The Heart of the Hills eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 269 pages of information about The Heart of the Hills.
licking at his heart, though already that heart was thumping at the bid of Marjorie.  Impatiently he began to wonder at the perverse waywardness of his own soul, and without undressing he sat at the window—­restless, sleepless, and helpless against his warring self—­sat until the shadows of the night began to sweep after the light of the sinking moon.  When he rose finally, he thought he saw a dim figure moving around the corner of the barn.  He rubbed his eyes to make sure, and then picking up his pistol he slipped down the stairs and out the side door, taking care not to awaken his mother and Steve.  When he peered forth from the corner of the house, Steve’s chestnut gelding was outside the barn and somebody was saddling him.  Some negro doubtless was stealing him out for a ride, as was not unusual in that land, and that negro Jason meant to scare half to death.  Noiselessly the boy reached the hen-house, and when he peered around that he saw to his bewilderment that the thief was Steve.  Once more Steve went into the barn, and this time when he come out he began to fumble about his forehead with both hands, and a moment later Jason saw him move toward the gate, masked and armed.  A long shrill whistle came from the turnpike and he heard Steve start into a gallop down the lane.

XXXVI

It was three days before Steve Hawn returned, ill-humored, reddened by drink, and worn.  As ever, Martha Hawn asked no questions and Jason betrayed no curiosity, no suspicion, though he was not surprised to learn that in a neighboring county the night riders had been at their lawless work, and he had no doubt that Steve was among them.  Jason would be able to help but little that autumn in the tobacco field, for it was his last year in college and he meant to work hard at his books, but he knew that the dispute between his step-father and Colonel Pendleton was still unsettled—­that Steve was bitter and had a secret relentless purpose to get even.  He did not dare give Colonel Pendleton a warning, for it was difficult, and he knew the fiery old gentleman would receive such an intervention with a gracious smile and dismiss it with haughty contempt; so Jason decided merely to keep a close watch on Steve.

On the opening day of college, as on the opening day three years before, Jason walked through the fields to town, but he did not start at dawn.  The dew-born mists were gone and the land lay, with no mystery to the eye or the mind, under a brilliant sun-the fields of stately corn, the yellow tents of wheat gone from the golden stretches of stubble, and green trees rising from the dull golden sheen of the stripped blue-grass pastures.  The cut, upturned tobacco no longer looked like hunchbacked witches on broom-sticks and ready for flight, for the leaves, waxen, oily, inert, hung limp and listless from the sticks that pointed like needles to the north to keep the stalks inclined as much as possible from the sun.  Even

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