bushes. Rome knew the horse and knew the yell; young Jasper
was "bantering" him. Nothing maddens the mountaineer like this
childish method of insult; and telling of it, Rome sat in a corner,
and loosed a torrent of curses against young Lewallen and his clan.
Old Gabe had listened without a word, and the strain in his face
was eased. Always the old man had stood for peace. He believed
it had come after the court-house fight, and he had hoped against
hope, even when Rufe came back to trade against old Jasper; for
Rufe was big and good-natured, and unsuspected of resolute
purpose, and the Lewallens' power had weakened. So, now that
Rufe was gone again, the old miller half believed he was gone for
good. Nobody was hurt; there was a chance yet for peace, and with
a rebuke on his tongue and relief in his face, the old man sat back
in his chair and went on whittling. The boy turned eagerly to a
crevice in the logs and, trembling with excitement, searched the
other bank for Jasper's gray horse, going home.
He called me a idgit," he said to himself, with a threatening shake
of his head. "Jes wouldn't I like to hev a chance at him! Rome ull
git him! Rome ull git him!"
There was no moving point of white on the broad face of the
mountains nor along the river road. Jasper was yet to come and,
with ears alert to every word behind him, the lad fixed his eyes
where he should see him first.
"Oh, he didn't mean to hit me. Not that he ain't mean enough to
shoot from the bresh," Rome broke out savagely. "That's jes whut
I'm afeard he will do. Thar was too much daylight fer him. Ef he
jes don't come a-sneakin' over hyeh, 'n' waitin' in the lorrel atter
dark fer me, it's all I axe."
Waitin' in the lorrel! " Old Gabe could hold back no longer. "Hit's
a shame, a burn-in' shame! I don' know whut things air comm' to!
'Pears like all you young folks think about is killin' somebody.
Folks usen to talk about how fer they could kill a deer; now it's
how fer they kin kill a man. I hev knowed the time when a man
would 'a' been druv out o' the county fer drawin' a knife ur a pistol;
'n' ef a feller was ever killed, it was kinder accidental, by a Barlow.
I reckon folks got use' to weepons 'n' killin' 'n' bushwhackin' in the
war. Looks like it's been gittin' wuss ever sence, 'n' now hit's dirk 'n'
Winchester, 'n' shootin' from the bushes all the time. Hit's wuss 'n
stealin' money to take a feller-creetur' s life that way!
The old miller's indignation sprang from memories of a better
youth. For the courtesies of the code went on to the Blue Grass,
and before the war the mountaineer fought with English fairness
and his fists. It was a disgrace to use a deadly weapon in those
days; it was a disgrace now not to use it.
Oh, I know all the excuses folks make," he went on: " hit's fa'r fer
one as 'tis fer t'other; y'u can't fight a man fa'r 'n' squar' who'll shootDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>