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♦* • * • f 4 



The Power 
and the Glory 


Grace MacGowan Cooke 

Author of 
'Mistress Joy/' ** Return;' '' Huldah," *' Grapple," 
" Their First Formal Call," etc. 

Illustrated by Arthur I. Keller 

New York 
Doubleday, Page & Company 









I. The Birth of a Woman-child . , 3 

11. The Birth of an Ambition . . 12 

III. A Peak in Darien 25 

IV. Of the Use of Feet 36 

V. The Moccasin Flower .... 52 

VI. Weavers and Weft 65 

VII. Above the Valley 76 

VIII. Of the Use of Wings 94 

IX. A Bit of Metal no 

X. The Sandals of Joy 135 

XL The New Boarder 155 

XII. The Contents of a Bandanna . . 166 

XIII. A Patient for the Hospital . . 175 

XIV. Wedding Bells 188 

XV. The Feet of the Children . . . 200 

XVI. Bitter Waters 217 

XVII. A Victim 241 

XVIII. Light 256 




XIX. A Pact 269 

XX. Missing 276 

XXL The Search 287 

XXII. The Atlas Vertebra 303 

XXIII. AClue 318 

XXIV. The Rescue ........ 335 

XXV. The Future 358 


"Yes, Fm a-going to get a chance to work 

right away/* she smiled up at him . Frontispiece 


He loomed above them, white and shaking. 
"You thieves!" he roared. "Give me my 
bandannerl Give me Johnnie^s silver 
mine!" ....... 172 

"Lost — gone! My God, Mother — it's three 

days and three nights ! ** . . . . 294 

The car was already leaping down the hill at a 

tremendous pace 346 




WHOSE cradle's that?'* the sick woman's thin 
querulous tones arrested the man at the 

"Onie Dillard's," he replied hollowly from the 
depths of the crib which he carried upside down upon 
his head, like some curious kind of overgrown helmet. 

"Now, why in the name o' common sense would 
ye go and borry a broken cradle.?" came the wail 
from the bed. "I 'lowed you'd git Billy Spinner's, 
an' hit's as good as new." 

Uncle Pros set the small article of furniture down 

" Don't you worry yo'se'f, Laurelly," he said enthusi- 
astically. Pros Passmore, uncle of the sick woman 
and mainstay of the forlorn little Consadine household, 
was always full of enthusiasm. " Just a few nails and 
a little wrappin' of twine'U make it all right," he 
informed his niece. **I stopped a-past and borried 
the nails and the hammer from JefF Dawes; I mighty 
nigh pounded my thumb off knockin' in nails with a 
rock an' a sad-iron last week." 

"Looks like nobody ain't got no sense," returned 
Laurella Consadine ungratefully. "Even you, Unc* 



Pros — while you borryin' why cain't ye borry whole 
things that don't need mendin' ?*' 

Out of the shadows that hoarded the further end 
of the room came a woman with a little bundle in her 
arm which had evidently created the necessity for the 
borrowed cradle. 

**Laurelly/* the nurse hesitated, "I wouldn't name 
it to ye whilst ye was a-sufFerin/ but I jest cain't find 
the baby's clothes nowhars. Tve done washed the 
little trick and wrapped her in my flannen petticoat. 
I do despise to put anything on 'em that anybody else 
has wore — hit don't seem right. But I've beeh plumb 
through everything, an' cain't find none of her coats. 
Whar did you put 'em ? " 

"I didn't have no luck borryin' for this one," 
complained the sick woman fretfully. "Looks like 
everybody's got that mean that they wouldn't lend me 
a rag -»— an' the Lord knows I only ast a we art n of the 
clothes for my chillen. Folks can make shore that 
I return what I borry — ef the Lord lets me." 

"Ain't they nothin' to put on the baby?" asked* 
Mavity Bence, aghast. 

"No. Hit's jest like I been tellin* ye. I went to 
Tarver's wife — she's got a plenty. I knowed in 
reason she'd have baby clothes that she couldn't expect 
to wear out on her own chillen. I said as much to 
her, when she told me she was liable to need 'em befo' 
I did. I says, *Ye cain't need more'n half of 'em, I 
reckon, an' half '11 d<K|Be^ an' I'll return 'em to ye when 
I'm done with 'em.* ' She acted jest as selfish — said 


she'd like to know how I was goin* to inshore her that 
it wouldn't be twins agin same as 'twas before. Some 
folks is powerful mean an' suspicious." 

All this time the nurse had been standing with the 
quiet small packet which was the storm centre of 
preparation lying like a cocoon or a giant seed-pod 
against her bosom. 

She's a mighty likely little gal," said she finally. 
Have ye any hopes o' gittin' anything to put on her ? " 

The woman in the bed — she was scarcely more 
than a girl, with shining dark eyes and a profusion of 
jetty ringlets about her elfish, pretty little face — 
seemed to feel that this speech was in the nature of 
a reproach. She hastened to detail her further activ- 
ities on behalf of the newcomer. 

"Consadine's a poor provider," she said plaintively, 
alluding to her absent husband. **Maw said to me 
when I would have him that he was a poor provider; 
and then he's got into this here way of goin' off like. 
Time things gets too bad here at home he's got a big 
scheme up for makin' his fortune somewhars else, and 
out he puts. He 'lowed he'd be home with a plenty 
before the baby come. But thar — he's the best man 
that ever was, when he's here, and I have no wish to 
miscall him. I reckon he thought I could borry what 
I'd need. Biney Meal lent me enough for the little un 
that died; but of course some o' the coats was buried 
with the child; and what was left. Sis' Elvira borried 
for her baby. I was layin' off to go over to the Deep 
Spring neighbourhood when I could git a lift in that 


direction — the folks over yon is mighty accommoda- 
tive/* she concluded, "but I was took sooner than I 
expected, and hyer we air without a stitch. Tve done 
sont Bud an* Honey to Mandy Ann Foncher's — 
mebby they'll bring in somethin*/* 

The little cabin shrank back against the steep side 
of the mountain as though half terrified at the hollow 
immensity of the welkin above, or the almost sheer 
drop to the valley five hundred feet beneath. A sidling 
mountain trail passed the front of its rail fence, and 
stones continually rolled from the upper to the lower 
side of this highway. 

The day was darkening rapidly. A low line of red 
still burned behind the massive bulk of Big Unaka, 
and the solemn purple mountains raised their peaks 
against it in a jagged line. Within the single-roomed 
cabin the rich, broken light from the cavernous fire- 
place filled the smoke-browned interior full of shadow 
and shine in which things leaped oddly into life, or 
flrbpped out of knowledge with a startling effect. 
The four corners of the log room were utilized, three 
of them for beds, made by thrusting two poles through 
auger holes bored in the logs of the walls, setting a leg 
at the corner where these met and lacing the bottom 
with hickory withes. The fourth had some rude 
planks nailed in it for a table, and a knot-hole in one 
of the logs served the primitive purpose of a salt-cellar. 
A pack of gaunt hounds quarrelled under the floor, 
and the sick woman stirred uneasily on her bed and 
expressed a wish that her emissaries would return. 


Uncle Pros had taken the cradle to a back door to 
get the last of the evening sun upon his task. One 
would not have thought that he could hear what the 
women were saying at this distance, but the old hunter's 
ears were sharp. 

'* Never you mind, Laurelly/* he called cheerfully. 
"Wrop the baby up some fashion, and Fll hike out 
and get clothes for her, time I mend this cradle.** 

" Ef that ain't just like Unc' Pros !*' And the girlish 
mother laughed out suddenly. You saw the gypsy 
beauty of her face. " He ain't content with borryin' 
men's truck, but thinks he can turn in an' borry coats 
'mongst the women. Well, I reckon he might have 
better luck than what I did." 

As she spoke a small boy and girl, her dead brother's 
children, came clattering in from the purple mysteries 
of dusk outside, hand clasped in hand, and stopped 
close to the bed, staring. 

"Mandy Ann, she wouldn't lend us a thing," Bud 
began in an aggrieved tone. " I traded for this — chop- 
ped wood for it — and hit was all she would give me." 
He laid a coarse little garment upon the ragged coverlet. 

"That!" cried Laurella Passmore, taking it up with 
angrily tremulous fingers. "My child shain't wear no 
sech. Hit ain't fittin' for my baby to put on. Oh, I 
wisht I could git up from here and do about; I'd git 
somethin' for her to wear ! " 

"Son," said Mrs. Bence, approaching the bedside, 
"air ye afeared to go over as far as my house 
right now?" 


" I ain't skeered ef Honey*!! go witli me," returned 
tlie boy doubtfu!!y, as lie interrogated t!ie twi!it spaces 
beyond the open cabin door. 

"We!!, you go aslc Pap to !oolc in the green chist 
and send me the spotted ca!ilcer polce that he'!! find 
under the big bun'!e. Don't you !et him give you that 
thar big bun'!e; 'caze that's not a thing but seed corn, 
and he'!! be mad ef it's tetched. Te!! Pap that what's 
in the spotted polce ain't nothin' that he wants. Te!! 
him it's — we!!, te!! him to !oolc at it before he gives it 
to you." 

The two !itt!e sou!s scutt!ed away into the gathering 
darlc, and the neighbour woman sat down by the fire 
to nurse the baby and croon and await the c!othing 
for which she had sent. 

She was not an o!d woman, but a!ready stiff and 
misshapen by toi! and the laclc of that saving sa!t of 
pride, the stimu!ation of joy, which Iceeps us erect and 
supp!e. Her broad baclc was bent; her hands as they 
shifted the infant tenderiy were Icnotted and worlc- 
worn. Mavity Bence was a widow, !iving at home 
with her father, Gideon Himes; she had one chi!d !eft, 
a daughter; but the c!othing for which she had sent 
was an outfit made for a son, the posthumous off- 
spring of his father; and the babe had not !ived !ong 
enough to wear it. 

Outside, Unc!e Pros began to sing at his worlc. He 
had a fluty o!d tenor voice, and he put in turns and 
quavers that no ear not of the mountains could possibly 
fo!!pw and fix, First it was a hymn, a!! abrupt, odd. 


minor cadences and monotonous refrain. Then he 
shifted to a ballad — and the mountains are full of old 
ballads of Scotland and England, come down from the 
time of the first settlers, and with local names quaintly 
substituted for the originals here and there. 

" She's gwine to walk in a silken gownd, 
An' ha'e plenty o* siller for to spare/* 

chanted the old man above the little bed he was 

"Who's that you're a-namin' that's a-goin' to have 
silk dresses?" inquired Laurella, as he entered and 
set the mended cradle down by the bedside. 

"The baby," he returned. "Ef I find my silver 
mine — or ruther when I find my silver mine, for you 
know in reason with the directions Pap's Grandpap 
left, and that word from Great Uncle Billy that helped 
the Injuns work it, I'm bound to run the thing down 
one o' these days — when I find my silver mine this here 
little gal's a-goin' to have everything she wants — 
ain't ye. Pretty?" 

And, having made a bed in the cradle from some 
folded covers, he lifted the baby with strange deftness 
and placed it in. 

"See thar," he called their attention proudly. "As 
good as new. And ef I git time I'm a-goin' to give it 
a few licks o' paint." 

Hands on knees, he bent to study the face of the 
new-born, that countenance so ambiguous to our eyes, 
scarce stamped yet with the common seal of humanity. 


"She's a mighty pretty little gal/* he repeated 
Mavity Bence^s words. "She's got the' Passmore 
favour, as well as the Consadine. Reckon I better be 
steppin' over to Vander's and see can I borry their 
cow. If it's with you this time like it was with the 
last one, we'll have to have a cow. I always thought 
if we'd had a fresh cow for that other one, hit would 
'a' lived. I know in reason Vander'U lend the cow 
for a spell" — Uncle Pros always had unbounded 
confidence in the good will of his neighbours toward 
himself, since his own generosity to them would have 
been fathomless — "I know in reason he'll lend hit, 
'caze they ain't got no baby to their house." 

He bestowed one more proud, fond look upon the 
little face in the borrowed cradle, and walked out with 
as elated a step as though a queen had been born to 
the tribe. 

In the doorway he met Bud and Honey, returning 
with the spotted calico poke clutched fast between them. 

"I won't ask nothin' but a wearin' of em for my 
child," Laurella Consadine, born Laurella Passmore, 
reiterated when the small garments were laid out on 
the bed, and the baby was being dressed. "They're 
mighty fine, Mavity, an' I'll take good keer of 'em and 
always bear in mind that they're only borried." 

"No," returned Mavity Bence, with unwonted 
firmness, as she put the newcomer into the slip intended 
for her own son. "No, Laurelly, these clothes ain't 
loaned to you. I gives 'em to this child. I'm a widder, 
and I never look to wed again, becaze Pap he has to 


have somebody to do for him, an' he'd just about tear 
up the ground if I was to name sech a thing. Tm 
mighty glad to give 'em to yo' little gal. I only wisht," 
she said wistfully, "that hit was a boy. Ef hit was a 
boy, mebbe you'd give hit the name that should 'a' 
went with the clothes. I was a-goin' to call the baby 
John after hit's pappy." 

Laurella Consadine lay quiescent for a moment, 
big black eyes studying the smoky logs that raftered 
the roof. Then all at once she laughed, with a flash 
of white teeth. 

" I don't see why Johnnie ain't a mighty fine name 
for a gal," she said. "I vow I'm a-goin' to name her 
Johnnie ! " 

And so this one of the tribe of borrowing Passmores 
wore her own clothing from the first. No borrowed 
garment touched her. She rejected the milk from the 
borrowed cow, fiercely; lustily she demanded — and 
eventually received — her own legitimate, unborrowed 

Perhaps such a beginning had its own influence 
upon her future. 



A LL day the girl had walked steadily, her bare 
r^L feet comforted by the warm dust, shunning the 
pebbles, never finding sharp stones in the way, 
making friends with the path — that would always be 
Johnnie. From the little high-hung valley in the 
remote fastnesses of the Unakas where she was born, 
Johnnie Consadine was walking down to Cottonville, 
the factory town on the outskirts of Watauga, to find 
work. Sometimes the road wound a little upward 
for a quarter of a mile or so; but the general tendency 
was persistently down. 

In the gray dawn of Sunday morning she had stepped 
from the door of that room where the three beds 
occupied three corners, and a rude table was rigged in 
the fourth. It might almost seem that the same 
hounds were quarrelling under the floor that had 
scrambled there eighteen years before when she was 
born. At first the way was entirely familiar to her. 
It passed few habitations, and of those the dwellers 
were not yet abroad, since it was scarce day. As time 
went on she got to the little settlement at the foot of 
the first mountain, and had to explain to everybody 
her destination and ambition. Beyond this, she 



stopped occasionally for direction, she met more people; 
yet she was still in the heart of the mountains when 
noon found her, and she crept up a wayside bank and 
sat down alone to eat her bite of corn pone. 

Guided by the instinct — or the wood-craft — of the 
mountain born and bred, she had sought out one of the 
hermit springs of beautiful freestone water that hide 
in these solitudes. When she had slaked her thirst at 
its little ice-cold chalice, she raised her head with a 
low exclamation of rapture. There, growing and 
blowing beside the cool thread of water which trickled 
from the spring, was a stately pink moccasin flower. 
She knelt and gazed at it with folded hands, as one 
before a shrine. 

What is it in the sweeping dignity of these pointed, 
oval, parallel-veined leaves, sheathed one within 
another, the clean column of the bloom stalk rising a 
foot and a half perhaps above, and at its tip the wonder- 
ful pink, dreaming Buddha of the forest, that so com- 
mands the heart? It was not entirely the beauty of 
the softly glowing orchid that charmed Johnnie Consa- 
dine's eyes; it was the significance of the flower. 
Somehow the finding this rare, shy thing decking her 
path toward labour and enterprise spoke to her soul 
of success. For a long time she knelt, her bright 
uncovered head dappled by a ray of sunlight which 
filtered through the deep, cool green above her, her 
face bent, her eyes brooding, as though she prayed. 
When she had finished her dinner of corn pone and 
fried pork, she rose and parted with almost reverent 


fingers the pink wonder from its stalk, sought out a 
coarse, clean handkerchief from her bundle and, steep- 
ing it in the icy water of the spring, lapped it around 
her treasure. Not often in her eighteen summers 
had she found so fine a specimen. Then she took up 
her journey, comforted and strangely elated. 

"Looks like it was waiting right there to tell me 
howdy,'* she murmured to herself. 

The keynote of Johnnie Consadine's character 
was aspiration. In her cabin home the wings of 
desire were clipped, because she must needs put her 
passionate young soul into the longing for food, to 
quiet the cravings of a healthy stomach, which gen- 
erally clamoured from one blackberry season to the 
other; the longing for shoes, when her feet were frost- 
bitten; the yet more urgent wish to feed the little ones 
she loved; the pressing demand, when the water-bucket 
gave out and they had to pack water in a tin tomato 
can with a string bail; the dull ache of mortification 
when she became old enough to understand their 
position as the borrowing Passmores. Yet all human 
desire is sacred, and of God ; to desire — to want — 
to aspire — thus shall the individual be saved; and 
surely in this is the salvation of the race. And Johnnie 
felt vaguely that at last she was going out into a world 
where she should learn what to desire and how to 
desire it. 

Now as she tramped she was conning over her 
present plans. Again she saw the cabin at home in 
that pitchy black which precedes the first leavening of 


dawn, and herself getting up to start early on the 
long walk. Her mother would get up too, and that 
was foolish. She saw the slight figure stooping to 
rake together the embers in the broad chimney's throat 
that the coffee-pot might be set on. She remonstrated 
with the little mother, saying that she aimed not to 
disturb anybody — not even Uncle Pros. 

"Uncle Pros!'' Laurella echoed from the hearth- 
stone, where she sat on her heels, like a little girl play- 
ing at mud-pies. Johnnie smiled at the memory of 
how her mother laughed over the suggestion, with a 
drawing of slant brows above big, tragic dark eyes, a 
look of suffering from the mirth which adds the crown 
to joyousness. "Your Uncle Pros he got a revelation 
'long 'bout midnight as to just whar that thar silver 
mine is that's been dodgin' him for more'n forty year. 
He come a-shakin' me by the shoulder — like I reckon 
he's done fifty times ef he's done it once — and telling 
me that he's off to make all our fortunes inside of a 
week. He said if you still would go down to that thar 
old fool cotton mill and hire out, to name it to you that 
Shade Buckheath would stand some watchin'. Your 
Uncle Pros has got sense — in streaks. Why in the 
world you'll pike out and go to work in a cotton mill 
is more than I can cipher." 

"To take care of you and the children," the girl 
had said, standing tall and straight, deep-bosomed and 
red-lipped, laughing back at her little mother. " Some- 
body's got to take care of you-all, and I just love to 
be the one." 


Laurella Consadine, commonly called in mountain 
fashion by her maiden name of Laurella Passmore, 
scrambled to her feet and tossed the dark curls out 
of her eyes. 

" Aw — law — huh ! " she returned carelessly. " We'll 
get along; we always have. How do you reckon I 
made out before you was born, you great big some- 
body .? What's the matter with you .? Did you fail 
to borry a frock for the dance over at Rainy Gap ? 
Try again, honey — Til bet S'lomy Buckheath would 
lend you one o' her'n." 

That was it; borrowing — borrowing — borrowing 
till they were known as the borrowing Passmores and 
became the jest of the neighbourhood. 

" No, I couldn't stand it," the girl justified herself. 
" I had obliged to get out and go where money could 
be earned — me, that's big and stout and able." 

And sighingly — yet light-heartedly, for with 
Laurella Consadine and Johnnie there was always the 
quaint suggestion of a little girl with a doll quite too 
big for her — the mother let her go. It had been just 
so when Johnnie would have her time for every term 
of the "old field hoUerin' school," where she learned 
to read and write; even when she persisted in going 
to Rainy Gap where some charitably inclined northern 
church maintained a little school, and pushed her 
education to dizzy heights that to mountain vision 
appeared "plumb foolish." 

That morning she had cautioned her mother to be 
careful lest they waken the children, for if the little 


ones roused and began, as the mountain phrase has it, 
"takin* on," she scarcely knew how she should find 
heart to leave them. The children — there was the 
thing that drove. Four small brothers and sisters 
there were; with little Deanie, the youngest, to make 
the painfully strong plea of recent babyhood. Con- 
sadine, who never could earn money, and used to be 
from home following one wild scheme or another most 
of the time, was gone these two years upon his last 
dubious, adventurous journey; there was not even 
his intermittent assistance to depend upon. Johnnie 
was the man of the family, and she shouldered 
her burden bravely, declaring to herself that she 
would yet have a chance, which the little ones could 

She had kissed her mother, picked up her bundle 
and got as far as the door, when there came a spat of 
bare feet meeting the floor, a pattering rush, and 
Deanie* s short arms went around her knees, almost 
tripping her up. 

** I wasn't 'sleep — I was 'wake the whole time," 
whispered the baby, lifting a warm, pursed mouth for 
a kiss. " Deanie'U be good an' let you go. Sis' Johnnie. 
An' then when you get down thar whar it's all so 
sightly, you'll send for Deanie, 'cause deed and double 
you couldn't live without her, now could ye?" And 
she looked craftily up into the face bent above her, 
bravely choking back the tears that wanted to drown 
her long speech. 

Johnnie dropped her bundle and caught up the 


child, crushing the warm, soft, yielding little form 
against her breast in a very passion of tenderness. 

**Deed and double I couldn't,*' she whispered back. 
"Sister's goin' to earn money, and Deanie shall have 
plenty of good things to eat next winter, and some 
shoes. She shan't be housed up every time it snows. 
Sis's goin' to " 

She broke off abruptly and kissed the small face with 

"Good-bye," she managed to whisper, as she set 
the baby down and turned to her mother. The kind- 
ling touch of that farewell warmed her resolution yet. 
She was not going down to Cottonville to work in the mill 
merely; she was going into the Storehouse of Possibili- 
ties, to find and buy a chance in the world for these 
poor little souls who could never have it otherwise. 

Before she kissed her mother, took up her bundle 
and trudged away in the chill, gray dawn, she declared 
an intention to come home and pay back every one 
to whom they were under obligations. Now her face 
dimpled as she remembered the shriek of dismay 
Laurella sent after her. 

"Good land, Johnnie Consadine! If you start 
in to pay off all the borryin's of the Passmore family 
since you was born, you'll ruin us — that's what you'll 
do — you'll ruin us." 

These things acted themselves over and over in 
Johnnie's mind as, throughout the fresh April after- 
noon, her long, free, rhythmic step, its morning vigour 
undiminished, swung the miles behind her; still present 


in thought when, away down in Render's Gap, she 
settled herself on a rock by the wayside where a little 
stream crossed the road, to wash her feet and put on 
the shoes which she had up to this time carried with 
her bundle. 

** I reckon I must be near enough town to need 
'em," she said regretfully, as she drew the big, shape- 
less, cowhide affairs on her slim, brown, carefully 
washed and dried feet, and with a leathern thong 
laced down a wide, stiflF tongue. She had earned the 
money for these shoes picking blackberries at ten 
cents the gallon, and Uncle Pros had bought them at 
the store at Bledsoe according to his own ideas. "Get 
'em big enough and there won't be any fussin' about 
the fit," the old man explained his theory: and indeed 
the fit of those shoes on Johnnie's feet was not a thing 
to fuss over — it was past considering. 

The sun was westering; the Gap began to be in 
shadow, although the point at which she sat was well 
above the valley. The girl was all at once aware that 
she was tired and a little timid of what lay before her. 
She had written to Shade Buckheath, a neighbour's 
boy with whom she had gone to school, now employed 
as a mechanic or loom-fixer in one of the cotton mills, 
and from whom she had received a reply saying that 
she could get work in Cottonville if she would come 

Mavity Bence, who had given Johnnie her first 
clothes, was a weaver in the Hardwick mill at Cotton- 
ville, Watauga's milling suburb; her father, Gideon 


Himes, with whom Shade Buckheath learned his 
trade, was a skilled mechanic, and had worked as a 
loom-fixer for a while. At present he was keeping a 
boarding-house for the hands, and it was here Johnnie 
was to find lodging. Shade himself was reported to 
be doing extremely well. He had promised in his 
letter that if Johnnie came on a Sunday evening he 
would walk up the road a piece and meet her. She 
now began to hope that he would come. Then, wait- 
ing for him, she forgot him, and set herself to imagine 
what work in the cotton mill and life in town would 
be like. 

To Shade Buckheath, strolling up the road, in the 
expansiveness of his holiday mood and the dignity 
of his Sunday suit, the first sight of Johnnie came with 
a little unwelcome shock. He had left her in the 
mountains a tall, thin, sandy-haired girl in the growing 
age. He got his first sight of her profile relieved against 
the green of the wayside bank, with a bunch of bloom- 
ing azaleas starring its verdure behind her bright head. 
He was not artist enough to appreciate the picture 
at its value; he simply had the sudden resentful feeling 
of one who has asked for a hen and been offered a 
bird of paradise. She was tall and lithe and strong; 
her thick, fair hair, without being actually curly, seemed 
to be so vehemently alive that it rippled a bit in its 
length, as a swift-flowing brook does over a stone. 
It rose up around her brow in a roll that was almost 
the fashionable coiff'ure. Those among whom she 
had been bred, laconically called the colour red; but 


in fact it was only too deep a gold to be quite yellow. 
Johnnie's face, even in repose, was always potentially 
joyous. The clear, wide, gray eyes, under their 
arching brows, the mobile lips, held as it were the smile 
in solution; when one addressed her it broke swiftly 
into being, the pink lips lifting adorably above the white 
teeth, the long fringed eyes crinkling deliciously about 
the corners. Johnnie loved to laugh, and the heart 
of any reasonable being was instantly moved to give 
her cause. 

For himself, the young man was a prevalent type 
among his people. Brown, well built, light on his feet, 
with heavy black hair growing low on his forehead, 
and long blackish-gray eyes, there was something 
Latin in the grace of his movements and in his glance. 
Life ran strong in Shade Buckheath. He stepped 
with an independent stride that was almost a swagger, 
and already felt himself a successful man; but that one 
of the tribe of borrowing Passmores should presume 
to such opulence of charm struck him as well-nigh im- 
pudent. The pure outlines of Johnnie's features, their 
aristocratic mould, the ruddy gold of her rich, cluster- 
ing hair, those were things it seemed to him a good 
mill-hand might well have dispensed with. Then 
the girl turned, saw him, and flashed him a swift 
smile of greeting. 

-*It's mighty kind of you to come up and meet me,'' 
she said, getting to her feet a little awkwardly on 
account of the shoes, and picking up her bundle. 

"I 'lowed you might get lost," bantered the young 


fellow, not offering to carry the packet as they trudged 
away side by side. ** How*s everybody back on Unaka ? 
Has your Uncle Pros found his silver mine yet ?** 

"No," returned Johnnie seriously, "but he's lookin' 
for it." 

Shade threw back his head and laughed so long and 
loud that it would have been embarrassing to any 
one less sound and sweet-natured than this girl. 

"I reckon he is," said Buckheath. "I reckon Pros 
Passmore will be lookin* for that silver mine when 
Gabriel blows. It runs in the family, don't it?" 

Johnnie looked at him and shook her head. 

"YouVe been learnin' town ways, haven't you?" 
she asked simply. 

"You mean my makin' game of the Passmores?" 
he inquired coolly. "No, I never learned that in the 
settlement; I learned it in the mountains. I just forgot 
your name was Passmore, that's all," he added sar- 
castically. "Are you goin' to get mad about it?" 

Johnnie had put on her slat sunbonnet and pulled 
it down so he could not see her face. 

"No," she returned evenly, "I'm not goin' to get 
mad at anything. And my name's not Passmore, 
either. My name is Consadine, and I aim to be called 
that. Uncle Pros Passmore is my mother's uncle, 
and one of the best men that ever lived, I reckon. If 
all the folks he's nursed in sickness or laid out in death 
was numbered over it would be a- many a one; and I 
never heard him take any credit to himself for anything 
Whvt Shade, the last three years of your 


father's life Uncle Pros didn't dare hunt his silver 
mine much, because your father was paralysed and had 
to have close waitin' on, and — and there wasn't 
nobody but Uncle Pros, since all his boys was gone 

and " 

Oh, say it. Speak out," urged Shade hardily. 
You mean that all us chaps had cut out and left the 
old man, and there wasn't a cent of money to pay 
anybody, and no one but Pros Passmore would 'a' 
been fool enough to do such hard work without pay. 
Well, I reckon you're about right. You and me come 
of a mighty poor nation of folks; but I'm goin' to make 
my pile and have my share, if lookin' out for number 
one '11 do it." 

Johnnie turned and regarded him curiously. It 
was characteristic of the mountain girl, and of her 
people, that she had not on first meeting stared, vil- 
lage fashion, at his brave attire; and she seemed now 
concerned only with the man himself. 

"I reckon you'll get it," she said meditatively. "I 
reckon you will. Sometimes I think we always get 
just what we deserve in this here world, and that the 
only safe way is to try to deserve something good. 
I hope I didn't say too much for Uncle Pros; but he's 
so easy and say-nothin' himself, that I just couldn't 
bear to hear you laughin' at him and not answer you." 

"I declare, you're plenty funny!" Buckheath 
burst out boisterously. "No, I ain't mad at you. I 
kind o' like you for stickin' up for the old man. You 
and me '11 get along, I reckon." 


As they moved forward, the man and the girl fell 
into more general chat, the feeling of irritation at 
Johnnie's beauty, her superior air, growing rather 
than diminishing in the young fellow's mind. How 
dare Pros Passmore's grandniece carry a bright head 
so high, and flash such glances of liquid fire at her 
questioner ? Shade looked sidewise sometimes at 
his companioii as he asked the news of their mutual 
friends, and she answered. Yet when he got, along 
with her mild responses, one of those glances, he was 
himself strangely subdued by it, and fain to prop 
his leaning prejudices by contrasting her scant print 
gown, her slat sunbonnet, and cowhide shoes with the 
apparel of the humblest in the village which they were 



SO WALKING, and so desultorily talking, 
they came out on a noble white highway 
that wound for miles along the bluflFy edge 
of the upland overlooking the valley upon the one side, 
fronted by handsome residences on the other. 

It was Johnnie*s first view of a big valley, a river, 
or a city. She had seen the shoestring creek bottoms 
between the endless mountains among which she was 
born and bred, the high-hung, cup-like depressions of 
their inner fastnesses; she was used to the cool, clear, 
boulder-checked mountain creeks that fight their way 
down those steeps like an armed man beating off 
assailants at every turn; she had been taken a number 
of times to Bledsoe, the tiny settlement at the foot of 
Unaka Old Bald, where there were two stores, a 
blacksmith shop, the post-office and the church. 

Below her, now beginning to glow in the evening 
light, opened out one of the finest valleys of the south- 
ern Appalachees. Lapped in it, far oflF, shrouded with 
rosy mist which she did not identify as transmuted 
coal smoke, a city lay, fretted with spires, already 
sparkling with electric lights, set like a glittering boss 
of jewels in the broad curve of a shining river. 



Directly down the steep at their feet was the cotton- 
mill town, a suburb clustered about a half-dozen 
great factories, whose long rows of lighted windows 
defined their black bulk. There was a stream here, 
too; a small, sluggish thing that flowed from tank to 
tank among the factories, spanned by numerous hand- 
rails, bridged in one place for the wagon-road to cross. 
Mills, valley, town, distant rimming mountains, river 
and creek, glowed and pulsed, dissolved and relimned 
themselves in the uproUing glory of sunset. 

**Oh, wait for me a minute. Shade,'* pleaded the 
girl, pulling off^ her sunbonnet. . . . " I want to look. 
. . . Never in my life did I see anything so sightly!*' 

"Good land!" laughed the man, with a note of 
impatience in his voice. "You and me was raised 
on mountain scenery, as a body may say. I should 
think weM both had enough of it to last us." 

" But this — this is difi^erent," groped Johnnie, 
trying to explain the emotions that possessed her. 
"Look at that big settlement over yon. I reckon it's 
a city. It must be Watauga. It looks like the — 
the mansions of the blest, in the big Bible that preacher 
Drane has, down at Bledsoe." 

" I reckon they're blest — they got plenty of money," 
returned Shade, with the cheap cynicism of his 

"So many houses!" the girl communed with her- 
self. "There's bound to be a-many a person in all 
them houses," she went on. One could read the 
loving outreach to all humanity in her tones. 


"There is/' put in Shade caustically. "There's 
many a rogue. You want to look out for them tricky 
town folks — a girl like you.'* 

Had he been more kind, he would have said, "a 
pretty girl like you.'* But Johnnie did not miss it; 
she was used to such as he gave, or less. 

"Come on,'* he urged impatiently. "We won't 
get no supper if you don't hurry." 

Supper! Johnnie drew in her breath and shook 
her head. With that scene unrolled there, as though 
all the kingdoms of earth were spread before them 
to look upon, she was asked to remember supper! 
Sighing, but submissively, she moved to follow her 
guide, a reluctant glance across her shoulder, when there 
came a cry something like that which the wild geese 
make when they come over in the spring; and a thing 
with two shining, fiery eyes, a thing that purred like 
a giant cat, rounded a curve in the road and came 
to a sudden jolting halt beside them. 

Shade stopped immediately for that. Johnnie did 
not fail to recognize the vehicle. Illustrated maga- 
zines go everywhere in these days. In the automobile 
rode a man, bare-headed, dressed in a suit of white 
flannels, strange to Johnnie's eyes. Beside him sat 
a woman in a long, shimmering, silken cloak, a great, 
misty, silver-gray veil twined round head and hat 
and tied in a big bow under the chin. Johnnie had as 
yet seen nothing more pretentious than the starched 
and ruffled flummeries of a small mountain watering- 
place. This beautiful, peculiar looking garb had 


something of the picturesque, the poetic, about it, 
that appealed to her as the frocks worn at Chalybeate 
Springs or Bledsoe had never done. She had not 
wanted them. She wanted this. The automobile was 
stopped, the young fellow in it calling to Shade: 

"I wonder if you could help me with this thing, 
Buckheath ? It's on a strike again. Show me what 
you did to it last time.'' 

Along the edge of the road at this point, for safety's 
sake, a low stone wall had been laid. Setting down 
her bundle, Johnnie leaned upon this, and shared her 
admiration between the valley below and these beauti- 
ful, interesting newcomers. Her bonnet was pushed 
far back; the wind ruffled the bright hair about her 
forehead; the wonder and glory and delight of it all 
made her deep eyes shine with a child's curiosity 
and avid wishfulness. Her lips were parted in uncon- 
scious smiles. White and red, tremulous, on tiptoe, 
the eager soul looking out of her face, she was very 
beautiful. The man in the automobile observed her 
kindly; the woman's features she could not quite see, 
though the veil was parted. 

Neither Johnnie nor the driver of the car saw the 
quick, resentful glance her companion shot at the 
city man as Shade noted the latter's admiring look at 
the girl. Buckheath displayed an awesome familiarity 
with the machine and its workings, crawling under 
the body, and tapping it here and there with a wrench 
its driver supplied. They backed it and moved it 
a little, and seemed to be debating the short turn which 


would take them into the driveway leading up to a 
house on the slope above the road. 

Johnnie continued to watch with fascinated eyes; 
Shade was on his feet now, reaching into the bowels 
of the machine to do mysterious things. 

It's a broken connection/' he announced briefly. 
Is the wire too short to twist together?*' inquired 
the man in the car. "Will you have to put in a new 
piece ? 

"Uh-huh/* assented Buckheath. 

"There's a wire in that box there," directed the 

Shade worked in silence for a moment. 

"Now she'll go," I reckon," he announced, and 
once more the driver started up his car. It curved 
perilously near the bundle she had set down, with the 
handkerchief containing her cherished blossom lying 
atop; the mud-guard swept this latter off^, and Buck- 
heath set a foot upon it as he followed the machine 
in its progress. 

"Take care — that was a flower," the man in the 
auto warned, too late. 

Shade answered with a quick, backward-flung glance 
and a little derisive laugh, but no words. The young 
fellow stopped the machine, jumped down, and picked 
up the coarse little handkerchief which showed a bit 
of drooping green stem at one end and a glimpse of 
pink at the other. 

"I'm sorry," he said, presenting it to Johnnie with 
exactly the air and tone he had used in speaking to the 


lady who was with him in the car. "If I had seen it in 
time, I might have saved it. I hope it's not much hurt." 

Buckheath addressed himself savagely to his work 
at the machine. The woman in the auto glanced uneas- 
ily up at the house on the slope above them. Johnnie 
looked into the eyes bent so kindly upon her, and could 
have worshipped the ground on which their owner 
trod. Kindness always melted her heart utterly, but 
kindness with such beautiful courtesy added — this 
was the quality in flower. 

" It doesn't make any difi^er," she said softly, turning 
to him a rapt, transfigured face. "It's just a bloom 
I brought from the mountains — they don't grow 
in the valley, and I found this one on my way down." 

The man wondered a little if it were only the glow 
of the sunset that lit her face with such shining beauty; 
he noted how the fires of it flowed over her bright, 
blown hair and kindled its colour, how it lingered in 
the clear eyes, and flamed upon the white neck and 
throat till they had almost the translucence of pearl. 

" I think this thing '11 work now — for a spell, any- 
how," Shade Buckheath's voice sounded sharply from 
the road behind them. 

" Are you afraid to attempt it. Miss Sessions ? " the 
young man called to his companion. "If you are, 
we'll walk up, I'll telephone at the house for a trap 
and we'll drive back — Buckheath will take the ma- 
chine in for us." 

The voice was even and low-toned, yet every word 
came to Johnnie distinctly. She watched with a sort 


of rapture the movements of this party. The man's 
hair was dark and crisp, and worn a little long about 
the temples and ears; he had pleasant dark eyes and 
an air of being slightly amused, even when he did not 
smile. The lady apparently said that she was not 
afraid, for her companion got in, the machine nego- 
tiated the turn safely and began to move slowly up the 
steep ascent. As it did so, the driver gave another 
glance toward where the mountain girl stood, a swift, 
kind glance, and a smile that stayed with her after 
the shining car had disappeared in the direction of 
the wide-porched building where people were laughing 
and calling to each other and moving about — people 
dressed in beautiful garments which Johnnie would 
fain have inspected more closely. 

Buckheath stood gazing at her sarcastically. 

"Come on," he ordered, as she held back, lingering. 
" They ain't no good in you hangin* 'round here. That 
was Mr. Gray Stoddard, and the lady he's beauin' 
is Miss Lydia Sessions, Mr. Hardwick's sister-in-law. 
He's for such as her — not for you. He's the boss of 
the bosses down at Cottonville. No use of you lookin' 
at him." 

Johnnie scarcely heard the words. Her eyes were 
on the wide porch of the house above them. 

** What is that place ?" she inquired in an awestruck 
whisper, as she fell into step submissively, plodding 
with bent head at his shoulder. 

"The Country Club," Shade flung back at her. 
" Did you 'low it was heaven ? " 


Heaven! Johnnie brooded on that for a long time. 
She turned her head stealthily for a last glimpse of 
the portico where a laughing girl tossed a ball to a 
young fellow on the terrace below. After all, heaven 
was not so far amiss. She had rather associated it 
with the abode of the blest. The people in it were 
happy; they moved in beautiful raiment all day long; 
they spoke to each other kindly. It was love's home, 
she was sure of that. Then her mind went back to 
the dress of the girl in the auto. 

"Fm a-going to have me a frock like that before 
I die," she said, half unconsciously, yet with a sudden 
passion of resolution. *'Yes, if I live Tm a-goin* 
to have me just such a frock.** 

Shade wheeled in his tracks with a swift narrowing 
of the slate-gray eyes. He had been more stirred than 
he was willing to acknowledge by the girl's beauty, 
and by a nameless power that went out from the seem- 
ingly helpless creature and laid hold of those with 
whom she came in contact. It was the open admira- 
tion of young Stoddard which had roused the sullen 
resentment he was now spending on her. 

**Ye air, air yeT' he demanded sharply. ** You're 
a-goin' to have a frock like that ? And what man's 
a-goin' to pay for it, I'd like to know?" 

Such talk belonged to the valley and the settlement. 
In the mountains a woman works, of course, and earns 
her board and keep. She is a valuable industrial 
possession or chattel to the man, who may profit by 
her labour; never a luxury — a bill of expense. As 


she walked, Johnnie nodded toward the factory in 
the valley, beginning to blaze with light — her bridge of 
toil, that was to carry her from the island of Nowhere 
to the great mainland of Life, where everything might 
be had for the working, the striving. 

**I didn't name no man," she said mildly. "I don't 
reckon anybody's goin' to give me things. Ain't there 
the factory where a body may work and earn money 
for all they need ?" 

"Well, I reckon they might, if they was good and 
careful to need powerful little," allowed Shade. 

At the moment they came to the opening of a small 
path which plunged abruptly down the steep side of 
the ridge, curving in and out with — and sometimes 
across — a carriage road. As they took the first steps 
Oil this the sun forsook the valley at last, and lingered 
only on the mountain top where was that Palace of 
Pleasure into which He and She had vanished, before 
which the strange chariot waited. And all at once 
the little brook that wound, a golden thread, between 
the bulk of the mills, flowed, a stream of ink, from 
pool to pool of black water. The way down turned 
and turned; and each time that Shade and Johnnie 
got another sight of the buildings of the little village 
below, they had changed in character with the changing 
poidt of view. They loomed taller, they looked darker 
in spite of the pulsing light from their many windows. 

And now there burst out a roar of whistles, like 
the bellowing of great monsters. Somehow it struck 
cold upon the girl's heart. They were coming down 


from that wonderful highland where she had seemed 
to see all the kingdoms of earth spread before her, 
hers for the conquering; they were descending into 
the shadow. 

As they came quite to the foot they saw groups of 
women and children, with here and there a decrepit 
man, leaving the cottages and making their way toward 
the lighted mills. From the doors of little shanties 
tired-faced women with boys and girls walking near 
them, and, in one or two cases, very small ones cling- 
ing to their skirts and hands, reinforced the crowd 
which set in a steady stream toward the bridges and 
the open gates in the high board fences. 

"What are they a-goin' to the factory for on Sun- 
day evening?" Johnnie inquired. 

"Night turn," replied Buckheath briefly. "Sun- 
day's over at sundown/* 

"Oh, yes," agreed Johnnie dutifully, but rather 
disheartened. "Trade must be mighty good if they 
have to work all night." 

"Them that works don't get any more for it," 
retorted Shade harshly. 

"What's the little ones goin' to the mill for?" 
Johnnie questioned, staring up at him with appre- 
hensive eyes. 

" Why, to play, I reckon," returned the young fellow 

ironically. " Folks mostly does go to the mill to play, 

don't they ? " 
The girl ran forward and clasped his arm with 

eager fingers that shook. 


"Shade!" she cried; "they can*t work those little 
babies. That one over there ain't to exceed four 
year old, and I know it/' 

The man looked indifferently to where a tiny boy 
trotted at his mother's heels, solemn, old-faced, unchild- 
ish. He laughed a little. 

"That thar chap is the oldest feller in the mills," 
he said. "That's Benny Tarbox. He's too short 
to tend a frame, but his maw lets him help her at the 
loom — every weaver has obliged to have helpers 
wait on 'em. You'll get used to it." 

Get used to it! She pulled the sunbonnet about 
her face. The gold was all gone from the earth, and 
from her mood as well. She raised her eyes to where 
the last brightness lingered on the mountain-top. Up 
there they were happy. And even as her feet carried 
her forward to Pap Himes's boarding-house, her soul 
went clamouring, questing back toward the heights, 
and the sunlight, the love and laughter, she had left 

"The power and the glory — the power and the 
glory," she whispered over and over to herself. "Is 
it all back there ? " Again she looked wistfully toward 
the heights. "But maybe a body with two feet can 



THE suburb of Cottonville bordered a creek, a 
starveling, wet-weather stream which offered 
the sole suggestion of sewerage. The village 
was cut in two by this natural division. It clung to the 
shelving sides of the shallow ravine; it was scattered 
like bits of refuse on the numerous railroad embank- 
ments, where building was unhandy and streets almost 
impossible, to be convenient to the mills. Six big 
factories in all, some on one side of the state line and 
some on the other, daily breathed in their live current 
of operatives and exhaled them again to fill the litter 
of flimsy shanties. 

The road which wound down from the heights ran 
through the middle of the village and formed its main 
street. Across the ravine from it, reached by a wooden 
bridge, stood a pretentious frame edifice, a boarding- 
house built by the Gloriana mill for the use of its office 
force and mechanics. Men were lounging on the wide 
porches of this structure in Sabbath-afternoon leisure, 
smoking and singing. The young Southern male of 
any class is usually melodious. Across the hollow 
came the sounds of a guitar and a harmonica. 

"Listen a minute. Shade. Ain't that pretty? I 



know that tune/' said Johnnie, and she began to hum 
softly under her breath, her girlish heart responding 
to the call. 

**Hush," admonished Buckheath harshly. **You 
don't want to be runnin' after them fellers. It's some 
of the loom-fixers." 

In silence he led the way past the great mill buildings 
of red brick, square and unlovely but many-windowed 
and glowing, alight, throbbing with the hum of pent 
industry. Johnnie gazed steadily up at those windows; 
the glow within was other than that which gilded 
turret and pinnacle and fairy isle in the Western sky, 
yet perchance this light might be a lamp to the feet 
of one who wished to climb that way. Her adventur- 
ous spirit rose to the challenge, and she said softly, more 
to herself than to the man: 

''Vm a-goin' to be a boss hand in there. I'm goin' 
to get the highest wages of any girl in the mill, time 
I learn my trade, because I'm goin' to try harder 'n 

Shade looked around at her, curiously. Her beauty, 
her air of superiority, still repelled him — such fancy 
articles were not apt to be of much use — but this 
sounded like a woman who might be valuable to her 

Johnnie returned his gaze with the frank good will 
of a child, and suddenly he forgot everything but the 
adorable lift of her pink lip over the shining white 

The young fellow now halted at the step of a big frame 


house. The outside was of an extent to seem fairly 
pretentious; yet so mean was the construction, so spar- 
ing of window and finish, that the building showed itself 
instantly for what it was — the cheap boarding-house 
of a mill town. A group of tired-looking girls sitting 
on the step in blessed Sunday idleness and cheap 
Sunday finery stared as he and Johnnie ascended and 
crossed the porch. One of these, a tall lank woman 
of perhaps thirty years, got up and followed a few hesi- 
tating paces, apparently more as a matter of curiosity 
than with any hospitable intent. 

A man with a round red face and a bald pate whose 
curly fringe of grizzled, reddish hair made him look like 
a clown in a pantomime, motioned them with a surly 
thumb toward the back of the house, where clattering 
preparations for supper were audible and odoriferous. 
The old fellow sat in a splint-bottomed chair of extra 
size and with arms. This he had kicked back against 
the wall of the house, so that his short legs did not 
reach the floor, the big carpet-slippered feet finding 
rest on the rung of the chair. His attitude was one 
of relaxation. The face, broad, flat, small of eye 
and wide of mouth, did indeed suggest the clown coun- 
tenance; yet there was in it, and in the whole personality, 
something of the Eastern idol, the journeyman attempt 
of crude humanity to represent power. And the potential 
cruelty of the type slept in his placid countenance as 
surely as ever in the dreaming faceof Shiva, the destroyer. 

" Mrs. Bence — Aunt Mavity,*' called Shade, advanc- 
ing into the narrow hall. In answer a tired-faced 



woman came from the kitchen, wiping her hands 
on her checked apron. 

"Good Lord, if it ain't Johnnie! I was beared 
she wouldn't git here to-night," she ejaculated when 
she saw the girl. **Take her out on the porch, Shade; 
I ain't got a minute now. Pap's poorly again, and 
I'm obliged to put the late supper on the table for them 
thar gals — the night shift's done eat and gone. I'll 
show her whar she's to sleep at, after while. I don't 
just rightly know whar Pap aimed to have her stay," 
she concluded hastily, as something boiled over on the 
stove. Johnnie set her bundle down in the corner 
of the kitchen. 

**I'll help," she said simply, as she drew the excited 
coffee-pot to a corner of the range and dosed it judi- 
ciously with cold water. 

"Well, now, that's mighty good of you," panted 
worried Mavity Bence. "How queer things comes 
'round," she ruminated as they dished up the biscuits 
and fried pork. "I helped you into the very world, 
Johnnie. I lived neighbour to your maw, and they 
wasn't nobody else to be with her when you was born, 
and I went over. I never suspicioned that you would 
be helpin' me git supper down here in the settlement 
inside o' twenty year." 

Johnnie ran and fetched and carried, as though she 
had never done anything else in her life, intent on the 
one task. She was alive in every fibre of her young 
body; she saw, she heard, as these words cannot always 
be truthfully applied to people. 



"Did Shade tell you anything about Louvania?'* 
inquired the woman at length. 

"No," replied Johnnie softly, "but I seen it in the 

Louvania Bence, the only remaining child of the 
widow, had, two weeks before, left her work at the 
mill, taken the trolley in to Watauga, walked out upon 
the county bridge across the Tennessee and jumped 
off*. Johnnie had read the published account, passed 
from hand to hand in the mountains where Pap Himes 
and Mavity Bence had troops of kin and where Lou- 
vania was born. The statement ran that there was no 
love affair, and that the girl's distaste for her work 
at the cotton mill must have been the reason for the 

"That there talk in the newspaper wasn't right," 
Louvania's mother choked. "They wasn't a word 
of truth in it. You know in reason that if Louvany 
hated to work in the mill as bad as all that she'd have 
named it to me — her own mother — and she never 
did. She never spoke a word like it, only to say now 
and ag'in, as we all do, that it was hard, and that she'd 
— well, she did 'low she'd ruther be dead, as gals will; 
but she couldn't have meant it. Do you think she 
could have meant it, Johnnie?" 

The faded eyes, clouded now by tears, stared up into 
Johnnie's clear young orbs. 

"Of course she couldn't have meant it," Johnnie 
comforted her. "Why, I'm sure it's fine to work in 
the mill. If she didn't feel so, she'd have told you the 


first thing. She must have been out of her mind. 
People always are when they — do that.'* 

"That's what I keep a-thinkin'," the poor mother 
said, clinging patKetically to that which gave her 
consolation and cheer. " I say to myself that it must 
have been some brain disease took her all of a sudden 
and made her crazy that-a-way; because God knows 
she had nothing to fret her nor drive her to such." 

By this time the meal was on the table, and the 
girls trooped in from the porch. The old man with the 
bald pate was seating himself at the head of the board, 
and Johnnie asked the privilege of helping wait on table. 

"No, you ain't a-goin' to," Mrs. Bence said hos- 
pitably, pushing her into a seat. " If you start in to 
work in the morning, like I reckon you will, you ain't 
got no other time to get acquainted with the gals but 
right now. You set down. We don't take much 
waitin* on. We all pass things, and reach for what 

we want." 

In the smoky illumination of the two ill-cleaned 
lamps which stood one at each end of the table, 
Johnnie's fair face shone out like a star. The tall 
woman who had shown a faint interest in them on 
the porch was seated just opposite. Her bulging 
light-blue eyes scarcely left the newcomer's countenance 
as she absent-mindedly filled her mouth. She was a 
scant, stringy-looking creature, despite her height; 
the narrow back was hooped like that of an old woman 
and the shoulders indrawn, so that the chest was 
cramped, and sent forth a wheezy, flatted voice that 


sorted ill with her inches; her round eyes had no 
speculation in them; her short chin was obstinate with- 
out power; the Uiin, half-gray hair that wanted to 
curl feebly about her lined forehead was stripped 
away and twisted in a knot no bigger than a walnut, 
at the back of a bent head. 

For some time the old man at the end of the table 
stowed himself methodically with victuals; his air was 
that of a man packing a box; then he brought his 
implements to half-rest, as it were, and gave a divided 
attention to the new boarder. 

"What did I hear them call yo* name?" he inquired 

Johnnie repeated her title and gave him one of 
those smiles that went with most of her speeches. 
It seemed to suggest things to the old sinner. 

"Huh," he grunted; "I riccoUect ye now. Yo* 
pap was a Consadine, but you^re old Virgil Passmore's 
grandchild. One of the bonyin' Passmores," he 
added, staring coolly at Johnnie. "Virge was a fine, 
upstandin' old man. You've got the favour of him 
— if you wasn't a gal." 

He evidently shared Schopenhauer's distaste for 
"the low-statured, wide-hipped, narrow-shouldered 

The girls about the table were all listening eagerly. 
Johnnie had the sensation of a freshman who has 
walked out on the campus too well dressed. 

"Virge was a great beau in his day," continued Pap, 
reminiscently. "He liked to wear good clothes^ too. 


I mind how he horned Abner Wimberly^s weddin' 
coat and wore it something like ten year — showed it off 
fine — it fitted him enough sight better than it ever 
fitted little old Ab. Then he comes back to Wimberly 
at the end of so long a time with the buttons. He says, 
says he, * Looks like that thar cloth yo' coat was made 
of wasn't much 'count, Ab,' says he. T think Jeeters 
cheated ye on it. But the buttons was good. The 
buttons wore well. And them I'm bringin' back, 
*caze you may have use for 'em, and I have none, 
now the coat's gone. Also, what I borry I return, as 
everybody knows.' That was your granddaddy." 

There was a tremendous giggling about the board 
as the old man made an end. Johnnie herself smiled, 
though her face was scarlet. She had no words to tell 
her tormentor that the borrowing trait in her tribe 
which had earned them the name of the borrowing 
Passmores proceeded not from avarice, which ate 
into Pap Himes's very marrow, but from its reverse 
trait of generosity. She knew vaguely that they would 
have shared with a neighbour their last bite or dollar, 
and had thus never any doubt of being shared with 
nor any shame in the asking. 

"Yes," pursued Himes, surveying Johnnie chuck- 
lingly, " I mind when you was born. Has your Uncle 
Pros found his silver mine yet?" 

"My mother has often told me how good you and 
Mrs. Bence was to us when I was little," answered 
Johnnie mildly. "No, sir. Uncle Pros hasn't found 
his silver mine yet — but he's still a-hunting for it." 


The reply appeared to delight Himes. He laughed 
immoderately, even as Buckheath had done. 

"I'll bet he is/' he agreed. "Pros Passmore's 
goin' to hunt that there silver mine till he finds another 
hole in the ground about six feet long and six feet deep 
— that's what he's a-goin' to do." 

The hasty supper was well under way now. Mrs. 
Bence brought the last of the hot bread, and shuffled 
into a seat. The old man at the head of the board 
returned to his feeding, but with somewhat moderated 
voracity. At length, pretty fully gorged, he raised 
his head from over his plate and looked about him for 
diversion. Again his attention was directed to the new 

"Air ye wedded?" he challenged suddenly. 

She shook her head and laughed. 

"Got your paigs sot for to git any one?" he fol- 
lowed up his investigations. 

Johnnie laughed more than ever, and blushed 

How old air ye?" demanded her inquisitor. 

Eighteen? 'Most nineteen? Good Lord! You're 
a old maid right now. Well, don't you let twenty 
go by without gittin' your hooks on a man. My ex- 
perience is that when a gal gits to be twenty an' 
ain't wedded — or got her paigs sot for to wed — she's 
left. Left," he concluded impressively. 

That quick smile of Johnnie's responded. 

"I reckon I'll do my best," she agreed reasonably; 
"but some folks can do that and miss it." 



Himes nodded till he set the little red curls all 
bobbing around the bare spot. 

"Uh-huh/* he approved, "I reckon that's so. 
Women is plenty, and men hard to git. Here's Mandy 
Meacham, been puttin' in her best licks for thirty year 
or more, an' won't never make it." 

Johnnie did not need to be told which one was 
Mandy. The sallow cheek of the tall woman across 
from her reddened; the short chin wabbled a bit more 
than the mastication of the biscuit in hand demanded; 
a moisture appeared in the inexpressive blue eyes; 
but she managed a shaky laugh to assist the chorus 
which always followed Pap Himes's little jokes. 

The old man held a sort of state among these poor 
girls, and took tribute of admiration, as he had taken 
tribute of life and happiness from daughter and 
granddaughter. Gideon Himes was not actively a 
bad man; he was as without personal malice as malaria. 
When it makes miserable those about it, or robs a girl 
of her pink cheeks, her bright eyes, her joy of life, 
wearing the elasticity out of her step and making an 
old woman of her before her time, we do not fly into 
a rage at it — we avoid it. The Pap Himeses of this 
world are to be avoided if possible. 

Mandy stared at her plate in mortified silence. 
Johnnie wished she could think of something pleasant 
to say to the poor thing, when her attention was 
diverted by the old man once more addressing herself. 

"You look stout and hearty; if you learn to weave 
as fast as you ort, and git so you can tend five or six 


looms, I'll bet you git a husband," he remarked in a 
burst of generosity. "TU bet you do; and what's 
more, I'll speak a good word for ye. A gal that's a 
peart weaver's mighty apt to find a man.. You learn 
your looms if you want to git wedded — and I know 
in reason you do — it's about all gals of your age 
thinks of." 

When supper was over Johnnie was a little surprised 
to see the tall woman approach Pap Himes like a small 
child begging a favour of a harsh taskmaster. 

"Can't that there new girl bunk with me?" she 
inquired earnestly. 

"I had the intention to give her Louvany's bed," 
Pap returned promptly. "As long as nobody's with 
you, I reckon H don't care; but if one comes in, you 
take 'em, and she goes with Mavity, mind. I cain't 
waste room, poor as I am." 

Piloted by the tall girl, Johnnie climbed the narrow 
stair to a long bare room where a row of double beds 
accommodated eight girls. The couch she was to 
occupy had been slept in during the day by a mill hand 
who was on night turn, and it had not been remade. 
Deftly Johnnie straightened and spread it, while her 
partner grumbled. 

"What's the use o' doin' that?" Mandy inquired, 
stretching herself and yawning portentously. "We'll 
jist muss it all up in about two minutes. When you've 
worked in a mill as long as I have you'll git over the 
notion of makin' your bed, for hit's but a notion." 

Johnnie laughed across her shoulder. 


" rd just as soon do it/' she reassured her compan- 
ion. "I do love smooth bedclothes; looks like I dream 
better on 'em and under 'em." 

Mandy sat down on the edge of the bed, interfering 
considerably with the final touches Johnnie was putting 
to it. 

You're a right good gal," she opined patronizingly, 

but foolish. The new ones always is foolish. I can 
put you up to a-many a thing that'll help you along, 
though, and I'm willin' to do it." 

Again Johnnie smiled at her, that smile of enveloping 
sweetness and tenderness. It made something down 
in the left side of poor Mandy's slovenly dress-bodice 
vibrate and tingle. 

I'll thank you mightily," said Johnnie Consadine, 

mightily." And knew not how true a word she spoke. 
You see," counselled Mandy from the bed into 
which she had rolled with most of her clothes on, 
you want to get in with Miss Lydia Sessions and the 
Uplift ladies, and them thar swell folks." 

