St. Hilda herself took Jason back to the Blue-grass, took him to the gray frowning prison at the capital, and with streaming eyes watched the iron gates close between them. Then she went home, sent for John Burnham, and within an hour both started working for the boy’s freedom, for Jason must keep on with his studies, and, with Steve Hawn in jail, must help his mother. Through Gray’s influence Colonel Pendleton, and through Marjorie’s, Mrs. Pendleton as well, offered to go sponsors for the boy’s appearance at his trial. The man from the Pennyroyal who sat in the governor’s chair, and even the successor to the autocrat who was trying to pre-empt that seat, gave letters to help, and before any prison pallor could touch the boy’s sun-tanned face he was out in the open air once more on bail. And when old Jason Hawn in the mountains heard what had happened, he laughed.
“Well, I reckon if he’s indicted only fer helpin’ Steve, he ain’t in much danger, fer they can’t git him onless they git Steve, an’ if thar is one man no money can ketch—that man is slick Steve Hawn. An’ lemme tell ye: if the right feller was from the mountains an’ only mountain folks knows it, they hain’t nuver goin’ to find him out. Mebbe I was a leetle hasty—mebbe I was.”
After one talk with John Burnham, the old president suggested that Jason drop down into the “kitchen” and go on with his books, but against this plan Jason shook his head. He was going to raise Steve Hawn’s tobacco crop on shares with Colonel Pendleton, he would study at home, and John Burnham saw, moreover, that the boy shrank from the ordeal of college associations and any further hurt to his pride.
The pores of the earth were beginning to open now to the warm breath of spring. Already Martha Hawn and Mavis had burnt brush on the soil to kill the grass, and Jason ploughed the soil and harrowed it with minute care, and sowed the seed broadcast by hand. Within two weeks lettuce-like leaves were peeping through the ground, and Jason and Mavis stretched canvas over the beds to hold in the heat of day and hold off the frost of night. Three weeks later came the first ploughing; then there was ploughing and ploughing and ploughing again, and weeding and weeding and weeding again. Just before ripening, the blooms came—blooms that were for all the word like the blooms of purple rhododendron back in the hills, and then the task of suckering began. Sometimes Mavis would help and the mother started in to work like a man, but the boy had absorbed from his environment its higher ideal of woman and, all he could, he kept both of them out of the tobacco field. This made it all the harder for him and there was no let-up to his toil. Just the same, Jason put in every spare moment on his books, and in Mavis’s little room, which had been turned over to him, his lamp burned far into every night. When he struck