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counted a courtesy.
heights the constellations to gladden the eye and lure the fancy. Its largess of silver torrents flung down its slopes made fertile the little fields, and bestowed a lilting song on the silence, and took a turn at the mill-wheel, and did not disdain the thirst of the humble cattle. It gave pasturage in summer, and shelter from the winds of the winter. It was the assertive feature of his life; he could hardly have imagined existence without “the mounting.” *Tole what he read on them rocks—yes, sir, ez glibez swallerin' a persimmon. 'Twarn’t the reg'lar ten comman’ments—some cur'ous new texts—jes a-rollin' 'em out ez sanctified ez ef he hed been called ter preach the gospel ! An' thar war Brother Eden Bates a-answerin’ ‘Amen’ ter every one. An' Brother Jacob Page: ‘Glory, brother Ye hev received the outpourin' of the Sperit ! Shake hands, brother!’ An' sech ez that. Ter hev hearn the commotion they raised about that thar derned lyin' sinner ye’d hev 'lowed the meetin' war held ter glorify him stiddier the Lord.” Job Grinnell himself was a most notorious Christian. Renown, however, with him could never be a superfluity, or even a sufficiency, and he grudged the fame that these strange spiritual utterances were acquiring. He had long enjoyed the distinction of being considered a miraculous convert; his rescue from the wily enticements of Satan had been celebrated with much shaking and clapping of hands, and cries of “Glory,” and muscular ecstasy. His religious experiences thenceforth, his vacillations of hope and despair, had been often elaborated amongst the brethren. But his was a conventional soul; its expression was in the formulae and platitudes of the camp-meeting. They sank into oblivion in the excitement attendant upon Pardee's wild utterances from the mystic script of the rocks. As Grinnell talked, he often paused in his work to imitate the gesticulatory enthusiasms of the saints at camp. He was a thickset fellow of only medium height, and was called, somewhat invidiously, “a low man.” His face was broad, prosaic, good-natured, incapable of any fine gradations of expression. It indicated an elementary rage or a sluggish placidity. He had a ragged beard of a reddish hue, and hair a shade lighter. He wore blue jeans trousers and an unbleached cotton shirt, and the whole system depended on one suspender. He was engaged in skimming a great kettle of boiling sorghum with a perforated gourd, which caught the scum and strained the liquor. The process was primitive; instead of the usual sorghum boiler and furnace, the kettle was propped upon stones laid together so as to concentrate the heat of the fire. His wife was continuously feeding the flames with chips which she brought in her apron from the wood-pile. Her countenance was half hidden in her faded pink sun-bonnet, which, however, did not obscure an expression responsive to that on the man's face. She did not grudge Pardee the salvation he had found; she only grudged him the prestige he had derived from its unique method. “Why can't the critter elude Satan with less n'ise?” she asked, acrimoniously. “Edzackly,” her husband chimed in. Now and then both turned a supervisory glance at the sorghum mill down the slope at some little distance, and close to the river. It had been a long day for the old white mare, still trudging round and round the mill; perhaps a long day as well for the two halfgrown boys, one of whom fed the machine, thrusting into it a stalk at a time, while the other brought in his arms fresh supplies from the great pile of sorghum cane hard by. All the door-yard of the little log cabin was bedaubed with the scum of the sorghum which Job Grinnell flung from his perforated gourd upon the ground. The idle dogs—and there were many— would find, when at last disposed to move, a clog upon their nimble feet. They often sat down with a wrinkling of brows and a puzzled expression of muzzle to investigate their gelatinous paws with their tongues, not without certain indications of pleasure, for the sorghum was very sweet; some of them, that had acquired the taste from imitating the children, openly begged. One, a gaunt hound, hardly seemed so idle; he had a purpose in life, if it might not be called a profession. He lay at length, his paws stretched out before him, his head upon them; his big brown eyes were closed only at intervals; ever and again they opened watchfully at every movement of a