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a fortnight, however, the stress of work would for several weeks," he found himself saying a be over, and then he meant to leave. During moment later; “I think I shall go to-morrow.” that fortnight he was strangely troubled. He He hardly meant what he said; a momendid not leave the camp, but his mind was bus- tary pique had forced the words from him, but, ied with thoughts of Easter — nothing but once spoken, he determined to abide by them. Easter.
Easter was stirred from her lethargy at last, but Time and again he had reviewed their ac- Clayton's attention was drawn to Raines's quaintance minutely from the beginning, but start of surprise, and he did not see the girl's he could find no cause for her strange behavior. face strangely agitated for an instant, nor her When the work was done, he found himself still hands nervously trembling in her lap. The lingering, and climbing the mountain once mother had made an ejaculation of astonishmore. He meant to solve the mystery if pos
ment. sible. He would tell Easter that he was going “ Ter-morrer!” she said. “ Why, ye almost home. Surely, then, she would betray some take my breath away. I declar', I'm downright feeling.
sorry ye air goin', I hev tuk sech a shine ter At the old fence which he had climbed so ye. I kind o’think I 'll miss ye more ’n Easter.” often he stopped, as was his custom, to rest a Raines's eyes turned to the girl, as did Claymoment, with his eyes upon the wild beauty ton's. Not a suggestion of color disturbed the before him the great valley, with mists float- pallor of the girl's face, once more composed, ing from its gloomy depths into the tremulous and she said nothing. moonlight; and far through the radiant space “Ye air so jolly 'n' lively,” continued the the still, dark masses of the Cumberland lifting mother, “'n' ye allus hev so much ter say. Ye themselves in majesty against the east; and in air not like Easter 'n' Sherd hyar, who talk the shadow of the great cliff the vague out- 'bout as much ez two stumps. I suppose I 'll lines of the old cabin, as still as the awful silence hev ter sit up hyar 'n' talk ter the moon when around it. A light was visible, but he could hear ye air gone. no voices. Still, he knew he would find the The mountaineer rose abruptly, and, though occupants seated in the porch, held by that he spoke quietly, he controlled himself with strange quiet which nature imposes on those difficulty. who dwell much alone with her. He had not “ Ez my company seems ter be unwelcome been to the cabin for several weeks, and when ter ye,” he said, “I kin take it away from ye, 'n' he spoke, Easter did not return his greeting; I will." Raines nodded almost surlily, but from the Before the old woman could recover herself, mother came as always a cordial welcome.
he was gone. " I'm mighty glad ter see ye,” she said ; " ye “Well,” she ejaculated, “whut kin be the hev n't been up fer a long time.”
matter with Sherd ? He hev got mighty cur’us “No,"answered Clayton; “I have been very hyar of late, 'n' so hev Easter. All o' ye hev busy — getting ready to go home.” He had been a-settin' up hyar ez ef ye was at a buryin'. watched Easter closely as he spoke, but the I 'm a-goin' ter bed. Ye 'n' Easter kin set up girl did not lift her face, and she betrayed no ez long ez ye please. I suppose ye air comin' emotion, not even surprise; nor did Raines. back ag'in ter see us,” she said, turning to Only the mother showed genuine regret. The Clayton. girl's apathy filled him with bitter disappoint- “I don't know,” he answered.“ I may not; ment. She had relapsed into barbarism again. but if I don't, I won't forget you." He was a fool to think that in a few months “Well, I wish ye good luck.” Clayton shook he could counteract influences that had been hands with her, and she went within doors. molding her character for a lifetime. His pur- Easter had risen, too, with her mother, and pose had been unselfish. Curiosity, the girl's was standing in the shadow. beauty, his increasing power over her, had “Good-by," said Clayton, holding out his stimulated him, to be sure, but he had been hand to Easter. conscientious and earnest. Somehow he was As she turned he caught one glimpse of her more than disappointed; he was hurt deeply,not face in the moonlight as she dropped it over her only that he should have been so misunderstood, bosom, and its whiteness startled him. Her but for the lack of gratitude in the girl. He hand was cold when he took it, and her voice was bewildered. What could have happened ? was scarcely audible as she faintly repeated his Could Raines have really poisoned her mind words. She lifted her face as their hands were against him? And indignation shot through unclasped, and her lips quivered mutely as if Clayton that Easter could believe so easily trying to speak; but he had turned to go. For what might have been saidagainst him, and not a moment she watched his darkening figure, allow him a hearing.
and then with stifled breath almost staggered “I've been expecting to take a trip home into the cabin.
