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´╗┐Title: In Happy Valley
Author: Fox, John, 1863-1919
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "In Happy Valley" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



IN HAPPY VALLEY

by

John Fox, Jr.

Illustrated By F. C. Yohn



New York
Charles Scribner's Sons
1917
Copyright, 1916, 1917, by
Charles Scribner's Sons
Published October, 1917
Copyright, 1905, 1906, By P. F. Collier & Son, Incorporated



To Hope,
Little Daughter of Richard Harding Davis.



CONTENTS


The Courtship of Allaphair

The Compact of Christopher

The Lord's Own Level

The Marquise of Queensberry

His Last Christmas Gift

The Angel from Viper

The Pope of the Big Sandy

The Goddess of Happy Valley

The Battle-Prayer of Parson Small

The Christmas Tree on Pigeon



ILLUSTRATIONS


"You stay hyeh with the baby," he said quietly, "an' I'll take yo'
meal home."

"You got him down!" she cried. "Jump on him an' stomp him!"

"Mammy," he said abruptly, "I'll stop drinkin' if you will."

"Let 'em loose!" he yelled. "Git at it, boys! Go fer him,
Ham--whoop-ee-ee!"

"Miss Hildy, Jeems Henery is the bigges' liar on Viper."

"I'm a-goin' to give it back to 'em. Churches, schools, libraries,
hospitals, good roads."

Night and day, and through wind and storm, she had travelled the hills,
healing the sick.

"O Lawd ... hyeh's another who meddles with thy servant and profanes
thy day."



THE COURTSHIP OF ALLAPHAIR


Preaching at the open-air meeting-house was just over and the citizens
of Happy Valley were pouring out of the benched enclosure within living
walls of rhododendron. Men, women, children, babes in arms mounted horse
or mule or strolled in family groups homeward up or down the dusty road.
Youths and maids paired off, dallying behind. Emerged last one rich,
dark, buxom girl alone. Twenty yards down the road two young
mountaineers were squatted in the shade whittling, and to one she
nodded. The other was a stranger--one Jay Dawn--and the stare he gave
her was not only bold but impudent.

"Who's goin' home with _that_ gal?" she heard him ask.

"Nobody," was the answer; "_that_ gal al'ays goes home _alone_." She heard
his snort of incredulity.

"Well, I'm goin' with her right now." The other man caught his arm.

"No, you ain't"--and she heard no more.

Athwart the wooded spur she strode like a man. Her full cheeks and lips
were red and her black, straight hair showed Indian blood, of which she
was not ashamed. On top of the spur a lank youth with yellow hair stood
in the path.

"How-dye, Allaphair!" he called uneasily, while she was yet some yards
away.

"How-dye!" she said unsmiling and striding on toward him with level eyes.

"Allaphair," he pleaded quickly, "lemme----"

"Git out o' my way, Jim Spurgill." The boy stepped quickly from the path
and she swept past him.

"Allaphair, lemme walk home with ye." The girl neither answered nor
turned her head, though she heard his footsteps behind her.

"Allaphair, uh, Allaphair, please lemme--" He broke off abruptly and
sprang behind a tree, for Allaphair's ungentle ways were widely known.
The girl had stooped for a stone and was wheeling with it in her hand.
Gingerly the boy poked his head out from behind the tree, prepared to
dodge.

"You're wuss'n a she-wolf in sucklin' time," he grumbled, and the girl
did not seem displeased. Indeed, there was a grim smile on her scarlet
lips when she dropped the stone and stalked on. It was almost an hour
before she crossed a foot-log and took the level sandy curve about a
little bluff, whence she could see the two-roomed log cabin that was
home. There were flowers in the little yard and morning-glories covered
the small porch, for, boyish as she was, she loved flowers and growing
things. A shrill cry of welcome greeted her at the gate, and she swept
the baby sister toddling toward her high above her head, fondled her
in her arms, and stopped on the threshold. Within was another man,
slight and pale and a stranger.

"This is the new school-teacher, Allaphair," said her mother. "He calls
hisself Iry Combs."

"How-dye!" said the girl, but the slight man rose and came forward to
shake hands. She flashed a frown at her mother a moment later, behind
the stranger's back; teachers boarded around and he might be there for
a week and perhaps more. The teacher was mountain born and bred, but he
had been to the Bluegrass to school, and he had brought back certain
little niceties of dress, bearing, and speech that irritated the girl.
He ate slowly and little, for he had what he called indigestion, whatever
that was. Distinctly he was shy, and his only vague appeal to her was in
his eyes, which were big, dark, and lonely.

It was a disgrace for Allaphair to have reached her years of
one-and-twenty without marrying, and the disgrace was just then her
mother's favorite theme. Feeling rather poorly, the old woman began on
it that afternoon. Allaphair had gone out to the woodpile and was
picking up an armful of firewood, and the mother had followed her. Said
Allaphair:

"I tell you agin an' agin I hain't got no use fer 'em--a-totin' guns an'
knives an' a-drinkin' moonshine an' fightin' an' breakin' up meetin's
an' lazin' aroun' ginerally. An' when they ain't that way," she added
contemptuously, "they're like that un thar. Look at him!" She broke into
a loud laugh. Ira Combs had volunteered to milk, and the old cow had just
kicked him over in the mud. He rose red with shame and anger--she felt
more than she saw the flash of his eyes--and valiantly and silently he
went back to his task. Somehow the girl felt a pang of pity for him, for
already she saw in his eyes the telltale look that she knew so well in
the eyes of men. With his kind it would go hard; and right she was to
the detail.

She herself went to St. Hilda to work and learn, but one morning she
passed his little schoolhouse just as he was opening for the day. From
a gable the flag of her country waved, and she stopped mystified. And
then from the green, narrow little valley floated up to her wondering
ears a song. Abruptly it broke off and started again; he was teaching
the children the song of her own land, which she and they had never
heard before. It was almost sunset when she came back and the teacher
was starting for home. He was ahead of her--she knew he had seen her
coming--but he did not wait for her, nor did he look back while she was
following him all the way home. And next Sunday he too went to church,
and after meeting he started for home alone and she followed alone. He
had never made any effort to speak to her alone, nor did he venture the
courting pleasantries of other men. Only in his telltale eyes was his
silent story plain, and she knew it better than if he had put it into
words. In spite of her certainty, however, she was a little resentful
that Sunday morning, for his slender figure climbed doggedly ahead, and
suddenly she sat down that he might get entirely out of her sight.

She got down on her hands and knees to drink from the little rain-clear
brook that tinkled across the road at the bottom of the hill, and all
at once lifted her head like a wild thing. Some one was coming down the
hill--coming at a dog-trot. A moment later her name was called, and it
was the voice of a stranger. She knew it was Jay Dawn, for she had heard
of him--had heard of his boast that he would keep company with her--and
she kept swiftly on. Again and again he called, but she paid no heed.
She glared at him fiercely when he caught up with her--and stopped.
He stopped. She walked on and he walked on. He caught her by the arm
when she stopped again, and she threw off his hold with a force that
wheeled him half around, and started off on a run. She stooped when
she next heard him close to her and whirled, with a stone in her hand.

"Go 'way!" she panted. "I'll brain ye!" He laughed, but he came no nearer.

"All right," he said, as though giving up the chase, but when she turned
the next spur there Jay was waiting for her by the side of the road.

"How-dye," he grinned. Three times he cut across ledge and spur and gave
her a grinning how-dye. The third time she was ready for him and she let
fly. The first stone whistled past his head with astonishing speed. The
second he dodged and the third caught him between the shoulders as he
leaped for a tree with an oath and a yell. And there she left him,
swearing horribly and frankly at her.

Jay Dawn did not go back to logging that week. Report was that he had
gone to "courtin' an' throwin' rocks at woodpeckers." Both statements
were true, but Jay was courting at long range. He hung about her house
a great deal. Going to mill, looking for her cow, to and fro from the
mission, Allaphair never failed to see Jay Dawn. He always spoke and he
never got answer. He always grinned, but his eye was threatening. To the
school-teacher he soon began to give special notice, for that was what
Allaphair seemed to be doing herself. He saw them sitting in the porch
together alone, going out to milk or to the woodpile. Passing her gate
one flower-scented dusk, he heard the drone of their voices behind the
morning-glory vines and heard her laugh quite humanly. He snorted his
disgust, but once when he saw the girl walking home with the teacher
from school he seethed with rage and bided his time for both. He did
spend much time throwing at woodpeckers, ostensibly, but he was not
practising for a rock duel with Allaphair. He had picked out the level
stretch of sandy road not far from Allaphair's house, which was densely
lined with rhododendron and laurel, and was carefully denuding it of
stones. When any one came along he was playing David with the birds;
a moment later he was "a-workin' the public road," but not to make the
going easier for the none too dainty feet of Allaphair. Indeed, the girl
twice saw him at his peculiar diversion, but all suspicion was submerged
in scorn.

The following Sunday things happened. On the way from church the girl had
come to the level stretch of sand. Beyond the vine-clad bluff and "a whoop
and a holler" further on was home. Midway of the stretch Jay Dawn stepped
from the bushes and blocked her way, and with him were his grin and his
threatening eye.

"I'm goin' to kiss ye," he said. Right, left, and behind she looked for
a stone, and he laughed.

"Thar hain't a rock between that poplar back thar and that poplar thar
at the bluff; the woodpeckers done got 'em all." There was no use to
run--the girl knew she was trapped and her breast began to heave. Slowly
he neared her, with one hand outstretched, as though he were going to
halter a wild horse, but she did not give ground. When she slapped at
his hand he caught her by one wrist, and then with lightning quickness
by the other. Quickly she bent her head, caught one of his wrists with
her teeth, and bit it to the bone, so that with an open cry of pain he
threw her loose. Then she came at him with her fists like a man, and she
fought like a man. Blow after blow she rained on him, and one on the
chin made him stagger. He could not hit back, so he closed in, and then
it was cavewoman and caveman. He expected her to bite again and scratch,
but she did neither--nor did she cry for help. She kept on like a man,
and after one blow in his stomach which made him sick she grappled like
a wrestler, which she was, and but for his own quickness would have
thrown him over her left knee. Each was in the straining embrace of the
other now and her heaving breast was crushed against his, and for a
moment he stood still.

"This suits me exactly," he cackled, and that made her furious and
turned her woman again. To keep her now from biting him he thrust his
right forearm under her chin and bent her slowly backward. Her right
fist beat his muscular back harmlessly--she caught him by the hair,
but unmindful he bent her slowly on.

"I'll have ye killed," she said savagely--"I'll have ye killed"; and
then suddenly he felt her collapse, submissive, and his lips caught hers.

"Thar now," he said, letting her loose; "you need a leetle tamin',
you do," and he turned and walked slowly away. The girl dropped to
the ground, weeping. But there was an exultant look in her eyes
before she reached home.

The teacher was sitting in the porch.

"_He_ never would 'a' done it," she muttered, and she hardly spoke to him.


A message from Jay Dawn reached the school-teacher the morning after the
"running of a set" at the settlement school. Jay had infuriated Allaphair
by his attentions to Polly Stidham from Quicksand. Allaphair had flirted
outrageously with Ira Combs the teacher, and in turn Jay got angry, not
at her but at the man. So he sent word that he would come down the next
Saturday and knock "that mullet-headed, mealy-mouthed, spindle-shanked
rat into the middle of next week," and drive him from the hills.

"Whut you goin' to do about it?" asked Allaphair, secretly thrilled.
To her surprise the little man seemed neither worried nor frightened.

"Nothing," he said, adding the final _g_ with irritating precision;
"but I have never backed out of a fight in my life." Allaphair could
hardly hold back a hoot of contempt.

"Why, he'll break you to pieces with his hands."

"Perhaps--if he gets hold of me." The girl almost shrieked.

"You hain't going to run?"

"I'm _not_ going to run; it's no disgrace to get licked."

"But if he crows over ye atterwards--whut'll you do then?"

The teacher made no answer, nor did he answer Jay's message. He
merely went his way, which was neither to avoid nor seek; so Jay
sought him. Allaphair saw him the next Friday afternoon, waiting
by the roadside--waiting, no doubt, for Ira Combs. Her first impulse
was to cross over the spur and warn the teacher, but curiosity as
to just what the little man would do got the better of her, and she
slipped aside into the bushes and crept noiselessly to a spot whence
she could peer out and see and hear all that might happen. Soon she
saw the school-teacher coming, as was his wont, leisurely, looking at
the ground at his feet and with his hands clasped behind his back. He
did not see the threatening figure waiting until Jay rose.

"Stop thar, little Iry," he sneered, and he whipped out his revolver
and fired. The girl nearly screamed, but the bullet cut into the dust
near Ira's right foot.

"Yuh danced purty well t'other night, an' I want to see ye dance some more
by yo'self. Git at it!" He raised his gun again and the school-teacher
raised one hand. He had grown very red and as suddenly very pale, but he
did not look frightened.

"You can kill me," he drawled quietly, "but I'm not going to dance for
you. Suppose you whoop me instead--I heard that was your intention."
Jay laughed.

"Air ye goin' to fight me?" he asked incredulously.

"I'd rather be licked than dance."

"All right," said Jay. "I'll lam' ye aroun' a little an' spank ye good
an' mebbe make ye dance atterwards." He unbuckled his pistol and tossed
it into the grass by the roadside.

"Will you fight fair?" asked Ira, still formal in speech. "No wrestling,
biting, or gouging."

"No wrasslin', no bitin', no gougin'," mimicked Jay, beginning to
revolve his huge fists around each other in country fashion. The
little man waited, his left arm outstretched and bent and his right
across and close to his chest, and the watching girl almost groaned.
Still his white, calm face, his steady eyes, and his lithe poise
fascinated her. She would not let Jay hurt him badly--she would come
out and take a hand herself. Jay opened one fist, and with his open
hand made a powerful, contemptuous sweep at Ira's head, and the girl
expected to see the little teacher fly off into the bushes and the fight
over. To her amazement Ira gave no ground at all. His feet never moved,
but like a blacksnake's head his own darted back; Jay's great hand fanned
the air, and as his own force whirled him half around, Allaphair had to
hold back a screech of laughter, for Ira had _slapped him_. Jay looked
puzzled, but with fists clinched, he rushed fiercely. Right and left
he swung, but the teacher was never there. Presently there was another
stinging smack on his cheek and another, as Ira danced about him like
the shadow of a magic lantern.

"He's a-tirin' him down," thought Allaphair, but she was wrong; Ira was
trying to make him mad, and that did not take much time or trouble. Jay
rushed him.

"No wrasslin'," called Ira quietly, at the same time stopping the rush
with a left-hand swing on Jay's chin that made the head wabble.

"I reckon he must be left-handed," thought the wondering Allaphair. There
are persons who literally do grind their teeth with rage and it is audible.
The girl heard Jay's now.

"He's goin' to kill him," she thought, and she got ready to do her part,
for with a terrible, hoarse grunt Jay had rushed. Like a greased rod of
steel the boy writhed loose from the big, crooked talons that reached for
his throat, and his right fist, knobbed on the end of another bar of steel,
came up under Jay's bent head with every ounce of the whole weight behind
it in the blow. It caught the big man on the point of the chin. Jay's head
snapped up and back violently, his feet left the ground, and his big body
thudded the road.

