MATT J. HOLT
Louisville Westerfield-Bonte Co. Inc. 1920
Copyrighted 1920 by the Author
I. CHIT-CHAT 1
II. CORNWALL MEETS A MOUNTAIN MAID 11
III. CORNWALL LOCATES IN HARLAN 18
IV. A WEEK IN A MOUNTAIN HOME 27
V. THE SAYLORS MOVE TO THE BLUEGRASS 39
VI. CORNWALL BUYS A HOME 44
VII. MARY AND JOHN PROGRESS 60
VIII. DOROTHY AND BRADFORD—ROSAMOND AND CORNWALL 72
IX. THE SAYLOR FAMILY 87
X. MARY AND JOHN ARE MARRIED 103
XI. HOME LIFE 114
SEEING ITALY AT MRS. O'FLANNAGAN'S EXPENSE
I. SEEING ITALY AT MRS. O'FLANNAGAN'S EXPENSE 127
II. "Y" SERVICE 139
III. JOHN CORNWALL TRAVELS A BIT AND RETURNS HOME 161
IV. TWO CANDIDATES 172
A CONSCIOUS MUMMY 198
DOCTOR BROWN OF DANVILLE 213
RICHARD HAWKWOOD 225
THE SEARCHLIGHT 269
I thought to write a book entitled: "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow." How much is buried in the wreckage of yesterday—how uninteresting today is and how little is to be done—our burden we shift to the strong, young shoulders of tomorrow; tomorrow of the big heart, who in kindness hides our sorrows and whispers only of hope. I ended by writing,—this—which I have called "Chit-Chat," thus classifying the book, knowing that such a book if true to name will picture the age and find a publisher.
I have read in the Arabian Book of Knowledge that "thoughts are Tartars, vagabonds; imprison all thou canst not slay," and have seen fit to follow this suggestion and the advice given a Turkish author—
"That none may dub thee tactless dund'rhead, Confine thy pen to light chit-chat, And rattle on as might a letter! For ninety-nine of every hundred Hate learning and what's more than that, The hundredth man likes berresh better."
So I present to you, gentle or gallant reader, as the case may be, and quite informally, John Cornwall.
He was born at 702 West Chestnut Street, Louisville, Kentucky, on the 12th day of May, 1872. His mother was a widow; and before the days of H. C. L, the two lived comfortably on her income of $1,800.00 a year.
His boyhood was as that of other boys of the city; an era of happiness and happiness has no history. He was considered a good boy as boys go; and good boys have few adventures.
Although John never attended Sunday School except when his mother made him—as she was a Presbyterian, he wore the honor pin for an unbroken three-year attendance.
School to him was such a delight, that in a spirit of emulative self-denial, he never started from home, a block away, until a minute before the tardy bell rang. He usually made it. If late, he slipped in, usually walking backwards, hoping either to escape observation or, if seen, to be told to retake his seat.
His vacations were spent on the river where he learned to handle a canoe and skiff; and before he was fourteen could swim and dive like a didapper. At that time his greatest ambition was to run the falls in a canoe; his next to be a steamboat captain.
He and two other boys built a camp on Six-Mile Island. There they usually spent the month of August; during the preceding vacation days working as bank runners or messenger boys to raise the money to finance the camping party.
He was entered in the graded school at seven, in high school at fifteen, at which time he put on long trousers and changed from stockings to socks. He insisted on discarding his stockings, as the boys had a way of lifting the bottoms of trousers to see if the one appearing for his first time in long trousers yet wore his stockings. He graduated from the high school at nineteen; and after two years at the local law school and in Judge Marshall's office, was given a position with the Kentucky Title Company; and for a year had been employed at abstracting in the Jefferson County Clerk's office.
One day a prosperous-looking stranger asked where certain records might be found and he graciously showed their location. The next day the stranger asked several questions as to local real estate laws, particularly as to leases, transfers and the rights of married women. He introduced himself as Mr. Rogers and asked John his name.
The following day about noon he came into the clerk's office and said; "Mr. Cornwall, I wish you would lunch with me today." Cornwall, after telephoning his mother that he would not be home, went with him.
When they were nearly through eating Mr. Rogers said:
"This morning I was at the office of Judge Barnett. He is attorney for our company, The Pittsburgh Coal & Coke Company. I asked him the same questions I did you and he gave similar answers. I have since made inquiries and believe our company can use you to look after its local law business in Bell, Harlan and Leslie counties. In these three counties we own about fifty thousand acres of coal lands and mineral leases on approximately two hundred thousand acres more. In addition we own several old surveys which I do not include in this acreage.
"We will pay you $1,800.00 a year, equip and furnish you with an office in our new building in Harlan and will make no objection to you attending to such local business as may come your way, provided it does not take you away from Harlan. What we need is a man on the ground. Think this over and let me know in the morning. I am at the Galt House, room 247. You had better call instead of telephoning. I shall be disappointed if you do not accept my offer."
"I thank you and I will take it up with mother tonight, then call at your room at 8:30 in the morning. Please excuse me now as I am due at the office."