small child, ten months old, perhaps, dressed in pink calico, who sat in the shadow formed by the protruding clay and stick chimney, and played by bouncing up and down and waving her fat hands, which seemed a perpetual joy, and delight of possession to her. Take her altogether, she was a person of prepossessing appearance, despite her frank display of toothless gums, and around her wide mouth the unseemly traces of sorghum. She had the plumpest graces of dimples in every direction, big blue eyes with long lashes, the whitest possible skin, and an extraordinary pair of pink feet, which she rubbed together in moments of joy as if she had mistaken them for her hands. Although she sputtered a good deal, she had a charming unaffected laugh, with the giggle attachment natural to the young of her sex. Suddenly there sounded an echo of it, as it were—a shrill, nervous little whinny; the boys whirled round to see whence it came. The persistent rasping noise of the sorghum mill and the bubbling of the caldron had prevented them from hearing an approach. There, quite close at hand, peering through the rails of the fence, was a little girl of seven or eight years of age. “I wanter kem in an’ see you-uns's baby!” she exclaimed, in a high, shrill voice. She was a forlorn little specimen, very thin and sharp-featured. Her homespun dress was short enough to show how fragile were the long bare legs that supported her. The curtain of her sunbonnet, which was evidently made for a much larger person, hung down to the hem of her skirt; as she turned and glanced anxiously down the road, evidently suspecting a pursuer, she looked like an erratic sun-bonnet out for a stroll on a pair of borrowed legs. She turned again suddenly and applied her thin, freckled little face to the crack between the rails. She smiled upon the baby, who smiled in response, and gave a little bounce that might be acThe younger of the boys left the cane pile and ran up to his brother at the mill, which was close to the fence. “Don’t ye let her do it,” he said, venomously. “That thar gal is one of the Pardee fambly. I know her. Don't let her in.” And he ran back to the cane. Grinnell had seemed pleased by this homage at the shrine of the family idol; but at the very mention of the “Pardee fambly” his face hardened, an angry light sprang into his eyes, and his gesture in skimming with the perforated gourd the scum from the boiling sorghum was as energetic as if with the action he were dashing the “Pardee fambly” from off the face of the earth. It was an ancient feud; his grandfather and some contemporary Pardee had fallen out about the ownership of certain vagrant cattle; there had been blows and bloodshed; other members of the connection had been dragged into the controversy; summary reprisals were followed by counter-reprisals. Barns were mysteriously fired, hen-roosts robbed, horses unaccountably lamed, sheep feloniously sheared by unknown parties; the feeling widened and deepened, and had been handed down to the present generation with now and then a fresh outrage, on the part of one or the other, to renew and continue the rankling old grudges. And here stood the hereditary enemy, wanting to pat their baby on the head.
staring, silent and defiant, motionless, sullen. dic measure of the river, with its crystalline keen vibrations against
“Naw, sir, ye won't!” exclaimed the boy at the mill, greatly incensed at the boldness of this proposition, glaring at the lean, tender, wistful little face between the rails of the fence. But the baby, who had not sense enough to know anything about hereditary enemies, bounced and laughed and gurgled and sputtered with glee, and waved her hands, and had never looked fatter or more beguiling. “I jes wanter pat it wunst,” sighed the hereditary enemy, with a lithe writhing of her thin little anatomy in the anguish of denial —“jes wunst "' “Naw, sir!” exclaimed the youthful Grinnell, more insistently than before. He did not comtinue, for suddenly there came running down the road a boy of his own size, out of breath, and red and angry—the pursuer, evidently, that the hereditary enemy had feared, for she crouched up against the fence with a whimper. “Kem along away from thar, ye miser’ble little stack o' bones " he cried, seizing his sister by one hand and giving her a jerk— “a-foosin’ round them Grinnells' fence an' a-hankerin’ arter thar old baby!” He felt that the pride of the Pardee family was involved in this admission of envy. “I jes