صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

high or low, one might deem them these, were the purplish-black mountains cat surely, with perpetual summer blooming sharply on the horizon. He heard a there, as if there were no frosts, no win- mocking-bird singing, and what a medter's chill, no waning of time or love or ley the frogs did pipe! Then rushed life. What cared she for land or its out into the midst the whir of Julia's lack?

spinning-wheel, that made all other songs The forelegs of Captain Lucy's chair of the evening only its incidental burcame to the floor with an irascible thump. den. She sat near the door, her figure He turned and surveyed the room ; then, imposed upon those bright hues of sky looking at her, “ Air yer eyesight good ?” and water as if she were painted on he demanded.

some lustrous metal. Their reflection “ Toler'ble,” she admitted.

was now and again on her hair; she “D'ye see that thar contraption ? might have seemed surrounded by some he continued, leaning forward, and point- glorious aureola. Not that he definiteing with great empressement at a spin- ly discerned this. He only felt that she ning-wheel in the corner.

was fairer than all women else, and that “I see it,” she said, meeting his keen the evening gleamed. The bird's song return glance.

struck some chord in his heart that si“D'ye know what it's made fur ? ” lently vibrated, and the whir of her he inquired, dropping his voice, and with wheel was like a hymn of the fireside. an air of being about to impart valuable He wished that he had never left it information.

for Taft and his gang, and the hope of “ Fur spinnin',” she answered won- making money for a home of his own, deringly.

of which his mother's hospitality had “Oh, ye know, do ye? Then well - nigh bereft him.

The thought mind it.”

roused him to a recollection of his erAnd thus he settled the woman ques- rand. tion, in his own house at least, and re- “I kem hyar ter git yer advices, pudiated feminine interest and inquisi- Cap'n Lucy,” he began. tiveness in his business affairs, and Captain Lucy turned upon him a sispurned feminine consolation and re- lent but snarling face. He needed all buke as far as he could, — poor Captain his “ advices” for himself. Lucy!

“I ain't got nuthin' ter hide from Larrabee had that sense of being ill you-uns,” Larrabee continued, after a at ease which always characterizes a pause for the expected reply. “Ye stranger whose unhappy privilege it is know all I do," - a fleeting recollection to assist at a family quarrel. He was of the still came over him, -- "that I'm divided by the effort to look as if he able ter tell,” he added ; for the idea of understood nothing of ill temper in the betraying the secrets involving Taft and colloquy, and the doubt as to whether he the other moonshiners had never entered did not appear to side with one or the his mind. other, -- to relish Julia's relegation to Captain Lucy's scornful chin was the spinning-wheel, or to resent Captain tossed upward. Lucy's strong measures ; or perhaps he “ We-uns feel toler'ble compliminted," might seem lightly scornful of both. he averred,“ ter hev it ’lowed ez we-uns

He gazed steadily out of the open knows all you-uns do, fur that 's a heap, door, where a great lustrous copper-tint- ez ye air aimin' ter tell.” ed sky glassed itself in myriads of gleam

“I mean I went ter say, Cap'n ing copper-tinted ponds made in every Lucy" - Jasper Larrabee's words, in depression by the recent rains ; between their haste, tripped one over the other,

a

as they sought to set their meaning in “Now, uncle Lucy, ye jes' got ter gin better array.

Jasper yer advices, an' holp him out'n “ He jes' means, uncle Lucy, ez it whatever snap he hev got inter.” ain't no new thing," Adelicia interposed Her deep gray eyes smiled upon the to expound, touched by the anxious con- young man, as the firelight flashed upon trition of the younger man, who was her glittering knife and the red fruit leaning eagerly forward, his elbow on his in her hand, although her delicate oval knee, toward the elder, and to allay the face was grave enough. Ever and again contrariety of spirit of "uncle Lucy." she raised her head, as she worked, to

“ An' meddlin' ain't no new thing, toss back the tendrils of her auburn hair nuther, with you-uns, Ad’licia,” snarled which were prone to fall forward as she Captain Lucy, much overwrought. “I

“I bent over the task. There was a mowish ter Gawd, with all the raisin' an' ment's silence as Jasper vainly sought trainin' I hev hed ter gin ye, I could to collect his ideas. hev larnt ye ter hold yer jaw wunst in “Tell on, Jasper,” she exhorted him. a while whenst desir’ble, an' show sech “I'm by ter pertect ye now. An' ennymanners ez — ez T'bithy thar kin.” He hows, uncle Lucy's bark is a long shakes pointed at the cat on the hearth, and wuss ’n his bite." gave a high, fleering laugh, in which the She smiled encouragingly upon the sarcastic vexation overmastered every suppliant for advice; her own face was suggestion of mirth.

all unmarred by the perception that matA slight movement of Tabitha's ears ters had gone much amiss with the promight have intimated that she marked cessioning of the land, for uncle Lucy the mention of her name.