* * * * *
Mr. Rogers and John Cornwall, several days later, arrived at Pineville on the early morning train and after lunch left on horseback, taking the Straight Creek road to Harlan.
It was not their intention to ride through that afternoon, but stop overnight at Simeon Saylor's and the following morning look over the Helton, Saylor and Brock coal properties on the south or main fork of the creek.
The road follows the creek and is canopied by sycamore, elm and birch trees or grape vines and other creepers. It is screened by thickets of pawpaw, blackberry, sumac or elderberry bushes which grow thick in the corners of the abutting worm fences.
It is not a lonely way. Every three or four hundred yards you pass a small mountain farmhouse overflowing with children, calling to mind the home of the old woman who lives in the shoe. Many squads of geese, following their corporal, march across the road towards the creek or back again to the barnyard. The thickets are alive with red birds and ground robins and an occasional squirrel, who has come down the mountain for a drink, rustles the leaves in his flight or at giddy heighth barks defiance at passing strangers.
Pine Mountain, without a break or scarce a deep cove, walls in the narrow valley on the south, while on the north smaller mountains stand at attention. The stream, with little chance to wander, bisects the valley in its unvarying course and perforce pursues its way, true to name.
They arrive at the foot of Salt Trace just as the lively tinkling of cowbells, as well as their own appetites, and the setting sun, suggests supper time; and their chafed buttocks, more used to a swivel chair than a saddle, pleaded for the comfort of an altered position.
Simeon Saylor lives several hundred yards up the creek from where the Salt Trace Trail, the bridle path to Harlan, leaves the main road. His house is the usual stopping place for travelers. He has imposed the labor of their entertainment upon his women folks, not so much for profit as to hear the news and chit-chat of the outside world.
The house is a structure of three large pens of logs with a dog trot (hallway) between. Two front the road, the third forms an ell at the rear and is flanked by a long porch. The whole is covered by a rough clapboard roof. Each pen has a sandstone chimney and each room a large, open fireplace. The ell is used as a kitchen, dining-room and storehouse combined. On the edge of the porch, almost within reach of the well sweep, a bench holds two tin wash basins; a cake of laundry soap reposes in the former coffin of a family of sardines and a roller towel, sterilized and dried by air and sunlight, hangs pendant from the eaves.
The travelers as they rode up and stiffly dismounted noted the many chickens going to roost and the three cows occupying the road in front of the house. The barn was rather an imposing structure. These signs assured eggs, milk and butter for themselves and feed and comfortable quarters for their horses.
After supper they sat out in the moonlight on a crooked, half uprooted elm overhanging the creek, until the world grew worshipfully still as it does twenty miles from a railroad; their quiet, contented thoughts undisturbed by the call of the whippoorwills in the near thickets and the hooting of a great owl far down the valley.
Then they were joined by their host, a tall, rawboned, sallow, sandy-haired man with a long, thin face on which grew a straggly beard, which had never known shears or razor. He had come out to hear more news than he had been able to learn at supper, where table manners demanded that he should eat and get through with it. At the table the men ate saying little, while the old woman and her daughters served them, and in silence.
His youngest boy, Caleb, came with him, an immodest little fellow; made so by his father, who it seemed spent most of his time boasting of the boy's accomplishments.
"Well, rested yet? Thar's a boy what's gwinter make a lawyer. He's just turned nine and you can't believe nothin' he says. He can argy any thing out'er his maw and the gals and the boys nigh bout hayr haint got no show with him; somehow he gits every thing they gits hold on. And you oughter see him shoot with a squirrel gun! Many a time he's knocked the bark out from under a squirrel and killed him without raising a hayr. Last Christmas eve I fotched a jug of moonshine from the Cliff House Still and hid it in the loft. You know that boy found out whar I hid her and when I went after hit, hit was nigh gone. He was snoozing away on the hay. When he come to, his head didn't hurt narry bit. That once I shore split his pants for him with a hame strop. He's got to leave my licker alone; that's one thing he can't put over on his paw,—no not yit. Down the crick at the mines is a dago, a fur-reen-er and his folks from Bolony. He's got a boy, Luigi Poggi, about fourteen but not as big as Caleb. That boy spends all his time with Caleb. He had jest gone home when you rid up. He talks dago to Caleb and Caleb gives him back jest plain straight Crick talk. If he's larnin as much United States as Caleb is dago, he'll make circit rider preacher in a few years. Caleb talk dago to the men."
Whereupon the boy stepped directly in front of Mr. Rogers and said; "Buona sera, Rogers avete tabacco meliore di questo?" (Good evening, Rogers, have you any tobacco better than this?—holding out a plug of long green.)
To which Mr. Rogers understanding him, replied:
"Caro ragazzo, voi mi annoiati oltre mode, buono notte." (My dear boy, you annoy me considerably, good night.)
"Ma non debbo ancora." (But I am not going yet.)
"Well you speak dago too, he's a great boy aint he, jest like his paw."
"What mought yer bissiness be, Mr. Rogers?"
