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Chapter 2 IN WHICH DAVID THRYNG EXPERIENCES THE HOSPITALITY OF THE MOUNTAI_EOPLE.

  • Suddenly the jolting ceased. The deep stillness of the night seemed onl_ntensified by the low panting of the animals and the soft dropping of the we_now from the trees.
  • "What is it?" said Thryng, peering from under the canvas cover. "Anything th_atter?"
  • The beasts stood with low-swung heads, the vapor rising white from their war_odies, wet with the melting snow. His question fell unheard, and the girl wh_as climbing down over the front wheel began to unhitch the team in silence.
  • He rolled the sleeping child in his rug and leaped out.
  • "Let me help you. What is the trouble? Oh, are you at home?"
  • "I can do this, suh. I have done it a heap of times. Don't go nigh Pete, suh.
  • He's mighty quick, and he's mean." The beast laid back his ears viciously a_avid approached.
  • "You ought not go near him yourself," he said, taking a firm grip of th_ridle.
  • "Oh, he's safe enough with me—or Frale. Hold him tight, suh, now you have him, till I get round there. Keep his head towa'ds you. He certainly is mean."
  • The colt walked off to a low stack of corn fodder, as she turned him loos_ith a light slap on the flank; and the mule, impatient, stamping and sidlin_bout, stretched forth his nose and let out his raucous and hideous cry. Whil_e was thus occupied, the girl slipped off his harness and, taking the bridle, led the beast away to a small railed enclosure on the far side of the stack; and David stood alone in the snow and looked about him.
  • He saw a low, rambling house, which, although one structure, appeared to be _eries of houses, built of logs plastered with clay in the chinks. It stood i_ tangle of wild growth, on what seemed to be a wide ledge jutting out fro_he side of the mountain, which loomed dark and high behind it. An incessant, rushing sound pervaded the place, as it were a part of the silence or _reathing of the mountain itself. Was it wind among the trees, or the rushin_f water? No wind stirred now, and yet the sound never ceased. It must be _orrent swollen by the melting snow.
  • He saw the girl moving in and out among the shadows, about the open lo_table, like a wraith. The braying of the mule had disturbed the occupants o_he house, for a candle was placed in a window, and its little ray streame_orth and was swallowed up in the moonlight and black shades. The child, awakened by the horrible noise of the beast, rustled in the corn fodder wher_hryng had left him. Dazed and wondering, he peered out at the young man fo_ome moments, too shy to descend until his sister should return. Now she came, and he scrambled down and stood close to her side, looking up weirdly, hi_wisted little form shivering and quaking.
  • "Run in, Hoyle," she said, looking kindly down upon him. "Tell mothah we'r_ll right, son."
  • A woman came to the door holding a candle, which she shaded with a gnarled an_ony hand.
  • "That you, Cass?" she quavered. "Who aire ye talkin' to?"
  • "Yes, Aunt Sally, we'll be there directly. Don't let mothah get cold." Sh_urned again to David. "I reckon you'll have to stop with us to-night. It's _ight smart way to the cabin, and it'll be cold, and nothing to eat. We'l_ring in your things now, and in the morning we can tote them up to your plac_ith the mule, and Hoyle can go with you to show you the way."
  • She turned toward the wagon as if all were settled, and Thryng could not b_ffusive in the face of her direct and conclusive manner; but he took th_asket from her hand.
  • "Let me—no, no—I will bring in everything. Thank you very much. I can do i_uite easily, taking one at a time." Then she left him, but at the door sh_et him and helped to lift his heavy belongings into the house.
  • The room he entered was warm and brightly lighted by a pile of blazing logs i_he great chimneyplace. He walked toward it and stretched his hands to th_ire—a generous fire—the mountain home's luxury.
  • Something was cooking in the ashes on the hearth which sent up a savory odo_ost pleasant and appealing to the hungry man. The meagre boy stood near, als_arming his little body, on which his coarse garments hung limply. He kept hi_reat eyes fixed on David's face in a manner disconcerting, even in a child, had Thryng given his attention to it, but at the moment he was interested i_ther things. Dropped thus suddenly into this utterly alien environment, h_as observing the girl and the old woman as intently, though less openly, a_he boy was watching him.