[Illustration]

"My God, he's knocked him down! My God, he's knocked him down!" muttered
the amazed girl. "You got him down!" she cried. "Jump on him an' stomp
him!" He turned one startled look toward her and--it is incredible--the
look even at that moment was shy; but he stood still, for Ira had picked
up the ethics as well as the skill of the art, of which nothing was known
in Happy Valley or elsewhere in the hills. So he stood still, his hands
open, and waited. For a while Jay did not move, and his eyes, when they
did open, looked dazed. He rose slowly, and as things came back to him his
face became suddenly distorted. Nothing alive could humiliate him that way
and still live; he meant to kill now.

"Look out!" screamed the girl. Jay rushed for the gun and Ira darted
after him; but there was a quicker flash from the bushes, and Jay found
his own gun pointed at his own breast and behind it Allaphair's black
eyes searing him.

"Huh!" she grunted contemptuously, and the silence was absolute while she
broke the pistol, emptied the cartridges into her hand, and threw them far
over into the bushes.

"Less go on home, Iry," she said, and a few steps away she turned and
tossed the gun at Jay's feet. He stooped, picked it up, and, twirling
it in his hand, looked foolishly after them. Presently he grinned, for
at bottom Jay was a man. And two hours later, amid much wonder and many
guffaws, he was telling the tale:

"The damned leetle spindle-shank licked me--licked _me_! An' I'll back
him agin anybody in Happy Valley or anywhar else--ef you leave out bitin',
gougin', and wrasslin'."

"Did ye lose yo' gal, too?" asked Pleasant Trouble.

"Huh!" said Jay, "I reckon _not_--she knows _her_ boss."


The two walked home slowly and in silence--Ira in front and Allaphair,
as does the woman in the hills, following close behind, in a spirit quite
foreign to her hitherto. The little school-teacher had turned shy again
and said never a word, but, as he opened the gate to let her pass through,
she saw the old, old telltale look in his sombre eyes. Her mother was
crooning in the porch.

"No ploughin' termorrer, mammy. Me an' Iry want the ole nag to go down
to the Couht House in the mornin'. Iry's axed me to marry him."

Perhaps every woman does not love a master--perhaps Allaphair had
found hers.



THE COMPACT OF CHRISTOPHER


The boy had come home for Sunday and must go back now to the Mission
school. He picked up his battered hat and there was no good-by.

"I reckon I better be goin'," he said, and out he walked. The mother
barely raised her eyes, but after he was gone she rose and from the low
doorway looked after his sturdy figure trudging up the road. His whistle,
as clear as the call of a quail, filled her ears for a while and then
was buried beyond the hill. A smaller lad clutched her black skirt,
whimpering:

"Wisht I c'd go to the Mission school."

"Thar hain't room," she said shortly.

"The teacher says thar hain't room. I wish to God thar was."

Still whistling, the boy trudged on. Now and then he would lift his
shrill voice and the snatch of an old hymn or a folk-song would float
through the forest and echo among the crags above him. It was a good
three hours' walk whither he was bound, but in less than an hour he
stopped where a brook tumbled noisily from a steep ravine and across
the road--stopped and looked up the thick shadows whence it came.
Hesitant, he stood on one foot and then on the other, with a wary
look down the road and up the ravine.

"I said I'd _try_ to git back," he said aloud. "I said I'd _try_."

And with this self-excusing sophistry he darted up the brook. The banks
were steep and thickly meshed with rhododendron, from which hemlock shot
like black arrows upward, but the boy threaded through them like a snake.
His breast was hardly heaving when he reached a small plateau hundreds of
feet above the road, where two branches of the stream met from narrower
ravines right and left. To the right he climbed, not up the bed of the
stream, but to the top of a little spur, along which he went slowly and
noiselessly, stooping low. A little farther on he dropped on his knees
and crawled to the edge of a cliff, where he lay flat on his belly and
peeked over. Below him one Jeb Mullins, a stooping, gray old man, was
stirring something in a great brass kettle. A tin cup was going the
round of three men squatting near. On a log two men were playing with
greasy cards, and near them another lay in drunken sleep. The boy
grinned, slid down through the bushes, and, deepening his voice all
he could, shouted:

"Throw up yo' hands!"

The old man flattened behind the big kettle with his pistol out. One
of the four men leaped for a tree--the others shot up their hands. The
card-players rolled over the bank near them, with no thought of where
they would land, and the drunken man slept on. The boy laughed loudly.

"Don't shoot!" he cried, and he came through the bushes jeering. The men
at the still dropped their hands and looked sheepish and then angry, as
did the card-players, whose faces reappeared over the edge of the bank.
But the old man and the young one behind the tree, who alone had got
ready to fight, joined in with the boy, and the others had to look
sheepish again.

"Come on, Chris!" said the old moonshiner, dipping the cup into the
white liquor and handing it forth full, "Hit's on me."


Christmas is "new Christmas" in Happy Valley. The women give scant heed
to it, and to the men it means "a jug of liquor, a pistol in each hand,
and a galloping nag." There had been target-shooting at Uncle Jerry's
mill to see who should drink old Jeb Mullins's moonshine and who should
smell, and so good was the marksmanship that nobody went without his
dram. The carousing, dancing, and fighting were about all over, and now,
twelve days later, it was the dawn of "old Christmas," and St. Hilda sat
on the porch of her Mission school alone. The old folks of Happy Valley
pay puritan heed to "old Christmas." They eat cold food and preserve a
solemn demeanor on that day, and they have the pretty legend that at
midnight the elders bloom and the beasts of the field and the cattle
in the barn kneel, lowing and moaning. The sun was just rising and the
day was mild, for a curious warm spell, not uncommon in the hills, had
come to Happy Valley. Already singing little workers were "toting rocks"
from St. Hilda's garden, corn-field, and vineyard, for it was Monday,
and every Monday they gathered--boys and girls--from creek and hillside,
to help her as volunteers. Far up the road she heard among them taunting
laughter and jeers, and she rose quickly. A loud oath shocked the air,
and she saw a boy chasing one of the workers up the vineyard hill. She
saw the pursuer raise his hand and fall, just as he was about to hurl a
stone. Then there were more laughter and jeers, and the fallen boy picked
himself up heavily and started down the road toward her--staggering. On
he came staggering, and when he stood swaying before her there was no
shocked horror in her face--only pity and sorrow.

"Oh, Chris, Chris!" she said sadly. The boy neither spoke nor lifted
his eyes, and she led him up-stairs and put him to bed. All day he
slept in a stupor, and it was near sunset when he came down, pale,
shamed, and silent. There were several children in the porch.

"Come, Chris!" St. Hilda said, and he followed her down to the edge of
the creek, where she sat down on a log and he stood with hanging head
before her.

"Chris," she said, "we'll have a plain talk now. This is the fourth
time you've been"--the word came with difficulty--"drunk."

"Yes'm."

"I've sent you away three times, and three times I've let you come
back. I let you come back after new Christmas, only twelve days ago."

"Yes'm."

"You can't keep your word."

"No'm."

"I don't know what to do now, so I'm going to ask you."

She paused and Chris was silent, but he was thinking, and she waited.
Presently he looked straight into her eyes, still silent.

"What do _you_ think I'd better do?" she insisted.

"I reckon you got to whoop me, Miss Hildy."

"But you know I can't whip you, Chris. I never whip anybody."

Several times a child had offered to whip himself, had done so, and
she wondered whether the boy would propose that, but he repeated,
obstinately and hopelessly:

"You got to whoop me."

"I won't--I can't." Then an idea came. "Your mother will have to whip you."

Chris shook his head and was silent. He was not on good terms with his
mother. It was a current belief that she had "put pizen in his daddy's
liquer." She had then married a man younger than she was, and to the
boy's mind the absence of dignity in one case matched the crime in
the other.

"All right," he said at last; "but I reckon you better send somebody
else atter her. You can't trust me to git by that still"--he stopped
with a half-uttered oath of surprise:

"Look thar!"

A woman was coming up the road. She wore a black cotton dress and a
black sunbonnet--mourning relics for the dead husband which the living
one had never had the means to supplant--and rough shoes. She pushed
back the bonnet with one nervous, bony hand, saw the two figures on
the edge of the creek, and without any gesture or call came toward
them. And only the woman's quickness in St. Hilda saw the tense
anxiety of the mother's face relax. The boy saw nothing; he was
only amazed.

"Why, mammy, whut the--whut are you doin' up hyeh?"

The mother did not answer, and St. Hilda saw that she did not want
to answer. St. Hilda rose with a warm smile of welcome.

"So this is Chris's mother?"

The woman shook hands limply.

"Hit's whut I passes fer," she said, and she meant neither smartness
nor humor. The boy was looking wonderingly, almost suspiciously at her,
and she saw she must give him some explanation.

"I been wantin' to see the school hyeh an' Miss Hildy. I had to come up
to see Aunt Sue Morrow, who's might' nigh gone, so I jes kep' a-walkin'
on up hyeh."

"Miss Hildy hyeh," said the boy, "was jes about to send fer ye."

"To sen' fer _me_?"

"I been drunk agin."

The mother showed no surprise or displeasure.

"Hit's the fourth time since sorghum time," the boy went on relentlessly.
"I axed Miss Hildy hyeh to whoop me, but she says she don't nuver whoop
nobody, so she was jes a-goin' to send fer you to come an' whoop me when
you come a-walkin' up the road."

This was all, and the lad pulled out an old Barlow knife and went to a
hickory sapling. The two women watched him silently as he cut off a stout
switch and calmly began to trim it. At last the woman turned to the teacher
and her voice trembled.

"I don't see Chris thar more'n once or twice a year, an' seems kind o'
hard that I got to whoop him."

The boy turned sharply, and helplessly she took the switch.

"And hit hain't his fault nohow. His stepdaddy got him drunk. He tol' me
so when he come home. I went by the still to find Chris an' cuss out ole
Jeb Mullins an' the men thar. An' I come on hyeh."

"Set down a minute, mammy," said Chris, dropping on the log on one side
of St. Hilda, and obediently the mother sat down on the other side.

[Illustration]

"Mammy," he said abruptly, "I'll stop drinkin' if you will."

St. Hilda almost gasped. The woman lifted her eyes to the mountainside
and dropped her gaze presently to her hands, which were twisting the
switch in her lap.

"I'll stop if you will," he repeated.

"I'll try, Chris," she said, but she did not look up.

"Gimme yo' hand."

Across St. Hilda's lap she stretched one shaking hand, which the
boy clasped.

"Put yo' hand on thar, too, Miss Hildy," he said, and when he felt
the pressure of her big, strong, white hand for a moment he got up
quickly and turned his face.

"All right, mammy."

St. Hilda rose, too, and started for the house--her eyes so blurred
that she could hardly see the path. Midway she wheeled.

"Don't!" she cried.

The mother was already on her way home, breaking the switch to pieces
and hiding her face within the black sunbonnet. The boy was staring
after her.



THE LORD'S OWN LEVEL


The blacksmith-shop sat huddled by the roadside at the mouth of
Wolf Run--a hut of blackened boards. The rooftree sagged from
each gable down to the crazy chimney in the centre, and the smoke
curled up between the clapboard shingles or, as the wind listed, out
through the cracks of any wall. It was a bird-singing, light-flashing
morning in spring, and Lum Chapman did things that would have set all
Happy Valley to wondering. A bareheaded, yellow-haired girl rode down
Wolf Run on an old nag. She was perched on a sack of corn, and she gave
Lum a shy "how-dye" when she saw him through the wide door. Lum's great
forearm eased, the bellows flattened with a long, slow wheeze, and he
went to the door and looked after her. Professionally he noted that one
hind shoe of the old nag was loose and that the other was gone. Then he
went back to his work. It would not be a busy day with Uncle Jerry at
the mill--there would not be more than one or two ahead of her and her
meal would soon be ground. Several times he quit work to go to the door
and look down the road, and finally he saw her coming. Again she gave
him a shy "how-dye," and his eyes followed her up Wolf Run until she
was out of sight.

The miracle these simple acts would have been to others was none to him.
He was hardly self-conscious, much less analytical, and he went back to
his work again.

A little way up that creek Lum himself lived in a log cabin, and he
lived alone. This in itself was as rare as a miracle in the hills,
and the reason, while clear, was still a mystery: Lum had never been
known to look twice at the same woman. He was big, kind, taciturn,
ox-eyed, calm. He was so good-natured that anybody could banter him,
but nobody ever carried it too far except a bully from an adjoining
county one court day. Lum picked him up bodily and dashed him to the
ground so that blood gushed from his nose and he lay there bewildered,
white, and still. Lum rarely went to church, and he never talked religion,
politics, or neighborhood gossip. He was really thought to be quite
stupid, in spite of the fact that he could make lightning calculations
about crops, hogs, and cattle in his head. However, one man knew better,
but he was a "furriner," a geologist, a "rock-pecker" from the Bluegrass.
To him Lum betrayed an uncanny eye in discovering coal signs and tracing
them to their hidden beds, and wide and valuable knowledge of the same.
Once the foreigner lost his barometer just when he was trying to locate
a coal vein on the side of the mountain opposite. Two days later Lum
pointed to a ravine across the valley.

"You'll find that coal not fer from the bottom o' that big poplar over
thar." The geologist stared, but he went across and found the coal and
came back mystified.

"How'd you do it?"

Lum led him up Wolf Run. Where the vein showed by the creek-side Lum
had built a little dam, and when the water ran even with the mud-covered
stones he had turned the stream aside. The geologist lay down, sighted
across the surface of the water, and his eye caught the base of the
big poplar.

"Hit's the Lord's own level," said Lum, and back he went to his work,
the man looking after him and muttering:

"The Lord's own level."

Hardly knowing it, Lum waited for grinding day. There was the same
exchange of "how-dyes" between him and the girl, going and coming,
and Lum noted that the remaining hind shoe was gone from the old
nag and that one of the front ones was going. This too was gone
the next time she passed, and for the first time Lum spoke:

"Yo' hoss needs shoein'."

"She ain't wuth it," said the girl. Two hours later, when the girl came
back, Lum took up the conversation again.

"Oh, yes, she is," he drawled, and the girl slid from her sack of meal
and watched him, which she could do fearlessly, for Lum never looked
at her. He had never asked her name and he did not ask her now.

"I'm Jeb Mullins's gal," she said. "Pap'll be comin' 'long hyeh some
day an' pay ye."

"My name's Lum--Lum Chapman."

"They calls me Marthy."

He lifted her bag to the horse's bony withers with one hand, but he
did not offer to help her mount. He watched her again as she rode away,
and when she looked back he turned with a queer feeling into his shop.
Two days later Jeb Mullins came by.

"Whad' I owe ye?" he asked.

"Nothin'," said Lum gruffly.

The next day the old man brought down a broken plough on his shoulder,
and to the same question he got the same answer:

"Nothin'." So he went back and teased Martha, who blushed when she
next passed the door of the shop, and this time Lum did not go out
to watch her down the road.

Sunday following, Parson Small, the circuit-rider, preached in the
open-air "meetin'-house," that had the sky for a roof and blossoming
rhododendron for walls, and--wonder of wonders--Lum Chapman was there.
In the rear he sat, and everybody turned to look at Lum. So simple was
he that the reason of his presence was soon plain, for he could no more
keep his eyes from the back of Martha Mullins's yellow head than a needle
could keep its point from the North Pole. The circuit-rider on his next
circuit would preach the funeral services of Uncle Billy Hall, who had
been dead ten years, and Uncle Billy would be draped with all the virtues
that so few men have when alive and that so few lack when dead. He would
marry such couples as might to marriage be inclined. There were peculiar
customs in Happy Valley, due to the "rider's" long absences, so that
sometimes a baby might without shame be present at the wedding of its
own parents. To be sure, Lum's eyes did swerve once when the preacher
spoke of marriage--swerved from where the women sat to where sat the
men--to young Jake Kilburn, called Devil Jake, a name of which he was
rather proud; for Martha's eyes had swerved to him too, and Jake shot
back a killing glance and began twisting his black mustache.