"I am secretary of the Pittsburgh Coal & Coke Company."
"Yaah, that's the new crowd what's come in hayr buying out the old settlers. I hearn you bought that old Boyd Dickinson survey. Well you didn't git much. They've been trying for nigh forty year to locate the beginning corner. The first time Cal Hurst and them surveyor men came prowlin' round hayr, we got two on them. How's that trial with the Davis heirs comin' on? Old Milt Yungthank at Pineville has looked ater their bissiniss fer nigh twenty year. He had Sim and some of the boys up thayr with Winchesters about two year ago."
"Young feller, what's yer name?"
"My name is Cornwall."
"Ever been up heyr before? I was in yer town onct. I rid down to Livingston on the old gray mare, then took the train thar, toting my saddle bags on my arm. When I got off the train at the dee-pot, a nigger steps up and says ter me: 'Boss, give me yer verlisse.' He didn't get them saddle bags, you bet. I was too sharp for that. I went to a hotel somewheres. They stuck a big book under my nose and says, sign hayr. I done hearn tell of them confidence and lightnin' rod men and I signed nothin'. They sent me to a room with red carpyt on the floor and velvit cheers with flowers kinder scotched in them; and the man behind the counter gave the nigger a lamp and told him to cut off the gas. That nigger tried to take them saddle bags but I hung on, when he says, all right boss and left go. That place had a box lifter to it. After a while I got tired of settin' in that room and thought I would go out and see the town; so I locked the door and come down erbout forty steps to the front door. Then that first feller what wanted me ter sign the book says; Leave the key and saddle bags with me. I says, says I, You can have the key but no man gits holt of them saddle bags. It's a good thing I brung them erlong, fer I never did find that place ergin. I went erbout a quarter, when I met a smart feller and he says ter me; Old man, where're you gwinter show! I says right here, by gad! and I run my hand into them saddle bags and brung out my cap and ball. That feller shore broke the wind, he showed some speed. What moight yer bissiniss be?"
"This is the first time I was ever up here. I'm a lawyer."
"Yaah, one of them city lawyers; they tell me they is cute. I have had to do some lawing lately. Down the crick erbout a mile Elhannon Howard lives. Last winter I sold Elhannon a hawg on credit fer ten dollars like a dang fool and he wouldn't pay fer it, so I lawed him before Squire Ingram and got jedgment. That and the costs come ter fifteen dollars and a quarter. The Squire writ out an execution and I got the constable to levy on three hives of bees; the constable says that's all he's got what's exempt. We had a hell of a time moving them bees, then we had to move them back."
"How was that?"
"He got that lawyer from Pineville by the name of Marshall Bull-it and the squire thinks the sun rises whar that feller stands. The squire believed what that lawyer said and jedged that bees is poultry and the statute says poultry am exempt. I made up my mind that old Elhannon had to pay that jedgment so a couple of Sundays ago when they went to meetin', I slipped down to his house and took a look around, counting off what the statute said was exempt. He had jest what the law 'lowed him. He had jest one hoss, one yoke of oxen, Tom and Jerry, two cows and five sheep. One of them sheep was the finest Southdown ram you ever laid yer eye on. Monday morning before day I went out where my sheep was and there was a little crippled lamb about a day old. I picked it up and fotched it down to Elhannon's and drapped it over the fence into his little pasture, where his sheep were. Then I went down and got that constable and he come and executed on that ram. Elhannon killed and et one of his sheep, then he paid me up and took his ram back. If I had a thousand boys I wouldn't name narry dang one of them Elhannon. I got another little case what comes up next fall in the Bell Circit Court, 'taint much. I low ter pay a good young lawyer about twenty five bucks to git me off. 'Bout a month ago I shot Caleb Spencer as dead as a kit mackrel. I was going over Salt Trace to the mill on the river. When I got on top of the divide he raised up from behind a log about a hundred yards off and drew a bead on me. I saw him jest before he pulled and I dodged. The ball cut out this hole in my hat. I rid right peart, till I come to Gabe Perkins' then I hopped off my mule and, borrowing his Winchester, I come back the cut-off footpath. There set that cold-blooded bush-whacker on the same log, looking down the road the way I had kited, with his gun kinder restin' on his knees. I rested on a stump and took him square in the middle of the back. He gave a yell and jumped erbout five feet, but it was too late to jump. 'Taint nothing to it, a plain case of self-defense and 'parent necessity. But if you stay up in this country, I like yer looks and will give yer first chance on that easy money."
"I thank you for the offer. It is worth at least five hundred dollars to undertake your defense; as it is not a case of self-defense and apparent necessity, as you seem to think. Much depends upon the jury in such a case. You need a good lawyer who will be well acquainted with the panel, else you may be sent to the penitentiary."
"Son, you've got a lot to larn yit. Man alive! You folks have talked so much it's nigh erbout bed-time. Why that boy is asleep. Would you like to turn in?"
CORNWALL MEETS A MOUNTAIN MAID.
