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.

There was no answer but the twist of Jason’s wrist, and the bullet went harmlessly upward.  Before he could pull the trigger again, the sinewy fingers of a man’s hand closed over the weapon and pushed it flat with the earth, and Jason’s upturned eyes looked into the grave face of the school-master.  That face was stern and shamed Jason instantly.  The two boys rose to their feet, and the mountain boy turned away from the school-master and saw Marjorie standing ten yards away white and terror-stricken, and her eyes when he met them blazed at him with a light that no human eye had ever turned on him before.  The boy knew anger, rage, hate, revenge, but contempt was new to him, and his soul was filled with sudden shame that was no less strange, but the spirit in him was undaunted, and like a challenged young buck his head went up as he turned again to face his accuser.

“Were you going to shoot an unarmed boy?” asked John Burnham gravely.

“He hit me.”

“You called him a coward.”

“He hit me.”

“He offered to fight you fist and skull.”

“He had the same chance to git the gun that I had.”

“He wasn’t trying to get it in order to shoot you.”

Jason made no answer and the school-master repeated: 

“He offered to fight you fist and skull.”

“I was too mad—­but I’ll fight him now.”

“Boys don’t fight in the presence of young ladies.”

Gray spoke up and in his tone was the contempt that was in Marjorie’s eyes, and it made the mountain boy writhe.

“I wouldn’t soil my hands on you—­now.”

The school-master rebuked Gray with a gesture, but Jason was confused and sick now and he held out his hand for his pistol.

“I better be goin’ now—­this ain’t no place fer me.”

The school-master gravely handed the weapon to him.

“I’m coming over to have a talk with you, Jason,” he said.

The boy made no answer.  He climbed on his horse slowly.  His face was very pale, and once only he swept the group with eyes that were badgered but no longer angry, and as they rested on Marjorie, there was a pitiful, lonely something in them that instantly melted her and almost started her tears.  Then he rode silently and slowly away.

XIII

Slowly the lad rode westward, for the reason that he was not yet quite ready to pass between those two big-pillared houses again, and because just then whatever his way—­no matter.  His anger was all gone now and his brain was clear, but he was bewildered.  Throughout the day he had done nothing that he thought was wrong, and yet throughout the day he had done nothing that seemed to be right.  This land was not for him—­he did not understand the ways of it and the people, and they did not understand him.  Even the rock-pecker had gone back on him, and though that hurt him deeply, the lad loyally knew that the

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