“Did she come purty near throwin’ you?”
“Huh!” grunted Jason contemptuously. “Whut was that?”
The farmer looked incredulous, but the lad was serious.
“That was a railroad train.”
“Danged if I didn’t think hit was a saw-mill comin’ atter me.”
The farmer laughed and looked as though he were going to ask questions, but he clucked to his horses and drove on, and Jason then and there swore a mighty oath to himself never again to be surprised by anything else he might see in this new land. All that day he rode slowly, giving his old nag two hours’ rest at noon, and long before sundown he pulled up before a house in a cross-roads settlement, for the mountaineer does not travel much after nightfall.
“I want to git to stay all night,” he said.
The man smiled and understood, for no mountaineer’s door is ever closed to the passing stranger and he cannot understand that any door can be closed to him. Jason told the truth that night, for he had to ask questions himself—he was on his way to see his mother and his step-father and his cousin, who had moved down from the mountains, and to his great satisfaction he learned that it was a ride of but three hours more to Colonel Pendleton’s.
When his host showed him to his room, the boy examined his pistol with such care while he was unbuckling it, that, looking up, he found a half-smile, half-frown, and no little suspicion, in his host’s face; but he made no explanation, and he slept that night with one ear open, for he was not sure yet that no Honeycutt might be following him.
Toward morning he sprang from bed wide-awake, alert, caught up his pistol and crept to the window. Two horsemen were at the gate. The door opened below him, his host went out, and the three talked in whispers for a while. Then the horsemen rode away, his host came back into the house, and all was still again. For half an hour the boy waited, his every nerve alive with suspicion. Then he quietly dressed, left half a dollar on the washstand, crept stealthily down the stairs and out to the stable, and was soon pushing his old nag at a weary gallop through the dark.