After breakfast, at which the men were first served, Mr. Rogers, Cornwall, Mr. Saylor and Caleb, mounting their horses rode over Saylor's three hundred-acre survey and examined the two coal banks on the property; which only a short distance from the house had been opened and worked about twenty feet into the mountain, for home consumption. One was thirty-eight and the other fifty-two inches; the thick vein cropped out about twenty feet above the creek level, the other was at a higher level.
After their examination they returned to the house and taking seats on the wash bench near the well, talked about every thing but the land of which Mr. Rogers and Saylor were thinking. Finally Mr. Rogers having waited some time for Mr. Saylor to begin, said:
"If our company can buy the Brock and Helton surveys, we will give you thirty thousand dollars for your three hundred acres, or twenty thousand dollars for the mineral rights with timber and right-of-way privileges necessary to mine and remove the coal and such other minerals, oils and gas as may be found on the property."
"By heck! my survey is worth three times that. When your company planks down fifty thousand in cold cash we will trade,—not before. Then I will buy one of them blue grass farms in sight of the distant blue mountains and an automobile and a pianny and give Caleb and little Susie a chance to go to the University at Lexington whar Tom Asher and that Hall boy goes. O Mandy! Mr. Rogers, hayr, just offered to gin me thirty thousand dollars for our old mountain home which we bought two year ago from old man Roberts for five thousand. I told him we would trade her off for fifty thousand; not such bad intrust for a mountain yahoo and his old woman, He! Mandy! When that trade goes through; and they are bound to take her, you can have one of them silk dresses what shows black and blue and red and green; and Mary all the books and pot flowers and pictures she wants. What do you say to that, Mary?" just as Mary stepped from the kitchen to fill the brass-hooped cedar bucket at the well.
Caleb lolled on the steps in such a way as to make it impossible for any one to descend.
"Caleb, please let me pass!"
"Oh, go round Mary, or jump down. What do yer bother a feller for?"
"Miss Mary, let me fill your bucket?"
"Thanks, Mr. Cornwall." (Caleb laughs.)
Cornwall took the bucket and twice let it down and brought it up without a quart in it, while Caleb looked on and laughed.
Finally Mary, smiling and blushing, took hold of the pole and helped to dip and draw up the bucket full to the brim. Then they laugh too; and the social ice is broken between Bear Grass and Straight Creek; between the city-bred young lawyer and Mary, the mountain girl.
Cornwall carried the bucket into the kitchen; at which Caleb, in surprise, called out: "Dad, look! That city feller is helping Mary get dinner."
After dinner, which Cornwall did not help get, rushing out of the kitchen as soon as he could let go of the bucket handle, having heard Caleb's remark; they rode over the Brock and Helton two hundred-acre surveys and called at their homes.
Mr. Rogers contracted to purchase their land at one hundred dollars an acre, the vendors executing bonds to convey, each receiving one thousand dollars on the purchase price; the balance to be paid after a survey and examination of their titles.
As they were riding home, Saylor saw a drunken man staggering down the mountain side. When he had gotten out of sight, he dismounted and began trailing him back up the mountain. Mr. Rogers called out, "The man went the other way."
"Oh, I know that! I want to find out where he came from."
Saylor returned in a few minutes, his face beaming with a ruddy, contented smile.
Then, in his usually talkative mood, he expressed his opinion of his neighbors and the transaction in reference to their land. "There are two more dang fools, who will move down in the blue grass and buy a farm and be as much at home as a hoot owl on a dead snag in the noon day sun with a flock of crows cawing at him. In about two years they will sell out to some sharper and move back to some mountain cove or crick bottom and start all over again; or when they gits their money they will hop the train cars for Kansas and settle on a government claim twenty miles from a drap of water; then mosey back here in about five years with nothing but their kids, the old woman, two bony horses, a prairie schooner and a yaller dog."
As they came in the door, Mary was just completing preparation for supper. The table was made more attractive by a red figured table cloth instead of the brown and white oil cloth one. In the center was a pot of delicate ferns. The regular fare of corn bread, hog meat, corn field beans, potatoes, sorghum and coffee, had been supplemented by some nicely browned chicken, a roll of butter, biscuits and a dish of yellow apples and red plums.
As they came to supper, a gentle rain began falling which continued long into the night.
Cornwall, standing by his chair and noticing again that places were prepared for the men only, said; "Mrs. Saylor, the rain makes it so cozy and home-like, you, Miss Mary and Susie fix places and eat with us; I am sure we will all have a better time."
Saylor stopped eating long enough to add;—"Do, it will seem like a Christmas dinner in the summertime."
While Caleb remarked;—"He's coming along right peart."
Mary, with a laugh and blush and an appreciative smile at Mr. Cornwall, added a place for her mother and Susie, while she served the supper.
Cornwall, who had paid little attention to the girl, furtively watching her, was impressed by her competence and winsomeness. She was a healthy sun-browned brunette of eighteen; had attended the Pineville graded school for three years and the summer before passed the examination and qualified as a teacher. She had been given the school at the forks of the creek and was paid a salary of thirty-five dollars a month, most of which went to pay her father's taxes and for books.
