Not 'fore night, I reckon."
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
"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'inDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>