwater?No
windstirrednow,andyetthesoundneverceased.Itmustbeatorrentswollenby
themeltingsnow.
He saw the girl moving in and out among the shadows, about the open log
stable,likeawraith.Thebrayingofthemulehaddisturbedtheoccupantsofthe
house,foracandlewasplacedinawindow,anditslittleraystreamedforthand
was swallowedupinthemoonlightandblack shades.The child,awakenedby
thehorriblenoiseofthebeast,rustledinthecornfodderwhereThrynghadleft
him.Dazedandwondering,hepeeredoutattheyoungmanforsomemoments,
too shy to descend until his sister should return. Now she came, and he
scrambleddownandstoodclosetoherside,lookingupweirdly,histwistedlittle
formshiveringandquaking.
"Runin,Hoyle,"shesaid,lookingkindlydownuponhim."Tellmothahwe'reall
right,son."
Awomancametothedoorholdingacandle,whichsheshadedwithagnarled
andbonyhand.
"Thatyou,Cass?"shequavered."Whoaireyetalkin'to?"
"Yes,AuntSally,we'llbetheredirectly.Don'tletmothahgetcold."Sheturned
againtoDavid."Ireckonyou'llhavetostopwithusto-night.It'sarightsmart
waytothecabin,andit'llbecold,andnothingtoeat.We'llbringinyourthings
now,andinthemorningwecantotethemuptoyourplacewiththemule,and
Hoylecangowithyoutoshowyoutheway."
She turned toward the wagon as if all were settled, and Thryng could not be
effusiveinthefaceofherdirectandconclusivemanner;buthetookthebasket
fromherhand.
"Letme—no,no—Iwillbringineverything.Thankyouverymuch.Icandoit
quiteeasily,takingoneatatime."Thenshelefthim,butatthedoorshemethim
andhelpedtolifthisheavybelongingsintothehouse.
Theroomheenteredwaswarmandbrightlylightedbyapileofblazinglogsin
thegreatchimneyplace.Hewalkedtowarditandstretchedhishandstothefire
—agenerousfire—themountainhome'sluxury.


Somethingwascookingintheashesonthehearthwhichsentupasavoryodor
mostpleasantandappealingtothehungryman.Themeagreboystoodnear,also
warminghislittlebody,onwhichhiscoarsegarmentshunglimply.Hekepthis
greateyesfixedonDavid'sfaceinamannerdisconcerting,eveninachild,had
Thryng given his attention to it, but at the moment he was interested in other
things. Dropped thus suddenly into this utterly alien environment, he was
observingthegirlandtheoldwomanasintently,thoughlessopenly,astheboy
waswatchinghim.
Presentlyhefelthimselfuncannilytheobjectofascrutinyfardifferentfromthe
child's wide-eyed gaze, and glancing over his shoulder toward the corner from
which the sensation seemed to emanate, he saw in the depths of an old fourposted bed, set in their hollow sockets and roofed over by projecting light
eyebrows,apairofkeen,glitteringeyes.
"Yas,youseemenow,doye?"saidahigh,thinvoiceintoothlessspeech."Who
beye?"
Hisphysician'sfeelinginstantlyalert,hesteppedtothebedsideandbentoverthe
wasted form, which seemed hardly to raise the clothing from its level
smoothness,asifshehadlainmotionlesssincesomecarefulhandhadarranged
it.
"No, ye don't know me, I reckon. 'Tain't likely. Who be ye?" she iterated, still
lookingunflinchinglyinhiseyes.
"Hit's a gentleman who knows Doctah Hoyle, mothah. He sent him. Don't fret
you'se'f,"saidthegirlsoothingly.
"I'mnotoneofthefrettin'kind,"retortedthemother,nevertakinghereyesfrom
hisface,andagainspeakinginaweakmonotone."Whobeye?"
"MynameisDavidThryng,andIamadoctor,"hesaidquietly.
"Wherebeyefrom?"
"IcamefromCanada,thecountrywhereDoctorHoylelives."
"Ireckonso.Heusedtotell'athishomewasthar."Apallidhandwasreached
slowlyouttohim."I'mrightgladtoseeye.Takeacheerandset.Bringacheer,
Sally."