Johnnie nodded, busily at work making a more 
elaborated night toilet than the others, who were going 
to bed all about them, paying little attention to their 

"Miss Lyddy she ain't as young as she once was, 
and the boys has quit hangin' 'round her as much as 
they used to; so now she has took up with good works," 
the girl on the bed explained with a directness which 
Miss Sessions would not perhaps have appreciated. 
"Her and some other of the nobby folks has started 


what they call a Uplift club amongst the mill girls. 
Thar's a big room whar you dance — if you can — 
and whar they give little suppers for us with not much 
to eat; and thar's a place where they sorter preach 
to ye — lecture she calls it. I don't know what-all 
Miss Lyddy hain't got for her club. But you jist go, 
and listen, and say how much obliged you are, an 
she'll do a lot for you, besides payin' your wages to 
get you out of the mill any day she wants you for the 
Upliftin' business." 

Mandy had a gasp, which occurred between sentences 
and at the end of certain words, with grotesque effect. 
Johnnie was to find that this gasp was always very 
much to the fore when Mandy was being uplifted. 
It then served variously as the gasp of humility, grati- 
tude, admiration; the gasp of chaste emotion, the gasp 
of reprobation toward others who did not come 
forward to be uplifted. 

" Did you say there was books at that club .?" inquired 
Johnnie out of the darkness — she had now extin- 
guished the light. " Can a body learn things from the 

"Uh-huh," agreed Mandy sleepily; "but you don't 
have to read 'em — the books. They lend 'em to you, 
and you take 'em home, and after so long a time you 
take 'em back sayin' how much good they done you. 
That's the way. If Mr. Stoddard's 'round, he'll ask 
you questions about 'em; but Miss Lyddy won't — 
she hates to find out that any of her plans ain't workin'." 

For a long time there was silence. Mandy was just 


dropping off into her first heavy sleep, when a whisper- 
ing voice asked, 

" Is Mr. Stoddard — has he got right brown eyes 
and right brown hair, and does he ride in one of these 
— one of these " 

"Good land!" grumbled the addressed, "I thought 
it was mornin' and I had to git up! You ort to been 
asleep long ago. Yes, Mr. Stoddard's got sorter 
brown eyes and hair, and he rides in a otty-mobile. 
How did you know?" 

But Mandy was too tired to stay awake to marvel 
over that. Her rhythmic snores soon proved that she 
slept, while Johnnie lay thinking of the various proffers 
she had that evening received of a lamp to her feet, 
a light on her path. And she would climb — yes, she 
would climb. Not by the road Pap Himes pointed out; 
not by the devious path Mandy Meacham suggested; 
but by the rugged road of good, honest toil, to heights 
where was the power and the glory, she would certainly 

She conned over the new things which this day had 
brought. Again she saw the auto swing around the 
curve and halt; she got the outline of the man's bent 
head against the evening sky. They were singing again 
over at the mechanics' boarding-house; the sound came 
across to her window; the vibrant wires, the chorus of 
deep male voices, even the words she knew they were 
using but could not distinguish, linked themselves 
in some fashion with memory of a man's eyes, his 
smile, his air of tender deference as he cherished her 


broken flower. Something caught in her throat and 
choked. Her mind veered to the figures on the porch 
of that Palace of Pleasure; the girl with the ball tossing 
it to the young fellow below on the lawn. In memory 
she descended the hill, coming down into the shadows 
with each step, looking back to the heights and the light. 
Well, she had said that if one had feet one might 
climb, and to-night the old man had tried to train her 
to his pace for attaining heart's desire. In the midst 
of a jumble of autos and shining mill windows, she 
watched the room grow ghostly with the light of a late- 
risen moon. Suddenly afar ofi^ she heard the "honk! 
honk! honk!" which had preceded the advent of the 
car on the ridge road. 

Getting up, she stole to the one window which the 
long room afforded. It gave upon the main street of 
the village. " Honk! honk! honk! " She gazed toward 
the steep from which the sounds seemed to come. 
There, flashing in and out of the greenery, appeared 
half a dozen pairs of fiery eyes. A party of motorists 
were going in to Watauga, starting from the Country 
Club on the Ridge crest. Johnnie watched them, 
fascinated. As the foremost car swept down the road 
and directly beneath her window, its driver, whom she 
recognized with a little shiver, by the characteristic 
carriage of his head, swerved the machine out and 
stopped it at the curb below. The others passed, calling 
gay inquiries to him. 

" WeVe all right,'* she heard a well-remembered voice 
reply. "You go ahead — we'll be there before you." 


The slim, gray-clad figure in the seat beside him 
laughed softly and fluttered a white handkerchief as 
the last car went on. 

"Now!** exulted the voice. "FU put on my goggles 
and cap and we'll show them what running is. 

* It's they'll take the high road and we'll take the low. 
And we'll be in Watauga befo-o-ore them!"' 

Even as he spoke he adjusted his costume, and 
Johnnie saw the car shoot forward like a living crea- 
ture eager on the trail. She sighed as she looked after 

Feet — of what use were feet to follow such a flight 
as that ? 



JOHNNIE was used to hardship and early rising, 
but in an intermittent fashion; for the Passmores 
and Consadines were a haggard lot that came to 
no lure but their own pleasure. They might — and 
often did — go hungry, ill-clad, ill-housed; they might 
sometimes — in order to keep soul and body together 
— have to labour desperately at rude tasks unsuited to 
them; but these times were exceptions, and between 
such seasons, down to the least of the tribe, they had 
always followed the Vision, pursuing the flying skirts 
of whatever ideal was in their shapely heads. The 
little cabin in the gash of the hills owned for do- 
main a rocky ravine that was the standing jest of the 

"Sure, hit's good land — fine land," the moun- 
taineers would comment with their inveterate, dry, 
lazy humour. "Nothing on earth to hender a man 
from raisin* a crap off" 'n it — ef he could once git the 
leathers on a good stout, willin* pa'r o' hawks or buz- 
zards, an* a plough hitched to *em." And Johnnie 
could remember the other children teasing her and 
saying that her folks had to load a gun with seed corn 
and shoot it into the sky to reach their fields. Yet, 



the unmended roof covered much joy and good feeling. 
They were light feet that trod the unscoured puncheons. 
The Passmores were tender of each other's eccen- 
tricities, admiring of each other's virtues. A wolf 
race nourished on the knees of purple kings, how 
should they ever come down to wearing any man's 
collar, to slink at heel and retrieve for him ? 

One would have said that to the daughter of such 
the close cotton-mill room with its inhuman clamour, 
its fetid air, its long hours of enforced, monotonous, 
mechanical toil, would be prison with the torture added. 
But Johnnie looked forward to her present enterprise 
as a soldier going into a new country to conquer it. 
She was buoyantly certain, and determinedly delighted 
with everything. When, the next morning after her 
arrival, Mandy Meacham shook her by the shoulder 
and bade her get up, the room was humming with 
the roar of mill whistles, and the gray dawn leaking 
in at its one window in a churlish, chary fashion, re- 
minded her that they were under the shadow of a moun- 
tain instead of living upon its top. 

"I don't see what in the world could 'a' made me 
sleep so!" Johnnie deprecated, as she made haste to 
dress herself. "Looks like I never had nothing to 
do yesterday, except walking down. I've been on 
foot that much many a time and never noticed it." 

The other girls in the room, poor souls, were all 
cross and sleepy. Nobody had time to converse with 
Johnnie. As they went down the stairs another con- 
tingent began to straggle up, having eaten a hasty 


meal after their night's work, and making now for 
certain of the just- vacated beds. 

Johnnie ran into the kitchen to help Mrs. Bence 
get breakfast on the table, for Pap Himes was bad off 
this morning with a misery somewhere, and his daughter 
was sending word to the cotton mill to put a substitute on 
her looms till dinner time. Almost as much to her own 
surprise as to that of everybody else, Mandy Meacham 
proposed to stay and take Johnnie in to register for a job. 

When the others were all seated at table, the new 
girl from the mountains took her cup of coffee and a 
biscuit and dropped upon the doorstep to eat her break- 
fast. The back yard was unenclosed, a litter of tin 
cans and ashes running with its desert disorder into 
a similar one on either side. But there were no houses 
back of the Himes place, the ground falling away 
sharply to the rocky creek bed. Across the ravine 
half a dozen strapping young fellows were lounging, 
waiting for breakfast; loom-fixers and mechanics 
these, whose hours were more favourable than those 
of the women and children workers. 

" It's lots prettier out here than it is in the house,'* 
she returned smilingly, when Mavity Bence offered 
to get her a chair. "I do love to be out-of-doors." 

" Huh," grunted Mandy with her mouth full of bis- 
cuit, "I reckon a cotton mill'll jest about kill you. 
What makes you work in one, anyhow? I wouldn't 
if I could help it." 

Johnnie eyed the tall girl gravely. "I've got to 
earn some money," she said at length. " Ma and the 


children have to be taken care of. I don't know of 
any better way than the mill/* 

"An* I don't know of any worse," retorted Mandy 
sourly, as they went out together. 

Johnnie began to feel timid. There had been a 
secret hope that she would meet Shade on the way to 
the mill, or that Mrs. Bence would finally get through 
in time to accompany her. She was suddenly aware 
that there was not a soul within sound of her voice 
who had belonged to her former world. With a little 
gasp she looked about her as they entered the office. 

The Hardwick mill to which they now came con- 
sisted of a number of large, red brick buildings, joined 
by covered passage-ways, abutting on one of those 
sullen pools Johnnie had noted the night before, the 
yard enclosed by a tight board fence, so high that the 
operatives in the first- and second-floor rooms could 
not see the street. This for the factory portion; the 
office did not front on the shut-in yard, but opened out 
freely on to the street, through a little grassy square 
of its own, tree-shadowed, with paved walks and flower 
beds. As with all the mills in its district, the sugges- 
tion was dangerously apt of a penitentiary, with its 
high wooden barrier, around all the building, the only 
free approach from the world to its corridors through 
the seemly, humanized office, where abided the heads, 
the bosses, the free men, who came and went at will. 
The walls were already beginning to wear that gar- 
ment of green which the American ivy flings over so 
many factory buildings. 


As the two girls came up, Johnnie looked at the 
wide, clear, plate windows, the brass railing that 
guarded the heavy granite approach, the shining name 
**Hardwick" deep-set in brazen lettering on the step 
over which they entered. Inside, the polished oak 
and metal of office fittings carried on the idea of splen- 
dour, if not of luxury. Back of the crystal windows 
were the tempering shades, all was spacious, ordered 
with quiet dignity, and there was no sense of hurry in 
the well-clad, well-groomed figures of men that sat at 
the massive desks or moved about the softly carpeted 
floors. The corridor was long, but cleanly swept, 
and, at its upper portion, covered with a material 
unfamiliar to Johnnie, but which she recognized as 
suited to its purpose. Down at the further end of that 
corridor, something throbbed and moaned and roared 
and growled — the factory was awake there and 
working. The contrast struck cold to the girl's 
heart. Here, yet more sharply defined, was the same 
difference she had noted between the Palace of 
Pleasure on the heights and the mills at the foot of 
the mountain. 

Would the people think she was good enough ? 
Would they understand how hard she meant to try ? 
For a minute she had a desperate impulse to turn an4 
run. Then she heard Mandy's thin, flatted tones an- 

"This hyer girl wants to git a job in the mill. Miz 
Bence, she cain't come down this morning — you'll 
have to git somebody to tend her looms till noon; 


Pap, he's sick, and she has obliged to wait on him — 
so I brung the new gal/' 

"All right," said the man she addressed. "She 
can wait there; you go on to your looms." 

Johnnie sat on the bench against the wall where 
newcomers applying for positions were placed. The 
man she was to see had not yet come to his desk, and 
she remained unnoticed and apparently forgotten for 
more than an hour. The offices were entered from 
the other side, yet a doorway close by Johnnie com- 
manded a view of a room and desk. To it presently 
came one who seated himself and began opening and 
reading letters. Johnnie caught her breath and leaned 
a little forward, watching him, her heart in her eyes, 
hands locked hard together in her lap. It was the 
young man of the car. He was not in white flannels 
now, but he looked almost as wonderful to the girl 
in his gray business suit, with the air of easy com- 
mand, and the quiet half-smile only latent on his face. 
Shade Buckheath had spoken of Gray Stoddard as 
the boss of the . bosses down at Cottonville. Indeed, 
his position was unique. Inheritor of large holdings 
in Eastern cotton-mill stock, he had returned from 
abroad on the death of his father, to look into this 
source of his very ample income. The mills in which 
he was concerned were not earning as they should, 
so he was told; and there was discussion as to whether 
they be moved south, or a Southern mill be estab- 
lished which might be considered in the nature of a 
branch, and where the coarser grades of sheeting 


would be manufactured, as well as all the spinning 

But Stoddard was not of the blood that takes opinions 
second-hand. Upon his mother^s side he was the 
grandson of one of the great anti-slavery agitators. 
The sister of this man, Gray's great-aunt, had stood 
beside him on the platform when there was danger 
in it; and after the Negro was freed and enfranchised, 
she had devoted a long life to the cause of woman 
suffrage. The mother who bore him died young. 
She left him to the care of a conservative father, but 
the blood that came through her did not make for 

Perhaps it was some admixture of his father's traits 
which set the young man to investigating the cotton- 
mill situation in his own fashion. To do this as he 
conceived it should be done, he had hired himself to 
the Hardwick Spinning Company in an office posi- 
tion which gave him a fair outlook on the business, 
and put him in complete touch with the practical 
side of it; yet the facts of the case made the situation 
evident to those under him as well as his peers. What- 
ever convictions and opinions he was maturing in this 
year with the Hardwicks, he kept to himself; but he 
was supposed to hold some socialistic ideas, and 
Lydia Sessions, James Hardwick's sister-in-law, made 
her devoir to these by engaging zealously in semi- 
charitable enterprises among the mill-girls. He was 
a passionate individualist. The word seems unduly 
fiery when one remembers the smiling, insouciant 


manner of his divergences from the conventional 
type; yet he was inveterately himself, and not some 
schoolmaster's or tailor's or barber's version of Gray 
Stoddard; and in this, though Johnnie did not know 
it, lay the strength of his charm for her. 

The moments passed unheeded after he came into 
her field of vision, and she watched him for some time, 
busy at his morning's work. It took her breath when 
he raised his eyes suddenly and their glances encoun- 
tered. He plainly recognized her at once, and nodded 
a cheerful greeting. After a while he got up and came 
out into the hall, his hands full of papers, evidently 
on his way to one of the other offices. He paused 
beside the bench and spoke to her. 

" Waiting for the room boss ? Are they going to 
put you on this morning?" he asked pleasantly. 

"Yes, I'm a-going to get a chance to work right 
away," she smiled up at him. " Ain't it fine ? " 

The smile that answered hers held something 
pitying, yet it was a pity that did not hurt or 

"Yes — I'm sure it's fine, if you think so," said 
Stoddard, half reluctantly. Then his eye caught the 
broken pink blossom which Johnnie had pinned to 
the front of her bodice. "What's that?" he asked. 
"It looks like an orchid." 

He was instantly apologetic for the word; but 
Johnnie detached the flower from her dress and held 
it toward him. 

"It is," she assented. "It's an orchid; and the 


little yellow flower that we-all call the whippoorwiirs 
shoe is an orchid, too/' 

Stoddard thrust his papers into his coat pocket, 
and took the blossom in his hand. 

"That's the pink moccasin flower," Johnnie told 
him. "They don't bloom in the valley at all, and 
they're not very plenty in the mountains. I picked 
this one six miles up on White Oak Ridge yesterday. 
I reckon I haven't seen more than a dozen of them 
in my life, and I've hunted flowers all over 

"I never had the chance to analyze one," observed 
Stoddard. "I'd like to get hold of a good specimen." 

"I'm sorry this one's broken," Johnnie depre- 
cated. Then her clouded face cleared suddenly with 
its luminous smile. " If it hadn't been for you I reckon 
it would have been knocked over the edge of the road," 
she added. "That's the flower I had in my hand- 
kerchief yesterday evening." 

Stoddard continued to examine the pink blossom 
with interest. 

" You said it grew up in the mountains — and 
didn't grow in the valley," he reminded her. 

She nodded. "Of course I'm not certain about 
that," and while she spoke he transferred his attention 
from the flower to the girl. "I really know mighty 
little about such things, and I've not been in the valley 
to exceed ten times in my life. Miss Baird, that taught 
the school I went to over at Rainy Gap, had a herba- 
rium, and put all kinds of pressed flowers in it. I 


gathered a great many for her, and she taught me to 
analyze them — like you were speaking of — but I 
never did love to do that. It seemed like naming over 
and calling out the ways of your friends, to pull the 
flower all to pieces and press it and paste it in a book 
and write down all its — its — ways and faults." 

Again she smiled up at him radiantly, and the young 
man's astonished glance went from her dusty, cowhide 
shoes to the thick roll of fair hair on her graceful head. 
What manner of mill-girls did the mountains send 
down to the valley ? 

"But I — " began Stoddard deprecatingly, when 
Johnnie reddened and broke in hastily. 

"Oh, I don't mean that for you. Miss Baird 
taught me for three y^ars, and I loved her as dearly 
as I ever could any one. You may keep this flower 
if you want to; and, come Sunday, FU get you another 
one that won't be broken." 

Why Sunday .?" asked Stoddard. 
Well, I wouldn't have time to go after them till 
then, and the ones I know of wouldn't be open before 
Sunday. I saw just three there by the spring. That's 
the way they grow, you know — two or three in a place, 
and not another for miles." 

"You saw them growing?" repeated Stoddard. "I 
should like to see one on its roots, and maybe make 
a little sketch of it. Couldn't you just as well show 
me the place Sunday?" 

For no reason that she could assign, and very 
much against her will, Johnnie's face flushed deeply. 




I reckon I couldn't," she answered evasively. 

Hit's a long ways up — and — hit's a long ways 


And yet you're going to walk it — after a week's 
work here in the mill?" persisted Stoddard. "You'd 
better tell me where they grow, and let me go up in 
my car." 

I wish't I could," said Johnnie, embarrassed. 

But you'd never find it in the world. They isn't 
one thing that I could tell you to know the place by: 
and you have to leave the road and walk a little piece — 
oh, it's no use — and I don't mind, I'd just love to 
go up there and get the flowers for you." 

"Are you the new girl?" inquired a voice at 
Johnnie's shoulder. 

They turned to find a squat, middle-aged man regard- 
ing them dubiously. 

" Yes," answered Johnnie, rising. " I've been wait- 
ing quite a while." 

"Well, come this way," directed the man and, 
turning, led her away. Down the hall they went, 
then up a flight of wooden stairs which carried them 
to a covered bridge, and so to the upper story of the 

"That's an unusual-looking girl." Old Andrew 
MacPherson made the comment as he received the 
papers from Stoddard's hands. 

"The one I was speaking to in the hall ?" inquired 
Stoddard rather unnecessarily. "Yes; she seems to 
have an unusual mind as well. These mountain 


people are peculiar. They appear to have no 
idea of class, and therefore are in a measure all 



Well, that ought to square with your socialistic 
notions,'* chaflFed MacPherson, sorting the work on 
his desk and pushing a certain portion of it toward 
Stoddard. "Sit down here, if you please, and we'll go 
over these now. The girl looked a good deal like a 
fairy princess. I don't think she's a safe topic for 
susceptible young chaps like you and me," the grizzled 
old Scotchman concluded with a chuckle. "Your 
socialistic hullabaloo makes you liable to foregather 
with all sorts of impossible people." 

Gray shook his head, laughing, as he seated himself 
at the desk beside the other. 

"Oh, I'm only a theoretical socialist," he depre- 

"Hum," grunted the older man. "A theoretical 
socialist always seemed to me about like a theoretical 
pickpocket — neither of them stands to do much harm. 
For example, here you are, one of the richest young 
fellows of my acquaintance, living along very con- 
tentedly where every tenet you profess to hold is daily 
outraged. You're not giving away your money. You 
take a healthy interest in a good car, a good dinner, 
the gals; I'm even told you have a fad for old porce- 
lains — and yet you call yourself a socialist." 

"These economic conditions are not a pin," answered 
Gray, smiling. "I don't have to jump and say *ouch!' 
the minute I find they prick me. Worse conditions 


have always been, and no doubt bad ones will survive 
for a time, and pass away as mankind outgrows them. 
I haven't the colossal conceit to suppose that I can 
reform the world — not even push it much faster 
toward the destination of good to which it is rolling. 
But I want to know — I want to understand, myself; 
then if there is anything for me to do I shall do it. 
It may be that the present conditions are the best 
possible for the present moment. It may be that if 
a lot of us got together and agreed, we could better 
them exceedingly. It is not certain in my mind yet 
that any growth is of value to humanity which does not 
proceed from within. This is true of the individual 
— must it not be true of the class ?'' 

"No doubt, no doubt,'* agreed MacPherson, indif- 
ferently. "Most of the men who are loud in the 
leadership of socialism have made a failure of their 
own lives. We'll see what happens when a man who 
is a personal and economic success sets up to teach.** 

" If you mean that very complimentary description 
for me,** said Gray with sudden seriousness, "I will 
say to you here and now that there is no preacher in 
me. But when I am a little clearer in my own mind as 
to what I believe, I shall practise. The only real 
creed is a manner of life. If you don*t live it, you 
don't really believe it.*' 



THE Hardwick mill was a large one; to the 
mountain-bred girl it seemed endless, while its 
clamour and roar was a thing to daunt. They 
passed through the spinning department, in which the 
long lines of frames were tended by children, and 
reached the weaving-rooms whose looms required the 
attention of women, with here and there a man who 
had failed to make a success of male occupations and 
sunk to the ill-paid feminine activities. In a corner 
of one of these, Johnnie's guide stopped before two 
■ silent, motionless looms, and threw on the power. 
He began to instruct her in their operation, all 
communication being in dumb show; for the clap- 
ping thunder of the weaving-room instantly snatches 
the sound from one's lips and batters it into shape- 
lessness. Johnnie had been an expert weaver on 
the ancient foot-power looms of the mountains; but 
the strangeness of the new machine, the noise and 
her surroundings, bewildered her. When the man 
saw that she was not likely to injure herself or the 
looms, he turned away with a careless nod and left 
her to her fate. 

It was a blowy April day outside, with a gay blue 



sky in which the white clouds raced, drawing barges 
of shadow over the earth below. But the necessity 
of keeping dust out of the machinery, the inconvenience 
of having flying ends carried toward it, closed every 
window in the big factory, and the operatives gasped 
in the early heat, the odour of oil, the exhausted air. 
There was a ventilating system in the Hardwick 
mill, and it was supposed to be exceptionally free from 
lint; but the fagged children crowded to the casements 
with instinctive longing for the outdoor air which could 
not of course enter through the glass; or plodded their 
monotonous rounds to tend the frames and see that the 
thread was running properly to each spool, and that 
the spools were removed, when filled. 

By noon every nerve in Johnnie's body quivered 
with excitement and overstrain; yet when Mandy 
came for her at the dinner hour she showed her a face 
still resolute, and asked that a snack be brought her 
to the mill. 

" I don't see why you won't come along home and 
eat your dinner," the Meacham woman commented. 
"The Lord knows you get time enough to stay in 
the mill working over them old looms. Say, I seen 
you in the hall — did you know who you was talk- 
ing to?" 

The red flooded Johnnie's face as she knelt before 
her loom interrogating its workings with a dexterous 
hand; even the white nape of her neck showed pink 
to Mandy's examining eye; but she managed to reply 
in a fairly even tone: 


"Yes, that was Mr. Stoddard. I saw him yesterday 
evening when I was coming down the Ridge with Shade." 

" But did you know 'bout him ? Say — Johnnie Con- 
sadine — turn yourself round from that old loom and 
answer me. I was goin' a-past the door, and when I 
ketched sight o' you and him settin' there talkin' as if 
youM knowed each other all your lives, why you could 
have — could have knocked me down with a feather." 

Johnnie sat up on her heels and turned a laughing 
face across her shoulder. 

"I don't see any reason to want to knock you down 
with anything," she evaded the direct issue. "Go 
'long, Mandy, or you won't have time to eat your 
dinner. Tell Aunt Mavity to send me just a biscuit 
and a piece of meat." 

"Good land, Johnnie Consadine, but you're quare!" 
exclaimed Mandy, staring with bulging light eyes. 
"If it was me I'd be all in a tremble yet — and there 
you sit and talk about meat and bread ! " 

Johnnie did not think it necessary to explain that 
the tremor of that conversation with Stoddard had 
indeed lasted through her entire morning. 

"There was nothing to tremble about," she remarked 
with surface calm. "He'd never seen a pink moc- 
casin flower, and I gave him the one I had and told 
him where it grew." 

"Well, he wasn't looking at no moccasin flower 
when I seed him," Mandy persisted. "He was lookin' 
at you. He jest eyed you as if you was Miss Lydia 
Sessions herself — more so, if anything." 


Johnnie inwardly rebuked the throb of joy which 
greeted this statement. 

"I reckon his looks are his own, Mandy/' she said 
soberly. "You and me have no call to notice them." 

"Ain't got no call to notice 'em.? Well, I jest 
wish't I could get you and him up in front of Miss 
Sessions, and have her see them looks of his'n," 
grumbled Mandy as she turned away. "I bet you 
there'd be some noticin' done then!" 

When in the evening Mandy came for Johnnie, 
she found the new mill hand white about the mouth 
with exhaustion, heavy-eyed, choking, and ready to 

"Uh-huh," said the Meacham woman, "I know 
just how you feel. They all look that-a-way the first 
day or two — then after that they look worse." 

Nervelessly Johnnie found her way downstairs in 
the stream of tired girls and women. There was 
more than one kindly greeting for the new hand, and 
occasionally somebody clapped her on the shoulder 
and assured her that a few days more would get her 
used to the work. The mill yard was large, filled 
with grass-plots and gravel walks; but it was shut 
in by a boarding so tall that the street could not be 
seen from the windows of the lower floor. To Johnnie, 
weary to the point where aching muscles and blood 
charged with uneliminated waste spelled pessimism, 
that high board fence seemed to make of the pretty 
place a prison yard. 

A man was propping open the big wooden gates, and 


through them, she saw the street, the sidewalk, and a 
carriage drawn up at the curb. In this vehicle sat a 
lady; and a gentleman, hat in hand, talked to her from 
the sidewalk. 

" Come on,'* hissed Mandy, seizing her companion's 
arm and dragging her forward. "Thar*s Miss Lydia 
Sessions right now, and that's Mr. Stoddard a-talkin' 
to her. rU go straight up and give you a knock- 
down — I want to, anyway. She's the one that runs 
the Uplift Club. If she takes a shine to you it'll be 
money in your pocket." 

She turned over her shoulder to glance at Johnnie, 
who was pulling vigorously back. There was no 
hint of tiredness or depression in the girl's face now. 
Her deep eyes glowed; red was again in the fresh lips 
that parted over the white teeth in an adorable, tremu- 
lous smile. Mandy stared. 

" Hurry up — he'll be gittin' away," she admon- 

"Oh, no," objected the new girl. "Wait till some 
other time. I — I don't want to " 

But her remonstrance came too late; Mandy had 
yanked her forward and was performing the intro- 
duction she so euphoniously described. 

Gray Stoddard turned and bowed to both girls. 
He carried the broken orchid in his hand, and appar- 
ently had been speaking of it to Miss Sessions. Mandy 
eyed him narrowly to see if any of the looks she had 
apprehended as offensive to Miss Sessions went in 
Johnnie's direction. And she was not disappointed. 


Stoddard's gaze lingered long on the radiant counte- 
nance of the girl from Unaka. Not so the young women 
looked after a few months of factory life. He was 
getting to know well the odd jail-bleach the cotton 
mill puts on country cheeks, the curious, dulled, yet 
resentful expression of the eyes, begotten by continuous 
repetition of excessive hours of trivial, monotonous 
toil. Would this girl come at last to that favour? 
He was a little surprised at the strength of protest in 
his own heart. Then MacPherson, coming down the 
office steps, called to hini; and, with courteous adieux, 
the two men departed in company. 

Johnnie was a bit grieved to find that the re- 
moval from Miss Sessions of the shrouding, misty 
veil revealed a countenance somewhat angular in out- 
line, with cheekbones a trifle hard and high, and a 
lack of colour. She fancied, too, that Miss Sessions 
was slightly annoyed about something. She wondered 
if it was because they had interrupted her conversation 
with Mr. Stoddard and driven him away. Yet while 
she so questioned, she was taking in with swift appre- 
ciation the trim set of the driving coat Miss Lydia 
wore, the appropriate texture of the heavy gloves on 
the small hands that held the lines, and a certain inde- 
finable air of elegance hard to put into words, but 
which all women recognize. 

"Ain't she swell?" inquired Mandy, as they passed 
on. "She's after Mr. Stoddard now — it used to be 
the preacher that had the big church in Watauga, 
but he moved away. I wish I had her clothes." 


"Yes/* returned Johnnie absently. She had already 
forgotten her impression of Miss Sessions's displeasure. 
Gone was the leaden weariness of her day's toil. Some- 
thing intimate and kind in the glance Stoddard had 
given her remained warm at her heart, and set that 
heart singing. 

Meantime, Stoddard and MacPherson were walking 
up the ridge toward the Country Club together, intend- 
ing to spend the night on the highlands. The Scotch- 
man returned once more to the subject he had broached 
that morning. 

**This is a great country," he opened obliquely, 
" a very great country. But you Americans will have 
to learn that generations of blood and breeding are not 
to be skipped with impunity. See the sons and daugh- 
ters of your rich men. If the hope of the land lay in 
them it would be a bad outlook indeed.'* 

** Is that peculiar to America ? '' asked Stoddard 
mildly. They were coming under the trees now. 
He took off his hat and ran his fingers through his hair 
to enjoy the coolness. "My impression was that the 
youthful aristocracy of every country often made of 
itself a spectacle unseemly." 

The Scotchman laughed. Then he looked sidewise 
at his companion. "Fm not denying," he pursued, 
again with that odd trick of entering his argument 
from the side, "that a young chap like yourself has 
my good word. A man with money who will go to 
work to find out how that money was made, and to 
live as his father did, carries an old head on young 


shoulders. I put aside your socialistic vapourings 
of course — every fellow to his fad — I see in you the 
makings of a canny business man." 

It was Stoddard's turn to laugh, and he did so 
unrestrainedly, throwing back his head and uttering 
his mirth so boyishly that the other smiled in sympathy. 

"You talk about what's in the blood," Gray said 
finally, "and then you make light of my socialistic 
vapourings, as you call them. My mother's clan — 
and it is from the spindle side that a man gets his traits 

— are all come-outers as far back as I know anything 
about them. They fought with Cromwell — some 
of them; they came over and robbed the Indians in 
true sanctimonious fashion, and persecuted the 
Quakers; and down the line a bit I get some Quaker 
blood that stood for its beliefs in the stocks, and sac- 
rificed its ears for what it thought right. I'm afraid 
the socialistic vapourings are the true expression of 
the animal." 

MacPherson grunted incredulously. 

"I give you ten years to be done with it," he said. 
" It is a disease of youth. But don't let it mark your 
affairs. It is all right to foregather with these work- 
ingmen, and find out about their trades-unions and 
that sort of thing — such knowledge will be useful 
to you in your business. But when it comes to women " 

— MacPherson paused and shook his gray head — 
" to young, pretty women — a man must stick to his 
own class." 

"You mean the girl in the corridor," said Stoddard 


with that directness which his friends were apt to find 
disconcerting. "I haven't classified her yet. She's 
rather an extraordinary specimen." 

"Well, she's not in your class, and best leave her 
alone," returned MacPherson doggedly. " It wouldn't 
matter if the young thing were not so beautiful, and 
with such a winning look in her eyes. This America 
beats me. That poor lass would make a model prin- 
cess — according to common ideals of royalty — and 
here you find her coming out of some hut in the moun- 
tains and going to work in a factory. Miss Lydia Ses- 
sions is a well-bred young woman, now; she's been all 
over Europe, and profited by her advantages of travel. 
I call her an exceedingly well-bred person." 
She is," agreed Stoddard without enthusiasm. 
And I'm sure you must admire her altruistic ideas 
— they'd just fall in with yours, I suppose, now." 

Stoddard shook his head. 

" Not at all," he feaid briefly. " If you were enough 
interested in socialism to know what we folks are driv- 
ing at, I could explain to you why we object to chari- 
table enterprises — but it's not worth while." 

"Indeed it is not," assented MacPherson hastily. 
"Though no doubt we might have a fine argument 
over it some evening when we have nothing better to 
talk about. I thought you and Miss Sessions were 
fixing up a match of it, and it struck me as a very 
good thing, too. The holdings of both of you are in 
cotton-mill property, I judge. That always makes 
for harmony and stability in a matrimonial alliance." 


Stoddard smiled. He was aware that Miss Lydia's 
holdings consisted of a complaisant brother-in-law in 
whose house she was welcome till she could marry. 
But he said nothing on this head. 

" MacPherson/' he began very seriously, "I wonder 
a little at you. I know you old-world people regard 
these things differently; but could you look at Mrs. 
Hard wick's children, and seriously recommend Mrs. 
Hardwick's sister as a wife for a friend ? " 

Old MacPherson stopped in the way, thrust his 
hands deep in his pockets and stared at the younger 



Well!" he ejaculated at last; "that's a great speech 
for a hot-headed young fellow! Your foresight is 
worthy of a Scotchman." 

Gray Stoddard smiled. "I am not a hot-headed 
person," he observed. "Nobody but you ever accused 
me of such a thing. Marriage concerns the race and 
a man's whole future. If the children of the mar- 
riage are likely to be unsatisfactory, the marriage will 
certainly be so. We moderns bedeck and bedrape 
us in all sorts of meretricious togas, till a pair of fine 
eyes and a dashing manner pass for beauty; but when 
life tries the metal — when nature applies her inevitable 
test — the degenerate or neurotic type goes to the wall." 

Again MacPherson grunted. "No doubt you're 
sound enough; but it is rather uncanny to hear a young 
fellow talk like his grandfather," the Scotchman said 
finally. "Are there many of your sort in this aston- 
ishing land ?" 


"A good many/' Stoddard told him. "The modern 
young man of education and wealth is doing one of 
two things — burning up his money and going to the 
dogs as fast as he can ; or putting in a power of thinking, 
and trying, while he saves his own soul, to do his part 
in the regeneration of the world." 

"Yes. Well, it's a big job. It's been on hand a 
long time. The young men of America have their 
work cut out for them," said MacPherson drily. 

"No doubt," returned Stoddard with undisturbed 
cheerfulness. "But when every man saves his own 
soul, the salvation of the world will come to pass." (, 



ALL week in Johnnie the white flame of purpose 
burned out every consciousness of weari- 
ness, of bodily or mental distaste. The pre- 
posterously long hours, the ill-ventilated rooms, the 
savage monotony of her toil, none of these reached 
the girl through the glow of hope and ambition. Phys- 
ically, the finger of the factory was already laid upon 
her vigorous young frame; but when Sunday morning 
came, though there was no bellowing whistle to break 
in on her slumbers, she waked early, and while nerve 
and muscle begged achingly for more sleep, she rose 
with a sense of exhilaration which nothing could 
dampen. She had seen a small mountain church 
over the Ridge by the spring where her moccasin flowers 
grew; and if there were preaching in it to-day, the boys . 
and girls scouring the surrounding woods during the 
intermissions would surely find and carry away the 
orchids. There was no safety but to take the road early. 
The room was dark. Mandy slept noisily beside 
her. All the beds were full, because the night-turn 
workers were in. She meant to be very careful to 
waken nobody. Poor souls, they needed this one day 
of rest when they could all lie late. Searching for 
something, she cautiously struck a match, and in 



the flaring up of its small flame got a glimpse of 
Mandy's face, open-mouthed, pallid, unbeautiful, 
against the tumbled pillow. A great rush of pity filled 
her eyes with tears, but then she was in a mood to 
compassionate any creature who had not the prospect 
of a twelve-mile walk to get a flower for Gray Stoddard. 

It was in that black hour before dawn that Johnnie 
let herself out the front door, finding the direction by 
instinct rather than any assistance from sight, since 
fences, trees, houses, were but vague blots of deeper 
shadow in the black. She was well on her way before 
a light here and there in a cabin window showed that, 
Sunday morning as it was, the earliest risers were begin- 
ning to stir. Her face was set to the east, and after 
a time a pallid line showed itself above the great bulk 
of mountains which in this quarter backed up the 
ramparts of the circling ridges about Watauga. The 
furthest line was big Unaka, but this passionate lover 
of her native highlands gave it neither thought nor 
glance, as she tramped steadily with lifted face, fol- 
lowing unconsciously the beckoning finger of Fate. 

It was a dripping-sweet spring morning, dew- 
drenched, and with the air so full of moisture that it 
gathered and pattered from the scant leafage. She 
was two miles up, swinging along at that steady pace 
her mountain-bred youth had given her, when the 
sky began to flush faintly, and the first hint of dawn 
rested on her upraised countenance. 

Rain-laden mists swept down upon her from the 
heights, and she walked through them unnoting; the 


pale light from the eastern sky shone on an aspect 
introverted, rapt away from knowledge of its sur- 
roundings. She was going to get something for him. 
She had promised him the flowers, and he would be 
pleased with them. He would smile when he thanked 
her for them, and look at her as he had when she gave 
him the broken blossom. A look like that was to 
the girl in her present mood as the sword's touch on 
the shoulder of the lad who is being knighted by his 
king — it made her want to rise up and be all that 
such a man could ever demand of her. Twelve miles 
of walking after a week's toil in the mill was a very 
small oflFering to put before so worshipful a divinity. 
She sought vaguely to conjecture just what his words 
would be when next they spoke together. Her lips 
formed themselves into tender, reminiscent half- 
smiles as she went over the few and brief moments 
of her three interviews with Stoddard. 

Johnnie was not inexperienced in matters of the 
heart. Mating time comes early in the mountains. 
Had her dreams been of Shade Buckheath, or any of 
the boys of her own kind and class, she would have 
been instantly full of self-consciousness; but Gray 
Stoddard appeared to her a creature so apart from 
her sphere that this overwhelming attraction he held 
for her seemed no more than the admiration she might 
have given to Miss Lydia Sessions. And so the dream 
lay undisturbed under her eyelashes, and she breasted 
the slope of the big mountain with a buoyant step, 
oblivious of fatigue. 


She reached the little wayside spring before even 
the early-rising mountain folk were abroad, found three 
pink blossoms in full perfection, plucked them and 
wrapped them carefully in damp cloths disposed in 
a little hickory basket that Uncle Pros had made for 
her years ago. It was a tiny thing, designed to hold 
a child's play-pretties or a young girl's sewing, but 
shaped and fashioned after the manner of mountain 
baskets, and woven of stout white hickory withes shaved 
down to daintier size and pliancy by the old man's jack- 
knife. Life was very sweet to Johnnie Consadine as she 
straightened up, basket in hand, and turned toward 
the home journey. 

It was nearly nine o'clock when she reached the 
gap above Cottonville. She was singing a little, softly, 
to herself, as she footed it dovm the road, and wishing 
that she might see Gray's face when he got her flow- 
ers. She planned to put them in a glass on his desk 
Monday morning, and of course she would be at her 
loom long before he should reach the office. She was 
glad they were such fine specimens — all perfect. 
Lovingly she pulled aside the wet cloth and looked 
in at them. She began to meet people on the road, 
and the cabins she passed were open and thronged 
with morning life. The next turn in the road would 
bring her to the spring where she had rested that eve- 
ning just a week ago, and where Shade had met her. 

Suddenly, she caught the sheen of something down 
the road between the scant greenery. It was a carriage 
or an automobile. Now, it was more likely to be 


the former than the latter; also, there were a half- 
dozen cars in Cotton ville; yet from the first she knew, 
and was prepared for it when the shining vehicle 
came nearer and showed her Gray Stoddard driving 
it. They looked at each other in silence. Stoddard 
brought the machine to a halt beside her. She came 
mutely forward, a hesitating hand at her basket cover- 
ing, her eyes raised to his. With the mountaineer's 
deathless instinct for greeting, she was first to speak. 

"Howdy," she breathed softly. "I — I was look- 
ing for — I got you " 

She fell silent again, still regarding him, and fumbling 
blindly at the cover of the basket. 

"Well — aren't you lost?" inquired Stoddard with 
a rather futile assumption of surprise. He was 
strangely moved by the direct gaze of those clear, 
wide-set gray eyes, under the white brow and the 
ruffled coronet of bright hair. 

"No," returned Johnnie gently, literally. "You 
know I said Fd come up here and get those moccasin 
flowers for you this morning. This is my road home, 
anyhow. I'm not as near lost on it as I am at a loom, 
down in the factory." 

Stoddard continued to stare at the hand she had 
laid on the car. 

"It'll be an awfully long walk for you," he said 
at last, choosing his words with some difficulty. " Won't 
you get in and let me take you up to the spring ?" 

Johnnie laughed softly, exultantly. 

"Oh, I picked your flowers before day broke. I'll 

, J 


bet there have been a dozen boys over from Sunday- 
school to drink out of that spring before this time. 
You wouldn't have had any blooms if I hadn't got 
up early/* 

Again she laughed, and, uncovering the orchids, 
held them up to him. 

"These are beauties," he exclaimed with due enthu- 
siasm, yet with a certain uneasy preoccupation in his 
manner. **Were you up before day, did you tell me, 
to get these? That seems too bad. You needed 
your sleep." 

Johnnie flushed and smiled. 

"I love to do it," she said simply. "It was mighty 
sweet out on the road this morning, and you don't 
know how pretty the blooms did look, standing there 
waiting for me. I 'most hated to pick them." 

Stoddard's troubled eyes raised themselves to her 
face. Here was a royal nature that would always 
be in the attitude of the giver. He wanted to offer her 
something, and, as the nearest thing in reach, sprang 
down from the automobile and, laying a hand on her 
arm, said, almost brusquely: 

"Get in. Come, let me help you. I want to go 
up and see the spring where these grow. I'll get you 
back to Cottonville in time for church, if that's what 
you're debating about." 

Both of them knew that Johnnie's reluctance had 
nothing to do with the question of church-time. Stod- 
dard himself was well aware that a factory girl could 
not with propriety accept a seat in his car; yet when 


once they were settled side by side, and the car resumed 
that swift, tireless climb which is the wonder and 
delight of the mechanical vehicle, it was character- 
istic that both put aside definitely and completely 
all hesitations and doubts. The girl was freely, inno- 
cently, exultantly blissful. Stoddard noticed her intent 
examination of the machine, and began explaining 
its workings to her. 

"Was that what you were doing,'* she asked, 
alluding to some small item of the operating, "when 
you stopped by the side of the road, Sunday night, 
when Miss Lydia was with you ?'' 

He looked his astonishment. 

"You were right under my window when you 
stopped," Johnnie explained to him. "I watched 
you-all when you started away. I was sure you would 

"We did," Stoddard assured her. "But we came 
near missing it. That connection Buckheath put in 
for me the evening you were with him on the Ridge 
worked loose. But I discovered the trouble in time 
to fix it." 

Remembrance of that evening, and of the swiift 
flight of the motors through the dusk moonlight, made 
Johnnie wonder at herself and her present position. 
She was roused by Stoddard's voice asking: 
Are you interested in machinery?" 
I love it," returned Johnnie sincerely. "I never 
did get enough of tinkerin' around machines. If I 
was ever so fortunate as to own a sewing machine 


I could take it all apart and clean it and put it together 
again. I did that to the minister's wife's sewing 
machine down at Bledsoe when it got out of order. 
She said I knew more about it than the man that sold 
it to her." 

"Would you like to run the car?" came the next 

Would she like to! The countenance of simple 
rapture that she turned to him was reply sufficient. 

"Well, look at my hands here on the steering-wheel. 
Get the position, and when I raise one put yours in 
its place. There. No, a little more this way. Now 
you can hold it better. The other one's right." 

Smilingly he watched her, like a grown person 
amusing a child. 

"You see what the wheel does, of course — guides. 
Now," when they had run ahead for some minutes, 
"do you want to go faster ?" 

Johnnie laughed up at him, through thick, fair 

"Looks like anybody would be hard to suit that 
wanted to go faster than this," she apologized. " But 
if the machine can make a higher speed, there wouldn't 
be any harm in just running that way for a spell, would 

It was Stoddard's turn to laugh. 

"No manner of harm," he agreed readily. "Well, 
you advance your spark and open the throttle — that 
speeds her up. This is the spark and this the gas, 
here. Then you shove your shifting lever — see, 


here it is — over to the next speed. Remember that, 
any time you shift the gears, you'll have to pull the 
clutch. The machine has to gain headway on one 
speed before it can take the next.'* 

Johnnie nodded soberly. Her intent gaze studied 
the mechanism before her intelligently. 

"We're going a heap faster now," she suggested 
in a moment. "Can I move that — whatever it is — 
over to the third speed ?'' 

"Yes," agreed Stoddard. "Here's a good, long, 
straight stretch of road for us to take it on. I'll attend 
to the horn when we come to the turn up there. We 
mustn't make anybody's horse run away." 

So the lesson proceeded. He showed her brake 
and clutch. He gave her some theoretical knowledge 
of cranking up, because she seemed to enjoy it as a 
child enjoys exploiting the possibilities of a new toy. 

Up and up they went, the sky widening and bright- 
ening above them. Hens began to lead forth their 
broods. Overhead, a hawk wheeled high in the blue, 
uttering his querulous cry. 

"I'm mighty glad I came," the girl said, more to 
herself than to the man at her side. "This is the 
most like flying of anything that ever chanced to me." 

From time to time Stoddard had sent swift, sidelong 
glances at his companion, noting the bright, bent head, 
the purity of line in the profile above the steering- 
wheel, the intelligent beauty of the intent, down- 
dropped eyes, with long lashes almost on the flushed 
cheeks. He wondered at her; born amid these wide, 


cool spaces, how had she endured for a week the fetid 
atmosphere of the factory rooms? How, having 
tested it, could she look forward to a life like that ? 
Something in her innocent trust choked him. He 
began some carefully worded inquiries as to her expe- 
rience in the mill and her opinion of the work. The 
answers partook of that charm which always clung 
about Johnnie. She told him of Mandy and, missing 
no shade of the humour there was in the Meacham 
girl, managed to make the description pathetic. She 
described Pap Himes and his boarding-house, aptly, 
deftly, and left it funny, though a sympathetic listener 
could feel the tragedy beneath. 

Presently they met the first farm-wagon with its load 
of worshippers for the little mountain church beyond. 
As these came out of a small side road, and caught 
sight of the car, the bony old horses jibbed and shied, 
and took all the driver's skill and a large portion of 
his vocabulary to carry them safely past, the children 
staring, the women pulling their sunbonnets about 
their faces and looking down. Something in the sight 
brought home to Johnnie the incongruity of her present 
position. On the instant, a drop of rain splashed 
upon the back of her hand. 

"There!" she cried in a contrite voice. ''I knew 
mighty well and good that it was going to rain, and I 
ought to have named it to you, because you town folks 
don't understand the weather as well as we do. I 
ought not to have let you come on up here." 

" We'll have to turn and run for it," said Stoddard, 


laughing a little. "I wish Td had the hood put on 
this morning/' as he surveyed the narrow way in 
which he had to turn. "Is it wider beyond here, 
do you remember ?'* 

"There's a bluff up about a quarter of a mile that 
you could run under and be as dry as if you were in 
the shed at home," said Johnnie. "This won't last 
long. Do you want to try it .?" 

"You are the pilot," Stoddard declared promptly, 
resigning the wheel once more to her hands. " If it's 
a bad place, you might let me take the car in." 

Rain in the mountains has a trick of coming with 
the suddenness of an overturned bucket. Johnnie 
sent the car ahead at what she considered a rapid pace, 
till Stoddard unceremoniously took the wheel from 
her and shoved the speed clutch over to the third 

"I'm mighty sorry I was so careless and didn't 
warn you about the rain," she declared with shining 
eyes, as her hair blew back and her colour rose at the 
rapid motion. "But this is fine. I believe that if I 
should ever be so fortunate as to own an automobile 
I'd want to fly like this every minute of the time I 

was in it." 

As she spoke, they swept beneath the overhanging 
rocks, and a great curtain of Virginia creeper and 
trumpet-vine fell behind them, half screening them 
from the road, and from the deluge which now broke 
more fiercely. For five minutes the world was blotted 
out in rain, with these two watching its gray swirls 


and listening to its insistent drumming, safe and dry 
in their cave. 

Nothing ripens intimacy so rapidly as a common 
mishap. Also, two people seem much to each other 
as they await alone the ceasing of the rain or the com- 
ing of the delayed boat. 

"This won't last long,'* Johnnie repeated. "We 
won't dare to start out when it first stops; but there'll 
come a little clearing-up shower after that, and then 
I think we'll have a fair day. Don't you know the 
saying, 'Rain before seven, quit before eleven ?' Well, 
it showered twice just as day was breaking, and I 
had to wait under a tree till it was over." 

The big drops lengthened themselves, as they came 
down, into tiny javelins and struck upon the rocks 
with a splash. The roar and drumming in the forest 
made a soft, blurring undertone of sound. The first rain 
lasted longer than Johnnie had counted on, and the 
clearing-up shower was slow in making its appearance. 
The two talked with ever-growing interest. Strangely 
enough Johnnie Consadine, who had no knowledge of 
any other life except through a few well-conned books, 
appreciated the values of this mountain existence with 
almost the detached view of an outsider. Her knowl- 
edge of it was therefore more assorted and available, 
and Stoddard listened to her eagerly. 

"But what made you think you'd like to work in a 
cotton mill?" he asked suddenly. "After all, weren't 
you maybe better off up in these mountains ?" 

And then and there Johnnie strove to put into exact 


and intelligent words what she had possessed and 
what she had lacked in the home of her childhood. 
Unconsciously she told him more than was in the mere 
words. He got the situation as to the visionary, kindly 
father with a turn for book learning and a liking for 
enterprises that appealed to his imagination. Uncle 
Pros and the silver mine were always touched upon with 
the tender kindness Johnnie felt for the old man and 
his life-long quest. But the little mother and the 
children — ah, it was here that the listener found 
Johnnie's incentive. 

"Mr. Stoddard," she concluded, "there wasn't 
a bit of hope of schooling for the children unless I 
could get out and work in the factory. I think it's 
a splendid chance for a girl. I think any girl that 
wouldn't take such a chance would be mighty mean 
and poor-spirited." 

Gray Stoddard revolved this conception of a chance 
in the world in his mind for some time. 

"I did get some schooling," she told him. "You 
wouldn't think it to hear me talk, because I'm careless, 
but I've been taught, and I can do better. Yet if 
I don't see to it, how am I to know that the children 
will have as much even as I've had ? Mountain air 
is mighty pure and healthy, and the water up here is 
the finest you ever drank; but that's only for the body. 
Of course there's beauty all about you — there was 
never anything more sightly than big Unaka and the 
ridges that run from it, and the .sky, and the big 
woods — and all. And yet human beings have got 


to have more than that. I aim to make a chance for 
the children." 

**Are you going to bring them down and let them 
work in the mills with you?'' Stoddard asked in a 
perfectly colourless tone. 

Johnnie looked embarrassed. Her week in the 
cotton mill had fixed indelibly on her mind the picture 
of the mill child, straggling to work in the gray 
dawn, sleepy, shivering, unkempt; of the young 
things creeping up and down the aisles between the 
endlessly turning spools, dully regarding the frames 
to see that the threads were not fouled or broken; 
of the tired little groups as they pressed close to the 
shut windows, neglecting their work to stare out into 
a world of blue sky and blowing airs — a world they 
could see but not enter, and no breath of which could 
come in to them. And so she looked embarrassed. 
She was afraid that memory of those tired little faces 
would show in her own countenance. Her hands on 
the steering-wheel trembled. She remembered that 
Mr. Stoddard was, as Shade had said, one of the bosses 
in the Hardwick mill. It seemed too terrible to oflFend 
him. He certainly thought no ill of having children 
employed; she must not seem to criticize him; she 
answered evasively: 

**Well, of course they might do that. I did think 
of it — before I went down there." 

"Before you went to work in the mills yourself," 
supplied Stoddard, again in that colourless tone. 

Ye — yes," hesitated Johnnie; "but you mustn't 



get the idea that I don't love my work — because I do. 
You see the children haven't had any schooling yet, 
and — well, Fih a great, big, stout somebody, and it 
looks like Fm the one to work in the mill." 

She turned to him fleetingly a countenance of appeal 
and perplexity. It seemed indeed anything but certain 
that she was one to work in the mill. There was some- 
thing almost grotesque in the idea which made Stod- 
dard smile a little at her earnestness. 

**rd like to talk it over with you when you've been 
at work there longer," he found himself saying. *' You 
see, I'm studying mill conditions from one side, and 
you're studying them from the opposite — perhaps 
we could help each other." 

** I sure will tell you what I find out," agreed Johnnie 
heartily. **I reckon you'll want to know how the 
work seems to me at the side of such as I was used 
to in the mountains; but I hope you won't inquire 
how long it took me to learn, for I'm afraid I'm going 
to make a poor record. If you was to ask me how 
much I was able to earn there, and how much back 
on Unaka, I could make a good report for the mill 
on that, because that's all that's the matter with the 
mountains — they're a beautiful place to live, but 
a body can't hardly earn a cent, work as they 

Johnnie forgot herself — she was always doing 
that — and she talked freely and well. It was as 
inevitable that she should be drawn to Gray Stoddard 
as that she should desire the clothing and culture Miss 


Lydia possessed. For the present, one aspiration 
struck her as quite as innocent as the other. Stoddard 
had not yet emerged from the starry constellations 
among which she set him, to take form as a young man, 
a person who might indeed return her regard. Her 
emotions were in that nebulous, formative stage when 
but a touch would be needed to show her whither the 
regard tended, yet till that touch should come, she 
as unashamedly adored Gray as any child of five could 
have done. It was not till they were well down the 
road to Cottonville that she realized the bald fact that 
she, a mill girl, was riding in an automobile with one 
of the mill owners. 

She was casting about for some reasonable phrase 
in which to clothe the statement that it would be better 
he should stop the car and let her out; 'she had parted 
her lips to ask him to take the wheel, when they rounded 
a turn and came upon a company of loom-fixers from 
the village below. Behind them, in a giggling group, 
strolled a dozen mill girls in their Sunday best. Johnnie 
had sight of Mandy Meacham, fixing eyes of terrified 
admiration upon her; then she nodded in reply to 
Shade Buckheath's angry stare, and a rattle of wheels 
apprized her that a carriage was passing on the other 
side. This vehicle contained the entire Hardwick 
family, with Lydia Sessions turning long to look her 
incredulous amazement back at them from her seat 
beside her brother-in-law. 

It was all over in a moment. The loom-fixers had 
debouched upon the long, wooden bridge which crossed 


the ravine to their quarters; the girls were going on, 
Mandy Meacham hanging back and staring; a tree 
finally shut out Miss Sessions's accusing countenance. 

** Please stop and let me out here/' said Johnnie, 
in a scarcely audible voice. 

When Stoddard would have remonstrated, or asked 
why, his lips were closed by sight of her daunted, 
miserable face. He knew as well as she the mad 
imprudence of the thing which they had done, and 
blamed himself roundly with it all. 

**ril not forget to bring the books we were talking 
of," he made haste to say. He picked up the little 
basket from the floor of the car. 

"YouM better keep the flowers in that,*' Johnnie 
told him lifelessly. Her innocent dream was broken 
into by a cruel reality. She was struggling blindly 
under the weight of all her little world's disappro- 

"You'll let me return the basket when I bring you 
the books," Gray suggested, helplessly. 

"I don't know," Johnnie hesitated. Then, as a 
sudden inspiration came to her, "Mandy Meacham 
said she'd try to get me into a club for girls that Miss 
Sessions has. She said Miss Sessions would lend 
me books. Maybe you might just leave them with 
her. I'm sure I should be mighty proud to have them. 
I know rU love to read them; but — well, you might 
just leave them with her." 

A little satiric sparkle leaped to life in Stoddard's- 
eyes. He looked at the innocent, upraised face in 


wonder. The most experienced manoeuverer of 
Society's legion could not have handled a difficult 
situation more deftly. 

*'The very thing," he said cheerily. "TU talk to 
Miss Sessions about it to-morrow/* 



I TOLD you Td speak a good word for you," 
shouted Mandy Meacham, putting her lips down 
close to Johnnie's ear where she struggled and 
fought with her looms amid the deafening clamour of 
the weaving room. 

The girl looked up, flushed, tired, but eagerly recep- 



Yes," her red lips shaped the word to the other's 
eyes, though no sound could make itself heard above 
that din except such eldritch shrieks as Mandy's. 

" I done it. I got you a invite to some doin's at the 
Uplift Club a-Wednesday." 

Again Johnnie nodded and shaped "Yes" with her 
lips. She added something which might have been 
"thank you''; the adorable smile that accompanied it 
said as much. 

Mandy watched her, fascinated as the lithe, strong 
young figure bent and strained to correct a crease in the 
web where it turned the roll. 

"They never saw anything like you in their born 
days, rU bet," she yelled, "I never did. You're 
awful quare — but somehow I sorter like ye." And 
she scuttled back to her looms as the room boss came 



in. A weaver works by the piece, but Mandy had 
been reproved too often for slovenly methods not to 
know that she might be fined for neglect. Her looms 
stood where she could continually get the newcomer's 
figure against the light, with its swift motion, its supple 
curves, and the brave carriage of the well-formed head. 
The sight gave Mandy a curious satisfaction, as though 
it uttered what she would fain have said to the classes 
above her. Hers was something the feeling which the 
private in the ranks has for the standard-bearer who 
carries the colours aloft, or the dashing officer who 
leads the charge. Johnnie was the challenge she 
would have flung in the face of the enemy. 

" ril bet if you'd put one of Miss Lyddy's dresses 
on her she'd look nobby," Mandy ruminated, address- 
ing her looms. "That's what she would. She'd 
have 'em all f — fa — faded away, as the feller says." 

And so it came about that the next day Johnnie Consa- 
dine did not go to the mill at all, but spent the morning 
washing and ironing her one light print dress. It 
was as coarse almost as flour-sacking, and the blue dots 
on it had paled till they made a suspicious speckle 
not unlike mildew; yet when she had combed her thick, 
fair hair, rolled it back from the white brow and 
braided it to a coronet round her head as she had seen 
that of the lady on the porch at the Palace of Pleasure; 
when, cleansed and smooth, she put the frock on, one 
forgot the dress in the youth of her, the hope, the 
glorious expectation there was in that eager face. 

The ladies assisting in Miss Lydia Sessions's Uplift 


Club for work among the mill girls, were almost 
all young and youngish women. The mothers in 
Israel attacked the more serious problems of orphanages, 
winter's supplies of coal, and clothing for the destitute. 

"But their souls must be fed, too," Miss Lydia 
asserted as she recruited her helpers for the Uplift 
work. "Their souls must be fed; and who can reach 
the souls of thesfe young girls so well as we who are 
near their own age, and who have had time for culture 
and spiritual growth?" 