wanter pat it on the head wunst,” she sighed. “Waal, ye won't, now,” said the Grinnell boys in chorus. The Pardee grasp was gentler on the little girl's arm. This was due not to fraternal feeling so much as to loyalty to the clan; “stack o' bones” though she was, they were Pardee bones. “Kem along,” he exhorted her. “A baby ain't nuthin extry, nohow”—he glanced scoffingly at the infantile Grinnell. “The mountings air fairly a-roamin' with 'em.” “We-uns 'ain't got none at our house,” whined the sun-bonnet, droopingly, moving off slowly on its legs, which, indeed, seemed borrowed, so unsteady and loath to go they were. The Grinnell boys laughed aloud, jeeringly and ostentatiously, and the Pardee blood was moved to retort: “We-uns don’t want none sech ez that. Nary tooth in her head" And indeed the widely stretched babbling lips displayed a vast vacuity of gum. Job Grinnell, who had listened with an attentive ear to the talk of the children, had nevertheless continued his constant skimming of the scum. Now he rose from his bent posture, tossed the scum upon the ground, and with the perforated gourd in his hand turned and looked at his wife. Augusta had dropped her apron and chips, and stood with folded arms across her breast, her face wearing an expression of exasperated expectancy. The brothers were humbled and abashed. The wicked scion of the Pardee house, joying to note how true his shaft had sped, was again fitting his bow. . . “An'ez bald-headed ez the mounting.” The baby had a big precedent, but although no peculiar shame attaches to the bare pinnacle of the summit, she—despite the difference in size and age—was expected to show up more fully furnished, and in keeping with the rule of humanity and the gentilities of life. No teeth, no hair, no sign of any: the fact that she was so backward was a sore point with all the family. Job Grinnell suddenly dropped the perforated gourd, and started down toward the fence. The acrimony of the old feud was as a trait born in the blood and bred in the bone. Such hatred as was inherent in him was evoked by his religious jealousies, and the pious sense that he was following the traditions of his elders and upholding the family honor blended in gentlest satisfaction with his personal animosity toward Roger Pardee as he noticed the boy edging off from the fence to a safe distance. He eyed him derisively for a moment. “Kin ye kerry a message straight?” The boy looked up with an expression of sullen acquiescence, but said nothing. “Ax yer dad—an’ ye kin tell him the word kems from me—whether he hev read sechez this on the lawgiver's stone tables yander in the mounting: “An'ye shall claim sechez be yourn, an'yer neighbor's belongings shall ye in no wise boastfully medjure fur yourn, nor look upon it fur covetiousness, nor yit git up a big name in the kentry fur ownin' sechez be another's.” He laughed silently—a twinkling, wrinkling demonstration over all his broad face—a laugh that was younger than the man, and would have befitted a square-faced boy. The youthful Pardee, expectant of a cuffing, stood his ground more doubtfully still under the insidious thrusts of this strange weapon, sarcasm. He knew that they were intended to hurt; he was wounded primarily in the intention, but the exact lesion he could not locate. He could meet a threat with a bold face, and return a blow with the best. But he was mortified in this failure of understanding, and perplexity cowed him as contention could not. He hung his head with its sullen questioning eyes, and he found great solace in a jagged bit of cloth on the torn bosom of his shirt, which he could turn in his embarrassed fingers. “Whar be yer dad?” Grinnell asked. “Up yander in the mounting,” replied the subdued Pardee. “A-readin' of mighty sprisin' matter writ on the rocks o' the yearth !” exclaimed Grinnell, with a laugh. “Waal, jes keep that sayin' o' mine in yer head, an’ tell him when he kems home. An’ look a-hyar, ef enny mo' o' his stray shoats kem about hyar, I'll snip thar ears an' gin 'em my mark.” The youth of the Pardee clan meditated on this for a moment. He could not remember that they had missed any shoats. Then the full meaning of the phrase dawned upon him—it was he and
the wiry little sister thus demeaned with a porcine appellation, and
whose ears were threatened. He looked up at the fence, the little low house, the barn close by, the sorghum mill, the drying leaves of tobacco on the scaffold, the saltatory baby; his eyes filled with helpless tears, that could not conceal the burning hatred he was born to bear them all. He was hot and cold by turns; he stood He heard the melo