The road wound around the cliff and back he did not ask which — that enthralled him. again, and as Clayton picked his way along it Whatever it was, its growth had been subtle he was oppressed by a strange uneasiness. Eas- and swift. There was in it the thrill that might ter's face, as he last saw it, lay in his mind like come from taming some wild creature that had a keen reproach. Could he have been mis- never known control, and the gentleness that taken ? Had he been too hasty? He recalled a generous spirit with such power would feel the events of the evening. He began to see These, with the magnetism of the girl's beauty that it was strange that Raines had shown no and personality, and the influence of her environsurprise when he spoke of going home, and yet ment, he had felt for a long time; but now richer had seemed almost startled by the suddenness chords were set vibrating in response to her of his departure. Perhaps the mountaineer knew he was going. It was known at the camp. If he knew, then Easter must have known. Perhaps she had felt hurt because he had not spoken to her earlier. What might Raines not have told her, and honestly, too? Or the mountaineer might have made a shrewd use of his departure. Perhaps he was unconsciously confirming all that Raines might have said. He ought to have spoken to her. Perhaps she could not speak to him. He wheeled suddenly in the path to return to the cabin, and then paused in indecision. It was late; he would wait one day longer.
As he resumed the descent, a noise of something hurrying down through the undergrowth of the cliff-side which towered darkly behind him, startled him, and he stopped in wonder and fear. Nearer, nearer the bushes crackled as though some hunted animal were flying for life through them, and then through the thick hedge there burst the figure of a woman who “ACROSS HIS FOREHEAD RAN A CRIMSON SCAR." sank to the ground in the path before him. The flash of yellow hair and a white face in the great love, the struggle she had against its dismoonlight told him who it was.
closure, the appeal for tenderness and protec“Easter, Easter!” he exclaimed, in sickening tion in her final defeat. It was ideal, he told fear. “My God! is that you? Why, what is himself, as he sank into the delicious dream; the matter, child? What are you doing here?” they two alone with nature, above all human
He stooped above the sobbing girl, and life, with its restraints, its hardships, its evils, pulled away her hands from her face, tear- its distress. For them was the freedom of the stained and broken with pain. The limit of her open sky lifting its dome above the mounself-repression was reached at last; the tense tains; for them nothing less kindly than the sun nerves, strained too much, had broken; and shining its benediction; for their eyes only the the passion, so long checked, surged through changing beauties of day and night; for their her like fire. O God! what had he done? He ears no sound harsher than the dripping of dew saw the truth at last. In a sudden impulse of or a bird-song; for them youth, health, beauty, tenderness he lifted the girl to her feet and love. And it was primeval love, the love of held her, sobbing uncontrollably, in his arms, the first woman for the first man. She knew with her head resting against his breast, press- no convention, no prudery, no doubt. Her life ing his cheek to her hair and soothing her as was impulse, and her impulse was love. She though she had been a child.
was the teacher now, and he the taught; and Presently she felt a kiss on her forehead, and, he stood in wonder and awe when the plant he as she looked up with a sudden fierce joy in had tended flowered into such beauty in a sinher eyes, their lips met.
gle night. Ah, the happy, happy days that followed! The veil that had for a long time
been unfolding itself between him and his preVIII.
vious life seemed to have almost fallen, and CLAYTON shunned all self-questioning after they were left alone to their happiness. The that night. His deepest emotions stirred by that mother kept her own counsel. Raines had disclose embrace on the mountain-side, he gave appeared as though Death had claimed him. himself wholly up to the love or infatuation - And the dream lasted till a summons home broke
into it as the sudden flaring up of a candle will scious of his presence as with eyes on the floor shatter a reverie at twilight.