  • Presently he felt himself uncannily the object of a scrutiny far differen_rom the child's wide-eyed gaze, and glancing over his shoulder toward th_orner from which the sensation seemed to emanate, he saw in the depths of a_ld four-posted bed, set in their hollow sockets and roofed over by projectin_ight eyebrows, a pair of keen, glittering eyes.
  • "Yas, you see me now, do ye?" said a high, thin voice in toothless speech.
  • "Who be ye?"
  • His physician's feeling instantly alert, he stepped to the bedside and ben_ver the wasted form, which seemed hardly to raise the clothing from its leve_moothness, as if she had lain motionless since some careful hand had arrange_t.
  • "No, ye don't know me, I reckon. 'Tain't likely. Who be ye?" she iterated, still looking unflinchingly in his eyes.
  • "Hit's a gentleman who knows Doctah Hoyle, mothah. He sent him. Don't fre_ou'se'f," said the girl soothingly.
  • "I'm not one of the frettin' kind," retorted the mother, never taking her eye_rom his face, and again speaking in a weak monotone. "Who be ye?"
  • "My name is David Thryng, and I am a doctor," he said quietly.
  • "Where be ye from?"
  • "I came from Canada, the country where Doctor Hoyle lives."
  • "I reckon so. He used to tell 'at his home was thar." A pallid hand wa_eached slowly out to him. "I'm right glad to see ye. Take a cheer and set.
  • Bring a cheer, Sally."
  • But the girl had already placed him a chair, which he drew close to th_edside. He took the feeble old hand and slipped his fingers along to res_ightly on the wrist.
  • "You needn't stan' watchin' me, Cass. You 'n' Sally set suthin' fer th' docta_o eat. I reckon ye're all about gone fer hunger."
  • "Yes, mothah, right soon. Fry a little pork to go with the pone, Aunt Sally.
  • Is any coffee left in the pot?"
  • "I done put in a leetle mo' when I heered the mule hollah. I knowed ye'd wan_t. Might throw in a mite mo' now th' gentleman's come."
  • The two women resumed their preparations for supper, the boy continued t_tand and gaze, and the high voice of the frail occupant of the bed bega_gain to talk and question.
  • "When did you come down f'om that thar country whar Doctah Hoyle lives at?"
  • she said, in her monotonous wail.
  • "Four days ago. I travelled slowly, for I have been ill myself."
  • "Hit's right quare now; 'pears like ef I was a doctah I wouldn't 'low mysel_er to get sick. An' you seed Doctah Hoyle fo' days back!"
  • "No, he has gone to England on a visit. I saw his wife, though, and hi_aughter. She is a young lady—is to be married soon."
  • "They do grow up—the leetle ones. Hit don't seem mo'n yestahday 'at Cass wa_ike leetle Hoyle yandah, an' hit don't seem that since Doctah Hoyle was her_n' leetle Hoyle came. We named him fer th' doctah. Waal, I reckon ef th'
  • doctah was here now 'at he could he'p me some. Maybe ef he'd 'a' stayed here _evah would 'a' got down whar I be now. He was a right good doctah, bettah'n _arb doctah—most—I reckon so."
  • David smiled. "I think so myself," he said. "Are there many herb doctors her_bout?"
  • "Not rightly doctahs, so to speak, but they is some 'at knows a heap abou_arbs."
  • "Good. Perhaps they can teach me something."
  • The old face was feebly lifted a bit from the pillow, and the dark eyes gre_uddenly sharp in their scrutiny.
  • "Who be ye, anyhow? What aire ye here fer? Sech as you knows a heap a'ready
  • 'thout makin' out to larn o' we-uns."
  • David saw his mistake and hastened to allay the suspicion which gleamed out a_im almost malignantly.
  • "I am just what I said, a doctor like Adam Hoyle, only that I don't know a_uch as he—not yet. The wisest man in the world can learn more if he watche_ut to do so. Your herb doctors might be able to teach me a good many things."
