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THE cave had been their hiding-place as children; it was a secret refuge now against hunger or darkness when they were hunting in the woods. The primitive meal was finished; ashes were raked over the red coals; the slice of bacon and the little bag of meal were hung high against the rock wall; and the two stepped from the cavern into a thicket of rhododendrons. Parting the bushes toward the dim light, they stood on a massive shoulder of the... more...

I She sat at the base of the big tree—her little sunbonnet pushed back, her arms locked about her knees, her bare feet gathered under her crimson gown and her deep eyes fixed on the smoke in the valley below. Her breath was still coming fast between her parted lips. There were tiny drops along the roots of her shining hair, for the climb had been steep, and now the shadow of disappointment darkened her eyes. The mountains ran in limitless... more...

TWO RUNAWAYS FROM LONESOME The days of that April had been days of mist and rain. Sometimes, for hours, there would come a miracle of blue sky, white cloud, and yellow light, but always between dark and dark the rain would fall and the mist creep up the mountains and steam from the tops—only to roll together from either range, drip back into the valleys, and lift, straightway, as mist again. So that, all the while Nature was trying to give... more...

A MIDSUMMER freshet was running over old Gabe Bunch's water-wheel into the Cumberland. Inside the mill Steve Marcum lay in one dark corner with a slouched hat over his face. The boy Isom was emptying a sack of corn into the hopper. Old Gabe was speaking his mind. Always the miller had been a man of peace; and there was one time when he thought the old Stetson-Lewallen feud was done. That was when Rome Stetson, the last but one of his name, and... more...

THE HEART OF THE HILLS I Twin spirals of blue smoke rose on either side of the spur, crept tendril-like up two dark ravines, and clearing the feathery green crests of the trees, drifted lazily on upward until, high above, they melted shyly together and into the haze that veiled the drowsy face of the mountain. Each rose from a little log cabin clinging to the side of a little hollow at the head of a little creek. About each cabin was a rickety... more...


The Courtship of Allaphair Preaching at the open-air meeting-house was just over and the citizens of Happy Valley were pouring out of the benched enclosure within living walls of rhododendron. Men, women, children, babes in arms mounted horse or mule or strolled in family groups homeward up or down the dusty road. Youths and maids paired off, dallying behind. Emerged last one rich, dark, buxom girl alone. Twenty yards down the road two young... more...

ON HELL-FER-SARTAIN CREEK Thar was a dancin'-party Christmas night on "Hell fer Sartain." Jes tu'n up the fust crick beyond the bend thar, an' climb onto a stump, an' holler about ONCE, an' you'll see how the name come. Stranger, hit's HELL fer sartain! Well, Rich Harp was thar from the head-waters, an' Harve Hall toted Nance Osborn clean across the Cumberlan'. Fust one ud swing Nance, an' then t'other. Then they'd take a pull out'n the same... more...

CRITTENDEN I Day breaking on the edge of the Bluegrass and birds singing the dawn in. Ten minutes swiftly along the sunrise and the world is changed: from nervous exaltation of atmosphere to an air of balm and peace; from grim hills to the rolling sweep of green slopes; from a high mist of thin verdure to low wind-shaken banners of young leaves; from giant poplar to white ash and sugar-tree; from log-cabin to homesteads of brick and stone;... more...

I. THE BLIGHT IN THE HILLS High noon of a crisp October day, sunshine flooding the earth with the warmth and light of old wine and, going single-file up through the jagged gap that the dripping of water has worn down through the Cumberland Mountains from crest to valley-level, a gray horse and two big mules, a man and two young girls. On the gray horse, I led the tortuous way. After me came my small sister—and after her and like her,... more...