It was a good theory. Perhaps one may say that it 
remains a good theory. The manner of uplifting was 
to select a certain number of mill girls whom it was 
deemed well to help, approach them on the subject, 
and, if they appeared amenable, pay a substitute 
to take charge of their looms while those in process of 
being uplifted attended a meeting of the Club. The 
gathering to which Johnnie was bidden was held in 
honour of a lady from London who had written a book 
on some subject which it was thought ought to appeal 
to workingwomen. This lady intended to address 
the company and to mingle with them and get their 
views. Most of those present being quite unfurnished 
with any views whatever on the problem she discussed, 
her position was something that of a pick-pocket in 
a moneyless crowd; but of this she was fortunately 
and happily unaware. 

Mandy Meacham regarded Johnnie's preparation 
for the function with some disfavour. 

"Ef you fix up like that," she remonstrated, "you're 


bound to look too nice to suit Miss Lydd)'. They 
won't be no men thar. I'm goin' to wear my workin' 
dress, and tell her I hadn't nary minute nor nary cent 
to do other." 

Johnnie laughed a little at this, as though it were 
intended for a joke. 

"But I did have time," she objected. "Miss 
Sessions would pay a substitute for the whole day 
though I told her I'd only need the afternoon for the 
party. I think it was mighty good of her, and it's 
as little as I can do to make myself look as nice as I 


"You ain't got the sense you was born with!" 
fretted Mandy. "Them thar kind ladies ain't a- 
carin' for you to look so fine. They'll attend to all the 
fine lookin' theirselves. What they want is to know 
how bad off you air, an' to have you say how much 
what they have did or give has helped you." 

Such interchange of views brought the two girls 
to the door of the little frame chapel, given over for 
the day to Uplift work. Within it rose a bustle and 
clatter, a hum of voices that spoke, a frilling of nervous, 
shrill laughter to edge the sound, and back of that the 
clink of dishes from a rear room where refreshments 
were being prepared. 

Miss Sessions, near the door, had a receiving line, 
quite in the manner of any reception. She herself, 
in a blouse of marvellous daintiness and sweeping 
skirts, stood beside the visitor from London to present 
her. To this day Johnnie is uncertain as to where 


the wonderful blue silk frock of that lady from abroad 
was fastened, though she gave the undivided efforts 
of sharp young eyes and an inquiring mind to the 
problem a good portion of the time while it was within 
her view. The Englishwoman was called Mrs. Arch- 
bold, and on her other hand stood a tall, slim lady with 
lo^g gray-green eyes, prematurely gray hair which 
had plainly been red, and an odd little twist to her 
smile. This was Mrs. Hexter, wife of the owner of 
the big woollen mills across the creek, and only bidden 
in to assist the Uplift work because the position of her 
husband gave her much power. These, with the 
Misses Burchard, daughters of the rector, formed the 
reception committee. 

"I am so charmed to see you here to-day,'* Miss 
Lydia smiled as they entered. It was part of her 
theory to treat the mill girls exactly as she would 
members of her own circle. Mandy, being old at the 
business, possessed herself of the high-held hand 
presented; but Johnnie only looked at it in astonish- 
ment, uncertain whether Miss Lydia meant to shake 
hands or pat her on the head. Yet when she did 
finally divine what was intended, the quality of her 
apologetic smile ought to have atoned for her lapse. 

"Tm sure proud to be here with you-all," she said. 
"Looks like to me you are mighty kind to strangers." 

The ineradicable dignity of the true mountaineer, 
who has always been as good as the best in his environ- 
ment, preserved Johnnie from any embarrassment, 
any tendency to shrink or cringe. Her beauty, ill the 


fresh-washed print gown, was like a thing released and, 
as Miss Sessions might have put it, rampant. 

Gray Stoddard had gone directly to Lydia Sessions, 
with his proffers of books, and his suggestions for 
Johnnie. The explanation of how the girl came to be 
riding in his car that Sunday morning was neither as 
full nor as penitent as Miss Lydia could have wished; 
yet it did recognize the impropriety of the act, and was, 
in so far, satisfactory. Miss Sessions made haste to 
form an alliance with the young man for the special 
upliftment of Johnnie Consadine. She would have 
greatly preferred to interest him in Mandy Meacham, 
but beggars can not be choosers, and she took what 
she could get. 

"Whom have we here?** demanded the lady from 
London, leaning across and peering at Johnnie with 
friendly, near-sighted eyes. "Why, what a blooming 
girl, to be sure! You haven^t been long from the 
country, Til venture to guess, my dear.** 

Johnnie blushed and dimpled at being so kindly 
welcomed. The mountain people are undemonstra- 
tive in speech and action; and that "my dear** seemed 

"I come from away up in the mountains,** she said 

"From away up in the mountains,** repeated the 
Englishwoman, her smiling gaze dwelling on Johnnie's 
radiant face. " Why yes — so one would conceive. 
Well, you mustn't lose all those pretty roses in the 
mill down here.** She was a visitor, remember; resi- 


dents of Cottonville never admitted that roses, or any- 
thing else desirable, could be lost in the mills. 

"I'll not," said Johnnie sturdily. "I'm goin' to 
earn my way and send for Mother and the children, 
if hard work'U do it; but I'm a mighty big, stout, 
healthy somebody, and I aim to keep so." 

Mrs. Archbold patted the tall young shoulder as she 
turned to Mandy Meacham whom Miss Lydia was 
eager to put through her paces for the benefit of the 
lady from London. 

"Isn't that the girl Mr. Stoddard was speaking to 
me about.?" she inquired in a whisper as Johnnie 
moved away. "I think it must be. He said she was 
such a beauty, and I scarcely believe there could be 
two like her in one town." 

"*Such a type,' were Mr. Stoddard's exact words 
I believe," returned Miss Sessions a little frostily. 
"Yes, John Consadine is quite a marked type of the 
mountaineer. She is, as she said to you, a stout, 
healthy creature, and, I understand, very industrious. 
I approve of John." 

She approved of John, but she addressed herself to 
exploiting Mandy; and the lady in the blue silk frock 
learned how poor and helpless the Meacham woman 
had been before she got in to the mill work, how 
greatly the Uplift Club had benefited her, with many 
interesting details. Yet as the English lady went from 
group to group in company with Miss Lydia and 
T. H. Hexter's wife, her quick eyes wandered across the 
room to where a bright head rose a little taller than 


Its fellows, and occasional bursts of laughter told that 
Johnnie was in a merry mood. 

The threadbare attempt at a reception was gotten 
through laboriously. The girls were finally settled 
in orderly rows, and Mrs. Archbold led to the platform. 
The talk she had prepared for them was upon aspiration. 
It was an essay, in fact, and she had delivered it suc- 
cessfully before many women's clubs. She is not to be 
blamed that the language was as absolutely above the 
comprehension of her hearers as though it had been 
Greek. She was a busy woman, with other aims and 
activities than those of working among the masses; 
Miss Lydia had heard her present talk, fancied it, and 
thought it would be the very thing for the Uplift Club. 

For thirty minutes Johnnie sat concentrating des- 
perately on every sentence that fell from the lips^ of 
the lady from London, trying harder to understand 
than she had ever tried to do anything in her life. 
She put all her quick, young mind and avid soul into 
the struggle to receive, though piercingly aware every 
instant of the difference between her attire and that 
of the women who had bidden her there, noting acutely 
variations between their language and hers, their voices, 
their gestures and hers. These were the women of 
Gray Stoddard's world. Such were his feminine associ- 
ates; here, then, must be her models. 

Mandy and her likes got from the talk perhaps noth- 
ing at all, except that rich people might have what 
they liked if they wanted it — that at least was Miss 
Meacham's summing up of the matter when she went 


home that night. But to Johnnie some of the sentences 

"You struggle and climb and strive/* said Mrs. 
Archbold earnestly, "when, if you only j knew it, you 
have wings. And what are the wings of the soul? 
The wings of the soul are aspiration. Oh, that we 
would spread them and fly to the he^ts our longing 
eyes behold, the heights we dream of when we cannot 
see them, the heights we foolishly an^ mistakenly 
expect to climb some day." 

Again Johnnie saw herself coming down the ridge 
at Shade's side; descending into the shadow, stepping 
closer to the droning mills; while above her the Palace 
of Pleasure swam in its golden glory, and these who were 
privileged to do so went out and in and laughed and 
were happy. Were such heights as that what this 
woman meant.? Johnnie had let it typify to her the 
heights to which she intended to climb. Was it indeed 
possible to fly to them instead i The talk ended. 
She sat so long with bent head that Miss Sessions 
finally came round and took the unoccupied chair 
beside her. 

"Are you thinking it over, John ?" she inquired with 
that odd little note of hostility which she could never 
quite keep out of her voice when she addressed this 

"Yes'm," replied Johnnie meekly. 

Several who were talking together in the vicinity 
relinquished their conversation to listen to the two. 
Mrs. Hexter shot one of her quaint, crooked smiles 


at the lady from London and, with a silent gesture, 
bade her hearken. 

"I think these things are most important for you 
girls who have to earn your daily bread," Miss Sessions 

"Daily bread,'' echoed Johnnie softly. She loved 
fine phrases as she loved fine clothes. " I know where 
that comes from. It's in the prayer about * daily 
bread,' and *the kingdom and the power and the 
glory.' Don't you think those are beautiful words, 
Miss Lydia — the 'power and the glory'?" 

Miss Sessions's lips sucked in with that singular, 
half-reluctant expression of condemnation which was 
becoming fairly familiar to Johnnie. 

"Oh, John!" she said reprovingly, * Daily bread' 
is all we have anything to do with. Don't you 
remember that it says 'Thine be the kingdom and the 
power and the glory' ? Thine, John — Thine." 

"Yes'm," returned Johnnie submissively. But it 
was in her heart that certain upon this earth had their 
share of kingdoms and powers and the glories. And, 
although she uttered that submissive "Yes'm," her 
high-couraged young heart registered a vow to achieve 
its own slice of these things as well as of daily bread. 

" Didn't you enjoy Mrs. Archbold's talk ? I thought 
it very fine," Miss Sessions pursued. 

"It sure was that," sighed Johnnie. "I don't 
know as I understand it all — every word. I tried 
to, but maybe I got some of it wrong." 

"What is it you don't understand, John?" inquired 


Miss Lydia patronizingly. "Ask me. I'll explain 
anything you care to know about." 

Johnnie turned to her, too desperately in earnest to 
note the other listeners to the conversation. 

" Why, that about stretching out the wings of your 
spirit and flying. Do you believe that ? " 

" I certainly do,*' Miss Sessions said brightly, as de- 
lighted at Johnnie's remembering part of the visitor's 
words as a small boy when he has taught his terrier 
to walk on its hind legs. 

"Then if a body wants a thing bad enough, and 
keeps on a-wanting it — Oh, just awful — is that 
aspiration ? Will the thing you want that-a-way come 
to pass ? " 

"We-e-ell," Miss Sessions deemed it necessary to 
qualify her statement to this fiery and exact young 
questioner. "You have to want the right thing, of 
course, John. You have to want the right thing.'' 

"Yes'm," agreed Johnnie heartily. "And I'd 'low 
it was certainly the right thing, if it was what good 
folks — like you — want." 

Miss Sessions flushed, yet she looked pleased, aware, 
if Johnnie was not, of the number of listeners. Here 
was her work of Uplift among the mill girls being 

"I — Oh, really, I couldn't set myself up as a 
pattern," she said modestly. 

"But you are," Johnnie assured her warmly. 
"There ain't anybody in this room I'd rather go by 
as by you." The fine gray eyes had been travelling 


from neck to belt, from shoulder to wrist of the lady 
who was enlightening her. •"! think I never in all 
my life seen anything more sightly than that dress-body 
you're a- wearing" she murmured softly. "Where — 
how might a person come by such a one ? If you 
thought that my wishing and — aspiring — would ever 
bring me such as that, Fd sure try." 

There rose a titter about the two. It spread and 
swelled till the whole assembly was in a gale of laughter. 
Miss Sessions*s becoming blush deepened to the tint 
of angry mortification. She looked about and assumed 
the air of a schoolmistress with a room full of noisy 
pupils; but Johnnie, her cheeks pink too, first swept 
them all with an astonished gaze which flung the long 
lashes up in such a wide curve of innocence as 
made her eyes bewitching, then joined it, and laughed 
as loud as any of them at she knew not what. It was 
the one touch to put her with the majority, and leave 
her mentor stranded in a bleak minority. Miss 
Sessions objected to the position. 

"Oh, John!'* she said severely, so soon as she could 
be heard above the giggles. " How you have misunder- 
stood me, and Mrs. Archbold, and all we intended 
to bring to you! What is a mere blouse like this to 
the uplift, the outlook, the development we were striving 
to ofi^er ? I confess I am deeply disappointed in you.'* 

This sobered Johnnie, instantly. 

"Fm sorry,** she said, bending forward to lay a 
wistful, penitent hand on that of Miss Sessions. "I'll 
try to understand better. I reckon Tm right dumb. 


and you'll have to have a lot of patience with me. I 
don't rightly know what to aspire after/' 

The amende was so sweetly made that even Lydia 
Sessions, still exceedingly employed at being pictorially 
chagrined over the depravity of her neophyte, could 
but be appeased. 

"rU try to furnish you more suitable objects for 
your ambition," she murmured virtuously. 

But the lady with the gray hair and the odd little 
twist to her smile now leaned forward and took a hand 
in the conversation. 

"See here, Lydia," Mrs. Hexter remonstrated in 
crisp tones, "what's the matter with the girl's aspiring 
after a blouse like yours ? You took a lot of trouble 
and spent a lot of money to get that one. I noticed 
you were careful to tell me it was imported, because 
I couldn't see the neck-band and find out that detail 
for myself. That blouse is a dream — it's a dream. 
If it's good enough aspiration for you or me, why not 
for this girl ? " 

"Oh, but Mrs. Hexter," murmured the mortified 
Miss Sessions, glancing uneasily toward the mill-girl 
contingent which was listening eagerly, and then at 
the speaker of the day, " I am sure Mrs. Archbold will 
agree with me that it would be a gross, material 
idea to aspire after blouses and such-like, when 
the poor child needs — er — other things so much 


"Yes'm, I do that," conceded Johnnie dutifully, 
those changeful eyes of hers full of pensive, denied de- 


sire, as they swept the dainty gowns of the women be- 
fore her. "I do — you're right. I wouldn't think of 
spending my money for a dress-body like that when 
I'm mighty near as barefoot as a rabbit this minute, 
and the little 'uns back home has to have every cent 
I can save. I just thought that if beautiful wishes 
was ever really coming true — if it was right and 
proper for a person to have beautiful wishes — I'd 
like '' 

Her voice faltered into discouraged silence. Tears 
gathered and hung thick on her lashes. Miss Sessions 
sent a beseeching look toward the lady from London. 
Mrs. Archbold stepped accommodatingly into the 

"All aspiration is good," she said gently. "I 
shouldn't be discouraged because it took a rather 
concrete form." 

Johnnie's eyes were upon her face, trying to under- 
stand. A** concrete form" she imagined might allude 
to the fact that Miss Sessions had a better figure than 

Mrs. Hexter, glad of an ally, tossed that incorrigible 
gray head of hers and dashed into the conversation 
once more. 

"If I were you, Johnnie, I'd just aspire as hard as 
I could in that direction," she said recklessly, her 
mischievous glance upon the flowing lines of Johnnie's 
young shoulders and throat. "A blouse like that would 
be awfully fetching on you. You'd look lovely in it. 
Why shouldn't you aspire to it? Maybe you'll have 



one just as pretty before the style changes. I am sure 
you're nice enough, and good-looking enough, for the 
best in the way of purple and fine linen to come to you 
by the law of attraction — don't you believe in the law 
of attraction, Mrs. Archbold ?" 

Lydia Sessions got up and moved away in shocked 
silence. Mrs. Hexter was a good deal of a thorn in 
her flesh, and she only tolerated her because of Mr. 
Hexter and his position. After the retreating and 
disaffected hostess came Mrs. Archbold's voice, with 
a thread of laughter in it. 

"I believe in the law of such attraction as this gir^ 
has,'* she said kindly. " What is it your Walt Whitman 
says about the fluid and attaching character? That 
all hearts yearn toward it, that old and young must give 
it love. That is, my dear," turning explainingly to 
Johnnie, "the character which gives much love, takes 
much interest in those about it, makes itself one with 
other people and their affairs — do you get my 
meaning ? " 

"I think I understand," half whispered Johnnie, 
glowing eyes on the face of the speaker. "Do you 
mean that I am anything like that ? I do love every- 
body — most. But how could I help it, when every- 
body is so good and kind to me ?" 

The glances of the older women met across the 
bright head. 

"She won't have much use for feet to climb with,'* 
Mrs. Hexter summed it up, taking her figure from 
the talk earlier in the afternoon. "She's got wings.^ 



And puzzled Johnnie could only smile from one to 
the other. 

"Wings!" whispered Mandy Meacham to herself. 
Mandy was not only restricted to the use of spiritual 
feet; she was lame in the soul as well, poor creature, 
" Wings — air they callin' her a angel ? " 



IN THE valleys of Tennessee, spring has a trick 
of dropping down on the world like a steaming 
wet blanket. The season that Johnnie Con- 
sadlne went to work in the mills at Cottonville, May 
came in with warm rains. Stifling nights followed sultry, 
drenching days, till vegetation everywhere sprouted 
unwholesomely and the mountain slopes had almost 
the reek of tropic jungles. 

Yet the girl performed the labours of a factory weaver 
with almost passionate enthusiasm and devotion* 
Always and always she was looking beyond the mere 
present moment. If tending loom was the road 
which led to the power and the glory, what need to 
complain that it — the mere road — was but dull 
earth ? 

She tried conscientiously, to do ^nd be exactly what 
Lydia Sessions seemed to want. Gray Stoddard's 
occasional spoken word, or the more lengthy written 
messages he had taken to putting in the books he sent 
her, seemed to demand of her nothing, but always 
inspired to much. For all his disposition to keep 
hands off the personal development of his friends, per- 
haps on account of it. Gray made an excellent teacher, 




and these writings — the garnered grain, the gist, of 
his own wide culture — were the very sinews for the 
race Johnnie was setting out on. She began to intelli- 
gently guard her speech, her manner, her very thoughts, 
conforming them to what she knew of his ideals. 
Miss Session's striving to build up an imitation lady 
on the sincere foundation Johnnie offered appealed 
less to the girl, and had therefore less effect; but she 
immediately responded to Stoddard's methods, tuck- 
ing in to the books she returned written queries or 
records of perplexity, which gradually expanded into 
notes, expressions of her own awakened thought, and 
even fancies, which held from the first a quaint charm 
and individuality. 

The long, hot days at the foot of the hills did seem 
to the mountain-bred creature interminable and 
stifling. Perspiration dripped from white faces as 
the operatives stood listlessly at their looms, or 
the children straggled back and forth in the narrow 
lanes between the frames, tending the endlessly turn- 
ing spools. 

The Hardwick Mill had both spinning and weaving 
departments. Administrative ability is as much a 
native gift as the poet's voice or the actor's grace, and 
the managers of any large business are always on the 
lookout for it. Before Johnnie Consadine had been 
two months in the factory she was given charge of a 
spinning room. But the dignity of the new position — 
even the increase of pay — had a cloud upon it. She 
was beginning to understand the enmi^ there is 


between the soulless factory and the human tide that 
feeds its life. She knew now that the tasks of the 
little spinners, which seemed less than child's play, 
were deadly in their monotony, their long indoor hours, 
and the vibrant clamour amid which they were per- 
formed. Her own vigorous young frame resisted val- 
iantly; yet the Saturday half-holiday, the Sunday of 
rest, could scarcely renew her for the exorbitant hours 
of mechanical toil. 

As she left the mill those sultry evenings, with the 
heat mists still tremulous over the valley and heat 
lightnings bickering in the west, she went with a lagging 
step up the village street, not looking, as had been 
her wont, first toward the far blue mountains, and then 
at the glorious state of the big valley. The houses of 
the operatives were set up haphazard and the village 
was denied all beauty. Most of the yards were 
unfenced, and here and there a row of shanties would, 
be crowded so close together that speech in one could 
be heard in the other. 

"And then if any ketchin' disease does break out, like 
the dipthery did last year,*' Mavity Bence said one 
evening as she walked home with Johnnie, ** hit's 
sartin shore to go through 'em like it would go through 
a family." 

Johnnie looked curiously at the dirty yards with their 
debris of lard buckets and tin cans. Space — air, 
earth and sky — was cheap and plentiful in the moun- 
tains. It seemed strange to be sparing of it, down 
here where people were so rich. 


"What makes *em build so close, Aunt Mavity?" 
she asked. 

Hit's the Company," returned Mrs. Bence lifelessly. 
They don't want to spend any more than they have 
to for land. Besides they want everything to be nigh 
to the mill. Lord — hit don't make no differ. Only 
when a fire starts in a row of 'em hit cleans up the 
Company's property same as it does the plunder of 
the folks that lives in 'em. You just got to be thankful 
if there don't chance to be one or more baby children 
locked up in the houses and burned along with the 
other stuff. I've knowed that to happen more than 


Johnnie's face whitened. 

** Miss Lydia says she's going to persuade her brother- 
in-law to furnish a kindergarten and a day nursery for 
the Hardwick Mill," she offered hastily. "They have 
one at some other mill down in Georgia, and she says 
it's fine the way they take care of the children while 
the mothers are at work in the factory." 

"Uh-uh," put in Mandy Meacham slowly, speaking 
over the shoulders of the two, " but I'd a heap ruther 
take care of my own child — ef I had one. An' ef 
the mills can afford to pay for it the one way, they 
can afford to pay for it t'other way. Miss Liddy's 
schemes is all for the showin' off of the swells and the 
rich folks. I reckon that, with her, hit'U end in talk, 
anyhow — hit always does." 

"Aunt Mavity," pursued Johnnie timidly, "do 
you reckon the water's unhealthy down here in Cotton- 


ville ? Looks like all the children in the mill have the 
same white, puny look. I thought maybe the water 
didn^t agree with them/' 

Mavity Bence laughed out mirthlessly. " The water !'* 
she echoed in a tone of amused contempt. " Johnnie, 
you're mighty smart about some things; cain'tyou see 
that a cotton mill is bound to either kill or cripple a 
child ? Them that don't die, sort o' drags along and 
grows up to be mis'able, undersized, sickly somebodies. 
Hit's true the Hardwick Mill won't run night turn; 
hit's true they show mo' good will about hirin' older 
children; but if you can make a cotton mill healthy 
for young-uns, you can do more than God A'mighty." 
She wiped her eyes furtively. 

"Lou was well growed before ever she went in the 
mill. I know in reason hit never hurt her. I mean 
these here mammies that I see puttin' little tricks to 
work that ort to be runnin' out o' doors gettin' their 
strength and growth — well, po' souls, I reckon they 
don't know no better, God forgive 'em!" 

" But if they got sick or anything, there's always the 
hospital," Johnnie spoke up hopefully, as they passed 
the clean white building standing high on its green slope. 

"The hospital!" echoed Mandy, with a half- terrified 
glance over her shoulder. "Yes, ef you want to be 
shipped out of town in a box for the student doctors 
to cut up, I reckon the hospital is a good place. It's 
just like everything else the rich swells does — it's 
for their profit, not for our'n. They was a lot of big 
talk when they built that thar hospital, and every one 


of us was axed to give something for beds and such. 
We was told that if we got hurt in the mill we could go 
thar free, and if we fell sick they'd doctor us for little 
or nothin*. They can afford it — considerin* the 
prices they git for dead bodies, I reckon." 

"Now, Mandy, you don't believe any such as that/* 
remonstrated Johnnie, with a half-smile. 

" Believe it — I know it to be true ! " Mandy stuck 
to her point stubbornly. "Thar was Lura Dawson; 
her folks was comin' down to git the body and bury 
hit, and when they got here the hospital folks couldn't 
tell *em whar to look — no, they couldn't. Atlas 
Dawson 'lows he'll git even with 'em if it takes him 
the rest of his natural life. His wife was a Bushares 
and her whole tribe is out agin the hospital folks and 
the mill folks down here. I reckon you live too far 
up in the mountains to hear the talk, but some of 
these swells had better look out." 

As the long, hot days followed each other, Johnnie 
noticed how Mandy failed. Her hand was forever 
at her side, where she had a stitch-like pain, that she 
called "a jumpin' misery." Even broad, seasoned 
Mavity Bence grew pallid and gaunt. Only Pap 
Himes thrived. His trouble was rheumatism, and 
the hot days were his best. Of evenings he would sit 
on the porch in his broad, rush-bottomed chair, the 
big yellow cat on his knees, and smoke his pipe and, 
if he cared to do so, banter unkindly with the girls on 
the steps. Early in the season as it was, the upstairs 
^rooms were terribly hot; and sometimes the poor crea- 


tures sat or lay on the porch till well past midnight. 
Across the gulch were songs and the strumming of 
banjos or guitars, where the young fellows at the 
inn waked late. 

The rich people on top of the hill were beginning to 
make their preparations to flit to the seashore or 
mountains. Lydia Sessions left for two weeks, promis- 
ing to return in June, and the UpHft work drooped, 
neglected. There seems to be an understanding that 
people do not need uplifting so much during hot weather. 
Gray Stoddard was faithful in the matter of books. 
He carried them to Lydia Sessions and discussed with 
that young lady a complete course of reading for Johnnie. 
Lydia was in the position of one taking bad medicine 
for good results. She could not but delight in any 
enterprise which brought Stoddard intimately to her, 
yet the discussion of Johnnie Consadine, the admira- 
tion he expressed for the girl's character and work, 
were as so much quinine. 

Johnnie herself was dumb and abashed, now, in his 
presence. She sought vainly for the poise and com- 
posure which were her natural birthright in most of 
the situations of life. Yet her perturbation was not that 
of distress. The sight of him, the sound of his voice, 
even if he were not saying good morning to her, would 
cheer her heart for one whole, long, hot day: and if 
he spoke to her, if he looked at her, nothing could touch 
her with sadness for hours afterward. She asked no 
i^uesdons why this was so; she met it with a sort of 

iycry, accepting the joy, refusing to see 


the sorrow there might be in it. And she robbed herself 
of necessary sleep to read Stoddard's books, to study 
them, to wring from them the last precious crumb 
of help or information that they might have for her. 
The mountain dweller is a mental creature. An 
environment which builds lean, vigorous bodies, is apt 
to nourish keen, alert minds. Johnnie crowded into 
her few months of night reading a world of ripening 

Ever since the Sunday morning of the automobile 
ride. Shade Buckheath had been making elaborate 
pretense of having forgotten that such a person as 
Johnnie Consadine existed. If he saw her approaching, 
he turned his back; and when forced to recognize her, 
barely growled some unintelligible greeting. Then 
one evening she came suddenly into the machine room. 
She walked slowly down the long aisle between pieces 
of whirring machinery, carrying all eyes with her. 
It was an offence to Buckheath to note how the other 
young fellows turned from their tasks to look after 
her. She had no business down here where the men 
were. That was just like a fool girl, always running 
after . She paused at his bench. 

"Shade,'* she said, bending close so that he might 
hear the words, " I got leave to come in and ask you to 
make me a thing like this — see ?" showing a pattern 
for a peculiarly slotted strip of metal. 

Buckheath returned to the surly indifference of 
demeanour which was natural to him. Yet he smiled 
covertly as he examined the drawing she had made of 


the thing she wanted. He divined in this movement 
of Johnnie's but an attempt to approach himself, 
and, as she explained with some particularity, he paid 
more attention to the girl than to her words. 

"I want a big enough hole here to put a bolt 
through,** she repeated. " Shade — do you understand ? 
You're not listening to one word I say.** 

Buckheath turned and grinned broadly at her. 

"What's the use of this foolishness, Johnnie?** 
he inquired, clinking the strips of metal between his 
fingers. "Looks like you and me could find a chance 
to visit without going to so much trouble." 

Johnnie opened her gray eyes wide and stared at 

"Foolishness!** she echoed. "Mr. Stoddard didn't 
call it foolishness when I named it to him. He said 
I was to have anything I wanted made, and that one 
of the loom-fixers could attend to it.** 

"Mr. Stoddard — what*s he got to do with it?" 
demanded Shade. 

" He hasn't anything; but that I spoke to him about 
It, and he told me to try any plan I wanted to.** 

" Well, the less you talk to the bosses — a girl like you, 
working here in the mill — the better name you'll 
bear," Shade told her, twisting the drawing in his 
hands and regarding her from under lowered brows. 

"Don't tear that," cautioned Johnnie impatiently. 
"I have to speak to some of the people in authority 
sometimes — the same as you do. What's the matter 
with you. Shade Buckheath?" 


"There's nothing the matter with me," Buckheath 
declared wagging his head portentously, and avoid- 
ing her eye. Then the wrath, the sense of personal 
injury, which had been simmering in him ever since 
he saw her sitting beside Stoddard in the young mill 
owner's car, broke forth. " When I see a girl riding in 
an automobile with one of these young bosses," he 
growled, close to her ear, " I know what to think — 
and so does everybody else." 

It was out. He had said it at last. He stared at 
her fiercely. The red dyed her face and neck at his 
words and look. For a desperate moment she took 
counsel with herself. Then she lifted her head and 
looked squarely in Buckheath's face. 

"Oh, thafs what has been the matter with you all 
this time, is it.?" she inquired. "Well, Fm glad you 
spoke and relieved your mind." Then she went on 
evenly, "Mr. Stoddard had been up in the mountains 
that Sunday to get a flower that he wanted, like the one 
you stepped on and broke the day I came down. I 
was up there and showed him where the things grow. 
Then it rained, and he brought me down in his car. 
That's all there was to it." 

"Mighty poor excuse," grunted Shade, turning his 
shoulder to her. 

"It's not an excuse at all," said Johnnie. "You 
have no right to ask excuses for what I do — or explana- 
tions, either, for that matter. I've told you the truth 
about it because we were old friends and you named it 
to me; but I'm sorry now that I spoke at all. Give 


me that drawing and those patterns back. Some of 
the other loom-fixers can make what I want." 

"You get mad quick, don't you .?'* Buckheath asked, 
turning to her with a half-taunting, half-relenting 
smile on his face. " Red-headed people always do.** 

"No, Fm not mad,'* Johnnie told him, as she 
had told him long ago. "But I'll thank you not to 
name Mr. Stoddard to me again. If I haven't the 
right to speak to anybody I need to, why it certainly 
isn't your place to tell me of it." 

"Go 'long," said Buckheath, surlily; "I'll fix 'em 
for you." And without another word the girl left 

After Johnnie was gone, Buckheath chewed for 
some time the bitter cud of chagrin. He was wholly 
mistaken, then, in the object of her visit to the mechan- 
ical department? Yet he was a cool-headed fellow, 
always alert for that which might bring him gain. 
Pushing, aspiring, he subscribed for and faithfully 
studied a mechanics' journal which continually urged 
upon its readers the profit of patenting small improve- 
ments on machinery already in use. Indeed everybody, 
these days, in the factories, is on the lookout for patent- 
able improvements. Why might not Johnnie have 
stumbled on to something worth while f That Passmore 
and Consadine tribe were all smart fools. He made the 
slotted strips she wanted, and delivered them to her 
the next day with civil words. When, after she had 
them in use on the spinning jennies upstairs for a week, 
she came down bringing them for certain minute 


alterations, his attitude was one of friendly help- 

** You say you use *em on the frames ? What for ? 
How do they work?*' he asked her, examining the 
little contrivance lingeringly. 

"They're working pretty well," she told him, "even 
the way they are — a good deal too long, and with 
that slot not cut deep enough, Fm right proud of myself 
when I look at them. Any boy or girl tending a frame 
can go to the end of it and see if anything's the matter 
without walking plumb down. When you get them 
fixed the way I want them, I tell you they'll be fine." 

The next afternoon saw Shade Buckheath in the 
spooling room, watching the operation of Johnnie 
Consadine's simple device for notifying the frame- 
tender if a thread fouled or broke. 

"Let me take 'em all down to the basement," he 
said finally when he had studied them from every 
point of view for fifteen minutes. "They ain't as 
well polished as I'd like to have 'em and I think they 
might be a little longer in the shank. There ought to 
be a ring of babbit metal around that slot, too — I 
reckon I could get it in Watauga. If you'll let me 
take 'em now, I'll fix 'em up for you soon as I can, 
so that they'll do fine." 

Johnnie remonstrated, half-heartedly, as he gathered 
the crude little invention from the frames; but his 
proposition wore a plausible face, and she suffered him 
to take them. 

"They ain't but five here," he said to her sharply. 


"I know I made you six. Where's the other one?" 
He looked so startled, he spoke so anxiously, that ^he 

**I think that must be the one I carried home," she 
said carelessly. "I had a file, and was trying to fix 
it myself one evening, and I reckon I never brought 
it back." 

"Johnnie," said Shade, coming close, and speaking 
in a low confidential tone that was almost affectionate, 
"if I was you I wouldn't name this business to anybody. 
Wait till we get it all fixed right," he pursued, as he 
saw the rising wonder in her face. "No need to tell 
every feller all you know — so he'll be jest as smart 
as you are. Ain't that so? And you git me that 
other strip. I don't want it layin' round for somebody 
to get hold of and — you find me that other strip. 
Hunt it up, won't you?" 

"Well, you sure talk curious to-day!" Johnnie told 
him. "I don't see anything to be ashamed of in my 
loving to fool with machinery, if I am a girl. But 
I'll get you the strip, if I can find it. I'm mighty 
proud of being a room boss, and I aim to make my 
room the best one in the mill. Shade, did you know 
that I get eight dollars a week ? I've been sending 
money home to mother, and I've got a room to myself 
down at Pap Himes's. And Mr. Sessions says they'll 
raise me again soon. I wanted 'em to see this thing 
working well." 

"Look here!" broke in Shade swiftly; "don't you 
say anything to the bosses about this " — he shook 



the strips in his hand —"not till Fve had a chance 
to talk to you again. You know I'm your friend, don't 
you Johnnie ? " 

"I reckon so," returned truthful Johnnie, with 
unflattering moderation. "You get me those things 
done as quick as you can, please. Shade." 

After this the matter dropped. Two or three times 
Johnnie reminded Shade of his promise to bring the 
little strips back, and always he had an excuse ready 
for her: he had been very busy — the metal he wanted 
was out of stock — he would fix them for her just as 
soon as he could. With every interview his manner 
toward herself grew kinder — more distinctly that 
of a lover. 

The loom-fixers and mechanics, belonging, be it 
remembered, to a trades-union, were out of all the 
mills by five o'clock. It was a significant point for 
any student of economic conditions to note these 
strapping young males sitting at ease upon the porches 
of their homes or boarding houses, when the sweating, 
fagged women weavers and childish spinners trooped 
across the bridges an hour after. Johnnie was 
surprised, therefore, one evening, nearly two weeks 
later, to find Shade waiting for her at the door of 
the mill. 

"I wish't you'd walk a piece up the Gap road with 
me, I want to have speech with you," the young fellow 
told her. 

"I can't go far; I 'most always try to be home in 
time to help Aunt Mavity put supper on the table, or 


anyway to wash up the dishes for her," the girl replied 
to him. 

"All right/* agreed Buckheath briefly. "Wait here a 
minute and let me get some things I want to take along." 

He stopped at a little shed back of the oflices, some- 
times called the garage because Stoddard's car stood 
in it. Johnnie dropped down on a box at the door 
and the young fellow went inside and began searching 
the pockets of a coat hanging on a peg. He spoke 
over his shoulder to her. 

"What's the matter with you here lately since you 
got your raise ? * Pears like you won't look at a body." 

"Haven't I seemed friendly?" Johnnie returned, 
with a deprecating smile. "I reckon Fm just tired. 
Seems like Fm tired every minute of the day - and 
I couldn't tell you why. I sure don't have anything 
hard to do. I think sometimes I need the good hard 
work I used to have back in the mountains to get 
rested on." 

She laughed up at him, and Buckheath's emotional 
nature answered with a dull anger, which was his only 
reply to her attraction. 

"I was going to invite you to go to a dance in at 
Watauga, Saturday night," he said sullenly; "but 
I reckon if you're tired all the time, you don't want 
to go." 

He had hoped and expected that she would say she 
was not too tired to go anywhere that he wished her to. 
His disappointment was disproportionate when she 
sighingly agreed : 


" Yes, I reckon I hadn't better go to any dances. I 
wouldn't for the world break down at my work, when 
Fve just begun to earn so much, and am sending 
money home to mother." 

Inside the offices Lydia Sessions stood near her 
brother's desk. She had gone down, as she sometimes 
did, to take him home in the carriage. 

"Oh, here you are. Miss Sessions," said Gray Stod- 
dard coming in. "Fve brought those books for 
Johnnie. There are a lot of them here for her to make 
selection from. As you are driving, perhaps you 
wouldn't mind letting me set them in the carriage, 
then I won't go up past your house." 

Miss Sessions glanced uneasily at the volumes he 

" Do you think it's wise to give an ignorant, untrained 
girl like that the choice of her own reading ? " she said 
at length. 

Stoddard laughed. 

It's as far as my wisdom goes," he replied promptly. 
I would as soon think of getting up a form of prayer 
for a fellow creature as laying out a course of reading 
for him." 

"Well, then," suggested Miss Sessions, "why not 
let her take up a Chatauqua course? I'm sure many 
of them are excellent. She would be properly guided, 
and — and encroach less on your time." 

"My time!" echoed Stoddard. "Never mind 
that feature. I'm immensely interested. It's fascina- 



ting to watch the development of so fine a mind which 
has Iain almost entirely fallow to the culture of schools. 
I quite enjoy looking out a bunch of books for her, and 
watching to see which one will most appeal to her. 
Her instinct has proved wholly trustworthy so far. 
Indeed, if it didn't seem exaggerated, I should say her 
taste was faultless." 

Miss Sessions flushed and set her lips together. 

"Faultless,** she repeated, with an attempt at a 
smile. "I fancy Johnnie finds out what you admire 
most, and makes favourites of your favourites." 

Stoddard looked a bit blank for an instant. Then, 

" Well — perhaps — she does," he allowed, hesita- 
tingly. His usual tolerant smile held a hint of indul- 
gent tenderness, and there was a vibration in his voice 
which struck to Lydia Sessions's heart like a knife. 

"No, you are mistaken," he added after a moment's 
reflection. "You don't realize how little I've talked 
to the child about books — or anything else, for that 
matter. It does chance that her taste is mine in very 
many cases; but you underrate our protege when you 
speak of her as ignorant and uncultured. She knows 
a good deal more about some things than either of us. 
It is her fund of nature lore that makes Thoreau and 
White of Selborne appeal to her. Now I love them 
because I know so little about what they write of." 

Lydia Sessions instantly fastened upon the one point. 
She protested almost anxiously. 

" But surely you would not call her cultured — a 
factory girl who has lived in a hut in the mountains all 


her life ? She is trying hard, I admit; but her speech 
is — well, it certainly is rather uncivilized." 

Stoddard looked as though he might debate that 
matter a bit. Then he questioned, instead: 

"Did you ever get a letter from her? She doesn't 
carry her quaint little archaisms of pronunciation and 
wording into her writing. Her letters are delicious.'* 

Miss Sessions turned hastily to the window and 
looked out, apparently to observe whether her brother 
was ready to leave or not. Johnnie Consadine's 
letters — her letters. What — when — i Of course 
she could not baldly question him in such a matter; 
and the simple explanation of a little note of thanks 
with a returned book, or the leaf which reported 
impressions from its reading tucked in between the 
pages occurred to her perturbed mind. 

"You quite astonish me," she said finally. "Well 
— that is good hearing. Mr. Stoddard," with sud- 
den decision, " don't you believe that it would be well 
worth while, in view of all this, to raise the money and 
send John Consadine away to a good school ? There 
are several fine ones in New England where she might 
partially work her way; and really, from what you say, 
it seems to me she's worthy of such a chance." 

Stoddard glanced at her in surprise. 

"Why, Miss Sessions, doesn't this look like going 
squarely back on your most cherished theories ? If 
it's only to bestow a little money, and send her away 
to some half-charity school, what becomes of your 
argument that people who have had advantages should 



give of themselves and their comradeship to those 
they wish to help ? " There was a boyish eagerness in 
his manner; his changeful gray-brown eyes were 
alight; he came close and laid a hand on her arm — 
quite an unusual demonstration with Gray Stoddard. 

You mustn't discourage me," he said winningly. 

Fm such a hopeful disciple. I've never enjoyed 
anything more in my life than this enterprise you and 
I have undertaken together, providing the right food 
for so bright and so responsive a mind." 

•Miss Lydia looked at him in a sort of despair. 

"Yes — oh, yes. I quite understand that," she 
agreed almost mechanically. "I don't mean to go 
back on my principles. But what John needs is a 
good, sound education from the beginning. Don't 
you think so?" 

"No," said Stoddard promptly. "Indeed I do not. 
Development must come from within. To give it a 
chance — to lend it stimulus — that's all a friend can 
do. A ready-made education plastered on the outside 
cultivates nobody. Moreover, Johnnie is in no crying 
need of mere schooling. You don't seem to know how 
well provided she has been in that respect. But the 
thing that settles the matter is that she would not 
accept any such charitable arrangement. Unless you're 
tired of our present method, I vote to continue it." 

Lydia Sessions had been for some moments watch- 
ing Johnnie Consadine who sat on her box at the door 
of the little garage. She had refrained from mention- 
ing this fact to her companion; but now Shade Buck- 


heath stepped out to join Johnnie, and instantly Lydia 
turned and motioned Stoddard to her. 

"Look there," she whispered. "Don't they make 
a perfect couple ? You and I may do what we choose 
about cultivating the girl's mind — she'll marry a 
man of her own class, and there it will end." 

"Why should you say that.?" asked Stoddard 
abruptly. "Those two do not belong to the same 
class. They " 

"Oh, Mr. Stoddard! They grew up side by side; 
they went to school together, and I imagine were 
sweethearts long before they came to Cottonville." 

"Do you think that makes them of the same class .?" 
asked Stoddard impatiently. "I should say the pre- 
sumption was still greater the other way. I was not 
alluding to social classes." 

"You're so odd," murmured Lydia Sessions. "These 
mountaineers are all alike." 

The village road was a smother of white dust; the 
weeds beside it drooped powdered heads; evil odours 
reeked through the little place; but when Shade and 
Johnnie had passed its confines, the air from the 
mountains greeted them sweetly; the dusty white road 
gave place to springy leaf-mould, mixed with tiny, 
sharp stones. A young moon rode low in the west. 
The tank-a-tank of cowbells -sounded from homing 
animals. Up in the dusky Gap, whip-poor-wills were 
beginning to call. 

"I'm glad I came," said Johnnie, pushing the hair 


oflF her hot forehead. She was speaking to herself, 
aware that Buckheath paid little attention, but walked 
in silence a step ahead, twisting a little branch of 
sassafras in his fingers. The spicy odour of the bark 
was afterward associated in Johnnie's mind with what 
he had then to say. 

"Johnnie,** he began, facing around and barring 
her way, when they were finally alone together 
between the trees, "do you remember the last time 
you and me was on this piece of road here — do you ?" 

He had intended to remind her of the evening she 
came to Cottonville: but instead, recollection built 
for her once more the picture of that slope bathed in 
Sabbath sunshine. There was the fork where the 
Hardwick carriage had turned off; to this side went 
Shade and his fellows, with Mandy and the girls follow- 
ing; and down the middle of the road she herself came, 
seated in the car beside Stoddard. 

For a moment memory choked and blinded Johnnie. 
She could neither see the path before them, nor find 
the voice to answer her questioner. The bleak pathos 
of her situation came home to her, and tears of rare 
self-pity filled her eyes. Why was it a disgrace that 
Stoddard should treat her kindly ? Why must she 
be ashamed of her feeling for him ? Shade's voice 
broke in harshly. 

" Do you remember ? You ain't forgot, have you ? 
Ever since that time I've intended to speak to you — 
to tell you " 

"Well, you needn't do it," she interrupted him pas- 


sionatefy. " I won't hear a word against Mr. Stoddard, 
if that's what you're aiming at." 

Buckheath fell back a pace and stared with angry 

" Stoddard — Gray Stoddard ? " he repeated. 
"What's a swell like that got to do with you and me, 
Johnnie Consadine ? You want to let Gray Stoddard 
and his kind alone — yes, and make them let you 
alone, if you and me are going to marry." 

It was Johnnie's turn to stare. 

"If we're going to marry!" she echoed blankly — 
"going to marry!" The girl had had her lovers. 
Despite hard work and the stigma of belonging to the 
borrowing Passmore family, Johnnie had commanded 
the homage of more than one heart. She was not 
without a healthy young woman's relish for this sort 
of admiration; but Shade Buckheath's proposal came 
with so little grace, in such almost sinister form, that 
she scarcely recognized it. 

"Yes, if we're going to wed," reiterated Buckheath 
sullenly. " I'm willin' to have you." 

Johnnie's tense, almost tragic manner relaxed. 
She laughed suddenly. 

"I didn't know you was joking, Shade," she said 
good-humouredly. "I took you to be in earnest. 
You'll have to excuse me." 

"I am in earnest," Buckheath told her, almost 
fiercely. "I reckon I'm a fool; but I want you. Any 
day" — he spoke with a curious, half-savage reluc- 
tance — " any day you'll say the word, I'll take you." 


His eyes, like his voice, were resentful, yet eager. 
He took off his hat and wiped the perspiration from 
his brow, looking away from her now, toward the road 
by which they had climbed. 

Johnnie regarded, him through her thick eyelashes, 
the smile still lingering bright in her eyes. After 
all, it was only a rather unusual kind of sweethearting, 
and not a case of it to touch her feelings. 

"I'm mighty sorry,** she said soberly, "but I ain't 
aimin' to wed any man, fixed like I am. Mother and 
the children have to be looked after, and I can't ask a 
man to do for 'em, so I have it to do myself." 

" Of course I can't take your mother and the chil- 
dren," Buckheath objected querulously, as though she 
had asked him to do so. " But you I'll take; and you'd 
do well to think it over. You won't get such a chance 
soon again, and I'm apt to change my mind if 
you put on airs with me this way." 

Johnnie shook her head. 

"I know it's a fine chance. Shade," she said in the 
kindest tone, "but I'm hoping you will change your 
mind, and that soon; for it's just like I tell you." 

She turned with evident intention of going back and 
terminating their interview. Buckheath stepped beside 
her in helpless fury. He knew she would have other 
opportunities, and better. He was aware how futile 
was this threat of withdrawing his proposition. Hot, 
tired, angry, the dust of the way prickling on his face 
and neck, he was persistently conscious of a letter in 
the pocket of his striped shirt, over his heavily beating 


heart, warm and moist like the shirt itself, with the 
sweat of his body. Good Lord! That letter which had 
come from Washington this morning informing him 
that the device this girl had invented was patentable, 
filled her hands with gold. It was necessary that he 
should have control of her, and at once. He put from 
him the knowledge of how her charm wrought upon 
him — -bound him the faster every time he spoke to 
her. Cold, calculating, sluggishly selfish, he had not 
reckoned with her radiant personality, .nor had the 
instinct to know that, approached closely, it must inevit- 
ably light in him unwelcome and inextinguishable 

"Johnnie," he said finally, "you ain't saying no 
to me, are you ? You take time to think it over — 
but not so very long — I'll name it to you 

" Please don't. Shade," remonstrated the girl, walking 
on fast, despite the oppressive heat of the evening. 
"I wish you wouldn't speak of it to me any more; 
and I can't go walking with you this way. I have 
obliged to help Aunt Mavity; and every minute of time 
I get from that, and my work, I'm putting in on my 
books and reading." 

She stepped ahead of him now, and Buckheath 
regarded her back with sullen, sombre eyes. What 
was he to do ? How come nearer her when she thus 
held herself aloof ? 

"Johnnie Consadine!" The girl checked her steps 
a bit at a new sound in his voice, " I'll tell you just one 


thing, and you'd better never iPrget it, neither. I ain*t 
no fool. I know mighty well an' good your reason for 
treating me this-a-way. Your reason's got a name. 
Hit's called Mr. Gray Stoddard. You i)ehave yo'self 
an' listen to reason, or I'll get even with him for it. 
Damn him — I'll fix him!" 



COME in here, Johnnie," Mavity Bence called 
one day, as Johnnie was passing a strange 
little cluttered cubbyhole under the garret 
stairs and out over the roof of the lean-to kitchen. 
It was a hybrid apartment, between a large closet and 
a small room; one four-paned window gave scant light 
and ventilation; all the broken or disused plunder 
about the house was pitched into it, and in the middle 
sat a tumbled bed. It was the woman's sleeping place 
and her dead daughter had shared it with her during 
her lifetime. Johnnie stopped at the door with a hand 
on each side of its frame. 

"Reddin' up things. Aunt Mavity?" she asked, 
adding, " If I had time Fd come in and help you." 

"I was just puttin' away what I've got left that 
belonged to Lou," said the woman, sitting suddenly 
down on the bed and gazing up into the bright face 
above her with a sort of appeal. Johnnie noticed 
then that Mrs. Bence had a pair of cheap slippers in 
her lap. It came back vividly to the girl how the news- 
papers had said that Louvania Bence had taken off 
her slippers and left them on the bridge, that she 
might climb the netting more easily to throw herself 



into the water. The mother stared down at these, 

"She never had 'em on but the once," Mavity Bence 
breathed. "And I — and I r'ared out on her for 
buyin' of 'em. I said that with Pap so old and all, we 
hadn't money to spend for slippers. Lord God!" — 
she shivered — " We had to find money for the under- 
taker, when he come to lay her out." 

She turned to Johnnie feverishly, like a thing that 
writhes on the rack and seeks an easier position. 

" I had the best for her then — I jest would do it — 
there was white shoes and stockin's, and a reg'lar 
shroud like they make at Watauga; we never put a 
stitch on her that she'd wore — hit was all new-bought. 
For oncie I said my say to Pap, and made him take 
money out of the bank to do it. He's got some in thar 
for to bury all of us — he says — but he never wanted 
to use any of it for Lou."* 

Johnnie came in and sat down on the bed beside 
her hostess. She laid a loving hand over Mavity's that 
held the slippers. 

"What pretty little feet she must have had," she 
said softly. 

" Didn't she ? " echoed the mother, with a tremulous 
half-smile. "I couldn't more'n get these here on my 
hand, but they was a loose fit for her. They're as 
good as new. Johnnie, ef you ever get a invite to a 
dance I'll lend 'em to you. Hit'd pleasure me to think 
some gal's feet was dancin' in them thar slippers. 
Lou, she never learned to dance — looked like she 


could never find time/* Louvania, be it remembered 
had found time in which to die. 

So Johnnie thanked poor Mavity, and hurried away, 
because the warning whistle was blowing. 

The very next Wednesday Miss Sessions gave a 
dance to the members of her Uplift Club. These 
gaieties were rather singular and ingenious affairs, 
sterilized dances, Mrs. Hexter irreverently dubbed 
them. Miss Lydia did not invite the young men 
employed about the mill, not having as yet undertaken 
their uplifting; and feeling quite inadequate to cope 
with the relations between them and the mill girls, 
which would be something vital and genuinej and as 
such, quite foreign — if not inimical — to her enter- 
prise. She contented herself with bringing in a few 
well-trained young males of her own class, who were 
expected to be attentive to the girls, treating them 
as equals, just as Miss Lydia did. For the rest, the 
members were encouraged to dance with each other, 
and find such joy as they might in the supper, and the 
fact that Miss Sessions paid for a half-day's work for 
them on the morrow, that they might lie late in bed 
after a night's pleasuring. .» -1 

Johnnie Consadine had begun to earn money in such 
quantities as seemed to her economic experience 
extremely large. She paid her board, sent a little home 
to her mother, and had still wherewith to buy a frock 
for the dance. She treated herself to a trolley ride in 
to Watauga to select this dress, going on the Saturday 
half-holiday which the mills gave their workers, lest 


the labour laws regulating the hours per week which 
women and children may be employed be infringed 
upon. There was grave debate in Johnnie's mind 
as to what she should buy. Colours would fade — 
in cheap goods, anyhow — white soiled easily. "But 
then I could wash and iron it myself any evening I 
wanted to wear it," she argued to Mandy Meacham, 
who accompanied her. 

"Td be proud to do it for you," returned Mandy, 
loyally. Ordinarily the Meacham woman was selfish; . 
but having found an object upon which she could *» 
centre her thin, watery affections, she proceeded to be 
selfish for Johnnie instead of toward her, a spiritual 
juggle which some mothers perform in regard tor their 

The store reached, Johnnie showed good jlKlgment 
in her choice. There was a great sale on at the biggest 
shopping place in Watauga, and the ready-made 
summer wear was to be had at bargain rates. Not 
for her were the flaring, coarse, scant garments whose 
lack of seemliness was supposed to be atoned for by a 
profusion of cheap, sleazy trimming. After long and 
somewhat painful inspection, since most of the things 
she wanted were hopelessly beyond her, Johnnie 
carried home a fairly fine white lawn, simply tucked, 
and fitting to perfection. 

" But you've got a shape that sets off anything," said 
the saleswoman, carelessly dealing out the compliments 
she kept in stock with her goods for purchasers. 

"You're mighty right she has," rejoined Mandy, 


sharply, as who should say, "My back is not a true 
expression of my desires concerning backs. Look at 
this other — she has the spine of my dreams." 

The saleswoman chewed gum while they waited for 
change and parcel, and in the interval she had time 
to inspect Johnnie more closely. 

"Working in the cotton mill, are you?" she asked 
as she sorted up her stock, jingling the bracelets on her 
wrists, and patting into shape her big, frizzy pompa- 
dour. "That's awful hard work, ain't it? I should 
think a girl like you would try for a place in a store. 
I'll bet you could get one," she added encouragingly, 
as she handed the parcel across the counter. But 
• already Johnnie knew that the spurious elegance of this 
young person's appearance was not what she wished 
to emulate. 

The night of the dance Johnnie adjusted her costume 
with the nice skill and care which seem native to so 
many of the daughters of America. Mandy, dressing 
at the same bureau, scraggled the parting of her own 
hair, furtively watching the deft arranging of Johnnie's. 

"Let me do it for you, and part it straight," Johnnie 

"Aw, hit'U never be seen on a gallopin' boss," 
returned Mandy carelessly. " Everybody'U be so tuck 
up a-watchin' you that they won't have time to notice 
is my hair parted straight, nohow." 

" But you're not a galloping horse," objected Johnnie, 
laughing and clutching the comb away from her. 
"You've got mighty pretty hair, Mandy, if you'd give 


it a chance. Why, it's curly! Let me do it up right 
for you once/' 

So the thin, graying ringlets were loosened around 
the meagre forehead, and indeed Mandy's appearance 
was considerably ameliorated. 

"There — isn't that nice?" inquired Johnnie, turn- 
ing her companion around to the glass and forcing her 
to gaze in it — a thing Mandy always instinctively 

" I reckon I've looked worse," agreed the tall woman 
unenthusiastically; "but Miss Lyddy ain't carin' to 
have ye fix up much. I get sort of feisty and want 
to dav-il her by makin' you look pretty. Wish't you 
would wear that breas'-pin o' mine, an' them rings an' 
beads I borried from Lizzie for ye. You might just 
as well, and then nobody'd know you from one o' the 

Johnnie shook her fair head decidedly. Talk of 
borrowing things brought a reminiscent flush to her 

"I'm just as much obliged/* she said sweetly. "I'll 
wear nothing but what's my own. After a while I'll 
be able to afford jewellery, and that'll be the time for 
me to put it on." 

Presently came Mavity Bence bringing the treasured 

"I expect they'll be a little tight for me," Johnnie 
remarked somewhat doubtfully; the slippers, though 
cheap, ill-cut things, looked so much smaller than her 
heavy, country-made shoes. But they went readily 


upon the arched feet of the mountain girl, Mandy and 
the poor mother looking on with deep interest. 

" I wish't Lou was here to see you in 'em/' whispered 
Mavity Bence. " She wouldn't grudge 'em to you one 
minute. Lord, how pretty you do look, Johnnie 
Consadine! You're as sightly as that thar big wax 
doll down at the Company store. I wish't Lou could 
see you." 

The dance was being given in the big hall above a 
store, which Miss Lydia hired for these functions of 
her Uplift Club. The room was half-heartedly decor- 
ated in a hybrid fashion. Miss Lydia had sent down 
a rose-bowl of flowers; and the girls, being encouraged 
to use their own taste, put up some flags left over from 
last Fourth of July. When Johnnie and Mandy 
Meacham — strangely assorted pair — entered the long 
room, festivities were already in progress; Negro 
fiddlers were reeling off dance music, and Miss Lydia 
was trying to teach some of her club members the 
two-step. Her younger brother. Hartley Sessions, was 
gravely piloting a girl down the room in what was sup- 
posed to be that popular dance, and two young men 
from Watauga, for whom he had vouched, stood ready 
for Miss Sessions to furnish them with partners, when 
she should have encouraged her learners sufficiently 
to make the attempt. Round the walls sat the other 
girls, and to Johnnie's memory came those words of 
Mandy's, "You dance — if you can." 

Johnnie, Consadine certainly could dance. Many 
a time back in the mountains she had walked five miles 


after a hard day's work to get to a dance that some one 
of her mates was giving, tramping home in the dawn 
and doing without sleep for that twenty-four hours. 
The music seemed somehow to get into her muscles, 
so that she swayed and moved exactly in time to it. 
That's the two-step,*' she murmured to her partner. 
I never tried it, but I've seen 'em dance it at the hotel 
down at Chalybeate Springs. I can waltz a little; but 
I love an old-fashioned quadrille the best — it seems 
more friendly/' 

Gray Stoddard was talking to an older woman who 
had come with her daughter — a thin-bodied, deep- 
eyed woman of forty, perhaps, with a half-sad, tolerant 
smile, and slow, racy speech. A sudden touch on his 
shoulder roused him, as one of the young men from 
town leaned over and asked him excitedly: 

" Who's that girl down at the other end of the room, 
Gray ? — the stunning blonde that just came in ? 
She's got one of the mill girls with her." 

Gray looked, and laughed a little. Somehow 
the adjectives applied to Johnnie did not please 

Both of them work in the mill," he said briefly. 
The one you mean is Johnnie Consadine. She's 
a remarkable girl in more ways than merely in 

"Well, take me down there and give me an intro- 
duction," urged the youth from Watauga, in a tone of 
animation which was barred from Uplift affairs. 

"All right," agreed Gray, getting to his feet with a 


twinkle in his eye. " I suppose you want to meet the 
tall one. ^IVe got an engagement for the first dance with 
Miss Consadine myself." 

"Say," ejaculated the other, drawing back, "that 
isn't fair. Miss Sessions," he appealed to their hostess 
as umpire. "Here's Gray got the belle of the ball 
mortgaged for all her dances, and won't even give me 
an introduction. You do the square thing by me, 
won't you?" 

Lydia Sessions had got her neophites safely launched, 
and they were making a more or less tempestuous 
progress across the floor. She turned to the two young 
men a flushed, smiling countenance. In the tempered 
light and the extremely favouring costume of the hour, 
she looked almost pretty. 

"What is it?" she asked graciously. "The belle 
of the ball? I don't know quite who that is. Oh!" 
with a slight drop in her tone and the temperature of 
her expression; "do you mean John Consadine? 
Really, how well she is looking to-night!" 