  • "I 'spect ye're right thar, on'y a heap o' folks thinks they knows it al_ust."
  • There was a pause, and Thryng leaned back in his stiff, splint-bottomed chai_nd glanced around him. He saw that the girl, although moving about setting t_ights and brushing here and there with an unique, home-made broom, was at th_ame time intently listening.
  • Presently the old woman spoke again, her threadlike voice penetrating far.
  • "What do you 'low to do here in ouah mountains? They hain't no settlemen_ighabouts here, an' them what's sick hain't no money to pay doctahs with. _eckon they'll hev to stay sick fer all o' you-uns."
  • David looked into her eyes a moment quietly; then he smiled. The way to he_eart he saw was through the magic of one name.
  • "What did Doctor Hoyle do when he was down here?"
  • "Him? They hain't no one livin' like he was."
  • Then David laughed outright, a gay, contagious laugh, and after an instant sh_aughed also.
  • "I agree with you," he said. "But you see, I am a countryman of his, and h_ent me here—he knows me well—and I mean to do as he did, if—I can."
  • He drew in a deep breath of utter weariness, and leaned forward, his elbows o_is knees, his head in his hands, and gazed into the blazing fire. Th_emories which had taken possession of his soul during the long ride seemed t_nvelop him so that in a moment the present was swept away into oblivion an_is spirit was, as it were, suddenly withdrawn from the body and projecte_nto the past. He had been unable to touch any of the greasy cold stuff whic_ad been offered him during the latter part of his journey, and the hea_rought a drowsiness on him and a faintness from lack of food.
  • "Cass—Cassandry! Look to him," called the mother shrilly, but the girl ha_lready noticed his strange abstraction, and the small Adam Hoyle had draw_ack, in awe, to his mother.
  • "Get some whiskey, Sally," said the girl, and David roused himself to see he_ending over him.
  • "I must have gone off in a doze," he said weakly. "The long ride and then thi_armth—" Seeing the anxious faces around him, he laughed again. "It's nothing, I assure you, only the comfort and the smell of something good to eat;" h_niffed a little. "What is it?" he asked.
  • Old Sally was tossing and shaking the frying salt pork in the skillet at th_ireplace, and the odor aggravated his already too keen appetite.
  • "Ye was more'n sleepy, I reckon," shrilled the woman from the bed. "Hain'_hat pone done, Sally? No, 'tain't liquor he needs; hit's suthin' to eat."
  • Then the girl hastened her slow, gliding movements, drew splint chairs to _able of rough pine that stood against the side of the room, and, stoopin_etween him and the fire, pulled something from among the hot ashes. The fir_ade the only light in the room, and David never forgot the supple grace o_er as she bent thus silhouetted—the perfect line of chin and throat blac_gainst the blaze, contrasted with the weird, witchlike old woman with roughl_notted hair, who still squatted in the heat, and shook the skillet of fryin_ork.
  • "Thar, now hit's done, I reckon," said old Sally, slowly rising an_traightening her bent back; and the woman from the bed called her orders.
  • "Not that cup," she cried, as Sally began pouring black coffee into a cracke_hite cup. "Git th' chany one. I hid hit yandah in th' cornder 'hind that ti_an, to keep 'em f'om usin' hit every day. I had a hull set o' that when _arried Farwell. Give hit here." She took the precious relic in her work-wor_ands and peered into it, then wiped it out with the corner of the sheet whic_overed her. This Thryng did not see. He was watching the girl, as she brok_pen the hot, fragrant corn-bread and placed it beside his plate.
  • "Come," she said. "You sure must be right hungry. Sit here and eat." Davi_elt like one drunken with weariness when he rose, and caught at the edge o_he table to steady himself.
  • "Aren't you hungry, too?" he asked, "and Hoyle, here? Sit beside me; we'r_oing to have a feast, little chap."
  • The girl placed an earthen crock on the table and took from it honey in th_roken comb, rich and dark.
  • "Have a little of this with your pone. It's right good," she said.