the rocks; the munching teeth of the old mare—allowed to come to a stand-still that the noise of the sorghum mill might not impinge upon the privileges of the quarrel; and the high ecstatic
whinny of the little sister waiting on the opposite bank of the
river, having crossed the foot-bridge; there the Grinnell baby had chanced to spy her, and had bounced and grinned and sputtered affably. It was she who had made all the trouble, yearning after the Grinnell baby. He would not stay, however, to be ignominiously beaten, for Grinnell had turned away, and was looking about the ground as if in search of a thick stick. He accounted himself no craven, thus numerically at a disadvantage, to turn shortly about, take his way down the rocky slope, cross the foot-bridge, jerk the forlorn sunbonnet by one hand and lead her whimpering off, while the roundeyed Grinnell baby stared gravely after her with inconceivable emotions. These presently resulted in her becoming cross, and whining a little, and rubbing her eyes with her fat hands, and, smarting from her own ill-treatment, giving a sharp yelp of dismay. The old dog arose and went and sat close by her, eying her solemnly and wagging his tail, as if begging her to observe how content he was. His dignity was somewhat impaired by sudden abrupt snaps at flies, which caused her to wink, stare, and be silent in astonishment. “Waal, Job Grinnell,” exclaimed Augusta, as her husband came back and took the perforated gourd from her hand—for she had been skimming the sorghum in his absence—“ye air the longesttongued man, ter be so short-legged, I ever see '''
He looked a trifle discomfited. He had deported himself with unwonted decision, conscious that Augusta was looking on, and in truth somewhat supported by the expectation of her approval. “What ails ye ter say words ye can't abide by—ye 'low ye 'pear so graceful on the back track?” He bent over the sorghum, silently skimming. His composure was somewhat ruffled, and in throwing away the scum his gesture was of negligent and discursive aim ; the boiling fluid bespattered the foot of one of the omnipresent dogs, whose shrieks rent the sky and whose activity on three legs amazed the earth. He ran yelping to Mrs. Grinnell, nearly overturning her in his turbulent demand for sympathy; then scampered across to the boys, who readily enough stopped their work to examine the wounded member and condole with its wheezing proprietor. “What ye mean, A'gusta ? Kase I'lowed I'd cut thar ears? I ain't foolin'. Kem meddlin' about remarkin' on our chill'n agin, I'll show 'em.” Augusta looked at him in exasperation. “I ain't keerin’ ef all the Pardees war deef,” she remarked, inhumanly, “but what war them words ye sent fur a message ter Pardee—'bout pridin’ co, what ain't theirn.” Grinnell in his turn looked at her—but dubiously. However much a man is under the domination of his wife, he is seldom wholly frank. It is in this wise that his individuality is preserved to him. “I war jes' wantin' ter know ef them words war on the rocks,” he said with a disingenuousness worthy of a higher culture. She received this with distrust. “I kin tell ye now—they ain’t,” she said, discriminatingly; “Pardee's words don't sound like them.” “Waal, now, what's the differ?” he demanded, with an indignation natural enough to aspiring human nature detecting a slur upon one's style. “Waal—” she paused as she knelt down to feed the fire, holding the fragrant chips in her hand; the flame flickered out and lighted up her reflective eyes while she endeavored to express the distinction she felt: “Pardee's words don’t sound ter me like the words of a man sech ez men be.” Grinnell wrinkled his brows, trying to follow her here. “They sound ter me like the words spoke in a dream—the pernouncings of a vision.” Mrs. Grinnell fancied that she too had a gift of biblical phraseology. “They sound ter me like things I hearn whenst I war a-hungered arter righteousness an' seekin’ religion, an’ bided alone in the wilderness a-waitin' o' the Sperit.” “’Gusta "suddenly exclaimed her husband, with the cadence of amazed conviction, “ye b'lieve the lie o' that critter, an’ that he reads the words o' the Lord on the rock ''' She looked up a little startled. She had been unconscious of the circuitous approaches of credence, and shared his astonishment in the