"Isn't she!" blundered the Watauga man with ill- 
timed enthusiasm. "I call her a regular beauty, and 
such an interesting-looking creature. What is she 
trying to do ? Good Lord, she's going to attempt the 
two-step with that Eiffel tower she brought along!" 

These frivolous remarks, suited well enough to the 
ordinary ballroom, did not please Miss Lydia for 
an Uplift dance. 

"The girl with John is one in whom I take a very 
deep interest," she said with a touch of primness. 


"John Consadine is young, and exceptionally strong 
and healthy. But Amanda Meacham has — er — 
disabilities and afflictions that make it difficult for her 
to get along. She is a very worthy case." 

The young man from Watauga, who had not regarded 
Johnnie as a case at all, but had considered her purely 
as an exceptionally attractive young woman, looked 
a trifle bewildered. Then Gray took his arm and led 
him across to where the attempt at two-stepping had 
broken up in laughing disorder. With that absolutely 
natural manner which Miss Sessions could never quite 
achieve, good as her intentions were, he performed the 
introduction, and then said pleasantly: 

" Mr. Baker wants to ask you to dance. Miss Johnnie, 
ril carry on Miss Amanda's teaching, or we'll sit down 
here and talk if she'd rather." 

"No more two-steppin' for me," agreed Miss 
Meacham, seating herself decidedly. "I'll take my 
steps one at a time from this on. I'd ruther watch 
Johnnie dance, anyhow; but she would have me try 
for myself." 

Johnnie and the young fellow from Watauga were 
off now. They halted once or twice, evidently for 
some further instructions, as Johnnie got the step and 
time, and then moved away smoothly. Gray took 
the seat beside Mandy. 

"Ain't she a wonder?" inquired the big woman, 
staring fondly after the fluttering white skirts. 

"She is indeed," agreed Gray quietly. And then, 
Mandy being thus launched on the congenial theme 


— ^^the one theme upon which she was ever loquacious 
— out came the story of the purchase of the dress, the 
compliments of the saleswoman, the refusal of the 
borrowed jewellery. 

" Johnnie's quare — she is that — Til never] deny 
it; but I cain't no more help likin' her than as if she 
was my own born sister." 

"That's because she is fond of you, too," sug- 
gested Gray, thinking of the girl's laborious attempts 
to teach poor Mandy to dance. 

"Do you reckon she is?" asked the tall woman, 
flushing. "Looks like Johnnie Consadine loves every 
livin' thing on the top side of this earth. I ain't never 
seen the human yet that she ain't got a good word for. 
But I don't know as she cares 'specially 'bout m^." 

Stoddard could not refuse the assurance for which 
Mandy so naively angled. 

"You wouldn't be so fond of her if she wasn't fond 
of you," he asserted confidently. 

"Mebbe I wouldn't," Mandy debated; "but I don't 
know. Let Johnnie put them two eyes o' hern on 
you, and laugh in your face, and you feel just like you'd 
follow her to the ends of the earth — or I know I do. 
Why, she done up my hair this evening and" — the 
voice sank to a half-shamed whisper — " she said it 
was pretty." 

Gray turned and looked into the flushed, tremulous 
face beside him with a sudden tightening in his throat. 
How cruel humanity is when it beholds only the 
grotesque in the Mandys of this world. Her hair 


was pretty — and Johnnie had the eyes of love to 
see it. 

He stared down the long, lighted room with unseeing 
gaze. Old Andrew MacPherson's counsel that he let 
Johnnie Consadine alone appealed to him at that 
moment as cruel good sense. He was recalled from his 
musings by Mandy's voice. 

"Oh, look thar!'* whispered his companion excitedly. 
"The other town feller has asked for a knock-down to 
Johnnie, too. Look at him passin* his bows with her 
just like she was one of the swells ! '* 

Stoddard looked. Charlie Conroy was relieving 
Baker of his partner. Johnnie had evidently been 
asked if she was tired, for they saw her laughingly shake 
her head, and the new couple finished what was left 
of the two-step and seated themselves a moment at the 
other side of the room to wait for the next dance to 

" These affairs are great fun, aren't they ? '' inquired 
Conroy, fanning his late partner vigorously. 

"I love to dance better than anything else in the 
world, I believe,'* returned Johnnie dreamily. 

" Oh, a dance — I should suppose so. You move 
as though you enjoyed it; but I mean a performance 
like this. The girls are great fun, don't you think? 
But then you wouldn't get quite our point of view on 

He glanced again at her dress; it was plain and 
simple, but good style and becoming. She wore no 
jewellery, but lots of girls were rather aflFecting that 


now, especially the athletic type to which this young 
beauty seemed to belong. Surely he wa ot mistaken 
in guessing her to be one of Miss Sessions's friends. 
Of course he was not. She had dressed herself in 
this simple fashion for a mill-girl's dance, that she 
might not embarrass the working people who attended. 
Yes, by George! that was it, and it was a long ways 
better taste than the frocks Miss Sessions and Mrs. 
Hexter were wearing. 

Johnnie considered his last remark, her gaze still 
following the movements of the Negro fiddler at the 
head of the room. Understanding him to mean that, 
being a mill-hand herself, she could not get a detached 
view of the matter, and thus see the humour of this 
attempt to make society women of working-girls, 
Johnnie was yet not affronted. Her clear eyes came 
back from watching Uncle Zeke's manoeuvres and 
looked frankly into the eyes of the man beside her. 

" I reckon we are right funny,*' she assented. " But 
of course, as you say, I wouldn't see that as quick as 
you would. Sometimes I have to laugh a little at 
Mandy — the girl I was dancing with first this evening 
— but — but she's so good-natured it never hurts her 
feelings. I don't mind being laughed at myself, either." 

"Laughed at — you?" inquired Conroy, throwing 
an immense amount of expression into his glance. He 
was rather a lady's man, and fancied he had made 
pretty fair headway with this beautiful girl whom he 
still supposed to be of the circle of factory owners. 
"Oh, you mean your work among the mill girls here. 


Indeed, I should not laugh at that. I think it's noble 
for those more fortunate to stretch a hand to help their 
brothers and sisters that haven't so good a chance. 
That's what brought me over here to-night. Gray 
Stoddard explained the plan to me. He doesn't seem 
to think much of it — but then, Gray's a socialist at 
heart, and you know those socialists never believe in 
organized charity. I tell him he's an anarchist." 

"Mr. Stoddard is a mighty good nian," agreed 
Johnnie with sudden pensiveness. "They've all been 
mighty good to me ever since I've been here; but I 
believe Mr. Stoddard has done more for me than any 
one else. He not only lends me books, but he takes 
time to explain things to me." 

Conroy smiled covertly at the simplicity of this 
young beauty. He debated in his mind whether indeed 
it was not an affected simplicity. Of course Gray was 
devoting himself to her and lending her books; of 
course he would be glad to assume the position of 
mentor to a girl who bade fair to be such a pronounced 
social success, and who was herself so charming. 

"How long have you been in Cottonville, Miss 
Consadine?" he asked. "Do tell me who you are 
visiting — or are you visiting here ? " 

"Oh, no," Johnnie corrected him. "I believe you 
haven't understood from the first that I'm one of the 
mill girls. I board at — well, everybody calls it Pap 
Himes's boarding-house." 

There was a moment's silence; but Conroy managed 
not to look quite as deeply surprised as he felt. 


"I — of course I knew it/' he began at length, after 
having sorted and discarded half a dozen explanations. 
"There — why, there's our dance!" And he stood 
up in relief, as the fiddlers began on an old-fashioned 

Johnnie responded w^ith alacrity, not aware of having 
either risen or fallen in her companion's estimation. 
She danced through the set with smiling enjoyment, 
prompting her partner, who knew only modern dances. 
On his part Conroy studied her covertly, trying to 
adjust his slow mind to this astonishing new state of 
things, and to decide what a man's proper attitude 
might be toward such a girl. In the end he found 
himself with no conclusion. 

"They say they're going to try a plain waltz," he 
began as he led her back to a seat. He hesitated, 
glanced about him, and finally placed himself uneasily 
in the chair beside her. Grood Lord! The situation 
was impossible. What should he say if anybody — 
Gray Stoddard, for instance — chaffed him about being 
smitten in this quarter } 

"A waltz .? " echoed Johnnie helpfully when he did not 
go on. "I believe I could dance that — I tried it once." 

"Then you'll dance it with me?" Conroy found 
himself saying, baldly, awkwardly, but unable, for the 
life of him, to keep the eagerness out of his voice. 

Upon the instant the music struck up. The two 
rose and made ready for the dance; Conroy placing 
Johnnie in waltzing position, and instructing her 


Gray Stoddard looking on, was amazed at the naif 
simple jealousy that swept over him at the sight. She 
had danced with Conroy twice already — he ought 
to be more considerate than to bring the girl into 
notice that way — a chump like Charlie Conroy, what 
would he understand of such a nature as Johnnie Con- 
sadine's ? Before he fully realized his own intentions, 
he had paused in front of the two and was speaking. 

"I think Miss Johnnie promised me a dance this 
evening. I'll have to go back to the office in twenty 
minutes, and — I hate to interrupt you, but I guess 
ril have to claim my own." 

He became suddenly aware that Conroy was signal- 
ling him across Johnnie's unconscious head with 
Masonic twistings of the features. Stoddard met these 
recklessly inconsiderate grimacings with an impassive 
stare, then looked away. 

"I want to see you before you go," the man from 
Watauga remarked, as he reluctantly resigned his 
partner. " Don't you forget that there's a waltz 
coming to me, Miss Johnnie. I'm going to have it, 
if we make the band play special for us alone." 

Lydia Sessions, passing on the arm of young Baker, 
glanced at Johnnie, star-eyed, pink-cheeked and 
smiling, with a pair of tall cavaliers contending for her 
favours, and sucked her lips in to that thin, sharp line 
of reprobation Johnnie knew so well. Dismissing her 
escort graciously, she hurried to the little supper room 
and found another member of the committee. 

"Come here, Mrs. Hexter. Just look at that, will 


you ? *' She called attention in a carefully suppressed, 
but fairly tragic tone, to Stoddard and Johnnie dan- 
cing together, the only couple on the floor. " None of 
the girls know how to waltz. I am not sure that it 
would be suitable if they did. When I came past, just 
now, there were two of the men — two — talking to 
John Consadine, and they were all three laughing. I 
can't think how it is that girls of that sort manage to 
stir things up so and get all the men around them." 

"Neither can I,"' said Mrs. Hexter wickedly. "If 
I did know how, I believe Fd do it sometimes myself. 
What is it you want of me, Miss Sessions ? I must 
run back and see to supper, if you don't need me." 

"But I do," fretted Lydia. "I want your help. 
This waltzing and — and such things — ought to be 

"All right," rejoined practical Mrs. Hexter. "The 
quickest way to do it is to stop the music." 

She had meant the speech ^s a jeer, but literal- 
minded Lydia Sessions welcomed its suggestion. Hurry- 
ing down the long room, she spoke to the leader of 
their small orchestra. The Negro raised to her a 
brown face full of astonishment. His fiddle-bow 
faltered — stopped. He turned to his two fellows 
and gave hasty directions. The waltz measure died 
away, and a quadrille was announced. 

"That was too bad," said Stoddard as they came to 
a halt; "you were just getting the step beautifully." 

The girl flashed a swift, sweet look up at him. "I 
do love to dance," she breathed. 


" John, would you be so kind as to come and help in 
the supper room," Miss Sessions's hasty tones broke in. 

She was leaning on Charlie Conroy's arm, and 
when she departed to hide Johnnie safely away in the 
depths of their impromptu kitchen, it left the two 
men alone together. Conroy promptly fastened upon 
the other. 

Charlie Conroy was a young man who had made 
up his mind to get on socially. Such figures are rarer 
in America than in the old world. Yet Charlie 
Conroy with his petty ambitions does not stand entirely 
alone. He seriously regarded marriage as a stepping- 
stone to a circle which should include " the best people.'* 
That this term did not indicate the noblest or most 
selfless, need hardly be explained. It meant only 
that bit of froth which in each community rides high 
on the top of the cup, and which, in Watauga, was 
augmented by the mill owners of its suburb of Cotton- 
ville. Conroy had been grateful for the opportunity to 
make an entry into this circle by means of assisting Miss 
Sessions in her charitable work. That lady herself, 
as sister-in-law of Jerome Hardwick and a descendant 
of an excellent New England family, he regarded with 
absolute veneration, quite too serious and profound 
for anything so assured as mere admiration. 

"I tried to warn you," he began: "but you were 
bound to get stung." 

"I beg your pardon.?" returned Stoddard in that 
civil, colourless interrogation which should always 
check over-familiar speech, even from the dullest. 


But Conroy was not sensitive. 

"That big red-headed girl, you know," he said, 
leaning close and speaking in a confidential tone. "I 
mistook her for a lady. I was going my full length — 
telling her what fun the mill girls were, and trying to 
do the agreeable — when I found out." 

" Found out what ?" inquired Stoddard. "That she 
was not a lady?" 

"Aw, come off," laughed Conroy. "You make a 
joke of everything." 

"I knew that she was a weaver in the mill," said 
Stoddard quietly. 

Conroy glanced half wistfully over his shoulder in 
the direction where Johnnie had vanished. 

"She's a good-looker all right," he said thoughtfully. 
"And smile — when that girl smiles and turns those 
eyes on you — by George! if she was taken to New 
York and put through one of those finishing schools 
she'd make a sensation in the swagger set." 

Stoddard nodded gravely. He had not Conroy's 
faith in the fashionable finishing school; but what he 
lacked there, he made up in conviction as to Johnnie's 
deserts and abilities. 

"There she comes now," said Conroy, as the door 
swung open to admit a couple of girls with trays of 
coflFee cups. "She walks mighty well. I wonder 
where a girl like that learned to carry herself so finely. 
By George, she is a good-looker! She's got 'em all 
beaten; if she was only — . Queer about the accidents 
of birth, isn't it ? Now, what would you say, in her 


heredity, makes a common girl like that step and look 
like a queen ? '* 

Gray Stoddard's face relaxed. A hint of his 
quizzical, inscrutable smile was upon it as he answered. 

"Nature doesn't make mistakes. I don't call 
Johnnie Consadine a common girl — it strikes me that 
she is rather uncommon." 

And outside, a young fellow in the Sunday suit of a 
workingman was walking up and down, staring at 
the lighted windows, catching a glimpse now and again 
of one girl or another, and cursing under his breath 
when he saw Johnnie Consadine. 

" Wouldn't go with me to the dance at Watauga — 
oh no! But she ain't too tired to dance with the 
swells!" he muttered to the darkness. "And I can't 
get a word nor a look out of her. Lord, I don't know 
what some women think!" 



PAP HIMES was sitting on the front gallery, doz- 
ing in the westering sunshine. On his lap 
the big, yellow cat purred and blinked with 
a grotesque resemblance in colouring and expression 
to his master. It was Sunday afternoon, when the 
toilers were all out of the mills, and most of them lying 
on their beds or gone in to Watauga. The village 
seemed curiously silent and deserted. Through the 
lazy smoke from his cob pipe Pap noticed Shade Buck- 
heath emerge from the store and start up the street. 
He paid no more attention till the young man's voice 
at the porch edge roused him from his half-somnolence. 

Evenin^ Pap,'' said the newcomer. 

Good evenin' yourself," returned Himes with 
unusual cordiality. He liked men, particularly young, 
vigorous, masterful men. "Come in. Buck, an' set 
a spell. Rest your hat — rest your hat." 

It was always Pap's custom to call Shade by the 
first syllable of his second name. Buck is a common 
by-name for boys in the mountains, and it could not 
be guessed whether the old man used it as a diminu- 
tive of the surname, or whether he meant merely to 
nickname this favourite of his. 



Shade threw himself on the upper step of the porch 
and searched in his pockets for tobacco. 

"Room for another boarder?" he asked laconically. 

The old man nodded. 

"I reckon there's always room, ef it's asked for," 
he returned. "Hit's the one way I got to make me 
a livin', with Louvany dyin' off and Mavity puny 
like she is. I have obliged to keep the house full, 
or we'd see the bottom of the meal sack." 

"All right," agreed Buckheath, rising, and treating 
the matter as terminated. "I'll move my things in 

"Hold on thar — hold on, young feller," objected 
Pap, as Shade turned away. It was against all reason* 
%ble mountain precedent to trade so quickly; but 
indeed Shade had merely done so with a view to forcing 
through what he well knew to be a doubtful proposition. 

"I'm a-holding on," he observed gruffly at last, 
as the other continued to blink at him with red eyes 
and say nothing. "What's the matter with what I 
said ? You told me you had room for another boarder 
and I named it that I was comin' to board at your 
house. Have you got any objections .?" 

Well, yes, I have," Himes opened up ponderously. 
You set yourself down on that thar step and we'll 
have this here thing out. My boardin'-house is for 
gals. I fixed it so when I come here. There ain't 
scarcely a rowdy feller in Cottonville that hain't at 
one time or another had the notion he'd board with 
Pap Himes; but I've always kep' a respectable house, 


and I always aim to. I am a old man, and I bear 
a good name, and I'm the only man In this house, and 
I aim to stay so. Now, sir, there's my flatform; 
and you may take it or leave it." 

Buckheath glanced angrily and contemptuously into 
the stupid, fatuous countenance above him; he 
appeared to curb with some difficulty the disposition 
to retort in kind. Instead, he returned, sarcastically: 

**The fellers around town say you won't keep any- 
thing but gals because nothin' but gals would put up 
with your hectorin' 'em, and crowdin' ten in a room 
that was intended for four. That's what folks say; 
but I've got a reason to want to board with you. Pap, 
and I'll pay regular prices and take what you give me." 

Himes looked a little astonished; then an expres- 
sion of distrust stole over his broad, flat face. 

What's bringin' you here.?" he asked bluntly. 
Johnnie Consadine," returned Shade, without 
evasion or preamble. "Before I left the mountains, 
Johnnie an' me was aimin' to wed. Now she's got 
down here, and doin' better than ever she hoped to, 
and I cain't get within hand-reach of her." 

**Ye cain't.?" inquired Pap scornfully. "Why any- 
body could marry that gal that wanted to. But Lord ! 
anybody can marry any gal, if he's got the sense he 
was born with." 

"All right," repeated Shade grimly. "I come to 
you to know could I get board, not to ask advice. I 
aim to many Johnnie Consadine, and I know my 
own business — air you goin' to board me ?" 




The old man turned this speech in his mind for 
some time. 

"Curious," he muttered to himself, "how these here 
young fellers will get petted on some special gal and 
break their necks to have her." 

"Shut up — will you?" ejaculated Buckheath, so 
suddenly and fiercely that the old man fairly jumped, 
rousing the yellow cat to remonstrative squirmings. 
"I tell you I know my business, and I ask no advice 
of you — will you board me ?" 

"I cain't do it. Buck," returned Himes definitely. 
" I ain't got such a room to give you by yourself as you'd 
be willin' to take up with; and nobody comes into 
my room. But Til tell you what FU do for you — 
rU meal you, ef that will help your case any. I'll 
meal you for two dollars a week, and throw in a good 
word with Johnnie." 

Buckheath received the conclusion of this speech 
with a grin. 

"I reckon your good word 'd have a lot to do with 
Johnnie Consadine,'* he said ironically, as he picked 
up his hat from the floor. 

"Uh-huh," nodded Pap. "She sets a heap of 
store by what I say. All of 'em does; but Johnnie in 
particular. I don't know but what you're about right. 
Ain't no sense in bein' all tore up concernin' any gal 
or woman; but I believe if I was pickin' out a good 
worker that would earn her way, I'd as soon pick out 
Johnnie Consadine as any of 'em." 

And having thus paid his ultimate compliment to 


Johnnie, Himes relapsed Into intermittent slumber as 
Shade moved away down the squalid, dusty street 
under the fierce July sun. 

Johnnie greeted the new boarder with a reserve 
which was in marked contrast to the reception he got 
from the other girls. Shade Buckheath was a hand- 
some, compelling fellow, and a good match; this 
Adamless Eden regarded him as a rival in glory even 
to Pap himself. When supper was over on the first 
night of his arrival, Shade walked out on the porch 
and seated himself on the steps. The girls disposed 
themselves at a little distance — your mountain-bred 
young female is ever obviously shy, almost to prudery. 

"Whar's Johnnie Consadine?'* asked the new- 
comer lazily, disposing himself with his back against 
a post and his long legs stretched across the upper step. 

"Settin* in thar, readin' a book," replied Beulah 
Catlett curtly. Beulah was but fourteen, and she 
belonged to the newer dispensation which speaks up 
more boldly to the masculine half of creation. 
"Johnnie! Johnnie Consadine!'' she called through 
the casement. "Here's Mr. Buckheath, wishful of 
your company. Better come out." 

"I will, after a while," returned Johnnie absently. "IVe 
got to help Aunt Mavity some, and then FU be there." 

"Hit's a sight, the books that gal does read," com- 
plained Beulah. " Looks like a body might get enough 
stayin' in the house by workin' in a cotton mill, without 
humpin' theirselves up over a book all evenin*/* 

" Mr. Stoddard lends 'em to her," announced Mandy 


importantly. "He used to give 'em to Miss Lyddy 
Sessions, and she'd give *em to Johnnie; but now 
when Miss Lyddy's away, he'll bring one down to the 
mill about every so often, and him an' Johnnie'U stand 
and gas and talk over what's in 'em — I cain't under- 
stand one word they say. I tell you Johnnie Con- 
sadine's got sense." 

Her pride in Johnnie made her miss the look of 
rage that settled on Buckheath's face at her announce- 
ment. The young fellow was glad when Pap Himes 
began to speak growlingly. 

"Yes, an' if she was my gal I'd talk to her with a 
hickory about that there business. A gal that ain't 
too old to carry on that-a-way ain't too old to take a 
whippin' for it. Huh!" 

For her own self Mandy would have been thoroughly 
scared by this attack; in Johnnie's defence she rustled 
her feathers like an old hen whose one chick has been 

"Johnnie Consadine is the prettiest-behaved gal I 
ever seen," she announced shrilly. "She ain't never 
said nor done the least thing that she hadn't ort. Mr. 
Stoddard he just sees how awful smart she is, and he 
loves to lend her books and talk with her about 'em 
afterward. For my part I ain't never seen look nor 
motion about Mr. Gray Stoddard that wasn't such 
as a gentleman ort to be. I know he never said 
nothin' he ort not to m^." 

The suggestion of Stoddard's making advances of 
unseemly warmth to Mandy Meacham produced a 


subdued snicker. Even Pap smiled, and Mandy 
herself, who had been looking a bit terrified after her 
bold speaking, was reassured. 

Buckheath had been a week at the Himes boarding- 
house, finding It not unpleasant to show Johnnie 
Consadine how many of the girls regarded him with 
favour, whether she did or not, when he came to supper 
one evening with a gleam in his eye that spoke evil 
for some one. After the meal was over, he followed 
Pap out on the porch and sat down beside the old 
man, the girls being bunched expectantly on the step, 
for he was apt to delay for a bit of chat with one or 
another of them before leaving. 

"You infernal old rascal, Fve caught up with you,*' 
he whispered, leaning close to his host. 

Himes clutched the pipe in his teeth till it clicked, 
and stared in helpless resentment at his mealer. 

What's the matter with you.?'' he demanded. 
Speak lower, so the gals won't hear you, or you'll 
wish you had," counselled Shade. "I sent that there 
thing on to Washington to get a patent on it, and now 
I find that they was a model of the same there in the 
name of Gideon Himes. What do you make of that .?" 

Pap stared at the thin strips of metal lying in Shade's 
hard, brown palm. 

"The little liar!" he breathed. "She told me 
she got it up herself." He glared at the bits of steel 
with protruding eyes, and breathed hard. 

"Well, she didn't," Shade countered swiftly, taking 
advantage of the turn things were showing. " I made 


six of 'em; and when I told her to bring *em back 
and Fd give her some that would wear better, she 
only brought me five. She said she'd lost one here 
at home, she believed. I might have knowed then that 
you'd get your claws on it ef I wasn't mighty peart." 

Old Gideon was not listening; he had fallen into a 
brown study, turning the piece of metal in his skilful, 
wonted, knotty fingers, with their spade tips. 

"Put it out of sight — quick — here she comes!" 
whispered Shade; and the old man looked up to see 
Johnnie Consadine in the doorway. A grin of tri- 
umph grew slowly upon his face, as he gazed from one 
to the other. 

"She did get it up!" he returned in Buckheath's 
face. "You liar! You're a-aimin' to steal it from 
her. You filed out the pieces like she told you to, and 
when you found it would work, you tried to get a patent 
on it for yo'se'f. Yes, sir, I'm onto you!*^ 

Shade looked over his shoulder. The girls had 
forsaken the steps. Despairing of his coming, they were 
strolling two-and-two after Johnnie on the sidewalk. 
It's you and me for it. Pap," he said hardily. 

What was you tryin' to do? Was you gettin' the 
patent for Johnnie ? Shall I call her up here and ask 

"No, no," exclaimed the old man hastily. "They 
ain't no use of puttin' sich things in a fool gal's hands. 
She never heard of a patent — wouldn't know one 
from a hole in the ground. Hit's like you say. Buck 
— you and me for it." 



The two men rose and stood a moment, Shade smil- 
ing a bit to think what he would do with Pap Himes 
and his claim if he could only once get Johnnie to say 
yes to his suit. The thick wits of the elder man appar- 
ently realized this feature of the matter not at all. 

"Why that thar girl is crazy to get married," he 
argued, half angrily. " You know in reason she is — 
they all are. The fust night when you brung her 
here I named it to her that she was pretty well along 
in years, and she'd better be spry about gettin' her 
hooks on a man, or she was left. She said she'd do 
the best she could — I never heered a gal speak up 
pearter — most of 'em would be 'shamed to name 
it out so free. Why, if it was me, I'd walk her down 
to a justice's office an' wed her so quick her head'd 



"Who's that talking about getting married?" 
called Johnnie's voice from the street, and Johnnie 
herself ran up the steps. 

Hit was me," harangued Pap Himes doggedly. 

I was tellin' Shade how bad you wanted to git ofFj 
and that I 'lowed you'd be a good bargain for him." 

He looked hopefully from one to the other, as though 
he expected to see his advice accepted and put into 
immediate practice. Johnnie laughed whole-heartedly. 

"Pap," she said with shining eyes, "if you get me 
a husband, I'll have to give you a commission on it. 
Looks like I can't noways get one for myself, don't it ?" 

She passed into the house, and Shade regarded 
his ally in helpless anger. 



That's the way she talks, here lately," he growled. 
Seems like it would be easy enough to come to some- 
thing; and by the Lord, it would, with any other gal 
I ever seed — or with Johnnie like she was when she 
first came down here! But these days and times 
she's got a way of puttin* me off that I can't seem to 
get around/' 

Neither man quite understood the power of that 
mental culture which Johnnie was assimilating so 
avidly. That reading things in a book should enable 
her — a child, a girl, a helpless woman — to negative 
their wishes smilingly, this would have been a thing 
quite outside the comprehension of either. 

**Aunt Mavity wants me to go down to the store 
for her,''. Johnnie announced, returning. "Any of 
you girls like to come along?" 

Mandy had parted her lips to accept the general 
invitation, when Shade Buckheath rose to his feet and 
announced curtly, "I'll go with you." 

His glance added that nobody else was wanted, 
and Mandy subsided into a seat on the steps and 
watched the two walk away side by side. 

" Looks like you ain't just so awful pleased to have 
me boardin' with Pap," Shade began truculently, 
when it appeared that the girl was not going to open 
any conversation with him. "Maybe you wasn't 
a-carin' for my company down street this evenin'." 

"No," said Johnnie, bluntly but very quietly. "I 
wish you hadn't come to the house to board. I have 
told you to let me alone." 


Shade laughed, an exasperated, mirthless laugh. 
''You know well enough what made me do it," he 
said sullenly. "If you don't want me to board with 
Pap Himes you can stop it any day you say the word. 
You promise to wed me, and FU go back to the Inn. 
The Lord knows they feed you better thar, and I 
believe in my soul the gals at Pap Himes's will run 
me crazy. But as long as you hang off the way you 
do about our marryin*, and I git word of you carryin' 
on with other folks, Tm goin* to stay where I can 
watch you.** 

"Other folks!'* echoed Johnnie, colour coming into 
her cheeks. "Shade, there's no use of your quarrelling 
with me, and I see it's what you're settin' out to do." 

"Yes, other folks — Mr. Gray Stoddard, for instance. 
I ain't got no auto to take you out ridin' in, but you're 
a blame sight safer with me than you are with him; 
and if I was to carry word to your mother or your 
uncle Pros about your doin's they'd say " 

" The last word my uncle Pros left with ma to give 
me was that you'd bear watchin'. Shade Buckheath," 
laughed Johnnie, her face breaking up into sweet, 
sudden mirth at the folly of it all. " You're not aimin' 
for my good. I don't see what on earth makes you 
talk like you wanted to marry me." 

** Because I do," said Buckheath helplessly. He 
wondered if the girl did not herself know her own 
attractions, forgetful that he had not seen them plainly 
till a man higher placed in the social scale set the 
cachet of a gentleman's admiration upon them. 



IT WAS a breathless August evening; all day 
the land had lain humming and quivering 
beneath the glare of the sun. It seemed 
that such heat must culminate in a thunder shower. 
Even Pap Himes had sought the coolest corner of the 
porch, his pipe put out, as adding too much to the 
general swelter, and the hot, yellow cat perched at a 
discreet distance. 

The old man's dreamy eyes were fixed with a sort 
of animal content on the winding road that disappeared 
in the rise of the gap. If was his boast that God 
Almighty never made a day too hot for him, and to. 
the marrow of them his rheumatic bones felt and 
savoured the comfort of this blistering weather. High 
up on the road he had noted a small moving speck 
that appeared and disappeared as the foliage hid it, 
or gaps in the trees revealed it. It was not yet time 
for the mill operatives to be out; but as he glanced 
eagerly in the direction of the buildings, the gates 
opened and the loom-fixers streamed forth. Pap had 
matters of some importance to discuss with Shade 
Buckheath, and he was glad to see the young man's 
figure come swinging down the street. The two were 



soon deep in a whispered discussion, their heads bent 
close together. 

The little speck far up the road beteween the trees 
announced itself to the eye now as a moving figure, 
walking down toward Cottonville. 

"Well, rU read it again, if you don't believe me,'* 
Buckheath said impatiently. "All that Alabama mill 
wants is to have me go over there and put this trick 
on their jennies, and if it works they'll give us a royalty 
of — well, rU make the bargain." 

"Or I will," countered Pap swiftly. 

"You ?" inquired Shade contemptuously. "Time 
they wrote some of the business down and you couldn't 
read it, whar'd you be, and whar'd our money be?" 

The moving speck on the road appeared at this time 
to be the figure of a tall man, walking unsteadily, reeling 
from side to side of the road, yet approaching the village. 

"Shade," pacified Himes, with a truckling manner 
that the younger man's aggressions were apt to call 
out in him, "you know I don't mean anything against 
you, but I believe in my soul I'd ruther sell out the 
patent. That man in Lowell said he'd give twenty 
thousand dollars if it was proved to work — now 
didn't he.?" 

"Yes, and by the time it's proved to work we'll 
have made three times that much out of it. There ain't 
a spinning mill in the country that won't save money 
by putting in the indicator, and paying us a good 
royalty on it. If Johnnie and me was wedded, I'd 
go to work to-morrow advertising the thing." 


"The gal ain*t in the mill this afternoon, is she?** 
asked old Himes. 

"No, She's gone off somewheres with some folks 
Hardwick's sister-in-law has got here. If you want 
to find her these days, youVe got to hunt in some of 
the swell houses round on the hills/' 

He spoke with bitterness, and Pap nodded com- 
prehendingly; the subject was an old one between 
them. Then Shade drew from his pocket a letter and 
prepared to read it once more to the older man. 

"Whar's Johnnie.?'' 

Himes started so violently that he disturbed the 
equilibrium of his chair and brought the front legs 
to the floor with a slam, so that he sat staring straight 
ahead. Shade Buckheath whirled and saw Pros 
Passmore standing at the foot of the steps — the mov- 
ing speck come to full size. The old man was a 
wilder-looking figure than usual. He had no hat on, 
and a bloody cloth bound around his head confined 
the straggling gray locks quaintly. The face was 
ghastly, the clothing in tatters, and his hands trembled 
as they clutched a bandanna evidently full of some 
small articles that rattled together in his shaking 

"Good Lord — Pros! You mighty nigh scared 
me out of a year's growth," grumbled Pap, hitching 
vainly to throw his chair back into position. "Come 
in. Come in. You look like you'd been seein' trouble." 

"Whar's Johnnie?" repeated old Pros hollowly. 

It was the younger man who answered this time. 


with an ugly lift of the lip over his teeth, between a 
sneer and a snarl. 

*' She's gone gaddin' around with some of her swell 
friends. She may be home before midnight, an' 
then again she may not/' he said. 

The old man collapsed on the lower step. 

*'I wish't Johnnie was here," he said querulously. 
''I — " he looked about him confusedly — " I've found 
her silver mine." 

At the words the two on the porch became sud- 
denly rigid. Then Buckheath sprang down the steps, 
caught Passmore under the arm-pits and half led, 
half dragged him up to a chair, into which he thrust 
him with little ceremony. 

He stood before the limp figure, peering into the 
newcomer's face with eyes of greed and hands that 
clenched and unclenched themselves automatically. 

''You've found the silver mine!" he volleyed excit- 
edly. "Whose land is it on? Have you got options 
yet? My grandpappy always said they was a silver 




Hush!" Pap Himes's voice hissed across the loud 
explosive tones. ''No need to tell your business to 
the town. I'll bet Pros ain't thought about no options 
yit- He may need friends to he'p him out on such 
matters; and here's you and me. Buck — God knows 
he couldn't have better ones." 

The old man stared about him in a dazed fashion. 

"I've got my specimens in this here bandanner," 
he explained quaveringly. "I fell over the ledge, 


was the way I chanced upon it at the last, and I lay 
dead for a spell. My head's busted right bad. But 
the ore specimens, the/re right here in the bandanner, 
and I aimed to give 'em to Johnnie — to put 'em right 
in her lap — the best gal that ever was — and say to 
her, * Here's your silver mine, honey, that your good- 
for-nothin' old uncle found for ye; now you can live 
like a lady!' That's what I aimed to say to Johnnie. 
I didn't aim that nobody else should tetch them samples 
till she'd saw 'em." 

Himes and Buckheath were exchanging glances 
across the old man's bent, gray head. Common 
humanity would have suggested that they offer him 
rest or refreshment, but these two were intent only 
on what the bandanna held. 

What is it in the thought of wealth from the ground 
that so intoxicates, so ravishes away from all reasonable 
judgment, the generality of mankind ? People never 
seem to conceive that there might be no more than . 
moderate repayal for great toil in a mine of any sort. 
The very word mine suggests to them tapping the vast 
treasure-house of the world, and drawing an unlimited 
share — wealth lavish, prodigal, intemperate. These 
two were as mad with greed at the thought of the silver 
mine in the mountains as ever were forty-niners in 
the golden days of California, or those more recent 
ignoble martyrs who strewed their bones along the 
icy trails of the Klondike. 

"Ye better let me look at 'em Pros," wheedled 
Pap Himes. "I know a heap about silver ore. I've 


worked in the Georgia gold mines — and you know 
you never find gold without silver. I was three months 
in the mountains with a feller that was huntin' nickel; 
he Tarned me a heap." 

The old man turned his disappointed gaze from 
one face to the other. 

^'I wish't Johnnie was here," he repeated his plain- 
tive formula, as he raised the handkerchief and untied 
the corners. 

Pap glanced apprehensively up and down the street; 
Buckheath ran to the door and shut it, that none in 
the house might see or overhear; and then the three 
stared at the unpromising-looking, earthy bits of 
mineral in silence. Finally Himes put down a stubby 
forefinger and stirred them meaninglessly. 

^'Le* me try one with my knife," he whispered, as 
though there were any one to hear him. 

*'A11 right," returned the old man nervelessly. 
"But hit ain*t soft enough for lead — if that's what 
you're meanin*. I know that much. A lead mine 
is a mighty good thing. Worth as much as silver 
maybe; but this ain*t lead." 

A curious tremor had come over Pap Himes's face 
as he furtively compared the lump of ore he held in 
his hand with something which he took from his pocket. 
He seemed to come to some sudden resolution. 

" No, 'tain't lead — and 'tain*t nothin'," he declared 
contemptuously, flinging the bit he held back into the 
handkerchief. " Pros Passmore — ye old fool — you 
come down here and work us all up over some truck 

"»*■ ■■.^ 


that wasn't worth turnin' with a spade! You might 
as well throw them things away. Whar in the nation 
did you git *em, anyhow?'* 

Passmore stumbled to his feet. He had eaten nothing 
for three days, The fall over the ledge had injured 
him severely. He was scarcely sane at the moment. 

"Ain't they no 'count ?" he asked pitifully. "Why, 
I made shore they was silver. Well" — he looked 
aimlessly about — "I better go find Johnnie," and 
he started down the steps. 

"Leave *em here, Pros, and go in. Mavity'li 
give you a cup of coffee," suggested Pap, in a kinder 

The bandanna slipped rattling from the old man's 
relaxed fingers. The specimens clattered and rolled 
on the porch floor. With drooping head he shambled 
through the door. 

A woman's face disappeared for a moment from 
the shadowy front-room window, only to reappear and 
watch unseen. Mavity was listening in a sort of horror 
as she heard her father's tones. 

" Git down and pick 'em up — every one ! Don't 
you miss a one. Yo' eyes is younger'n mine. Hunt 
'em up! hunt *em up," hissed Pap, casting himself 
upon the handkerchief and its contents. 

"What is it?" questioned Buckheath keenly. "I 
thort you had some game on hand." And he hastened 
to comply. " Air they really silver ? " 

" No — better'n that. They're nickel. The feller 
that was here from the North said by the dips and 





turns of the stratagems an* such-like we was bound 
to have nickel in these here mountains somewhar. 
A nickel mine's better*n a gold mine — an* these is 
nickel. I know *em by the piece o* nickel ore from 
the Canady mines that I carry constantly in my pocket. 
We'll keep the old fool out of the knowin' of it, and 
find whar the mine is at, and we'll " 

The two men squatted on the floor, tallying over the 
specimens they had already collected, and looking about 
them for more. In the doorway behind them appeared 
a face, gaunt, grimed, a blood-stained bandage around 
the brow, and a pair of glowing, burning eyes looking 
out beneath. Uncle Pros had failed to find Mavity 
Bence, and was returning. Too dazed to compre- 
hend mere words, the old prospector read instantly 
and aright the attitude and expression of the two. 
As they tied the last knot in the handkerchief, he 
loomed above them, white and shaking. 

"You thieves!" he roared. "Give me my bandan- 
ner! Give me Johnnie's silver mine!" 

" Yes — yes — yes ! Don't holler it out that-a- 
way!" whispered Pap Himes from the floor, where 
he crouched, still clutching the precious bits of 


We was a-goin' to give *em to you. Uncle Pros. 
We was just foolin'," Buckheath attempted to reassure 

The old man bent forward and shot down a long 
arm to recover his own. He missed the bandanna, 
and the impetus of the movement sent him staggering 


a pace or two forward. At the porch edge he strove 
to recover himself, failed, and with a short, coughing 
groan, pitched down the steps and lay, an inert mass, 
at their foot. 

*' Cover that handkecher up,'* whispered Himes 
before either man moved to his assistance. 



WHEN the Hardwick carriage drove up in the 
heavy, lU-odoured August night, and stopped 
at the gate to let Johnnie Consadine out. 
Pap Himes's boarding-house was blazing with light 
from window and doorway, clacking and humming 
like a mill with the sound of noisy footsteps and voices. 
Three or four men argued and talked loudly on the 
porch. Through the open windows of the front room, 
Johnnie had a glimpse of a long, stark figure lying on 
the lounge, and a white face which struck her with a 
strange pang of vague yet alarming resemblance. 
She made her hasty thankr to Miss Sessions and hurried 
in. Gray Stoddard's horse was standing at the hitch- 
ing post in front, and Gray met her at the head of the 

Stoddard looked particularly himself in riding dress. 
Its more unconventional lines suited him well; the dust- 
brown Norfolk, the leathern puttees, gave an adven- 
turous turn to the expression of a personality which 
was only so on the mental side. He always rode bare- 
headed, and the brown hair, which he wore a little 
longer than other men's, was tossed from its mascu- 
line primness to certain hyacinthine lines which were 



becoming. Just now his clear brown eyes were lumin- 
ous with feeling. He put out a swift, detaining hand 
and caught hers, laying sympathetic fingers over the 
clasp and retaining it as he spoke. 

"I*m so relieved that youVe come at last," he said. 
" We need somebody of intelligence here. I just hap= 
pened to come past a few minutes after the accident. 
Don*t be frightened; your uncle came down to see you, 
and got a fall somehow. He's hurt pretty badly, 
Fm afraid, and these people are refusing to have him 
taken to the hospital." 

On the one side Himes and Buckheath drew back 
and regarded this scene with angry derision. In the 
carriage below Lydia Sessions, who could hear nothing 
that was said, stared incredulously, and moved as 
though to get down and join Johnnie. 

"You'll want him sent to the hospital.?" Stoddard 
urged, half interrogatively. "Look in there. Listen 
to the noise. This is no fit place for a man with a 
possible fracture of the skull." 

"Yes — oh, yes," agreed Johnnie promptly. "If 
I could nurse him myself Fd like to — or help; but of 
course he's got to go to the hospital, first of everything." 

Stoddard motioned the Hardwick driver to wait, 
and called down to the carriage load, "I want you 
people to drive round by the hospital and send the 
ambulance, if you'll be so kind. There's a man hurt 
in here." 

Lydia Sessions made this an immediate pretext for 
getting down and coming in. 


"Did you say they didn't wane to send him to the 
hospital?'* she inquired sharply and openly, in her 
tactless fashion, as she crossed the sidewalk. "That's 
the worst thing about such people; you provide them 
with the best, and they don't know enough to appre- 
ciate it. Have they got a doctor, or done anything 
for the poor man ?" 

" I sent for Millsaps, here — he knows more about 
broken bones than anybody in Cottonville," Pap 
offered sullenly, mopping his brow and shaking his 
bald head. "Millsaps is a decent man. You know 
what he^s a-goin' to do to the sick." 

"Is he a doctor?" asked Stoddard sternly, looking 
at the lank, shuffling individual named. 

"He can doctor a cow or a nag better'n anybody 
I ever saw," Pap put forward rather shamefacedly, 

"A veterinarian," commented Stoddard. "Well, 
they've gone for the ambulance, and the surgeon will 
soon be here now." 

"I don't know nothin' about veterinarians and 
surgeons," growled Pap, still alternately mopping his 
bald head and shaking it contemptuously; "but I 
know that Millsaps ain't a-goin' to box up any dead 
bodies and send 'em to the medical colleges; and I 
know he made as pretty a job of doctoring old Spotty 
as ever I seen. To be shore the cow died, but he got 
the medicine down her when it didn't look as if human 
hands could do it — that's the kind of doctor he is." 

" I aim to give Mr. Passmore a teaspoonful of lamp 
oil — karosene," said the cow doctor, coming forward. 


evidently feeling that it was time he spoke up for 
himself. "Lamp oil is mighty rousin' to them as lays 
like he's doin*. IVe used copperas for such — but it 
takes longer. Some say a dose of turpentine is better*n 
lamp oil — but I *low both of 'em won't hurt." 

Johnnie pushed past them all into the front room 
where the women were running about, talking loud 
and exclaiming. A kerosene lamp without a chimney 
smoked and flared on the table, filling the room with 
evil odours. Pros Passmore's white face thrown up 
against the lounge cushion was the only quiet, dignified 
object in sight. 

"Mandy," said Johnnie, catching the Meacham 
woman by the elbow as she passed her bearing a small 
kerosene can, "you go up to my room and get the 
good lamp I have there. Then take this thing away. 
Where's Aunt Mavity?" 

"I don't know. She's been carryin' on somethin' 
turrible. Yes, Johpnie, honey — I'll get the lamp for ye." 

When Johnnie turned to her uncle, she found Mill- 
saps bending above him, the small can in his hands, 
its spout approached to the rigid blue lips of the 
patient with the unconcern of a man about to fill a 
lamp. She sprang forward and caught his arm, bring- 
ing the can away with a clatter and splash. 

"You mustn't do that," she said authoritatively. 
"The doctors will be here in a minute. You mustn't 
give him anything, Mr. Millsaps." 

" Oh, all right — all right," agreed Millsaps, with 
decidedly the air that he considered it all wrong. 


"There is some people that has objections to having 
their kin-folks cyarved up by student doctors. Then 
agin, there is others that has no better use for kin than 
to let *em be so treated. I 'low that a little dosin' 
of lamp oil never hurt nobody — and it's cured a-many, 
of most any kind of disease. But just as you say — 
just as you say." And he shuffled angrily from the 

Johnnie went and knelt by the lounge. With deft, 
careful fingers she lifted the wet cloths above the 
bruised forehead. The hurt looked old. No blood 
was flowing, and she wondered a little. Catching 
Shade Buckheath's eye fixed on her from outside 
the window, she beckoned him in and asked him to 
tell her exactly how the trouble came about. Buck- 
heath gave her his own version of the matter, omitting, 
of course, all mention of the bandanna full of ore which 
lay now carefully hidden at the bottom of old Gideon 
Himes's trunk. 

"And you say he fell down the steps?" asked 
Johnnie. "Who was with him.? Who saw it?" 

"Nobody but me and Pap," Shade answered, trying 
to give the reply unconcernedly. 

"I — I seen it," whispered Mavity Bence, pluck- 
ing at Johnnie's sleeve. "I was in the fore room 
here — and I seen it all." 

She spoke defiantly, but her terrified glance barely 
raised itself to the menacing countenances of the two 
men on the other side of the lounge, and fell at once. 
"I never heard nothin' they was sayin'," she made 


haste to add. ^^But I seen Pros fall, and I run out 
and helped Pap and Shade fetch him in." 

Peculiar as was the attitude of all three, Johnnie 
felt a certain relief in the implied assurance that there 
had been no quarrel, that her uncle had not been 
struck or knocked down the steps. 

**Why, Pap/* she said kindly, looking across at the 
old man's perturbed, sweating face, **you surely ain't 
like these foolish folks round here in Cottonville 
that think the hospital was started up to get dead 
bodies for the student doctors to cut to pieces. You 
see how bad off Uncle Pros is; you must know he's 
bound to be better taken care of there in that fine 
building, and with all those folks that have learned 
their business to take care of him, than here in this 
house with only me. Besides, I couldn't even stay 
at home from the mill to nurse him. Somebody's 
got to earn the money." 

**I wouldn't charge you no board, Johnnie," fairly 
whined Himes. "I'm willin' to nurse Pros myself, 
without he'p, night and day. You speak up mighty 
fine for that thar hospital. What about Lura Dawson ? 
Everybody knows they shipped her body to Cincin- 
nati and sold it. You ort to be ashamed to put your 
poor old uncle in such a place." 

Johnnie turned puzzled eyes from the rigid face 
on the lounge — Pros had neither moved nor spoken 
since they lifted and laid him there — to the old man 
at the window. That Pap Himes should be con- 
cerned, even slightly, about the welfare of any living 


being save himself, struck her as wildly improbable. 
Then, swiftly, she reproached herself for not being 
readier to believe good of him. He and Uncle Pros 
had been boys together, and she knew her uncle one 
to deserve affection, though he seldom commanded it. 

There was a sound of wheels outside, and Gray 
Stoddard's voice with that of the doctor's. Shade 
and Pap Himes still hovered nervously about the 
window, staring in and hearkening to all that was 
said. Mavity Bence had wept till her face was sod- 
den. She herded the other girls back out of the way, 
but watched everything with terrified eyes. 

"He'll jest about come to hisself befo' he dies," 
the older conspirator muttered to Shade as the stretcher 
passed them, and the skilled, white-jacketed attend- 
ants laid Pros Passmore in the vehicle without so much 
as disturbing his breathing. ** He'll jest about come 
to hisself thar, and them pesky doctors '11 have word 
about the silver mine. Well, in this world, them that 
has, gits, mostly. Ef Johnnie Consadine had been 
any manner o' kin to me, I vow I'd 'a' taken a hickory 
to her when she set up her word agin' mine and let 
him go out of the house. The little fool! she didn't 
know what she was sendin' away." 

And so Pros Passmore was taken to the hospital. 
His bandanna full of ore remained buried at the 
bottom of Gideon Himes's trunk, to be fished up often 
by the old sinner, fingered and fondled, and laid back 
in hiding; while the man who had carried it down 
the mountains to fling it in Johnnie's lap lay with 


locked lips, and told neither the doctors nor Himes 
where the silver mine was. August sweated itself 
away; September wore on into October in a proces- 
sion of sun-robed, dust-sandalled days, and still Uncle 
Pros gave no sign of actual recovery. 

Johnnie was working hard in the mill. Hartley 
Sessions had become, in his cold, lifeless fashion, 
very much her friend. Inert, slow, he had one quali- 
fication for his position: he could choose an assistant, 
or delegate authority with good judgment; and he 
found in Johnnie Consadine an adjutant so reliable, 
so apt, and of such ability, that he continually pushed 
more work upon her, if pay and honours did not 
always follow in adequate measure. 

For a time, much as she disliked to approach Shade 
with any request, Johnnie continued to urge him 
whenever they met to finish up the indicators and 
let her have them back again. Then Hartley Sessions 
promoted her to a better position in the weaving 
department, and other cares drove the matter from 
her mind. 

The condition of Uncle Pros added fearfully to the 
drains upon her time and thought. The old man 
lay in his hospital cot till the great frame had wasted 
fairly to the big bones, following her movements 
when she came into the room with strange, questioning, 
unrecognizing eyes, yet always quieted and soothed 
by her presence, so that she felt urged to give him 
every moment she could steal from her work. The 
hurts on his head, which were mere scalp wounds, 


healed over; the surgeon at the hospital was unable 
to find any Indentation or injury to the skull itself 
which would account for the old man's condition. 
They talked for a long time of an operation, and 
did finally trephine, without result. They would 
make an X-ray photograph, they said, when he 
should be strong enough to stand it, as a means of 
further investigation. 

Meantime his expenses, though made fairly nominal 
to her, cut into the money which Johnnie could send 
to her mother, and she was full of anxiety for the help- 
less little family left without head or protector up in 
that gash of the wind-grieved mountains on the flank 
of Big Unaka. 

In these days Shade Buckheath vacillated from the 
suppliant attitude to the threatening. Johnnie never 
knew when she met him which would be uppermost; 
and since he had wearied out her gratitude and liking, 
she cared little. One thing surprised and touched her 
a bit, and that was that Shade used to meet her of an 
evening when she would be coming from the hospital, 
and ask eagerly after the welfare of Uncle Pros. He 
finally begged her to get him a chance to see the old 
man, and she did so, but his presence seemed to have 
such a disturbing eff^ect on the patient that the doctors 
prohibited further visits. 

"Well, I done just like you told me to, and them 
cussed sawboneses won't let me go back no more,'* 
Shade reported to Pap Himes that evening. "Old 
Pros just swelled hisself out like a toad and hollered 


at me time I got in the room. He's sure crazy all 
right. He looks like he couldn't last long, but them 
that heirs what he has will git the writin' that tells 
whar the silver mine's at. Johnnie's liable to find 
that writin' any day; or he may come to hisself and 
tell her." 

Well, for God's sake, " retorted Pap Himes testily, 
why don't you wed the gal and be done with it ? 
You wed Johnnie Consadine and get that writin', 
and I'll never tell on you 'bout the old man and such; 
and you and me'U share the mine." 

Shade gave him a black look. 

** You're a good talker," he said sententiously. 
"If I could do things as easy as you can tell 'em, I'd 
be president." 

**Huh!" grunted the old man. *'Marryin' a fool 
gal — or any other woman — ain't nothin' to do. If 
I was your age I'd have her Miz Himes before sun- 

**A11 right," said Buckheath, "if it's so damn' easy 
done — this here marryin' — do some of it your- 
self. Thar's Laurelly Consadine; she's a widow; 
and more kin to Pros than Johnnie is. You go up in 
the mountains and wed her, and I'll stand by ye in 
the business." 

A slow but ample grin dawned on the old man's 
round, foolish face. He looked admiringly at Shade. 

"By Gosh!" he said finally. "That ain't no bad 
notion, neither. 'Course I can do it. They all want 
to wed. And thar's Laurelly — light-minded fool — 


ain't got the sense she was born with — up thar with- 
out Pros nor Johnnie — I could persuade her to take 
off her head and play pitch-ball with it — Lord, yes!'* 

"Well, youVe bragged about enough/* put in 
Buckheath grimly. "You git down in the collar and 

The old man gave him no heed. He was still grin- 
ning fatuously. 

" It 'minds me of Zack Shalliday, and the way he 
got wedded/* came the unctuous chuckle. "Zack 
was a man *bout my age, and his daughter was a-keepin* 
house for him. She was a fine hand to work; the best 
butter maker on the Unakas; Zack always traded his 
butter for a extry price. But old as Sis Shalliday 
was — she must *a* been all of twenty-seven — along 
comes a man that takes a notion to her. She named 
it to Zack. 'AH right,* says he, 'you give me to-morrow 
to hunt me up one that*s as good a butter maker as 
you air, and Tve got no objections.* Then he took 
hisself down to Preacher Blaylock, knowin* in reason 
that preachers was always hungry for weddin* fees, 
and would hustle round to make one. He offered 
the preacher a dollar to give him a list of names of 
single women that was good butter makers. Blaylock 
done so. He*d say, 'Now this *n*s right fine-looking, 
but I ain*t never tasted her butter. Here*s one that 
ain't much to look at, but her butter is prime — jest 
like your gal's; hit alters brings a leetle extry at the 
store. This 'n's fat, yet I can speak well of her workin* 
qualifications.' He named 'em all out to Zack, and 


Zack had his say for each one. *The fat ones is easy 
keepers/ he says for the last one, 'and looks don't 
cut much figger in this business —it all depends on 
which one makes the best butter anyhow/ 

**Well, he took that thar string o* names, and he 
left. Xong about sundown, here he is back and 
hoUerin* at the fence. *Come out here, preacher — 
Fve got her.' He had a woman in his buggy that 
Blaylock had never put eyes on in all his born days. 
* Wouldn't none o' them I sent ye to have ye?' the 
preacher asked Zack in a kind of whisper, when he 
looked at that thar snaggle-toothed, cross-eyed some- 
body that Shalliday'd fetched back. 'I reckon they 
would,' says Zack. * I reckon any or all of 'em would 
'a' had me,* he says. 'I had only named it to three 
o' the four, and I hadn't closed up with none o' them, 
becaze I wasn't quite satisfied in my mind about the 
butter makin'. And as I was goin' along the road 
toward the last name you give me, I come up with 
this here woman. She was packin' truck down to 
the store for to trade it. I offered her a lift and she 
rid with me a spell. I chanced to tell her of what I 
was out after, and she let on that she was a widder, 
and showed me the butter she had — hit was all made 
off of one cow, and the calf is three months old. I 
wasn't a-goin' to take nobody's word in such a matter, 
and hauled her on down to the store and seed the store- 
keeper pay her extry for that thar butter — and here 
we air. Tie the knot, preacher; yer dollar is ready 
for ye, and we must be gittin' along home — it's 'most 


milkin' time/ The preacher he tied the knot, and 
Shalliday and the new Miz. Shalliday they got along 
home." The old man chuckled as he had at the begin- 
ning of this tale. 

Well, that was business,*' agreed Shade impatiently. 
When are you goin' to start for Big Unaka V^ 
The old man rolled his great head between his 

"Ye-ah,** he assented; "business. But it was bad 
business for Zack Shalliday. That thar woman never 
made a lick of that butter she was a packin' to the 
settlement to trade for her sister that was one o* them 
widders the preacher had give him the name of. 
Seems Shalliday's woman had jest come in a-visitin' 
from over on Big Smoky, and she turned out to be the 
laziest, no-accountest critter on the Unakas. She 
didn't know which end of a churn-dasher was made 
for use. Aw — law — huh ! Business — there's two 
kinds of business; but that was a bad business for 
Zack Shalliday. I reckon FU go up on Unaka to-mor- 
row, if Mavity can run the house without me." 



A VINE on Mavity Bence's porch turned to 
blood crimson. Its leaves parted from the 
stem in the gay Autumn wind, and sifted 
lightly down to joint he painted foliage of the two little 
maples which struggled for existence against an adverse 
world, crouching beaten and torn at the curb. 

In these days Johnnie used to leave the mill in the 
evening and go directly to the hospital. Gray Stoddard 
was her one source of comfort — and terror. Uncle 
Pros's injuries brought these two into closer relations 
than anything had yet done. So far, Johnnie had 
conducted her affairs with a judgment and propriety 
extraordinary, clinging as it were to the skirts of Lydia 
Sessions, keeping that not unwilling lady between her 
and Stoddard always. But the injured man took a 
great fancy to Gray. Johnnie he had forgotten; 
Shade and Pap Himes he recognized only by an irrita- 
tion which made the doctors exclude them from his 
presence; but something in Stoddard's equable, dis- 
ciplined personality, appealed to and soothed Unqle 
Pros when even Johnnie failed. 

The old mountaineer had gone back to childhood. 
He would lie by the hour murmuring a boy*s woods 



lore to Gray Stoddard, communicating deep secrets 
of where a bee tree might be found; where, known only 
to him, there was a deeply hidden spring of pure free- 
stone water, "so cold it'll make yo' teeth chatter'*; 
and which one of old Lead's pups seemed likely to 
turn out the best coon dog. 

When Stoddard's presence and help had been prof- 
fered to herself, Johnnie had not failed to find a gracious 
way of declining or avoiding; but you cannot reprove 
a sick man — a dying man. She could not for the life 
of her find a way to insist that Uncle Pros make less 
demand on the young mill owner's time. 

And so the two of them met often at the bedside, 
and that trouble which was beginning to make Johnnie's 
heart like lead grew with the growing love Gray Stod- 
dard commanded. She told herself mercilessly that 
it was presumption, folly, wickedness; she was always 
going to be done with it; but, once more in his presence, 
her very soul cried out that she was indeed fit at least 
to love him, if not to hope for his love in turn. 

Stoddard himself was touched by the old man's 
fancy, and showed a devotion and patience that were 

If she was kept late at the hospital, Mavity put by 
a bite of cold supper for her, and Mandy always waited 
to see that she had what she wanted. On the day 
after Shade Buckheath and Gideon Himes had come 
to their agreement, she stopped at the hospital for a 
briefer stay than usual. Her uncle was worse, and 
an opiate had been administered to quiet him, so that 


she only sat a while at the bedside and finally took her 
way homeward in a state of utter depression for which 
she could scarcely account. 

It was dusk — almost dark — when she reached the 
gate, and she noted carelessly a vehicle drawn up before 

"Johnnie/* called her mother's voice from the back 
of the rickety old wagon as the girl was turning in 
toward the steps. 