Butthegirlhadalreadyplacedhimachair,whichhedrewclosetothebedside.
Hetookthefeebleoldhandandslippedhisfingersalongtorestlightlyonthe
wrist.
"You needn't stan' watchin' me, Cass. You 'n' Sally set suthin' fer th' doctah to
eat.Ireckonye'reallaboutgoneferhunger."
"Yes,mothah,rightsoon.Fryalittleporktogowiththepone,AuntSally.Isany
coffeeleftinthepot?"
"Idoneputinaleetlemo'whenIheeredthemulehollah.Iknowedye'dwantit.
Mightthrowinamitemo'nowth'gentleman'scome."
The two women resumed their preparations for supper, the boy continued to
standandgaze,andthehighvoiceofthefrailoccupantofthebedbeganagainto
talkandquestion.
"Whendidyoucomedownf'omthattharcountrywharDoctahHoylelivesat?"
shesaid,inhermonotonouswail.
"Fourdaysago.Itravelledslowly,forIhavebeenillmyself."
"Hit'srightquarenow;'pearslikeefIwasadoctahIwouldn't'lowmyselfferto
getsick.An'youseedDoctahHoylefo'daysback!"
"No,hehasgonetoEnglandonavisit.Isawhiswife,though,andhisdaughter.
Sheisayounglady—istobemarriedsoon."
"Theydogrowup—theleetleones.Hitdon'tseemmo'nyestahday'atCasswas
likeleetleHoyleyandah,an'hitdon'tseemthatsinceDoctahHoylewasherean'
leetle Hoyle came. We named him fer th' doctah. Waal, I reckon ef th' doctah
washerenow'athecouldhe'pmesome.Maybeefhe'd'a'stayedhereInevah
would'a'gotdownwharIbenow.Hewasarightgooddoctah,bettah'nayarb
doctah—most—Ireckonso."
David smiled. "I think so myself," he said. "Are there many herb doctors here
about?"
"Notrightlydoctahs,sotospeak,buttheyissome'atknowsaheapaboutyarbs."
"Good.Perhapstheycanteachmesomething."
The old face was feebly lifted a bit from the pillow, and the dark eyes grew


suddenlysharpintheirscrutiny.
"Whobeye,anyhow?Whataireyeherefer?Sechasyouknowsaheapa'ready
'thoutmakin'outtolarno'we-uns."
Davidsawhismistakeandhastenedtoallaythesuspicionwhichgleamedoutat
himalmostmalignantly.
"IamjustwhatIsaid,adoctorlikeAdamHoyle,onlythatIdon'tknowasmuch
ashe—notyet.Thewisestmanintheworldcanlearnmoreifhewatchesoutto
doso.Yourherbdoctorsmightbeabletoteachmeagoodmanythings."
"I'spectye'rerightthar,on'yaheapo'folksthinkstheyknowsitallfust."
There was a pause, and Thryng leaned back in his stiff, splint-bottomed chair
andglancedaroundhim.Hesawthatthegirl,althoughmovingaboutsettingto
rightsandbrushinghereandtherewithanunique,home-madebroom,wasatthe
sametimeintentlylistening.
Presentlytheoldwomanspokeagain,herthreadlikevoicepenetratingfar.
"What do you 'low to do here in ouah mountains? They hain't no settlement
nighabouts here, an' them what's sick hain't no money to pay doctahs with. I
reckonthey'llhevtostaysickferallo'you-uns."
David looked into her eyes a moment quietly; then he smiled. The way to her
hearthesawwasthroughthemagicofonename.
"WhatdidDoctorHoyledowhenhewasdownhere?"
"Him?Theyhain'tnoonelivin'likehewas."
Then David laughed outright, a gay, contagious laugh, and after an instant she
laughedalso.
"Iagreewithyou,"hesaid."Butyousee,Iamacountrymanofhis,andhesent
mehere—heknowsmewell—andImeantodoashedid,if—Ican."
Hedrewinadeepbreathofutterweariness,andleanedforward,hiselbowson
hisknees,hisheadinhishands,andgazedintotheblazingfire.Thememories
whichhadtakenpossessionofhissoulduringthelongrideseemedtoenvelop
himsothatinamomentthepresentwassweptawayintooblivionandhisspirit
was,asitwere,suddenlywithdrawnfromthebodyandprojectedintothepast.


