Caleb Gordon kept his pine splint alight until the echoes of the engine’s exhaust came faintly from the overhanging cliffs of the mountain.
“They’ve gone back to town, and I reckon the fire’s plum’ out for to-day, Major,” he drawled. “Buck and a few o’ the boys ’ll stay by the gun, against their rallyin’ later on, and you might as well go home to your breakfast. Didn’t bring your hawss, did ye? Take the mare, and welcome. Buddy and me’ll walk.”
But the Major would not mount, and so the two men walked together as far as the manor-house gates, with Thomas Jefferson a pace in the rear, leading the mare.
It was no matter of wonder to him that his father and the Major marched in solemn silence to the gate of parting. But the wonder came tumultuously when the Major wheeled abruptly at the moment of leave-taking and wrung his father’s hand.
“By God, suh, you are a right true-hearted gentleman, and my very good friend, Mistuh Gordon!” he said, with the manner of one who has been carefully weighing the words beforehand. “If you had been given youh just dues, suh, you’d have come home from F’ginia wearin’ youh shouldeh-straps.” And then, with a little throat-clearing pause to come between: “Damn it, suh; an own brotheh couldn’t have done’mo’! I—I’ve been misjudgin’ you, Caleb, all these yeahs, and now I’m proud to shake you by the hand and call you my friend. Yes, suh, I am that!”
It was, in a manner not to be understood by the Northern alien, the accolade of knighthood, and Caleb Gordon’s toil-rounded shoulders straightened visibly when he returned the hearty hand-grasp. And as for Thomas Jefferson: in his heart gratified pride flapped its wings and crowed lustily; and for the moment he was almost willing to bury that private grudge he was holding against Major Dabney—almost, but not quite.
THE PRAYER OF THE RIGHTEOUS
Having come thus far with Thomas Jefferson on the road to whatever goal he will reach, it is high time we were looking a little more closely into this matter of his grudge against Major Dabney.
Primarily, it based itself upon the dominant quality in a masterful character; namely, a desire to possess the earth and its fullness without partnership encumbrances.
From a time back of which memory refused to run, the woods and the fields of Paradise Valley, the rampart hills and the backgrounding mountain side, had belonged to Thomas Jefferson by the right of discovery. The Bates boys and the Cantrells lived over in the great valley of the Tennessee, and when they planned a fishing excursion up Turkey Creek, they recognized Thomas Jefferson’s suzerainty by announcing that they were coming over to his house. In like manner, the Pendrys and the Lumpkins and the Hardwicks were scattered at farm-width intervals down the pike, and the rampart hills marked the boundary of their domain on that side.