Not 'fore night, I reckon."

Whar's Isom?

Isom's sick."

Well, who's tendin' this mill?

For answer he tossed the empty bag into the corner and, without

looking at her, picked up another bag.

"I reckon ye see me, don't ye? " he asked, coolly. " Hev a cheer,

and rest a spell. Hit's a purty long climb whar you come from."

The girl was confused. She stayed in the doorway, a little helpless

and suspicious. What was Rome Stetson doing here? His mastery

of the situation, his easy confidence, puzzled and irritated her.

Should she leave? The mountaineer was a Stetson, a worm to

tread on if it crawled across the path. It would be like backing

down before an enemy. He might laugh at her after she was gone,

and, at that thought, she sat down in the chair with composed face,

looking through the door at the tumbling water, which broke with

a thousand tints under the sun, but able still to see Rome,

sidewise, as he moved about the hopper, whistling softly.

Once she looked around, fancying she saw a smile on his sober

face. Their eyes came near meeting, and she turned quite away.

Ever seed a body out'n his head?

The girl's eyes rounded with a start of surprise.

Well, it's plumb cur'us. Isom's been that way lately. Isom's sick,

ye know. Uncle Gabe's got the rheumatiz, 'n' Isom's mighty fond o'

Uncle Gabe, 'n' the boy pestered me till I come down to he'p him.

Hit p'int'ly air strange to hear him talkin'. He's jes a-ravin' 'bout

hell 'n' heaven, 'n' the sin o' killin' folks. You'd ha' thought he hed

been convicted, though none o' our fambly hev been much atter

religion. He says as how the wrath uv a livin' God is a-goin' to

sweep these mount ins, ef some mighty tall repentin' hain't done.

Of co'se he got all them notions from Gabe. But Isom al'ays was

quar, 'n' seed things hisself. He ain't no fool!"

The girl was listening. Morbidly sensitive to the supernatural, she

had turned toward him, and her face was relaxed with fear and

awe.

"He's havin' dreams 'n' sech-like now, 'n' I reckon thar's nothing

he's seed or heerd that he don' talk about. He's been a-goin' on

about you," he added, abruptly. The girl's hands gave a nervous

twitch. "Oh, he don't say nothin' ag'in' ye. I reckon he tuk a fancy

to ye. Mam was plumb distracted, not knowin' whar he had seed

ye. She thought it was like his other talk, 'n' I never let

on-a-knowin' how mam was." A flush rose like a flame from the

girl's throat to her hair. " But hit's this," Rome went on in an

unsteady tone, "that he talks most about, 'n' I'm sorry myself that

trouble's a-comm'." He dropped all pretence now. "I've been

a-watchin' fer ye over thar on t' other shore a good deal lately. I

didn't know ye at fust, Marthy "-he spoke her name for the first

time-' 'n' Gabe says y'u didn't know me. I remembered ye, though,

'n' I want to tell ye now what I tol' ye then: I've got nothin' ag'in

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