(still looking at the fire).
You have a shrewd fire, and the air is chill in these mountains.
Will you not have some bacon and bread? I wish there were more to offer
I’ll have a taste of the bacon and a morsel of bread. (Washington
begins to prepare them). I thank you.
WASHINGTON (toasting bread and bacon). The wilderness must be rough-seeming to you.
RED ROWAN. I’m well-used to deep forests and long, hard journeys, for the love of a trail is in my blood. My grandfather was a gentleman rover, and my father a frontiersman, and my mother was—a gipsy.
RED ROWAN (nodding). Aye, but she died when I was little, and lies buried oversea. ’Tis ten years now since my father came from England, and brought me with him.
You have known little of a roof, then.
RED ROWAN. Aye, or of schooling. But forests are kind teachers, and have given me much. There is a lore deeper than the lore of books. You too must know it. For with lonely campfires and winding roads and sharp, white, frosty stars one comes to gather wisdom. Schoolbooks may give you the past, but it is in my blood to know——
(as she pauses).
RED ROWAN (slowly, gazing at fire). Or so I tell myself. I must ofttimes make up fancies to help the long days pass. (Rises.) Come, for a jest, let me read your palm, Master Washington. And in after years you may say: “Why, so Red Rowan told me!”
Would you have me put faith in witchcraft?
RED ROWAN (offended).Do I look like a witch? Nay, but you know right well I do not. Come, let me read your hand. ’Tis a mere jest, and will do no harm, and you need not believe a word I say.
WASHINGTON. I will not, if it is flattering; for I have learned aforetime that humility is the forerunner of advancement. [Footnote: Washington’s own words]
RED ROWAN (seated on mossy log, as she reads his hand). What would you wish to be?
WASHINGTON (simply). When I grow older, a man of deeds, not words. [Footnote: Washington’s own words]
RED ROWAN. Well, then, give hither. (Reading his hand.) Your name is Washington, and you come from beyond Blue Ridge. All this I know. For the rest, let me read. You are well versed in woodcraft, but not so well in books.
There I must mend me.
RED ROWAN. Aye. You are a notable horseman: your wrist is quick at the foils; you can swim, climb, and fight, if need be. You are strong, and your valor equals your strength, your courtesy, your bearing. The line of truth is here. You smile?
I was thinking of the matter of a hatchet and a cherry tree!
RED ROWAN (still reading). Through all your life, success will smile upon you. Here are the marks of battles. Here are the lines of hardships and of victories. And all these little lines—see, marches, marches, marches! You’ll be a colonel, and perhaps a general. You laugh? Some day you’ll see! ’Twill all come true! You’ll fight in a great cause.