"I've got nothin' ag'in' you," he said, slowly, Jas Lewallen hev been
threatenin' me, 'n' I thought it was him, 'n' I was ready fer him,
when you come into the mill. I wouldn't hurt you nur no other
woman. Y'u ought to know it, 'n' ye do know it."
The words were masterful, but said in a way that vaguely soothed
the girl's pride, and the oar was let slowly into the water.
"I reckon y'u air a friend o' his," he added, still quietly. "I've seed
ye goin' up thar, but I've got nothin' ag'in' ye, whoever ye be."
She turned on him a sharp look of suspicion. "I reckon I do be a
friend o' hisn," she said, deliberately; and then she saw that he was
in earnest. A queer little smile went like a ray of light from her
eyes to her lips, and she gave a quick stroke with her paddle. The
boat shot into the current, and was carried swiftly toward the
Cumberland. The girl stood erect, swaying through light and
shadow like a great scarlet flower blowing in the wind; and Rome
watched her till she touched the other bank. Swinging the sack out,
she stepped lightly after it, and, without looking behind her,
disappeared in the bushes.
The boy Isom was riding away when Rome, turned, and old Gabe
was watching from the door of the mill.
Who is that gal? " he asked, slowly. It seemed somehow that he
had known her a long while ago. A puzzled frown overlay his
face, and the old miller laughed.
"You a-axin' who she be, 'n' she a-axin who you be, 'n' both o' ye
a-knowin' one 'nother sence ye was knee-high. Why, boy, hit's old
IN a flash of memory Rome saw the girl as vividly as when he last
saw her years ago.
They had met at the mill, he with his father, she with hers. There
was a quarrel, and the two men were held apart. But the old sore
as usual was opened, and a week later Rome's father was killed
from the brush. He remembered his mother's rage and grief, her
calls for vcngeance, the uprising, the fights, plots, and ambushes.
He remembered the look the girl had given him that long ago, and
her look that day was little changed.
When fighting began, she had been sent for safety to the sister of
her dead mother in another county. When peace came, old Jasper
married again and the girl refused to come home. Lately the
step-mother, too, had passed away, and then she came back to live.
All this the old miller told in answer to Rome's questions as the
two walked away in the twilight. This was why he had not
recognized her, and why her face yet seemed familiar even when
he crossed the river that morning.
"Uncle Gabe, how do you reckon the gal knowed who I was?"
"She axed me."
"She axed you! Whar?"
Over thar in the mill." The miller was watching the young
mountaineer closely. The manner of the girl was significant when
she asked who Rome was, and the miller knew but one reason
possible for his foolhardiness that morning.Download<<BackPagesMainNext>>