And then the preacher told about the woman whom folks once stoned.

Lum listened dully and waited helplessly around at the end of the meeting
until he saw Martha and Jake go down the road together, Martha shy and
conscious and Jake the conquering daredevil that he was known to be among
women. Lum went back to his cabin, cooked his dinner, and sat down in his
doorway to whittle and dream.

Lum went to church no more. When Martha passed his shop, the same
"how-dye" passed between them and no more. Twice the circuit-rider
came and went and Martha and Devil Jake did not ask his services.
A man who knew Jake's record in another county started a dark rumor
which finally reached Lum and sent him after the daredevil. But Jake
had fled and Lum followed him almost to the edge of the bluegrass
country, to find that Jake had a wife and child. He had meant to
bring Jake back to his duty, but he merely beat him up, kicked him
to one side of the road like a dog, and came back to his shop.

Old Jeb Mullins came by thereafter with the old nag and the sack of
corn, and Lum went on doing little jobs for him for nothing, for Jeb
was a skinflint, a moonshiner, and a mean old man. He did not turn
Martha out of his hut, because he was callous and because he needed
her to cook and to save him work in the garden and corn-field. Martha
stayed closely at home, but she was treated so kindly by some of the
neighbors that once she ventured to go to church. Then she knew from
the glances, whispers, and gigglings of the other girls just where she
stood, and she was not seen again very far from her own door. It was a
long time before Lum saw her again, so long, indeed, that when at last
he saw her coming down Wolf Run on a sack of corn she carried a baby
in her arms. She did not look up as she approached, and when she passed
she turned her head and did not speak to him. So Lum sat where he was
and waited for her to come back, and she knew he had been waiting as
soon as she saw him. She felt him staring at her even when she turned
her head, and she did not look up until the old nag stopped. Lum was
barring the way.

"Yo' hoss needs shoein'," he said gravely, and from her lap he
took the baby unafraid. Indeed, the child dimpled and smiled at
him, and the little arm around his neck gave him a curious shiver
that ran up the back of his head and down his spine. The shoeing
was quickly done, and in absolute silence, but when they started
up Wolf Run Lum went with them.

"Come by my shack a minit," he said.

The girl said nothing; that in itself would be another scandal, of
course, but what was the difference what folks might say? At his
cabin he reached up and lifted mother and child from the old nag,
and the girl's hair brushed his cheek.

[Illustration]

"You stay hyeh with the baby," he said quietly, "an' I'll take yo' meal
home." She looked at him with mingled trust and despair. What was the
difference?

It was near sundown when Lum got back. Smoke was coming out of his rickety
chimney, and the wail of an old ballad reached his ears. Singing, the girl
did not hear him coming, and through the open door he saw that the room
had been tidied up and that she was cooking supper. The baby was playing
on the floor. She turned at the creak of his footstep on the threshold
and for the first time she spoke.

"Supper'll be ready in a minit."

A few minutes later he was seated at the table alone and the girl, with
the baby on one arm, was waiting on him. By and by he pushed back his
chair, pulled out his pipe, and sat down in the doorway. Dusk was coming.
In the shadowy depths below a wood-thrush was fluting his last notes for
that day. Then for the first time each called the other by name.

"Marthy, the circuit-rider'll be 'roun' two weeks from next Sunday."

"All right, Lum."



THE MARQUISE OF QUEENSBERRY


  I

Thus it had happened. Pleasant Trouble was drunk one day and a fly lit
on his knee. He whipped his forty-four from its holster.

"I'll show ye who _you_ air lightin' on!" he swore, and blazed away. Of
course he killed the fly, but incidentally he shattered its lighting-place.
Had he been in a trench anywhere in France, his leg would have been saved,
but he was away out in the Kentucky hills. If he minded the loss of it,
however, no one could see, for with chin up and steady, daredevil eyes he
swung along about as well on his crutch as if it had been a good leg. Down
the road, close to the river's brim, he was swinging now--his voice lifted
in song. Ahead of him and just around the curve of the road, with the sun
of Happy Valley raining its last gold on her golden bare head, walked the
Marquise; but neither Pleasant nor she herself knew she was the Marquise.
A few minutes later the girl heard the crunch of the crutch in the sandy
road behind her, and she turned with a smile:

"How-dye, Pleaz!" The man caught the flapping brim of his slouch-hat and
lifted it--an act of courtesy that he had learned only after Happy Valley
was blessed by the advent of the Mission school: making it, he was always
embarrassed no little.

"How-dye, Miss Mary!"

"Going down to the dance?"

"No'm," he said with vigorous severity, and then with unctuous virtue--"I
hain't nuver run a set or played a play in my life."

The word "dance" is taboo among these Calvinists of the hills. They
"run sets" and "play plays"--and these are against the sterner morals
that prevail--but they do not _dance_. The Mission teacher smiled.
This was a side-light on the complex character of Pleasant Trouble
that she had not known before, and she knew it had nothing to do with
his absent leg. A hundred yards ahead of them a boy and a girl emerged
from a ravine--young King Camp and Polly Sizemore--and plainly they were
quarrelling. The girl's head was high with indignation; the boy's was
low with anger, and now and then he would viciously dig the toe of his
boot in the sand as he strode along. Pleasant grinned.

"I won't holler to 'em," he said; "I reckon they'd ruther be alone."

"Pleasant," said Miss Mary, "you drink moonshine, don't you?"

"Yes'm."

"You sometimes _make_ it, don't you?"

"I've been s'picioned."

"You were turned out of church once, weren't you, for shooting up
a meeting?"

"Yes," was the indignant defense, "but I proved to 'em that I was
drunk, an' they tuk me back." The girl had to laugh.

"And yet you think dancing wrong?"

"Yes'm."

The girl gave it up--so perfunctory and final was is reply. Indeed, he
seemed to have lost interest. Twice he had looked back, and now he turned
again. She saw the fulfilment of some prophecy in his face as he grunted
and frowned.

"Thar comes Ham Cage," he said. Turning, the girl saw an awkward youth
stepping into the road from the same ravine whence Polly and young King
had come, but she did not, as did Pleasant, see Ham shifting a revolver
from his hip to an inside pocket.

"Those two boys worry the life out of me," she said, and again Pleasant
grunted. They were the two biggest boys in the school, and in running,
jumping, lifting weights, shooting at marks, and even in working--in
everything, indeed, except in books--they were tireless rivals. And now
they were bitter contestants for the favor of Polly Sizemore--a fact that
Pleasant knew better than the Mission girl.

Flirts are rare in the hills. "If two boys meets at the same house,"
Pleasant once had told her, "they jes makes the gal say which one she
likes best, and t'other one gits!" But with the growth of the Mission
school had come a certain tolerance which Polly had used to the limit.
Indeed, St. Hilda had discovered a queer reason for a sudden quickening
of interest on Polly's part in her studies. Polly had to have the letters
she got read for her, and the letters she sent written for her, and thus
St. Hilda found that at least three young men, who had gone into the army
and had learned to write, thought--each of them--that he was first in her
heart. Polly now wanted to learn to read and write so that she could keep
such secrets to herself. She had been "settin' up" with Ham Cage for a
long time, and now she was "talkin' to" young King Camp. King was taking
her to the dance, and it was plain to Pleasant that trouble was near.
He looked worried.

"Well," he said, "I reckon thar hain't so much harm the way you school
folks run sets because you don't 'low drinkin' or totin' pistols, an'
you make 'em go home early. I heerd Miss Hildy is away--do you think
you can manage the bad uns?"

"I think so," smiled Miss Mary.

"Well, mebbe I will come around to-night."

"Come right along now," said the girl heartily, but Pleasant had left
his own gun at home, so he shook his head and started up the mountain.


  II

Happy Valley was darkening now. The evening star shone white in the
last rosy western flush, and already lanterns glowed on the porch
of the "big house" where the dancing was to be. From high in the
shadows a voice came down to the girl:

"I hain't got a gun an' I hain't had a drink to-day. Hit's a shame
when Miss Hildy's always a-tryin' to give us a good time she has to
_beg_ us to behave."

The young folks were gathering in. On the porch she saw Polly Sizemore
in a chair and young King Camp slipping into the darkness on the other
side of the house. A few minutes later Ham Cage strolled into sight,
saw Polly, and sullenly dropped on the stone steps as far away from
her as possible. The little teacher planned a course of action.

"Ham," she said, as she passed, "I want you to run the first set with me."
Ham stared and she was rather startled by his flush.

"Yes'm," he stammered. A moment later young King reappeared at the other
end of the porch.

"King," she said, "I want you to run the second set with me," and King
too stared, flushed, and stammered assent, while Polly flashed indignation
at the little teacher's back. It had been Miss Mary's plan to break up the
hill custom of one boy and one girl dancing together all the time--and she
had another idea as well.

Pleasant Trouble swung into the circle of light from the porch just as
the first set started, and he sat down on the stone steps to look on. It
was a jolly dance. Some elderly folks were there to look on, and a few
married couples who, in spite of Miss Mary's persuasions, yet refused to
take part. It was soon plain that Polly Sizemore and the little teacher
were the belles of the ball, though of the two Polly alone seemed to
realize it. Pleasant could hardly keep his eyes off the Mission girl.
She was light as a feather, her eyes sparkled, her cheeks grew rosy,
her laugh rang out, and the flaming spirit of her was kindling fires
of which she never dreamed. Pleasant saw her dance first with Ham and
then with King, and he grinned with swift recognition of her purpose.
And he grinned the more when he saw that she was succeeding beyond her
realization--saw it by the rage in Polly's black eyes, which burned now
at Ham and now at King, for Miss Mary had no further need to ask either
of them to dance--one or the other was always at her side. Indeed the
Marquise, without knowing it, was making a pretty triangular mess of
things, and Pleasant chuckled unholily--chuckled until he saw things
were getting serious, and then his inner laughing ceased and his sharp
eyes got wary and watchful. For first Ham and then King would disappear
in the darkness, and each time they came back their faces were more
flushed and their dancing was more furious.

Now, Polly was winging arrows of anger at the little teacher, and
presently Pleasant rose lightly and with incredible swiftness swung
across the floor just as the climax came. From the other side Polly
too darted forward. Ham and King were glaring at each other over the
teacher's pretty head--each claiming the next dance. Miss Mary was
opening her mouth for a mild rebuke when the two boys sprang back,
the right hand of each flashing to his hip. King drew first, and
Pleasant's crutch swished down on his wrist, striking his pistol
to the floor. Polly had caught Ham's hand with both her own, and
Ham felt the muzzle of Pleasant's forty-four against his stomach.

"Stop it!" said Pleasant sternly. "Miss Mary don't like sech doin's."

So quickly was it on and over that the teacher hardly realized that
it had come on and was over. Her bewildered face paled, but the color
came back with a rush, and when her indignant eyes began their deadly
work Pleasant knew there was no further need of him, and he stepped
back as though to escape penalty even for playing peacemaker in a
way so rude.

"You--you--you two!" breathed Miss Mary helplessly, but only for
a moment.

"Give me that gun, Ham. Pick that one up, King." Both she handed to
Pleasant, and then--no torrent came. She turned with a wave of her hand.

"You can all go home now." There had been a moment of deadly quiet,
but in the mountains even boys and girls do not take such events very
seriously; the hubbub and tittering that had started again ceased again,
and all left quickly and quietly--all but the teacher, Pleasant, and the
two boys, for Polly too was moving away. King turned to go after her.

"Wait a moment, King," said Miss Mary, and Polly cried fiercely: "He can
stay till doomsday fer all o' me. I hain't goin' with ary one uv 'em."
And she flirted away.

"I am not going to talk to you two boys until to-morrow," said Miss Mary
firmly, "and then I'm going to put a stop to all this. I want both of you
to be here when school closes. I want you too, Pleasant, and I want you to
bring Lum Chapman."

Pleasant Trouble was as bewildered as the two shamefaced boys--did she
mean to have him hold a gun on the two boys while Lum, the blacksmith,
whaled them?

"Me?--Lum?--why, whut----"

"Never mind--wait till to-morrow. Will you all be here?"

"Yes'm," said all.

"Go with them up the river, Pleasant. Don't let them quarrel, and see
that each one goes up his own creek."

The two boys moved away like yoked oxen. At the bottom step Pleasant
turned to look back. Very rigid and straight the little teacher stood
under the lantern, and the pallor and distress of her face had given
way to a look of stern determination.

"Whew!" he breathed, and he turned a half-circle on his crutch into
the dark.


  III

Miss Mary Holden was a daughter of the Old Dominion, on the other side
of the Cumberland Range, and she came, of course, from fighting stock.
She had gone North to school and had come home horrified by--to put
it mildly--the Southern tendency to an occasional homicide. There had
been a great change, to be sure, within her young lifetime. Except under
circumstances that were peculiarly aggravating, gentlemen no longer
peppered each other on sight. The duel was quite gone. Indeed, the
last one at the old university was in her father's time, and had been,
he told her, a fake. A Texan had challenged another student, and the
seconds had loaded the pistols with blank cartridges. After firing
three times at his enemy the Texan threw his weapon down, swore that
he could hit a quarter every time at that distance, pulled forth two
guns of his own and demanded that they be used; and they had a terrible
time appeasing the Westerner, who, failing in humor, challenged then
and there every member of his enemy's fraternity and every member of
his own. Thereafter it became the custom there and at other institutions
of learning in the State to settle all disputes fist and skull; and of
this Miss Holden, who was no pacifist, thoroughly approved. Now she was
in a community where the tendency to kill seemed well-nigh universal.
St. Hilda was a gentle soul, who would never even whip a pupil. She
might not approve--but Miss Holden had the spirit of the pioneer and
she must lead these people into the light. So she told her plan next
day to Pleasant Trouble and Lum Chapman, who were first to come. Stolid
Lum would have shown no surprise had she proposed that the two boys
dive from a cliff, and if one survived he won; but the wonder and
the succeeding joy in Pleasant's face disturbed Miss Holden. And when
Pleasant swung his hat from his head and let out a fox-hunting yelp
of pure ecstasy she rebuked him severely, whereat the man with the
crutch lapsed into solemnity.

"Will they fight this way?" she asked.

"Them two boys will fight a bee-gum o' sucklin' wildcats--tooth
and toe-nail."

"They aren't going to fight that way," protested Miss Holden. "They will
fight by the Marquis of--er--Somebody's rules." She explained the best
she could the intervals of action and of rest, and her hearers were
vastly interested.

"They can't kick?" asked Pleasant.

"No."

"Ner bite?"

"No!"

"Ner gouge?"

"What do you mean by 'gouge'?" Pleasant pantomimed with a thumbnail
crooked on the outer edge of each eye-socket.

"No!" was the horrified cry.

"Jest a square, stand-up and knock-down fight?"

"Yes," she said reluctantly but bravely.

"Lum will be timekeeper and referee to make them break away when they
clinch." When she explained that Pleasant scratched his head.

"They can't even _wrassle_?" Miss Holden understood and did not correct.

"They can't even _wrassle_. And you and I will be the seconds."

"Seconds--whut do we do?"

"Oh, we--we fan them and--and wash off the blood," she shivered a little
in spite of herself. Pleasant smiled broadly.