he traversed the narrow width of the cabin. At length he spoke:
“Ye hev n't seed me up on the mount'in IX.
lately, hev ye?" he asked. “I reckon ye hev n't The summons was from his father, and was missed me much. Do ye know whut I hev emphatic; and Clayton did not delay. The been doin'?” he asked with sudden vehemence, girl accepted his departure with a pale face, but stopping still and resting his eyes, which with a quiet submission that touched him. Of glowed like an animal's from the darkened Raines he had seen nothing and heard nothing end of the cabin, on Clayton. since the night he had left the cabin in anger; “I hev been tryin' ter keep from killin' ye. but as he came down the mountain after bid- Oh, don't move- don't fear now; ye air as ding Easter good-by, he was startled by the safe ez ef ye were down in ther camp. I seed mountaineer stepping from the bushes into the ye that night on ther mount'in,” he continued, path.
again pacing rapidly backward and forth. “I “Ye air a-goin' home, I hear," he said was waitin' fer ye. I meant ter tell ye jest quietly.
whut I'm goin' ter tell ye ter-night; 'n' when “ Yes," answered Clayton; " at midnight.” Easter come a-tearin' through ther bushes, 'n'
“Well, I 'll walk down with ye a piece, ef ye I seed ye — ye — a-standin' together," — the don't mind. Hit's not out o' my way." words seemed to stop in his throat,—“I knowed
As he spoke his face was turned suddenly to I was too late. the moonlight. The lines in it had sunk deeper, “ I set thar fer a minute like a rock, 'n' when giving it almost an aged look; and the eyes ye two went back up ther mountin, before I were hollow as from physical suffering or from knowed it I was hyar in ther house thar at the fasting. He preceded Clayton down the path, fire moldin’a bullet ter kill ye with ez ye come with head bent in thought, and saying nothing back. All to oncet I heerd a voice ez plain ez till they reached the spur of the mountain. my own is et this minute say: Then in the same voice:
" Air ye a-thinkin' 'bout takin' ther life of a “I want ter talk ter ye awhile, 'n' I'd like fellow-creetur, Sherd Raines—ye thet air tryin' ter hev ye step inter my house. I don't mean ter be a servant o'ther Lord ?? ye no harm,” he added quickly, “ 'n' hit ain't “ But I kept on a-moldin', 'n’suddenly I seed fur.”
ye a-lyin' in the road dead, 'n' ther heavens "Certainly,” said Clayton.
opened, 'n' ther face o’ther Lord appeared, 'n' The mountaineer turned into the woods by a he raised his hand ter smite me with ther brand narrow path, and soon the outlines of a miser- o' Cain— 'n' look thar!” able little hut were visible through the dark Clayton had sat spellbound by the terrible woods. Raines thrust the door open. The sin- earnestness of the man, and as the mountaingle room was dark except for a few dull coals eer swept his dark hair back with one hand, in a gloomy cavern which formed the fireplace. he rose in sudden horror. Across the moun
“Sit down, ef ye kin find a cheer,” said taineer's forehead ran a crimson scar yet unRaines, “'n' I 'll fix up the fire.”
