He laughed. “None of them are always dressed in silks and satins,” he replied. “Perhaps I’ve given you a wrong idea. We work down there, as hard, perhaps, as you do here, but we have more things to work with. Don’t get the notion, little girl, that all these things which I have told you of are magic things which surely will bring happiness! There is no more of that, I reckon, in the bluegrass than there is here in the mountains. Silks and satins don’t make happiness, balls and garden-fetes don’t make it. A girl who’s sobbing in a ball gown can be quite as miserable as you would be, unhappy in your homespun.”
She was impatient of his moralizing. “I know that,” she said. “Dellaw, don’t you suppose I’ve got some sense? But it ain’t quite true, neither. Maybe if I was going to be unhappy I’d be just as much so in a silk dress as I would in this here cotton one that I’ve got on; but I guess there’s times when I’d be happier in the silk than I would be in this. My, I wisht I had one!”
He looked at her appraisingly. She would, he thought, be wondrous beautiful if given the accessories which girls more fortunate had at their hand. Beautiful, she was, undoubtedly, without them; with them she would be—he almost caught his breath at thought of it—sensational!
Mentally he ran over all the girls he knew in a swift survey of memory. Not one of them, he thought, could really compare with her. Even Barbara Holton, with her haughty, big featured, strikingly handsome face, although she had attracted him in days passed, seemed singularly unattractive to him, now.
While he sat, musing thus, almost forgetful of the puzzling ABC, she gazed off across the valley dreamily, the ABC’s as far from her. It was a lovely prospect of bare crag and wooded slope, green fields and low-hung clouds, with, at its center, here and there the silver of the stream which, back among the forest trees, supplied the water to the hidden pool where she had watched him, furtively, the first time she had ever seen him. But it was not of the fair prospect that the girl was thinking. The coming of the stranger had brought into her life a hundred new emotions, ten thousand puzzling guesses at the life which lay beyond and could produce such men as he. Were all men in the bluegrass like Frank Layson—courteous, considerate, and as strong and active as the best of mountaineers? If so—what a splendid place for women! She was sure that men like him were never brutal to their wives and daughters, sisters, mothers, as the mountaineers too often are; she was certain that they did not craze themselves with whisky and terrify and beat their families; she was sure that when one loved a girl the courtship must be all sweet gentleness and happiness and joy, not like the quick succession of mad love-making and fierce quarrels which had characterized the heart-affairs that she had watched, there in the mountains.