"Which one you goin' to wash off?"

"I--I don't know." Pleasant grinned.

"Well, we better toss up fer it an' _atter they git hyeh_." She did not
understand his emphasis.

"Very well," she assented carelessly.

Up the road came Ham Cage now, and down the road came King Camp--both
with a rapid stride. Though both had sworn to shoot on sight, they had
kept away from each other as they had promised, and now without speaking
they glowered unwinking into each other's eyes. Nor did either ask a
question when the little teacher, with two towels over one arm, led the
way down the road, up over a little ridge, and down to a grassy hollow
by the side of a tinkling creek. It was hard for the girl to believe
that these two boys meant to shoot each other as they had threatened,
but Pleasant had told her they surely would, and that fact held her
purpose firm. Without a word they listened while she explained, and
without a word both nodded assent--nor did they show any surprise when
the girl repeated what she had told Pleasant Trouble and Lum Chapman.

"Jes' a plain ole square, stand-up an' knock-down fight," murmured
Pleasant consolingly, pulling forth a silver quarter, "Heads--you
wipe Ham; tails--you wipe King." Miss Holden nodded, and for the
first time the two lads turned their angry eyes from each other to
the girl and yet neither asked a question. Tails it was, and the
girl motioned King to a log on one side of the hollow, and Pleasant
and Ham to another log on the other side. She handed Pleasant one
of the towels, dropped her little watch into Lum's huge palm, and on
second thought took it back again: it might get broken, and Lum might
be too busy to keep time. Only Pleasant saw the gritting of Ham's teeth
when she took her stand by King's side.

"Take off your coats!" she said sharply. The two obeyed swiftly.

"Time!" she called, and the two leaped for each other.

"Stop!" she cried, and they halted. "I forgot--shake hands!"

Both shook their heads instead, like maddened bulls, and even Lum
looked amazed; he even spoke:

"Whut's the use o' fightin', if they shakes hands?"

Miss Holden had no argument ready, and etiquette was waived. "Time!"
she repeated, and then the two battering-rams, revolving their fists
country-fashion, engaged. Half-forgotten Homeric phrases began to flit
from a faraway schoolroom back into the little teacher's mind and she
began to be consoled for the absence of gloves--those tough old ancients
had used gauges of iron and steel. The two boys were evenly matched.
After a few thundering body blows they grew wary, and when the round
closed their faces were unmarked, they had done each other no damage,
and Miss Holden was thrilled--it wasn't so bad after all. Each boy
grabbed his own towel and wiped the sweat off his own face.

"Git at it, Ham--git at it!" encouraged Pleasant, and Ham got at it.
He gave King a wallop on the jaw; King came back with a jolt on the
chin, and the two embraced untenderly.

"Break away!" cried the girl. "Lum, make them break!" Lum thrust one
mighty arm between them and, as they flailed unavailingly over it,
threw them both back with a right-and-left sweep. Both were panting
when the girl called time, and the first blood showed streaming from
King's nose. Miss Holden looked a little pale, but gallantly she dipped
the towel in the brook and went about her work. Again Pleasant saw his
principal's jaw work in a gritting movement, and he chuckled encouragement
so loudly that the girl heard him and looked around indignantly. It was
inevitable that the seconds, even unconsciously, should take sides, and
that point was coming fast. The girl did not hear herself say:

"Shift your head and come back from underneath!" And that was what King
proceeded to do, and Ham got an upper-cut on the chin that snapped his
head up and sprinkled the blue sky with stars for him just as the bell
of the girl's voice sounded time. Meanwhile, up the road below them
came a khaki-clad youth and a girl--Polly Sizemore and one of her
soldier lovers who was just home on a furlough. Polly heard the noises
in the hollow, cocked an ear, put her finger on her lips, and led him
to the top of the little ridge whence she could peak over. Her amazed
eyes grew hot seeing the Mission girl, and she turned and whispered:

"That fotched-on woman's got 'em fightin'."

The soldier's face radiated joy indeed, and as unseen spectators the
two noiselessly settled down.

"Whur'd they learn to fight this way?" whispered the soldier--the army
had taught him. Polly whispered back:

"_She's_ a-larnin' 'em." The khaki boy gurgled his joy and craned his neck.

"Whut they fightin' about?" Polly flushed and turned her face.

"I--er--I don't know." The soldier observed neither her flush nor her
hesitation, for King and Ham were springing forward for another round;
he only muttered his disgust at their awkwardness and their ignorance
of the ring in terms that were strange to the girl by his side.

"The mutts, the cheeses, the pore dawgs--they don't know how to guard
an' they ain't _got_ no lefts."

Pleasant was advising and encouraging his principal now openly and in
a loud voice, and Ham's face began to twist with fury when he heard the
Mission girl begin to spur on King. With bared teeth he rushed forward
and through the wild blows aimed at him, got both underholds, and King
gave a gasping grunt as the breath was squeezed quite out of him.

"Break!" cried the girl. Lum tugged at the locked hand and wrist behind
King's back and King's hands flew to Ham's throat. "Break! Break!" And
Lum had literally to tear them apart.

"Time!" gasped the girl. She was on the point of tears now, but she
held them back and her mouth tightened--she would give them one more
round anyhow. When the battling pair rose Pleasant lost his head. He
let loose a fox-hunting yell. He forgot his duty and the rules; he
forgot the girl--he forgot all but the fight.

[Illustration]

"Let 'em loose!" he yelled. "Git at it boys! Go fer him,
Ham--whoop--ee--ee!" The girl was electrified. Lum began
cracking the knuckles of his huge fingers. Polly and the
soldier rose to their feet. That little dell turned eons
back. The people there wore skins and two cavemen who had
left their clubs at home fought with all the other weapons
they had. The Mission girl could never afterward piece out
the psychology of that moment of world darkness, but when
she saw Ham's crooked thumbs close to King's eyes a weird
and thrilling something swept her out of herself. Her watch
dropped to the ground. She rushed forward, seized two handfuls
of Ham's red hair, and felt Polly's two sinewy hands seizing
hers. Like a tigress she flashed about; just in time then came
the call of civilization, and she answered it with a joyous cry.
Bounding across the creek below came a tall young man, who stopped
suddenly in sheer amaze at the scene and as suddenly dashed on.
With hair and eyes streaming, the girl went to meet him and rushed
into his arms. From that haven she turned.

"It's a draw!" she said faintly. "Shake--" She did not finish
the sentence. Ham and King had risen and were staring at her
and the stranger. They looked at each other, and then saw Polly
sidling back to the soldier. Again they looked at each other,
grinned at each other, and, as each turned for his coat--clasped
hands.

"Oh!" cried the girl, "I'm so glad."

"This is not my brother," she said, leading the stranger forward.
If she expected to surprise them, she didn't, for in the hills
brothers and sisters do not rush into each other's arms. "It's
my sweetheart, and he's come to take me home. And you won't shoot
each other--you won't fight any more?" And Ham said:

"Not jes' at present"; and King laughed.

"I'm so glad."


Pleasant swung back to the Mission House with the two foreigners,
and on the way Miss Holden explained. The stranger was a merry
person, and that part of Happy Valley rang with his laughter.

"My! I wish I had got there earlier--what were they fighting about?"

"Why, Polly Sizemore, that pretty girl with black hair who lost her head
when--when--I caught hold of Ham." The shoulder of Pleasant Trouble that
was not working up and down over his crutch began to work up and down over
something else.

"What's the matter, Pleasant?" asked the girl.

"Nothin'." But he was grinning when they reached the steps of the Mission,
and he turned on Miss Holden a dancing eye.

"Polly nothin'--them two boys was a-fightin' about _you_!" And he left
her aghast and wheeled chuckling away.

Next afternoon the Marquise bade her little brood a tearful good-by
and rode with her lover up Happy Valley to go over the mountain, on
to the railroad, and back into the world. At the mouth of Wolf Run
Pleasant Trouble was waiting to shake hands.

"Tell Polly good-by for me, Pleasant," said Miss Holden. "She
wasn't there."

"Polly and the soldier boy rid up to the Leetle Jedge o' Happy Valley
last night to git married."

"Oh," said Miss Holden, and she flushed a little. "And Ham and King
weren't there--where do you suppose they are?" Pleasant pointed to a
green little hollow high up a ravine.

"They're up thar."

"Alone?" Pleasant nodded and Miss Holden looked anxious.

"They aren't fighting again?"

"Oh, no!"

"Do you suppose they are _really_ friends now?"

"Ham an' King air as lovin' as a pair o' twins," said Pleasant decidedly
and Miss Holden looked much pleased.

"What on earth are they doing up there?"

"Well," drawled Pleasant, "when they ain't huggin' an' shakin' hands
they're wrasslin' with a jug o' moonshine."

The Mission girl looked disturbed, and the merry stranger let loose
his ringing laugh.

"Oh, dear! Now, where do you suppose they got moonshine?"

"I tol' you," repeated Pleasant, "that I didn't know nobody who couldn't
git moonshine." Miss Holden sighed, her lover laughed again, and they rode
away, Pleasant watching them till they were out of sight.

"Whut I aimed to say was," corrected Pleasant mentally, "I didn't know
nobody who _knowed me_ that couldn't git it." And he jingled the coins
in his pockets that at daybreak that morning had been in the pockets of
Ham and King.



HIS LAST CHRISTMAS GIFT


The sergeant got the wounded man to his feet and threw one arm around
his waist. Then he all but carried him, stumbling along, with both hands
clasped across his eyes, down the ravine that looked at night like some
pit of hell. For along their path a thousand coke-ovens spat forth red
tongues that licked northward with the wind, shot red arrows into the
choking black smoke that surged up the mountainside, and lighted with
fire the bellies of the clouds rolling overhead.

"Whar you takin' me?"

"Hospital." The mountainer stopped suddenly.

"Why, I can't see them ovens!"

"You come on, Jim."

Next morning Jim lay on a cot with a sheet drawn to his chin and a
grayish, yellow bandage covering forehead and eyes down to the tip
of his nose. When the surgeon lifted that bandage the nurse turned
her face aside, and what was under it, or rather what was not under
it, shall not be told. Only out in the operating-room the smooth-faced
young assistant was curiously counting over some round leaden pellets,
and he gave one low whistle when he pushed into a pile a full fourscore.

"He said he was a-lookin' through a keyhole," the sergeant reported,
"an' somebody let him have it with both barrels--but that don't go.
Jim wouldn't be lookin' through no keyhole; he'd bust the door down."

Nor could the sergeant learn more. He had found the man stumbling down
Possum Hollow, and up that hollow the men and women of the mining camp
did not give one another away.

"It might 'a' been any one of a dozen fellers I know," the sergeant said,
for Jim was a feudsman and had his enemies by the score.

The man on the cot said nothing. Once, to be sure, when he was crossing
the border of Etherland, and once only, he muttered: "Yes, she come from
Happy Valley, but she was a cat, no doubt about that. Yes, sir, the old
girl was a cat." But when he was conscious that much even he never would
say again. He simply lay grim, quiet, uncomplaining, and not even the
surgeon, whose step he got quickly to know, could get him to tell who
had done the deed.

On the fourth day he showed some cheer.

"Look here, doc," he said, "when you goin' to take this rag off o' my
eyes? I hain't seen a wink since I come in here."

"Oh, pretty soon," said the surgeon, and the nurse turned away again
with drops in her eyes that would never be for the wounded man's eyes
to shed again.

On the sixth day his pulse was fast and his blood was high--and that night
the nurse knew precisely what meant the look in the surgeon's face when he
motioned her to leave the room. Then he bent to lift the bandage once more.

"Why don't you take 'em all off, doc? I'd like to see the old girl again.
Has she gone back to Happy Valley?"

"No--she's here."

"Won't she come to see me?"

"Yes, she'll come, but she can't now--she's sick abed." The man grinned.

"Yes, I know them spells."

"Jim," said the surgeon suddenly, "I'm going to be very busy to-morrow,
and if you've got any message to send to anybody or anything to say to me,
you'd better say it before I go." He spoke carelessly, but with a little
too much care.

The sheet moved over the hands clasped across Jim's breast. "Why, doc,
you don't mean to say--" He stopped and drew in one breath slowly.

"Oh, no, but you can't always tell, and I might not get back till late,
and I thought you might have something to tell me about--" He paused
helplessly, and the man on the cot began moving his lips. The surgeon
bent low.

"Why, doc," he said very slowly, "you--don't--really--mean--to--say--that
the old--" his voice dropped to a whisper, "has finished me this time?"

"Who finished you, Jim--who'd you say finished you?"

A curious smile flitted over the coarse lips and passed. Then the lips
tightened and the thought behind the bandage made its way to the surgeon's
quick brain, and there was a long silence.

At last:

"Doc, d'you ever hear tell of a woman bein' hung?"

"Yes, Jim."

And then:

"Doc, am I goin' shore?" This question the surgeon answered with another,
bending low.

"Jim, what message shall I give your wife?" The curious smile came back.

"Doc, this is Christmas, ain't it?"

"Yes, Jim."

"Doc, you're shore, air ye, that nobody knows who done it?"

"Nobody but you, Jim."

The man had been among men the terror of the hills for years, but
on the last words that passed his gray lips his soul must have swung
upward toward the soul of the Man who lived and died for the peace
of those hills.

"Doc," he said thickly, "you jus' tell the old girl Jim says:
'Happy Christmas!'"

The surgeon started back at the grim cheer of that message, but he took
it like a priest and carried it back through the little hell that flared
down the ravine on Jim now through the window. And like a priest he told
it to but one living soul.



THE ANGEL FROM VIPER


He had violet eyes, the smile of a seraph, and a halo of yellow hair,
and he came from Viper, which is a creek many, many hills away from
Happy Valley. He came on foot and alone to St. Hilda, who said sadly
that she had no room for him. But she sighed helplessly when the Angel
smiled--and made room for him. To the teachers he became Willie--to his
equals he was Bill. In a few weeks he got homesick and, without a word,
disappeared. A fortnight later he turned up again with a little brother,
and again he smiled at St. Hilda.

"Jeems Henery hyeh," he said, "'lowed as how _he'd_ come along"--and
James Henry got a home. Jeems was eight, and the Angel, who was ten,
was brother and father to him. He saw to it that Jeems Henery worked
and worked hard and that he behaved himself, so that his concern for
the dull, serious little chap touched St. Hilda deeply. That concern
seemed, indeed, sacrificial--and was.

When spring breathed on the hills the Angel got restless. He was
homesick again and must go to see his mother.

"But, Willie," said St. Hilda, "you told me your mother died two
years ago."

"She come _might' nigh_ dyin'," said the Angel. "That's what I said."
St. Hilda reasoned with him to no avail, and because she knew he would
go anyhow gave him permission.

"Miss Hildy, I'm a-leavin' Jeems Henery with ye now, an' I reckon I
oughter tell you somethin'."

"Yes, Willie," answered St. Hilda absently.

[Illustration]

"Miss Hildy, Jeems Henery is the bigges' liar on Viper."

"Yes," repeated St. Hilda; "_what_?"

"The truth ain't in Jeems Henery," the Angel went on placidly. "You can't
lam' it inter 'im an' tain't no use to try. You jus' watch him close while
I'm gone."

"I will."

Half an hour later the Angel put his hand gently on St. Hilda's knee,
and his violet eyes were troubled. "Miss Hildy," he said solemnly,
"Jeems Henery is the cussin'est boy on Viper. I reckon Jeems Henery
is the cussin'est boy in the world. You've got to watch him while I'm
gone, or no tellin' whut he _will_ larn them young uns o' yours."