  • "Frale, he found a bee tree," piped the child suddenly, gaining confidence a_e saw the stranger engaged in the very normal act of eating with the relis_f an ordinary man. He edged forward and sat himself gingerly on the oute_orner of the next chair, and accepted a huge piece of the pone from David'_and. His sister gave him honey, and Sally dropped pieces of the sizzling ho_ork on their plates, from the skillet.
  • David sipped his coffee from the flowered "chany cup" contentedly. Serve_ithout milk or sugar, it was strong, hot, and reviving. The girl shyl_ffered more of the corn-bread as she saw it rapidly disappearing, pleased t_ee him eat so eagerly, yet abashed at having nothing else to offer.
  • "I'm sorry we can give you only such as this. We don't live like you do in th_o'th. Have a little more of the honey."
  • "Ah, but this is fine. Good, hey, little chap? You are doing a very beneficen_hing, do you know, saving a man's life?" He glanced up at her flushed face, and she smiled deprecatingly. He fancied her smiles were rare.
  • "But it is quite true. Where would I be now but for you and Hoyle here? Lyin_nder the lee side of the station coughing my life away,—and all my own fault, too. I should have accepted the bishop's invitation."
  • "You helped me when the colt was bad." Her soft voice, low and monotonous, fell musically on his ear when she spoke.
  • "Naturally—but how about that, anyway? It's a wonder you weren't killed. Ho_ame a youngster like you there alone with those beasts?" Thryng had an abrup_anner of springing a question which startled the child, and he edged away, furtively watching his sister.
  • "Did you hitch that kicking brute alone and drive all that distance?"
  • "Aunt Sally, she he'ped me to tie up; she give him co'n whilst I th'owed o_he strops, an' when he's oncet tied up, he goes all right." The atom grinned.
  • "Hit's his way. He's mean, but he nevah works both ends to oncet."
  • "Good thing to know; but you're a hero, do you understand that?" The chil_ontinued to edge away, and David reached out and drew him to his side.
  • Holding him by his two sharp little elbows, he gave him a playful shake. "_ay, do you know what a hero is?"
  • The startled boy stopped grinning and looked wildly to his sister, bu_eceiving only a smile of reassurance from her, he lifted his great eyes t_hryng's face, then slowly the little form relaxed, and he was drawn withi_he doctor's encircling arm.
  • "I don't reckon," was all his reply, which ambiguous remark caused David, i_is turn, to look to the sister for elucidation. She held a long, lighte_andle in her hand, and paused to look back as she was leaving the room.
  • "Yes, you do, honey son. You remembah the boy with the quare long name sista_old you about, who stood there when the ship was all afiah and wouldn't leav_ecause his fathah had told him to bide? He was a hero." But Hoyle was too sh_o respond, and David could feel his little heart thumping against his arm a_e held him.
  • "Tell the gentleman, Hoyle. He don't bite, I reckon," called the mother fro_er corner.
  • "His name begun like yourn, Cass, but I cyan't remembah the hull of it."
  • "Casabianca, was it?" said Thryng, smiling.
  • "I reckon. Did you-uns know him?"
  • "When I was a small chap like you, I used to read about him." Then the ato_ielded entirely, and leaned comfortably against David, and his sister lef_hem, carrying the candle with her.
  • Old Sally threw another log on the fire, and the flames leaped up th_avernous chimney, lighting the room with dramatic splendor. Thryng took not_f its unique furnishing. In the corner opposite the one where the mother la_as another immense four-poster bed, and before it hung a coarse homespu_urtain, half concealing it. At its foot was a huge box of dark wood, well- made and strong, with a padlock. This and the beds seemed to belong to anothe_ime and place, in contrast to the other articles, which were evidentl_ountain made, rude in construction and hewn out by hand, the chairs unstaine_nd unpolished, and seated with splints.
  • The walls were the roughly dressed logs of which the house was built, th_hinks plastered with deep red-brown clay. Depending from nails driven in th_ogs were festoons of dried apple and strips of dried pumpkin, and hanging b_heir braided husks were bunches of Indian corn, not yellow like that of th_orth, but white or purple.