" Sis' Johnnie — Sis' Johnnie ! " crowed Deanie ; 
and then she was aware of sober, eleven-year-old Milo 
climbing down over the wheel and trying to help 
Lissy, while Pony got in his way and was gravely 
reproved. She ran to the wheel and put up ready arms. 

"Why, honeys!" she exclaimed. "How come you- 
all never let me know to expect you ? Oh, Fm so glad, 
mother. I didn't intend to send you word to come; 
but I was feeling so blue. I sure wanted to. Maybe 
Uncle Pros might know you — or the baby — and 
it would do him good." 

She had got little Deanie out in her arms now, and 
stood hugging the child, bending to kiss Melissa, 
finding a hand to pat Milo's shoulder and rub Pony's 
tousled poll. 

"Oh, I'm so glad! — I'm so glad to see you-all," 
she kept repeating. " Who brought you i " She looked 
closely at the man on the driver's seat and recognized 
Gideon Himes. 

"Why, Pap!" she exclaimed. "I'll never forget 
you for this. It was mighty good of you." 


The door swung open, letting out a path of light. 

"Aunt Mavity!" cried the girl. "Mother and the 
children have come down to see me. Isn't it fine ?'* 

Mavity Bence made her appearance in the doorway, 
her faded eyes so reddened with weeping that she 
looked like a woman in a fever. She gulped and 
stared from her father, where in the shine of her 
upheld lamp he sat blinking and grinning, to Lau- 
rella Consadine in a ruffled pink-and-white lawn 
frock, with a big, rose-wreathed hat on her dark 
curls, and Johnnie Consadine with the children cling- 
ing about her. 

"Have ye told her.?'* she gasped. And at the tone 
Johnnie turned quickly, a sudden chill falling upon 
her glowing mood. 

"What's the matter?" she asked, startled, clutching 
the baby tighter to her, and conning over with quick 
alarm the tow-heads that bobbed and surged about 
her waist. "The children are all right — aren't 

Milo looked up apprehensively. He was an old- 
faced, anxious-looking, little fellow, already beginning 
to have a stoop to his thin shoulders — the bend of 
the burden bearer. 

"I — I done the best I could, Sis' Johnnie," he 
hesitated apologetically. "You wasn't thar, and Unc' 
Pros was gone, an' I thest worked the farm and took 
care of mother an' the little 'uns best I knowed how. 
But when she — when he — oh, I wish't you and 
Unc' Pros had been home to-day." / 


Johnnie, her mind at rest about the children, turned 
to her mother. 

** Was ma sick ?*' she asked sympathetically. Then, 
noticing for the first time the unwonted gaiety of Laur- 
ella's costume, the glowing cheeks and bright eyes, 
she smiled in relief. 

** You don't look sick. My, but you're fine! You're 
as spick and span as a bride." 

The old man bent and spat over the wheel, prepara- 
tory to speaking, but his daughter took the words 
from his mouth. 

"She is a bride," explained Mavity Bence in a 
flatted, toneless voice. "Leastways, Pap said he was 
a-goin' up on Unaka for to wed her and bring her 
down — and I know in reason she'd have him." 

Johnnie's terror-stricken eyes searched her mother's 
irresponsible, gypsy face. 

"Now, Johnnie," fretted the little woman, "how 
long air you goin' to keep us standin' here in the road ? 
Don't you think my frock's pretty? Do they make 
em that way down here in the big town ? I bought 
this lawn at Bledsoe, with the very first money you 
sent up. Ain't you a bit glad to see us ?" 

The lip trembled, the tragic dark brows lifted in 
their familiar slant. 

"Come on in the house," said Johnnie heavily, and 
she led the way with drooping head. 

Called by the unusual disturbance, Mandy left the 
supper she was putting on the table for Johnnie and 
ran into the front hall. Beulah Catlett and one or 


two of the other girls had crowded behind Mavity 
Bence's shoulders, and were staring. Mandy joined 
them in time to hear the conclusion of Mavity's explana- 

She came through the door and passed the new 
Mrs. Himes on the porch. 

"Why, Johnnie Consadine!" she cried. "Is that 
there your ma ?" 

Johnnie nodded. She was past speech. 

"Well, I vow! I should 've took her for your sister, 
if any kin. Ain't she pretty ? Beulah — she's 
Johnnie's ma, and her and Pap has just been wedded." 

She turned to follow Johnnie, who was mutely 
starting the children in to the house. 

"Well," she said with a sigh, "some folks gits two, 
and some folks don't git nary one." And she brought 
up the rear of the in-going procession. 

" Ain't you goin' to pack your plunder in ? " inquired 
the bridegroom harshly, almost threateningly, as he 
pitched out upon the path a number of bundles and 

" I reckon they won't pester it till you git back from 
puttin' up the nag," returned Laurella carelessly as 
she swung her light, frilled skirts and tripped across the 
porch. "You needn't werry about me," she called 
down to the old fellow Where he sat speechlessly 
glaring. "Mavity'U show me whar I can sit, and git 
me a nice cool drink; and that's all I'll need for one 

Pap Himes's mouth was open, but no words came. 


He finally shut it with that click of the ill-fitting false 
teeth which was familiar — and terrible — to everybody 
at the boarding-house, shook out the lines over the old 
horse, and jogged away into the dusk. 

"And this here's the baby," admired Mandy, kneeling 
in front of little Deanie, when the newcomers halted 
in the front room. "Why, Johnnie Consadine! She 
don't look like nothin' on earth but a little copy of you. 
If she's dispositioned like you, I vow I'll just about 
love her to death." 

Mavity Bence was struggling up the porch steps 
loaded with the baggage of the newcomers. 

" Better leave that for your paw," the bride counselled 
her. "It's more suited to a man person to lift them 
heavy things." 

But Mavity had not lived with Pap Himes for nearly 
forty years without knowing what was suited to him, 
in distinction, perhaps, from mankind in general. 
She made no reply, but continued to bring in the bag- 
gage, and Johnnie, after settling her mother in a rocking- 
chair with the cool drink which the little woman had 
specified, hurried down to help her. 

" Everybody always has been mighty good to me all 
my life," Laurella Himes was saying to Mandy, Beulah 
and the others. "I reckon they always will. Uncle 
Pros he just does for me like he was my daddy, and 
my children always waited on me. Johnnie's the best 
gal that ever was, ef she does have some quare notions." 

"Ain't she?" returned Mandy enthusiastically, as 
Johnnie of the "quare notions" helped Mavity Bence 


upstairs with the one small trunk belonging to 

"Look out for that trunk, Johnnie," came her 
mother's caution, with a girlish ripple of laughter in 
the tones. "Hit's a borried one. Now don't you 
roach up and git mad. I had obliged to have a trunk, 
bein' wedded and comin' down to the settlement 
this-a-way. I only borried Mildred Faidley's. She 
won't never have any use for it. Evelyn Toler loaned 
me the trimmin' o' this hat — ain't it sightly ?" 

Johnnie's distressed eyes met the pale gaze of Aunt 
Mavity across the little oilcloth-covered coffer. 

" I would 'a' told you, Johnnie,'* said the poor woman 
deprecatingly, " but I never knowed it myself till late 
last night, and I hadn't the heart to name it at break- 
fast. I thort I'd git a chance this evenin', but they come 
sooner'n I was expectin' 'em." 

" Never mind, Aunt Mavity," said Johnnie. " When 
I get a little used to it I'll be glad to have them all here. 
I — I wish Uncle Pros was able to know folks." 

The children were fed, Milo, touchingly subdued 
and apologetic, nestling close to his sister's side 
and whispering to her how he had tried to get 
ma to wait and come down to the Settlement, 
and hungrily begging with his pathetic childish eyes 
for her to say that this thing which had come upon 
them was not, after all, the calamity he feared. Snub- 
nosed, nine-year-old Pony, whose two front teeth had 
come in quite too large for his mouth, Pony, with the 
quick-expanding pupils, and the temperament that 


would cope ill with disaster, addressed himself gaily 
to his supper and saw no sorrow anywhere. Little 
Melissa was half asleep; and even Deanie, after the 
first outburst of greeting, nodded in her chair. 

"I got ready for 'em,*' Mavity told Johnnie in an 
undertone, after her father returned. "I knowed in 
reason he'd bring her back with him. Pap always 
has his own way, and gits whatever he wants. I 'lowed 
you'd take the baby in bed with you, and I put a 
pallet in your room for Lissy." 

Johnnie agreed to this arrangement, almost 
mechanically. Is it to be wondered at that her 
mind was already busy with the barrier this must set 
between herself and Gray Stoddard ? She had never 
been ashamed of her origin or her people; but this — 
this was different. 

Next morning she sent word to the mill foreman to put 
on a substitute, and took the morning that she might go 
with her mother to the hospital. Passmore was asleep, 
and they were not allowed to disturb him; but on the 
steps they met Gray Stoddard, and he stopped so 
decidedly to speak to them that Johnnie could not 
exactly run away, as she felt like doing. 

"Your mother!" echoed Stoddard, when Johnnie 
had told him who the visitor was. He glanced from 
the tall, fair-haired daughter to the lithe little gypsy 
at her side. "Why, she looks more like your sister," 
he said. 

Laurella's white teeth flashed at this, and her 
big, dark eyes glowed. 


"Johnnie's such a serious-minded person that she 
favours older than her years," the mother told him. 
" Well, I give her the name of the dead, and they say 
that makes a body solemn like." 

It was very evident that Stoddard desired to detain 
them in conversation, but Johnnie smilingly, yet with 
decision, cut the interview short. 

" I don't see why you hurried me a-past that-a-way,'' 
the little mother said resentfully, when they had gone 
a few steps. " I wanted to stay and talk to the gentle- 
man, if you didn't. I think he's one of the nicest per- 
sons I've met since I've been in Cottonville. Mr. 
Gray Stoddard — how come you never mentioned 
him to me Johnnie ? " 

She turned to find a slow, painful blush rising 
in her daughter's face. 

"I don't know, ma," said Johnnie gently. "I 
reckon it was because I didn't seem to have any 
concern with a rich gentleman such as Mr. Stoddard. 
He's got more money than Mr. Hardwick, they say — 
more than anybody else in Cottonville." 

"Has he?" inquired Laurella vivaciously. "Well, 
money or no money, I think he's mighty nice. Looks 
like he ain't studying as to whether you got money or 
not. And if you was meaning that you didn't think 
yourself fit to be friends with such, why I'm ashamed 
of you, Johnnie Consadine. The Passmores and the 
Consadines are as good a family as there is on Unaka 
mountains. I don't know as I ever met up with any- 
body that I found was too fine for my company. And 



whenever your Uncle Pros gets well and finds his silver 
mine, we'll have as much money as the best of 'em." 

The tears blinded Johnnie so that she could scarcely 
find her way, and the voice wherewith she would have 
answered her mother caught in her throat. She 
pressed her lips hard together and shook her heady 
then laughed out, a little sobbing laugh. 

"Poor ma — poor little mother!" she whispered at 
length. "You ain't been away from the mountains 
as I have. Things are — well, they're a heap different 
here in the Settlement." 

They're a heap nicer," returned Laurella blithely. 

Well, I'm mighty glad I met that gentleman this 
morning. Mr. Himes was talking to me of Shade 
Buckheath a-yesterday. He said Shade was wishful 
to wed you, Johnnie, and wanted me to give the boy 
my good word. I told him I wouldn't say anything — 
and then afterward I was going to. But since I've 
seen this gentleman, and know that his likes are 
friends of your'n, well — I — Johnnie, the Buck- 
heaths are a hard nation of people, and that's the truth. 
If you wedded Shade, like as not he'd mistreat you." 

"Oh mother — don't!" pleaded Johnnie, scarlet of 
face, and not daring to raise her eyes. 

"What have I done now?" demanded Laurella 
with asperity. 

"You mustn't couple my name with Mr. Stoddard's 
that way," Johnnie told her. "He's never thought 
of me, except as a poor girl who needs help mighty 
bad; and he's so kind-hearted and generous he's ready 


to do for each and every that's worthy of it. But — 
not that way — mother, you mustn't ever suppose 
for a minute that he'd think of me in that way." 

''Well, I wish't I may never!" Laurella exclaimed. 
" Did I mention any particular way that the man was 
supposed to be thinking about you ? Can't I speak a 
word without your biting my head off for it ? As for 
what Mr. Gray Stoddard thinks of you, let me tell you, 
child, a body has only to see his eyes when he's looking 
at you." 

" Mother — Oh, mother! " protested Johnnie. 

" Well, if he can look that way I reckon I can speak 
of it," returned Laurella, with some reason. 

"I want you to promise never to name it again, 
even to me," said Johnnie solemnly, as they came to 
the steps of the big lead-coloured house. " You surely 
wouldn't say such a thing to any one else. I wish 
you'd forget it yourself." 

"We-ell," hesitated Laurella, "if you feel so strong 
about it, I reckon I'll do as you say. But there ain't 
anything in that to hinder me from being friends with 
Mr. Stoddard. I feel sure that him and me would 
get on together fine. He favours my people, the 
Passmores. My daddy was just such an upstanding, 
dark-complected feller as he is. He's got the look in 
the eye, too." 

Johnnie gasped as she remembered that the grand- 
father of whom her mother spoke was Virgil Passmore, 
and called to mind the story of the borrowed wedding 



THE mountain people, being used only to one 
class, never find themselves consciously in 
the society of their superiors. Johnnie Con- 
sadine had been unembarrassed and completely mis- 
tress of the situation in the presence of Charlie Conroy, 
who did not fail after the Uplift dance to make some 
further effort to meet the "big red-headed girl,'* as 
he called her. She was aware that social overtures 
from such a person were not to be received by her, 
and she put them aside quite as though she had been, 
according to her own opinion, above rather than 
beneath them. The lover-like pretensions of Shade 
Buckheath, a man dangerous, remorseless, as careless 
of the rights of others as any tiger in the jungle, she 
regarded with negligent composure. But Gray Stod- 
dard — ah, there her treacherous heart gave way, and 
trembled in terror. The air of perfect equality he 
maintained between them, his attitude of intimacy, 
flattering, almost afi^ectionate, this it was which she 
felt she must not recognize. 

The beloved books, which had seemed so many steps 
upon which to climb to a world where she dared 
acknowledge her own liking and admiration for Stod- 



dard, were now laid aside. It took all of her heart and 
mind and time to visit Uncle Pros at the hospital, keep 
the children out of Pap's way in the house, and do 
justice to her work in the factory. She told Gray, 
haltingly, reluctantly, that she thought she must give 
up the reading and studying for a time. 

"Not for long, I hope.'* Stoddard received her 
decision with a puzzled air, turning in his fingers the 
copy of " Walden'* which she was bringing back to him. 
" Perhaps now that you have your mother and the 
children with you, there will be less time for this sort 
of thing for a while, but you haven't a mind that can 
enjoy being inactive. You may think you'll give it 
up; but study — once you've tasted it — will never 
let you alone." 

Johnnie looked up at him with a weak and pitiful 
version of her usual beaming smile. 

"I reckon you're right," she hesitated finally, in a 
very low voice. "But sometimes I think the less we 
know the happier we are." 

"How's this? How's this?" cried Stoddard, almost 
startled. "Why, Johnnie — I never expected to hear 
that sort of thing from you. I thought your optimism 
was as deep as a well, and as wide as a church." 

Poor Johnnie surely had need of such optimism as 
Stoddard had ascribed to her. They were weary 
evenings when she came home now, with the November 
rain blowing in the streets and the early-falling dusk 
almost upon her. It was on a Saturday night, and she 
had been to the hospital, when she got in to find Mandy, 


seated in the darkest comer of the sitting room, with a 
red flannel cloth around her neck — a sure sign that 
something unfortunate had occurred, since the tall 
woman always had sore throat when trouble loomed 

"What's the matter?'* asked Johnnie, coming close 
and laying a hand on the bent shoulder to peer into the 
drooping countenance. 

" Don't come too nigh me — you'll ketch it," warned 
Mandy gloomily. " A so' th'oat is as ketchin' as small- 
pox, and I know it so to be, though they is them that 
say it ain't. When mine gits like this I jest tie it up 
and keep away from folks best I can. I hain't dared 
touch the baby sence hit began to hurt me this a-way." 

"There's something besides the sore throat," per- 
sisted Johnnie. "Is it anything I can help you 

"Now, if that ain't jest like Johnnie Consadine!*' 
apostrophized Mandy. "Yes, there is somethin' — 
not that I keer." She tossed her poor old gray head 
scornfully, and then groaned because the movement 
hurt her throat. "That thar feisty old Sullivan gave 
me my time this evenin'. He said they was layin' 
off" weavers, and they could spare me. I told him, well, 
I could spare them, too. I told him I could hire in any 
other mill in Cottonville befo' workin' time Monday — 
but I'm afeared I cain't." Weak tears began to travel 
down her countenance. "I know I never will make 
a fine hand like you, Johnnie," she said pathetically. 
"There ain't a thing in the mill that I love to do — 


nary thing. I can tend a truck patch or raise a field 
o' corn to beat anybody, and nobody cain't outdo me 
with fowls; but the mill '* 

She broke ofF and sat staring dully at the floor. Pap 
Himes had stumped into the room during the latter 
part of this conversation. 

" Lost your job, hey ?'* he inquired keenly. 

Mandy nodded, with fearful eyes on his face. 

"Well, you want to watch out and keep yo' board 
paid up here. The week you cain't pay — out you go. 
I reckon I better trouble you to pay me in advance, 
unless'n you've got some kind friend that'll stand for 

Mandy's lips parted, but no sound came. The gaze 
of absolute terror with which she followed the old man's 
waddling bulk as he went and seated himself in front 
of the air-tight stove, was more than Johnnie could 

I'll stand for her board, Pap," she said quietly. 
Oh, you will, will yeV Pap received her remark 
with disfavour. "Well, a fool and his money don't 
stay together long. And who'll stand for you, Johnnie 
Consadine? Yo' wages ain't a-goin' to pay for yo' 
livin' and Mandy's too. Ye needn't lay back on bein' 
my stepdaughter. You ain't acted square by me, an' I 
don't aim to do no more for you than if we was no kin." 

"You won't have to. Mandy'U get a place next 
week — you know she will. Pap — an experienced 
weaver like she is. I'll stand for her." 

Himes snorted. Mandy caught at Johnnie's hand 


and drew it to her, fondling it. Her round eyes were 
still full of tears. 

**I do know you're the sweetest thing God ever 
made/' she whispered, as Johnnie looked down at her. 
**You and Deanie." And the two went out into the 
dining room together. 

**Thar," muttered Himes to Buckheath, as the 
latter passed through on his way to supper; "you see 
whether it would do to give Johnnie the handlin' o' all 
that thar money from the patent. Why, she'd hand it 
out to the first feller that put up a poor mouth and asked 
her for it. You heard anything. Buck ?" 

Shade nodded. 

"Come down to the works with me after supper. 
I've got something to show you," he said briefly, and 
Himes understood that the desired letter had arrived. 

At first Laurella Consadine bloomed like a late rose 
in the town atmosphere. She delighted in the village 
streets. She was as wildly exhilarated as a child when 
she was taken on the trolley to Watauga. With strange, 
inherent deftness she copied the garb, the hair dressing, 
even the manner and speech, of such worthy models as 
came within her range of vision — like her daughter, 
she had an eye for fitness and beauty; that which was 
merely fashionable though truly inelegant, did not 
appeal to her. She was swift to appreciate the change 
in Johnnie. 

"You look a heap prettier, and act and speak a 
heap prettier than you used to up in the mountains," 
she told the tall girl. "Looks like it was a mighty 


sensible thing for you to come down here to the Settle- 
ment; and if it was good for you, I don't see why it 
wasn't good for me — and won't be for the rest of the 
children. No need for you to be so solemn over it." 

The entire household was aghast at the bride's atti- 
tude toward her old husband. They watched her with 
the fascinated gaze we give to a petted child encroaching 
upon the rights of a cross dog, or the pretty lady with 
her little riding whip in the cage of the lion. She 
treated him with a kindly, tolerant, yet overbearing 
familiarity that appalled. She knew not to be 
frightened when he clicked his teeth, but drew up 
her pretty brows and fretted at him that she wished 
he wouldn't make that noise — it worried her. She 
tipped the sacred yellow cat out of the rocking-chair 
where it always slept in state, took the chair her- 
self, and sent that astonished feline from the room. 

It was in Laurella's evident influence that Johnnie 
put her trust when, one evening, as they all sat in 
Sunday leisure in the front room — most of the girls 
being gone to church or out strolling with "company" 

— Pap Himes broached the question of the children 
going to work in the mill. 

"They're too young. Pap," Johnnie said to him 
mildly. "They ought to be in school this winter." 

"They've every one, down to Deanie, had mo' than 
the six weeks schoolin' that the laws calls for," snarled 

"You wasn't thinking of putting Deanie in the mill 

— not Deanie — was you .?" asked Johnnie breathlessly. 


**Why not?'' inquired Himes. '^ShcTl get no good 
runnin' the streets here in CottonviDey and she can earn 
a little somethin' in the milL I'm a <Jd man, an 
sickly, and I ain't long for this world. If diem chaps 
is a-goin' to do anything for me, they'd better be puttin' 
in their licks/' 

Johnnie looked from the litde girl's pink-and-white 
infantile beau^ — she sat with die child in her lap — 
to the old man's hulking, powerful, useless frame. 
What would Deanie naturally be expected to do for 
her stepfather? 

"Nobody's asked my opinion," observed Shade 
Buckheath, who made one of the family group, "' but 
as far as I can see there ain't a thing to hurt young 
'uns about mill work; and there surely ain't any good 
reason why they shouldn't earn their way, same as we 
all do. I reckon they had to work back on Unaka. 
Coin' to set 'em up now an make swells of 'em ?" 

Johnnie looked bitterly at him but made no reply. 

*'They won't take them at the Hardwick mill," she 
said finally. " Mr. Stoddard has enforced the rule that 
they have to have an affidavit with any child the mill 
employs that it is of legal age; and there's nobody 
going to swear that Deanie's even as much as twelve 
years old — nor Lissy — nor Pony — nor Milo. The 
oldest is but eleven." 

Laurella had bought a long chain of red glass beads 
with a heart-shaped pendant. This trinket occupied 
her attention entirely while her daughter and hus- 
band discussed the matter of the children's future. 


"Johnnie," she began now, apparently not having 
heard one word that had been said, "did you ever in 
your life see anything so cheap as this here string of 
beads for a dime ? I vow I could live and die in that 
five-and-ten-cent store at Watauga. There was more 
pretties in it than I could have looked at in a week. 
Tm going right back thar Monday and git me them 
green garters that the gal showed me. I don't know 
what I was thinkin' about to come away without *em! 
They was but a nickel." 

Pap Himes looked at her, at the beads, and gave the 
fierce, inarticulate, ludicrously futile growl of a 
thwarted, perplexed animal. 

"Mother," appealed Johnnie desperately, "do you 
want the children to go into the mill ?" 

"I don't know but they might as well — for a spell," 
said Laurella Himes, vainly endeavouring to look 
grown-up, and to pretend that she was really the head 
of the family. "They want to go, and you've done 
mighty well in the mill. If it wasn't for my health, I 
reckon I might go in and try to learn to weave, myself.- 
But there — I came a-past with Mandy t'other evenin' 
when she was out, and the noise of that there factory 
is enough for me from the outside — I never could 
stand to be in it. Looks like such a racket would 
drive me plumb crazy." 

Pap stared at his bride and clicked his teeth with 
the gnashing sound that overawed the others. He 
drew his shaggy brows in an attempt to look masterful. 

" Well, ef you cain't tend looms, I reckon you can 


take Mavity*s place in the house here, and let her keep 
to the weavin' stiddier. She*II just about lose her job 
if she has to be out and in so much as she has had to be 
with me here of late/* 

"I will when I can/* said Laurella, patronizingly. 
"Sometimes I get to feeling just kind of restless and 
no-account, and can*t do a stroke of work. When I'm 
that-a-way I go to bed and sleep it off, or get out and 
go somewheres that'll take my mind from my troubles. 
Hit's by far the best way.'* 

Once more Pap looked at her, and opened and shut 
his mouth helplessly. Then he turned sullenly to his 
stepdaughter, grumbling. 

"You hear that! She won't work, and you won't 
give me your money. The children have obliged to 
bring in a little something — that's the way it looks to 
me. If the mills on the Tennessee side is too choicy to 
take 'em — and I know well as you, Johnnie, that they 
air; their man Connors told me so — I can hire 'em 
over at the Victory, on the Georgy side." 

The Victory! A mill notorious in the district for 
its ancient, unsanitary buildings, its poor management, 
its bad treatment of its hands. Yes, it was true that 
at the Victory you could hire out anything that could 
walk and talk. Johnnie caught her breath and hugged 
the small pliant body to her breast, feeling with a 
mighty throb of fierce, mother-tenderness, the poor 
little ribs, yet cartilagenous; the delicate, soft frame 
for which God and nature demanded time, and chance 
to grow and strengthen. Yet she knew if she gave 


up her wages to Pap she would be no better oflF — 
indeed, she would be helpless in his hands; and the 
sum of them would not cover what the children all 
together could earn. 

Oh, Lord ! To work in the Victory ! ** she groaned. 
Now, Johnnie,** objected her mother,** don't you 
get meddlesome just because you*re a old maid. Your 
great-aunt Betsy was meddlesome disposed that-a-way. 
I reckon single women as they get on in years is apt 
so to be. Every one of these children has been prom- 
ised that they should be let to work in the mill. They've 
been jest honin* to do it ever since you came down and 
got your place. Deanie was scared to death for fear 
they wouldn't take her. Don*t you be meddlesome.** 

"Yes, and Fm goin* to buy me a gun and a nag with 
my money what I earn,** put in Pony explosively. 
"'Course FU take you-all to ride.** He added the 
saving clause under Milo*s reproving eye. "Sis* 
Johnnie, don*t you want me to earn money and buy 
a hawse and a gun, and a — and most ever* thing else ? ** 

Johnnie looked down into the blue eyes of the little 
lad who had crept close to her chair. What he would 
earn in the factory she knew well — blows, curses, evil 

"If they should go to the Victory, Fd be mighty 
proud to do all I could to look after *em, Johnnie,** 
spoke Mandy from the shadows, where she sat on the 
floor at Laurella Consadine*s feet, working away 
with a shoe-brush and cloth at the cleaning and polish- 
ing of the little woman*s tan footwear. "Ye know Fm 


a-gittin* looms thar to-morrow mornin*. Yes, I am,'' 
in answer to Johnnie's deprecating look. "Fd ruther 
do it as to run round a week — or a month — ^'mongst 
the better ones, huntin' a job, and you here standin' 
for my board/' 

Till late that riight Johnnie laboured with her 
mother and stepfather, trying to show them that the 
mill was no fit place for the children. Milo was all too 
apt for such a situation, the very material out of which 
a cotton mill moulds its best hands and its worst citizens. 
Pony, restless, emotional, gifted and ambitious, crav- 
ing his share of the joy of life and its opportunities, 
would never make a mill hand; but under the pressure 
of factory life his sister apprehended that he would 
make a criminal. 

"Uh-huh," agreed Pap, drily, when she tried to put 
something of this into words. " I spotted that feller for 
a rogue and a shirk the minute I laid eyes on him. 
The mill'U tame him. The mill'll make him git down 
and pull in the collar, I reckon. Women ain't fitten to 
bring up chillen. A widder's boys allers goes to ruin. 
Why, Johnnie Consadine, every one of them chaps is 
plumb crazy to work in the mill — just like you was — 
and you're workin' in the mill yourself. What makes 
you talk so foolish about it ?" 

Laurella nodded an agreement, looking more than 
usually like a little girl playing dolls. 

"I reckon Mr. Himes knows best, Johnnie, honey," 
was her reiterated comment. 

Cautiously Johnnie approached the subject of pay; 


her stepfather had already demanded her wages, and 
expressed unbounded surprise that she was not willing 
to pass over the Saturday pay-envelope to him and let 
him put the money in the bank along with his other 
savings. Careful calculation showed that the four 
children could, after a few weeks of learning, prob- 
ably earn a little more than she could; and in any case 
Himes put it as a disciplinary measure, a way of life 
selected largely for the good of the little ones. 

"Ifyou just as soon let me," she said to him at last, 
"I believe I'll take them over to the Victory myself 
to-morrow morning.'* 

She had hopes of telling their ages bluntly to the mill 
superintendent and having them refused. 

Pap agreed negligently; he had no liking for early 
rising. And thus it was that Johnnie found herself 
at eight o'clock making her way, in the midst of the 
little group, toward the Georgia line and the old Victory 
plant, which all good workers in the district shunned if 

As she set her foot on the first plank of the bridge she 
heard a little rumble of sound, and down the road came 
a light, two-seated vehicle, with coloured driver, and 
Miss Lydia Sessions taking her sister's children out for 
an early morning drive. There was a frail, long- 
visaged boy of ten sitting beside his aunt in the back, 
with a girl of eight tucked between them. The 
nurse on the front seat held the youngest child, a little 
girl about Deanie's age. 

As they dame nearer, the driver drew up, evidently 


in obedience to Miss Sessions' s command, and she 
leaned forward graciously to speak to Johnnie. 

"Good morning, John,** said Miss Sessions as the 
carriage stopped. "Whose children are those?" 

"They are my little sisters and brothers," responded 
Johnnie, looking down with a very pale face, and busy- 
ing herself with Deanie*s hair. 

"And you* re taking them over to the mill, so that 
they can learn to be useful. How nice that is!" Lydia 
smiled brightly at the little ones — her best charity- 
worker's smile. 

No,** returned Johnnie, goaded past endurance, 

I'm going over to see if I can get them to refuse to 
take this one.'* And she bent and picked Deanie up, 
holding her, the child's head dropped shyly against her 
breast, the small flower-like face turned a bit so that 
one blue eye might investigate the carriage and those 
in it. " Deanie's too little to work in the mill,*' Johnnie 
went on. "They have night turn over there at the 
Victory now, and it'll just about make her sick.** 

Miss Lydia frowned. 

"Oh, John, I think you are mistaken,** she said 
coldly. "The work is very light — you know that. 
Young people work a great deal harder racing about 
in their play than at anything they have to do in a 
spooling room — I'm sure my nieces and nephews do. 
And in your case it is necessary and right that the 
younger members of the family should help. I think 
you will .find that it will not hurt them." 

Individuals who work in cotton mills, and are not 


adults, are never alluded to as children. It is an 
offense to mention them so. They are always spoken 
of — even those scarcely more than three feet high 
— as "young people." 

Miss Sessions had smiled upon the piteous little 
group with a judicious mixture of patronage and mild 
reproof, and her driver had shaken the lines over the 
backs of the fat horses preparatory to moving on, when 
Stoddard's car turned into the street from the corner 

" Wait, Junius. Dick is afraid of autos,'* cautioned 
Miss Lydia nervously. 

Junius grinned respectfully, while bay Dick dozed 
and regarded the approaching car philosophically. As 
they stood, they blocked the way, so that Gray was 
obliged to slow down and finally to stop. He raised 
his hat ceremoniously to both groups. His pained eyes 
went past Lydia Sessions as though she had been but the 
painted representation of a woman, to fasten themselves 
on Johnnie where she stood, her tall, deep-bosomed 
figure relieved against the shining water, the flaxen- 
haired child on her breast, the little ones huddled about 
her. / 

That Johnnie Consadine should have fallen away all 
at once from that higher course she had so eagerly 
chosen and so resolutely maintained, had been to Gray 
a disappointment whose depth and bitterness some- 
what surprised him. In vain he recalled the fact 
that all his theories of life were against forcing a 
culture where none was desired; he went back to 


It with grief — he had been so sure that Johnnie did 
love the real things, that hers was a nature which 
not only wished, but must have, spiritual and mental 
food. Her attitude toward himself upon their few 
meetings of late had confirmed a certain distrust of her, 
if one may use so strong a word. She seemed afraid, 
almost ashamed to face him. What was it she was 
doing, he wondered, that she knew so perfectly he 
would disapprove ? And then, with the return of the 
books, the dropping of Johnnie's education, came the 
abrupt end of those informal letters. Not till they 
ceased, did he realize how large a figure they had come 
to cut in his life. Only this morning he had taken them 
out and read them over, and decided that the girl who 
wrote them was worth at least an attempt toward an 
explanation and better footing. He had decided not 
to give her up. Now she confirmed his worst appre- 
hensions. At his glance, her face was suffused 
with a swift, distressed red. She wondered if he yet 
knew of her mother's marriage. She dreaded the time 
when she must tell him. With an inarticulate murmur 
she spoke to the little ones, turned her back and hurried 
across the bridge. 

"Is Johnnie putting those children in the mill?*' 
asked Stoddard half doubtfully, as his gaze followed 
them toward the entrance of the Victory. 

" I believe so," returned Lydia, smiling. " We were 
just speaking of how good it was that the cotton mills 
gave an opportunity for even the smaller ones to help, 
at work which is within their capacity." 


"Johnnie Consadine said that?'* inquired Gray, 
startled. "Why is she taking them over to the 
Victory?'* And then he answered his own question. 
"She knows very well they are below the legal age in 

Lydia Sessions trimmed instantly. 

"That must be it," she said. "I wondered a little 
that she seemed not to want them in the same factory 
that she is in. But I remember Brother Hartley said 
that we are very particular at our mill to hire no young 
people below the legal age. That must be it." 

Stoddard looked with reprehending yet still incredu- 
lous eyes, to where Johnnie and her small following 
disappeared within the mill doors. Johnnie — the 
girl who had written him that pathetic little letter about 
the children in her room, and her growing doubt as to 
the wholesomeness of their work; the girl who had 
read the books he gave her, and fed her understanding 
on them till she expressed herself logically and lucidly 
on the economic problems of the day — that, for the 
sake of the few cents they could earn, she should put the 
children, whom he knew she loved, into slavery, seemed 
to him monstrous beyond belief. Why, if this were 
true, what a hypocrite the girl was! As coarse and 
unfeeling as the rest of them. Yet she had some shame 
left; she had blushed to be caught in the act by him. 
It showed her worse than those who justified this thing, 
the enormity of which she had seemed to understand 

"You mustn't blame her too much," came Lydia 


Sessions's smooth voice. " John*s mother is a widow, 
and girls of that age like pretty clothes and a good time. 
Some people consider John very handsome, and of 
course with an ignorant young woman of that class, 
flattery is likely to turn the head. I think she does as 
well as could be expected/* 



JOHNNIE had a set of small volumes of English 
verse, extensively annotated by his own hand, 
which Stoddard had brought to her early in 
their acquaintance, leaving it with her more as a gift 
than as a loan. She kept these little books after all 
the others had gone back. She had read and reread 
them — cuUings from Chaucer, from Spenser, from 
the Elizabethan lyrists, the border balladry, fierce, 
tender, oh, so human — till she. knew pages of them 
by heart, and their vocabulary influenced her own, 
their imagery tinged all her leisure thoughts. It 
seemed to her, whenever she debated returning them, 
that she could not bear it. She would get them out 
and sit with one of them open in her hands, not reading, 
but staring at the pages with unseeing eyes, passing 
her fingers over it, as one strokes a beloved hand, or 
turning through each book only to find the pencilled 
words in the margins. She would be giving up part 
of herself when she took these back. 

Yet it had to be done, and one miserable morn- 
ing she made them all into a neat package, intend- 
ing to carry them to the mill and place them on 
Stoddard's desk thus early, when nobody would be 



in the office. Then the children came in; Deanie was 
half sick; and in the distress of getting the ailing child 
comfortably into her own bed, Johnnie forgot the 
books. Taking them in at noon, she met Stoddard 

"Tve brought you back your — those little books 
of Old English Poetry," she said, with a sudden con- 
striction in her throat, and a quick burning flush that 
suff^used brow, cheek and neck. 

Stoddard looked at her; she was thinner than she 
had been, and otherwise showed the marks of misery 
and of factory life. The sight was almost intolerable 
to him. Poor girl, she herself was suff^ering cruelly 
enough beneath the same yoke she had helped to lay 
on the children. 

"Are you really giving up your studies entirely?" 
he asked, in what he tried to make a very kindly voice. 
He laid his hand on the package of books. " I wonder 
if you aren*t making a mistake, Johnnie. You look 
as though you were working too hard. Some things 
are worth more than money and getting on in the 

Johnnie shook her head. For the moment words 
were beyond her. Then she managed to say in a fairly 
composed tone. 

"There isn*t any other way for me. I think some- 
times, Mr. Stoddard, when a body is born to a hard 
life, all the struggling and trying just makes it that 
much harder. Maybe when the children get a little 
older ril have more chance." 


The statement was wistfully, timidly made; yet to 
Gray Stoddard it seemed a brazen defence of her 
present course. It pierced him that she on whose 
nobility of nature he could have staked his life, should 
justify such action. 

"Yes,** he said with quick bitterness, "they might 
be able to earn more, of course, as time goes on." 
It was a cruel speech between two people who had 
discussed this feature of industrial life as these had; 
even Stoddard had no idea how cruel. 

For a dizzy moment the girl stared at him, then, 
though her flushed cheeks had whitened pitifully and 
her lip trembled, she answered with bravely lifted head. 

" I thank you very much for all the help you Ve been 
to me, Mr. Stoddard. What I said just now didn*t 
look as though I appreciated it. I ask your pardon 
for that. I aim to do the best I can for the children. 
And I — thank you.*' 

She turned and was gone, leaving him puzzled and 
with a sore ache at heart. 

Winter came on, wet, dark, cheerless, in the shack- 
ling, half-built little village, and Johnnie saw for the 
first time what the distress of the poor in cities is. A 
temperature which would have been agreeable in a 
drier climate, bit to the bone in the mist-haunted 
valleys of that mountain region. The houses were 
mostly mere board shanties, tightened by pasting 
newspapers over the cracks inside, where the women 
of the family had time for such work; and the heating 
apparatus was generally a wood-burning cook-stove. 


with possibly an additional coal heater in the front room 
which could be fired on Sundays, or when the family 
was at home to tend it. 

All through the bright autumn days, Laurella Himes 
had hurried from one new and charming sensation or 
discovery to another; she was like the butterflies that 
haunt the banks of little streams or wayside pools at 
this season, disporting themselves more gaily even than 
the insects of spring in what must be at best a briefer 
glory. When the weather began to be chilly, she 
complained of a pain in her side. 

" Hit hurts me right there,** she would say piteously, 
taking Johnnie*s hand and laying it over the left side 
of her chest. " My feet haven't been good and warm 
since the weather turned. I jest cain*t stand these 
here old black boxes of stoves they have in the Settle- 
ment. If I could oncet lay down on the big hearth at 
home and get my feet warm, I jest know my misery 
would leave Ine.** 

At first Pap merely grunted over these homesick repin- 
ings; but after a time he began to hang about her and 
off^er counsel which was often enough peevishly received. 

"No, I ain't et anything that disagreed with me," 
Laurella pettishly replied to his well-meant inquiries. 
"You're thinkin' about yo'se'f. I neyer eat more than 
is good for me, nor anything that ^Wt jest right. Hit 
ain't my stomach. Hit's right there in my side. Looks 
like hit was my heart, an' I believe in my soul it is. 
Oh, law, if I could oncet lay down befo' a nice, good 
hickory fire and get my feet warm ! " 


And rfo it came to pass that, while everybody in the 
boarding-house looked on amazed, almost aghast, 
Gideon Himes withdrew from the bank such money 
as was necessary, and had a chimney built at the side 
of the fore room and a broad hearth laid. He begged 
almost tearfully for a small grate which should burn 
the soft bituminous coal of the region, and be much 
cheaper to install and maintain. But Laurella turned 
away from these suggestions with the hopeless, pliable 
obstinacy of the weak. 

" I wouldn't give the rappin* o* my finger for a nasty 
little smudgy, smoky grate fire,*' she declared rebel- 
liously, thanklessly. "A hickory log-heap is what I 
want, and if I cain't have that, I reckon I can jest die 
without it.*' 

"Now, Laurelly — now Laurelly," Pap quavered 
in tones none other had ever heard from him, "don't 
you talk about dyin'. You look as young as Johnnie 
this minute. I'll git you what you want. Lord, I'll 
have Dawson build the chimbley big enough for you to 
keep house in, if them's yo' ruthers." 

It was almost large enough for that, and the great 
load of hickory logs which Himes hauled into the yard 
from the neighbouring mountain-side was cut to length. 
Fire was kindled in the new chimney; it drew per- 
fectly; and Pap himself carried Laurella in his arms 
and laid her on some quilts beside the hearthstone, 
demanding eagerly, "Thar now — don't that fnake 
you feel better ? " 
• "Uh-huh." The ailing woman turned restlessly 


on her pallet. The big, awkward, ill-favoured old 
man stood with his disproportionately long arms 
hanging by his sides, staring at her, unaware that his 
presence half undid the good the leaping flames were 
doing her. 

"I wish*t Uncle Pros was sitting right over there, 
toother side the fire,** murmured Laurella dreamily. 
"How is Pros, Johnnie?" 

For nobody understood, as the crazed man in the 
hospital might have done, that Laurella's bodily ill- 
ness was but the cosmic despair of the little girl who 
has broken her doll. It had been the philosophy of 
this sun-loving, butterfly nature to turn her back on 
things when they got too bad and take to her bed till, 
in the course of events, they bettered themselves. But 
now she had emerged into a bleak winter world where 
Uncle Pros was not, where Johnnie was powerless, 
and where she had been allowed by an unkind Provi- 
dence to work havoc with her own life and the lives 
of her little ones; and her illness was as the tears of 
the girl with a shattered toy. 

The children in their broken shoes and thin, ill- 
selected clothing, shivered on the roads between house 
and mill, and gave colour to the statement of many 
employers that they were better off in the thoroughly 
warmed factories than at home. But the factories 
were a little too thoroughly warmed. The operatives 
sweated under their tasks and left the rooms, with their 
temperature of eighty-five, to come, drenched with 
perspiration, into the chill outside air. The colds 


which resulted were always supposed to be caught out 
of doors. Nobody had sufficient understanding of 
such matters to suggest that the rebreathed, super- 
heated atmosphere of the mill room was responsible. 

Deanie, who had never been sick a day in her life, 
took a heavy cold and coughed so that she could scarcely 
get any sleep. Johnnie was desperately anxious, since 
the lint of the spinning room immediately irritated 
the little throat, and perpetuated the cold in a steady, 
hacking cough, that cotton-mill workers know well. 
Pony was from the first insubordinate and well-nigh 
incorrigible — in short, he died hard. He came to 
Johnnie again and again with stories of having been 
cursed and struck. She could only beg him to be good 
and do what was demanded without laying himself 
liable to punishment. Milo, the serious-faced little 
burden bearer, was growing fast, and lacked stamina. 
Beneath the cotton-mill regime, his chest was getting 
dreadfully hollow. He was all too good a worker, 
and tried anxiously to make up for his brother's 

Pony, he*s a little feller,** Milo would say pitifully. 
He ain*t nigh as old as I am. It comes easier to me 
than what it does to him to stay in the house and tend 
my frames, and do like Tm told. If the bosses would 
call me when he don't do to suit 'em, I could always 
get him to miijd." 

Lissy had something of her mother's shining vitality, 
but it dimmed woefully in the rough-and-ready clatter 
and slam of the big Victory mill. 



The children had come from the sunlit heights and 
free air of the Unakas. Their play had been always 
out of doors, on the mosses under tall trees, where 
fragrant balsams dropped cushions of springy needles 
for the feet; their labour, the gathering of brush and 
chips for the fire in winter, the dropping corn, and, 
with the older boys, the hoeing of it in spring and 
summer — all under God*s open sky. They had been 
forced into the factory when nothing but places on 
the night shift could be got for them. Day work 
was promised later, but the bitter winter wore away, 
and still the little captives crept over the bridge in the 
twilight and slunk shivering home at dawn. Johnnie 
made an arrangement to get off from her work a little 
earlier, and used to take the two girls over herself; but 
she could not go for them in the morning. One evening 
about the holidays, miserably wet, and oflFering its 
squalid contrast to the season, Johnnie, plodding along 
between the two little girls, with Pony and Milo follow- 
ing, met Gray Stoddard face to face. He halted uncer- 
tainly. There was a world of reproach in his face, 
and Johnnie answered it with eyes of such shame and 
contrition as convinced him that she knew well the 
degradation of what she was doing. 

"You need another umbrella,'* he said abruptly, 
putting down his own as he paused under the store 
porch where a boy stood at the curb with his car, hood 
on, prepared for a trip in to Watauga. 

" I lost our'n," ventured Pony. " It don't seem fair 
that Milo has to get wet because Fm so bad about 


losing things, does it?" And he smiled engagingly 
up into the tall man^s face — Johnnie's own eyes, 
large-pupilled, black-lashed, full of laughter in their 
clear depths. Gray Stoddard stared down at them 
silently for a moment. Then he pushed the handle of 
his umbrella into the boy*s grimy little hand. 

** See how long you can keep that one,*' he said kindly. 
"It's marked on the handle with my name; and maybe if 
you lost it somebody might bring it back to you." 

Johnnie had turned away and faltered on a few paces 
in a daze of humiliation and misery. 

"Sis' Johnnie — oh, Sis' Johnnie!" Pony called after 
her, flourishing the umbrella. "Look what Mr. 
Stoddard give Milo and me." Then, in sudden con- 
sternation as Milo caught his elbow, he whirled and 
ofi^ered voluble thanks. "I'm a goin' to earn a whole 
lot of money and pay back the trouble I am to my folks," 
he confided to Gray, hastily. "I didn't know I was 
such a bad feller till I came down to the Settlement. 
Looks like I cain't noways behave. But I'm goin' 
to earn a big heap of money, an' buy things for Milo 
an' maw an' the girls. Only now they take all I can 
earn away from me." 

There was a warning call from Johnnie, ahead in the 
dusk somewhere; and the little fellow scuttled away 
toward the Victory and a night of work. 

Spring came late that year, and after it had given 
a hint of relieving the misery of the poor, there fol- 
lowed an Easter storm which covered all the new-made 
gardens with sleet and sent people shivering back to 


their winter wear. Deanie had been growing very 
thin, and the red on her cheeks was a round spot of 
scarlet. Laurella lay all day and far into the night 
on her pallet of quilts before the big fire in the front 
room, spent, inert, staring at the ceiling, entertaining 
God knows what guests of terror and remorse. Noth- 
ing distressing must be brought to her. Coming home 
from work once at dusk, Johnnie found the two little 
girls on the porch, Deanie crying and Lissy trying to 
comfort her. 

" I thest cain't go to that old mill to-night. Sis* John- 
nie,** the little one pleaded. " Looks like I thest cain*t.*' 

" I could tell Mr. Reardon, and he*d put a substitute 
on to tend her frames,** Lissy spoke up eagerly. " You 
ask Pap Himes will he let us do that. Sis* Johnnie.** 

Johnnie went past her mother, who appeared to be 
dozing, and into the dining room, where Himes was. 
He had promised to do some night work, setting up new 
machines at the Victory, and he was in that uncertain 
humour which the prospect of work always produced. 
Gideon Himes was an old man, pestered, as he himself 
would have put it, by the mysterious illness of his young 
wife, fretted by the presence of the children, no doubt 
in a measure because he felt himself to be doing an ill 
part by them. His grumpy silence of other days, his 
sardonic humour, gave place to hypochondriac com- 
plainings and outbursts of fierce temper. Pony had 
hurt his foot in a machine at the factory and it required 
daily dressing. Johnnie understood from the sounds 
which greeted her that the sore foot was being bandaged. 


"Hold still, cain't ye?" growled Himes. "I ain't 
a-hurtin* ye. Now you set in to bawl and TU give ye 
somethin* to bawl for — hear me?" 

The old man was skilful with hurts, but he was using 
such unnecessary roughness in this case as set the plucky 
little chap to sobbing, and, just as Johnnie entered the 
room, got him heavy-handed punishment for it. It was 
an unfortunate time to bring up the question of Deanie; 
yet it must be settled at once. 

"Pap," said the girl, urgently, "the baby ain*t fit 
to go to the mill to-night — if ever she ought. You 
said that you'd get day work for them all. If you 
won't do that, let Deanie stay home for a spell. She 
sure enough isn't fit to work." 

Himes faced his stepdaughter angrily. 

"When I say a child's fitten to work — it's fitten 
to work," he rounded on her. "I hain't axed your 
opinion — have I ? No. Well, then, keep it to your- 
self till it is axed for. You Pony, your foot's done 
and ready. You get yourself off to the mill, or you'll 
be docked for lost time." 

The little fellow limped sniffling out; Johnnie reached 
down for Deanie, who had crept after her to hear how 
her cause went. It was evident that sight of the child 
lingering increased Pap's anger, yet the elder sister 
gathered up the ailing little one in her strong arms and 
tried again. 

"Pap, I'll pay you for Deanie's whole week's work 
if you'll just let her stay home to-night. I'll pay you 
the money now." 


"All right/' Pap stuck out a ready, stubbed palm, 
and received in it the silver that was the price of the 
little girl's time for a week. He counted it over before 
he rammed it down in his pocket. Then, "You can 
pay me, and she can go to the mill, 'caze your wages 
ought to come to nie anyhow, and it don't do chaps 
like her no good to be muchin* 'em all the time. Would 
you ruther have her go before I give her a good beatin' 
or after?" and he looked Johnnie fiercely in the eyes. 

Johnnie looked back at him unflinching. She did 
not lack spirit to defy him. But her mother was this 
man's wife; the children were in their hands. Devoted, 
high-couraged as she was, she saw no way here to 
fight for the little ones. To her mother she could not 
appeal; she must have support from outside. 

"Never you mind, honey," she choked as she clasped 
Deanie's thin little form closer, and the meagre small 
arms went round her neck. "Sister'U find a way. 
You go on to the mill to-night, and sister'll find some- 
body to help her, and she'll come there and get you 
before morning." 

When the pitiful little figure had lagged away down 
the twilight street, holding to Lissy's hand, limping on 
sore feet, Johnnie stood long on the porch in the dark 
with gusts of rain beating intermittently at the lattice 
beside her. Her hands were wrung hard together. 
Her desperate gaze roved over the few scattered lights 
of the little village, over the great flaring, throbbing 
mills beyond, as though questioning where she could 
seek for assistance. Paying money to Pap Himes 


did no good. So much was plain. She had always 
been afraid to begin it, and she realized now that the 
present outcome was what she had apprehended. 
Uncle Pros, the source of wisdom for all her childish 
days, was in the hospital, a harmless lunatic. Of 
late the old man's bodily health had mended suddenly, 
almost marvellously; but he remained vacant, childish 
in mind, and so far the authorities had retained him, 
hoping to probe in some way to the obscure, moving 
cause of his malady. Twice when she spoke to her 
mother of late, being very desperate, Laurella had said 
peevishly that if she were able she'd get up and leave 
the house. Plainly to-night she was too sick a woman 
to be troubled. As Johnnie stood there. Shade Buck- 
heath passed her, going out of the house and down the 
street toward the store. Once she might have thought 
of appealing to him; but now a sure knowledge of 
what his reply would be forestalled that. 

There remained then what the others called her 
" swell friends." Gray Stoddard — the thought 
brought with it an agony from which she flinched. 
But after all, there was Lydia Sessions. She was sure 
Miss Sessions meant to be kind; and if she knew that 

Deanie was really sick . Yes, it would be worth 

while to go to her with the whole matter. 

At the thought she turned hesitatingly toward the 
door, meaning to get her hat, and — though she had 
formulated no method of appeal — to hurry to the 
Hardwick house and at least talk with Miss Sessions 
and endeavour to enlist her help. 


But the door opened before she reached it, 
and Mavity Bence stood there, in her face the deadly 
weariness of all woman's toil and travail since the fall. 
Johnnie moved to her quickly, putting a hand on her 
shoulder, remembering with swift compunction that 
the poor woman's burdens were trebled since Laurella 
lay ill, and Pap gave up so much of his time to hanging 
anxiously about his young wife. 

" What is it, Aunt Mavity ? " she asked. " Is anything 
the matter?" 

"I hate to werry ye, Johnnie," said the other's 
deprecating voice; "but looks like I've jest got obliged 
to have a little help this evenin'. I'm plumb dead 
on my feet, and there's all the dishes to do and a stack 
of towels and things to rub out." Her dim gaze ques- 
tioned the young face above her dubiously, almost 
desperately. The little brass lamp in her hand made 
a pitiful wavering. 

" Of course I can help you. I'd have been in before 
this, only I — I — was kind of worried about some- 
thing else, and I forgot," declared Johnnie, strengthen- 
ing her heart to endure the necessary postponement 
of her purpose. 

She went into the kitchen with Mavity Bence, and 
the two women worked there at the dishes, and washing 
out the towels, till after nine o'clock, Johnnie's anxiety 
and distress mounting with every minute of delay. 
At a little past nine, she left poor Mavity at the door 
of that wretched place the poor woman called her 
room, looked quietly in to see that her mother seemed 


to sleep, got her hat and hurried out, goaded by a seem- 
ingly disproportionate fever of impatience and anxiety. 
She took her way up the little hill and across the slope 
to where the Hardwick mansion gleamed, many- 
windowed, gay with lights, behind its evergreens. 

When she reached the house itself she found an 
evening reception going forward — the Hardwicks 
were entertaining the Lyric Club. She halted outside, 
debating what to do. Could she call Miss Lydia from 
her company to listen to such a story as this ? Was 
it not in itself almost an offence to bring these things 
before people who could live as Miss Lydia lived ? 
Somebody was playing the violin, and Johnnie drew 
nearer the window to listen. She stared in at the 
beautiful lighted room, the well-dressed, happy people. 
Suddenly she caught sight of Gray Stoddard standing 
near the girl who was playing, a watchful eye upon her 
music to turn it for her. She clutched the window- 
sill and stood choking and blinded, fighting with a 
crowd of daunting recollections and miserable appre- 
hensions. The young violinist was playing Schubert's 
Serenade. From the violin came the ciy of hungry 
human love demanding its mate, questing, praying, 
half despairing, and yet wooing, seeking again. 

Johnnie's piteous gaze roved over the well-beloved 
lineaments. She noted with a passion of tenderness 
the turn of head and hand that were so familiar to her, 
and so dear. Oh, she could never hate him for it, but 
it was hard — hard — to be a wave in the ocean of 
toil that supported the galleys of such as these ! 


It began to rain again softly as she stood there, 
scattered drops falling on her bright hair, and she 
gathered her dress about her and pressed close to the 
window where the eaves of the building sheltered her, 
forcing herself to look in and take note of the difference 
between those people in there and her own lot of life. 
This was not usually Johnnie's way. Her unfailing 
optimism prompted her always to measure the distance 
below her, and be glad of having climbed so far, rather 
than to dim her eyes with straining them toward what 
was above. But now she marked mercilessly the 
fight, yet subdued, movements, the deference expressed 
when one of these people addressed another; and Gray 
Stoddard at the upper end of the room was easily the 
most marked figure in it. Who was she to think 
she might be his friend when all this beautiful world 
of ease and luxury and fair speech was open to him ? 

Like a sword flashed back to her memory of the 
children. They were being killed in the mills, while 
she wasted her thoughts and longings on people who 
would laugh if they knew of her presumptuous devotion. 

She turned with a low exclamation of astonishment, 
when somebody touched her on the shoulder. 

"Is you de gal Miss Lyddy sont for.?" inquired 
the yellow waitress a bit sharply. 

" No — yes — I don't know whether Miss Sessions 
sent for me or not," Johnnie halted out; " but," eagerly, 
" I must see her. I've — Cassy. I've got to speak 
to her right now." 

Cassy regarded the newcomer rather scornfully. 


Yet everybody liked Johnnie, and the servant eventually 
put off her design of being impressive and said in a 
fairly friendly manner: 

"You couldn't noways see her now. I couldn't 
disturb her whilst she's got company — without you 
want to put on this here cap and apron and come 
he'p me sarve the refreshments. Dey was a gal 
comin' to resist me, but she ain't put in her disappear- 
ance yet. Ain't no time for foolin', dis ain't." 

Johnnie debated a moment. A servant's livery 
— but Deanie was sick and . With a sudden, im- 
pulsive movement, and somewhat to Cassy's surprise, 
Johnnie followed into the pantry, seized the proffered 
cap and apron and proceeded to put them on. 

" I've got to see Miss Sessions," she repeated, more 
to herself than to the negress. " Maybe what I have 
to say will only take a minute. I reckon she won't 
mind, even if she has got company. It — well, I've 
got to see her some way." And taking the tray of frail, 
dainty cups and saucers Cassy brought her, she started 
with it to the parlour. 

The music was just dying down to its last wail when 
Gray looked up and caught sight of her coming. His 
mind had been full of her. To him certain pieces 
of music always meant certain people, and the Serenade 
could bring him nothing but Johnnie Consadine's 
face. His startled eyes encountered with distaste the 
cap pinned to her hair, descended to the white apron 
that covered her black skirt, and rested in astonishment 
on the tray that held the coffee, cream and sugar. 


"Begin here/* Cassie prompted her assistant, and 
Johnnie, stopping, offered her tray of cups. 

Gray's indignant glance went from the girl herself 
to his hostess. What foolery was this ? Why should 
Johnnie Consadine dress herself as a servant and wait 
on Lydia Sessions's guests? 

Before the two reached him, he turned abruptly 
and went into the library, where Miss Sessions stood 
for a moment quite alone. Her face brightened; 
he had sought her society very much less of late. She 
looked hopefully for a renewal of that earlier companion- 
ship which seemed by contrast almost intimate. 

" Have you hired Johnnie Consadine as a waitress ? *' 
Stoddard asked her in a non-committal voice. "I 
should have supposed that her place in the mill would 
pay her more, and offer better prospects.** 

"No — oh, no,!* said Miss Sessions, startled, and 
considerably disappointed at the subject he had 
selected to converse upon. 

"How does she come to be here with a cap and 
apron on to-night.?'* pursued Stoddard, with an edge 
to his tone which he could not wholly subdue. 

"I really don*t understand that myself,** Lydia 
Sessions told him. "I made no arrangement with 
her. I expected to have a couple of negresses — they're 
much better servants, you know. Of course when a 
girl like John gets a little taste of social contact and 
recognition, she may go to considerable lengths to 
gratify her desire for it. No doubt she feels proud 
of forcing herself in this evening; and then of course 


she knows she will be well paid. She seems to be doing 
nicely," glancing between the portieres where Johnnie 
bent before one guest or another, offering her tray 
of cups. " I really haven't the heart to reprove her/' 

"Then I think I shall," said Stoddard with sudden 
resolution. " If you don't mind. Miss Sessions, would 
you let her come in and talk to me a little while, as soon 
as she has finished passing the coffee ? I — really 
it seems to me that this is outrageous. Johnnie is 
a girl of brains and abilities, and we who have her true 
welfare at heart should see that she doesn't — in her 
youth and ignorance — fall into such errors as this." 