The children of her school were of divers ages and sizes. There were lank boys taller than Mary and little girls that needed to be cuddled and mothered. The native children, mostly a tow-headed lot, were easily distinguished from the children of the families at the mines, whose parents were from Naples or Palermo.
Not even the girls from Southern Italy had blacker hair or more dreamy eyes than Mary's. Hers was a seeming nature and appearance made of a composite of the girls of her school; natives of the hills and the aliens of the blue Mediterranean.
Some of the foreign boys who knew little English were carefully grounded in mathematics and certain physical sciences. Their proficiency made it a difficult task for their immature teacher. She was aware of her limitations and struggled faithfully to overcome them, spending many hours to qualify herself in mathematics and as a grammarian.
That night, as the others were grouped about the door, talking or listening to the rain, she sat near a table on which burned a small unshaded oil lamp, studying out some grievous problems to her, in the third arithmetic.
Cornwall, noting her worried expression and how persistently she applied a slate rag, asked Susie, who sat near the table, to change places with him, and moving the chair near Mary's took the slate and by a few suggestions gave just the needed assistance; and in such a concise way that the quick though untrained mind of the girl found no further difficulties in solving the other problems of the lesson.
"Thanks, Mr. Cornwall, for helping me. At least tomorrow I will have the best of those big boys. It is surprising how easy the seemingly hard things are after you have learned to do them."
Shortly after sunrise the following morning, Mr. Rogers and Cornwall said good-bye to their host and his family and rode off down the creek.
They had gone but a short distance when they overtook Mary and Susie on their way to school. They rode slowly keeping pace with the walking girls.
"Mr. Cornwall and I feel we should make our excuses for the additional labor our visit has caused you."
"We are glad you stopped over at our home. The life is lonely at times and the face and talk of a stranger break the monotony. Besides Mr. Cornwall helped me with my studies. I hope when you pass this way you will find time to stop again."
"I doubt if I shall come, but Mr. Cornwall, who is to be our local attorney at Harlan, must return in a week or so to supervise the Brock and Helton surveys and will be making occasional trips to Pineville. After he becomes a better horseman you may see him occasionally riding on his own saddle horse, comfortably seated on a hard saddle and carrying his clothing and papers in a pair of saddle bags. Now he finds the trip tiresome, later he will find the ride exhilarating and your house a convenient resting place; am I right Cornwall?"
"I desire to express my thanks and shall be glad of any opportunity to stop and see you again."
"Here we are at the Salt Trace road; you follow it over the mountain to the river, then up the river valley to Poor Fork which you cross almost within sight of the town. Goodbye to both and good luck to Judge Cornwall; come again."
Their road after crossing the mountains was up the Cumberland Valley, hemmed in on the north by the gracefully sloping spurs of Pine Mountain and flanked on the south by the more rugged and closely encroaching Cumberland mountains.
The river gurgles and murmurs and surges along over a bottom of boulders or lies restfully placid over a bottom of sand. In these pool-like reaches many large rocks, shaken from the mountain tops in ages past, lift their gray heads high above the water and give to the scene a touch of rugged grandeur.
The water is so clear that the natives climb into the overhanging elms or sycamores, or lie peering down from a jutting rock and do their fishing with a Winchester.
About ten o'clock the travelers crossed the Poor Fork and fifteen minutes later rode into Harlan Town; and to the office of the company; a three-story red brick building fronting the court house square.
CORNWALL LOCATES IN HARLAN.
With the exception of a few counties in western Kentucky, no official survey was ever made of the state. In the unsurveyed portion grants for land issued by the Commonwealth varied in size from a few acres to as many as two hundred thousand; and called for natural objects as beginning and boundary corners.
The result of such a lax system was that often the same boundary was covered by several grants; and the senior grant held the land.
Many grants were so indefinite of description, the beginning corner calling for certain timber or a large stone in a heavily timbered and, in sections, rocky country, as to be impossible of identification or location. Other grants were so poorly surveyed as to be void for uncertainty and yet other boundaries were claimed by squatters who held by adverse possession against any paper title.
A person owning the paper title to a thousand acre boundary traceable to the Commonwealth without break or flaw, might not be the owner in fact of a single acre of land; as the whole boundary might be covered by senior grants or the natural objects called for, impossible to find.
The only way to be assured of a good title was to make a careful abstract, following that up by an actual survey and obtaining from any person in possession a written declaration that their possession and claim was not adverse to the title and claim of your vendor.
The public records were imperfectly kept and indexed; which made Cornwall's work for the company a series of petty and tiresome annoyances.
Two weeks after his arrival the Harlan Circuit Court convened. He was immediately put into harness and called upon to assist in the trial of several important ejectment suits.
The first week of the term was taken up with criminal business. There were three murder cases, two of which were tried. The other cases were petty in nature, the defendants being charged with carrying concealed weapons, shooting on the highway and boot-legging.