healed. Could he have inflicted upon himself “Do you live here alone?” asked Clayton, this fearful penance ? as he heard the keen, smooth sound of the “Oh, it was only ther molds. I seed it all so mountaineer's knife going through wood. plain thet I throwed up my hands, fergittin' ther
“Yes,” he answered; "fer five years." molds, 'n’ther hot lead struck me thar; but,” he
The coals brightened ; tiny flames shot from continued solemnly, "I knowed ther Lord hed them, and in a moment the blaze caught the dry tuk thet way o'punishin' me fer ther sin o'havin' fagots, and shadows danced over floor, wall, and murder in my mind, 'n' I fell on my knees ceiling, and vanished as the mountaineer rose a-prayin' fer fergiveness ; 'n' since thet night I from his knees. The room was as bare as the hev stayed away from ye till ther Lord give me cell of a monk. A rough bed stood in one cor- power terstand ag'in'ther temptation of harmin' ner; a few utensils hung near the fireplace, ye. He hev showed me anuther way, 'n' now wherein were remnants of potatoes roasting í hev come ter ye ez he has directed me. I in the ashes, and close to the wooden shutter hev n't tol' ye this fer nuthin'. Ye kin see now which served as a window was a rough table. whut I think o' Easter, ef I war tempted to On it lay a large book,-a Bible,-a pen, a take the life o’ther man who tuk her love from bottle of ink, and a piece of paper on which were me, 'n' I think ye will say I hev ther right ter letters traced with great care and difficulty. ask ye whut I 'm a-goin' ter. I hev known ther The mountaineer did not sit down, but be- gal all my life. We was children together, and gan pacing the floor behind Clayton. Clayton thar hain't no use hidin' thet I hev never keered moved his chair, and Raines seemed uncon- fer anuther woman. She used ter be mighty
orn" he said huskily. “I want ter say thet I hear 20 grudge, 'n' thet I wish ye well, 'n' I bebere te 'll do yer best ter make ther gal happy. : Dope ye won't think hard on me,” he contoed; “I hev had a hard fight with ther devil e long ez I kin remember. I hev turned back time 'n' ag'in, but thar hain't nuthin' ter keep me from goin' straight ahead now.”
As Clayton left the cabin, the mountaineer saved him for a moment at the threshold.
- Thar's another thing I reckon I ought ter i el ye,” he said: “Easter's dad air powerfully
sot ag'in' ye. He thought ye was an officer at fast, 'n''t was hard ter git him out o'ther idee
thet ye was spyin' fer him; 'n' when he seed bet re goin' ter ther house, he got it inter his head all thet ye might be meanin' harm ter Easter, who
Cam air ther only thing alive thet he keers fer much. Stere He promised not ter tech ye, 'n' I knowed he
would keep his word ez long ez he was sober. • It 'll be all right now, I reckon,” he concluded,
“when I tell him whut ye mean ter do, though - 21 I he hev got a spite ag'in' all furriners. Far'well!
I wish ye well; I wish ye well."
An hour later Clayton was in Jellico. It I was midnight when the train came in, and he
a went immediately to his berth. Striking the
De curtain accidentally, he loosed it from its fastsudden enings, and, doubling the pillows, he lay looking
en out on the swiftly passing landscape. The V ro moon was full and brilliant, and there was a
was strange, keen pleasure in being whirled in such Sex his life comfort through the night. The mists almost
at the hid the mountains. They seemed very, very al that far away. A red star trembled almost in the
e Doon- crest of Wolf Mountain. Easter's cabin must * suimtable. be almost under that star, he thought. He ziaach wondered if she were asleep. Perhaps she was
out in the porch, lonely, suffering, and thinking very gol" said of him. He felt her kiss and her tears upon his
but rou hand. Did he not love her? Could there be
I cand not any doubt about that? His thoughts turned to
viime about, Raines, and he saw the mountaineer in his lonely en ved the I have cabin, sitting with his head bowed in his hands also a si mettings are chan what in front of the dying fire. He closed his eyes,
and another picture rose before him-a scene www to uz be had already at home. He had taken Easter to New York.
ar should he How brilliant the light! what warmth and luxsi atubility stay ury! There stood his father, there his mother. aster thai time What gracious dignity they had! Here was
she her home, his sister — what beauty and elegance and * vackness and grace of manner! But Easter! Wherever
she was placed the other figures needed readpere what he justment. There was something irritably in
srch ready ac- congruous — Ah! now he had it — his mind
regun to fear from grew hazy – he was asleep.