  • There were bags also, containing Thryng knew not what, although he was t_earn later, when his own larder came to be eked out by sundry gifts of drie_ruit and sweet corn, together with the staple of beans and peas from th_idow's store.
  • Beside the window of small panes was a shelf, on which were a few worn books, and beneath hung an almanac; at the foot of the mother's bed stood a smal_pinning-wheel, with the wool still hanging to the spindle. David wondered ho_ong since it had been used. The scrupulous cleanliness of the place satisfie_is 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, an_overed with marvellous patchwork.
  • As he sat thus, noting all his surroundings, Hoyle still nestled at his side, leaning his elbows on the doctor's knees, his chin in his hands, and his sof_yes fixed steadily on the doctor's face. Thus they advanced rapidly toward a_micable acquaintance, each questioning and being questioned.
  • "What is a 'bee tree'?" said David. "You said somebody found one."
  • "Hit's a big holler tree, an' hit's plumb full o' bees an' honey. Frale, h_ound this'n."
  • "Tell me about it. Where was it?"
  • "Hit war up yandah, highah up th' mountain. They is a hole thar what wil' cat_ive in, Wil' Cat Hole. Frale, he war a hunt'n fer a cat. Some men thar at th'
  • hotel, they war plumb mad to hunt a wil' cat with th' dogs, an' Frale, he
  • 'lowed to git th' cat fer 'em."
  • "And when was that?"
  • "Las' summah, when th' hotel war open. They war a heap o' men at th' hotel."
  • "And now about the bee tree?"
  • "Frale, he nevah let on like he know'd thar war a bee tree, an' then this fal_e took me with him, an' we made a big fire, an' then we cut down th' tree, an' we stayed thar th' hull day, too, an' eat thar an' had ros'n ears by th'
  • fire, too."
  • "I say, you know. There seem to be a lot of things you will have to enlighte_e about. After you get through with the bee tree you must tell me what 'ros'_ars' are. And then what did you do?"
  • "Thar war a heap o' honey. That tree, hit war nigh-about plumb full o' honey, and th' bees war that mad you couldn't let 'em come nigh ye 'thout they'_ting you. They stung me, an' I nevah hollered. Frale, he 'lowed ef yo_ollered, you wa'n't good fer nothin', goin' bee hunt'n'."
  • "Is Frale your brother?"
  • "Yas. He c'n do a heap o' things, Frale can. They war a heap o' honey in tha_har tree, 'bout a bar'l full, er more'n that. We hev a hull tub o' honey ou_har in th' loom shed yet, an' maw done sont all th' rest to th' neighbors,
  • 'cause maw said they wa'n't no use in humans bein' fool hogs like th' bee_ar, a-keepin' more'n they could eat jes' fer therselves."
  • "Yas," called the mother from her corner, where she had been admiringl_istening; "they is a heap like that-a-way, but hit ain't our way here in th'
  • mountains. Let th' doctah tell you suthin' now, Hoyle,—ye mount larn a heap i_e'd hark to him right smart, 'thout talkin' th' hull time youse'f."
  • "I has to tell him 'bouts th' ros'n ears—he said so. Thar they be." He pointe_o a bunch of Indian corn. "You wrop 'em up in ther shucks, whilst ther gree_n' sof', and kiver 'em up in th' ashes whar hit's right hot, and then whe_her rosted, eat 'em so. Now, what do you know?"
  • "Why, he knows a heap, son. Don't ax that-a-way."
  • "In my country, away across the ocean—" began David.
  • "Tell 'bout th' ocean, how hit look."
  • "In my country we don't have Indian corn nor bee trees, nor wild cat holes, but we have the ocean all around us, and we see the ships and—"
  • "Like that thar one whar th' boy stood whilst hit war on fire?"
  • "Something like, yes." Then he told about the sea and the ships and the grea_ishes, and was interrupted with the query:—
  • "Reckon you done seed that thar fish what swallered the man in th' Bible an'
  • then th'ow'd him up agin?"
  • "Why no, son, you know that thar fish war dade long 'fore we-uns war born. Yo_ustn't ax fool questions, honey."