During the second week he assisted in the trial of two ejectment cases, one of which was lost. The third and most important case was set for the fourteenth day of the term. It involved five hundred acres of coal land worth more than twenty-five thousand dollars; and though Judge Finch, local counsel for the company assured him it would go over, he had the company's witnesses on hand and carried to the court house the file, which included the title papers and an abstract; but he had never examined them.
When the case was called the other side announced ready and they, not being able to show cause for a continuance, were forced into trial.
While the jury was being empaneled Judge Finch leaned over and whispered:—"Go ahead and help select the jury, the panel looks pretty good. I have to leave." He picked up his hat and hastened from the court room, giving Cornwall no time to object. In about twenty minutes the jury was selected; Cornwall being assisted by one of the company's witnesses.
Then the court called upon him to state his case to the jury.
"Judge I know nothing of the case, Judge Finch was here a few minutes ago and was to try it."
"The case must go on; do the best you can. The court will take a recess of fifteen minutes to give counsel an opportunity to examine the papers and familiarize himself with the case. Mr. Sheriff, call Judge Finch."
The case proceeded in the absence of Judge Finch and the next day in the mid-afternoon was completed; the jury returning a verdict in favor of the company.
Cornwall ordered a horse and inquiring the road to Judge Finch's house, who lived on Wallins Creek, rode out to see him. There he sat on his porch, coatless, in carpet slippers, playing cinch with three farm hands.
"Hello John, have a cheer, do you play cinch?"
(One of the hands) "Jedge, your corn is mighty weedy, you better let us go back to our hoeing."
"By gosh! You are working for me aint you; and if I want you to play cards instead of hoe, that's my business."
"John, how did you come out with the Asher case?"
"The jury returned a verdict for the company. Judge you certainly left me in a hole running off like you did."
"By gosh! the family was out'er meal and I just had to go to mill for a turn."
* * * * *
When one of the witnesses in the Asher case told Mr. Rogers of the desertion of Cornwall and the case by Judge Finch he said; "I suppose we must depend upon Cornwall alone or get Mr. Low or Judge Hall to help him. This company is through with Finch. I certainly would have trembled in my shoes, had I known Cornwall was handling it alone. He's a good boy. I hope the verdict won't make a fool of him. I think not, since he never mentioned Finch's desertion."
Two days later court adjourned and the following Monday the Bell Circuit Court convened. The first case of importance on the docket was that of the Commonwealth against Saylor for the murder of Caleb Spencer.
Saturday afternoon, before Mr. Rogers left for Hagan, Virginia on his way to Pittsburgh, he said:
"Mr. Cornwall, go to Pineville Monday and begin the abstracts of the Brock and Helton titles to the land the company bought on Straight Creek."
Cornwall, a poor horseman, not yet hardened to such exercise, broke the ride by traveling down the river, Sunday afternoon and over Salt Trace to the Saylor home; not wholly unmindful that Mary was a good looking girl and agreeable company.
When he rode up, the house had a deserted appearance. Mrs. Saylor and Susie were in the barn milking. All the rest of the family had gone to Pineville to be present at the trial, and Susie and her mother were leaving the next day.
He lay awake half the night thinking of Mary and his mother and listening to the penetrating tones of a hoot owl far up the mountain side. The house did not seem the same as the one at which he had stopped less than a month before. He was homesick and felt inclined to return to Louisville.
When he rode into Pineville at noon the next day he found the hotel crowded with visiting lawyers and litigants. The Commonwealth's attorney told him that the Saylor case was set for hearing the following morning and that the prosecution was ready for trial. He also learned that Saylor was treating the case as a joke and had employed Squire Putman to represent him for twenty-five dollars; which he said was a big price for the services he would or could render. "I can always depend upon the Squire to help convict his client. It is a mystery to the bar how he ever obtained license to practice law."
In the evening Cornwall visited the other hotel and a large boarding house in search of the Saylors but was unable to find any of them.
When the court house bell rang in the morning he went over, and up the stairway, into the court room, just as the judge called for motions. Introduced by the commonwealth's attorney he was sworn in as a practicing attorney of the Bell Circuit Court.
He expected to see some of the Saylor family seated beyond the railing, but again was disappointed; nor did he find them after a search through the corridors and public offices. He then went into the county clerk's office and began making an abstract of the Brock title.
At noon when he returned to the court room they were in the trial of the Saylor case. On the right sat Squire Putman and his client and behind them, Mrs. Saylor, Mary and Susie.
Saylor and his counsel had an air of easy confidence; Mrs. Saylor the set face and look of an unhappy fatalist; Mary's expression was one of worried interest and sadness; Susie suppressed an occasional sob.
To Cornwall the jury seemed a rather unsatisfactory one, they looked bored and unsympathetic. The panel was made up of business men of Pineville and Middlesboro, who resented being kept from their occupations at a busy season. They were new citizens who had moved into the mountains since the development of the coal fields and had little use or sympathy for pistol toters or feudists.
There was one exception, Elhannon Howard, Saylor's neighbor. He sat in a listless and inattentive attitude, probably thinking of his patch of hillside corn or the Southdown ram.