"All right. I'll do the best I can."

"An' that ain't all," added the Angel solemnly. "Jeems Henery"--St. Hilda
almost held her breath--"Jeems Henery is the gamblin'est boy on Viper.
Jeems Henery jes' can't _look_ at a marble without tremblin' all over.
If you don't watch him like a hawk while I'm gone I reckon Jeems Henery'll
larn them young uns o' yours all the devilment in the world."

"Gracious!"

James Henry veered into view just then around the corner of the house.

"Jeems Henery," called the Angel sternly, "come hyeh!" And James Henry
stood before the bar of the Angel's judgment.

"Jeems Henery, air you the gamblin'est boy on Viper?" James Henry nodded
cheerfully.

"Air you the cussin'est boy on Viper?" Again there was a nod of cheerful
acknowledgment.

"Jeems Henery, air you the bigges' liar on Viper?" James Henry, looking
with adoring eyes at the Angel, nodded shameless shame for the third time,
and the Angel turned triumphantly.

"Thar now!" Astounded, St. Hilda looked from one brother to the other.

"Well, not one word of this have I heard before."

"Jeems Henery is a sly un--ain't you, Jeems Henery?"

"Uh-huh."

"Ain't nobody who can ketch up Jeems Henery 'ceptin' me."

"Well, Willie, if this is more than I can handle, don't you think you'd
better not go home but stay here and help me with James Henry?" The Angel
did not even hesitate.

"I reckon I better," he said, and he visibly swelled with importance.
"I had to lam' Jeems Henery this mornin', an' I reckon I'll have to
keep on lammin' him 'most every day."

"Don't you lam' James Henry at all," said St. Hilda decisively.

"All right," said the Angel. "Jeems Henery, git about yo' work now."

Thereafter St. Hilda kept watch on James Henry and he was, indeed,
a sly one. There was gambling going on. St. Hilda did not encourage
tale-bearing, but she knew it was going on. Still she could not catch
James Henry. One day the Angel came to her.

"I've got Jeems Henery to stop gamblin'," he whispered, "an' I didn't have
to lam' him." And, indeed, gambling thereafter ceased. The young man who
had come for the summer to teach the boys the games of the outside world
reported that much swearing had been going on but that swearing too had
stopped.

"I've got Jeems Henery to stop cussin'," reported the Angel, and so
St. Hilda rewarded him with the easy care of the nice new stable she
had built on the hillside. His duty was to clean it and set things in
order every day.

Some ten days later she was passing near the scene of the Angel's new
activities, and she hailed him.

"How are you getting along?" She called.

"Come right on, Miss Hildy," shouted the Angel. "I got ever'thing
cleaned up. Come on an' look in the _furthest_ corners!"

St. Hilda went on, but ten minutes later she had to pass that way again
and she did look in. Nothing had been done. The stable was in confusion
and a pitchfork lay prongs upward midway of the barn door.

"How's this, Ephraim?" she asked, mystified. Ephraim was a
fourteen-year-old boy who did the strenuous work of the barn.

"Why, Miss Hildy, I jes' hain't had time to clean up yit."

"_You_ haven't had time?" she echoed in more mystery. "That isn't
your work--it's Willie's." It was Ephraim's turn for mystery.

"Why, Miss Hildy, Willie told me more'n a week ago that you said fer
me to do _all_ the cleanin' up."

"Do you mean to say that you've been doing this work for over a week?
What's Willie been doing?"

"Not a lick--jes' settin' aroun' studyin' an' whistlin'."

St. Hilda went swiftly down the hill, herself in deep study, and she
summoned the Angel to the bar of her judgment. The Angel writhed and
wormed, but it was no use, and at last with smile, violet eyes, and
halo the Angel spoke the truth. Then a great light dawned for St. Hilda,
and she played its searching rays on the Angel's past and he spoke more
truth, leaving her gasping and aghast.

"Why--why did you say all that about your poor little brother?"

The Angel's answer was prompt. "Why, I figgered that you _couldn't_ ketch
Jeems Henery an' _wouldn't_ ketch me. An'," the Angel added dreamily, "it
come might' nigh bein' that-a-way if I just had----"

"You're a horrid, wicked little boy," St. Hilda cried, but the Angel
would not be perturbed, for he was a practical moralist.

"Jeems Henery," he called into space, "come hyeh!" And out of space
James Henry came, as though around the corner he had been waiting the
summons.

"Jeems Henery, who was the gamblin'est, cussin'est, lyin'est boy on Viper?"

"My big brother Bill!" shouted Jeems Henery proudly.

"Who stopped gamblin', cussin', an' lyin'?"

"My big brother Bill!"

"Who stopped all these young uns o' Miss Hildy's from cussin' an'
gamblin'?" And Jeems Henery shouted: "My big brother Bill!" The Angel,
well pleased, turned to St. Hilda.

"Thar now," he said triumphantly, and seeing that he had reduced St. Hilda
to helpless pulp he waved his hand.

"Git back to yo' work, Jeems Henery." But St. Hilda was not yet all pulp.

"Willie," she asked warily, "when did _you_ stop lying?"

"Why, jes' now!" There was in the Angel's face a trace of wonder at
St. Hilda's lack of understanding.

"How did James Henry know?" The mild wonder persisted.

"Jeems Henery knows _me_!" St. Hilda was all pulp now, but it was late
afternoon, and birds were singing in the woods, and her little people
were singing as they worked in fields; and her heart was full. She
spoke gently.

"Go on back to work, Willie," she was about to say, but the Angel had
gone a-dreaming and his face was sad, and she said instead:

"What is it, Willie?"

"I know whut's been the matter with me, Miss Hildy--I hain't been the
same since my mother died six year ago." For a moment St. Hilda took a
little silence to gain self-control.

"You mean," she said sternly, "'come _might' nigh_ dyin',' Willie, and
_two_ years ago."

"Well, Miss Hildy, hit 'pears like six." Her brain whirled at the working
of his, but his eyes, his smile, and the halo, glorified just then by a
bar of sunlight, were too much for St. Hilda, and she gathered him into
her arms.

"Oh, Willie, Willie," she half-sobbed; "I don't know what to do with you!"
And then, to comfort her, the Angel spoke gently:

"Miss Hildy, jes' don't do--nothin'."



THE POPE OF THE BIG SANDY


He entered a log cabin in the Kentucky hills. An old woman with a pair
of scissors cut the tie that bound him to his mother and put him in
swaddling-clothes of homespun. Now, in silk pajamas, with three doctors
and two nurses to make his going easy, he was on his way out of a suite
of rooms ten stories above the splendor of Fifth Avenue.

It was early morning. A taxi swung into the paved circle in front of
the hotel below and a little man in slouch-hat and black frock coat,
and with his trousers in his boots, stepped gingerly out. He took off
the hat with one hand, dropped his saddle-pockets from the other, and
mopped his forehead with a bandanna handkerchief.

"My God, brother," he said to the grinning driver, "I tol' ye to hurry, but
I didn't 'low you'd _fly_! How much d' I owe ye an' how do I git in hyeh?"

A giant in a gold-braided uniform had picked up the saddle-pockets when
the little man turned.

"Well, now, that's clever of ye," he said, thrusting out his hand, "I
reckon you air the proprietor--how's the Pope?"

"Sure, I dunno, sor--this way, sor." The astonished giant pointed to
the swinging door and turned for light to the taxi man who, doubled
with laughter over his wheel, tapped his forehead. At the desk the
little man pushed his hat back and put both elbows down.

"Whar's the Pope?"

"The Pope!" From behind, the giant was making frantic signs, but the
clerk's brow cleared. "Oh, yes--front!"

The little man gasped and swayed as the elevator shot upward, but a moment
later the little judge of Happy Valley and the Pope of the Big Sandy were
hand in hand.

"How're yo' folks, judge?"

"Stirrin'--how're you, Jim?"

"Ain't stirrin' at all."

"Shucks, you'll be up an' aroun' in no time."

"I ain't goin' to git up again."

"Don't you git stubborn now, Jim."

A nurse brought in some medicine and the Pope took it with a wry face.
The judge reached for his saddle-pockets and pulled out a bottle of white
liquor with a stopper of corn-shucks.

"This'll take the bad taste out o' yo' mouth."

"The docs won't let me--but lemme smell it." The judge had whipped out
a twist of long green and again the Pope shook his head:

"Can't drink--can't chaw!"

"Oh, Lord!" The judge bit off a mouthful and a moment later walked to the
window and, with his first and second fingers forked over his lips, ejected
an amber stream.

"Good Lord, judge--don't do that. You'll splatter a million people."
He called for a spittoon and the judge grunted disgustedly.

"I'd hate to live in a place whar a feller can't spit out o' his
own window."

"Don't you like it?"

"Hit looks like circus day--I got the headache already."

A telegram was brought in.

"Been seein' a lot about you in the papers," said the judge, and the
Pope waved wearily to a pile of dailies. There were columns about him
in those papers--about his meteoric rise: how he started a poor boy in
the mountains, studied by candle-light, taught school in the hills: how
a vision of their future came to him even that early and how he clung
to that vision all his life, turning, twisting for option money on coal
lands, making a little sale now and then, but always options and more
options and sales and more sales, until now the poor mountain boy was
a king among the coal barons of the land.

"Judge," said the Pope, "the votin's started down home."

"How's it goin'?"

"Easy."

"Been spendin' any money?"

"Not a cent."

"Ole Bill Maddox is."

"Why, judge, I'm the daddy an' grandaddy o' that town. I built streets
and sidewalks for it out o' my own pocket. I put up two churches for 'em.
I built the water-works, the bank, an' God knows what all. Ole Bill Maddox
can't turn a wheel against _me_." The little judge was marvelling: here
was a man who had refused all his life to run for office, who could have
been congressman, senator, governor; and who had succumbed at last.

"Jim, what in blue hell do you want that office fer?"

"To make folks realize their duties as citizens," said the Pope patiently;
"to maintain streets and sidewalks and water-works and sewers an' become
an independent community, instead o' layin' back on other folks!"

"How about all them churches you been buildin' all over them mountains--air
they self-sustainin'?"

"Well, they do need a little help now and then." The judge grunted.

Through the morning many cards were brought the Pope, but the doctors
allowed no business. To amuse himself the Pope sent the judge into the
sitting-room to listen to the million-dollar project of one sleek young
man, and the judge reported:

"Nothin' doin'--he's got a bad eye."

"Right," said the Pope. At twelve o'clock the judge looked at his watch:

"Dinner-time." And the Pope ordered his old mountain friend cabbage,
bacon, and greens.

"Judge, I got to sleep now. I've got a car down below. After dinner you
can take a ride or you can take a walk."

"You can't git me into a automobile an' I'm afeard to walk. I'd git run
over. I'll jus' hang aroun'."

Another telegram was brought in.

"Runnin' easy an' winnin' in a walk," said the Pope. "It's a cinch. You
can open anything else that comes while I'm asleep."

The judge himself had not slept well on the train; so he took off his
boots, put his yarn-stockinged feet in one chair, and sitting up in
another took a nap. An hour later the Pope called for him. The last
telegram reported that he was so far ahead that none others would be
sent until the committee started to count ballots.

"I've made you an executor in my will, judge," he said, "an' I want you
to see that some things are done yourself." The judge nodded.

"I want you to have a new church built in Happy Valley. I want you
to give St. Hilda and that settlement school five thousand a year.
An'"--he paused--"you know ole Bill Maddox cut me out an' married
Sally Ann Spurlock--how many children they got now, judge?"

"Ten--oldest, sixteen."

"Well, I want you to see that every gol-durned one of 'em gits the
chance to go to school."

Now, old Bill Maddox was running against the Pope, and was fighting
him hard, and the judge hated old Bill Maddox; so he said nothing.
The Pope too was silent a long while.

"Judge, I got all my money out o' the mountain folks. I robbed 'em
right and left."

"You ain't never robbed nobody in Happy Valley," said the judge a
little grimly, and the Pope chuckled.

"No, you wouldn't let me. I got all my money from 'em an' do you know
what I'm goin' to do?"

"Git some more, I reckon."

[Illustration]

The Pope chuckled again: "I'm a-goin' to give it back to 'em. Churches,
schools, libraries, hospitals, good roads--any durned thing in the world
that will do 'em any good. It's all in my will. An', judge," he added with
a little embarrassment, "I've sort o' fixed it so that when you want to
help out a widder or a orphan in Happy Valley you can do it without always
diggin' down into yo' own jeans."

"Shucks, don't you worry about me or the folks in Happy Valley--you done
enough fer them lettin' 'em alone; an' that durned ole Bill Maddox, he's
a fightin' you right now afore yo' face an' behind yo' back. He's the
meanest----"

"Makes no difference. His children ain't to blame an' thar's Sally Ann."
The Pope yawned and his brow wrinkled with pain. "I better take a little
more sleep, judge." A doctor came in and felt the Pope's pulse and the
judge left the room worried by the physician's face and his whispered
direction to the nurse to summon another doctor.

An hour later the Pope called him back, and his voice was weak:

"Bring in every telegram, judge."

"You mustn't bother," interposed the doctor firmly, and the Pope's mouth
set and the old dominant gleam came into his eyes.

"Bring in every telegram," he repeated. Outside, in the hallway, the
judge waylaid the doctor.

"Ain't he goin' to pull through?"

"One chance in a thousand," was the curt answer.

About three o'clock the judge got a telegram that made him swear
fearfully, and thereafter they came fast. The Pope would use no
money. The judge wired the Pope's manager warily offering a
thousand of his own. The answer came--"Too late." At five o'clock
they were running neck and neck. Ten minutes before the polls closed
old Bill Maddox rounded up twenty more votes and victory was his.
And all the while the judge was making reports to the Pope:

"Runnin' easy."

"It's a cinch."

"Ole Bill fighting tooth and toe-nail but you got him, Jim."

"Countin' the votes now."

"Air ye shore, Jim, you want to leave all that money fer ole Bill's
brats?--he's a hound."

"Ole Bill comin' up a little, Jim."

And then came that last telegram, reporting defeat, and with it
crushed in his hand the judge made his last report:

"All over. You've got 'em, Jim. Hooray! Can't you hear 'em yell?"
The Pope's white mouth smiled and his eyelids flickered, but his
eyes stayed closed.

"Jim, I wouldn't give _all_ that money to old Bill's brats--just
some fer Sally Ann."

"All of it for old Bill's--for Sally Ann's children, the mountain
folks, an' the old home town." The Pope opened his eyes and he spoke:

"All of you--nurses an' docs--git out o' here, please." And knowing
that the end was nigh they quietly withdrew.

"Judge, you ain't no actor--you're a ham!"

"Whut you mean, Jim?" asked the judge, for in truth he did not
understand--not just then. The roar of the city rose from below,
but the sunset came through the window as through all windows of
the world. The Pope's hand reached for the judge's hand. His lips
moved and the judge bent low.

"Beat!" whispered the Pope; "beat, by God!
Beat--for--councilman--in--my--own home town." And because
he knew his fellow man, the good and the bad, the Pope passed with
a smile.



THE GODDESS OF HAPPY VALLEY


  I

The professor stood at the window of his study waiting for Her to
come home. The wind outside was high and whipped her skirts close
to her magnificent body as, breasting it unconcernedly, she came
with a long, slow stride around a corner down the street. Now, as
always whenever he saw her move, he thought of the line in Virgil,
for even in her walk she showed the goddess. And Juno was her name.

