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
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,