Otherwise was a man often difficult to please, and she passed it with indifference. With sometimes only a crumple in his rose leaf her skimpy, shabby attire, — her fur

was enough to make him condemn the seemed never to flourish, — her meek queen of flowers as a mere vegetable, air of disaffection with the ways of this much overrated. The girl's aspect was world, her look of adverse criticism as her all the brighter as she wore a saffronyellow eyes followed the movements of tinted calico blouse and apron with her the family, her thankless but resigned brown homespun skirt, and she seemed, reception of all favors as being less than with her lighted gray eyes, her fair, colorshe had a right to expect, her ladylike less face, and her ruddy auburn hair, a but persistent exactions of her preroga- property of the genial firelight, flickertives, gave her, somehow, the style of a ing and flaring on the bright spot of reduced gentlewoman, and the quietude color which she made in the brown shadand gentle indifference and air of supe- ows where she sat and pared the red riority of the manners on which Captain apples. She reverted in a moment to Lucy had remarked were very genteel that proclivity to argue with Captain as far as they went.

Lucy which was so marked in their conAdelicia seemed heedless of the men- versation. tor thus pointed out. She noisily gath- “An’ who is the young men ter deered up her work, somewhat cumbrous pend on in thar troubles, uncle Lucy, ef of paraphernalia, since it consisted of a not the old ones ? " she demanded. small cedar tub, a large wooden bowl, “On the young gals, 'pears like," and a heavy sack of the reddest of ap- promptly retorted "uncle Lucy,” pertiples which she was paring for drying, nently and perversely. and carried it all around the fireplace to Then he caught himself suddenly. seat herself between the two parties to In the impossibility, under the circumthis controversy..

stances, to concentrate his mind exclu

[ocr errors]

6

man.

sively on his own affairs, his interest in sat in her dull red dress and the tawnily correlated matters was reasserted. It gilded glories of the western sky. occurred to him that it behooved him Beyond a mechanical “ Hesh up, Ad'to foster any predilection that Adeli- licia,” Captain Lucy gave them no heed, cia might show for any personable man but Luther glanced sharply from one to other than the fugitive Espey. He could the other. see naught but perplexity and complica- Jasper Larrabee replied in some sort : tion of many sorts to ensue for himself “ Then he never treated me with the and his household should Espey return; same confidence I done him. An', Cap'n and although Captain Lucy selfishly Lucy," he continued, "ye yerse'f seen hoped and believed that this was, in the the e-end o'it. He purtended ter the nature of things, impossible, still he had sher'ff ter be me, an' tuk advantage o' reluctantly learned by bitter experience my mother's callin' him. sonny,' an' wore the fallibility of his own judgment. It my name, an' went with 'em a-sarchin' seemed to him a flagrant instance of in- fur hisse'f; an' whenst he got skeered, constancy on Adelicia's part, but Captain thinkin' ez they knowed him, he resisted Lucy gave that no heed. Few men truly arrest, an' kem nigh ter takin' the off'resent a woman's cruelty to another cer's life, whilst purtendin' ter be me, in

Adelicia' might have brought all my name!” the youth in the county to despair, for He never meant no harm,” faltered all hard-hearted Captain Lucy would Adelicia, aghast at this showing against have cared. And thus her appeal for her absent lover. Jasper Larrabee was not altogether dis- “None in the worl'; he never went regarded.

ter harm nuthin',” protested Julia's flute“Goin' ter set thar an' chaw on it like tones. all day, Jasper ?" he demanded acridly. · Did

ye kem hyar ter git my advices Why n’t ye spit it out ?

fur Jack Espey ?” demanded Captain “Why,” said Larrabee, “it 's 'bout Lucy sourly. “He needs 'em, I know,

, this hyar Jack Espey."