" Oh, if you Uke, I'll talk to her myself," said Miss 
Lydia smoothly. The conversation was not so different 
from others that she and Stoddard had held con- 
cerning this girl's deserts and welfare. She added, 
after an instant's pause, speaking quickly, with 
heightened colour, and a little nervous catch in her 
voice, " I'll do my best. I — I don't want to speak 
harshly of John, but I must in truth say that she's 
the one among my Uplift Club girls that has been 
least satisfactory to me." 

"In what way?" inquired Stoddard in an even, 
quiet tone. 

"Well, I should be a little puzzled to put it into 
words," Miss Sessions answered him with a deprecating 
smile; "and yet it's there — the feeling that John 
Consadine is — I hate to say it — ungrateful." 

"Ungrateful," repeated her companion, his eyes 
steadily on Miss Sessions's face. "To leave Johnnie 


Consadine out of the matter entirely, what else do 
you expect from any of your protegees ? What else 
can any one expect who goes into what the modern 
world calls charitable work?" 

Miss Sessions studied his face in some bewilderment. 
Was he arraigning her, or sympathizing with her? 
He said no more. He left upon her the onus of further 
speech. She must try for the right note. 

"I know it," she fumbled desperately. "And 
isn't it disappointing? You do everything you pos- 
sibly can for people and they seem to dislike you for 


They don't merely seem to," said Stoddard, 
almost brusquely, "they do dislike and despise you, 
and that most heartily. It is as certain a result as that 
two and two make four. You have pauperized and 
degraded them, and they hate you for it." 

Lydia Sessions shrank back on the seat, and stared 
at him, her hand before her open mouth. 

"Why, Mr. Stoddard!" she ejaculated finally. "I 
thought you were fully in sympathy with my Uplift 
work. You — you certainly let me think so. If 
you despised it, as you now say, why did you help me 
and -—and all that?" 

Stoddard shook his head. 

"No," he demurred a little wearily. "I don't 
despise you, nor your work. As for helping you — 
I dislike lobster, and yet I conscientiously provide you 
with it whenever we are where the comestible is served, 
because I know you like it." 


"Mr. Stoddard," broke in Lydia tragically, "that 
is frivolous! These are grave matters, and I thought 
— oh, I thought certainly — that I was deserving your 
good opinion in this charitable work if ever I deserved 
such a thing in my life/' 

"Oh — deserved!" repeated Stoddard, almost impa- 
tiently. "No doubt you deserve a great deal more 
than my praise; but you know — do you not ? — that 
people who believe as I do, regard that sort of philan- 
thropy as a barrier to progress; and, really now, I 
think you ought to admit that under such circumstances 
I have behaved with great friendliness and self-control." 

The words were spoken with something of the old 
teasing intonation that had once deluded Lydia Sessions 
into the faith that she held a relation of some intimacy 
to this man. She glanced at him fleetingly; then, 
though she felt utterly at sea, made one more desperate 

" But I always went first to you when I was raising 
money for my Uplift work, and you gave to me more 
liberally than anybody else. Jerome never approved 
of it. Hartley grumbled, or laughed at me, and came 
reluctantly to my little dances and receptions. I 
sometimes felt that I was going against all my world — 
except you. I depended upon your approval. I 
felt that you were in full sympathy with me here, if 
nowhere else." 

She looked so disproportionately moved by the 
matter that Stoddard smiled a little. 

"Fm sorry," he said at last. "I see now that I 



have been taking it for granted all along that you 
understood the reservation I held in regard to this 



You — you should have told me plainly," said 
Lydia drearily. "It — it gives me a strange feeling 
to have depended so entirely on you, and then to find 
out that you were thinking of me all the while as 
Jerome does." 

"Have I been?" inquired Stoddard. "As Jerome 
does? What a passion it seems to be with folks to 
classify their friends. People call me a Socialist, 
because I am trying to find out what I really do think 
on certain economic and social subjects. I doubt 
that I shall ever bring up underneath any precise label, 
and yet some people would think it egotistical that I 
insisted upon being a class to myself. I very much 
doubt that I hold Mr. Hardwick's opinion exactly 
in any particular." He looked at the girl with a sort 
of urgency which she scarcely comprehended. " Miss 
Sessions," he said, "I wear my hair longer than most 
men, and the barber is always deeply grieved at my 
obstinacy. I never eat potatoes, and many well- 
meaning persons are greatly concerned over it — 
they regard the exclusion of potatoes from one's 
dietary as almost criminal. But you — I expect in 
you more tolerance concerning my peculiarities. 
Why must you care at all what I think, or what my 
views are in this matter?" 

"Oh, I don't understand you at all," Lydia said 


"No?** agreed Stoddard with an interrogative note 
in his voice. " But after all there's no need for people 
to be so determined to understand each other, is there ?" 

Lydia looked at him with swimming eyes. 

" Why didn't you tell me not to do those things ? " 
she managed finally to say with some composure. 

"Tell you not to do things that you had thought 
out for yourself and decided on?" asked Stoddard. 
"Oh, no. Miss Sessions. What of your own develop- 
ment ? I had no business to interfere like that. You 
might be exactly right about it, and I wrong, so far as 
you yourself were concerned. And even if I were 
right and you wrong, the only chance of growth 
for you was to exploit the matter and find it out for 
yourself " 

" I don't understand a word you say," Lydia Sessions 
repeated dully. "That's the kind of thing you used 
always to talk when you and I were planning for John 
Consadine. Development isn't what a woman wants. 
She wants — she needs — to understand how to please 
those she — approves. If she fails anywhere, and 
those she — well, if somebody that she has — con- 
fidence — in tells her, why then she'll know better 
next time. You should have told me." 

Her eyes overflowed as she made an end, but Stod- 
dard adopted a tone of determined lightness. 

"Dear me," he said gently. "What reactionary 
views ! You 're out of temper with me this evening — 
I get on your nerves with my theorizing. Forgive me, 
and forget all about it." 


Lydia Sessions smiled kindly on her guest, without 
speaking. But one thing remained to her out of it all. 
Gray Stoddard thought ill of her work — it carried 
her further from him, instead of nearer! So many 
months of effort worse than wasted ! At that instant 
she had sight of Shade Buckheath's dark face in the 
entry. She got to her feet. 

" I beg your pardon/* she said wanly, " I think there 
is some one out there that I ought to speak to." 



IN THE spinning room at the Victory Mill, with 
its tall frames and endlessly turning bobbins, 
where the languid thread ran from hank to 
spool and the tired little feet must walk the narrow 
aisles between the jennies, watching if perchance a 
filament had broken, a knot caught, or other mischance 
occurred, and right it, Deanie plodded for what seemed 
to her many years. Milo and Pony both had work 
now in another department, and Lissy's frames were 
quite across the noisy big room. Whenever the 
little dark-haired girl could get away from her own 
task and the eye of the room boss, she ran across to 
the small, ailing sister and hugged her hard, begging 
her not to feel bad, not to cry. Sis' Johnnie was bound 
to come before long. With the morbidness of a sick 
child, Deanie came to dread these well-meant assur- 
ances, finding them almost as distressing as her own 
strange, tormenting sensations. 

The room was insufferably close, because it had 
rained and the windows were all tightly shut. The 
flare of light vitiated the air, heated it, but seemed 
to the child's sick sense to illuminate nothing. 
Sometimes she found herself walking into the machinery 



ani pot out a reckless litde hand to guard her steps. 
SsKT Joliimie had said she would come and take her 
Mm'M} . Sister Johnnie was the Providence that was 
nevo- known to fail. Deanie kept on doggedly, and 
ised thieads, almost asleep. The room opened and 
Kke an accordion before her fevered vision; the 
heaved and trembled under her stumbling feet. 
To Ke down — to lie down anywhere and sleep — 
tkat was the almost intolerable longing that possessed 
her. Her mouth was hot and dry. The little white, 
peaked face, like a new moon, grew strangely luminous 
in its pallor. Her eyes stung in their sockets — 
those desolate blue eyes, dark with unshed tears, heavy 
with sleep. 

She had turned her row and started back, when there 
came before her, so plain that she almost thought she 
might wet her feet in the clear water, a vision of the 
spring-branch at home up on Unaka, where she and 
Lissy used to play. There, among the giant roots of 
the old oak on its bank, was the house they had built 
of big stones and bright bits of broken dishes; there 
lay her home-made doll flung down among gay fallen 
leaves; a little toad squatted beside it; and near by was 
the tiny gourd that was their play-house dipper. Oh, 
for a drink from that spring! 

She caught sight of Mandy Meacham passing the 
door, and ran to her, heedless of consequences. 

" Mandy,** she pleaded, taking hold of the woman's 
skirts and throwing back her reeling head to stare 
up into the face above her, "Mandy, Sis* Johnnie 


said she'd come; but it's a awful long time, and I'm 
scared I'll fall into some of these here old machines, 
I feel that bad. Won't you go tell Sis' Johnnie I'm 
waitin* for her?" 

Mandy glanced forward through the weaving-room 
toward her own silent looms, then down at the little, 
flushed face at her knee. If she dared to do things, 
as Johnnie dared, she would pick up the baby and 
leave. The very thought of it terrified her. No, she 
must get Johnnie herself. Johnnie would make it 
right. She bent down and kissed the little thing, 

"Never you mind, honey. Mandy's going straight 
and find Sis' Johnnie, and bring her here to Deanie. 
Jest wait a minute." 

Then she turned and, swiftly, lest her courage evapor- 
ate, hurried down the stair and to the time keeper. 

" Ef you've got a substitute, you can put 'em on my 
looms," she said brusquely. "I've got to go down in 



Sick?" inquired Reardon laconically, as he made 
some entry on a card and dropped it in a drawer beside 

"No, I ain't sick — but Deanie Consadine is, and 
I'm goin' over in town to find her sister. That child 
ain't fitten to be in no mill — let alone workin' night 
turn. You men ort to be ashamed — that baby ort to 
be in her bed this very minute." 

Her voice had faltered a bit at the conclusion. 
Yet she made an end of it, and hurried away with 


a choke in her throat. The man stared after her 

"Well!" he ejaculated finally. "She's got her 
nerve with her. Old Himes is that gal's stepdaddy. 
1 reckon he knows whether she's fit to work in the 
mills or not — he hired her here. Bob, ain't Himes 
down in the basement right now setdn' up new 
machines ? You go down there and name this business 
to him. See what he's got to say." 

A party of young fellows was tramping down the 
village street singing. One of them carried a guitar 
and struck, now and again, a random chord upon its 
strings. The street was dark, but as the singers, step- 
ping rythmically, passed the open door of the store, 
Mandy recognized a shape she knew. 

"Shade — Shade Buckheath! Wait thar!" she 
called to him. 

The others lingered, too, a moment, till they saw 
it was a girl following; then they turned and sauntered 
slowly on, still singing: 

** Ef I was a little bird, I'd nest in the tallest tree. 
That leans over the waters of the beautiful Tennessee.' 

The words came back to Buckheath and Mandy in 
velvety bass and boyish tenor. 

"Shade — whar's Johnnie ?" panted Mandy, shaking 
him by the arm. " I been up to the house, and she ain't 
thar. Pap ain't thar, neither. I was skeered to name 
my business to Laurelly; Aunt Mavity ain't no help 
and, and — Shade — whar's Johnnie ?" Buckheath 


looked down into her working, tragic face and his 
mouth hardened. 

"She ain't at home,'* he said finally. "I've been 
at Himes's all evening. Pap and me has a — er, a 
little business on hand and — she ain't at home. They 
told me that they was some sort of shindig at Mr. 
Hardwick's to-night. I reckon Johnnie Consadine 
is chasin' round after her tony friends. Pap said she 
left the house a-goin' in that direction — or Mavity 
told me, I disremember which. I reckon you'll find' 
her tha. What do you want of her?" 

"It's Deanie." She glanced fearfully past his 
shoulder to where the big clock on the grocery wall 
showed through its dim window. It was half-past 
ten. The lateness of the hour seemed to strike her 
with fresh terror. "Shade, come along of me," she 
pleaded. "I'm so skeered. I never shall have the 
heart to go in and ax for Johnnie, this time o' night 
at that thar fine house. How she can talk up to them 
swell people like she does is more than I know. You 
go with me and ax is she thar." 

The group of young men had crossed the bridge and 
were well on their way to the Inn. Buckheath glanced 
after them doubtfully and turned to walk at Mandy's 
side. When they came to the gate, the woman hung 
back, whimpering at sight of the festal array, and 
sound of the voices within. 

"They've got a party," she deprecated. "My 
old dress is jest as dirty as the floor. You go ax 'em, 


As she spoke, Johnnie, carrying a tray of cups and 
saucers, passed a lighted window, and Buckheath 
uttered a sudden, unpremeditated oath. 

**I don't know what God Almighty means makin' 
women such fools," he growled. "What call had 
Johnnie Consadine got to come here and act the ser- 
vant for them rich folks ? — runnin' around after Gray 
Stoddard — and much good may it do her!" 

Mandy crowded herself back into the shadow of 
the dripping evergreens, and Shade went boldly up 
on the side porch. She saw the door opened and 
her escort admitted; then through the glass was aware 
of Lydia Sessions in an evening frock coming into the 
small entry and conferring at length with him. 

Her attention was diverted from them by the 
appearance of Johnnie herself just inside a win- 
dow. She ran forward and tapped on the pane. 
Johnnie put down her tray and came swiftly out, 
passing Shade and Miss Sessions in the side entry 
with a word. 

"What is it?" she inquired of Mandy, with a 
premonition of disaster in hsr tones. 

"Hit's Deanie," choked the Meacham woman. 
"She's right sick, and they won't let her leave the 
mill — leastways she's skeered to ask, and so am I. 
I 'lowed I ought to come and tell you, Johnnie. 
Was that right.? You wanted me to, didn't you.?" 

"Yes — ^yes — ^yes!" cried Johnnie, reaching up swift, 
nervous fingers to unfasten the cap from her hair. 


thrusting it in the pocket of the apron, and untying the 
apron strings. "Wait a minute. I must give these 
things back. Oh, let's hurry!'* 

It was but a moment after that she emerged once 
more on the porch, and apparently for the first time 
noticed Buckheath. 

"To-morrow, then,'' Miss Sessions was saying to 
him as he moved toward the two girls. "To-morrow 
morning." And with a patronizing nod to them all, she 
withdrew and rejoined her guests. 

"I never found you when I went up to the house," 
explained Mandy nervously, "and so I stopped Shade 
on the street and axed him would he come along with 
me. Maybe it would do some good if he was to go 
up with us to the mill. They pay more attention to 
a man person. I tell you, Johnnie, the baby's plumb 
broke down and sick." 

The three were moving swiftly along the darkened 
street now. 

"I'm going to teke the children away from Pap," 
Johnnie said in a curious voice, rapid and monotonous, 
as though she were reciting something to herself. " I 
have obliged to do it. There must be a law somewhere. 
God won't let me fail." 

"Huh-uh," grunted Buckheath, instantly. "You 
can't do such a thing. Ef you was married, and yo' 
mother would let you adopt 'em, I reckon the courts 
might agree to that." 

"Shade," Johnnie turned upon him, "you've got 
more influence with Pap Himes than anybody. I 


bcfirre if joo'd talk to him, he'd let me have tlic chOd- 
ichl I could soppoct them now.*' 

**! don't want to fall out with Pap Himcs — far 
nothing'' responded Shade. " If youll saj that jooH 
wed me to-morrow mcMning, I'D go to Pap and gee him 
to give up the chfldren." Neither of them paid anj 
attention to Alandj, who listened open-^rd and 
open-eared to this angular courtship. ''Or lH get 
him to take 'em out of the milL You're rigjhty I ain't 
got a bit of doubt I could do it. And if I dcm't do it, 
you needn't have me." 

An illumination fell upon Johmue's mind. She 
saw that Buckheath was in league with her stepfather, 
and that the pressure was put on according to the 
younger man's ideas, and would be instantty withdrawn 
at his bidding. Yet, when the swift revulsion sucJi 
knowled^ brought with it made her ready to digmiog 
him at once, thought of Deanie's wasted little counten- 
ance, with the red burning hig^ on the sharp, unchildish 
cheekbone, stayed her. For a while she walked with 
bent head. Heavily before her mind's eye went the 
picture of Gray Stoddard among his own people, in 
his own world — where she could never come. 

"Have it your way," she said finally in a suflFering 

" What's that you say ? Are you goin' to take me ?" 
demanded Buckheath, pressing close and reaching 
out a possessive arm to put around her. 

"I said yes/' Johnnie shivered, pushing his hand 
j; " but — but it'll only be when you can come to 



me and tell me that the children are all right. If you 
fail me there, I ^* 

Back at the Victory, downstairs went Reardon*s 
messenger to where Pap Himes was sweating over 
the new machinery. Work always put the old man in 
a sort of incandescent fury, and now as Bob spoke to 
him, he raised an inflamed face, from which the small 
eyes twinkled redly, with a grunt of inquiry. 

"That youngest gal o* yours," the man repeated. 
"She's tryin' to leave her job and go home. Reardon 
said tell you, an* see what you had to say. The Lord 
knows we have trouble enough with those young *uns. 
Fm glad when any of their folks that's got sand is 
around to make 'em behave. I reckon she can't come 
it over you, Gid." 

Himes straightened up with a groan, under any 
exertion his rheumatic old back always punished him 
cruelly for the days of indolence that had let its supple- 
ness depart. 

"Huh ?" he grunted. "Whar's she at.? Up in the 
spinnin' room ? Well, is they enough of you up thar 
to keep her tendin' to business for a spell, till I can 
get this thing levelled ? " He held to the mechanism 
he was adjusting and harangued wheezily from behind 
it. "I cain't drop my job an' canter upstairs every 
time one o' you fellers whistles. The chap ain't more'n 
two foot long. Looks like you-all might hold on to 
her for one while — I'll be thar soon as I can — 'bout 
a hour"; and he returned savagely to his work. 


When Mandy left her, Deanie tried for a time to 
tend her frames; but the endlessly turning spools, 
the edges of the jennies, blurred before her fevered eyes. 
Everything — even her fear of Pap Himes, her dread 
of the room boss — finally became vague in her mind. 
More and more she dreaded little Lissy's well-meant 
visitations; and after nearly an hour she stole toward 
the door, looking half deliriously for Sister Johnnie. 
Nobody noticed in the noisy, flaring room that spool 
after spool on her frame fouled its thread and ceased 
turning, as the little figure left its post and hesitated 
like a scared, small animal toward the main exit. Pap 
Himes, having come to where he could leave his work 
in the basement, climbed painfully the many stairs 
to the spinning room, and met her close to where the 
big belt rose up to the great shaft that gave power 
to every machine in that department. 

The loving master of the big yellow cat had always 
cherished a somewhat clumsily concealed dislike and 
hostility to Deanie. Perhaps there lingered in this 
a touch of half- jealousy of his wife's baby; perhaps 
he knew instinctively that Johnnie's rebellion against 
his tyranny was always strongest where Deanie was 

"Why ain't you on your job .?" he inquired threaten- 
ingly, as the child saw him and made some futile 
attempt to shrink back out of his way. 

" I feel so quare, Pap Himes," the little girl answered 
him, beginning to cry. " I thes' want to lay down and 
go to sleep every minute." 


"Huh!" Pap exploded his favourite expletive till 
it sounded ferocious. "That ain't quare feelin's. 
That's just plain old-fashioned laziness. You git 
yo*self back thar and tend them frames, or I'll " 

"I cain't! I cain't see 'em to tend! I'm right blind 
in the eyes!" wailed Deanie. "I wish Sis' Johnnie 
would come. I wish't she would!" 

"Uh-huh," commented Bob Conley, who had 
strolled up in the old man's wake. "Reckon Sis' 
Johnnie would run things to suit her an' you. Himes, 
you can cuss me out good an' plenty, but I take notice 
you seem to have trouble ma kin' your own family 

"You shut your head," growled Pap. 

Reardon had added himself to the spectators. 

"See here," the foreman argued, "if you say there's 
nothing the matter with that gal, an' she carries on till 
we have to let her go home, she goes for good. I'll 
take her frames away from her." 

Pap felt that a formidable show of authority must 
be made. 

"Git back thar!" he roared, advancing upon the 
child, raising the hand that still held the wrench with 
which he had been working on the machinery down 
stairs. "Git back thar, or I'll make you wish you had. 
When I tell you to do a thing, don't you name Johnnie 
to me. Git back thar!" 

With a faint cry the child cowered away from him. 
It is unlikely he would have struck her with the 
upraised tool he held. Perhaps he did not intend a 


blow at all, but one or two small frame tenders paused 
at the ends of their lanes to watch the scene with avid 
eyes, to extract the last thrill from the sensation that 
was being kindly brought into the midst of their monoto- 
nous toilsome hours; and Lissy, who was creeping up 
anxiously, yet keeping out of the range of Himes's 
eye, crouched as though the hammer had been raised 
over her own head. 

"Johnnie said — " began the little girl, desperately; 
but the old man, stung to greater fury, sprang at her; she 
stumbled back and back; fell against the slowly moving 
belt; her frock caught in the rivets which were just 
passing, and she was instantly jerked from her feet. 
If any one of the three men looking on had taken 
prompt action, the child might have been rescued at 
once; but stupid terror held them motionless. 

At the moment Johnnie, Shade and Mandy, coming 
up the stairs, got sight of the group. Pap with upraised 
hammer, the child in the clutches of imminent death. 

With shrill outcries the other juvenile workers swiftly 
gathered in a crowd. One broke away and fled down 
the long room screaming. 

"You Pony Consadine! Milo! Come here. Pap 
Himes is a-killing yo* sister.*' 

The old man, shaking all through his bulk, stared 
with fallen jaw. Mandy shrieked and leaped up the 
few remaining steps to reach Deanie, who was already 
above the finger-tips of a tall man. 

"Pap! Shade! Quick! Don't you see she'll be 
killed!'* Mandy screamed in frenzy. 


Something in the atmosphere must have made itself 
felt, for no sound could have penetrated the din of the 
weaving room; yet some of the women left their looms 
and came running in behind the two pale, scared little 
brothers, to add their shrieks to the general clamour. 
Deanie's fellow workers, poor little souls, denied their 
childish share of the world's excitements, gazed with 
a sort of awful relish. Only Johnnie, speeding down 
the room away from it all, was doing anything rational 
to avert the catastrophe. The child hung on the slowly 
moving belt, inert, a tiny rag of life, with her mop of 
tangled yellow curls, her white, little face, its blue eyes 
closed. When she reached the top, where the pulley 
was close against the ceiling, her brains would be 
dashed out and the small body dragged to pieces be- 
tween beam and ceiling. 

Those who looked at her realized this. Numbed 
by the inevitable, they made no effort, save Milo, who 
at imminent risk of his own life, was climbing on a 
frame near at hand; but Pony flew at Himes, beating 
the old man with hard-clenched, inadequate fists, and 

"You git her down from thar — git her down this 
minute! She^l be killed, I tell ye! She^l be killed, 
I tell yeV 

Poor Mandy made inarticulate moanings and reached 
up her arms; Shade Buckheath cursed softly under 
his breath; the women and children stared, eager 
to lose no detail. 

"I always have said, and I always shall say, that 


chaps as young as that ain't got no business around 
what machinery's at!" Bob Conley kept shouting over 
and over in a high, strange, mechanical voice, plainly 
quite unconscious that he spoke at all. 

The child was so near the ceiling now that a universal 
groan proceeded from the watchers. Then, all at once 
the belt ceased to move, and the clash and tumult 
were stilled. Johnnie, who had flown to the little 
controlling wheel to throw off the power, came running 
back, crying out in the sudden quiet. 

"Shade — quick — get a ladder! Hold something 
under there 1 She might — Oh, my God ! " for Deanie's 
frock had pulled free and the little form hurled down 
before Johnnie could reach them. But the devoted 
Mandy was there, her futile, inadequate skirts upheld. 
Into them the small body dropped, and together 
the two came to the floor with a dull sort of crunch. 

When Johnnie reached the prostrate pair, Mandy 
was struggling to her knees, gasping; but Deanie lay 
twisted just as she had fallen, the little face sunken and 
deathly, a tiny trickle of blood coming from a corner of 
her parted lips. 

"Oh, my baby! Oh, my baby! They've killed 

my baby! Deanie — Deanie — Deanie !" wailed 


Johnnie was on her knees beside the child, feeling 
her over with tremulous hands. Her face was bleached 
chalk-white, and her eyes stared fearfully at the motion- 
less lips of the little one, from which that scarlet stream 
trickled; but she set her own lips silently. 



Thar — right thar in the side/' groaned Mandy. 
She's all staved in on the side that — my pore little 
Deanie! Oh, I tried to ketch her, but she broke right 
through and pulled my skirts out of my hand and hit 
the floor." 

Pap had drawn nearer on shaking limbs; the children 
crowded so close that Johnnie looked up and motioned 
them back. 

" Shade — you run for a doctor, and hav^ a carriage 
fetched," she ordered briefly. 

"Is — Lord God, is she dead ?" faltered the old man. 

" Ef she ain't dead now, she'll die," Mandy answered 
him shrilly. "They ain't no flesh on her — she's 
run down to a pore little skeleton. That's what the 
factories does to women and children — they jest eats 
'em up, and spits out they' bones." 

"Well, I never aimed to skeer her that-a-way," 
said Himes; "but the little fool ^" 

Johnnie's flaming glance silenced him, and his voice 
died away, a sort of a rasp in his throat. Mechani- 
cally he glanced up to the point on the great belt from 
which the child had fallen, and measured the distance 
to the floor. He scratched his bald head dubiously, 
and edged back from the tragedy he had made. 

"Everybody knows I never hit her," he muttered 
as he went. 



GRAY STODDARD'S eyes had followed Lydia 
Sessions when she went into the hall to speak 
to Shade Buckheath. He had a glimpse of 
Johnnie, too, in the passage; he noted that she later 
left the house with Buckheath (Mandy Meacham was 
beyond his range of vision); and the pang that went 
through him at the sight was a strangely mingled one. 
The talk between him and his hostess had been 
enlightening to both of them. It showed Lydia 
Sessions not only where she stood with Gray, but it 
brought home to her startlingly, and as nothing had 
yet done, the strength of Johnnie's hold upon him; 
while it forced Gray himself to realize that ever since 
that morning when he met the girl on the bridge going 
to put her little brothers and sisters in the Victory mill, 
he had behaved more like a sulky, disappointed lover 
than a staunch friend. He confessed frankly to himself, 
that, had Johnnie been a boy, a young man, instead 
of a beautiful and appealing woman, he would have 
been prompt to go to her and remonstrate — he would 
have made no bones of having the matter out clearly 
and fully. He blamed himself much for the estrange- 
ment which he had allowed to grow between them. He 


LIGHT 257 

knew instinctively about what Shade Buckheath was — 
certainly no fit mate for Johnnie Consadine. And 
for the better to desert her — poor, helpless, unschooled 
girl — could only operate to push her toward the 
worse. These thoughts kept Stoddard wakeful com- 
pany till almost morning. 

Dawn came with a soft wind out of the west, all the 
odours of spring on its breath, and a penitent warmth 
to apologize for last night's storm. Stoddard faced 
his day, and decided that he would begin it with an 
early-morning horseback ride. He called up his stable 
boy over the telephone, and when Jim brought round 
Roan Sultan saddled there was a pause, as of custom, 
for conversation. 

"Heared about the accident over to the Victory, 
Mr. Stoddard?" Jim inquired. 

"No,** said Gray, wheeling sharply. "Anybody 

"One o' Pap Himes's stepchildren mighty near 
killed, they say," the boy told him. "I seen Miss 
Johnnie Consadine when they was bringing the little 
gal down. It seems they sent for her over to Mr. 
Hardwickses where she was at." 

Gray mounted quickly, settled himself in the saddle, 
and glanced down the street which would lead him 
past Himes's place. For months now, he had been 
instinctively avoiding that part of town. Poor Johnnie ! 
She might be a disappointing character, but he knew 
well that she was full of love; he remembered her eyes 
when, nearly a year ago, up in the mist and sweetness 


of April on the Unakas^ she had told him of the baby 
sister and the other little ones. She must be suffering 
now. Almost without reflection he turned his horse's 
head and rode toward the forlorn Himes boarding- 

As he drew near, he noticed a huddled figure at the 
head of the steps, and coming up made it out to be 
Himes himself, sitting, elbows on knees, staring straight 
«ahead of him. Pap had not undressed at all, but he 
had taken out his false teeth "to rest his jaws a spell," 
as he was in the habit of doing, and the result was 
startling. His cheeks were fallen in to such an extent 
that the blinking red eyes above looked larger; it 
was as though the old rascal's crimes of callous self- 
ishness and greed had suddenly aged him. 

Stoddard pulled in his horse at the foot of the steps. 

" I hear one of the little girls was hurt in the mill 
last night. Was she badly injured ? Which one was 
it?" he asked abruptly. 

Hit's Deanie. She's all right," mumbled Pap. 
Got the whole house uptore, and Laurelly miscallin' 
me till I don't know which way to look; and now the 
little dickens is a-goin' to git well all right. Chaps 
is tough, I tell ye. Ye cain't kill *em." 

"You people must have thought so," said Stoddard, 
"or you wouldn't have brought these little ones down 
and hired them to the cotton mill. Johnnie knew what 
that meant." 

The words had come almost involuntarily. The 
old man stared at the speaker, breathing hard. 


LIGHT 259 

"What's Johnnie Consadine got to do with it?" 
he inquired finally. " Tm the stepdaddy of the children 

— and Johnnie's stepdaddy too, for the matter of that 

— and what I say goes." 

"Did you hire the children at the Victory ?" inquired 
Stoddard, swiftly. Back across his memory came the 
picture of Johnnie with her poor little sheep for the 
shambles clustered about her on the bridge before the 
Victory mill. "Did you hire the children to the fac- 
tory?" he repeated. 

"Now Mr. Stoddard," began the old man, between 
bluster and whine, "I talked about them chaps to the 
superintendent of yo' mill, an' you-all said you didn't 
want none of that size. And one o' yo' men — he was 
a room boss, I reckon — spoke up right sassy to me — 
as sassy as Johnnie Consadine herself, and God knows 
she ain't got no respect for them that's set over her. 
I had obliged to let 'em go to the Victory; but I don't 
think you have any call to hold it ag'in me — Johnnie 
was plumb impident about it — plumb impident." 

Stoddard glanced up at the windows and made 
as though to dismount. All night at his pillow had 
stood the accusation that he had been cruel to Johnnie. 
Now, as Himes's revelations went on, and he saw what 
her futile efforts had been, as he guessed a part of her 
sufferings, it seemed he must hurry to her and brush 
away the tangle of misunderstanding which he had 
allowed to grow up between them. 

"They've worked over that thar chap, off an* on, 
all night," the old man said. "Looks like, if they 


keep hit up, she'll b^n to think somediin's the matter 
of her/' 

Gray realized that his visit at this moment would 
be ill'dmed. He would ride on dirough the Gap now, 
and call as he came back. 

^I had obliged to find me a place whar I could hire 
out them chaps/' the miserable old man before him 
went on, garrulously. "They^s nothin' like mill 
work to take the davilment out o' young 'uns. Some 
of them chaps'll call you names and make faces at you, 
even whilst you' goin' through the mill yard — and 
think what they^d be ef they wasn't worked! I'm 
a old man, and when I married Laurelly and took 
the keepin' o' her passel o' chaps on my back, I aimed 
to make it pay. Laurelly, she won't work." 

He looked helplessly at Stoddard, like a child about 
to cry. 

*' She told me up and down that she never had worked 
in no mill, and she was too old to Tarn. She said the 
noise of the thing from the outside was enough to show 
her that she didn't want to go inside — and go she 
would not." 

*' But she let her children go — she and Johnnie/' 
muttered Stoddard, settling himself in his saddle. 

"Well, I'd like to see either of 'em he'p theirselves!" 
returned Pap Himes with a reminscence of his former 
manner. "Johnnie ain't had the decency to give me 
her wages, not once since I've been her pappy; the 
onliest money I ever had from her — 'ceptin' to pay 
her board — was when she tried to buy them chaps 

LIGHT 261 

out o' workin* in the mill. But when I put my foot 
down an* told her that the chillen could work in the 
mill without a beatin' or with one, jest as she might 
see and choose, she had a little sense, and took 'em 
over and hired *em herself. Baylor told me afterward 
that she tried to make him say he didn't want 'em, 
but Baylor and me stands together, an' Miss Johnnie 
failed up on that trick." 

Pap felt an altogether misplaced confidence in the 
view that Stoddard, as a male, was likely to take of 
the matter. 

" A man is obliged to be boss of his own family — 
ain't that so, Mr. Stoddard?" he demanded. "I 
said the chillen had to go into the mill, and into the mill 
they went. They all wanted to go, at the start, and 
Laurelly agreed with me that hit was the right thing. 
Then, just because Deanie happened to a accident 
and Johnnie took up for her, Laurelly has to go off 
into hy-strikes and say she'll quit me soon as she can 
put foot to the ground." 

Stoddard made no response to this, but touched 
Sultan with his heel and moved on. He had stopped 
at the post-office as he came past, taking from his per- 
sonal box one letter. This he opened and read as he 
rode slowly away. Halfway up the first rise, Pap saw 
him rein in and turn; the old man was still staring 
when Gray stopped once more at the gate. 

" See here, Himes," he spoke abruptly, " this concerns 
you — this letter that has just reached me." 

Pap looked at the younger man with mere curiosity. 


*^W1im Johnnie was first g^ven a spinning room 
ID look after/' said Gray, ** she came to Mr. Sessions 
aond myself and asked permission to have a small device 
of her own contrivance used on the frames as an 

Pap shuffled his feet uneasily. 

'^I thought no more about the matter; in fact I've 
not been in the spinning department for — for some 
time." Stoddard looked down at the hand which held 
his bridle, and remembered that he had absented him- 
self from every place that threatened him with the sight 
of Johnnie. 

Pap was breathing audibly through his open mouth. 

" She — she never had nothin' made," he whispered 
out the ready lie hurriedly, scrambling to his feet and 
down the steps, pressing close to Roan Sultan's shoulder, 
laying a wheedling hand on the bridle, looking up 
anxiously into the stem young face above him. 

''Oh, yes, she did," Stoddard returned. "I 
remember, now, hearing some of the children from the 
room say that she had a device which worked well. 
From the description they gave of it, I judge that it 
is the same which this letter tells mc you and Buckheath 
are offering to the Alabama mills. Mr. Trumbull, 
the superintendent, says that you and Buckheath hold 
the patent for this Indicator jointly. As soon as I 
can consult with Johnnie, we will see about the matter." 

Himes let go the roan's bridle and staggered back 
a pace or two, open-mouthed, staring. The skies had 
fallen. His heavy mind turned slowly toward resent- 

LIGHT 263 

ment against Buckheath. He wished the younger 
conspirator were here to take his share. Then the door 
opened and Shade himself came out wiping his mouth. 
He was fresh from the breakfast table, but not on 
his way to the mill, since it was still too early. He 
gave Stoddard a surly nod as he passed through the 
gate and on down the street, in the direction of the 
Inn. Himes, in a turmoil of stupid uncertainty, 
once or twice made as though to detain him. His 
slow wits refused him any available counsel. Dazedly 
he fumbled for something convincing to say. Then 
on a sudden inspiration, he once more laid hold of the 
bridle and began to speak volubly in a hoarse under- 

"W'y, name o' God, Mr. Stoddard! Who should 
have a better right to that thar patent than Buck and 
me ? Fm the gal's stepdaddy, an' he's the man she's 
goin' to wed." 

Some peculiar quality in the silence of Gray Stoddard 
seemed finally to penetrate the old fellow's under- 
standing. He looked up to find the man on horseback 
regarding him, square-jawed, pale, and with eyes angrily 
bright. He glanced over his shoulder at the windows 
of the house behind him, moistened his lips once again, 
gulped, and finally resumed in a manner both whining 
and aggressive. 

"Now, Mr. Stoddard, I want to talk to you mighty 
plain. The whole o' Cottonville is full o' tales about 
you and Johnnie. Yes — that's the truth." 

He stood staring down at his big, shuffling feet, 


laboriously sorting in his own mind such phrases as 
it might do to use. The difficulty of what he had 
to say blocked speech for so long that Stoddard, in 
a curiously quiet voice, finally prompted him. 

"Tales ?" he repeated. "What tales, Mr. Himes ?" 

" Why, they ain't a old woman in town, nor a young 
one neither — I believe in my soul that the young ones 
is the worst — that ain't been talkin' — talkin* bad 
— ever since you took Johnnie to ride in your otty- 

Again there came a long pause. Stoddard stared 
down on Gideon Himes, and Himes stared at Tiis own 

"Well?'' Stoddard's quiet voice once more urged 
his accuser forward. 

Pap rolled his head between his shoulders with a 
negative motion which intimated that it was not well. 

"And lending her books, and all sich," he pursued 
doggedly. "That kind o' carryin' on ain't decent, 
and you know it ain't. Buck knows it ain't — but 
he's willin' to have her. He told her he was willin' 
to have her, and the fool gal let on like she didn't want 
him. He came here to board at my house because 
she wouldn't scarcely so much as speak to him else- 
where. " 

By the light of these statements Stoddard read what 
poor Johnnie's persecution had been. The details 
of it he could not, of course, know; yet he saw in that 
moment largely how she had been harried. At the 
instant of seeing, came that swift and mighty revulsion 

LIGHT 265 

that follows surely when we have misprized and mis- 
understood those dear to us. 

What is it you want of me ?*' he inquired of Himes. 
Why, just this here," Pap told him. "You let 
Johnnie Consadine alone." He leaned even closer 
and spoke in a yet lower tone, because a number of 
girls were emerging from the house and starting down 
the steps. "A big, rich feller like you don't mean any 
good by a girl fixed the way Johnnie is. You wouldn't 
marry her — then let her alone. Things ain't got so 
bad but what Buck is still willin' to have her. You 
wouldn't marry her." 

Stoddard looked down at the shameful old man with 
eyes that were indecipherable. If the impulse was 
strong in him to twist the unclean old throat against 
any further ill-speaking, it gave no heat to the tone 
in which he answered : 

"It's you and your kind that say I mean harm to 
Johnnie, and that I would not marry her. Why 
should I intend ill toward her? Why shouldn't I 
marry her ? I would — I would marry her." 

As he made this, to him the only possible defence 
of the poor girl. Pap faltered slowly back^ uttering a 
gurgling expression of astonishment. With a sense 
of surprise Stoddard saw in his face only dismay and 

" Hit — hit's a lie," Himes mumbled half-heartedly. 
"Ye'd never do it in the world." 

Stoddard gathered up his bridle rein, preparatory 
to moving on. 


"You're an old man, Mr. Himes," he said coldly, 
"and you are excited; but you don't want to say any 
more — that's quite enough of that sort of thing." 

Then he loosened the rein on Roan Sultan, and 
moved away down the street. 

Gideon Himes stood and gazed after him with bulg- 
ing eyes. Gray Stoddard married to Johnnie! He 
tried to adjust his dull wits to the new position of affairs; 
tried to cipher the problem with this amazing new 
element introduced. Last night's scene of violence 
when the injured child was brought home went dismally 
before his eyes. Laurella had said she would leave 
him so soon as she could put foot to the floor. He had 
expected to coax her with gifts and money, with con- 
cessions in regard to the children if it must be; but 
with a rich man for a son-in-law, of course she would 
go. He would never see her face again. And suddenly 
he flung up an arm like a beaten schoolboy and began 
to blubbler noisily in the crook of his elbow. 

An ungentle hand on his shoulder recalled him to 
time and place. 

"For God's sake, what's the matter with you?'* 
inquired Shade Buckheath's voice harshly. 

The old man gulped down his grief and made his 
communication in a few hurried sentences. 

"An' he'll do it," Pap concluded. "He's jest big 
enough fool for anything. Ain't you heard of his 
scheme for having the hands make the money in the 
mill?" (Thus he described a profit-sharing plan.) 
"Don't you know he's given ten thousand dollars to 

LIGHT 267 

start up some sort o' school for the boys and gals to 
learn their trade in ? A man like that'll do anything. 
And if he marries Johnnie, Laurelly'U leave me sure." 

"Leave you!*' echoed Buckheath darkly. "She 
won't have to. If Gray Stoddard marries Johnnie 
Consadine, you and me will just about roost in the 
penitentiary for the rest of our days." 

"The patent!" echoed Pap blankly. He turned 
fiercely on his fellow conspirator. " Now see what ye 
done with yer foolishness," he exclaimed. "Nothin' 
would do ye but to be ofFerin' the contraption for sale, 
and tellin' each and every that hit'd been used in the 
Hardwick mill. Look what a mess yeVe made. I'm 
sorry I ever hitched up with ye. Boy o' yo' age has 
got no sense." 

" How was I to know they'd write to Stoddard ? " 
growled Shade sulkily. "No harm did if hit wasn't 
for him. We've got the patent all right, and Johnnie 
cain't help herself. But him — with all his money — 
he can help her — damn him!" 

"Yes, and he'll take a holt and hunt up about Pros's 
silver mine, too," said Himes. " I've always mistrusted 
the way he's been hangin' round Pros Passmore. 
Like enough he's hearn of that silver mine, and that's 
the reason he's after Johnnie." 

The old man paused to ruminate on this feature of 
the case. He was pleased with his own shrewdness 
in fathoming Gray Stoddard's mysterious motives. 

" Buck," he said finally, with a swift drop to friend- 
liness, "hit's got to be stopped. Can you stop it? 


Didn't you tell me that Johnnie promised last night to 
wed you ? Didn't you say she promised it, when you 
was goin' up to the Victory with her ? " 

Shade nodded. 

" She promised she would if Fd get you to let the 
children stay out of the mill. Deanie's hurt now, and 
you're afraid to make the others go back in the mill 
anyhow, 'count of Laurelly's tongue. I can't hold 
Johnnie to that promise. But — but there's one 
person I want to talk to about this business, and then 
I'll be ready to do something." 



WHILE Himes and Buckheath yet stood thus 
talking, the warning whistles of the various 
mills began to blow. Groups of girls came 
down the steps and stared at the two men conferring 
with heads close together. Mavity Bence put her 
face out at the front door and called. 

"Pap, yo* breakfast is gettin* stone cold.** 

" Do you have to go to the mill right now ? *' inquired 
the older man, timorously. He was already under the 
domination of this swifter, bolder, more fiery spirit. 

" No, I don't have to go anywhere that I don't want 
to. Fve got business with a certain party up this-a- 
way, and when I git to the mill TU be there.*' 

He turned and hurried swiftly up the minor slope 
that led to the big Hardwick home. Pap's fascinated 
eyes following him as long as he was in sight. As the 
young fellow strode along he was turning in his mind 
Lydia Sessions's promise to talk to him this morning 
about Johnnie. 

"But she'll be in bed and asleep, I reckon, at this 
time of day," he ruminated. "The good Lord knows 
I would if I had the chance like she has." 

As he came in sight of the Hardwick house, he 



difckfd iiMwiiriWJfiiy , StaiMfing at the gate, an aston- 
idni^ figpn^ sdD in her cwtMmg (rock, looking haggard 
and oU in the giaf 9 dtsinaskMiiiig lig^ of eaiij mcHiiing, 
was Ljdia Scsaont. Upstaiis, her white bed was 
sm o oth ; its pillows q>iead £air and prim, unpressed 
faj anyr head, since the maid had settled them trimly 
in place the morning before; bat the long rug which 
lan firom her dressing table to the window mi^t have 
told a tale of pacing feet that passed resdessly from 
midnight till dawn; the mirror could have disclosed 
the picture of a white, anxious, and oftm angiy face 
that had stared into it as the woman paused now and 
again to commune with the real Lydia Sessions. 

She was thirty and penniless. She belonged to a 
circle where everybody had money. Her sister had 
married well, and Harriet was no better-looking than 
she. All Lydia Sessions's considerable forces were 
by heredity and training turned into one narrow channel 
— the effort to make a creditable, if not a brilliant, 
match. And she had thou^t she was succeeding. 
Grray Stoddard had seemed seriously interested. In 
those long night watches while the lights flared on 
either side of her mirror, and the luxurious room of 
a modem young lady lay disclosed, with all its sumptu- 
ous fittings of beauty and inutility, Lydia went over 
her plans of campaign. She was a suitable match for 
him — anybody would say so. He had liked her — 
he had liked her well enough — till he got interested 
in this mill girl. They had never agreed on anything 
^ming Johnnie Consadine. If that element were 


A PACT 271 

eliminated to-morrow, she knew she could go back 
and pick up the thread of their intimacy which had 
promised so well, and, she doubted not at all, twist it 
safely into a marriage-knot. If Johnnie were only 
out of the way. If she would leave Cottonville. If 
she would marry that good-looking mechanic who 
plainly wanted her. How silly of her not to take him! 

Toward dawn, she snatched a little cape from the 
garments hanging in the closet, flung it over her 
shoulders and ran downstairs. She must have a breath 
of fresh air. So, in the manner of helpless creatures 
who cannot go out in the highway to accost fate, she 
was standing at the gate when she caught sight of 
Shade Buckheath approaching. Here was her oppor- 
tunity. She must be doing something, and the nearest 
enterprise at hand was to foster and encourage this 
young fellow's pursuit of Johnnie. 

"I wanted to talk to you about a very particular 
matter," she broke out nervously, as soon as Buckheath 
was near enough to be addressed in the carefully 
lowered tone which she used throughout the interview. 
She continually huddled the light cape together at the 
neck with tremulous, unsteady fingers; and it was 
characteristic of these two that, although the woman 
had heard of the calamity at the Victory mill the night 
before, and knew that Shade came directly from the 
Himes home, she made no inquiry as to the welfare 
of Deanie, and he offered no information. He gave 
no reply in words to her accost, and she went on, with 
increasing agitation. 


**l — this matter ou^t to be attended to at once. 
Something's got to be done. I've attempted to improve 
the social and spiritual conditions of these girls in the 
mill, and if I've only worked harm by bringing them 
in contact with — in contact with ^" 

She hesitated and stood looking into the man's 
face. Buckheath knew exactly what she wished to 
say. He was impatient of the flummery she found it 
necessary to wind around her simple proposition; 
but he was used to women, he understood them; 
and to him a woman of Miss Sessions's class was no 
different from a woman of his own. 

*^ I reckon you wanted to name it to me about Johnnie 
Consadine/' he said bluntly. 

" Yes — yes, that was it," breathed Lydia Sessions, 
glancing back toward the house with a frightened air. 
"John is — she's a good girl, Mr. Buckheath; I beg 
of you to believe me when I assure you that John is a 
good, honest, upright girl. I would not think anything 
else for a minute; but it seems to me that somebody has 
to do something, or — or " 

Shade raised his hand to his mouth to conceal the 
swift, sarcastic smile on his lips. He spat toward the 
pathside before agreeing seriously with Miss Lydia. 

"Her and me was promised, before she come down 
here and got all this foolishness into her head," he said 
finally. "Her mother never could do anything with 
Johnnie. Looks like Johnnie's got more authority — 
her mother's tnore like a little girl to her than the other 
way round. Her uncle Pros has been crazy in the 

A PACT 273 

hospital, and Pap Himes, her stepfather — well, I 
reckon she's the only human that ever had to mind 
Pap and didn't do it." 

This somewhat ambiguous statement of the case 
failed to bring any smile to his hearer's lips. 

"There's no use talking to John herself," Miss 
Lydia took up the tale feverishly. "I've done that, 
and it had no effect on — . Well, of course she would 
say that she didn't encourage him to the things I saw 
afterward; but I know that a man of his sort does not 
do things without encouragement, and — Mr. Buck- 
heath don't you think you ought to go right to Mr. 
Stoddard and tell him that John is your promised wife, 
and show him the folly and — and the wickedness of 
his course — or what would be wickedness if he per- 
sisted in it ? Don't you think you ought to do that ?" 

Shade held down his head and appeared to be giving 
this matter some consideration. The weak point of 
such an argument lay in the fact that Johnnie was not 
his promised wife, and Gray Stoddard was very likely 
to know it. Indeed, Lydia Sessions herself only 
believed the statement because she so wished. 

" I reckon I ort," he said finally. " If I could ever get 
a chance of private speech with him, mebbe I'd ^" 

There came a sound of light hoofs down the road, and 
Stoddard on Roan Sultan, riding bareheaded, came 
toward them under the trees. 

Miss Sessions clutched the gate and stood staring. 
Buckheath drew a little closer, set his shoulder against 
the fence and tried to look unconcerned. The rising 


son behind the mountains threw long slant rays across 
into the bare tree tops, so that the shimmer of it dappled 
horse and man. Gray's face was pale, his brow looked 
anxious; but he rode head up and alert, and glanced 
with surprise at the two at the Sessions gate. He 
had no hat to raise, but he saluted Lydia Sessions 
with a sweeping gesture of the hand and passed on. A 
blithe, gallant figure cantering along the suburban 
road, out toward the Gap, and the mountains beyond. 
Gray Stoddard rode into the dip of the ridge and — so 
far as Cottonville was concerned — vanished utterly. 

Buckheath drew a long breath and straightened up. 

"Fm but a poor man," he began truculently, "yit 
there ain't nobody can marry the gal I set out to wed 
and me stand by and say nothing." 

"Oh, Mr. Buckheath!" cried Miss Lydia. "Mr. 
Stoddard had no idea of marrying John — a mill girl ! 
There is no possibility of any such thing as that. I 
want you to understand that there isn't — to feel 
assured, once for all. I have reason to know, and I 
urge you to put that out of your mind." 

Shade looked at her narrowly. Up to the time Pap 
gave him definite information from headquarters, 
he had never for an instant supposed that there was a 
possibility of Stoddard desiring to marry Johnnie; 
but the flurried eagerness of Miss Sessions convinced 
him that such a possibility was a very present dread 
with her, and he sent a venomous glance after the 
disappearing horseman. 

"You go and talk to him right now, Mr. Buckheath/' 

A PACT 275 

insisted Lydia anxiously. "Tell him, just as you have 
told me, how long you and John have been engaged, 
and how devoted she was to you before she came down 
to the mill. You appeal to him that way. You can 
overtake him — I mean you can intercept him — if 
you start right on now — cut across the turn, and go 
through the tunnel." 

" If I go after him to talk to him, and we — uh — 
we have an interruption — are you going to tell every- 
body you see about it?'* demanded Shade sharply, 
staring down at the woman. 

She crouched a little, still clinging to the pickets 
of the gate. The word "interruption" only conveyed 
to her mind the suggestion that they might be interfered 
with in their conversation. She did not recollect the 
mountain use of it to describe a quarrel, an outbreak, 
or an affray. 

"No," she whispered. "Oh, certainly not — Fll 
never tell anything that you don*t want me to." 

"All right," returned Buckheath hardily. "If you 
won't, I won't. If you name to people that I was the 
last one saw with Mr. Stoddard, I shall have obliged to 
tell 'em of what you and me was talkin' about when he 
passed us. You see that, don't you ?" 

She nodded silently, her frightened eyes on his face; 
and without another word he set off at that long, swing- 
ing pace which belongs to his people. Lydia turned 
and ran swiftly into the house, and up the stairs to her 
own room. 



WHEN Stoddard did not come to his desk that 
morning the matter remained for a time 
unnoticed, except by McPherson, who fret- 
ted a bit at so unusual a happening. Truth to tell, the 
old Scotchman had dreaded having this rich young 
man for an associate, and had put a rod in pickle for 
his chastisement. When Stoddard turned out to be a 
regular worker, punctual, amenable to discipline, he 
congratulated himself, and praised his assistant, but 
warily. Now came the first delinquency, and in his 
heart he cared more that Stoddard should absent 
himself without notice than for the pile of letters lying 

"Dave," he finally said to the yellow office boy, "I 
wish you'd 'phone to Mr. Stoddard's place and see 
when he'll be down." 

Dave came back with the information that Mr. 
Stoddard was not at the house; he had left for an 
early-morning ride, and not returned to his breakfast. 

"He'll just about have stopped up at the Country 
Club for a snack," MacPherson muttered to himself. 
"I wonder who or what he found there attractive 
enough to keep him from his work." 


Looking into Gray's office at noon, the closed desk 
with Its pile of mail once more oiFended MacPherson's 

"Mr. Stoddard here?" Inquired Hartley Sessions, 
glancing in at the same moment. 

"No, I think not,** returned the Scotchman, unwilling 
to admit that he did not exactly know, "I believe 
he's up at the club. Perhaps he's got tangled in for 
a longer game of golf than he reckoned on.'* 

This unintentional and wholly innocent falsehood 
stopped any inquiry that there might have been. 
MacPherson had meant to 'phone the club during the 
day, but he failed to do so, and it was not until evening 
that he walked up himself to put more cautious 

"No, sah — no, sah, Mr. Gray ain't been here," 
the Negro steward told him promptly. " I sure would 
have remembered, sah," in answer to a startled inquiry 
from MacPherson. "Dey been havin' a big game on 
between Mr. Charley Conroy and Mr. Hardwick, 
and de bofe of 'em spoke of Mr. Gray, and said dey 
was expectin' him to play." 

MacPherson came down the stone steps of the club- 
house, gravely disquieted. Below him the road wound, 
a dimly conjectured, wavering gray ribbon; on the 
other side of it the steep slope took off to a gulf of inky 
shadow, where the great valley lay, hushed under the 
solemn stars, silent, black, and shimmering with a 
myriad pulsating electric lights which glowed like 
swarms of fireflies caught in an invisible net. That 


was Watauga. The strings of brilliants that led from 
It were arc lights at switch crossings where the great 
railway lines rayed out. Near at hand was Cottonville 
with its vast bulks of lighted mills whose hum came 
faintly up to him even at this distance. MacPherson 
stood uncertainly in the middle of the road. Supper 
and bed were behind him. But he had not the heart 
to turn back to either. Somewhere down in that abyss 
of night, there was a clue — or there were many clues — 
to this strange absence of Gray Stoddard. Perhaps 
Gray himself was there; and the Scotchman cursed 
his own dilatoriness in waiting till darkness had covered 
the earth before setting afoot inquiries. 

He found himself hurrying and getting out of breath 
as he took his way down the ridge and straight to Stod- 
dard's cottage, only to find that the master's horse was 
not in the stable, and the Negro boy who cared for it 
had seen nothing of it or its rider since five o'clock that 

"I wonder, now, should I give the alarm to Hard- 
wick," MacPherson said to himself. " The lad may have 
just ridden on to La Fayette, or some little nearby town, 
and be staying the night. Young fellows sometimes 
have affairs they'd rather not share with everybody — 
and then, there's Miss Lydia. If I go up to Hardwick's 
with the story, she'll be sure to hear it from Hardwick's 

**Did Mr. Stoddard ever go away like this before 
without giving you notice?" he asked with apparent- 


The boy shook his head in vigorous negative. 

"Never since IVe been working for him," he asserted. 
"Mr. Stoddard wasn't starting anywhere but for his 
early ride — at least he wasn't intending to. He 
hadn't any hat on, and he was in his riding clothes. 
He didn't carry anything with him. I know in reason 
he wasn't intending to stay." 

This information sent MacPherson hurrying to the 
Hardwick home. Dinner was over. The master of 
the house conferred with him a moment in the vestibule, 
then opened the door into the little sitting room and 
asked abruptly: 

"When was the last time any of you saw Gray 

His sister-in-law screamed faintly, then cowered in 
her chair and stared at him mutely. But Mrs. Hard- 
wick as yet noted nothing unusual. 

" Yesterday evening," she returned placidly. " Don't 
you remember, Jerome, he was here at the Lyric 

"Oh, I remember well enough," said Hardwick 
knitting his brows. "I thought some of you might 
have seen him since then. He's missing." 

"Missing!" echoed Lydia Sessions with a note of 
terror in her tones. 

Now Mrs. Hardwick looked startled. 

"But, Jerome, I think you're inconsiderate," she 
began, glancing solicitously at her sister. "Under the 
circumstances, it seems to me you might have made 
your announcement more gently — to Lydia, anyhow. 


Never mind, dearie — there's nothing in it to be 
frightened at/' 

**rm not frightened/' whispered Lydia Sessions 
through white lips that belied her assertion. Hardwick 
looked impatiently from his sister-in-law to his wife. 

"I'm sorry if I startled you, Lydia," he said in a 
perfunctory tone, "but this is a serious business. 
MacPherson tells me Stoddard hasn't been at the 
factory nor at his boarding-house to-day. The last 
person who saw him, so far as we know, is his stable 
boy. Black Jim says Stoddard rode out of the gate 
at five o'clock this morning, bareheaded and in his 
riding clothes. Have any of you seen him since — 
that's what I want to know ?" 

"Since?" repeated Miss Sessions, who seemed 
unable to get beyond the parrot echoing of her ques- 
tioner's words. "Why Jerome, what makes you think 
I've seen him since then ? Did he say — did anybody 
tell you ^" 

She broke off huskily and sat staring at her interlaced 
fingers dropped in her lap. 

"No — no. Of course not, Lydia," her sister 
hastened to reassure her, crossing the room and putting 
a protecting arm about the girl's shoulders. "He 
shouldn't have spoken as he did, knowing that you 
and Gray — knowing how affairs stand." 

"Well, I only thought since you and Stoddard are 
such great friends," Hardwick persisted, "he might 
have mentioned to you some excursion, or made oppor- 
tunity to talk with you alone, sometime last night — 


to — to say something. Did he tell you where he was 
going, Lydia ? Are you keeping something from 
us that we ought to know? Remember this is no 
child's play. It begins to look as though it might be 
a question of the man's life." 

Lydia Sessions started galvanically. She pushed 
off her sister's caressing hand with a fierce gesture. 

"There's nothing — no such relation as you're 
hinting at, Elizabeth, between Gray Stoddard and me," 
she said sharply. Memory of what Gray had (as she 
supposed) followed her into the library to say to her 
wrung a sort of groan from the girl. "I suppose 
Matilda's told you that we had — had some conversa- 
tion in the library," she managed to say. 

Her brother-in-law shook his head. 

"We haven't questioned the servants yet," he said 
briefly. " We haven't questioned anybody nor hunted up 
any evidence. MacPherson came direct to me from 
Stoddard's stable boy. Gray did stop and talk to you 
last night? What did he say?" 

"I — why nothing in — I really don't remember," 
faltered Lydia, with so strange a look that both her 
sister and Hardwick looked at her in surprise. "That 
is — oh, nothing of any importance, you know. I — I 
believe we were talking about socialism, and — and 
different classes of people. . . • That sort of thing." 

MacPherson, who had pushed unceremoniously into 
the room behind his employer, nodded his gray head. 
"That would always be what he was speaking of." 
He smiled a little as he said it. 


"AH right/' returned Hardwick, struggling into his 
overcoat at the hat-tree, and seeking his hat and stick, 
" ril go right back with you, Mac. This thing some- 
how has a sinister look to me/' 

As the two men were leaving the house, Hardwick 
felt a light, trembling touch on his arm, and turned to 
face his sister-in-law. 

"Why — Jerome, why did you say that last?'' 
Lydia quavered. "What do you think has happened 
to him ? Do you think anybody — that is — ? Oh, 
you looked at me as though you thought I had some- 
thing to do with it!" 

