您的位置:外语教育网 > 英语文化视窗 > 文学与艺术 > 小说 正文
  • 站内搜索:

The Heart Of The Hills(Chapter3)

2006-08-29 01:32

  Chapter III

  The two little strangers sat in cane-bottomed chairs before the open door, still looking about them with curious eyes at the strings of things hanging from the smoke-browned rafters——beans, red pepper-pods, and twists of homegrown tobacco, the girl's eyes taking in the old spinning-wheel in the corner, the piles of brilliantly figured quilts between the foot-boards of the two beds ranged along one side of the room, and the boy's, catching eagerly the butt of a big revolver projecting from the mantel-piece, a Winchester standing in one corner, a long, old-fashioned squirrel rifle athwart a pair of buck antlers over the front door, and a bunch of cane fishing-poles aslant the wall of the back porch. Presently a slim, drenched figure slipped quietly in, then another, and Mavis stood on one side of the fire-place and little Jason on the other. The two girls exchanged a swift glance and Mavis's eyes fell; abashed, she knotted her hands shyly behind her and with the hollow of one bare foot rubbed the slender arch of the other. The stranger boy looked up at Jason with a pleasant glance of recognition, got for his courtesy a sullen glare that travelled from his broad white collar down to his stockinged legs, and his face flushed; he would have trouble with that mountain boy. Before the fire old Jason Hawn stood, and through a smoke cloud from his corn-cob pipe looked kindly at his two little guests.

  "So that's yo' boy an' gal?"

  "That's my son Gray," said Colonel Pendleton.

  "And that's my cousin Marjorie," said the lad, and Mavis looked quickly to little Jason for recognition of this similar relationship and got no answering glance, for little did he care at that moment of hostility how those two were akin.

  "She's my cousin, too," laughed the colonel, "but she always calls me uncle."

  Old Jason turned to him.

  "Well, we're a purty rough people down here, but you're welcome to all we got."

  "I've found that out," laughed Colonel Pendleton pleasantly, "everywhere."

  "I wish you both could stay a long time with us," said the old man to the little strangers. "Jason here would take Gray fishin' an' huntin', an' Mavis would git on my old mare an' you two could jus' go flyin' up an' down the road. You could have a mighty good time if hit wasn't too rough fer ye."

  "Oh, no," said the boy politely, and the girl said:

  "I'd just love to."

  The Blue-grass man's attention was caught by the names.

  "Jason," he repeated; "why, Jason was a mighty hunter, and Mavis—— that means 'the songthrush.' How in the world did they get those names?"

  "Well, my granddaddy was a powerful b'arhunter in his day," said the old man, "an' I heerd as how a school-teacher nicknamed him Jason, an' that name come down to me an' him. I've heerd o' Mavis as long as I can rickellect. Hit was my grandmammy's name."

  Colonel Pendleton looked at the sturdy mountain lad, his compact figure, square shoulders, well-set head with its shock of hair and bold, steady eyes, and at the slim, wild little creature shrinking against the mantel-piece, and then he turned to his own son Gray and his little cousin Marjorie. Four better types of the Blue- grass and of the mountains it would be hard to find. For a moment he saw them in his mind's eye transposed in dress and environment, and he was surprised at the little change that eye could see, and when he thought of the four living together in these wilds, or at home in the Blue-grass, his wonder at what the result might be almost startled him. The mountain lad had shown no surprise at the talk about him and his cousin, but when the stranger man caught his eye, little Jason's lips opened.

  "I knowed all about that," he said abruptly.

  "About what?"

  "Why, that mighty hunter——and Mavis."

  "Why, who told you?"

  "The jologist."

  "The what?" Old Jason laughed.

  "He means ge-ol-o-gist," said the old man, who had no little trouble with the right word himself. "A feller come in here three year ago with a hammer an' went to peckin' aroun' in the rocks here, an' that boy was with him all the time. Thar don't seem to be much the feller didn't tell Jason an' nothin' that Jason don't seem to remember. He's al'ays a-puzzlin' me by comin' out with somethin' or other that rock-pecker tol' him an'——" he stopped, for the boy was shaking his head from side to side.

  "Don't you say nothin' agin him, now," he said, and old Jason laughed.

  "He's a powerful hand to take up fer his friends, Jason is."

  "He was a friend o' all us mountain folks," said the boy stoutly, and then he looked Colonel Pendleton in the face——fearlessly, but with no impertinence.

  "He said as how you folks from the big settlemints was a-comin' down here to buy up our wild lands fer nothin' because we all was a lot o' fools an' didn't know how much they was worth, an' that ever'body'd have to move out o' here an' you'd get rich diggin' our coal an' cuttin' our timber an' raisin' hell ginerally."

  He did not notice Marjorie's flush, but went on fierily: "He said that our trees caught the rain an' our gullies gethered it together an' troughed it down the mountains an' made the river which would water all yo' lands. That you was a lot o' damn fools cuttin' down yo' trees an' a-plantin' terbaccer an' a-spittin' out yo' birthright in terbaccer-juice, an' that by an' by you'd come up here an' cut down our trees so that there wouldn't be nothin' left to ketch the rain when it fell, so that yo' rivers would git to be cricks an' yo' cricks branches an' yo' land would die o' thirst an' the same thing 'ud happen here. Co'se we'd all be gone when all this tuk place, but he said as how I'd live to see the day when you furriners would be damaged by wash-outs down thar in the settlements an' would be a-pilin' up stacks an' stacks o' gold out o' the lands you robbed me an' my kinfolks out of."

