It was bedtime now, and little Jason rose and went within. As he climbed the steps leading to his loft, he spoke at last, nodding his head toward the cabin over the spur:
“I reckon I know whut you two are up to, and, furhermore, you are aimin’ to sell this land. I can’t keep you from doin’ it, I reckon, but I do ask you not to sell without lettin’ me know. I know somet’n’ ‘bout it that nobody else knows. An’ if you don’t tell me—” he shook his head slowly, and the mother looked at her boy as though she were dazed by some spell.
“I’ll tell ye, Jasie,” she said.
Down the river road loped Arch Hawn the next morning, his square chin low with thought, his shrewd eyes almost closed, and his straight lips closed hard on the cane stem of an unlighted pipe. Of all the Hawns he had been born the poorest in goods and chattels and the richest in shrewd resource, restless energy, and keen foresight. He had gone to the settlements when he was a lad, he had always been coming and going ever since, and the word was that he had been to far-away cities in the outer world that were as unfamiliar to his fellows and kindred as the Holy Land. He had worked as teamster and had bought and sold anything to anybody right and left. Resolutely he had kept himself from all part in the feud—his kinship with the Hawns protecting him on one side and the many trades with old Aaron Honeycutt in cattle and lands saving him from trouble on the other. He carried no tales from one faction to the other, condemned neither one nor the other, and made the same comment to both—that it was foolish to fight when there was so much else so much more profitable to do. Once an armed band of mounted Honeycutts had met him in the road and demanded news of a similar band of Hawns up a creek. “Did you ever hear o’ my tellin’ the Hawns anything about you Honeycutts?” he asked quietly, and old Aaron had to shake his head.
“Well, if I tol’ you anything about them to-day, don’t you know I’d be tellin’ them something about you to-morrow?”
Old Aaron scratched his head.
“By Gawd, boys—that’s so. Let him pass!”
Thus it was that only Arch Hawn could have brought about an agreement that was the ninth wonder of the mountain world, and was no less than a temporary truce in the feud between old Aaron Honeycutt and old Jason Hawn until the land deal in which both leaders shared a heavy interest could come to a consummation. Arch had interested Colonel Pendleton in his “wild lands” at a horse sale in the Blue-grass. The mountaineer’s shrewd knowledge of horses had caught the attention of the colonel, his drawling speech, odd phrasing, and quaint humor had amused the Blue-grass man, and his exposition of the wealth of the hills and the vast holdings that he had in the hollow of his hand, through options far and wide, had done the rest—for the matter was timely