conclusion. “Waal, sir!” he said, more hurt and cast down than one would have deemed possible. “I’m willin' ter hev it so. I'm jes nuthin' but a sinner an' a fool, ripenin' fur damnation, an' he air a saint o' the yearth !” Now such sayings as this were frequent upon Job Grinnell's tongue. He did not believe them; their utility was in their challenge to contradiction. Thus they often promoted an increased cordiality of the domestic relations and an accession of self-esteem. Augusta, however, was tired; the boiling sorghum and the September sun were debilitating in their effects. There was something in the scene with the youthful Pardee that grated upon her half-developed sensibilities. The baby was whimpering outright, and the cow was lowing at the bars. She gave her irritation the luxury of withholding the salve to Grinnell's wounded vanity. She said nothing. The tribute to Pardee went for what it was worth, and he was forced to swallow the humble-pie he had taken into his mouth, albeit it stuck in his throat. A shadow seemed to have fallen into the moral atmosphere as the gentle dusk came early on. One had a sense as if bereft, remembering that so short a time ago at this hour the sun was still high, and that the full-pulsed summer day throbbed to a climax of color and bloom and redundant life. Now, the scent of harvests was on the air; in the stubble of the Sorghum patch she saw a quail's brood more than half grown, now afoot, and again taking to wing with a loud whirring sound. The perfume of ripening muscadines came from the bank of the river. The papaws hung globular among the leaves of the bushes, and the persimmons were reddening. The vermilion sun was low in the sky above the purpling mountains; the stream had changed from a crystalline brown to red, to gold, and now it was beginning to be purple and silver. And this reminded her that the full-moon was up, and she turned to look at it—so pearly and luminous above the jagged ridge-pole of the dark little house on the rise. The sky about it was blue, refining into an exquisitely delicate and ethereal neutrality near the horizon. The baby had fallen asleep, with its bald head on the old dog's shoulder. After the supper was over, the sorghum fire still burned beneath the great kettle, for the syrup was not yet made, and sorghumboiling is an industry that cannot be intermitted. The fire in the midst of the gentle shadow and sheen of the night had a certain profane, discordant effect. Pete's ill-defined figure slouching over it while he skimmed the syrup was grimly suggestive of the distillations of strange elixirs and unhallowed liquors, and his simple face, lighted by a sudden darting red flame, had unrecognizable significance, and was of sinister intent. For Pete was detailed to attend to the boiling; the grinding was done, and the old white mare stood still in the midst of the sorghum stubble and the moonlight, as motionless and white as if she were carved in marble. Job Grinnell sat and smoked on the porch. Presently he got up suddenly, knocked the ashes out of his pipe, and looked at it carefully before he stuck it into his pocket; for he was one of the men whose pocket linings are singed. Several small but alarming conflagrations had resulted in the minimum of precaution. He went, without a word, down the rocky slope, past the old drowsing mare, and across the foot-bridge. Two or three of the dogs, watching him as he reappeared on the opposite bank, affected a mistake in identity. They growled, then barked outright, and at last ran down and climbed the fence and bounded
about it, baying the vista where he had disappeared, until the
sleepy old mare turned her head and gazed in mild surprise at them. Augusta sat on the step of the house, gazing too after him. She had various regrets in her mind, incipient even before he
had quite gone, and now defining themselves momently with added