  "Shet up," said Arch Hawn sharply, and the boy wheeled on him.

  "Yes, an' you air a-helpin' the furriners to rob yo' own kin; you air a-doin' hit yo'self."


  The old man spoke sternly and the boy stopped, flushed and angry, and a moment later slipped from the room.

  "Well!" said the colonel, and he laughed good-humoredly to relieve the strain that his host might feel on his account; but he was amazed just the same——the bud of a socialist blooming in those wilds! Arch Hawn's shrewd face looked a little concerned, for he saw that the old man's rebuke had been for the discourtesy to strangers, and from the sudden frown that ridged the old man's brow, that the boy's words had gone deep enough to stir distrust, and this was a poor start in the fulfilment of the purpose he had in view. He would have liked to give the boy a cuff on the ear. As for Mavis, she was almost frightened by the outburst of her playmate, and Marjorie was horrified by his profanity; but the dawning of something in Gray's brain worried him, and presently he, too, rose and went to the back porch. The rain had stopped, the wet earth was fragrant with freshened odors, wood-thrushes were singing, and the upper air was drenched with liquid gold that was darkening fast. The boy Jason was seated on the yard fence with his chin in his hands, his back to the house, and his face toward home. He heard the stranger's step, turned his head, and mistaking a puzzled sympathy for a challenge, dropped to the ground and came toward him, gathering fury as he came. Like lightning the Blue-grass lad's face changed, whitening a little as he sprang forward to meet him, but Jason, motioning with his thumb, swerved behind the chimney, where the stranger swiftly threw off his coat, the mountain boy spat on his hands, and like two diminutive demons they went at each other fiercely and silently. A few minutes later the two little girls rounding the chimney corner saw them——Gray on top and Jason writhing and biting under him like a tortured snake. A moment more Mavis's strong little hand had the stranger boy by his thick hair and Mavis, feeling her own arm clutched by the stranger-girl, let go and turned on her like a fury. There was a piercing scream from Marjorie, hurried footsteps answered on the porch, and old Jason and the colonel looked with bewildered eyes on the little Blue- grass girl amazed, indignant, white with horror; Mavis shrinking away from her as though she were the one who had been threatened with a blow; the stranger lad with a bitten thumb clinched in the hollow of one hand, his face already reddening with contrition and shame; and savage little Jason biting a bloody lip and with the lust of battle still shaking him from head to foot.

  "Jason," said the old man sternly, "whut's the matter out hyeh?"

  Marjorie pointed one finger at Mavis, started to speak, and stopped. Jason's eyes fell.

  "Nothin'," he said sullenly, and Colonel Pendleton looked to his son with astonished inquiry, and the lad's fine face turned bewildered and foolish.

  "I don't know, sir," he said at last.

  "Don't know?" echoed the colonel. "Well——"

  The old man broke in:

  "Jason, if you have lost yo' manners an' don't know how to behave when thar's strangers around, I reckon you'd better go on home."

  The boy did not lift his eyes.

  "I was a-goin' home anyhow," he said, still sullen, and he turned.

  "Oh, no!" said the colonel quickly; "this won't do. Come now——you two boys shake hands."

  At once the stranger lad walked forward to his enemy, and confused Jason gave him a limp hand. The old man laughed. "Come on in, Jason——you an' Mavis——an' stay to supper."

  The boy shook his head.

  "I got to be gittin' back home," he said, and without a word more he turned again. Marjorie looked toward the little girl, but she, too, was starting.

  "I better be gittin' back too," she said shyly, and off she ran. Old Jason laughed again.

  "Jes' like two young roosters out thar in my barnyard," and he turned with the colonel toward the house. But Marjorie and her cousin stood in the porch and watched the two little mountaineers until, without once looking back, they passed over the sunlit hill.

科目名称 主讲老师 课时 免费试听 优惠价 购买课程
英语零起点 郭俊霞 30课时 试听 150元/门 购买
综艺乐园 ------ 15课时 试听 100元/门 购买
边玩边学 ------ 10课时 试听 60元/门 购买
情景喜剧 ------ 15课时 试听 100元/门 购买
欢乐课堂 ------ 35课时 试听 150元/门 购买
趣味英语速成 钟 平 18课时 试听 179元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语预备级 (Pre-Starters) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语一级 (Starters) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语二级 (Movers) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
剑桥少儿英语三级 (Flyers) ------ ------ 试听 200元/门 购买
初级英语口语 ------ 55课时 ------ 350元/门 购买
中级英语口语 ------ 83课时 ------ 350元/门 购买
高级英语口语 ------ 122课时 ------ 350元/门 购买
郭俊霞 北京语言大学毕业,国内某知名中学英语教研组长,教学标兵……详情>>
钟平 北大才俊,英语辅导专家,累计从事英语教学八年,机械化翻译公式发明人……详情>>

  1、凡本网注明 “来源:外语教育网”的所有作品,版权均属外语教育网所有,未经本网授权不得转载、链接、转贴或以其他方式使用;已经本网授权的,应在授权范围内使用,且必须注明“来源:外语教育网”。违反上述声明者,本网将追究其法律责任。