The Heart of the Hills eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 340 pages of information about The Heart of the Hills.
the summer the two were alone in the Blue-grass, and how she had kept away from Marjorie and Gray and all to herself.  He recalled Mavis telling him bitterly how she had once overheard some girl student speak of her as the daughter of a jail-bird.  He began to see that she had stayed in the Blue-grass that summer on his mother’s account and on her account would have gone back with him again.  He knew that there was no disloyalty to her father in her decision, for he knew that she would stick to him, jail-bird or whatever he was, till the end of time.  But now neither her father nor Jason’s mother needed her.  Through eyes that had gained a new vision in the Blue-grass Mavis had long ago come to see herself as she was seen there; and now to escape wounds that any malicious tongue could inflict she would stay where the sins of fathers rested less heavily on the innocent.  There was, to be sure, good reason for Jason to feel as Mavis felt—­he had been a jail-bird himself—­but not to act like her—­no.  And then as he rolled along he began to wonder what part Gray might be playing in her mind and heart.  The vision of her seated in the porch thinking—­thinking—­would not leave him, and a pang of undefined remorse for leaving her behind started within him.  She, too, had outgrown his and her people as he had—­perhaps she was as rebellious against her fate as he was against his own, but, unlike him, utterly helpless.  And suddenly the boy’s remorse merged into a sympathetic terror for the loneliness that was hers.


Down in the Blue-grass a handsome saddle-horse was hitched at the stile in front of Colonel Pendleton’s house and the front door was open to the pale gold of the early sun.  Upstairs Gray was packing for his last year away from home, after which he too would go to Morton Sanders’ mines, on the land Jason’s mother once had owned.  Below him his father sat at his desk with two columns of figures before him, of assets and liabilities, and his face was gray and his form seemed to have shrunk when he rose from his chair; but he straightened up when he heard his boy’s feet coming down the stairway, forced a smile to his lips, and called to him cheerily.  Together they walked down to the stile.

“I’m going to drive into town this morning, dad,” said Gray.  “Can I do anything for you?”

“No, son—­nothing—­except come back safe.”

In the distance a tree crashed to the earth as the colonel was climbing his horse, and a low groan came from his lips, but again he quickly recovered himself at the boy’s apprehensive cry.

“Nothing, son.  I reckon I’m getting too fat to climb a horse—­ good-by.”

He turned and rode away, erect as a youth of twenty, and the lad looked after him puzzled and alarmed.  One glance his father had turned toward the beautiful woodland that had at last been turned over to axe and saw for the planting of tobacco, and it was almost the last tree of that woodland that had just fallen.  When the first struck the earth two months before, the lad now recalled hearing his father mutter: 

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The Heart of the Hills from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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