The apple dropped from Adelicia's “Naw, Cap'n Tems. I kem ter git hand, and rolled unheeded across the it fur myse'f, fur I don't know which hearth; the spinning-wheel was sudden

way ter turn.

You-uns hyar saw the ly silent, and Julia, all glorified in the e-end o' it, the night the dep'ty kem deeply yellow glare about her, sat hold- a-sarchin? fur Jasper Lar'bee, who he ing it still with one hand on its rim. 'lowed he hed flung over the bluffs, an' Captain Lucy's head was canted to one I went along at his summons, knowin' side, as if he were prepared to deliber- 't war Espey ez hed got away from him, ate impartially on some difficult proposi- purtendin' ter be me.” tion.

Captain Lucy nodded. “ This Jack Espey, — I met up with “ Now I hev hearn that dep’ty air in him at the cross-roads store, an' struck the Cove agin.” up a likin' fur him, an' brung him home Captain Lucy remembered the dark, an'tuk him in, an' he hev been thar with facetious, malicious face that the officer me fur months an' months — an' — an' had borne as a spectator of the proceshe never tole me ez he hed enny cause sioning of the land. He nodded again. ter shirk the law."

“ I hev seen him hyar ter-day.” “ He war 'feared ter, I reckon, Jas- "Ef I war knowed ez Lar'bee, I per,” said Adelicia.

mought be 'rested fur harborin' a fugi. “ He never meant no harm, Jasper," tive, ez holpin' out the murder arter the the silent Julia broke in from where she fac' — an' – an' my mother

Espey

66

but",

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

of s'pi

gin me no chance, no ch'ice! Would n't oath she don't git 'em. That thar door ye 'low ez ennybody - ennybody o' the widder's cabin on the Notch hev would hev tule me that, Cap'n Lucy, stood open ter the frien'less day an' ter gin me the ch’ice o' dangerin' myse'f night since I kin remember. Her taafore he tuk so much from me an' ble 's spread for the hongry. Her mine?”

h’a'th 's the home o' them ez hev no welCaptain Lucy changed countenance. come elsewise an' elsewhere. An' her This was a new view of the matter. He nigh neighbor an' old frien' sees a s'pecthad not judged from Larrabee's stand- ed murderer quarter himself thar, an point; for he himself had had full know- bring s'picion an' trouble ennyhow, an' ledye of the circumstances and the fact danger mebbe, on her an' hern. Ye that they were withheld from Espey's mought hev advised Espey ter gin her entertainer. This was made suddenly her ch'ice, or leave. Ye mought hev manifest.

done ez much ez that! My mother is “ Why, Jasper,” expostulated Adelicia, a ole’oman; an' she's a proud 'oman,

’ her eyes full of tears, her vibrant tones though ye mought n't think it, an' the tremulous with emotion, “ he 'lowed ter bare idee o' sech talk ez that, we-uns ez he war sure the man would n't cion, an' arrest, an' jail, - it would kill die o' the gunshot wound, bein' powerful her! it would kill her!" big an' hearty ; but he tuk out an' run, Captain Lucy sat almost stunned, bein' tur-r'ble 'feared o' the law — arrest as under an arraignment. He pulled an' lyin' in jail fur a long time, waitin', mechanically at his pipe, but his head an' uncle Lucy said "

was sunk on his breast, and his face She paused suddenly, for Jasper Lar- was gray and set. The circumstances so rabee had leaned forward in his chair, graphically placed before him seemed to scanning the faces about him with a have no relation to those of his recollecblank amazement so significant that it tion; they wore a new guise. He had palsied the words on her tongue.

known all his life instances of collision * Espey tole you-uns ! An' Espey in which powder and lead had played tole yer uncle Lucy! Why, then ye all more or less a tragic part; but the rôle knowed him ter be a runaway, an' ye of the law had always been subsidiary knowed ez he war a-playin' his deceits and inadequate in the background of the on nobody but me an' my mother ez hed scene, sometimes represented only by an got him quartered on us, an' mebbe war outwitted officer, and the jollity of details liable ter the law fur it."

of hair-breadth escapes. This construcAdelicia leaned back trembling in her tion of crime was beyond his purview chair. Captain Lucy cast an infuriated of facts. He did not know, or he did glance upon her, and then, with a hasty, not remember, that aught that others nervous band, rubbed his brow back and than the principal could do subsequent forth, as if to stimulate his slow brain to a crime might render them liable as that brought him no solution of the dif

accessory after the fact.

