“He’s mighty peart fer sech a’ old man, but he’s a-breakin’ fast an’ he ain’t long fer this wuld.” She spoke with the frank satisfaction that, among country folks, the old take in ushering their contemporaries through the portals, and Gray could hardly help smiling. He rose to leave presently, and the old woman pressed him to stay for supper; but Mavis’s manner somehow forbade, and the boy climbed back up the spur, wondering, ill at ease, and almost shaken by the new beauty the girl seemed to have taken on in the hills. For there she was at home. She had the peace and serenity of them: the pink-flecked laurel was in her cheeks, the white of the rhododendron was at the base of her full round throat, and in her eyes were the sleepy shadows of deep ravines. It might not be so lonely for him after all in his exile, and the vision of the girl haunted Gray when he went to bed that night and made him murmur and stir restlessly in his sleep.
Once more, on his way for his last year at college, Jason Hawn had stepped into the chill morning air at the railway junction, on the edge of the Blue-grass. Again a faint light was showing in the east, and cocks were crowing from a low sea of mist that lay motionless over the land, but this time the darky porter reached without hesitation for his bag and led him to the porch of the hotel, where he sat waiting for breakfast. Once more at sunrise he sped through the breaking mist and high over the yellow Kentucky River, but there was no pang of homesickness when he looked down upon it now. Again fields of grass and gram, grazing horses and cattle, fences, houses, barns reeled past his window, and once more Steve Hawn met him at the station in the same old rattletrap buggy, and again stared at him long and hard.
“Ain’t much like the leetle feller I met here three year ago—air ye?”
Steve was unshaven and his stubbly, thick, black beard emphasized the sickly touch of prison pallor that was still on his face. His eyes had a new, wild, furtive look, and his mouth was cruel and bitter. Again each side of the street was lined with big wagons loaded with tobacco and covered with cotton cloth. Steve pointed to them.
“Rickolect whut I tol’ you about hell a-comin’ about that terbaccer?”
“Well, hit’s come.” His tone was ominous, personal, and disturbed the boy.
“Look here, Steve,” he said earnestly, “haven’t you had enough now? Ain’t you goin’ to settle down and behave yourself?”