Hehadbeenunabletotouchanyofthegreasycoldstuffwhichhadbeenoffered
himduringthelatterpartofhisjourney,andtheheatbroughtadrowsinesson
himandafaintnessfromlackoffood.
"Cass—Cassandry! Look to him," called the mother shrilly, but the girl had
already noticed his strange abstraction, and the small Adam Hoyle had drawn
back,inawe,tohismother.
"Get some whiskey, Sally," said the girl, and David roused himself to see her
bendingoverhim.
"Imusthavegoneoffinadoze,"hesaidweakly."Thelongrideandthenthis
warmth—"Seeingtheanxiousfacesaroundhim,helaughedagain."It'snothing,
I assure you, only the comfort and the smell of something good to eat;" he
sniffedalittle."Whatisit?"heasked.
Old Sally was tossing and shaking the frying salt pork in the skillet at the
fireplace,andtheodoraggravatedhisalreadytookeenappetite.
"Yewasmore'nsleepy,Ireckon,"shrilledthewomanfromthebed."Hain'tthat
ponedone,Sally?No,'tain'tliquorheneeds;hit'ssuthin'toeat."
Thenthegirlhastenedherslow,glidingmovements,drewsplintchairstoatable
ofroughpinethatstoodagainstthesideoftheroom,and,stoopingbetweenhim
andthefire,pulledsomethingfromamongthehotashes.Thefiremadetheonly
lightintheroom,andDavidneverforgotthesupplegraceofherasshebentthus
silhouetted—the perfect line of chin and throat black against the blaze,
contrastedwiththeweird,witchlikeoldwomanwithroughlyknottedhair,who
stillsquattedintheheat,andshooktheskilletoffryingpork.
"Thar,nowhit'sdone,Ireckon,"saidoldSally,slowlyrisingandstraightening
herbentback;andthewomanfromthebedcalledherorders.
"Not that cup," she cried, as Sally began pouring black coffee into a cracked
whitecup."Gitth'chanyone.Ihidhityandahinth'cornder'hindthattincan,to
keep'emf'omusin'hiteveryday.Ihadahullseto'thatwhenImarriedFarwell.
Givehithere."Shetookthepreciousrelicinherwork-wornhandsandpeered
into it, then wiped it out with the corner of the sheet which covered her.This
Thryngdidnotsee.Hewaswatchingthegirl,asshebrokeopenthehot,fragrant
corn-breadandplaceditbesidehisplate.
"Come,"shesaid."Yousuremustberighthungry.Sithereandeat."Davidfelt


like one drunken with weariness when he rose, and caught at the edge of the
tabletosteadyhimself.
"Aren't you hungry, too?" he asked, "and Hoyle, here? Sit beside me; we're
goingtohaveafeast,littlechap."
The girl placed an earthen crock on the table and took from it honey in the
brokencomb,richanddark.
"Havealittleofthiswithyourpone.It'srightgood,"shesaid.
"Frale,hefoundabeetree,"pipedthechildsuddenly,gainingconfidenceashe
sawthestrangerengagedintheverynormalactofeatingwiththerelishofan
ordinaryman.Heedgedforwardandsathimselfgingerlyontheoutercornerof
the next chair, and accepted a huge piece of the pone from David's hand. His
sistergavehimhoney,andSallydroppedpiecesofthesizzlinghotporkontheir
plates,fromtheskillet.
David sipped his coffee from the flowered "chany cup" contentedly. Served
without milk or sugar, it was strong, hot, and reviving. The girl shyly offered
moreofthecorn-breadasshesawitrapidlydisappearing,pleasedtoseehimeat
soeagerly,yetabashedathavingnothingelsetooffer.
"I'm sorry we can give you only such as this. We don't live like you do in the
no'th.Havealittlemoreofthehoney."
"Ah, but this is fine. Good, hey, little chap? You are doing a very beneficent
thing,doyouknow,savingaman'slife?"Heglancedupatherflushedface,and
shesmileddeprecatingly.Hefanciedhersmileswererare.
"Butitisquitetrue.WherewouldIbenowbutforyouandHoylehere?Lying
undertheleesideofthestationcoughingmylifeaway,—andallmyownfault,
too.Ishouldhaveacceptedthebishop'sinvitation."
"Youhelpedmewhenthecoltwasbad."Hersoftvoice,lowandmonotonous,
fellmusicallyonhisearwhenshespoke.
"Naturally—buthowaboutthat,anyway?It'sawonderyouweren'tkilled.How
cameayoungsterlikeyoutherealonewiththosebeasts?"Thrynghadanabrupt
manner of springing a question which startled the child, and he edged away,
furtivelywatchinghissister.


