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.
of younger hands.  The young men and young women would come again, but now they would be his no longer.  There would be the same eager faces, dancing eyes, swift coming and going, but not for him.  The same cries of greeting, the tramp of many feet, shouts from the playgrounds-but not for his ears.  The same struggle for supremacy in the class-room—­but not for his favor and his rewarding hand.  That hand had all but upraised each building, brick by brick and stone by stone.  He had started alone, he had fought alone, and in spite of his Scotch shrewdness, business sagacity, indomitable pluck and patience, and a nationwide fame for scholarship, the fight had been hard and long.  He had won, but the work was yet unfinished, and it was his no longer.  For a little while he stood there, and John Burnham, coming from his class-room with a little bag of books, saw the still figure on crutches and paused noiselessly on the steps.  He saw the old scholar’s sensitive mouth quiver and his thin face wrenched with pain, and he guessed the tragedy of farewell that was taking place.  He saw the old president turn suddenly, limp toward the willow-trees, and Burnham knew that he could not bear at that moment to pass between those empty beloved halls.  And Burnham watched him move under the willows along the edge of the quiet pond, watched him slowly climbing a little hill on the other side of the campus, and then saw him wearily pass through his own gate-home.  He wished that the old scholar could know how much better he had builded than he knew; could know what an exchange and clearing-house that group of homely buildings was for the human wealth of the State.  And he wondered if in the old thoroughbred’s heart was the comfort that his spirit would live on and on to help mould the lives of generations unborn, who might perhaps never hear his name.

There was a youthful glad light in John Burnham’s face when he turned his back on the deserted college, for he, too, was on his way at last to the hills—­and St. Hilda.  As he swept through the Blue-grass he almost smiled upon the passing fields.  The betterment of the tobacco troubles was sure to come, and only that summer the farmer was beginning to realize that in the end the seed of his blue-grass would bring him a better return than the leaf of his troublesome weed-king.  There were groaning harvests that summer and herds of sheep and hogs and fat cattle.  There was plenty of wheat and rye and oats and barley and corn yet coming out of the earth, and, as woodland after woodland reeled past his window, he realized that the trees were not yet all gone.  Perhaps after all his beloved Kentucky would come back to her own, and there was peace in his grateful heart.

Two nights later, sitting on the porch of her little log cabin, he told St. Hilda about Gray and Marjorie, as she told him about Mavis and Jason Hawn.  Gray and Jason had gone back, each to his own, having learned at last what Mavis and Marjorie, without learning, already knew—­that duty is to others rather than self, to life rather than love.  But John Burnham now knew that in the dreams of each girl another image would live always; just as always Jason would see another’s eyes misty with tears for him and feel the comforting clutch of a little hand, while in Gray’s heart a wood-thrush would sing forever.

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