He met her at the door and he did not have to stoop to kiss her. "What
is it, dear?" he said quickly, for deep in her eyes, which looked level
with his, he saw trouble.

She handed him a letter and walked to the window--looking out at the
gathering storm. The letter was from her home away down in the Kentucky
hills--from the Mission teacher in Happy Valley.

There was an epidemic of typhoid down there. It was spreading through
the school and through the hills. They were without nurses or doctors,
and they needed help.

"Too bad, too bad," he murmured, and he turned anxiously.

"I must go," she said, with a catch in her breath. "One cabin is built
above another all the way up the creeks down there. The springs are by
the stream. High water floods all of them, and the infection goes with
the tide. And the poor things don't know--they don't know. Oh, I must go!"

For a moment he was silent, and then he got up and put his arms about her.
He was smiling.

"Then, I'll go with you." She wheeled quickly.

"No, no, no! You can't leave your work, and--remember!"

He did remember how useless it had been to argue with her, and he knew it
was useless now. Moreover, if she was going at all, it was like her to go
at once--like her to go up-stairs at once to her packing and leave him in
the darkened study alone.

They had been married two years. He had seen her first entering his own
classroom, and straightway that Latin line took permanent quarters in his
brain, so that he was almost startled when he learned her Olympic name.
It was not long before he found himself irresistibly drawn to her big,
serious eyes that never wandered in a moment's inattention, found himself
expounding directly to her--a fact already discovered by every girl in
the classroom except Juno herself; and she never did discover, for no
one was intimate enough to tell her seriously, and there was that about
her that forbade the telling in badinage. With all secrecy, and shyly
almost, he set about to learn what he could about her, and that was
little indeed.

She came from the mountains of Kentucky, she had won a scholarship
in the bluegrass region of the same State, had come North, and was
living with painful economy working her way through college, he heard,
as a waitress in the dining-hall. He was rather shocked to hear of one
incident. The girl who was the head of all athletics in college had
once addressed rather sharp words to Juno, who had been persuaded to
try for the basket-ball team. The mountain girl did not respond in kind.
Instead, her big eyes narrowed to volcanic slits, she caught the champion
shot-putter by the shoulders, shook her until her hair came down, and
then, with fists doubled, had stood waiting for more trouble.

When the term closed the professor stayed on to finish some experiments
he had on hand, and at dinner in his boarding-house the next night he
nearly overturned his soup-plate, for it was the goddess who had placed
it before him. She was there for the summer--not having money to go
home--as a general helper in the household and living under the same
roof. She too was going on with her studies, and he offered to help her.

He found her a source of puzzling surprises. While she was from the
South, she was not Southern in speech, sentiments, ideas, or ideals.
Her voice was not Southern and, while she elided final consonants, her
intonation was not of the South. Indeed she would startle him every
now and then by dropping some archaic word or old form of expression
that made him think of Chaucer. Her feeling toward the negro was
precisely what his was, and once when he halted in some stricture
on the Confederacy and started to apologize she laughed.

"All my folks," she said, "fit fer the Union--as we say down there,"
she added with a smile.

So that gradually he began to realize that the Appalachian Range, while
being parts of the Southern States, was not of them at all, but was a
region _sui generis_, and that its inhabitants were the only Americans
who had never swerved in fealty to the flag.

By midsummer it was all over with him, and he shocked his own reticent
soul by blurting out one day: "I want you to marry me." The words had
been shot from him by some inner dynamic force, and at the moment he
would have given anything he had could he have taken them back. He
waited in terror and very frankly and proudly she lifted her heavy
lashes, looked straight into his eyes, and firmly said:

"No!"

He went away then, but his relief was not what he thought it would be. He
could not forget that her mouth quivered slightly, and that there seemed
to be a faint weakening in the depths of her eyes when he told her good-by.
He could climb no mountain that he did not see her striding as from Olympus
down it. He walked by no seashore that he did not see her rising from the
waves, and again he went to her, and again he asked. And this time, just
as frankly and proudly, she looked him in the eyes and said:

"Yes--on one condition."

"Name it."

"That you don't go to my home and my people for five years." He laughed.

"Why, you big, beautiful, silly young person, I know mountains
and mountaineers."

"Yes--of Europe--but not mine."

"Very well," he said, and, not knowing women, he asked:

"Why didn't you say 'Yes' the first time?"

"I don't know," she said.


  II

She had lifted her voice first, one spring dawn, in a log cabin that clung
to the steep bank of Clover Fork, and her wail rose above the rush of its
high waters--above the song of a wood-thrush in the top of a poplar high
above her. Somewhere her mother had heard the word Juno, and the mere
sound of the word appealed to her starved sense of beauty as did one of
the old-fashioned flowers she planted in her tiny yard. So the mother
gave the child that name and, like the name, the child grew up, tall,
slow, and majestic of movement, singularly gentle and quiet, except
when aroused, and then her wrath and her might were primeval.

St. Hilda, the Mission teacher, was the first from the outside world to
be drawn to her. She had stopped in at the cabin on Clover one day to find
the mother of the family ill in bed, and twelve-year-old Juno acting as
cook and mother for a brood of ten. A few months later she persuaded the
father to let the girl come down to her school, and in the succeeding years
she became St. Hilda's right hand and the mainstay in the supervision of
the kitchen, housework, and laundry, and even in the management of the
Mission's farm. No one had the subtle understanding of St. Hilda's charges
as had Juno--no one could handle them quite so well. So that it was with
real grief and great personal loss that St. Hilda opened the way for Juno
to go to school in the Bluegrass. And now, one sunset in mid-May, she was
back at the Mission in Happy Valley, and the two were in each other's arms.

Happy Valley it was no longer, for throughout it the plague had spread
fear or sickness or death in every little home. St. Hilda had gathered
her own little sufferers in tents collected from a railway-camp over the
mountains, a surveying party, and from the Bluegrass. A volunteer doctor
had come from the "settlements," and two nurses, and so Juno took to the
outside work up and down the river, up every little creek, and out in
the hills. All day and far into the night she was gone. Sometimes she
did not for days come back to the Mission. Her face grew white and
drawn, and her cheeks hollow from poor food, meagre snatches of sleep,
and untiring work. The doctor warned her, St. Hilda warned her, she
got anxious warning letters from her husband, but on she went. And
the inevitable happened.

One hot midday, as she watched by the bedside of a little patient with
a branch of maple in her hand to keep the flies away, she drowsed, and
one of the wretched little insects lighted on her moist red lips. Soon
thereafter the "walking typhoid" caught her as she was striding past
Lum Chapman's blacksmith-shop. Instinctively she kept on toward home,
and reached there raving: "Don't let him come--don't let him come!" And
when the news got about the heart of Happy Valley almost bled.

Only St. Hilda guessed what the mutterings of the sick girl meant, but
she did not heed them, and the professor from New England soon crossed
Mason and Dixon's line for the first time in his life. For the first
time he fell under the spell of the Southern hills--graceful, gracious
big hills, real mountains, densely wooded like thickets to their very
tops--so densely wooded, indeed, that they seemed overspread with a
great shaggy green rug that swept on and on over the folds of the hills
as though billowed up by a mighty wind beneath. And the lights, the mists,
the drifting cloud shadows! Why had Juno not wanted him to see them? And
when he took to horseback and mounted through that billowing rug, through
ferns stirrup-high, with flowers innumerable nodding on either side of
the trail and the air of the first dawn in his nostrils--mounted to the
top of the Big Black, rode for miles along its gently waving summit,
and saw at every turn of the path the majestic supernal beauty of the
mighty green waves that swept on and on before him, in wonder he kept
asking himself:

"Why--why?"

He had not come into contact yet with the humanity in those hills.
The log cabins he had seen from the train--clinging to the hillsides,
nestling in little coves amid apple-trees, or close to the banks of
rushing little creeks--had struck him as most picturesque and charming,
and an occasional old mill, with its big water-wheel, boxed-in, grass-hung
mill-race half hidden by weeping willows, had given him sheer delight;
but now he was meeting the people in the road and could see them close at
hand in doorway and porches of the wretched little houses that he passed.
How mean, meagre, narrow, and poverty-stricken must be their lives!

At one cabin he had to stop for midday dinner, for the word "lunch," he
found, was unknown. A slatternly woman with scraggling black hair, and
with three dirty children clinging to her dirty apron, "reckoned she
mought git him a bite," and disappeared. Flies swarmed over him when
he sat in the porch. The rancid smell of bedding struck his sensitive
nostrils from within. He heard the loud squawking of a chicken cease
suddenly, and his hunger-gnawed stomach almost turned when he suddenly
realized just what it meant. When called within, it was dirt and flies,
flies and dirt, everywhere. He sat in a chair with a smooth-worn cane
bottom so low that his chin was just above the table. The table-cover
was of greasy oilcloth. His tumbler was cloudy, unclean, and the milk was
thin and sour. Thick slices of fat bacon swam in a dish of grease, blood
was perceptible in the joints of the freshly killed, half-cooked chicken,
and the flies swarmed.

As he rode away he began to get a glimmer of light. Perhaps Juno--his
Juno--had once lived like that; perhaps her people did yet.

There was another mountain to climb, and a stranger who was going his
way offered to act as guide. The stranger was a Kentuckian, he said,
from the Bluegrass region, and he was buying timber through the hills.
He volunteered this, but the New England man made no self-revealment.
Instead he burst out:

"_How_ do these people live this way?"

"They have to--they're pretty poor."

"They don't have to keep--dirty."

"They've got used to it, and so would you if your folks had been living
out in this wilderness for a hundred years."

From a yard that they passed, a boy with a vacant face and retreating
forehead dropped his axe to stare at them.

"That's the second one I've seen," said the professor.

"Yes, idiots are not unusual in these mountains--inbreeding!"

"Do they still have moonshining and feuds and all that yet?"

"Plenty of moonshining. The feuds are all over practically,
though I did hear that the big feud over the mountain was
likely to be stirred up again--the old Camp and Adkin feud."
A question came faintly from behind:

"Do you know any of the Camps?"

"Used to know old Red King Camp, the leader. He's in the penitentiary
now for killing a man. What's the matter?" He turned in his saddle,
but the New Englander had recovered himself.

"Nothing--nothing. It seems awful to a Northern man."

The stranger thought he had heard a groan behind him, and he had--King Camp
was the name of the Northern man's father-in-law. Ah, he was beginning to
understand; but why did Juno not want him to come for five years?

"Is--is Red King Camp--how long was his sentence?"

"Let's see--he's been in two years, and I heard he had three years more.
Yes, I remember--he got five years."

Once more the Bluegrass man thought he heard a groan, but the other
was only clearing his throat. The New Englander asked no more questions,
and about two hours by sun they rode over a ridge and down to the bed of
Clover Fork.

"Well, stranger, we part here. You go up to the head of the creek, and
anybody'll tell you where Red King lives. There's plenty of moonshining
up that way, and if anybody asks your name and your business--tell 'em
quick. They won't bother you. And if I were you I wouldn't criticise these
people to _anybody_. They're morbidly sensitive, and you never know when
you are giving mortal offense. And, by the way, most offenses _are_ mortal
in these hills."

"Thank you. Good-by--and thank you."

Everybody knew where old King Camp lived--"Fust house a leetle way down
t'other side o' the mountain from the head of Clover." And nobody asked
him his name or his business. Near dusk he was at the head of Little Clover
and looking down on Happy Valley. The rimming mountains were close overhung
with motionless wet clouds. Above and through them lightning flashed, and
thunder cracked and boomed like encircling artillery around the horizon.
The wind came with the rush of mighty wings, and blackness dropped like
a curtain. By one flash of lightning he saw a great field of corn, by
another a big, comfortable barn, a garden, a trim picket-fence, a yard
full of flowers, and a log house the like of which he had not seen in
the hills--and a new light came--Juno's work! A torrent of rain swept
after him as he stepped upon the porch and knocked on the door. A moment
later he was looking at the kindest and most motherly face and into the
kindest eyes he had ever seen.

"I'm Juno's husband," he said simply. For a moment she blinked up at him
bewilderedly through brass-rimmed spectacles, and then she put her arms
around him and bent back to look up at him again. Then, still without a
word, she led him on tiptoe to an open door and pointed.

"She's in thar." And there she lay--his Juno--thin, white, unconscious,
her beauty spiritualized, glorified. He sat simply looking at her--how
long he did not know--until he felt a gentle touch on his shoulder. It
was Juno's mother beckoning him to supper.

Going out he saw Juno's hand in everything--the hand-woven rag carpet,
the curtains at the windows, the andirons at the log fire--for summer
nights in those hills are always cool--saw it in the kitchen, the
table-cloth, napkins, even though they were in rings, the dishes,
the food, the neatness in everything. He could see the likeness of
Juno to the gentle-voiced old woman who would talk of nothing but her
daughter. In a moment she was calling him "Jim," and few others than
his dead mother had ever called him that. And when at bedtime she said,
"Don't let her die, Jim," he leaned down and kissed her--something her
own sons when grown up had never done.

"No, mother," he said, and the word did not come hard.


  III

Juno had been delirious since the day she was stricken. Her mutterings
had been disjointed and unintelligible, but that night, while Mother Camp
and the New Englander sat at her bedside, she said again:

"Don't let him come."

"She ain't said that for three days now," said Mother Camp. "Whut d'
you s'pose she means?" The husband shook his head.

Next morning the nurse for whom St. Hilda had sent arrived from the
Bluegrass, and the New Englander started down Little Clover to the
settlement school to consult the doctor and see St. Hilda. It was a
brilliant, drenched June day, and never, he believed, had his eyes
rested on such a glory of green and gold. Already he had been heralded
in the swift way common in the hills, and all who saw him coming knew
who he was. He was Juno's man, and the people straightway called him--Jim.
When he stood on St. Hilda's porch her words and her drawn, anxious face
went straight to his heart. There was nobody like Juno, and without Juno
she did not know how she could get along. Her own little sufferers were
in tents about her, and there was only one nurse for them. Juno, said the
doctor, might be unconscious for a long time, and her nurse must be with
her night and day: so who would take Juno's place throughout the hills
she did not know. At once the New Englander, who knew a good deal about
medicine and something of typhoid, found himself offering to do all he
could. Then and there the Mission teacher gave him a list of patients,
and then and there, with a thermometer in his pocket and a medicine-case
in his hand, he started on his first round. The people were very shy with
him at first. In a few days he was promoted to Doctor Jim, and soon he
was plain "Doc" to all. By every mouth that opened he found Juno's name
blessed, and many were the tales of what she had done. She had saved wild
Jay Dawn's little girl and Lum Chapman's firstborn. She had brought old
Aunt Sis Stidham back from the shadow of the grave, and had turned that
tart, irreverent old person's erring feet back into the way of the Lord.