Casabianca,wasit?saidThryng,smiling.Page17.
"Didyouhitchthatkickingbrutealoneanddriveallthatdistance?"
"AuntSally,shehe'pedmetotieup;shegivehimco'nwhilstIth'owedonthe
strops,an'whenhe'soncettiedup,hegoesallright."Theatomgrinned."Hit's
hisway.He'smean,buthenevahworksbothendstooncet."
"Good thing to know; but you're a hero, do you understand that?" The child
continued to edge away, and David reached out and drew him to his side.
Holdinghimbyhistwosharplittleelbows,hegavehimaplayfulshake."Isay,
doyouknowwhataherois?"
Thestartledboystoppedgrinningandlookedwildlytohissister,butreceiving
only a smile of reassurance from her, he lifted his great eyes to Thryng's face,
then slowly the little form relaxed, and he was drawn within the doctor's
encirclingarm.
"Idon'treckon,"wasallhisreply,whichambiguousremarkcausedDavid,inhis
turn,tolooktothesisterforelucidation.Sheheldalong,lightedcandleinher
hand,andpausedtolookbackasshewasleavingtheroom.
"Yes,youdo,honeyson.Youremembahtheboywiththequarelongnamesistah
toldyouabout,whostoodtherewhentheshipwasallafiahandwouldn'tleave
becausehisfathahhadtoldhimtobide?Hewasahero."ButHoylewastooshy
torespond,andDavidcouldfeelhislittleheartthumpingagainsthisarmashe
heldhim.
"Tellthegentleman,Hoyle.Hedon'tbite,Ireckon,"calledthemotherfromher
corner.
"Hisnamebegunlikeyourn,Cass,butIcyan'tremembahthehullofit."
"Casabianca,wasit?"saidThryng,smiling.
"Ireckon.Didyou-unsknowhim?"
"When I was a small chap like you, I used to read about him." Then the atom
yieldedentirely,andleanedcomfortablyagainstDavid,andhissisterleftthem,
carryingthecandlewithher.
OldSallythrewanotherlogonthefire,andtheflamesleapedupthecavernous
chimney, lighting the room with dramatic splendor. Thryng took note of its


unique furnishing. In the corner opposite the one where the mother lay was
anotherimmensefour-posterbed,andbeforeithungacoarsehomespuncurtain,
half concealing it. At its foot was a huge box of dark wood, well-made and
strong,withapadlock.Thisandthebedsseemedtobelongtoanothertimeand
place, in contrast to the other articles, which were evidently mountain made,
rudeinconstructionandhewnoutbyhand,thechairsunstainedandunpolished,
andseatedwithsplints.
Thewallsweretheroughlydressedlogsofwhichthehousewasbuilt,thechinks
plastered with deep red-brown clay. Depending from nails driven in the logs
werefestoonsofdriedappleandstripsofdriedpumpkin,andhangingbytheir
braidedhuskswerebunchesofIndiancorn,notyellowlikethatofthenorth,but
whiteorpurple.
There were bags also, containing Thryng knew not what, although he was to
learnlater,whenhisownlardercametobeekedoutbysundrygiftsofdriedfruit
and sweet corn, together with the staple of beans and peas from the widow's
store.
Besidethewindowofsmallpaneswasashelf,onwhichwereafewwornbooks,
and beneath hung an almanac; at the foot of the mother's bed stood a small
spinning-wheel,withthewoolstillhangingtothespindle.Davidwonderedhow
longsinceithadbeenused.Thescrupulouscleanlinessoftheplacesatisfiedhis
fastidious nature, and gave him a sense of comfort in the homely interior. He
liked the look of the bed in the corner, made up high and round, and covered
withmarvellouspatchwork.
Ashesatthus,notingallhissurroundings,Hoylestillnestledathisside,leaning
his elbowsonthedoctor'sknees,hischininhis hands,andhissoft eyesfixed
steadily on the doctor's face. Thus they advanced rapidly toward an amicable
acquaintance,eachquestioningandbeingquestioned.
"Whatisa'beetree'?"saidDavid."Yousaidsomebodyfoundone."
"Hit's a big holler tree, an' hit's plumb full o' bees an' honey. Frale, he found
this'n."
"Tellmeaboutit.Wherewasit?"
"Hitwarupyandah,highahupth'mountain.Theyisaholetharwhatwil'cats
livein,Wil'CatHole.Frale,hewarahunt'nferacat.Somementharatth'hotel,


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