Summing up the situation, realizing how kindly and informally he had been received into and entertained in the Saylor home, Cornwall regretted that when refusing the fee of $25.00 he had not volunteered his services in the defense. He would have done so at the time, but supposed that Mr. Saylor would employ competent counsel to defend him.
The trial was a short one. The Commonwealth, in addition to making out its technical case, proved threats on the part of Saylor and that Saylor admitted the killing.
Saylor on the stand told the same story he had told Cornwall. The defense then introduced two witnesses, who swore that the deceased had threatened Saylor; Spencer sending word by them to Saylor that he intended to kill him; the squire attempted to show by the doctor that when Spencer was told by him that he could live but an hour or two, the dying man had said: "I am to blame for the trouble," but the court excluded the declaration from the jury.
The squire in making his argument for the defense grew quite stentorian of voice and excited in manner. He had a way of half stooping until the long coat tails of his black frock coat touched the floor, when he would suddenly spring upright and exclaim: "Now, gentlemen of the jury, wouldn't you be danged fools if putting yourselves in Saylor's place you had not done as he did."
In one of these paroxysms his coat tail flapped to one side and hung pendant on the handle of a six-shooter protruding from his hip pocket. This explained to the jury why in midsummer he wore a frock coat. They considered the pistol a silent witness and protest against Saylor's acquittal and a clarion call to do their duty in upholding law and order.
Shortly before six the jury retired. They were out fifteen minutes and brought in the following verdict: "We, the jury, agree and find the defendant guilty and fix his punishment at three years in the State penitentiary. Elhannon Howard, Foreman."
When the verdict was read, the face of the squire turned red with surprise. Saylor's face for the first time assumed a serious expression; Mrs. Saylor burst into tears; Susie cried aloud and hung to her father's arm; Mary grew as pale as death and her body shook as from intense cold.
Cornwall, who had come into the court room during the squire's argument and who, after bowing to Mary and Mrs. Saylor, had taken a seat behind them, came forward.
"Never mind, Mary, we shall find a way to get him off. Let me go with you and your mother to where you are stopping. I tried to find you last night."
The sheriff came forward and, taking Saylor by the arm, said: "Come on, Mr. Saylor."
The woman kissed the condemned man a hasty farewell. He and the sheriff went out one door toward the jail; the Saylor family and Cornwall another, walking up the street to old Pineville, to the home of Mary's aunt.
In the morning Mary and her mother came by the court house and asked Cornwall to go with them to the jail, as that afternoon they had to return home.
It was a sad group that gathered in the little jail parlor, while the jailer stood at the door.
"Well, young man, I guess you know more law than me or old Putman. I seem to be in bad because I did not take your view and advice, instead of hiring that cheap lawyer. We had only Mary's money; I did not want to sell or mortgage our home, and if I had not killed Simpson, he would have got me shore."
"You may have a chance, Mr. Saylor, with the Court of Appeals. I do not think the court should have excluded Simpson's dying declaration; it seemed relevant."
"I shorely hope so on account of the old woman and the kids. Mary will lose her school on my account; she can't keep those big boys quiet now. You look after my case for me and write Mr. Rogers that I will sell his company the home place."
"Do not sell your place to pay a fee to me. You can pay that after you are out. Mary and I will attend to the costs of the appeal, which will not be much, as the record is small."
Saylor's wife and daughter bid him a rather stoical farewell, so far as tears and talk were concerned, though their pallid faces indicated the pain of separation was heartfelt. Mountain women have not a fluent line of chit-chat, nor are they demonstrative in their griefs.
They walked with Cornwall back to the court house, where, after thanking him for what he had done and expressing a wish to see him soon, they left, returning home in the afternoon.
Cornwall sent Mr. Rogers the following telegram: "Saylor convicted, three years penitentiary. Offers Straight Creek land for thirty thousand. Hope company can afford to pay thirty-five. John Cornwall."
He received this answer: "Land worth thirty-five thousand, company will pay that amount if title and survey hold three hundred acres. H. M. Rogers."
For the next ten days Cornwall was very busy at Pineville. He found the paper titles to the Brock and Saylor surveys perfect. The Helton boundary necessitated a suit to clear the title to about one-half of the survey. He filed a motion for a new trial in the Saylor case, which the court promptly overruled; then asked and was granted an appeal to the Court of Appeals. The court stenographer made a transcript of the testimony; a bill of exceptions was filed and approved and within ten days after Saylor's trial and conviction; his appeal was formally filed at Frankfort.
A WEEK IN A MOUNTAIN HOME.
There are some free-thinking souls who love nature and the primitive so well as to believe that Providence made a mistake in permitting men to pass beyond the pastoral stage.
There are many who, though they love art, literature and the other gifts and comforts of civilization, would trade all to live in a primitive mountain home; to call their time, a house of logs and a few barren fields, "my own."