  • Old Sally sat crouched by the hearth intently listening and asking as naïv_uestions as the child, whose pallid face grew pink and animated, and whos_yes grew larger as he strove to see with inward vision the things Thryn_escribed. It was a happy evening for little Hoyle. Leaning confidingl_gainst David, he sighed with repletion of joy. He was not eager for hi_ister to return—not he. He could lean forever against this wonderful man an_isten to his tales. But the doctor's weariness was growing heavier, and h_ethought himself that the girl had not eaten with them, and feared she wa_aking trouble to prepare quarters for him, when if she only knew how gladl_e would bunk down anywhere,—only to sleep while this blessed and deliciou_rowsiness was overpowering him.
  • "Where is your sister, Hoyle? Don't you reckon it's time you and I were abed?"
  • he asked, adopting the child's vernacular.
  • "She's makin' yer bed ready in th' loom shed, likely," said the mother, eve_lert. With her pale, prematurely wrinkled face and uncannily bright an_atchful eyes, she seemed the controlling, all-pervading spirit of the place.
  • "Run, child, an' see what's keepin' her so long."
  • "Hit's dark out thar," said the boy, stirring himself slowly.
  • "Run, honey, you hain't afeared, kin drive a team all by you'se'f. Dark hain'_othin'; I ben all ovah these heah mountains when thar wa'n't one star o'
  • light. Maybe you kin he'p her."
  • At that moment she entered, holding the candle high to light her way throug_hat seemed to be a dark passage, her still, sweet face a bit flushed an_tray taches of white cotton down clinging to her blue homespun dress. "Th_octah's mos' dade fer sleep, Cass."
  • "I am right sorry to keep you so long, but we are obleeged—"
  • She lifted troubled eyes to his face, as Thryng interrupted her.
  • "Ah, no, no! I really beg your pardon—for coming in on you this way—it was no_ight, you know. It was a—a—predicament, wasn't it? It certainly wasn't righ_o put you about so; if—you will just let me go anywhere, only to sleep, _hall be greatly obliged. I'm making you a lot of trouble, and I'm so sorry."
  • His profusion of manner, of which he was entirely unaware, embarrassed her; although not shy like her brother, she had never encountered any one who spok_ith such rapid abruptness, and his swift, penetrating glance and pleasan_ase of the world abashed her. For an instant she stood perfectly still befor_im, slowly comprehending his thought, then hastened with her inherited, inborn ladyhood to relieve him from any sense that his sudden descent upo_heir privacy was an intrusion.
  • Her mind moved along direct lines from thought to expression—from impulse t_ction. She knew no conventional tricks of words or phrases for covering a_wkward situation, and her only way of avoiding a self-betrayal was by silenc_nd a masklike impassivity. During this moment of stillness while she waite_o regain her poise, he, quick and intuitive as a woman, took in th_ituation, yet he failed to comprehend the character before him.
  • To one accustomed to the conventional, perfect simplicity seems to concea_omething held back. It is hard to believe that all is being revealed, henc_er slower thought, in reality, comprehended him the more truly. What h_upposed to be pride and shame over their meagre accommodations was, i_eality, genuine concern for his comfort, and embarrassment before his eas_nd ready phrases. As in a swift breeze her thoughts were caught up and born_way upon them, but after a moment they would sweep back to her—a flock o_nnocent, startled doves.
  • Still holding her candle aloft, she raised her eyes to his and smiled. "We-un_re right glad you came. If you can be comfortable where we are obliged to pu_ou to sleep, you must bide awhile." She did not say "obleeged" this time. H_ad not pronounced it so, and he must know.
  • "That is so good of you. And now you are very tired yourself and have eate_othing. You must have your own supper. Hoyle can look after me." He took th_andle from her and gave it to the boy, then turned his own chair back to th_able and looked inquiringly at Sally squatted before the fire. "Not anothe_hing shall you do for me until you are waited on. Take my place here."
  • David's manner seemed like a command to her, and she slid into the chair wit_ weary, drooping movement. Hoyle stood holding the candle, his wry nec_wisting his head to one side, a smile on his face, eying them sharply. H_urned a questioning look to his sister, as he stiffened himself to his newl_cquired importance as host.
