ebbed away. There were none left to hate, to wreak vengeance on.
It was hard to leave the ruins as they were; and yet he would rather
leave weeds and ashes than, like Martha, have some day to know
that his home was in the hands of a stranger. When he thought of
the girl he grew calmer; his own sorrows gave way to the thought
of hers; and half from habit he raised his face to look across the
river. Two eagles swept from a dark ravine under the shelf of rock
where he had fought young Jasper, and made for a sun-lighted
peak on the other shore. From them his gaze fell to Wolf's Head
and to the cabin beneath, and a name passed his lips in a whisper.
Then he took the path to the river, and he found the canoe where
old Gabe had hidden it. Before the young moon rose he pushed
into the stream and drifted with the current. At the mouth of the
creek that ran over old Gabe's water-wheel he turned the prow to
the Lewallen shore.
Not yit! Not yit! " he said.
THAT night Rome passed in the woods, with his rifle, in a bed of
daybreak he had built a fire in a deep ravine to cook his breakfast,
and had scattered the embers that the smoke should give no sign.
The sun was high when he crept cautiously in sight of the
Lewallen cabin. It was much like his own home on the other shore,
except that the house, closed and desolate, was standing, and the
bees were busy. At the corner of the kitchen a rusty axe was
sticking in a half-cut piece of timber, and on the porch was a heap
of kindling and fire wood-the last work old Jasper and his son had
ever done. In the Lewallens' garden, also, two graves were fresh;
and the spirit of neglect and ruin overhung the place.
All the morning he waited in the edge of the laurel, peering down
the path, watching the clouds race with their shadows over the
mountains, or pacing to and fro in his covert of leaves and flowers.
He began to fear at last that she was not coming, that she was ill,
and once he started down the mountain toward Steve Brayton's
cabin. The swift descent brought him to his senses, and he
stopped half-way, and climbed back again to his hiding-place.
What he was doing, what he meant to do, he hardly knew. Mid-day
passed; the sun fell toward the mountains, and once more came the
fierce impulse to see her, even though he must stalk into the
Brayton cabin. Again, half-crazed, he started impetuously
through the brush, and shrank back, and stood quiet. A little noise
down the path had reached his ear. In a moment he could hear
slow foot-falls, and the figure of the girl parted the pink-and-white
laurel blossoms, which fell in a shower about her when she
brushed through them. She passed quite near him, walking slowly,
and stopped for a moment to rest against a pillar of the porch. She
was very pale; her face was traced deep with suffering, and she
was, as old Gabe said, much changed. Then she went on towardDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>