With the spring new forces pulsed the mountain air. The spirit of
the times reached even Hazlan. A railroad was coming up the
river, so the rumor was. When winter broke, surveyors had
appeared; after them, mining experts and purchasers of land. New
ways of bread-making were open to all, and the feudsman began to
see that he could make food and clothes more easily and with less
danger than by sleeping with his rifle in the woods, and by fighting
men who had done him no harm. Many were tired of fighting;
many, forced into the feud, had fought unwillingly. Others had
sold their farms and wild lands, and were moving toward the Blue
Grass or westward. The desperadoes of each faction had fled the
law or were in its clutches. The last Lewallen was dead; the last
Stetson was hidden away in the mountains. There were left
Mareums and Braytons, but only those who felt safest from
indictment; in these a spirit of hostility would live for years, and,
roused by passion or by drink, would do murder now on one side
of the Cumberland and now on the other; but the Stetson-Lewallen
feud, old Gabe believed, was at an end at last.
All these things the miller told Rome Stetson, who well knew what
they meant. He was safe enough from the law while the people
took no part in his capture, but he grew apprehensive when he
learned of the changes going on in the valley. None but old Gabe
knew where he was, to be sure, but with his own enemies to guide
the soldiers he could not hope to remain hidden long. Still, with
that love of the mountains characteristic of all races born among
them, he clung to his own land. He would rather stay where he
was the space of a year and die, he told old Gabe passionately,
than live to old age in another State.
But there was another motive, and he did not hide it. On the other
side he had one enemy left-the last, too, of her race-who was more
to him than his own dead kindred, who hated him, who placed at
his door all her sorrows. For her he was living like a wolf in a
cave, and old Gabe knew it. Her-he would not leave.
"I tell ye, Rome, you've got to go. Thar's no use talkin'. Court
comes the fust Monday in June. The soldiers ull be hyeh. Hit won't
be safe. Thar's some that s'picions I know whar ye air now, 'n'
they'll be spyin', 'n' mebbe hit'll git me into trouble, too, aidin' 'n'
abettin' a man to git away who air boun' to the law."
The two were sitting on the earthen floor of the cave before a little
fire, and Rome, with his hands about his knees and his brows
knitted, was staring into the yellow blaze. His unshorn hair fell to
his shoulders; his face was pale from insufficient food and
exercise, and tense with a look that was at once caged and defiant.
"Uncle Gabe," he asked, quietly, for the old man's tone was a little
querulous, " air ye sorry ye holped me? Do ye blame me fer whut
"No," said the old miller, answering both questions; "I don't. IDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>