[Illustration]

Night and day, and through wind and storm, she had travelled the hills,
healing the sick and laying out and helping to bury the dead. Apparently
there was not a man, woman, or child in Happy Valley who did not love her
or have some reason to be grateful, and when in the open-air meeting-house
Parson Small told of her work and prayed that her life be spared, there
were fervent "Amens," or tears and sobs, from all. Doctor Jim soon found
himself getting deeply interested in the people, and when he contrasted
the lives of those whom the influence of the Mission school had not yet
reached with the folks in Happy Valley he began to realize the amazing
good that St. Hilda was doing in the hills. What a place he was earning
for himself he was yet to learn, but through some mystification an inkling
came. To be sure, everybody spoke to him as though he were a fixture in
the land. He could pass no door that somebody did not ask him to come
in and rest a spell, or stay all night. He never went by the mill that
Aunt Jane did not have a glass of buttermilk for him and Uncle Jerry did
not try to entice him in for a talk. Several times the little judge of
Happy Valley had ridden down to ask after Juno and to talk with him.
Pleasant Trouble waved his crutch from a hillside and shouted himself
at Doctor Jim's disposal for any purpose whatever. But one sunset he
had stopped at Lum Chapman's blacksmith-shop just as a big, black-haired
fellow, with a pistol buckled around him, was reeling away. The men
greeted him rather solemnly, and he felt that they wanted to say
something to him, but no one spoke. He saw Jay Dawn nod curtly to
Pleasant Trouble, who got briskly up and walked up the road with him
until they were in sight of Juno's home. For three days thereafter
Pleasant was waiting for him at the shop and walked the same space
with him. The next day Jay Dawn spoke with some embarrassment to him:

"Have you got a gun?"

"No." Jay handed forth one.

"Oh, no!" said Doctor Jim.

"Go on!" said Jay shortly; "I got another un."

"But why do I need a gun?" Jay was distinctly embarrassed.

"Well," he drawled, "thar's some purty bad fellers 'bout hyeh, an' when
they gits drunk they might do somethin'. Now that Jerry Lipps you seed
hyeh t'other day a-staggerin' off drunk--he's bad. An' you do a heap o'
travellin' alone. This ain't fer you to kill nobody but jus' kind o' to
pertect yerself."

"All right," laughed Doctor Jim. "I couldn't hit a barn--" but to humor
Jay he took the weapon, and this time Pleasant Trouble did not walk home
with him.

Later he mentioned the matter to St. Hilda, who looked very grave.

"Yes, Jerry Lipps is a bad man. He's just out of the penitentiary.
Pleasant walked home with you to protect you from him. They won't
let him do anything to you openly. And Jay gave you that gun in case
he should attack you when nobody was around."

"But what has the fellow got against me?" The teacher hesitated.

"Well, Jerry used to be in love with Juno, but she would never have
anything to do with him and he never would let her have anything to
do with anybody else. He shot one boy, and shot at another, and he
has always sworn that he would kill the man she married."

"Nonsense!" he said, but going home that night Doctor Jim carried
the gun where he could get at it quickly.

"My God!" he muttered with grim humor; "no wonder Juno didn't want
me to come."

It was only a few days later that Doctor Jim came out of Lum Chapman's
house and paused in the path looking up Wolf Run. Jerry Lipps's sister
lived half a mile above and he had just heard that her little daughter
was down with the fever. Jerry might be staying with the sister, but
Doctor Jim's duty was now up there and, in spite of the warnings given
him, he did not hesitate. The woman stared when he told who he was and
why he had come, but she nodded and pointed to the bed where the child
lay. He put his pistol on the bed, thrust a thermometer into the little
girl's mouth and began taking her pulse. A hand swept the pistol from
the bed and, when he turned around, about all he could think was:
"How extraordinary!"

Jerry, red with rage and drink, was at the kitchen door fumbling at the
butt of his pistol, while his sister had Doctor Jim's gun levelled at her
brother's heart.

"You can't tech him," she said coolly, "an' if you pull that gun out an
inch furder I'll kill ye as shore as thar's a God in heaven." And at that
moment the door opened and Pleasant Trouble swung in on his crutch and
grinned. Doctor Jim then heard the tongue-lashing of his life. The woman's
volubility was like a mill-race, and her command of vitriolic epithets was
beyond his ken. She recited what Juno had done, Doctor Jim was doing, the
things Jerry had done and left undone, and wound up:

"You never was wuth Juno's little finger, an' you ain't wuth _his_ little
finger-nail now. Take his gun, Pleas. Take him to the State line, an' don't
you boys let him come back agin until he's stopped drinkin', got a suit o'
clothes, an' a job."

"Why, Mandy," said Pleasant, "hit's kind o' funny, but Lum an' Jay an' me
fixed hit up about an hour ago that we aimed to do that very thing. I seed
Doc a-comin' up hyeh, an' was afeard I mought be too late: but if I'd 'a'
knowed you was hyeh I wouldn't 'a' worried."

Again Doctor Jim was thinking, "How extraordinary!" but this time how
extraordinary it was that the man really meant to shoot him. Somehow
he began to understand.

Still grinning, Pleasant Trouble had swung across the room, whipped
Jerry's pistol from the holster, and with it motioned the owner toward
the door. Then Doctor Jim rose. "Hold on!" he said, and he took the
pistol from the woman's hands, strode straight up to Jerry and smiled.
Now, from the top of Virginia down through seven Southern States to
Georgia there are some three million mountaineers, and it is doubtful
if among them all any other three pairs of ears ever heard such words
as Professor James Blagden of New England spoke now:

"Jerry, I don't blame you for having loved Juno, or for loving her now.
I wouldn't blame anybody. I even understand now why you wanted to kill
me, but that would have been--silly. Give him back his gun, Pleasant,"
he added, still smiling, "and give this one back to Jay." He reached in
his pocket, pulled forth two cigars and handed one to each. "Now you two
sit down and smoke, and in a moment I'll go along with you, and we'll
help Jerry get a job." And thereupon Doctor Jim turned around to his
little patient. Dazed and a bit hypnotized, Jerry took the cigar and
thrust his pistol into his holster.

"I'll be gittin' along," he said sullenly, and made for the door. Pleasant
followed him. At the road Jerry turned one way and Pleasant the other.

"You heered whut Mandy and me said," drawled Pleasant. "If you poke yore
nose over the line 'bout three of us will shoot you on sight. We'd do it
fer Juno, an' if she ain't alive we'll do it fer Doctor Jim."

"I was a-goin' over thar anyways," said Jerry, "an' I'll come back when I
please. You one-legged limb o' Satan--you go plum'"--Pleasant's eyes began
to glitter--"back to him."

Pleasant laughed, and as they walked their separate ways the same question
was in the minds of both:

"Now, whut the hell did he mean by 'silly'?"


  IV

Only the next morning a happy day dawned. Old King Camp came home with his
sons--two stalwart boys and a giant father. Doctor Jim looked long at old
King's hair, which was bushy and jet-black. He stood it as long as he could
and then he asked:

"Why do people on the other side of the mountain call you _Red_ King Camp?"
he asked.

"They don't--not more'n once," was the grim answer. "I'm _Black_ King Camp.
Red's my cousin, but I don't claim him."

One load was off Doctor Jim's heart. His father-in-law was like his name
in many ways, and Doctor Jim liked him straightway and Black King liked
Doctor Jim. Old King shook his head.

"I don't see why Juno didn't bring you down here long ago," he said, and
Doctor Jim did not try to explain--he couldn't. It must have been fear of
Jerry--and he believed that Jerry, too, was now out of the way.

About noon Juno came back for the first time from another world. She did
not open her eyes, but she heard voices and knew what they were saying.
Her mother was talking in the next room to somebody whom she called Jim.
Who could Jim be? And then she heard the man's voice. Her eyes opened
slowly on the nurse, her lips moved, but before she could frame the
question her heart throbbed so that she went back into unconsciousness
again. But the nurse saw and told, and when Juno came back again she saw
her husband and smiled without surprise or fright.

"I dreamed you were here," she whispered, "and I'm dreaming right now
that you are here. Why, I see you." Gently he took her face in his hands,
and when she felt his touch she looked at him wildly and the tears sprang.
From that day on she gained fast, and from the nurse, her mother, and the
neighbors she soon knew the story of Doctor Jim.

"So you thought Red King was my father," she said, "and that he was in
the penitentiary?" Doctor Jim nodded shamefacedly.

"Well, even that wouldn't have been so bad--not down here. And maybe
you thought I didn't want you to come on account of Jerry Lipps." Again
Doctor Jim nodded admission, and Juno laughed.

"I never thought of that, and if I had," she added proudly and
scornfully, "I never would have been afraid--for _you_."

"Then why didn't you want me to come?"

"I didn't know _you_--didn't know the big, _big_ man you are. Now I'm
shamed--and happy."

One morning, three weeks later, Jay Dawn and Lum Chapman brought up a
litter that Lum had made, and they two and Black King and Doctor Jim
made ready to carry Juno down the mountain. Jerry Lipps was passing in
the road when they bore her out the gate, and he started to sidle by
with averted eyes. Doctor Jim halted.

"Here, Jerry!" he called. "You take my place." And Jerry, red as an
oak leaf in autumn, stepped up to the litter, and up at her old lover
Juno smiled.

"Doc," said Jerry, "I got a job."

Behind, Pleasant Trouble swung along with Doctor Jim. Mother Camp followed
on horseback. People ran from every house to greet Juno, or from high on
the hillsides waved their hands and shouted "how-dyes" down to her. Soon
they were at the Mission, where St. Hilda and Uncle Jerry and Aunt Jane
were waiting on the porch, and where pale little boys and girls trooped
weakly from the tents to welcome her. And then at a signal from Doctor Jim
the four picked up the litter.

"Why, where are you going?" asked Juno.

"Never you mind," said Doctor Jim.

Through the little vineyard they went, up a little hill underneath cedars
and blooming rhododendrons, and there on the top was a little cabin built
of logs with the bark still on them, with a porch running around all sides
but one, and supported by the trunks of little trees. The smell of cedar
came from the open door, and all was as fresh and clean as the breath of
the forest from which everything came--a home that had been the girl's
lifelong dream. The Goddess of Happy Valley had her own little temple
at last.

On the open-air sleeping-porch they sat that night alone.

"I'm going to help raise some money for that Mission down there," said
Doctor Jim. "I don't know where any more good is being done, and I don't
know any people who are more worth being helped than--your people."

Happy Valley below was aswarm with fireflies. The murmur of the river
over shallows rose to them. The cries of whippoorwills encircled them
from the hillsides and over the mountain majestically rose the moon.

"And you and I are coming down every summer--to help."

Juno gathered his hand in both her own and held it against her cheek.

"Jim--Doctor Jim--_my_ Jim."



THE BATTLE-PRAYER OF PARSON SMALL


Parson Small rose. From the tail-pocket of his long broadcloth coat
he pulled a red bandanna handkerchief and blew his nose. He put the
big blunt forefinger of his right hand on the text of the open Bible
before him.

"Suffer--" he said. He glanced over his flock--the blacksmith, his
wife, and her child, the old miller and Aunt Betsey, the Mission
teacher and some of her brood, past Pleasant Trouble with his crutch
across his half a lap, and to the heavy-set, middle-aged figure just
slipping to a seat in the rear with a slouched hat in his hand. The
parson's glance grew stern and he closed the Great Book. Jeb Mullins,
the newcomer, was--moonshiner and undesirable citizen in many ways. He
had meant, said the parson, to preach straight from the word of God,
but he would take up the matter in hand, and he glared with doubtful
benevolence at Jeb's moon face, grayish whiskers, and mild blue eyes.
Many turned to follow his glance, and Jeb moved in his seat and his
eyes began to roll, for all knew that the matter in hand was Jeb.

Straightway the parson turned his batteries on the very throne of
King Alcohol and made it totter. Men "disguised by liquer" were not
themselves. Whiskey made the fights and the feuds. It broke up meetings.
It made men lie around in the woods and neglect their families. It stole
brains and weakened bodies. It made women unhappy and debauched children.
It turned Holy Christmas into a drunken orgy. And "right thar in their
very midst," he thundered, was a satellite of the Devil-King, "who was
a-doin' all these very things," and that limb of Satan must give up his
still, come to the mourner's bench, and "wrassle with the Sperit or else
be druv from the county and go down to burnin' damnation forevermore."
And that was not all: this man, he had heard, was "a-detainin' a female,"
an' the little judge of Happy Valley would soon be hot on his trail. The
parson mentioned no name in the indictment, but the stern faces of the
women, the threatening looks of the men were too much for Jeb. He rose
and bolted, and the parson halted.

"The wicked flee when no man pursueth!" he cried, and he raised hands
for the benediction.

"Thar's been so much talk about drinkin'," muttered Aunt Sis Stidham as
she swayed out, "that hit's made me plum' thirsty. I'd like to have a dram
right now." Pleasant Trouble heard her and one eye in his solemn face gave
her a covert wink.


The women folks had long clamored that their men should break up Jeb's
still; and the men had stood the nagging and remained inactive through
the hanging-together selfishness of the sex, for with Jeb gone where
then would they drink their drams and play Old Sledge? But now Jeb was
"a-detainin' of a female," and that was going too far. For a full week
Jeb was seen no more, for three reasons: he was arranging an important
matter with Pleasant Trouble; he was brooding over the public humiliation
that the parson had visited on him; and he knew that he might be waited
upon any day by a committee of his fellow citizens and customers headed
by a particular enemy of his. And indeed such a committee, so headed,
was formed, and as chance would have it they set forth the following
Sunday morning just when Jeb himself set forth to halt the parson on
his way to church. The committee caught sight of Jeb turning from the
roadside into the bushes and the leader motioned them too into the
rhododendron, whispering:

"Wait an' we'll ketch him in some mo' devilment." In the bushes they
waited. Soon the parson hove in view on a slowly pacing nag, with his
hands folded on the pommel of his saddle and deep in meditation. Jeb
stepped out into the road and the hidden men craned their necks from
the bushes with eyes and ears alert.

"Good mornin', Parson Small!" The old nag stopped and the parson's
head snapped up from his revery.

"Good mornin', Jeb Mullins." The parson's greeting was stern and
somewhat uneasy, for he did not like the look on old Jeb's face.

"Parson Small," said Jeb unctuously, "las' Sunday was _yo'_ day." The
men in the bushes thrust themselves farther out--they could hear every
word--"an' this Sunday is _mine_."

"Every Sunday is the Lawd's, Jeb Mullins--profane it not."

"Well, mebbe He'll loan me this un, parson. You lambasted me afore all
Happy Valley last Sunday an' now I'm a-goin' to lick you fer it." The
parson's eye gleamed faintly and subsided.

"I'm on my way to preach the word of God, Jeb Mullins."

"You'll git thar in time, parson. Git off yo' hoss!"

"I've got my broadcloth on, Jeb Mullins, an' I don't want to muss it
up--wait till I come back."

"You can take it off, parson, or brush off the dust atterwards--climb
off yo' hoss." Again the parson's eye gleamed and this time did not
subside.

"I reckon you'll give me time to say a prayer, Jeb Mullins!"

"Shore--you'll need it afore I git through with ye."

With a sigh the parson swung offside from Jeb, dexterously pulling a
jackknife from his trousers-pocket, opening it, and thrusting it in the
high top of his right boot. Then he kneeled in the road with uplifted
face and eyes closed:

[Illustration]

"O Lawd," he called sonorously, "thou knowest that I visit my fellow man
with violence only with thy favor and in thy name. Thou knowest that when
I laid Jim Thompson an' Si Marcum in thar graves it was by thy aid. Thou
knowest how I disembowelled with my trusty knife the miserable sinner
Hank Smith." Here the parson drew out his knife and began honing it on
the leg of his boot. "An' hyeh's another who meddles with thy servant and
profanes thy day. I know this hyeh Jeb Mullins is offensive in thy sight
an' fergive me, O Lawd, but I'm a-goin' to cut his gizzard plum' out, an'
O Lawd--" Here Parson Small opened one eye and Jeb Mullins did not stand
on the order of his going. As he went swiftly up the hill the committee
sprang from the bushes with haw-haws and taunting yells. At the top of
the hill Jeb turned:

"I was a-goin' anyhow," he shouted, and with his thumb at his nose he
wriggled his fingers at them.