  • Thryng walked over to the bedside. "In the morning, when we are all rested, I'll see what can be done for you," he said, taking the proffered old hand i_is. "I am not Dr. Hoyle, but he has taught me a little. I studied an_ractised with him, you know."
  • "Hev ye? Then ye must know a heap. Hit's right like th' Lord sont ye. You se_uthin' 'peared like to give way whilst I war a-cuttin' light 'ud th' otha_ay, an' I went all er a heap 'crost a log, an' I reckon hit hurt me some. _ain't ben able to move a foot sence, an' I lay out thar nigh on to a hul_ay, whilst Hoyle here run clar down to Sally's place to git her. He couldn'_if' me hisse'f, he's that weak; he tried to haul me in, but when _ollered,—sufferin' so I war jes' 'bleeged to holler,—he kivered me up whar _ay and lit out fer Sally, an' she an' her man they got me up here, an' here _en ever since. I reckon I never will leave this bed ontwell I'm cyarried ou_n a box."
  • "Oh, no, not that! You're too much alive for that. We'll see about it to- morrow. Good night."
  • "Hoyle may show you the way," said the girl, rising. "Your bed is in the loo_hed. I'm right sorry it's so cold. I put blankets there, and you can use al_ou like of them. I would have given you Frale's place up garret—only—he migh_ome in any time, and—"
  • "Naw, he won't. He's too skeered 'at—" Hoyle's interruption stopped abruptly, checked by a glance of his sister's eye.
  • "I hope you'll sleep well—"
  • "Sleep? I shall sleep like a log. I feel as if I could sleep for a week. It'_wfully good of you. I hope we haven't eaten all the supper, Hoyle and I.
  • Come, little chap. Good night." He took up his valise and followed the boy, leaving her standing by the uncleared table, gazing after him.
  • "Now you eat, Cassandry. You are nigh about perished you are that tired," sai_er mother.
  • Then old Sally brought more pork and hot pone from the ashes, and they sa_own together, eating and sipping their black coffee in silence. Presentl_oyle returned and began removing his clumsy shoes, by the fire.
  • "Did he ax ye a heap o' questions, Hoyle?" queried the old woman sharply.
  • "Naw. Did'n' ax noth'n'."
  • "Waal, look out 'at you don't let on nothin' ef he does. Talkin' may hurt, an'
  • hit may not."
  • "He hain't no government man, maw."
  • "Hit's all right, I reckon, but them 'at larns young to hold ther tongue_aves a heap o' trouble fer therselves."
  • After they had eaten, old Sally gathered the few dishes together and place_ll the splint-bottomed chairs back against the sides of the room, and, onl_alf disrobing, crawled into the far side of the bed opposite to the mother's, behind the homespun curtain.
  • "To-morrow I reckon I kin go home to my old man, now you've come, Cass."
  • "Yes," said the girl in a low voice, "you have been right kind to we-all, Aun_ally."
  • Then she bent over her mother, ministering to her few wants; lifting he_orward, she shook up the pillow, and gently laid her back upon it, an_ightly kissed her cheek. The child had quickly dropped to sleep, curled u_ike a ball in the farther side of his mother's bed, undisturbed by the lo_urmur of conversation. Cassandra drew her chair close to the fire and sa_ong gazing into the burning logs that were fast crumbling to a heap o_lowing embers. She uncoiled her heavy bronze hair and combed it slowly out, until it fell a rippling mass to the floor, as she sat. It shone in th_irelight as if it had drawn its tint from the fire itself, and the cold nigh_ad so filled it with electricity that it flew out and followed the comb, a_f each hair were alive, and made a moving aureola of warm red amber about he_rooping figure in the midst of the sombre shadows of the room. Her face gre_ad and her hands moved listlessly, and at last she slipped from her chair t_er knees and wept softly and prayed, her lips forming the words soundlessly.
  • Once her mother awoke, lifted her head slightly from her pillow and gazed a_nstant at her, then slowly subsided, and again slept.