" Come, come, Lyd. Pull yourself together. You're 
getting hysterical," urged Hardwick kindly. Then he 
turned to MacPherson. As the two men went compan- 
ionably down the walk and out into the street, the 
Scotchman said apologetically: 

" Of course, I knew Miss Lydia would be alarmed. I 
understand about her and Stoddard. It made me hesitate 
a while before coming up to you folks with the thing." 

"Well, by the Lord, you did well not to hesitate too 
long, Mac!" ejaculated Hardwick. "I shouldn't feel 
the anxiety I do if we hadn't been having trouble with 
those mountain people up toward Flat Rock over that 
girl that died at the hospital." He laughed a little 
ruefully. "Trying to do things for folks is ticklish 
business. There wasn't a man in the crowd that inter- 
viewed me whom I could convince that our hospital 
wasn't a factory for the making of stiffs which we sold 
to the Northern Medical College. Oh, it was gruesome 1 


I told them the girl had had every attention, and that 
she died of pernicious anaemia. They called it *a 
big die word* and asked me point blank if the girl 
hadn^t been killed in the mill. I told them that we 
couldn^t keep the body indefinitely, and they said they 
'aimed to come and haul it away^as soon as they could 
get a horse and wagon.' I called their attention to 
the fact that I couldn't know this unless they wrote 
and told me so in answer to my letter. But between 
you and me, Mac, I don't believe there was a man in 
the crowd who could read or write." 

"For God's sake!" exclaimed the Scotchman. 
"You don't think those people were up to doing a 
mischief to Stoddard, do you ?" 

" I don't know what to think," protested Hardwick. 
"Yes; they are mediaeval — half savage. The fact 
is, I have no idea what they would or what they 
wouldn't do." 

MacPherson gave a whistle of dismay. 

" Gad, it sounds like the manoeuvres of one of our 
HighUnd* clans three hundred years ago!" he said. 
" Wouldn't it be the irony of fate that Stoddard — poor 
fellow! — a friend of the people, a socialist, ready to 
call every man his brother — should be sacrificed in 
such a way?" 

The words brought them to Stoddard's little home, 
silent and deserted now. Down the street, the lamps 
flared gustily. It was after eleven o'clock. 

"Where does that boy live that takes care of the 
horses — black Jim ?" Hardwick inquired, after they 


iad wmug the bell, thumped on the door, and called, 
Qto) naike sure the master had not returned during 
MacnierscNi's absence. 

**I don't know — really, I dcm't know. He mig^t 
loiTe a room over the stable," MacPherson suggested. 

But die stable proved to be a one-stoiy affair, and 
they were just turning to leave when a stamping sound 
within arrested their notice. 

"Good God! — ^at's that?** ejaculated Mac- 
Pherson, whose nerves were quivering. 

**It's the horse," answered Hardwick in a relieved 
tone. "Stoddard's got back ** 

"Of course," broke in old MacPherson, quickly, 
"and gone over to Mrs. Gandish's for some supper. 
That is why he wasn't in the house." 

To make assurance doubty sure, they opened the 
unlocked stable door, and MacPherson struck a match. 
The roan turned and whinnied hungrily at sight of them. 

"That's funny," said Hardwick, scarcely above his 
breath. " It looks to me as though that animal hadn't 
been fed." 

In the flare of the match MacPherson had descried 
the stable lantern hanging on the wall. They lit this 
and examined the stall. There was no feed in the box, 
no hay in the manger. The saddle was on Gray 
Stoddard's horse; the bit in his mouth; he was tied by 
the reins to his stall ring. The two men looked at each 
other with lengthening faces. 

" Stoddard's too good a horseman to have done diaty" 
spoke Hardwick slowly. 


" And too kind a man/* supplied MacPherson loyally. 
" He'd have seen to the beast's hunger before he satisfied 
his own." 

As the Scotchman spoke he was picking up the horse's 
hoofs, and digging at them with a bit of stick. 

"They're as clean as if they'd just been washed," 
he said, as he straightened up. " By Heaven ! I have 
it, Hardwick — that fellow came into town with his 
hoofs muffled." 

The younger man looked also, and assented mutely, 
then suggested: 

" He hasn't come far; there's not a hair turned on him." 

The Scotchman shook his head. "I'm not sure of 
that," he debated. "Likely he's been led, and that 
slowly. God — this is horrible!" 

Mechanically Hardwick got some hay down for the 
horse, while MacPherson pulled off the saddle and 
bridle, examining both in the process. Grain was 
poured into the box, and then water offered. 

"He won't drink," murmured the Scotchman, 
"D'ye see, Hardwick ? He won't drink. You can't 
come into Cottonville without crossing a stream. 
This fellow's hoofs have been wet within an hour — 
yes, within the half-hour." 

As their eyes encountered, Hardwick caught his 
breath sharply; both felt that chill of the cuticle, that 
stirring at the roots of the hair, that marks the passing 
close to us of some sinister thing — stark murder, 
or man's naked hatred walking in the dark beside our 
cheerful, commonplace path. By one consent they 


turned back from the stable and went together to Mrs. 
Gandish's. The house was dark. 

"Of course, you know I don't expect to find him 
here/' said Hardwick. "I don't suppose they know 
anything about the matter. But we've got to wake 
them and ask." 

They did so, and set trembling the first wave of that 
widening ring of horror which finally informed the 
remotest boundaries of the little village that a man 
from their midst was mysteriously missing. 

The morning found the telegraph in active requisi- 
tion, flashing up and down all lines by which a man 
might have left Cottonville or Watauga. The police 
of the latter place were notified, furnished with informa- 
tion, and set to find out if possible whether anybody 
in the city had seen Stoddard since he rode away on 
Friday morning. 

The inquiries were fruitless. A young lady visiting 
in the city had promised him a dance at the Valentine 
masque to be held at the Country Club-house Friday 
night. Some clothing put out a few days before to be 
cleaned and pressed was ready for delivery. His 
laundry came home. His mail arrived punctually. 
The postmaster stated that he had no instructions for a 
change of address; all the little accessories of Gray 
Stoddard's life offered themselves, mute, impressive 
witnesses that he had intended to go on with it in Cotton- 
ville. But Stoddard himself had dropped as completely 
out of the knowledge of man as though he had been 
whisked off the planet. 



THE fruitless search was vigorously prosecuted. 
On Saturday the Hardwick mill ran short- 
handed while nearly half its male employees 
made some effort to solve the mystery. Parties combed 
again and again the nearer mountains. Sunday all 
the mill operatives were free; and then groups of women 
and children added themselves to the men; dinners 
were taken along, lending a grotesque suggestion of 
picnicking to the work, a suggestion contradicted by 
the anxious faces, the strained timbre of the voices that 
called from group to group. But night brought the 
amateur searchers straggling home with nothing to 
tell. It should have been significant to any one who 
knew the mountain people, that information concerning 
Gray Stoddard within a week of his disappearance, was 
noticeably lacking. Nobody would admit that his had 
been a familiar figure on those roads. At the utmost 
they had "seed him a good deal a while ago, but heM 
sorter quit riding up this-a-way of late.'* But on no 
road could there be found man, woman, or child who 
had seen Gray Stoddard riding Friday morning on his 
roan horse. The whole outlying district seemed to be 
in a conspiracy of silence. 


In Watauga and in Cottonville itself, clues were 
found by the police, followed up and proved worthless. 
All Cray's Eastern connections were immediately 
communicated with by telegraph, in the forlorn hope 
of finding some internal clue. The business men in 
charge of his large Eastern interests answered promptly 
that nothing from recent correspondence with him 
pointed to any intention on his part of making a 
journey or otherwise changing his ordinary way of 
living. They added urgent admonitions to Mr. Mac- 
Pherson to have locked up in the Company's safe 
various important papers which they had sent, at 
Stoddard's request, for signature, and which they 
supposed from the date, must be lying with his other 
mail. A boyhood friend telegraphed his intention 
of coming down from Massachusetts and joining the 
searchers. Stoddard had no near relatives. A grand- 
aunt, living in Boston, telegraphed to Mr. Hardwick 
to see that money be spent freely. 

Meantime there was reason for Johnnie Consadine, 
shut in the little sister's sick room day and night, to 
hear nothing of these matters. Lissy had been allowed 
to help wait upon the injured child only on promise 
that nothing exciting should be mentioned. Both 
boys had instantly begged to join a searching party, 
Milo insisting that he could work all night and search 
all day, and that nobody should complain that he 
neglected his job. Pony, being refused, had run away; 
Milo the rulable followed to get him to return; and by 
Sunday night Mavity was feeding both boys from the 


back door and keeping them out of sight of Pap's 
vengeance. Considering that Johnnie had trouble 
enough, she cautioned everybody on the place to say 
nothing of these matters to the girl. Mandy, a feeble, 
unsound creature at best, was more severely injured 
than had been thought. She was confined to her bed 
for days. Pap went about somewhat like a whipped 
dog, spoke little on any subject, and tolerated no 
mention of the topic of the day in Cottonville; his face 
kept the boarders quiet at table and in the house, any- 
how. Shade Buckheath never entered the place after 
Deanie was carried in from the hastily summoned 
carriage Thursday night. 

The doctors told them that if Deanie survived the 
shock and its violent reaction, she had a fair chance of 
recovery. They found at once that she was not inter- 
nally injured; the blood that had been seen came only 
from a cut lip. But the child's left arm was broken, the 
small body was dreadfully bruised, and the terror had 
left a profound mental disturbance. Nothing but 
quiet and careful nursing offered any good hope; while 
there was the menace that she would never be strong 
again, and might not live to womanhood. 

At first she lay with half-closed, glazed eyes, barely 
breathing, a ghastly sight. Then, when she roused a 
bit, she wanted, not Lissy, not even Johnnie; she 
called for her mother. 

When her child was brought home to her, dying as 
they all thought, Laurella had rallied her forces and 
got up from the pallet on which she lay to tend on the 


Htde thing; but she broke down in the course of a few 
hours, and seemed about to add another patient to 
Johnnie^s cares. 

Yet when the paroxysms of terror shook the emaciated 
frame, and the others attempted to reassure Deanie by 
words, it was her mother who called for a bit of gay 
calico, for scissors and needle and thread, and began 
dressing a doll in the little sufferer's sight. Laurella 
had carried unspoiled the faculty for play, up with her 
through the years. 

"Let her be,'* the doctor counselled Johnnie, in 
reply to anxious inquiries. "Don't you see she's 
getting the child's attention .? The baby notices. An 
ounce of happiness is worth a pound of any medicine 
I could bring." 

And so, when Laurella could no longer sit up, they 
brought another cot for her, and she lay all day babbling 
childish nonsense, and playing dolls within hand- 
reach of the sick-bed; while Johnnie with Lissy's help, 
tended on them both. 

"You've got two babies now, you big, old, solemn 
Johnnie," Laurella said, with a ghost of her spark- 
ling smile. "Deanie and me is just of one age, and 
that's a fact." 

If Pap wanted to see his young wife — and thirst 
for a sight of her was a continual craving with him; 
she was the light of the old sinner's eyes — he had to 
go in and look on the child he had injured. This 
kept him away pretty effectually after that first fiery 
scene, when Laurella had flown at him like a fierce little 


vixen and told him that she never wanted to see his 
face again, that she rued the day she married him, and 
intended to leave him as soon as she cbuld put foot to 
the ground. 

In the gray dawn of Monday morning, when Johnnie 
was downstairs eating her bit of early breakfast, Pap 
shambled in to make Laurella^s fire. Having got the 
hickory wood to blazing, he sat humped and shame- 
faced by the bedside a while, whispering to his wife and 
holding her hand, a sight for the student of man to 
marvel at. He had brought a paper of coarse, cheap 
candy for Deanie, but the child was asleep. The 
offering was quite as acceptable to Laurella, and she 
nibbled a stick as she listened to him. 

The bald head with its little fringe of grizzled curls, 
bent close to the dark, slant-browed, lustrous-eyed, 
mutinous countenance; Pap whispered hoarsely for 
some time, Laurella replying at first in a sort of lan- 
guid tolerance, but presently with little ejaculations 
of wonder and dismay. A step on the stair which 
he took to be Johnnie's put Himes to instant flight. 

"Tve got to go honey,*' he breathed huskily. 
"Cain't you say you forgive me before I leave? I 
know I ain't fitten fer the likes of you; but when I 
come back from this here raid I'm a-goin' to take some 
money out of the bank and git you whatever you want. 
Look-a-here; see what I've done," and he showed a 
little book in his hand, and what he had written in it. 

"Oh — I forgive you, if that's any account to you," 
returned Laurella with kindly contempt. "I never 


noticed that forgiving things undid the harm any; 
but — yes — oh, of course I forgive you. Go along; 
I'm tired now. Don't bother me any more, Gid; 
I want to sleep." 

The old man thrust the treasured bankbook under 
Laurella's pillow, and hurried away. Downstairs in 
the dining room Johnnie was eating her breakfast. 

''Johnnie," said Mavity Bence, keeping behind the 
girl's chair as she served the meal to her at the end of 
the long table, " I ain't never done you a meanness yet, 
have I ? And you know I've got all the good will in 
the world toward you — now don't you ?" 

"Why, of course. Aunt Mavity," returned Johnnie 
wonderingly, trying to get sight of the older woman's 

Mrs. Bence took a plate and hurried out for more 
biscuits. She came back with some resolution plainly 
renewed in her mind. 

" Johnnie," she began once more, " there's something 
I've got to tell you. Your Uncle Pros has got away 
from 'em up at the hospital, and to the hills, and — and 
— I have obliged to tell you." 

" Yes, I know," returned Johnnie passively. " They 
sent me word last night. I'm sorry, but I can't do 
anything about it. Maybe he won't come to any harm 
out that way. I can't imagine Uncle Pros hurting 
anybody. Perhaps it will do him good." 

"Hit wasn't about your Uncle Pros that I was 
meaning. At least not about his gettin' away from the 
hospital," amended Mavity. "It was about the day 


he got hurt here. I — I always aimed to tell you. 
I know I ort to have done it. I was always a-goin' 
to, and then — Pap — he '* 

She broke off and stood silent so long that Johnnie 
turned and looked at her. 

"Surely you aren't afraid of me, Aunt Mavity,'* 
she said finally. 

"No," said Mavity Bence in a low voice, "but I'm 
scared of — the others.'* 

The girl stared at her curiously. 

Johnnie," burst out the woman for the third time, 
yo' Uncle Pros found his silver mine! Oh, yes, he 
did; and Pap's got his pieces of ore upstairs in a ban- 
danner; and him and Shade Buckheath aims to git it 
away from you-all and — oh, I don't know what!" 

There fell a long silence. At last Johnnie's voice 
broke it, asking very low: 

"Did they — how was Uncle Pros hurt?" 

"Neither of 'em touched him," Mavity hastened 
to assure her. " He heard 'em name it how they'd get 
the mine from him — or thought he did — and he come 
out and talked loud, and grabbed for the bandanner, 
and he missed it and fell down the steps. He wasn't 
crazy when he come to the house. He was jest plumb 
wore out, and his head was hurt. He called it yo' 
silver mine. He said he had to put the bandanner 
in yo' lap and tell you hit was for you." 

Johnny got suddenly to her feet 

" Thank you. Aunt Mavity," she said kindly. "This 
is what's been troubling you, is it ? Don't worry any 


more, Til see about this, somehow. I must go back 
to Mother now/' 

Laurella had said to Pap Himes that she wanted to 
sleep, and indeed her eyes were closed when Johnnie 
entered the room; but beneath the shadow of the 
sweeping lashes burned such spots of crimson that her 
nurse was alarmed. 

" What was Pap Himes saying to you to get you so 
excited ? ** she asked anxiously. 

" Johnnie, come here. Sit down on the edge of the 
bed and listen to me,** demanded Laurella feverishly. 
She laid hold of her daughter's arm, and half pulled 
herself up by it, staring into Johnnie's face as she talked; 
and out tumbled the whole story of Gray Stoddard's 

As full understanding of what her mother said came 
home to Johnnie, her eyes dilated in her pale face. 
She sank to her knees beside the bed. 

** Lost ! " she echoed. " Lost — gone ! Hasn't been 
seen since Friday morning — Friday morning before 
sunup! Friday, Saturday, Sunday. My God, Mother 
— it's three days and three nights!" 

"Yes, honey, it's three days and three nights," 
assented Laurella fearfully. "Gid says he's going up 
in the mountains with a lot of others to search. He 
says some thinks the moonshiners have taken him 
in mistake for a revenuer; and some believe it was 
robbery — for his watch and money; and Mr. Hard- 
wick is blaming it on the Groner crowd that raised 
up such a fuss when Lura Dawson died in the hospital 


here. Gid says they've searched every ridge and 
valley this side of Big Unaka. He — Johnnie, he 
says he believes Mr. Stoddard suicided." 

Where is Shade Buckheath?" whispered Johnnie. 

Shade's been out with mighty nigh every crowd 
that went/' Laurella told her. "Mr. Hardwick pays 
them wages, just the same as if they were in the mill. 
Shade's going with Gid this morning, in Mr. Stoddard's 

"Are they gone — oh, are they gone?" Johnnie 
sprang to her feet in dismay, and stood staring a 
moment. Then swiftly she bent once more over the 
little woman in the bed. "Mother," she said before 
Laurella could speak or answer her, "Aunt Mavity 
can wait on you and Deanie for a little while — with 
what help Lissy will give you — can't she, honey ? 
And Mandy was coming downstairs to her breakfast 
this morning — she's able to be afoot now — and I 
know she'll be wanting to help tend on Deanie. You 
could get along for a spell without me — don't you 
think you could ? Honey," she spoke desperately. " I've 
just got to find Shade Buckheath — I must see him." 

"Sure, we'll get along all right, Johnnie," Laurella 
put in eagerly. She tugged at a corner of the pillow, 
fumbled thereunder with her little brown hand, and 
dragging out Pap Himes's bankbook, showed it to 
her daughter, opening at that front page where Pap's 
clumsy characters made Laurella Himes free of all his 
savings. "You go right along, Johnnie, and see cain't 
you help about Mr. Stoddard. Looks like I cain't 



bear to think. . . the pore boy . . . you go 
on — me and Deanie'll be all right till you get back/' 

Johnnie stooped and kissed the cheek with its fever- 
ish flush. 

Good-bye, Mommie," she whispered hurriedly. 

Don't worry about me. Til be back — . Well, don't 
worry. Good-bye." She snatched a coat and hat, 
and, going out, closed the door quietly behind her. 

She stepped out into the dancing sunlight of an early 
spring morning. The leafless vine on Mavity Bence's 
porch rattled dry stems against the lattice work in a 
gay March wind. Taking counsel with herself for 
a moment, she started swiftly down the street in the 
direction of the mills. In the office they told her that 
Mr. Hardwick had gone to Nashville to see about getting 
bloodhounds; MacPherson was following his own 
plan of search in Watauga. She was permitted to go 
down into the mechanical department and ask the head 
of it about Shade Buckheath. 

No, he ain't here," Mr. Ramsey told her promptly. 

We're running so short-handed that I don't know 
how to get along; and if I try to get an extra man, I 
find he's out with the searchers. I sent up for Himes 
yesterday, but him and Buckheath was to go together 
to-day, taking Mr. Stoddard's car, so as to get further 
up into the Unakas." 

Johnnie felt as though the blood receded from her 
face and gathered all about a heart which beat to suffo- 
cation. For a wild moment she had an impulse to 
denounce Buckheath and her stepfather. But almost 



instantly she realized that she would weaken her cause 
and lose all chance of assistance by doing so. Her 
standing in the mill was excellent, and as she ran up the 
stairs she was going over in her mind the persons to 
whom she might take her story. She found no one from 
whom she dared expect credence and help. Out in 
the street again she caught sight of Charlie Conroy, 
and her thoughts were turned by a natural association 
of ideas to Lydia Sessions. That was it! Why had 
it not occurred to her before ? She hurried up the long 
hill to the Hardwick home and, trying first the bell 
at the front, where she got no reply, skirted the house 
and rapped long and loudly at the side door. 

Harriet Hardwick, when things began to wear a 
tragic complexion, had promptly packed her wardrobe 
and her children and flitted to Watauga. This hegira 
was undertaken mainly to get her sister away from the 
scene of Gray Stoddard's disappearance; yet when 
the move came to be made, Miss Sessions refused to 
accompany her sister. 

"I can't go," she repeated fiercely. **ril stay here 
and keep house for Jerome. Then if there comes 
any news, Til be where — oh, don't look at me that 
way. I wish you'd go on and let me alone. Yes — 
yes — yes — it is better for you to go to Watauga and 
leave me here." 

Ever since her brother-in-law opened the door of 
the sitting room and announced to the family Gray 
Stoddard's disappearance, Lydia Sessions had been, 
as it were, a woman at war with herself. Her first 


impulse was of decorum — to jerk her skirts about her 
in seemly fashion and be certain that no smirch adhered 
to them. Then she began to wonder if she could find 
Shade Buckheath, and discover from him the truth of 
the matter. Whenever she would have made a move- 
ment toward this, she winced away from what she 
knew he would say to her. She flinched even from 
finding out that her fears were well grounded. As 
matters began to wear a more serious face, she debated 
now and again telling her brother-in-law of her sus- 
picions that Buckheath had a grudge against Stoddard. 
But if she said this, how account for the knowledge ? 
How explain to Jerome why she had denied seeing 
Stoddard Friday morning? Jerome was so terribly 
practical — he would ask such searching questions. 

Back of it all there was truly much remorse, and 
terrible anxiety for Stoddard himself; but this was 
continually swallowed up in her concern for her own 
welfare, her own good name. Always, after she had 
agonized so much, there would come with a revulsion — 
a gust of anger. Stoddard had never cared for her, he 
had been cruel in his attitude of kindness. Let him 
take what followed. 

Cottonville was a town distraught, and the Hardwick 
servants had seized the occasion to run out for a bit of 
delectable gossip in which the least of the horrors 
included Gray Stoddard's murdered and mutilated 
body washed down in some mountain stream to the 
sight of his friends. 

Johnnie was too urgent to long delay. Getting no 


answer at the side door, she pushed it open and ventured 
through silent room after room until she came to the 
stairway, and so on up to Miss Sessions's bedroom 
door. She had been there before, and fearing to alarm 
by knocking, she finally called out in what she tried to 
make a normal, reassuring tone. 

"It's only me — Johnnie Consadine — Miss Lydia.'* 

The answer was a hasty, muffled outcry. Somebody 
who had been kneeling by the bed on the further side 
of the room sprang up and came forward, showing a 
face so disfigured by tears and anxiety, by loss of sleep 
and lack of food, as to be scarcely recognizable. That 
ravaged visage told plainly the battle-ground that 
Lydia Sessions's narrow soul had become in these 
dreadful days. She knew now that she had set Shade 
Buckheath to quarrel with Gray Stoddard — and 
Gray had never been seen since the hour she sent the 
dangerous, unscrupulous man after him to that quarrel. 
With this knowledge wrestled and fought the instinct 
we strive to develop in our girl children, the fear we 
brand shamefully into their natures — her name must 
not be connected with such an affair — she must not be 
"talked about.*' 

"Have they found him?" Lydia gasped. "Is he 

Johnnie, generous soul, even in the intense pre- 
occupation of her own pain, could pity the woman who 
looked and spoke thus. 

"No," she answered, "they haven't found him — 
and some that are looking for him never will find him. 


Oh, Miss Lydia, I want you to help me make them send 
somebody that we can trust up the Gap road, and on 
to the Unakas." 

Miss Sessions flinched plainly. 

"What do you know about it?'* she inquired in a 
voice which shook. 

Still staring at Johnnie, she moved back toward her 
bedroom door. "Why should you mention the Gap 
road ? What makes you think he went up in the 

"I — don't know that he went there," hesitated 
Johnnie. " But I do know who you've got to find before 
you can find him. Oh, get somebody to go with me 
and help me, before it's too late. I — " she hesitated 
— "I thought maybe we could get your brother 
Hartley's car. I could run it — I could run a car." 

The bitterness that had racked Lydia Sessions's 
heart for more than forty-eight hours culminated. 
She had been instrumental in putting Gray Stoddard 
in mortal danger — and now if he was to be helped, 
assistance would come through Johnnie Consadine! 
It was more than she could bear. 

"I don't believe it!" she gasped. "You know who 
to find ! You're just getting up this story to be noticed. 
You're always doing things to attract attention to 
yourself. You want to go riding around in an auto- 
mobile and — and — Mr. Stoddard has probably gone 
in to Watauga and taken the midnight train for Boston. 
This looking around in the mountains is folly. Who 
would want to harm him in the mountains ?" 


For a moment Johnnie stood, thwarted and non- 
plussed. The insults directed toward herself made 
almost no impression on her, strangely as they came 
from Lydia Sessions's lips. She was too intent on her 
own purpose to care greatly. 

"Shade Buckheath ^" she began cautiously, in- 
tending only to state that Shade had taken Stoddard's 
car; but Lydia Sessions drew back with a scream. 

"It's a lie!" she cried. "There isn't a word of truth 
in what you say, John Consadine. Oh, you're the 
plague of my life — you have been from the first! 
You follow me about and torment me. Shade Buck- 
heath had nothing to do with Gray Stoddard's disap- 
pearance, I tell you. Nothing — nothing — nothing!" 

She thrust forward her face and sent forth the words 
with incredible vehemence. But her tirade kindled 
in Johnnie no heat of personal anger. She stood 
looking intently at the frantic woman before her. 
Slowly a light of comprehension dawned in her eyes. 

"Shade Buckheath had everything to do with Gray 
Stoddard's disappearance. You know it — that's what 
ails you now. You — you must have been there when 
they quarrelled!" 

"They didn't quarrel — they didn't!" protested 
Miss Lydia, with a yet more hysteric emphasis. " They 
didn't even speak to each other. Mr. Stoddard said 
*Good morning' to me, and rode right past." 

Johnnie leant forward and, with a sudden sweeping 
movement, caught the other woman by the wrist, 
looking deep into her eyes. 


"Lydia," she said accusingly, and neither of them 
noticed the freedom of the address, "you didn't tell 
the truth when you said you hadn't seen Gray 
since Friday night. You saw him Friday morning — 
you — and — Shade — Buckheath! You have both 
lied about it — God knows why. Now, Shade and 
my stepfather have taken poor Gray's car and gone 
up into the mountains. What do you think they went 

The blazing young eyes were on Miss Sessions' s 
tortured countenance. 

"Oh, don't let those men get at Gray. They'll 
murder him!" sobbed the older woman, sinking once 
more to her knees. " Johnnie — I've always been 
good to you, haven't I ? You go and tell them that — 
say that Shade Buckheath — that somebody ought 

to ^" 

She broke off abruptly, and sprang up like a suddenly 
goaded creature. 

"No, I won't!" she cried out. "You needn't ask 
it of me. I will not tell about seeing Mr. Stoddard 
Friday morning. I promised not to, and it can't 
do any good, anyhow. If you set them at me, I'll 
deny it and tell them you made up the story. I will — 
IwiU— IwiU!" 

And she ran into her room once more, and threw 
herself down beside the bed. Johnnie turned 
contemptuously and left the woman babbling inco- 
herencies on her knees, evidently preparing to pray 
to a God whose laws she was determined to break. 



JOHNNIE hurried downstairs, in a mental turmoil 
out of which there swiftly formed itself the 
resolution to go herself and if possible over- 
take or find Shade and her stepfather. Word 
must first be sent to her mother. She was glad to 
remember that little bankbook under Laurella's 
pillow. Mavity and Mandy would tend the invalids 
well, helped by little Lissy; and with money available, 
she was sure they would be allowed to lack for nothing. 
She crossed the hall swiftly, meaning to go past the 
little grocery where they bought their supplies and 
telephone Mavity that she might be away for several 
days. But near the side door she noted the Hardwick 
telephone, and hesitated a moment. People would 
hear her down at Mayfield^s. Already she began to 
have a terror of being watched or followed. Hesita- 
tingly she took down the receiver and asked for con- 
nection. At the little tinkle of the bell, there was a 
swift, light rush above stairs. 

**Mahala!'' screamed Miss Sessions^s voice over the 
banisters, thinking the m aid was below stairs; "answer 
that telephone.** She heard Johnnie move, and 
added, "Tell everybody that I can*t be seen. If 



it's anything about Mr. ^toddard, say that Fm sick — 
utterly prostrated — and can't be talked to." She 
turned from the stairway, ran back into her own 
room and shut and locked the door. And at that 
moment Johnnie heard Mavity Bence's voice replying 
to her. 

"Aunt Mavity/' she began, "this is Johnnie. Vm 
up at Mr. Hardwick's now. Uncle Pros is out in the 
mountains, and I'm going to look for him. I'd rather 
not have anybody-' know I'm gone; do you under- 
stand that? Try to keep it from the boarders and 
the children. You and Mandy are the only ones 
that would have to know." 

"Yes, honey, yes, Johnnie," came the eager, 
humble reply. "I'll do just like you say. Shan't 
nobody find out from me. Johnnie — " there was a 
pause — "Johnnie, Pap and Shade didn't get off as 
soon as they expected. Something was the matter 
with the machine, I believe. They ain't been gone 
to exceed a quarter of an hour. I — I thought maybe 
you'd like to know." 

"Thank you. Aunt Mavity," said Johnnie. "Yes, 
I'm glad you told me." She understood what a 
struggle the kind soul had had with her weakness and 
timidity ere, for loyalty's sake, she was able to make 
the disclosure. "I may not be back for two or three 
days. Don't worry about me. I'll be all right. 
Mother's got money. You buy what she and Deanie 
need, and don't work too hard. Good-bye." 

She hung up the receiver, went out the side door 


and, reaching the main street, struck straight for the 
Gap, holding the big road for the Unakas. To her 
left was the white highway that ran along above the 
valley, and that Palace of Pleasure which had seemed 
a wonder and a mystery to her one year gone. To-day 
she gave no thought to the sight of river and valley 
and town, except to look back once at the roofs and 
reflect that, among all the people housed there in sight 
of her, there were surely those who knew the secret 
of Gray Stoddard's disappearance — who could tell 
her if they would where to search for him. Somehow, 
the thought made her feel very small and alone and 
unfriended. With its discouragement came that 
dogged persistence that was characteristic of the girl. 
She set her trembling lip and went over her plans 
resolutely, methodically. Deanie and Laurella were 
safe to be well looked after in her absence. Mavity 
Bence and Mandy would care for them tenderly. 
And there was the bankbook. If Johnnie knew her 
mother, the household back there would not lack, 
either for assistance or material matters. 

And now the present enterprise began to shape 
Itself in her mind. A practical creature, she depended\ 
from the first on getting a lift from time to time. Yet 
Johnnie knew better than another the vast, silent, 
secret network of hate that draws about the victim 
in a mountain vendetta. If the spirit of feud was 
aroused against the mill owners, if the Groners and 
Dawsons had been able to enlist their kin and clan, 
she was well aware that the man or woman who 


gave her smiling information as to ways and means, 
might, the hour before, have looked on Gray Stoddard 
lying dead, or sat in the council which planned to kill 
him. Thus she walked warily, and dared ask from 
none directions or help. She was not yet in her own 
region, these lower ridges lying between two lines 
of railway, which, from the mountaineer^s point of 
view, contaminated them and gave them a tincture 
of the valley and the Settlement. 

Noon came and passed. She was very weary. 
Factory life had told on her physically, and the recent 
distress of mind added its devitalizing influence. 
There was a desperate flagging of the muscles weak- 
ened by disuse and an unhealthy indoor life. 

"I wonder can I ever make it?'* she questioned 
herself. Then swiftly, "IVe got to — Fve got to.** 

Her eye roved toward a cabin on the slope above. 
There lived a man by the name of Straley, but he was 
a cousin to Lura Dawson, the girl who had died in 
the hospital. Johnnie knew him to be one of the 
bitterest enemies of the Cottonville mill owners, and 
realized that he would be the last one to whom she 
should apply. Mutely, doggedly, she pressed on, 
and rounding a bend in a long, lonely stretch of road, 
saw before her the tall, lithe form of a man, trousers 
tucked into boots, a tall staff in hand, making swift 
progress up the road. The sound of feet evidently 
arrested the attention of the wayfarer. He turned 
and waited for her to come up. 

The figure was so congruous with its surroundings 


that she saw with surprise a face totally strange to her. 
The turned-down collar of the rumpled shirt was 
unbuttoned at a brown throat; the face above seemed 
to her eyes neither old nor young, though the light, 
springing gait when he walked, the supple, easeful 
attitude now that he rested, one hand flung high on 
the curious tall staff, were those of a youth; the eyes 
of a warm, laughing hazel had the direct fearlessness 
of a child, and a slouch hat carried in the hand showed 
a fair crop of slightly grizzled, curling hair. 

A stranger — at first the thought frightened, and 
then attracted her. This man looked not unlike 
Johnnie^s own people, and there was something in his 
face that led her to entertain the idea of appealing 
to him for help. He settled the question of whether 
or no she should enter into conversation, by accosting 
her at once brusquely and genially. 

"Morning sis\ You look tired," he said. "You 
ought to have a stick, like me. Hold on — FU cut 
you one.". 

Before the girl could respond beyond an answering 
smile and "good mormng," the new friend had put 
his own alpenstock into her hands and gone to the 
roadside, where, with unerring judgment, he selected 
a long, straight, tapering shoot of ash, and hewed 
it deftly with a monster jack-knife drawn from his 
trousers pocket. 

" There — try that," he said as he returned, trim- 
ming off the last of the leaves and branches. 

Johnnie took the staff with her sweet smile of thanks. 



For a few moments the two walked on silently side 
by side, she desperately absorbed in her anxi- 
eties, her companion apparently returning to some 
world apart in his own mind. Suddenly: 

"Can I get to the railroad down this side?*' the 
man asked her in that odd, incidental voice of his 
which suggested that what he said was merely a small 
portion of what he thought. r 

Why — yes, I reckon so," hesitated Johnnie. 

It's a pretty far way, and there don't many folks 
travel on it. It's an old Indian trail; a heap of our 
roads here are that; but it'll take you right to the 
railroad — the W. and A." 

Her companion chuckled, seemingly with some 
inner satisfaction. 

"Yes, that's just what I supposed. I soldiered all 
over this country, and I thought it was about as pretty 
scenery as God ever made. I promised myself then 
that if I ever came back into this part of the world, 
I'd do some tramping through here. They're going 
to have a great big banquet at Atlanta, and they had 
me caged up taking me down there to make a speech. 
I gave them the slip at Watauga. I knew I'd strike 
the railroad if I footed it through the mountains here." 

Johnnie examined her companion with attention. 
Would it do to ask him if he had seen an automobile 
on the road — a dark green car ? Dare she make 
inquiry as to whether he had heard of Gray Stod- 
dard's disappearance, or met any of the searchers? 
She decided on a conservative course. 


"I wish I had time to set you in the right road/' 
she hesitated; "but my poor old uncle is out here 
somewhere among these ridges and ravines; he's 
not in his right mind, and I've got to find him if I 



Crazy, do you mean?" asked her companion, 
with a quick yet easy, smiling attention. "I'd like 
to see him, if he's crazy. I take a great interest in 
crazy folks. Some of 'em have a lot of sense left." 

Johnnie nodded. 

"He doesn't know any of us," she said pitifully. 
"They've had him in the hospital three months, trying 
to do something for him; but the doctors say he'll 
never be well." 

"That's right hopeful," observed the man, with 
a plainly intentional, dry ludicrousness. "I always 
think there's some chance when the doctors give 'em 
up — and begin to let 'em alone. How was he hurt, 

Johnnie did not pause to reflect that she had not 
said Uncle Pros was hurt at all. For some reason 
which she would herself have been at a loss to explain, 
she hastened to detail to this chance-met stranger 
the exact appearance and nature of Pros Passmore's 
injuries, her listener nodding his head at this or that 
point; making some comment or inquiry at another. 

"The doctors say that they would suppose it was a 
fractured skull, or concussion of the brain, or something 
like that; but they've examined him and there is 
nothing to see on the outside; and they trephined 


and it didn^t do any good; so they just let him stay 
about the hospital/' 

**No/* said her new friend softly, almost absently, 
"it didn't do any good to trephine — but it might 
have done a lot of harm. Td like to see the back of 
your uncle's neck. I ain't in any hurry to get to that 
banquet at Atlanta — a man can always overeat 
and make himself sick, without going so far to do it.*' 

So, like an idle schoolboy, the unknown forsook 
his own course, turning from the road when Johnnie 
turned, and went with her up the steep, rocky gulch 
where the door of a deserted cabin flung to and fro 
on its hinges. At sight of the smokeless chimney, 
the gaping doorway and empty, inhospitable interior, 
Johnnie looked blank. 

"Have you got anything to eat.?" she asked her 
companion, hesitatingly. " I came off in such a hurry 
that I forgot all about it. Some people that I know 
used to live in that cabin, and I hoped to get my dinner 
there and ask after my uncle; but L see they have 

"Sit right down here," said the stranger, indicating 
the broad door-stone, around which the grass grew 
tall. "We'll soon make that all right." He sought 
in the pockets of the coat he carried slung across his 
shoulder and brought out a packet of food. " I laid 
in some fuel when I thought I might get the chance 
to run my own engine across the mountains," he told 
the girl, opening his bundle and dividing evenly. 
He uttered a few musical words in an unknown tongue. 


*' That's Indian/' he commented carelessly, without 
looking at her. "It means you're to eat your dinner. 
I was with the Shawnees when I was a boy. I learned 
a lot of their language, and I'll never forget it. They 
taught me more things than talk." 

Johnnie studied the man beside her as they ate their 
bit of lunch. 

" My name is Johnnie Consadine, sir," she told him. 
"What shall I call you?" 

Thus directly questioned, the unknown smiled quiz- 
zically, his hazel eyes crinkling at the corners and 
overflowing with good humour. 

"Well, you might say ^Pap,'" he observed consider- 
ingly. " Lost of boys and girls do call me Pap — 
more than a thousand of 'em, now, I guess. And 
I'm eighty — mighty near old enough to have a girl 
of nineteen." 

She looked at him in astonishment. Eighty years 
old, as lithe as a lad, and with a lad's clear, laughing 
eye! Yet there was a look of power, of that knowl- 
edge which is power, in his face that made her say 
to him: 

" Do you think that Uncle Pros can ever be cured — 
have his right mind back again, I mean ? Of course, 
the cut on his head is healed up long ago." 

"The cut on his head didn't make him crazy," said 
her companion, murmuringly. "Of course it wasn't 
that, or he would have been raving when he came 
down from the mountain. Something happened to 
him afterward." 


"Yes, there did," Johnnie assented wonderingly — 
falteringly. "I don't know how you came to guess 
it, but the woman who told me that she was hiding 
in the front room when they were quarrelling and 
saw Uncle Pros fall down the steps, says he landed 
almost square on his head. She thought at first his 
neck was broken — that he was killed/' 

"Uh-huh,'* nodded the newcomer. "You see I'm 
a good guesser. I make my living guessing things." 
He flung her a whimsical, sidelong glance, as, having 
finished their lunch, they rose and moved on. "I 
wish I had my hands on the processes of that atlas 
vertebra," he said. 

"On — on what?" inquired Johnnie in a slightly 
startled tone. 

"Never mind, sis'. If we find him, and I can handle 
him, I'll know where to look." 

"Nobody can touch him but me when he gets out 
this way," Johnnie said. "He acts sort of scared 
and sort of fierce, and just runs and hides from people. 
Maybe if you'll tell me what you want done, I could 
do it." 

" Maybe you could — and then again maybe you 
couldn't," returned the other, with a great show of 
giving her proposition serious consideration. "A 
good many folks think they can do just what I can — 
if I'd only tell 'em how — and sometimes they find 
out they can't." 

Upon the word, they topped a little rise, and Johnnie 
laid a swift, detaining hand upon her companion's 


arm. At the roadside, in a little open, grassy space 
where once evidently a cabin had stood, knelt the 
figure of a gaunt old man. At first he seemed to the 
approaching pair to be gesticulating and pointing, 
but a moment's observation gave them the gleam of 
a knife in his hand — he was playing mumblety-peg. 
As they stood, drawn back near some roadside bushes, 
watching him, the long, lean old arm went up, the 
knife flashing against the knuckles of the clenched 
fist and, with a whirl of the wrist, reversing swiftly 
in air, to bury its blade in the soil before the player. 

"Hi! Hi! Hi! I th'owed it. That counts two 
for me,** the cracked old falsetto shrilled out. 

There on that grassy plot that might have been a 
familiar dooryard of his early days, he was playing 
alone, gone back to childhood. Johnnie gazed and 
her eyes swam with unshed tears. 

" You better not go up there — and him with the 
knife and all,*' she murmured finally. The man 
beside her looked around into her face and laughed. 

"Fm not very bad scared," he said, advancing 
softly in line with his proposed patient, motioning 
the girl not to make herself known, or startle her 

Johnnie stole after him, filled with anxiety. When 
the newcomer stood directly behind the kneeling man, 
he bent, and his arms shot out with surprising quick- 
ness. The fingers of one hand dropped as though 
predestined upon the back of the neck, the other caught 
skilfully beneath the chin. There was a sharp wrench^ 


an odd crack, a grunt from Uncle Pros, and then the 
mountaineer sprang to his full and very considerable 
height with a roar. Whirling upon his adversary, 
he grappled him in his long arms, hugging like a grizzly, 
and shouting: 

"You, Gid Himes, wha*r's my specimens ?** 

He shook the stranger savagely. 

"You an' Shade Buckheath — you p*ar o* scoun- 
drels — give me back my silver specimens ! Give 
me back my silver ore that shows about the mine for 
my little gal." 

"Uncle Pros! Uncle Pros!*' screamed Johnnie, 
rushing in and laying hold of the man's arm. " Don't 
you know me ? It's Johnnie. Don't hurt this gentle- 


The convulsion of rage subsided in the old man 
with almost comical suddenness. His tense form 
relaxed; he stumbled back, dropping his hands at 
his sides and staring about him, then at Johnnie. 

"Why, honey," he gasped, "how did you come 
here .? Whar's Gid ? Whar's Shade Buckheath ? 
Lord A' mighty! Whar am I at?" 

He looked around him bewildered, evidently expect- 
ing to see the porch of Himes's boarding-house at 
Cottonville, the scattered bits of silver ore, and the 
rifled bandanna. He put his hand to his head, and 
sliding it softly down to the back of the neck demanded. 

"What's been did to me ?" 

"You be right good and quiet now, and mind 
Johnnie," the girl began, with a pathetic tremble in 


her voice, "and she'll take you back to the hospital 
where they're so kind to you." 

"The hospital?'' echoed Pros. "That hospital 
down at Cottonville? I never was inside o' one o' 
them places — what do you want me to go thar for, 
Johnnie ? Who is this gentleman ? How came we-all 
up here on the road this-a-way i " 

"I can quiet him," said Johnnie aside to her new 
friend. "I always can when he gets wild this way." 

The unknown shook his head. 

"You'll never have to quiet him any more, unless 
he breaks his neck again," came the announcement. 
"Your uncle is as sane as anybody — he just doesn't 
remember anything that happened from the time he 
fell down the steps and slipped that atlas vertebra a 
little bit on one side." 

Again Pros Passmore's fingers sought the back of 
his collar. 

"Looks like somebody has been tryin' to wring 
my neck, same as a chicken's," he said meditatively. 
"But hit feels all right now — all right — Hoo-ee!" 
he suddenly broke off to answer to a far, faint hail 
from the road below them. 

" Pap ! Hey — Pap ! " The words came up through 
the clear blue air, infinitely diminished and attenuated, 
like sortie insect cry. The tall man seemed to guess 
just what the interruption would be. He turned with 
a pettish exclamation. 

"Never could go anywhere, nor have any fun, but 
what some of the children had to tag," he protested. 


"Hoo-ee!" He cupped his hands and sent his 
voice toward where two men in a vehicle had halted 
their horses and were looking anxiously up. "Well 
— what is it?" 

"Did you get lost? We hired a buggy and came 
out to find you/* the man below called up. 

"Well, if I get lost, I can find myself," muttered 
the newcomer. He^ looked regretfully at the green 
slopes about him; the lofty, impassive cliffs where 
Peace seemed to perch, a visible presence; the great 
sweeps of free forest; then at Uncle Pros and Johnnie. 
And they looked back at him dubiously. 

"I expect ril have to leave you," he said at last. 
"I see what it is those boys want; they're trying to 
get me back to the railroad in time for the six-forty 
train. Fd a heap rather stay here with you, but — " 
he glanced from Johnnie and Uncle Pros down to the 
men in their attitude of anxious waiting — "I reckon 
ril have to go." 

He had made the first descending step when Johnnie's 
hand on his arm arrested him. Uncle Pros knew not 
the wonder of his own restoration; but to the girl 
this man before her was something more than mortal. 
Her eyes went from the lightly tossed hair on his brow 
to the mud-spattered boots — was he only a human 
being? What was the strange power he had over 
life and death and the wandering soul of man ? 

" What — what — aren't you going to tell me your 
name, and what you are, before you go ?" she entreated 


He laughed over his shoulder, an enigmatic laugh. 

"What was it you did to Uncle Pros ?" Her voice 
was vibrant with the awe and wonder of what she had 
seen. " Was it the laying on of hands — as they tell 
ofit in the Bible?'' 

"Say, Pap, hurry up, please,'' wailed up the thin, 
impatient reminder from the road. 

" Well, yes — I laid my hands on him pretty strong. 
Didn't I, old man?" And the stranger glanced to 
Ivhere Uncle Pros stood, still occasionally interrogat- 
ing the back of his neck with fumbling fingers. " Don't 
you worry, sis'; a girl like you will get a miracle when 
she has to have it. If I happened to be the miracle 
you needed, why, that's good. As for my profession 
— my business in life — there was a lot of folks that 
used to name me the Lightning Bone-setter. For 
my own part, Fd just as soon you'd call me a human 
engineer. I pride myself on knowing how the struct- 
ure of man ought to work, and keeping the bearings 
right and the machinery properly levelled up. Never 
mind. Next time you have use for a miracle, it'll be 
along on schedule time, without you knowing what 
name you need to call it. You're that sort." With 
that curious, onlooker's smile of his and with a nod 
of farewell, he plunged down the steep. 



THEY stood together watching, as the tall form 
retreated around the sharp curves of the red 
clay road, or leaped lightly and hardily 
down the cut-oflFs. They waved back to their late 
companion when, climbing into the waiting buggy 
below, he was finally driven away. Johnnie turned 
and looked long at her uncle with swimming eyes, 
a$ he stood gazing where the vehicle had disappeared. 
She finally laid a tremulous hand on his arm. 

**Oh, Uncle Pros," she said falteringly, "I can't 
believe it yet. But you — you do understand me now, 
don't you ? You know me. Fm Johnnie.'* 

The old man wheeled sharply, and laughed. 

" See here, honey," he said with a tinge of irritation 
in his tones. " I reckon Fve been crazy. From what 
you say, looks like I haven't known my best friends 
for a long time. But I have got as much sense now as L 
ever had, and I don't remember anything about that 
other business. Last thing I know of was fussin' 
with Gid Himes and Shade Buckheath about my silver 
ore. By Joe ! I bet they got that stuff when I was 
took — Johnnie, was I took sudden ?" 

He seated himself on the lush, ancient, deep-rooted 


A CLUE 319 

dooryard grass where, a half-hour gone, he had knelt, 
a harmless^ lunatic, playing mumblety peg. Half 
reluctantly Johnnie sank down beside him. 

"Yes — yes — yes. Uncle Pros,*' the girl agreed, 
impatience mounting in her once more, with the 
assurance of her uncle's safety and well-being. " They 
did get your specimens; but we can fix all that; there's 
a worse thing happened now." And swiftly, sue- 
cintly, she told him of the disappearance of Gray 

"An* I been out o' my head six months and better," 
the old man ruminated, staring down at the ground. 
" Good Lord ! it's funny to miss out part o' your days 
like that. Hit was August — but — O-o-h, hot enough 
to fry eggs on a shingle, the day I tramped down to 
Cotton ville with them specimens; and here it is" — he 
threw up his head and took a comprehensive survey 
of the grove about him — " airly spring — March, I 
should say — ain't it, Johnnie ? Yes," as she nodded. 
"And who is this here young man that you name that's 
missin', honey?" 

The girl glanced at him apprehensively. 

You know. Uncle Pros," she said in a coaxing tone. 
It's Mr. Stoddard, that used to come to the hospital 
to see you so much and play checkers with you when 
you got better. You — why. Uncle Pros, you liked 
him more than any one. He could get you to eat 
when you wouldn't take a spoonful from anybody 
else. You must remember him — you can't have 
forgot Mr. Stoddard." 


Pros thrust out a long, lean arm, and fingered the 
sleeve upon it. 

"Nor my own clothes, I reckon,*' he assented with 
a sort of rueful testiness; " but to the best of my knowin' 
and believing I never in my life before saw this shirt 
Fm wearin ' — every garment Fve got on is a plumb 
stranger to me, Johnnie. Ye say I played checkers 
with him — and '' 

"Uncle Pros, you used to talk to him by the hour, 
when you didn't know me at all," Johnnie told him 
chokingly. "I would get afraid that you asked too 
much of him, but he'd leave anything to come and sit 
with you when you were bad. He's got the kindest 
heart of anybody I ever knew." 

The old man's slow, thoughtful gaze was raised a 
moment to her eloquent, flushed face, and then dropped 
considerately to the path. 

"An' ye tell me he's one of the rich mill owners? 
Mr. Gray Stoddard ? That's one name you've never 
named in your letters. What cause have you to think 
that Shade wished the man ill ?" 

Slowly Johnnie's eyes filled with tears. "Why, 
what Shade said himself. He was " 

"Jealous of him, I reckon," supplied the old man. 

Johnnie nodded. It was no time for evasions. 

"He had no call to be," she repeated. "Mr. Stod- 
dard had no more thought of me in that way than he 
has of Deanie. He'd be just as kind to one as the 
other. But Shade brought his name into it, and 
threatened him to me in so many words. He said — " 

A CLUE 321 

she shivered at the recollection — "he said he*d fix 
him — he'd get even with him. So this morning 
when I found that Pap Himes and Shade had taken 
Mr. Stoddard's car and come on up this way, it scared 
me. Yet I couldn't hardly go to anybody with it. 
I felt as though they would say it was just a vain, 
foolish girl thinking she'd stirred up trouble and 
had the men quarrelling over her. I did try to see 
Mr. Hardwick and Mr. MacPherson, and both of them 
were away. And after that I went to Mr. Hardwick's 
house. The Miss Sessions I wrote you so much about 
was the only person there, and she wouldn't do a thing. 
Then I just walked up here on my two feet. Uncle 
Pros, I was desperate enough for anything." 

Passmore had listened intently to Johnnie's swift, 
broken, passionate sentences. 

"Yes — ye-es," he said, as she made an end. "I 
sorter begin to see. Hold on, honey, lemme think 

a minute." 

He sat for some time silent, with introverted gaze, 
Johnnie with difficulty restraining her impatience, 
forbearing to break in upon his meditation. 

" Hit cl'ars up to me — sorter — as I study on it," 
he finally said. "Hit's like this, honey; six months 
ago (Lord, Lord, six months!) when I was walkin' 
down to take that silver ore to you, Rudd Dawson 
stopped me, and nothing would do but I must go 
home with him — ye know he's got the old Gid Himes 
place, in the holler back of our house — an' talk to 
Will Venters, Jess Groner, and Rudd's brother Sam. 


I didn't want to go — my head was plumb full of the 
silver-mine business, an* I jest wanted to git down 
to you quick as I could. The minute I said 'Johnnie,' 
Rudd 'lowed he wanted to warn me about you down 
in the Cottonville mills. He went over all that stuff 
concerning Lura, an' how she'd been killed off in 
the mill folk's hospital and her body shipped to Cin- 
cinnati and sold. I put in my word that you was 
a-doin' well in the mills; an' I axed him what proof 
he had that the mill folks sold dead bodies. I 'lowed 
that you found the people at Cottonville mighty kind, 
and the work good. He came right back at me sayin* 
that Lura had talked the same way, and that many 
another had. Well, I finally went with him to his 
place — the old Gid Himes house — an' him an* 
me an' Sam an' Groner had considerable talk. They 
told me how they'd all been down an' saw Mr. Hard- 
wick, and how quare he spoke to 'em. 'Them mill 
fellers never offered me a dollar, not a dollar,' says 
Rudd. An' I says to him, 'Good Lord, Dawson! 
Never offered you money? For God's sake! Did 
you want to be paid for Lura's body?' And he says, 
'You know damn' well I didn't want to be paid for 
Lura's body. Pros Passmore,' he says. 'But do you 
reckon I'm a-goin' to let them mill men strut around 
with money they got that-a-way in their pockets ? No, 
I'll not. I'll see 'em cold in hell fust,' he says — them 
Dawsons is a hard nation o' folks, Johnnie. I talked 
to 'em for a spell, and tried to make 'em see that the 
Hardwick folks hadn't never sold no dead body to 

A CLUE 323 

the student doctors; but they was all mad and out o' 
theirselves. I seed that they wanted to get up a feud. 
*Well/ says Rudd, ^TheyVe got one of the Dawsons, 
and before we're done we'll get one o' them/ 

***Uh-huh/I says, ^you-ali air a-goin' to get one o' 
them, air ye ? Do you mean by that that you're ready 
to run your heads into a noose ?' 

"^We don't have to run our heads into nary noose,' 
says Sam Dawson. * Shade Buckheath is a-standin' 
in with us. He knows all them mill fellers, an' their 
ways. He aims to he'p us; an' we'll ketch one o' 
them men out, and carry him off up here som'ers, 
and hold him till they pay us what we ask. I reckon 
the live body of one o' them chaps is worth a thousand 
dollars.' That's jest what he said," concluded the 
old man, turning toward her; "an' from what you tell 
me, Johnnie, I'll bet Shade Buckheath put the words 
in his mouth, if not the notion in his head." 

"Yes," whispered Johnnie through white lips, 
"yes; but Shade Buckheath isn't looking to make 
money out of it. He knows better than to think that 
they could keep Mr. Stoddard prisoner a while, and 
then get money for bringing him back, and never 
have to answer for it. He said he'd get even — he'd 
fix him. Shade wants just one thing — Oh, Uncle 
Pros! Do you think they've killed him .?" 

The old man looked carefully away from her. 

"This here kidnappin' business, an tryin' to get 
money out of a feller's friends, most generally does 
wind up in a killin'," he said. "The folks gits to 


huntin* pretty hot, then them that*s done the trick 
gets scared, and — - they wouIdn^t have no good place 
to put him, them Dawsons, and — and,'' reluctantly, 
"a dead body's easier hid than a live man. Truth 
is, hit looks mighty bad for the young feller, honey girl. 
To my mind hit's really a question of time. The sooner 
his friends gets to him the better, that's my belief/' 
Johnnie's pale, haggard face took on tragic lines 
as she listened to this plain putting of her own worst 
fears. She sprang up desperately. Uncle Pros rose. 


Now, which way?" she demanded. 

The old hunter stood, staring thoughtfully at the 
path before his feet, rubbing his jaw with long, supple 
fingers, the daze of his recent experience yet upon him. 

"Well, I had aimed to go right to our old cabin,** 
he said finally. " Hit's little more than a mile to where 
Dawson lives, in Gid's old place in Blue Spring Holler. 
They all think I'm crazy, an' they won't interfere 
with me — not till they find out different. Your 
mother; she'll give us good help, once we git to her. 
There's them that thinks Laurelly is light-minded and 
childish, but I could tell 'em she's got a heap of sense 
in that thar pretty little head o' her'n." 

"Oh, Uncle Pros! I forgot you don't know — of 
course you don't," broke in Johnnie with a sudden 
dismay in her voice. "I ought to have told you that 
mother" — she hesitated and looked at the old man — 
" mother isn't up at the cabin any more. I left her in 
Cotton ville this morning." 

A CLUE 325 

" Cotton ville!'' echoed Pros in surprise. Then 
he added, "O* course, she came down to take care o' 
me when I was hurt. That's like Laurelly. Is all the 
chaps thar ? Is the cabin empty ? How's the baby V 

Johnnie nodded in answer to these inquiries, for- 
bearing to go into any details. One thing she must 
tell him. 

^* Mother's — mother's married again," she man- 
aged finally to say. 

"She's — " The old man broke off and turned 
Johnnie around that he might stare into her face. 
Then he laughed. "Well — ^^well! Things haye been 
happenin' — with the old man crazy an' all!" he 
said. "An' yit I don't know it's so strange. Laurelly 
is a mighty handsome little woman, and she don't 
look a day older than you do, Johnnie. I reckon 
it came through me bein' away, an' her havin' nobody 
to do for her. 'Course" — with pride — "she could 
have wedded 'most any time since your Pa died, if 
she'd been so minded. Who is it ?" 

Johnnie looked away from him. "I — Uncle Pros, 
I never heard a word about it till I came home one 
evening and there they were, bag and baggage, and 
they'd been married but an hour before by Squire 
Gaylord. It" — her voice sank almost to a whisper 
— "It's Pap Himes." 

The old man thrust her back and stared again. 

"Gid — Gideon Himes?" he exclaimed incredu- 
lously. "Why, the man's old enough to be her grand- 
daddy, let alone her father. Gid Himes — the old — 


What in the name of — ? Johnnie — and you think 
Himes is mixed up with this young man that's been 
laywaid — him and Buckheath ? Lord, what is all 
this business ?'* 

"When Shade found I wouldn't have him/* Johnnie 
began resolutely at the beginning, "he got Pap Himes 
to take him to board so that he could always be at me, 
tormenting me about it. I don't know what he and 
Pap Himes had between them; but something — that 
I'm sure of. And after the old man went up and mar- 
ried mother, it was worse. He p^ut the children in 
the mill and worked them almost to death; even — 
even Deanie," she choked back a sob. "And Shade 
as good as told me he could make Pap Himes stop it 
any time I'd promise to marry him. Something they 
were pulling together over. Maybe it was the silver 


"The silver mine!" echoed old Pros. "That's 
it. Gid thought I was likely to die, and the mine 
would come to your mother. Not but what he'd be 
glad enough to get Laurelly — but that's what put 
it in his head. An' Gid Himes is married to my little 
Laurelly, an' been abusin' the children! Lord, hit 
don't pay for a man to go crazy. Things gits out of 
order without him." 

"Well, what do you think now?" Johnnie inquired 
impatiently. "We mustn't stay here talking when 
Mr. Stoddard may be in mortal danger. Shall we go 
on to our place, just the same ?" 

The old man looked compassionately at hen 

A CLUE 327 

Hold on, honey girl/* he demurred gently. 

We — '* he sighted at the sun, which was declining 
over beyond the ridges toward Watauga. ^^Tm 
mighty sorry to pull back on ye, but weVe got to get 
us a place to stay for the night. See,** he directed her 
gaze with his own; "hit*s not more*n a hour by sun. 
We cain*t do nothin* this evenin*.** 

The magnitude of the disappointment struck 
Johnnie silent. Pros Passmore was an optimist, one 
who never used a strong word to express sorrow or 
dismay, but he came out of a brown study in which he 
had muttered, "Blaylock. No, Harp wouldn't do. 
Gulp's. Sally Ann's not to be trusted. What about 
the Venable boys? No good" — to say with a dis- 
tressed drawing of the brows, **My God! In a thing 
like this, you don't know who to look to." 

