every movement of her hands, seemed meant for him, to irritate
him. And once, while she combed her hair, his brain whirled with
an impulse to catch the shining stuff in one hand and to pinion
both her wrists with the other, Just to show her that he was master,
and still would harm her not at all. But he shut his teeth, and
watched her. Among mountain women the girl was more than
pretty; elsewhere only her hair, perhaps, would have caught the
casual eye. She wore red homespun and coarse shoes; her hands
were brown and hardened. Her arms and shoulders looked
muscular, her waist was rather large-being as nature meant it-and
her face in repose had a heavy look. But the poise of her head
suggested native pride and dignity; her eyes were deep, and full of
changing lights; the scarlet dress, loose as it was, showed rich
curves in her figure, and her movements had a certain childlike
grace. Her brow was low, and her mouth had character; the chin
was firm, the upper lip short, and the teeth were even and white.
"I reckon thar's enough to fill the sack, Isom," said the old miller,
breaking the strained silence of the group. The girl rose and
handed him a few pieces of silver.
I reckon I'd better pay fer it all," she said. I s'pose I won't be over
Old Gabe gave some of the coins back.
"Y'u know whut my price al'ays is," he said.
I'm obleeged," answered the girl, flushing.
"Co'n hev riz on our side. I thought mebbe you charged folks over
thar more, anyways."
"I sells fer the same, ef co'n is high ur low," was the answer. "This
side or t'other makes no diff'unce to me. I hev frien's on both
sides, 'n' I take no part in sech doin's as air a shame to the
There was a quick light of protest in the girl's dark eyes; but the
old miller was honored by both factions, and without a word she
turned to the boy, who was tying the sack.
The boat's loose! " he called out, with. the string between his teeth;
and she turned again and ran out. Rome stood still.
Kerry the sack out, boy, 'n' holp the gal." Old Gabe's voice was
stern, and the young mountaineer doggedly swung the bag to his
shoulders. The girl had caught the rope, and drawn the rude
dugout along the shore.
"Who axed ye to do that?" she asked, angrily.
Rome dropped the bag into the boat, and merely looked her in the
"Look hyeh, Rome Stetson"-the sound of his name from her lips
almost startled him-"I'll hev ye understan' that I don't want to be
bounden to you, nor none o' yer kin."
Turning, she gave an impatient sweep with her paddle. The prow
of the canoe dipped and was motionless. Rome had caught the
stern, and the girl wheeled in hot anger. Her impulse to strike may
have been for the moment and no longer, or she may have read
swiftly no unkindness in the mountaineer's steady look; for the
uplifted oar was stayed in the air, as though at least she would hearDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>