“Why, Jason!” said his mother. “Arch is a-goin’ to gimme back the farm fer my use as long as I live.”
And Mavis had left the old circuit rider and come to live with her. The girl looked quiet, placid, content—only, for a moment, she sank the deep lights of her eyes deep into his and the scrutiny seemed to bring her peace, for she drew a long breath and at him her eyes smiled. There was more when later Mavis had strolled down toward the barn to leave the two alone.
“Is Mavis goin’ to live with you all the time?”
“Hit looks like hit—she brought over ever’thing she has.”
The mother smiled suddenly, looked to see that the girl was out of sight, and then led the way into the house and up into the attic, where she reached behind the rafters.
“Look hyeh,” she said, and she pulled into sight the fishing-pole and the old bow and arrow that Jason had given Mavis years and years ago.
“She fetched ’em over when I wasn’t hyeh an’ hid ’em.”
Slyly the mother watched her son’s face, and though Jason said nothing, she got her reward when she saw him color faintly. She was too wise to say anything more herself, nor did she show any consciousness when the three were together in the porch, nor make any move to leave them alone. The two women went to their work again, and while Mavis asked nothing, the mother plied Jason with questions about Colonel and Mrs. Pendleton and Marjorie and Gray, and had him tell about his graduating speech and Commencement Day. The girl listened eagerly, though all the time her eyes were fixed on her busy fingers, and when Jason told that Gray would most likely come back to the hills, now that his father would get well, she did not even lift her eyes and the calm of her face changed not at all.
A little later Jason started back over to the mines. From the corner of the yard he saw the path he used to follow when he was digging for his big seam of coal. He passed his trysting-place with Mavis on top of the spur, walled in now, as then, with laurel and rhododendron. Again he felt the same pang of sympathy when he saw her own cabin on the other side, tenanted now by negro miners. Together their feet had beat every road, foot-path, trail, the rocky bed of every little creek that interlaced in the great green cup of the hills about him. So that all that day he walked with memories and Mavis Hawn; all that day it was good to think that his mother’s home was hers, that he would find her there when his day’s work was done, and that she would be lonesome no more. And it was a comfort when he went down the spur before sunset to see her in the porch, to get her smile of welcome that for all her calm sense of power seemed shy, to see her moving around the house, helping his mother in the kitchen, and, after the old way, waiting on him at the table. Jason slept in the loft of his childhood that night, and again he pulled out the old bow and arrow, bandling