"No. That's so. Uncle Pros," whispered Johnnie; 
she gazed back down the road she had come with the 
stranger. "I went up Slater's Lane to find Mandy 
Meacham's sister Roxy that married Zack Peavey," 
she said. "But they've moved from the cabin down 
there. They must have been gone a good while, for 
there's no work done on the truck-patch. I guess 
they went up to the Nooning-Spring place — Mandy 
said they talked of moving there. We might go and 
see. Mandy" — she hesitated, and looked question- 
ingly at her uncle — "Mandy's been awful good to 
all of us, and she liked Mr. Stoddard." 

"We'll try it," said Pros Passmore, and they set 
out together. 


They climbed in silence, using a little-travelled 
woods-road, scarce more than two deep, grass-grown 
ruts, full of rotting stumps. Suddenly a couple of 
children playing under some wayside bushes leaped 
up and ran ahead of them, screaming. 

" Maw — he's comin* back, and he*s got a woman 

with him r 

A turn in the road brought the Nooning-Spring 
cabin in sight, a tiny, one-roomed log structure, ancient 
and ruinous; and in its door a young woman standing, 
with a baby in her arms, staring with all her eyes at 
them and at their approaching couriers. 

She faltered a step toward the dilapidated rail fence 
as they came up. 

"Howdy,** she said in a low, half-frightened tone. 
Then to Uncle Pros, " We-all was mighty uneasy when 
you never come back.** 

Involuntarily the old man*s hand went to that 
vertebra whose eighth-inch displacement had been 
so lately reduced. 

"Have I been here?*' he asked. "I was out of 
my head, and I don*t remember it.** 

The young woman looked at him with a hopeless 
drawing of scant, light eyebrows above bulging gray 
eyes. She chugged the fretting baby gently up and 
down in her arms to hush it. Johnnie saw her resem- 
blance to Mandy. Apparently giving up the effort 
in regard to the man, Zack Peavey*s wife addressed 
the girl as an easier proposition. 

"He was here,** she said in a sort of aside. "He 

A CLUE 329 

stayed all night a-Saturday. Zack said he was kinder 
foolish, but I thought he had as much sense as most 
of *em." Her gaze rested kindly on the old man. 
The children, wild and shy as young foxes, had stolen 
to the door of the cabin, in which they had taken 
refuge, and were staring out wonderingly. 

"Well, we'll have to ask you could we stay to-night,** 
Johnnie began doubtfully. **My uncle's been out of 
his head, and he got away from the folks at the hospital. 
I came up to hunt for him. IVe just found him — 
but we aren't going right back. I met a man out there 
on the road that did something to him that — that — " 
she despaired of putting into words that the woman 
could comprehend the miracle which she had seen the 
stranger work — ** Well, Uncle Pros is all right now, 
and we'd like to stay the night if we can." 

**Come in — come in — the both of you," urged 
the woman, turning toward the cabin. "'Course, 
ye kin stay, an' welcome. Set and rest. Zack ain't 
home now. He's — " A curious, furtive look went 
over her round face. "Zack has got a job on hand, 
ploughing for — ploughing for a neighbour, but he'll 
be home to-night." 

They went in and sat down. A kettle of wild greens 
was cooking over the fire, and everything was spot- 
lessly clean. Mandy had said truly that there wasn't 
a thing on the farm she didn't love to do, and the 
gift of housewifery ran in the family. Johnnie had 
barely explained who she was, and made such effort 
as she could to enlist Mandy's sister, when Zack came 


tramping home, and showed, she thought, some 
uneasiness at finding them there. The wife ran out 
and met him before he reached the cabin, and they 
stood talking together a long time, the lines of both 
figures somehow expressing dismay; yet when they 
came in there was a fair welcome in the man's de- 
meanour. At the supper table, whose scanty fare 
was well cooked. Uncle Pros and Johnnie had to 
tell again, and yet again, the story of that miracu- 
lous healing which both husband and wife could see 
was genuine. 

Through it all, both Pros and Johnnie attempted 
to lead the talk around to some information which 
might be of use to them. Nothing was more natural 
than that they should speak of Gray Stoddard's dis- 
appearance, since Watauga, Cottonville, and the moun- 
tains above were full of the topic; yet husband and 
wife sheered from it in a sort of terror. 

"Them that makes or meddles in such gits their- 
selves into trouble, that's what I say," Zack told the 
visitors, stroking a chin whose contours expressed the 
resolution and aggressiveness of a rabbit. "I ain't 
never seen this here Mr. Man as far as I know. I don't 
never want to see him. I ain't got no call to mix 
myself up in such, and I 'low I'll sleep easier and live 
longer if I don't do it." 

"That's right," quavered Roxy. " Burkhalter's boy, 
he had to go to mixin' in when the Gulps and the 
Venables was feudin'; and look what chanced. Nary 
one o' them families lost a man; but Burkhalter's 

A CLUE 331 

boy got hisself killed up. Yes, that's what happened 
to him. Dead. I went to the funeral.** 

"True as Scriptur*/* confirmed Zack — "reach 
an* take off, Pros. Johnnie, eat hearty — true as 
you-all set here. I helped make the coffin an* dig 
the grave.** 

After a time there came a sort of ruth to Johnnie 
for the poor creatures, furtive, stealing glances at 
each other, and answering her inquiries or Uncle Pros*s 
with dry, evasive platitudes. She knew there was 
no malice in either of them; and that only the abject 
terror of the weak kept them from giving whatever 
bit of information it was they had and were consciously 
withholding. Soon she ceased plying them with ques- 
tions, and signalled Uncle Pros that he should do the 
same. After the children were asleep in their trundle- 
bed, the four elders sat by the dying fire on the hearth 
and talked a little. Johnnie told Zack and Roxy 
of the mill work at Cottonville, how well she had got 
on, and how good Mr. Stoddard had been to her, 
choking over the treasured remembrances. She related 
the many kindnesses that had been shown Pros and 
his kinfolk at the Hospital, how the old man had been 
there for three months, treated as a guest during the 
latter part of his stay rather than a patient, and how 
Mr. Stoddard would leave his work in the office to 
come and cheer the sick man, or quiet him if he got 

"He looked perfectly dreadful when I first saw him,** 
she said to them, " but the doctors took care of him as 


if he'd been a little baby. The nurses fed him by 
spoonfuls and coaxed him just like you would little 
Honey; and Mr. Stoddard — he never was too busy 
to — *' the tears brimmed her eyes in the dusky cabin 
interior — "to come when Uncle Pros begged for him/' 

The woman sighed and stirred uneasily, her eye 
stealthily seeking her husband's. 

In that little one-room hut there was no place for 
guests. Presently the men drifted out to the chip 
pile, where they lingered a while in desultory talk. 
Roxy and Johnnie, partly undressed, occupied the 
one bed; and later the host and his guest came in and 
lay down, clothed just as they were, with their feet to 
the fire, and slept. 

In the darkness just before dawn, Johnnie wakened 
from heavy sleep and raised her head to find that a 
clear fire was burning on the hearth and the two men 
were gone. Noiselessly she arose, and replaced her 
outer wear, thinking to slip away without disturbing 
Roxy. But when she returned softly to the interior, 
after laving face and hands out at the wash-basin, 
and ordering her abundant hair, she found the little 
woman up and clad, slicing bacon and making coffee 
of generous strength from their scanty store. 

"No — why, the idea!" cried Roxy. "Of course, 
you wasn't a-goin' on from no house o' mine 'thout no 
breakfast. Why, I say!" 

Johnnie's throat swelled at the humble kindness. 
They ate, thanked Roxy and her man Zack in the 
simple unefFusive mountain fajshion, and started away 

A CLUE 333 

in the twilight of dawn. The big road was barely 
reached, when they heard steps coming after them in 
the dusky and a breathless voice calling in a whisper, 
"Johnnie ! Johnnie T* 

The two turned and waited till Roxy came up. 

"I — ye dropped this on the floor," the woman 
said, fumbling in her pocket and bringing out a bit of 
paper. " I didn't know as it was of any value — and 
then again I didn't know but what it might be. 
Johnnie — " she broke ofi^ and stood peering hesitat- 
ingly into the gloom toward the girl's shining face. 

With a quick touch of the arm Johnnie signed to 
Pros to move on. As he swung out of earshot, the 
bulging light eyes, so like Mandy's, were suddenly 
dimmed by a rush of tears. 

" I reckon he'd beat me ef he knowed I told," Roxy 
gasped. " He ain't never struck me yit, and us married 
five year — but I reckon he'd beat me for that." 

Johnnie wisely forbore reply or interference of any 
sort. The woman gulped, drew her breath hard, 
and looked about her. 

" Johnnie," she whispered again, " the — that there 
thing they ride in — the otty-mobile — hit broke 
dbwn, and Zack was over to Pres Blevin's blacksmith 
shop a-he'pin' 'em work on it all day yesterday. You 
know Pres — he married Lura Dawson's aunt. 
Neither Himes nor Buckheath could git it to move, 
but by night they had it a-runnin' — or so hit would 
run. That's why you never saw tracks of it on the 
road — hit hadn't been along that yit. But hit's 


went on this morning. No — no — no ! I don't know 
whar it went. I don't know what they was aimin' 
to do. I don't know nothin' ! Don't ask me, Johnnie 
Consadine, I reckon I've said right now what's put 
my man's neck in danger. Oh, my God — I wish 
the men-folks would quit their fussin' an' feudin'!" 
And she turned and ran distractedly back into the 
cabin while Johnnie hurried on to join her uncle. 



JOHNNIE caught her uncle's hand and ran 
with him through the little thicket of saplings 
toward the main road. 

" We'll get the track of the wheels, and when we find 
that car — and Shade Buckheath — and Pap Himes. 
. . . I. . . .'* Johnnie panted, and did not 
finish her sentence. Her heart leaped when they came 
•upon the broad mark of the pneumatic tires still fresh 
in the lonely mountain road. 

"Looks like they might have passed here while 
we was standin' back there talkin' to Roxy,** Uncle 
Pros said. "They could have — we'd not have heard 
a thing that distance, through this thick woods. Won- 
der could we catch up with them ?'* 

Johnnie shook her head. She remembered the 
car flying up the ascents, swooping down long slopes 
and skimming like a bird across the levels, that morn- 
ing when she had driven it. 

"They'll go almost as fast as a railroad train. Uncle 
Pros," she told him, " but we must get there as soon 

as we can.'* 

After that scarcely a word was spoken, while the 
two, still hand in hand, made what speed they could. 



The morning waxed. The March sunshine was 
warm and pleasant. It was even hot, toiling endlessly 
up that mountain road. Now and again they met 
people who knew and saluted them, and who looked 
back at them curiously, furtively; at least it seemed 
so to the old man and the girl. Once a lean, hawk- 
nosed fellow ploughing a hillside field shouted across 

" Hey-oh, Pros Passmore ! How yuh come on ? 
I 'lowed the student doctors would 'a* had you, long 

Pros ventured no reply, save a wagging of the head. 

"That's Blaylock's cousin," he muttered to Johnnie. 
"Mighty glad we never went near *em last night." 

Once or twice they were delayed to talk. Johnnie 
would have hurried on, but her uncle warned her with 
a look to do nothing unusual. Everybody spoke to 
them of Gray Stoddard. Nobody had seen anything 
of him within a month of his disappearance, but 
several of them had "hearn say." 

"They tell me," vouchsafed a lanky boy dawdling 
with his axe at a chip pile, "that the word goes in 
Cottonville now, that he's took money and lit out for 
Canada. Town folks is always a-doin' such." 

"Like as not, bud," Pros assented gravely. "Me 
and Johnnie is goin' up to look after the old house, 
but we allowed to sleep to-night at Bushares's. Time 
enough to git to our place to-morrow." 

Johnnie, who knew that her uncle hoped to reach 
the Consadine cabin by noon, instantly understood 


that he considered' the possibility of this boy being 
a sort of picket posted to interview passers-by; and 
that the intention was to misinform him, so that he 
should not carry news of their approach. 

After this, they met no one, but swung on at their 
best pace, and for the most part in silence, husbanding 
strength and breath. Twelve o'clock saw them enter- 
ing that gash of the hills where the little cabin crouched 
against the great mountain wall. The ground became 
so rocky, that the track of the automobile was lost. 
At first it would be visible now and again on a bit of 
sandy loam, chain marks showing, where the tire left 
no impression; but, within a mile or so of the Con- 
sadine home, it seemed to have left the trail. When 
this point arrived, Johnnie differed from her uncle 
in choosing to hold to the road. 

"Honey, this ends the cyar-tracks. Looks like 
they'd turned out. I think they took off into the bushes 
here, and where that cyar goes we ought to go,** Pros 

But Johnnie hurried on ahead, looking about her 
eagerly. Suddenly she stooped with a cry and picked 
up from the path a small object. 

"They've carried him past this way," she panted. 
"Oh, Uncle Pros, he was right here not so very long 

She scrutinized the sparse growth, the leafless 
bushes about the spot, looking for signs of a struggle, 
and the question in her heart was, "My God, was 
he alive or dead ?" The thing she held in her hand 


was a blossom of the pink moccasin flower, carefully 
pressed, as though for the pages of a herbarium. The 
bit of paper to which it was attached was crumpled 
and discoloured. 

"Looks like it had laid out in the dew last night,** 
breathed Johnnie. 

"Or for a week,** supplied Pros. He scanned the 
little brown thing, then her face. 

"All right,** he said dubiously; "if that there tells 
you that he come a-past here, we'll foller this road — 
though it *pears to nie like we ought to stick to the 

"It isn't far to our house,** urged Johnnie. "Let's 
go there first, anyhow.** 

For a few minutes they pressed ahead in silence; 
then some subtle excitement made them break into 
a run. Thus they rounded the turn. The cabin 
came in sight. Its door swung wide on complaining 
hinges. The last of the rickety fence had fallen. 
The desolation and decay of a deserted house was over 

"There*s been folks here — lately,** panted Pros. 
"Look thar!** and he pointed to a huddle of baskets 
and garments on the porch. "Mind out! Go 
careful. They may be thar now.** 

They "went careful,** stealing up the steps and 
entering with caution; but they found nothing more 
alarming than the four bare walls, the ash-strewn, 
fireless hearth, the musty smell of a long-unoccupied 
house. Near the back door, at a spot where the dust 


was thick, Uncle Pros bent to examine a foot-print, 
when an exclamation from Johnnie called him through 
to the rear of the cabin. 

*'See the door!'' she cried, running up the steep 
way toward the cave spring-house. 

"Hold on, honey. Go easy,'* cautioned her uncle, 
following as fast as he could. He noted the whittling 
where the sapling bar that held the stout oaken door 
in place had been recently shaped to its present pur- 
pose. Then a soft, rhythmic sound like a giant breath- 
ing in his sleep caught the old hunter's keen ear. 

"Watch out, Johnnie,*' he called, catching her arm. 
"What's that.? Listen!" 

Her fingers were almost on the bar. They could 
hear the soft lip-lip of the water as it welled out beneath 
the threshold, mingled with the tinkle and fall of the 
spring branch below. 

Johnnie turned in her uncle's grasp and clutched 
him, staring down. Something shining and dark, 
brave with brass and flashing lamps, stood on the 
rocky way beneath, and purred like a great cat in the 
broad sunlight of noon — Gray Stoddard's motor 
car! The two, clinging to each other on the steep 
above it, gazed half incredulous, now that they had 
found the thing they sought. It looked so unbeliev- 
ably adequate and modern and alive standing there, 
drawing its perfectly measured breath; it was so elo- 
quent of power and the work of men's hands that there 
seemed to yawn a gap of half a thousand years be- 
tween it and the raid in which it was being made a 


factor. That this pet toy of the modern millionaire 
should be set to work out the crude vengeance of wild 
men in these primitive surroundings, crowded up on 
a little rocky path of these savage mountains, at the 
door of a cave spring-house — such a food-cache as a 
nomad Indian might have utilized, in the gray blufF 
against the sky-line — it took the breath with its 
sinister strangeness. 

They turned to the barred door. The cave was 
a sizable opening running far back into the mountain; 
indeed, the end of it had never been explored, but 
the vestibule containing the spring was fitted with rude 
benches and shelves for holding pans of milk and jars 
of buttermilk. 

As Johnnie's hand went out to the newly cut bar, 
her uncle once more laid a restraining grasp upon it. 
A dozen men might be on the other side of the oaken 
door, and there might be nobody, 

"Hello!" he called, guardedly. 

No answer came; but within there was a sound of 
clinking, and then a shuffling movement. The pant- 
ing motor spoke loud of those who had brought it 
there, who must be expecting to return to it very 
shortly. Johnnie's nerves gave way. 

"Hello! Is there anybody inside?" she demanded 

"Who's there? Who is it?" came a muffled hail 
from the cave, in a voice that sent the blood to Johnnie's 
heart with a sudden shock. 

"Uncle Pros, we've found him!" she screamed. 


pushing the old man aside, and tugging at the bar 
which held the door in place. As she worked, there 
came a curious clinking sound, and then the dull im- 
pact of a heavy fall; and when she dragged the bar 
loose, swung the door wide and peered into the gloom, 
there was nothing but the silvery reach of the great 
spring, and beyond it a prone figure in russet riding- 

"Uncle Pros — he's hurt! Oh, help me!'* she cried. 

The prostrate man struggled to turn his face to 

"Is that you, Johnnie?'* Gray Stoddard's voice 
asked. "No, I'm not hurt. These things tripped 
me up." 

The two got to him simultaneously. They found 
him in heavy shackles. They noted how ankle and 
wrist chains had been rivetted in place. Together 
they helped him up. 

As they did so tears ran down Johnnie's cheeks 
unreg^,rded. Passmore deeply moved, yet quiet, stud- 
ied him covertly. This, then, was the man of whom 
Johnnie thought so much, the rich young fellow who 
had left his work or amusements to come and cheer 
a sick old man in the hospital; this was the face that 
was a stranger's to him, but which had leaned over his 
cot or sat across the checker-board from him for long 
hours, while they talked or played together. That face 
was pale now, the brown hair, "a little longer than 
other people wore it," tossed helplessly in Stoddard's 
eyes, because he scarcely could raise his shackled 


hands to put it right; his russet-brown clothing was 
torn and grimed, as though with more than one 
struggle, though it may have been nothing worse than 
such mishap as his recent fall. Yet the man's soul 
looked out of his eyes with the same composure, the 
same kindness that always were his. He was eaten 
by neither terror nor rage, though he was alert for 
every possibility of help, or of advantage. 

"You, Johnnie — you!" whispered Gray, struggling 
to his knees with their assistance, and catching a fold 
of her dress in those manacled hands. "I have 
dreamed about you here in the dark. It is you — it 
is really Johnnie." 

He was pale, dishevelled, with a long mark of black 
leaf-mould across his cheek from his recent fall; and 
Johnnie bent speechlessly to wipe the stain away and 
put back the troublesome lock. He looked up into 
the brave beauty of her young, tear-wet face. 

"Thank God for you, Johnnie," he murmured. "I 
might have known I wouldn't be let to die here in the 
dark like a rat in a hole while Johnnie lived." 

"Whar's them that brought you here? The 
keepers?" questioned the old man anxiously, in a 
hoarse, hurried whisper. 

"Dawson's gone to his dinner," returned Gray. 
"There were others here — came in an auto — I 
heard that. They've been quarrelling for more than 
an hour." 

— " About what they'd do with you," broke in Pros. 
"Yes, part of 'em wants to put you out of the way. 


of course." He stooped, eagerly examining the shackles 
on Gray's ankles. "No way to git them things off 
without time and a file/' he muttered, shaking his 

"No," agreed Stoddard. "And I can't run much 
with them on. But we must get away from here as 
quick as we can. Dawson came in and told me after 
the other had gone that they had a big row, and he 
was standing out for me. Said he'd never give in to 
have me taken down and tied on the railroad track 
in Stryver's Gulch." 

Johnnie's fair face whitened at the sinister words. 

"The car!" she cried. "It's your own, Mr. 
Stoddard, and it's right down here. Uncle Pros, 
we can get him to it — I can run it — I know how." 
She put her shoulder under Stoddard's, catching the 
manacled hand in hers. Pros laid hold on the other 
side, and between them they half carried the shackled 
captive around the spring and to the door. 

"Leggo, Johnnie!" cried her uncle. "You run 
on down and see if that contraption will go. I can git 
him thar now." 

Johnnie instantly loosed the arm she held, sprang 
through the doorway, and headlong down the bluffy 
steep, stones rattling about her. She leaped into the 
car. Would her memory serve her ? Would she for- 
get some detail that she must know? There were 
two levers under the steering-wheel. She advanced 
her spark and partly opened the throttle. From the 
steady, comfortable purr which had undertoned all 


sounds in the tiny ^en, the machine burst at once 
into a deep-toned roar. The narrow depression 
vibrated with its joyous clamour. 

Suddenly, above the sound, Johnnie was aware of 
a distant hail, which finally resolved itself into nirords. 

** Hi ! Hoo — ee ! You let that car alone, whoever 
you are/* 

She glanced over her shoulder; Passmore had got 
Gray to the top of the declivity, and was attempting 
to help him down. Both men evidently heard the 
challenge, but she screamed to them again and again. 

'' Hurry, oh hurry ! They're coming — the/re com- 

Stoddard had been stepping as best he could, hob- 
bling along in the hampering leg chains, that were 
attached to the wrists also, and twitched on his hands 
with every step. His muscles responded to Johnnie's 
cry almost automatically, stiffening to an eflFort at 
extra speed, and he fell headlong, dragging Pros 
down with him. Despairingly Johnnie started to 
climb down from the car and go to their aid, but 
her uncle leaped to his feet clawing and grabbing to 
find a hold around Gray's waist, panting out, **Stay 
thar — Johnnie — I can fetch him.'' 

With a straining heave he hoisted Gray's helpless 
body into his arms. The car trembled like a great, 
eager monster, growling in leash. Johnnie's agonized 
eyes searched first its mechanism, and then went to 
the descending figures, where her uncle plunged des- 
perately down the slope, fell, struggled, rolled, but 


rose and came gallantly on, half dragging, half carry- 
ing Gray in his arms. 

"Let that car alone!" a new voice took up the hail, 
a little nearer this time; and after it came the sound of 
a shot. High up on the mountain's brow, against 
the sky, Johnnie caught a glimpse of the heads and 
shoulders of men, with the slanting bar of a gun barrel 

over one. 

Oh, hurry. Uncle Pros!'* she sobbed. "Let me 
come back and help you.'* 

But Passmore stumbled across the remaining space; 
mutely, with drawn face and loud, labouring breath 
he lifted Gray and thrust him any fashion into the 
tonneau, climbing blindly after. 

The pursuit on the hill above broke into the open. 
Johnnie moved the levers as Gray had shown her how 
to do, and with a bound of the great machine, they 
were oiF. Stoddard, dazed, bruised, abraded, was back 
in the tonneau struggling up with Uncle Pros's assis- 
tance. He could not help her. She must know for 
herself and do the right thing. The track led through 
the bushes, as they had found it that morning. It 
was fairly good, but terribly steep. She noted that 
the speed lever was at neutral. She slipped it over 
to the first speed; the car was already leaping down 
the hill at a tremendous pace; yet those yelling voices 
were behind, and her pushing fingers carried the 
lever through second to the third speed without pausing. 

Under this tremendous pressure the car jumped like 
a nervous horse, lurched drunkenly down the short 


way, but reeled successfully around the turn at the 
bottom. Johnnie knew this was going too fast. She 
debated the possibility of slackening the speed a bit 
as they struck the highway, such as it was. Uncle 
Pros, yet gasping, was trying to help Gray into the 
seat; but with his hampering manacles and the jerking 
of the car, the younger man was still on his knees, 
when the chase burst through the bushes, scarcely 
more than three hundred feet behind them. 

There was a hoarse baying of men's voices; there 
were four of them running hard, and two carried guns. 
The noise of the machine, of course, prevented its 
occupants from distinguishing any word, but the men- 
ace of the open pursuit was apparent. 

"Johnnie!" cried Gray. "Oh, this won't del 
For God's sake, Mr. Passmore, help me over there. 
They wouldn't want to hurt her — but they're going 
to shoot. She " 

The old man thrust Gray down, with a hand on 
his shoulder. 

" You keep out o' range," he shouted close to Gray's 
ear. "They won't aim to hit Johnnie; but you 
they'll pick off as far as they can see ye. Bend low, 
honey," to the girl in the driver's seat. "But freeze 
to it. Johnnie ain't no niece of mine if she goes back 
on a friend." 

The girl in front heard neither of them. There 
was a bellowing detonation, and a spatter of shot 
fell about the flying car. 

"That ain't goin' to hurt nobody," commented 


Pros philosophically. "It's no more than buck-shot 

But on the word followed a more ominous crack, 
and there was the whine of a bullet above them. 

" My God, I can't let her do this," Gray protested. 
But Johnnie turned over her shoulder a shining face 
from which all weariness had suddenly been erased, 
a glorified countenance that flung him the fleeting 
smile she had time to spare from the machine. 

"You're in worse danger right now from my driving 
than you are from their guns," she panted. 

As she spoke there sounded once more the ripping 
crack of a rifle, the singing of a bullet past them, and 
with it the flatter, louder noise of the shot-gun was 
repeated. Her eye in the act of turning to her task, 
caught the silhouette of old Gideon Himes's uncouth 
figure relieved against the noonday sky, as he sprang 
high, both arms flung up, the hands empty and clutch- 
ing, and pitched headlong to his face. But her mind 
scarcely registered the impression, for a rifle ball 
struck the shaly edge of a bluff under which the road 
at this point ran, and tore loose a piece of the slate- 
like rock, which glanced whirling into the tonneau 
and grazed Gray Stoddard's temple. He fell forward, 
crumpling down into the bottom of the vehicle. 

"On — go on, honey!" yelled Pros, motioning 
vehemently to the girl. " Don't look back here — I'll 
tend to him"; and he stooped over the motionless 

Then came the roaring impression of speed, of 


rushing bushes that gathered themselves and ran back 
past the car while, working under full power, it stood 
stationary, as it seemed to Johnnie, in the middle 
of a long, dusty gray ribbon that was the road. The 
cries of the men behind them, all sounds of pursuit, 
were soon left so far in the distance that they were 

" Ain't this rather fast f '* shouted Uncle Pros, who 
had lifted Stoddard's bleeding head to his knee and, 
crouched on the bottom of the tonneau, was shielding 
the younger man from further injury as the motor 
lurched and pitched. 

"Yes, it's too fast," Johnnie screamed back to him. 
"I'm trying to go slower, but the foot-brake won't 
hold. Uncle Pros, is he hurt? Is he hurt bad?" 

"I don't think so, honey," roared the old man 
stoutly, guarding Gray's inert body with his arm. 
Then, stretching up as he kneeled, and leaning forward 
as close to her ear as he could get: " But ^ you git 
him to Cottonville quick as you can. Don't you 
werry about goin' slow, unlessen you're scared your- 
self. Thar ain't no tellin' who might pop up from 
behind these here bushes and take a chance shQt at us 
as we go by." 

Johnnie worked over her machine wildly. Gray 
had told her of the foot-brake only; but her hand en- 
countering the lever of the emergency brake, she grasped 
it at a hazard and shoved it forward, as the god of 
luck had ordered, just short of a zigzag in the steep 
mountain road which, at the speed they had been 


making, would have piled them, a mass of wreckage, 
beneath the cliflF. 

The sudden, violent check — shooting along at the 
speed they were, it amounted almost to a stoppage 
— gave the girl a sense of power. If she could do that, 
they were fairly safe. With the relief, her brain 
cleared; she was able to study the machine with 
some calmness. Gray could not help her — out of 
the side of her eye she could see where he lay inert 
and senseless in Passmore's hold. The lives of all 
three depended on her cool head at this moment. 
She remembered now all that Stoddard had said the 
morning he taught her to run the car. With one move- 
ment she threw off the switch, thus stopping the engine, 
entirely. They must make it to Cottonville running 
by gravity wherever they could; since she had no 
means of knowing that there was sufficient gasoline 
in the tank, and it would not do to be overtaken or 

On and on they flew, around quick turns, along nar- 
row ways that skirted tall bluffs, over stretches of 
comparatively level road, where Johnnie again 
switched on the engine and speeded up. They were 
skimming down from the upper Unakas like a great 
bird whose powerful wings make nothing of distance. 
But Johnnie's heart was as lead when she glanced back 
at the motionless figure in the tonneau, the white, blood- 
streaked face that lay on her uncle's arm. She turned 
doggedly to her steering-wheel and levers, and took 
greater chances than ever with the going, for speed's 


sake. The boy they had talked with two hours before 
at the chip pile, met them afoot. He leaped into the 
bushes to let them pass, and stared after them with 
dilated eyes. Johnnie never knew what he shouted. 
They only saw his mouth open and working. Merci- 
fully, so far, they had met no vehicles. But now the 
higher, wilder mountains were behind them, there 
was an occasional horseman. As they neared Cot- 
tonville, and teams were numerous on the road, 
Johnnie, jealously unwilling to slacken speed, kept 
the horn going almost continuously. People in wagons 
and buggies, or on foot, drawn out along the roadside, 
cupped hands to lips and yelled startled inquiries. 
Johnnie bent above the steering-wheel and paid no 
attention. Uncle Pros tried to answer with gesticu- 
lation or a shouted word, and sometimes those he 
replied to turned and ran, calling to others. But 
it was black Jim, riding on Roan Sultan, out with the 
searchers, who saw and understood. He looked down 
across the great two-mile turn beyond the Gap, and 
sighted the climbing car. Where he stood it was less 
than an eighth of a mile below him; he could almost 
have thrown a stone into it. He bent in his saddle, 
shaded his eyes, and gazed intently. 

" Fo' God ! " he muttered under his breath. " That's 
Mr. Gray hisself ! Them's the clothes he was wearin' ! " 

Whirling his horse and digging in the spurs, he 
rattled pell-mell down the opposite steep toward Cot- 
tonville, shouting as he went. 

" They've done got him — they've found him ! Miss 


Johnnie Consadine's a-bringin' him down in his own 

At the Hardwick place, where the front lawn sloped 
down with its close-trimmed, green-velvet sward, 
stood two horses. Charlie Conroy had come out as 
soon as the alarm was raised to help with the search. 
He and Lydia had ridden together each day since. 
Moving slowly along a quiet ravine yesterday, out 
of sight and hearing of the other searchers, Conroy 
had found an intimate moment in which to urge his 
suit. She had begged a little time to consider, with so 
encouraging an aspect that, this morning, when he 
came out that they might join the party bound for 
the mountains, he brought the ring in his pocket. 
The bulge of the big diamond showed through her 
left-hand glove. She had taken him at last. She 
told herself that it was the only thing to do. Harriet 
Hardwick, who had returned from Watauga, since 
her sister would not come to her, stood in the door 
of the big house regarding them with a countenance 
of distinctly chastened rejoicing. Conroy's own frame 
or mind was evident; deep satisfaction radiated from 
his commonplace countenance. He was to be Jerome 
Hardwick's brother-in-law, an intimate member of 
the mill crowd. He was as near being in love with 
Lydia Sessions at that moment as he ever would be. 
As for Lydia herself, the last week had brought that 
thin face of hers to look all of its thirty odd years; 
and the smile which she turned upon her affianced 


was the product of conscientious effort. She was safely 
in her saddle, and Conroy had just swung up to his 
own, when Jim came pelting down the Gap road 
toward the village. They could see him across the 
slope of the hill. Conroy cantered hastily up the 
street a bit to hear what the boy was vociferating. 
Lydia's nerves quivered at sight of him returning. 

"Hurrah! Hurrah!" shouted Conroy, waving his 
cap. "Lord, Lord; Did you hear that, Lydia? 
Hoo-ee, Mrs. Hardwick! Did you hear what Jim's 
saying? They've got Gray! Johnnie Consadine's 
bringing him — in his own car." Then turning once 
more to his companion: "Come on, dear; we'll ride 
right down to the hospital. Jim said he was hurt. 
That's where she would take him. That Johnnie 
Consadine of yours is the girl — isn't she a wonder, 

Lydia braced herself. It had come, and it was 
worse than she could have anticipated. She cringed 
inwardly in remembrance; she wished she had not 
let Conroy make that pitying reference — unreproved, 
uncorrected — to Stoddard's being a rejected man. 
But perhaps they were bringing Gray in dead, after 
all — she tried not to hope so. 

The auto became visible, a tiny dark speck, away 
up in the Gap. Then it was sweeping down the Gap 
road; and once more Conroy swung his cap and 
shouted, though it is to be questioned that any one 
marked him. 

Below in the village the noisy clatter brought people 


to door and casement. At the Himes boarding-house, 
a group had gathered by the gate. At the window 
above, in an arm-chair, sat a thin little woman with 
great dark eyes, holding a sick child in her lap. The 
sash was up, and both were carefully wrapped in a big 
shawl that was drawn over the two of them. 

"Sis* Johnnie is comin' back; she sure is comin' 
back soon,*' Laurella was crooning to her baby. "And 
we ain't goin' to work in no cotton mill, an' we ain't 
goin' to live in this ol' house any more. Next thing 
we're a-goin' away with Sis' Johnnie and have a fi-ine 
house, where Pap Himes can't come about to be cross 
to Deanie." 

High up on Unaka Mountain, where a cluttered 
mass of rock reared itself to front the noonday sun, an 
old man's figure, prone, the hands clutched full of 
leaf-mould, the gray face down amid the fern, Gideon 
Himes would never offer denial to those plans, nor 
seek to follow to that fine house. 

The next moment an automobile flashed into sight 
coming down the long lower slope from the Gap, 
the horn blowing continuously, horsemen, pedestrians, 
buggies and wagons fleeing to the roadside bushes as 
it roared past in its cloud of dust. 

"Look, honey, look — yon's Sis' Johnnie now!" 
cried Laurella. "She's a-runnin' Mr. Stoddard's 
car. An' thar's Unc' Pros. . . . Is — my Lord! 
Is that Mr. Stoddard hisself, with blood all over him ?" 

Lydia and Conroy, hurrying down the street, drew 
up on the fringes of the little crowd that had gathered 


and was augmenting every moment, and Johnnie's 
face was turned to Stoddard in piteous questioning. 
His eyes were open now. He raised himself a bit on 
her uncle's arm, and declared in a fairly audible voice: 

"I'm all right. I'm not hurt." 

"Somebody git me a glass of water," called Uncle 

Mavity Bence ran out with one, but when she got 
close enough to see plainly the shackled figure Pass- 
more supported, she thrust the glass into Mandy 
Meacham's hand and flung her apron over her head. 

"Good Lord!" she moaned. "I reckon they've 
killed him. They done one of my brothers that-a-way 
in feud times, and throwed him over a bluff. Oh, 
my Lord ; Why will men be so mean ? " 

Pros had taken the glass from Mandy and held it 
to Gray's lips. Then he dashed part of the remaining 
water on Stoddard's handkerchief and with Mandy's 
help, got the blood cleared away. 

From every shanty, women and children came hasten- 
ing — men hurried up from every direction. 

" Look at her — look at Johnnie ! " cried Beulah 
Catlett. " Pony ! Milo ! " turning back into the house, 
where the boys lay sleeping. " Come out here and look 
at your sister!" 

"Did ye run it all by yourself, Sis' Johnnie ?" piped 
Lissy from the porch. 

The girl in the driver's seat smiled and nodded to 
the child. 

"Are you through there. Uncle Pros.^" asked 


Johnnie. "We must get Mr. Stoddard on to his 

The women and children drew back, the crowd 
ahead parted, and the car got under way once more. 
The entire press of people followed in its wake, surged 
about it, augmenting at every corner. 

"I'm afraid my horse won't stand this sort of thing," 
Lydia objected, desperately, reining in. Conroy 
glanced at her in surprise. Bay Dick was the soberest 
of mounts. Then he looked wistfully after the crowd. 

"Would you mind if I — " he began, and broke 
off to say contritely, "I'll go back with you if you'd 
rather." It was evident that Lydia would make of 
him a thoroughly disciplined husband. 

"Never mind," she said, locking her teeth. "I'll 
go with you." One might as well have it done and 
over with. And they hurried on to make up for lost 

They saw the car turn in to the street which led to 
the Hardwick factory. Somebody had hurried ahead 
and told MacPherson and Jerome Hardwick; and just 
as they came in sight, the office doors burst open 
and the two men came running hatless down the steps. 
Suddenly the factory whistles roared out the signal 
that had been agreed upon, which bellowed to the 
hills the tidings that Gray Stoddard was found. Three 
long calls and a short one — that meant that he 
was found alive. As the din of it died down, 
Hexter's mills across the creek took up the message, 
and when they were silent, the old Victory came in 


on their heels, bawling it again. Every whistle 
in Cottonville gave tongue, clamouring hoarsely above 
the valley, and out across the ranges, to the hun- 
dreds at their futile search, " Gray Stoddard is found. 
Stoddard is found. Alive. He is brought in alive." 

MacPherson ran up to one side of the car and Hard- 
wick to the other. 

"Are you hurt?" inquired the Scotchman, his 
hands stretched out. 

"Can you get out and come in?" Hardwick de- 
manded eagerly. 

On the instant, the big gates swung wide, the 
factory poured out a tide of people as though the 
building had been afire. At sight of Stoddard, the car, 
and Johnnie, a cheer went up, spontaneous, heart- 

" My God — look at that ! " MacPherson's eyes 
had encountered the shackles on Stoddard's wrists. 

" Lift him down — lift him out," cried Jerome 
Hardwick. With tears on his tanned cheeks the 
Scotchman complied; and Hard wick's eyes, too, were 
wet as he saw it. 

"We'll have those things off of him in no time," he 
shouted. "Here, let's get him in to the couch in my 
office. Send some of the mechanics here. Where's 
Shade Buckheath?" 

A dozen pairs of hands were stretched up to assist 
MacPherson and Pros Passmore. As many as could 
get to the rescued man helped. And when the crowd 
saw that shackled figure raised, and heard in the tense 


silence the clinking sound of the chains, a low groan 
went through it; more than one woman sobbed aloud. 
But at this Gray raised his head a bit, and once more 
declared in a fairly strong voice: 

" I'm not hurt, people — only a little crack on the 
head. Tm all right — thanks to her/' and he motioned 
toward the girl in the car, who was watching anxiously. 

Then the ever thickening throng went wild; and 
as Gray was carried up the steps and disappeared 
through the office doors, it turned toward the auto- 
mobile, surging about the car, a sea of friendly, admir- 
ing faces, most of them touched with the tenderness 
of tears, and cheered its very heart out for Johnnie 



GRAY!** it was Uncle Proses voice, and Uncle 
Proses face looked in at the office door. 
"Could I bother you a minute about the side- 
walk in front of the place up yon ? Mr. Hexter told 
me youM know whether the grade was right, and I 
could let the workmen go ahead/' 

Stoddard swung around from his desk and looked 
at the old man. 

"Come right in,** he said. "Fm not busy — Vm 
just pretending this morning. MacPherson won't give 
me anything to do. He persists in considering me still 
an invalid.** 

Uncle Pros came slowly in and laid his hat down 
gingerly before seating himself. He was dressed in 
the garb which, with money, he would always have 
selected — the village ideal of a rich gentleman's wear 
— and he looked unbelievably tall and imposing in 
his black broadcloth. When the matter of the patent 
was made known to Jerome Hardwick, a company 
was hastfly formed to take hold of it, which advanced 
the ready money for Johnnie and her family to place 
themselves. Mrs. Hexter, who had been all winter 
in Boston, had decided, suddenly, to go abroad; and 



when her husband wired her to know if he might let 
the house to the Consadine-Passmore household, she 
made a quick, warm response. 

So they were domiciled in a ready-prepared home 
of elegance and beauty. Though the place at Cotton- 
ville had been only a winter residence with Mrs. Hexter, 
she w^s a woman of taste, and had always had large 
means at her command. With all a child's plasticity, 
Laurella dropped into the improved order of things. 
Her cleverness in selecting the proper wear for herself 
and children was nothing short of marvellous; and her 
calm acceptance of the new state of affairs, the acme 
of good breeding. Johnnie immediately set about 
seeing that Mavity Bence and Mandy Meacham were 
comfortably provided for in the old boarding-house, 
where she assured Gray they could do more good than 
many Uplift clubs. 

"We'll have a truck-patch there, and a couple of 
cows and some chickens,'' she said. "That'll be good 
for the table, and it'll give Mandy the work she loves to 
do. Aunt Mavity can have some help in the house — 
there's always a girl or two breaking down in the mills, 
who would be glad to have a chance at housework 
for a while." 

Now Pros looked all about him, and seemed in no 
haste to begin, though Gray knew well there was 
something on his mind. Finally Stoddard observed, 

"You're the very man I wanted to see. Uncle Pros. 
I rang up the house just now, but Johnnie said you had 


started down to the mills. What do you think I*ve 
found out about our mine ?'* 

Certainly the old man looked very tall and dignified 
in his new splendours; but now he was all boy, leaning 
eagerly forward to half whisper: 

" I don't know — what ?'* 

Stoddard's face was scarcely less animated as he 
searched hastily in the pigeon-holes of his desk. The 
patent might have a company to manage its affairs, 
but the mine on Big Unaka was sacred to these two, in 
whom the immortal urchin sufficiently survived to 
make mine-hunting and exploiting delectable employ- 

''Why, Uncle Pros, it isn't silver at all. It's — " 
Gray looked up and caught the woeful drop of the face 
before him, and hastened on to add, "It's better than 
silver — it's nickel. The price of silver fluctuates; 
but the world supply of nickel is limited, and nickel's 
a sure thing." 

Pros Passmore leaned back in his chair, digesting 
this new bit of information luxuriously. 

"Nickel," he said reflectively. And again he 
repeated the word to himself. " Nickel. Well, I don't 
know but what that's finer. Leastways, it's likelier. 
To say a silver mine, always seemed just like taking 
money out of the ground; but then, nickels are money 
too — and enough of 'em is all a body needs." 

"These people say the ore is exceptionally fine." 
Stoddard had got out the letter now and was glancing 
over it. "They're sending down an expert, and you 


and I will go up with him as soon as he gets 'here. 
There are likely to be other valuable minerals as by- 
products in a nickel mine. And we want to build an 
ideal mining village, as well as model cotton mills. 
Oh, we've got the work cut out for us and laid right to 
hand ! If we don't do our little share toward solving 
some problems, it will be strange." 

"Cur'us how things turns out in this world," the old 
man ruminated. "Ever sence I was a little chap settin* 
on my granddaddy's knees by the hearth — big hickory 
fire a-roarin' up the chimbly, wind a-goin' *whooh!' 
overhead, an' me with my eyes like saucers a-listenin' 
to his tales of the silver mine that the Injuns had — ever 
sence that time I've hunted that thar mine." He 
laughed chucklingly, deep in his throat. "Thar 
wasn't a wild-catter that could have a hideout safe 
from me. They just had to trust me. I crawled 
into every hole. I came mighty near seein' the end 
of every cave — but one. And that cave was the 
one whar my Mammy kept her milk and butter — the 
springhouse whar they put you in prison. Somehow, 
I never did think about goin' to the end of that. 
Looked like it was too near home to have a silver 
mine in it; and thar the stuff lay and waited for the day 
when I should take a notion to find a pretty rock for 
Deanie, and crawl back in thar and keep a crawlin', 
till I just fell over it, all croppin' out in the biggest 
kind of vein." 

Gray had heard Uncle Pros tell the story many 
times, but it had a perennial charm. 


"Then I lost six months — plumb lost *em, you know. 
And time I come to myself, Johnnie an' me was a-huntin* 
for you. And there we found you shut in that thar same 
cave; and I was so tuck up with that matter that I 
never once thought, till I got you home, to wonder did 
Buckheath and the rest of *em know that they'd penned 
you in the silver mine. I ain't never asked you, but 
you'd have knowed if they had." 

" I should have known anything that Rudd Dawson 
or Groner or Venters knew," Gray said, "but I'm not 
sure about Buckheath or Himes. However, Himes 
is dead, and Buckheath — I don't suppose anybody 
in Cottonville will ever see him again." 

Pros's face changed instantly. He leaned abruptly 
forward and laid a hand on the other's knee. 

" That's exactly what I came down here to speak with 
you about. Gray," he said. "They've fetched Shade 
Buckheath in — now, what do you make out of that ?" 

Stoddard shoved the letter from the Eastern mining 
man back in its pigeon-hole. 

"Well," he said slowly, "I didn't expect that. I 
thought of course Shade was safely out of the country. 
I — Passmore, I'm sorry they've got him." After 
a little silence he spoke again. "What do I make of 
it ? Why, that there are some folks up on Big Unaka 
who need pretty badly to appear as very law-abiding 
citizens. I'll wager anything that Groner and Rudd 
Dawson brought Shade in." 

Uncle Pros nodded seriously. "Them's the very 
fellers," he said. "Reckon they've talked pretty free 


to you. I never axed ye, Gray — how did they treat 

** Dawson was the best friend I had," Stoddard 
returned promptly. "When I got to the big turn on 
Sultan — coming home that Friday morning — Buck- 
heath met me, and asked me to go down to Burnt 
Cabin and help him with a man that had fallen and 
hurt himself on the rocks. Dawson told me afterward 
that he and Jesse Groner were posted at the roadside 
to stop me and hem me in before I got to the bluff. 
IVe described to you how Buckheath tried to back 
Sultan over the edge, and I got off on the side where 
the two were, not noticing them till they tied me hand 
and foot. They almost came to a clinch with Buck- 
heath then and there. You ought to have heard Groner 
swear! It was like praying gone wrong." 

"Uh-huh," agreed Pros, "Jess is a terrible wicked 
man — in speech that-a-way — but he's good-hearted." 

"That first scrimmage showed me just what the men 
were after," Stoddard said. "Buckheath plainly 
wanted me put out of the way; but the others had some 
vague idea of holding me for a ransom and getting 
money out of the Hardwicks. Dawson complained 
always that he thought the mills owed him money. 
He said they must have sold his girl's body for as much 
as a hundred dollars, and he felt that he'd been cheated. 
Oh, it was all crazy stuff! But he and the others had 
justified themselves; and they had no notion of standing 
for what Buckheath was after. I was one of the cotton- 
mill men to them; they had no personal malice. 


Through the long evenings when Groner or Dawson 
or Will Venters was guarding me — or maybe all three 
of them — we used to talk; and it surprised me to find 
how simple and childish those fellows were. They 
were as kind to me as though I had been a brother, 
and treated me courteously always. 

" Little by little, I got at the whole thing from them. 
It seems that Buckheath took advantage of the feeling 
there was in the mountains against the mill men on 
account of the hospital and some other matters. He 
went up there and interviewed anybody that he thought 
might join him in a vendetta. I imagine he found 
plenty of them that were ready to talk and some that 
were willing to do; but it chanced that Dawson and 
Jesse Groner were coming down to Cottonville that 
morning I passed Buckheath at the Hardwick gate, 
and he must have cut across the turn and followed 
me, intending to pick a quarrel. Then he met Dawson 
and Groner and framed up this other plan with their 


Uncle Pros, I want you to help me out. If Buck- 
heath has to stand trial, how are we — any of us — 
going to testify without making it hard on the Dawson 
crowd .? I expect to live here the rest of my days. 
Here's this mine of ours. And right here I mean to 
build a big mill and work out my plans. I think you 
know that I hope to marry a mountain wife, and I 
can't afford to quarrel with those folks." 

Uncle Pros's chin dropped to his breast, his eyes 
half closed as he sat thinking intently. 


"Well," he said finally, "they won't have nothing 
worse than manslaughter against Shade. It can't 
be proved that he intended to shoot Pap — 'cause 
he didn't. If he was shootin' after us — there's the 
thing we don't want to bring up. You was down in 
the bottom of the cyar, an' I had my back to him, 
and so did Johnnie, and we don't know anything about 
what was done — ain't that so ? As for you, you've 
already told Mr. Hardwick and the others that you 
was taken prisoner and detained by parties unknown. 
Johnnie an' me was gettin' you out of the springhouse 
and away in the machine. Then Gid and Shade 
comes up, and thinkin* we're the other crowd stealin' 
the machine — they try to catch us and turn loose at 
us — that makes a pretty good story, don't it?" 

" It does if Dawson and Groner and Venters agree 
to it," Stoddard laughed. "But somebody will have 
to communicate with them before they tell another one 
— or several others." 

"I'll see to that. Gray," Pros said, rising a^d pre- 
paring to go. "Boy," he looked down fondly at the 
younger man, and set a brown right hand on his 
shoulder, "you never done a wiser thing nor a kinder 
in your life, than when you forgave your enemies that 
time. I'll bet you could ride the Unakas from end 
to end, the balance o' your days, the safest man that 
ever travelled their trails." 

"Talking silver mine?" inquired MacPherson, put- 
ting his quizzical face in at the door. 

No," returned Stoddard. " We were just mention- 



ing my pestilent cotton-mill projects. By this time 
next year, you and Hardwick will be wanting to have 
me abated as a nuisance/^ 

**No, no," remonstrated MacPherson, coming in and 
leaning with aflFectionate familiarity on the younger 
man's chair. "There's no pestilence in you. Gray. 
You couldn't be a nuisance if you tried. People who 
will work out their theories stand to do good in the 
world; it's only the fellows who are content with 
bellowing them out that I object to." 

"Better be careful!" laughed Stoddard. "We'll 
make you vice-president of the company." 

"Is that an offer ?" countered MacPherson swiftly. 
"I've got a bit of money to invest in this county; and 
Hardwick has ever a new brother-in-law or such that 
looks longingly at my shoes." 

"You'd furnish the conservative element, surely," 
debated Stoddard. 

"I'd keep you from bankruptcy," grunted the 
Scotchman, as he laid a small book on Gray's desk. 
"I doubt not Providence demands it of me." 

Evening was closing in with a greenish-yellow sunset, 
and a big full moon pushing up to whiten the sky above 
it. It was late March now, and the air was full of 
vernal promise. Johnnie stepped out on the porch 
and glanced toward the west. She was expecting 
Gray that evening. Would there be time before he 
came, she wondered, for a little errand she wanted to 
do? Turning back into the hall, she caught a jacket 
from the hook where it hung and hurried down to the 


gate, settling her arms in the sleeves as she ran. There 
would be time if she went fast. She wished to get the 
little packet into which she had made Gray's letters 
months ago, dreading to look even at the folded out- 
sides of them, tucking them away on the high shelf 
of her dress-closet at the Pap Himes boarding-house, 
and trying to forget them. Nobody would know where 
to look but herself. She got permission from Mavity 
to go upstairs. Once there, the letters made their own 
plea; and alone in the little room that was lately her 
own, she opened the packet, carrying the contents 
to the fading light and glancing over sheet after sheet. 
She knew them all by heart. How often she had 
stood at that very window devouring these same words, 
not realizing then, as she did now, what deep meaning 
was in each phrase, how the feeling expressed increased 
from the first to the last. Across the ravine, one of the 
loom fixers found the evening warm enough to sit on 
the porch playing his guitar. The sound of the 
twanging strings, and the appealing vibration of his 
young voice in a plaintive minor air, came over to her. 
She gathered the sheets together and pressed them to 
her face as though they were flowers, or the hands of 
little children. 

"IVe got to tell him — to-night," she whispered to 
herself, in the dusky, small, dismantled room. "Tve 
got to get him to see it as I do. I must make my- 
self worthy of him before I let him take me for his 


She thrust the letters into the breast-pocket of her 


coat and ran downstairs. Mavity Bence stood in the 
hall, plainly awaiting her. 

"Honey," she began fondly, "IVe been putting away 
Pap*s things to-day — jest like you oncet found me 
putting away Lou's. I came on this here.** And 
then Johnnie noticed a folded bandanna in her hands. 

" You-all asked me to let ye go through and find that 
nickel ore, and ye brung it out in a pasteboard box; 
but this here is what it was in on the day your Uncle 
Pros fetched hit here, and I thought maybe you'd take 
a interest in having the handkercher that your fortune 
come down the mountains in.*' 

"Yes, indeed. Aunt Mavity," said Johnnie, taking 
the bandanna into her own hands. 

"Pap, he's gone," the poor woman went on tremu- 
lously, " an' the evil what he done — or wanted to do — 
is a thing that I reckon you can afford to forget. You're 
a mighty happy woman, Johnnie Consadine; the Lord 
knows you deserve to be." 

She stood looking after the girl as she went out into 
the twilit street. Johnnie was dressed as she chose now, 
not as she must, and her clothing showed itself to be 
of the best. Anything that might be had in Wautaga 
was within her means; and the tall, graceful figure 
passing so quietly down the street would never have 
been taken for other than a member of what we are 
learning to call the "leisure class." When the shadows 
at the end of the block swallowed her up, Mavity turned, 
wiping her eyes, and addressed herself to her tasks. 

" I reckon Lou would 'a' been just like that if she'd 


*a' lived," she said to Mandy Meacham, with the 
tender fatuity of mothers. "Johnnie seems like a 
daughter to me — an* I know in my soul no daughter 
could be kinder. Look at her makin' me keep every 
cent Pap had in the bank, when Laurelly could have 
claimed it all and kep' it." 

"Yes, an' addin' somethin' to it," put in Mandy. 
"I do love 'em both— Johnnie an' Deanie. Ef I 
ever was so fortunate as to get a man and be wedded 
and have chaps o' my own, I know mighty well and 
good I couldn't love any one of 'em any better than I do 
Deanie. An' yet Johnnie's quare. I always will say 
that Johnnie Consadine is quare. What in the nation 
does she want to go chasin' off to Yurrup for, when she's 
got everything that heart could desire or mind think 
of right here in Cottonville.?" 

That same question was being put even more search- 
ingly to Johnnie by somebody else at the instant when 
Mandy enunciated it. She had found Gray waiting 
for her at the gate of her home. 

"Let's walk here a little while before we go in," 
he suggested. "I went up to the house and found 
you were out. The air is delightful, and I've got some- 
thing I want to say to you." 

He had put his arm under hers, and they strolled to- 
gether down the long walk that led to the front of the 
lawn. The evening air was pure and keen, tingling 
with the breath of the wakening season. 

"Sweetheart," Gray broke out suddenly, "I've 
been thinking day and night since we last talked together 



about this year abroad that you're planning. I cer- 
tainly don't want to put my preferences before yours. 
I only want to be very sure that I know what your 
real preferences are/' and he turned and searched 
her face with a pair of ardent eyes. 

**I think I ought to go," the girl said in a very low 
voice, her head drooped, her own eyes bent toward 
the path at her feet. 

Why?" whispered her lover. 
I — oh. Gray — you know. If we should ever be 
married — well, then," in answer to a swift, impatient 
exclamation, "when we are married, if you should 
show that you were ashamed of me — I think it would 
kill me. No, don't say there's not any danger. You 
might have plenty of reason. And I — I want to be 
safe, Gray — safe, if I can." 

Gray regarded the beautiful, anxious face long and 
thoughtfully. Yes, of course it was possible for her 
to feel that way. Assurance was so deep and perfect 
in his own heart, that he had not reflected what it 
might lack in hers. 

"Dear girl," he said, pausing and making her look 
at him, " how little you do know of me, after all ! Do I 
care so much for what people say f Aren't you always 
having to reprove me because I so persistently like what 
I like, without reference to the opinions of the world ? 
Besides, you're a beauty," with tender brusqueness, 
" and a charmer that steals the hearts of men. If you 
don't know all this, it isn't from lack of telling. More- 
over, I can keep on informing you. A year of European 


travel could not make you any more beautiful, Johnnie 
— or sweeter. You may not believe me, but there^s 
little the 'European capitals* could add to your native 
bearing — you must have learned that simple dignity 
from these mountains of yours. Of course, if you 
wanted to go for pleasure — ** His head a little on one 
side, he regarded her with a tender, half-quizzical 
smile, hoping he had sounded the note that would 
bring him swift surrender. 

" It isn*t altogether for myself — there are the others," 
Johnnie told him, lifting honest eyes to his in the dim 
moonlight. "They^re all I had in the world. Gray, till 
you came into my life, and I must keep my own. I 
belong to a people who never give up anything they 

Stoddard dropped an arm about his beloved, and 
turned her that she might face the windows of the 
house behind them, bending to set his cheek against 
hers and direct her gaze. 

" Look there," he whispered, laughingly. 

She looked and saw her mother, clad in such wear 
as Laurella^s taste could select and Laurella^s beauty 
make effective. The slight, dark little woman was 
coming in from the dining room with her children 
all about her, a noble group. 

" Your mother is much more the fine lady than you'll 
ever be, Johnnie Stoddard," Gray said, giving her the 
name that always brought the blood to the girl's cheek 
and made her dumb before him. "You know your 
Uncle Pros and I are warmly attached to each other. 


What is it youM be waiting for, girl ? Why, Johnnie, 
a man has just so long to live on this earth, and the 
years in which he has loved are the only years that 
count — would you be throwing one of these away ? 
A year — twelve months — three hundred and sixty- 
five days — cast to the void. You reckless creature!" 

He cupped his hands about her beautiful, fair face 
and lifted it, studying it. 

"Johnnie — Johnnie — Johnnie Stoddard; the one 
woman out of all the world for me,** he murmured, 
his deep voice dropping to a wooing cadence. "I 
couldn't love you better — I shall never love you less. 
Don't let us foolishly throw away a year out of the days 
which will be vouchsafed us together. Don't do it, 
darling — it's folly." 

Hard-pressed, Johnnie made only a sort of inarticu- 
late response. 

" Come, love, sit a moment with me, here," pleaded 
Gray, indicating a small bench hidden among the 
evergreens and shrubs at the end of the path. "Sit 
down, and let's reason this thing out." 

"Reasoning with you," began Johnnie, helplessly, 
"isn't — it isn't reasonable!" 

"It is," he told her, in that deep, masterful tone 
which, like a true woman, she both loved and dreaded. 
"It's the height of reasonableness. Why, dear, the 
great primal reason of all things speaks through me. 
And I won't let you throw away a year of our love. 
Johnnie, it isn't as though we'd been neighbours, and 
grown up side by side. I came from the ends of the 


earth to find you, darling — and I knew my own as 
soon as I saw you/' 

He put out his arms and gathered her into a close 

For a space they rested so, murmuring question and 
reply, checked or answered by swift, sweet kisses. 

"The first time I ever saw you, love. . . . '* 

"Oh, in those dusty old shoes and a sunbonnet! 
Could you love me then. Gray.?'* 

"The same as at this moment, sweetheart. Shoes 
and sunbonnets — Tm ashamed of you now, Johnnie, 
in earnest. What do such things matter ?'* 

"And that morning on the mountain, when we got 
the moccasin flowers,'* the girl's voice took up the theme. 
"I — it was sweet to be with you — and bitter, too. 
I could not dream then that you were for me. And 
afterward — the long, black, dreadful time when you 
seemed so utterly lost to me '* 

At the mention of those months. Gray stopped her 
words with a kiss. 

"Mine," he whispered with his lips against hers, 
"Out of all the world — mine.'' 









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