MATTERS IN KENTUCKY
Backward now with our reader we turn, and take up the broken thread of our story at the point where we left Adah Hastings.
It was a bitter morning in which to face the fierce north wind, and plow one’s way to the Derby cornfield, where, in a small, dilapidated building, Aunt Eunice Reynolds, widowed sister of John Stanley, had lived for many years, first as a pensioner upon her brother’s bounty, and next as Hugh’s incumbent. At the time of her brother’s death Aunt Eunice had intended removing to Spring Bank, but when Hugh’s mother wrote, asking for a home, she at once abandoned the plan, and for two seasons more lived alone, watching from her lonely door the tasseled corn ripening in the August sun. Of all places in the world Hugh liked the cottage best, particularly in summer. Few would object to it then with its garden of gayly colored flowers, its barricades of tasseled corn and the bubbling music of the brook, gushing from the willow spring a few rods from the door. But in the winter people from the highway, as they caught from across the field the gleam of Aunt Eunice’s light, pitied the lonely woman sitting there so solitary beside her wintry fire. But Aunt Eunice asked no pity. If Hugh came once a week to spend the night, and once a day to see her, it was all that she desired, for Hugh was her darling, her idol, the object which kept her old heart warm and young with human love. For him she would endure any want or encounter any difficulty, and so it is not strange that in his dilemma regarding Adah Hastings, he intuitively turned to her, as the one of all others who would lend a helping hand. He had not been to see her in two whole days, and when the gray December morning broke, and he looked out upon the deep, untrodden snow, and then glanced across the fields to where a wreath of smoke, even at that early hour, was rising slowly from her chimney, he frowned impatiently, as he thought how bad the path must be between Spring Bank and the cornfield, whither he intended going, as he would be the first to tell what had occurred. ’Lina’s fierce opposition to and his mother’s apparent shrinking from Adah had convinced him how hopeless was the idea that she could stay at Spring Bank with any degree of comfort to herself or quiet to him. Aunt Eunice’s house was the only refuge for Adah, and there she would be comparatively safe from censorious remarks.