"He'll never come back now--he'll be ashamed."

"Friends," called the parson, "the Lawd is with me--peace be unto you."
And the committee said:

"Amen!"


The Japanese say: Be not surprised if the surprising does not surprise.
When Jeb walked into meeting the following Sunday no citizen of Happy
Valley had the subtlety to note that of them all Pleasant Trouble alone,
sitting far in the rear, showed no surprise. Pleasant's face was solemn,
but in his eyes was an expectant smile. Women and men glared, and the
parson stopped his exhortation to glare, but Jeb had timed his entrance
with the parson's call for sinners to come to the mourners' bench. It was
the only safe place for him and there he went and there he sat. The parson
still glared, but he had to go on exhorting--he had to exhort even Jeb.
And Jeb responded. He not only "wrassled with the Sperit" valiantly but
he "came through"--that is, he burst from the gloom of evil and disbelief
into the light of high purpose and the glory of salvation. He rose to
confess and he confessed a great deal; but, as many knew, not all--who
does? He had driven the woman like Hagar into the wilderness; he would
go out right now and the folks of Happy Valley should see him break up
his own still with his own hands.

"Praise the Lawd," said the amazed and convinced parson; "lead the way,
Brother Mullins." _Brother_ Mullins! The smile in Pleasant's eyes almost
leaped in a laugh from his open mouth. The congregation rose and, led by
Jeb and the parson, started down the road and up a ravine. The parson
raised a hymn--"Climbing up Zion's hill." At his shack Jeb caught up an
axe which he had left on purpose apparently at his gate, and on they went
to see Jeb bruise the head of the serpent and prove his right to enter
the fold. With a shout of glory Jeb plunged ahead on a run, disappeared
down a thickened bank, and, as they pushed their way, singing, through
the bushes, they could hear him below crashing right and left with his
axe, and when they got to him it was nearly all over. Many wondered how
he could create such havoc in so short a time, but the boiler was gashed
with holes, the worms chopped into bits, and the mash-tub was in splinters.

Happy Valley dispersed to dinner. Lum Chapman took the parson and his
new-born father-in-law home with him, his wife following with her apron
at her eyes, wiping away grateful tears. At sunset Pleasant Trouble swung
lightly up Wolf Run on his crutch and called Jeb down to the gate:

"You got a good home now, Jeb."

"I shore have." Jeb's religious ecstasy had died down but he looked
content.

The parson was mounting his nag and Pleasant opened the gate for him.

"Hit's sort o' curious, parson," said Jeb, "but when you prayed that
prayer jes' afore I was about to battle with ye I begun to see the
errer o' my ways."

"The Lawd, Brother Mullins," said the parson, dryly but sincerely,
"moves in mysterious ways his wonders to perform." The two watched
him ride away.

"The new still will be hyeh next week," said Pleasant out of one corner
of his mouth. One solemn wink they exchanged and Pleasant Trouble swung
lightly off into the woods.



THE CHRISTMAS TREE ON PIGEON


The sun of Christmas poured golden blessings on Happy Valley first;
it leaped ten miles of intervening hills and shot winged shafts of
yellow light into the mouth of Pigeon; it darted awakening arrows
into the coves and hollows on the Head of Pigeon, between Brushy Ridge
and Pine Mountain; and one searching ray flashed through the open door
of the little log schoolhouse at the forks of Pigeon and played like
a smile over the waiting cedar that stood within--alone.

Down at the mines below, the young doctor had not waited the coming
of that sun. He had sprung from his bed at dawn, had built his own
fire, dressed hurriedly, and gone hurriedly on his rounds, leaving
a pill here, a powder there, and a word of good cheer everywhere.
That was his Christmas tree, the cedar in the little schoolhouse--his
and Hers. The Marquise of Queensberry, he called her--and she was
coming up from the Gap that day to dress that tree and spread the
joy of Christmas among mountain folks, to whom the joy of Christmas
was quite unknown.

An hour later the passing mail-carrier, from over Black Mountain,
stopped with switch uplifted at his office-door.

"Them fellers over the Ridge air comin' over to shoot up yo'
Christmas tree," he drawled.

The switch fell and he was gone. The young doctor dropped by his
fire--stunned; for just that thing had happened ten years before
to the only Christmas tree that had ever been heard of in those
immediate hills, except his own. Out of that very schoolhouse some
vandals from over Pine Mountain had driven the Pigeon Creek people
after a short fight, and while the surprised men, frightened women
and children, and the terrified teacher scurried to safety behind
rocks and trees had shot the tree to pieces. That was ten years
before, but even now, though there were some old men and a few old
women who knew the Bible from end to end, many grown people and most
of the children had never heard of the Book, or of Christ, or knew
that there was a day known as Christmas Day. That such things were
so had hurt the doctor to the heart, and that was why, as Christmas
drew near, he had gone through the out-of-the-way hollows at the Head
of Pigeon and got the names and ages of all the mountain children; why
now, long after that silly quarrel with the marquise, he had humbled his
pride and written her please to come and help him; why she had left the
Christmas of Happy Valley in St. Hilda's hands and was coming; and why
now the cedar-tree stood in the little log schoolhouse at the forks of
Pigeon. Moreover, there was yet enmity between the mountaineers of Pigeon
and the mountaineers over Pine Mountain, who were jealous and scornful
of any signs of the foreign influence but recently come into the hills.
The meeting-house, courthouse, and the schoolhouse were yet favorite
places for fights among the mountaineers. There was yet no reverence
at all for Christmas, and the same vandals might yet regard a Christmas
tree as an imported frivolity to be sternly rebuked. The news was not
only not incredible, it probably was true; and with this conclusion some
very unpleasant lines came into the young doctor's kindly face, and he
sprang for his horse.

Two hours later he had a burly mountaineer with a Winchester posted on the
road leading over Pine Mountain, another on the mountainside overlooking
the little valley, several more similarly armed below, while he and two
friends, with revolvers buckled on, waited for the marquise, with their
horses hitched in front of his office-door. This Christmas tree was to be.

Meanwhile his mind was busy with memories of the previous summer. Once
again he was bounding across a brook in a little ravine in Happy Valley
to see two young mountaineers in a fierce fight--with his sweetheart and
a one-legged man named Pleasant Trouble as referees, and once again that
distracted sweetheart was rushing for refuge to his arms. She had got the
two youths to fight with fists instead of pistols and according to such
rules of the ring as she could remember, and that was why thereafter he
had called her the marquise. Then had come that silly quarrel and, instead
of to the altar, she had gone back to Happy Valley to teach again. Now
he would see her once more and his hopes were high. Outside he heard the
creaking of wheels. A big spring wagon loaded with Christmas things drew
up in front of his door and amidst them sat the superintendent's daughter
and two girl friends, who shouted cheery greetings to him. He raised his
eyes and high above saw the muffled figure of the marquise coming through
the snowy bushes down the trail. Behind her rode a man with a crutch
across his saddle-bows--Pleasant Trouble, self-made bodyguard to the
little teacher: nowhere could she go without him at her heels. Pleasant
grinned, and the faces of the lovers, suddenly suffused, made their story
quite plain. The doctor lifted her from her horse and helped her into the
wagon, to meet three pairs of mischievous eyes, so that quite gruffly for
him, he said:

"On your way now--and hustle!"

A black-snake whip cracked and up Pigeon the wagon bumped with
the doctor, his two friends, and Pleasant Trouble on horseback
alongside; past the long batteries of coke-ovens with grinning
darkies, coke-pullers, and loaders idling about them; up the
rough road through lanes of snow-covered rhododendrons winding
among tall oaks, chestnuts, and hemlocks; through circles and
arrows of gold with which the sun splashed the white earth--every
cabin that they passed tenantless, for the inmates had gone ahead
long ago--and on to the little schoolhouse that sat on a tiny
plateau in a small clearing, with snow-tufted bushes of laurel
on every side and snowy mountains rising on either hand.

The door was wide open and smoke was curling from the chimney. A few
horses and mules were hitched to the bushes near by. Men, boys, and
dogs were gathered around a big fire in front of the building; and in
a minute women, children, and more dogs poured out of the schoolhouse
to watch the coming cavalcade. Since sunrise the motley group had been
waiting there, and the tender heart of the little marquise began to
ache: the women thinly clad in dresses of worsted or dark calico, and
a shawl or short jacket or man's coat, with a sunbonnet or "fascinator"
on their heads, and men's shoes on their feet--the older ones stooped
and thin, the younger ones carrying babies, and all with weather-beaten
faces and bared hands; the men and boys without overcoats, their coarse
shirts unbuttoned, their necks and upper chests bared to the biting cold,
their hands thrust in their pockets as they stood about the fire, and
below their short coat-sleeves their wrists showing chapped and red;
while to the little boys and girls had fallen only such odds and ends
of clothing as the older ones could spare. Quickly the doctor got his
party indoors and to work on the Christmas tree. Not one did he tell of
the impending danger, and the Colt's .45 bulging under this man's shoulder
or on that man's hip, and the Winchester in the hollow of an arm here
and there were sights too common in those hills to arouse suspicion in
anybody's mind. The cedar-tree, shorn of its branches at the base and
banked with mosses, towered to the angle of the roof. There were no
desks in the room except the one table once used by the teacher. Long,
crude wooden benches with low backs faced the tree, with an aisle leading
from the door between them. Lap-robes were hung over the windows, and soon
a gorgeous figure of Santa Claus was smiling down from the very tiptop
of the tree. With her flushed face, eager eyes, and golden hair the busy
marquise looked like its patron saint. Ropes of gold and silver tinsel
were swiftly draped around and up and down; enmeshed in these were little
red Santas, gayly colored paper horns filled with candy, colored balls,
white and yellow birds, little colored candles with holders to match, and
other glittering things; while over the whole tree a glistening powder
was sprinkled like a mist of shining snow. Many presents were tied to
the tree, and under it were the rest of the labelled ones in a big pile.
In a semicircle about the base sat the dolls in pink, yellow, and blue,
and looking down the aisle to the door. Packages of candy in colored
Japanese napkins and tied with a narrow red ribbon were in another pile,
with a pyramid of oranges at its foot. And yet there was still another
pile for unexpected children, that the heart of none should be sore. Then
the candles were lighted and the door flung open to the eager waiting
crowd outside. In a moment every seat was silently filled by the women
and children, and the men, stolid but expectant, lined the wall. The like
of that tree no soul of them had ever seen before. Only a few of the older
ones had ever seen a Christmas tree of any kind, and they but one; and
they had lost that in a free-for-all fight. And yet only the eyes of them
showed surprise or pleasure. There was no word--no smile, only unwavering
eyes mesmerically fixed on that wonderful tree.

The young doctor rose, and only the marquise saw and wondered that he was
nervous, restless and pale. As best he could he told them what Christmas
was and what it meant to the world; and he had scarcely finished when
a hand beckoned to him from the door. Leaving one of his friends to
distribute the presents, he went outside to discover that one vandal
had come on ahead, drunk and boisterous. Promptly the doctor tied him
to a tree and, leaving Pleasant Trouble to guard him, shouldered a
Winchester and himself took up a lonely vigil on the mountainside.
Within, Christmas went on. When a name was called a child came forward
silently, usually shoved to the front by some relative, took what was
handed to it, and, dumb with delight, but too shy even to murmur a word
of thanks, silently returned to its seat with the presents hugged to
its breast--presents that were simple, but not to those mountain mites:
colored pictures and illustrated books they were, red plush albums,
simple games, fascinators, and mittens for the girls; pocket-knives,
balls, firecrackers, horns, mittens, caps, and mufflers for the boys;
a doll dressed in everything a doll should wear for each little girl,
no one of whom had ever seen a doll before, except what was home-made
from an old dress or apron tied in several knots to make the head and
body. Twice only was the silence broken. One boy quite forgot himself
when given a pocket-knife. He looked at it suspiciously and incredulously,
turned it over in his hand, opened it and felt the edge of the blade, and,
panting with excitement, cried:

"Hit's a shore 'nough knife!"

And again when, to make sure that nobody had been left out, though all the
presents were gone, the master of ceremonies asked if there was any other
little boy or girl who had received nothing, there arose a bent, toothless
old woman in a calico dress and baggy black coat, her gray hair straggling
from under her black sunbonnet and her hands gnarled and knotted from work
and rheumatism. Simply as a child she spoke:

"I ain't got nothin'."

Gravely the giver of the gifts asked her to come forward, and while,
nonplussed, he searched the tree for the most glittering thing he could
find, a tiny gold safety-pin was thrust into his hand, the whiter hollow
of the marquise's white throat became visible, and that old woman was made
till death the proudest in the hills. Then all the women pressed forward
and then the men, until all the ornaments were gone, even the half-burned
candles with their colored holders, which the men took eagerly and fastened
in their coats, clasping the holders to their lapels or fastening the bent
wire in their buttonholes, and pieces of tinsel rope, which they threw over
their shoulders--so that the tree stood at last just as it was when brought
from the wild woods outside.

Straightway then the young doctor hurried the departure of the merrymakers.
Already the horses stood hitched, and, while the lap-robes were being
carried out, a mountaineer who had brought along a sack of apples lined
up the men and boys, and at a given word started running down the road,
pouring out the apples as he ran while the men and boys scrambled for them,
rolling and tussling in the snow.

Just then a fusillade of shots rang from the top of the mountain, but
nobody paid any heed. As the party moved away, the mountaineers waved
their hands and shouted good-by to the doctor, too shy still to pay much
heed to the other "furriners" in the wagon. The doctor looked back once
with a grateful sigh of relief, but no one in the wagon knew that there
had been any danger that day. How great the danger had been not even the
doctor knew till Pleasant Trouble galloped up and whispered behind his
hand: the coming vandals had got as far as the top of the dividing ridge,
had there quarrelled and fought among themselves, so that, as the party
drove away, one invader was at the minute cursing his captors, who were
setting him free, and high upon the ridge another lay dead in the snow.

That night the doctor and the marquise, well muffled against the cold,
sat on the porch of the superintendent's bungalow while the daughter sat
discreetly inside. The flame-light of the ovens licked the snowy ravine
above and below; it was their first chance for a talk, and they had it
out to the happy end.

"You see," said the doctor, "there is even more to do over here than in
Happy Valley."

"There is much to do everywhere in these hills," said the marquise.

"And _I_ need you--oh, how I do need you!" Most untimely, the daughter
appeared at the door.

"Then you shall have me," whispered the marquise.

"Bedtime!" called the girl, and only with his eyes--just then--could the
doctor kiss the little marquise. But the next morning, when he went with
her as far as the top of the mountain and Pleasant Trouble rode whistling
ahead, he had better luck.

"When?" he asked.

"Not till June," she said firmly. And again he asked:

"When?"

"Oh, about two o'clock," smiled the marquise.

"The first two o'clock?"

"Too early!"

"The second," he said decidedly. For answer the marquise leaned from
her saddle toward him and he kissed her again.

Later, by just five months and one week, the doctor mounted his horse
for Happy Valley. He had to go up Pigeon, and riding by the little
schoolhouse, he stopped at the door and from his horse pushed it open.
The Christmas tree stood just as he had left it on Christmas Day, only,
like the evergreens on the wall and over the windows, it too was brown,
withered, and dry. Gently he closed the door and rode on. And on the
clock-stroke of two in Happy Valley there was a wedding that blessed
first June afternoon.





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