Espey had, in ficulty. Jasper Larrabee still sat lean- a fight, shot his antagonist, — such things ing forward, his clear-cut face full of were of frequent occurrence in Captain keen thought, a flush on his pale cheek, Lucy's memory. He never expected to a fire kindling in his brown eyes, and a see or to hear of the beagles of the law sarcastic smile curving his angry lips. on the trail of the fugitive ; his care, and

“ My Gawd!” he exclaimed, “ it is a his only care, was to prevent his niece cur'ous thing ez my mother ain't got a from marrying an expatriated man while frien' in this worl! She says she don't expatriated. work fur thanks, an' I 'll take my

livin'

He thought now with a grievous sense VOL. LXXIII. - NO. 435.

8

[ocr errors]

of fault of old “ Widder Lar'bee," kiver him so I can't find him, — an' I 'll her softness, her kindness, her life of deliver him ter the law!" thought for others; and then he thought He stood for one moment more, and of Rodolphus Ross and his crude bru- then he strode across the room to the tality, his imperviousness to any sanc- door, his shadow blotting out the last red tions, his rough interpretation of fun, light of the day, leaving the circle about his eagerness to shield his own lapses of the fire gazing wistfully and aggrieved care and official vigilance, his grudges after him, except Luther, who was pickagainst the supposed Larrabee, and his ing up the borrowed coat which Larrathreats. What mischief might a chance bee had tossed aside as he passed. word work!

Outside the night had fallen suddenThe dusky red of the last of the ly. The west was clouded, despite the evening glow was creeping across the lingering red strata, and the twilight floor. All the metallic yellow glare was curtailed. He looked through purple tarnished in the sky. Instead were tissues of mists that appeared to have strata of vaporous gray and slate tints the consistency of a veil, to where yelalternating with lines of many-hued low lights already gleamed through the crimson, graduated till the ethereal hue shadows. They came from the shanof faintest rose ended the ascending ties of the workmen beneath the cliffs, scale of color. Still the frogs chorused on which the ruins of the hotel bad and still the bird sang, but shadows had at last ceased to smoke. He hardly fallen, and they were not all of the night. knew whither to turn. What pressure Something of melancholy intimations for explanations, what unbearable indrew his eyes to the purple heights with- quisitive insistence, would meet him at out as Jasper Larrabee spoke.

home, where Henrietta Timson reigned “ Waal, I'm her friend, ef she ain't in the stead of his mother, he could well got nare nother.” And then, as if he forecast ; to venture near the Lost Time felt he were arrogating unduly to his mine, within reach of Taft, was, he knew, purpose, “An' I s'pose I'm a friend as much as his life was worth. Larrao' my own, too, an' I know I ain't got bee hesitated now and again, as he went nare nother. I kem hyar ter-night fur aimlessly up the road; regretting his outyer advices, Cap’n Tems; but ez ye break at the Tems cabin; coveting its don't 'pear ter hev none ter gimme, I shelter, its fireside, the companionship b’lieve I'll take my own. I'll settle of the home group; half minded to rethis thing for myse'f. I'll find Jack turn thither ; but resentment because Espey! I'll track him out. I'll run of their half-hearted friendship, as he him down. I'll arrest him myse'f, an' deemed it, pride and anger and shame, I'll deliver him ter the law. An' let conspired to withhold him. Once again, the door o' the jail that he opened fur as he ascended the mountain, he turned me be shut an' barred on him!” There and looked down at the cluster of orangewas a concentrated fury in his face as tinted lights from the workmen's shanhe said this. "I won't hide no mo' like ties that clung so close together in the a beast o' the yearth in a den in the depths of the purple valley, and he hesiground, consortin' with wuss ’n wolves tated anew as he looked at them. White an' bar an' painters. I won't skulk mists were abroad on their stealthy ways ; homeless like a harnt no mo' through a brooding stillness held the clouds ; the the woods. I won't shirk the sher'ff no mountains loomed sombre, melancholy, mo' fur Jack Espey's crimes, an' kase against them, indistinguishable and blent I done him nuthin' but good an' kind- with them toward the west, save when ness! I'll find him, the yearth can't the far-away lightnings of the past storm

« السابقةمتابعة »