During the weeks that followed, some maVar dis hand: wird ring, 'n' I ax yer par- lignant spirit seemed to be torturing him with
a slow realization of all he had lost; taunting come. They had drifted to reminiscences, and him with the possibility of regaining it and the that night Clayton went home with a troubled certainty of losing it forever.
heart; angry that he should be so easily disAs he had stepped from the dock at Jersey turbed, surprised that the days were passing so City, the fresh sea wind had thrilled him like swiftly, and pained that they were filled less a memory, and his pulses leaped instantly into and less with thoughts of Easter. With a pang sympathy with the tense life that vibrated in the of remorse and fear, he determined to go back air. Heseemed never to have been away so long, to the mountains as soon as his father came and never had home seemed so pleasant. His home. He knew the effect of habit. He would sister had grown more beautiful; his mother's forget these pleasures felt so keenly now, as he quiet, noble face was smoother and fairer than had once forgotten them, and he would leave it had been for years; and despite the absence before their hold upon him was secure. of his father, who had been hastily summoned Knowing the danger that beset him, he had to England, there was an air of cheerfulness in avoided it all he could. He even stopped his the house that was in marked contrast to its daily visits to the club, and spent most of his gloom when Clayton was last at home. He time at home with his mother and sister. Once had been quickened at once into a new ap- only, to his bitter regret, was he induced to go preciation of the luxury and refinement about out. Wagner's tidal wave had reached New him, and he soon began to wonder how he York, and it was the opening night of the seahad ever inured himself to the discomforts son; and the opera was one that he had learned and crudities of his mountain life. Old habits to love in Germany. The very brilliancy of easily resumed sway over him. At the club the scene threw him into gloom, so aloof did friends and acquaintances were so unfeignedly he feel from it all — the great theater aflame glad to see him that he began to suspect that with lights, the circling tiers of faces, the pit his own inner gloom had darkened their faces with its hundred musicians, their eyes on the after his father's misfortune. Day after day leader, who stood above them with baton upfound him in his favorite corner at the club, raised and German face already aglow. watching the passing pageant and listening al- In his student days he had loved music, but most eagerly to the conversational froth of the he had little more than trifled with it; now, town-the gossip of club, theater, and society. strangely enough, his love, even his underHis ascetic life in the mountains gave to every standing, seemed to have grown; and when pleasure the taste of inexperience. His early the violins thrilled all the vast space into life, youth seemed renewed, so keen and fresh were he was shaken as with a passion newly born. his emotions. He felt, too, that he was recov- All the evening he sat riveted. A rush of ering a lost identity, and still the new one that memories came upon him— memories of his had grown around him would not loosen its student life with its dreams and ideals of culclaim. He had told his family nothing of Eas- ture and scholarship, which rose from his past ter,— why, he could scarcely have said, - again like phantoms. In the elevation of the and the difficulty of telling increased each day. moment the trivial pleasures that had been His secret began to weigh heavily upon him; tempting him suddenly became mean and unand though he determined to unburden him- worthy. With a pang of regret he saw himself on his father's return, he was troubled with self as he might have been, as he yet might be. a vague sense of deception. When he went to A few days later his father came home, and receptions with his sister, this sense of a dou- his distress of mind was complete. Clayton ble identity was strangely felt amid the lights, need stay in the mountains but little longer, the music, the flowers, the flash of eyes and he said; he was fast making up his losses, and white necks and arms, the low voices, the po- he had hoped after his trip to England to have lite, clear-cut utterances of welcome and com- Clayton at once in New York; but now he pliment.
had best wait perhaps another year. Then had Several times he had met a face for which come a struggle that racked heart and brain. he had once had a boyish infatuation. Its im- All he had ever had was before him again. age had never been supplanted during his stu- Could it be his duty to shut himself from this dent career, but he had turned from it as from life,— his natural heritage,—to stifle the higha star when he came home and found that his est demands of his nature? Was he seriously life was to be built with his own hands. Now the in love with that mountain girl ? Had he ingirl had grown to gracious womanhood, and deed ever been sure of himself? If, then, he when he saw her he could scarcely repress a did not love her beyond all question, would thrill of joy that she had once favored him above not wrong himself, wrong her, by marryall others. One night a desire had assailed him ing her? Ah, but might he not wrong her, to learn upon what footing he then stood. He wrong himself - even more? He was bound to had yielded, and she gave him a kindly wel- her by every tie that his sensitive honor recog