poignancy. A woman who, in her retirement at home, charges herself with the control of a man's conduct abroad, is never likely to be devoid of speculation upon probable disasters to ensue upon any abatement of the activities of her discretion. She was sorry that she had allowed so trifling a matter to mar the serenity of the family; her conscience upbraided her that she had not besought him to avoid the blacksmith's shop, where a coterie of neighbors were wont to congregate and drink deep into the night. Above all, her mind went back to the enigmatical message, and she wondered that she could have been so forgetful as not to urge him to forbear angering Pardee, for this would have a cumulative effect upon all the rancors of the old quarrels, and inaugurate perhaps a new series of reprisals. “I ain't afeard o' no Pardee ez ever stepped,” she said to herself, defining her position. “But I’m fur peace. An'ef the Pardees will leave we-uns be, I ain't a-goin' ter meddle along o' them.” She remembered an old barn-burning, in the days when she and her husband were newly married, at his father's house. She looked up at the tobacco barn hard by, on a line with the dwelling, with that tenderness which one feels for a thing, not because of its value, but for the sake of possession, for the kinship with the objects that belong to the home. A cat was sitting high in a crevice in the logs where the daubing had fallen out; the moon glittered in its great yellow eyes. A frog was leaping along the open space about the rude step at Augusta's feet. A clump of mullein leaves, silvered by the light, spangled by the dew, hid him presently. What an elusive glistening gauze hung over the valley far below, where the sense of distance was limited by the sense of sight! —for it was here only that the night, though so brilliant, must attest the incomparable lucidity of daylight. She could not even distinguish, amidst those soft sheens of the moon and the dew, the Lombardy poplar that grew above the door of old Squire Grove's house down in the cove; in the daytime it was visible like a tiny finger pointing upward. How drowsy was the sound of the katydid, now ioudening, now falling, now fainting away! And the tree-toad shrilled in the dog-wood tree. The frogs, too, by the river in iterative fugue sent forth a song as suggestive of the margins as the scent of the fern, and the mint, and the fragrant weeds. A convulsive start She did not know that she slept until she was again awake. The moon had travelled many a mile along the highways of the skies. It hung over the purple mountains, over the furthest valley. The cicada had grown dumb. The stars were few and faint. The air was chill. She started to her feet; her garments were heavy with dew. The fire beneath the sorghum kettle had died to a coal, flaring or fading as the faint fluctuations of the wind might will. Near it Pete slumbered where he too had sat down to rest. And Job-Job had never returned.
and there was a group of men half within the shelter and half with
out; the shoeing-stool, a broken plough, an empty keg, a log, and a rickety chair sufficed to seat the company. The moonlight falling into the door showed the great slouching, darkling figures, the anvil, the fire of the forge (a dim ashy coal), and the shadowy hood merging indistinguishably into the deep duskiness of the interior. In contrast the scene glimpsed through the rude low window at the back of the shop had a certain vivid illuminated effect. A spider web, revealing its geometric perfection, hung half across one corner; the moonbeams without were individualized in fine filar delicacy, like the ravellings of a silver skein. The boughs of a tree which grew on a slope close below almost touched the lintel; the leaves seemed a translucent green; a bird slept on a twig, its head beneath its wing. Back of the cabin, which was situated on a limited terrace or table-land, the great altitudes of the mountain rose into the infinity of the night. The long drawling conversation was beset, as it were, by faint fleckings of sound, lightly drawn from a crazy old fiddle under the chin of a gaunt, yellow-haired young giant, one Ephraim Blinks, who lolled on a log, and who by these vague harmonies unconsciously gave to the talk of his comrades a certain theatrical effect. Grinnell slouched up and sat down among them, responding drawlingly to the unceremonious “Hy’re, Job 2" of the black
“They air always a-crackin' up them folks in the Bible ez sech powerful wise men,” said another, who had in him the germs of advanced thinking, “’Bears ter me ez some of 'em conducted tharselves ez foolish ez enny folks I know—this hyar very Moses one o' 'em. Throwin' down them rocks 'minds me o' old man Pinner's tantrums. Sher'ff kem ter his house 'bout a jedgmint debt, an’ levied on his craps. An arter he war gone old man tuk a axe an' gashed bodaciously inter the loom an' hacked it up. Ez ef that war goin' ter do enny good! His wife war the mos' outed woman I ever see. They ain't got nare nother loom nuther, an’ hain't hearn no advice from the Lord.”