They care not for the smoke of many chimneys, or the surging crowd or the ceaseless din of commercial centers. They love the view from mountain tops, where hills peep over hills and pinnacles are clothed in clouds. They love the peace and quiet of the sheltered coves; where the timber grows verdant and strong, fern-bordered fountains burst forth to life, and the squirrels and other free things dwell. They love a home site in a secluded valley near the head of a gurgling, restless, mountain river and think to live a life of peace, dividing the glories of mountain and plain. But wherever man would rest and hide his head and heart, giant care comes with a club and the huntress misfortune finds her way with a full quiver.
Mary, who had done no wrong and expected no punishment, when she returned home, found these two unbidden guests awaiting her. Her eyes were opened to see sorrow; which all the world knows.
The following morning when she walked up to the school house door the children stood in groups talking in subdued tones. The little girls for the first time since the early days of the term failed to rush forward and greet her. She rang the bell; they came in slowly and rebelliously, the big boys last of all. Several of the children, among them those of one of the trustees, were absent.
Tim Fields, a lanky, overgrown boy of sixteen, after having been reproved, continued talking to his desk-mate. When Mary told him he must behave or go home, he arose and, starting towards the door, said: "I guess I will go anyway; pap said, last night, he didn't think a convict's daughter oughter handle this here school and he was going to see the trustees and the county superintendent and git ma's sister in."
A few minutes later, Luigi Poggi, whose seat near the window overlooked the creek, saw him on the bank throwing small boulders at a flock of geese.
He raised his hand, and snapping his fingers to attract attention, asked, and was given permission, to go to the spring for a bucket of water. When out of sight of the teacher he whistled for Tim and walked on slowly down towards the spring, until he came to a dusty, bare spot in the path under a tree, where the boys played keeps.
"Tim, what did you say that to teacher for; she's good to all of us?"
"What you got to do with it, you Dago?"
"This," and he struck Tim in the face with the empty water bucket.
They fought in the sand path for about five minutes; when Luigi, throwing Tim face down, rubbed and bumped his head in the sand until Tim could scarcely breathe through his bleeding nose and his mouth choked with dust and sand.
When he said, "'nuff," Luigi let him up, and returned to the school house with a dirty, scratched face, but a full bucket of spring water.
"Luigi, what made you so long?"
"I fell down."
"Are you hurt?"
"Go down to the creek and wash your face."
On Friday morning not more than half of the school were present.
Saturday afternoon the county superintendent called at the Saylor home and, telling Mary that several of the trustees objected to her keeping the school, asked for her resignation, which she wrote out and handed him.
* * * * *
The days were pleasant and busy ones for Cornwall. He looked forward with pleasure, as to a vacation, when he should return to Straight Creek and make the survey of the Brock, Helton and Saylor properties, and for that purpose chose that delightful season in October; last harvest time for man and beast, when the corn is ripe and the nuts loosened by the early frost are showering upon the ground like manna for all. It is the beginning of Indian summer, when nature, festive and placid of mood, clothes the hills in shades of red and brown; and, fearful that man, who is inclined to overlook nearby joys and pleasures for more distant and less certain ones, might overlook the familiar hills, even though freshly painted, hides her far-off attractions with a hazy curtain.
As the party came down over Salt Trace into the Straight Creek valley, in full accord with the perfect day and as gay of heart as the trees were gayly colored, they met Caleb going down the creek road with the old squirrel rifle, longer of barrel than the small boy.
"Where now, hunter, just at sunset, when most hunters seek the camp?" was Cornwall's greeting.
"I'm going down to Elhannon Howard's. Ma told me he sent pap to jail. I shore will fix him if this gun don't bust."
"Wait a minute. That's a fine gun; let me have a look at it. It's mighty heavy. I'll ride down with you and carry it until we get within sight of the house. Has Elhannon any boys?"
"How old are they?"
"John is eleven; Henry is nine."
"John is a big, strong boy. I bet you are afraid of him. If you were not, it would be great fun to beat him up with your fists or kick him in the slats, or throw him in the creek and make him holler "'nuff." Why not save Elhannon for your dad when he gets out? He might not want you to do his fighting for him. Did he ask you to take a shot at old man Howard?"
"No, I ha'int thought about that."
"You didn't say you were not afraid of John Howard."
"No, I'm not. Why?"
"If you were not afraid of him, you would leave your gun at home and tomorrow beat him up at school."
"I believe I will go back home and beat him up at school tomorrow; but recess will be plenty long to wait."
"Oh, we better go on; he's older and bigger than you; you are afraid of him. You better tackle him with your gun."
"Waste powder and ball on that chump? Not me; I'm not afraid of any of them Howards. I'm hungry; supper's about ready; let's go home. I shore hope he comes to school tomorrow."
"Say, boy, are those your hogs? Why don't you feed them some corn?"
"They shore am poor. Them's old man Lewis'. He lives down the crick below here. This time last year he turned them out to eat the mast. After the mast was gone he still let them run and would go out with a basket of corn and feed them. He's dumb, he can't holler. He called them by pounding with a rock on a dead snag. Since the woodpecker's came this spring them fool hawgs have nigh 'bout run themselves to death."
"Here, boy, take your gun; there's a squirrel."
"That's right; give her here."
"He's a nice fat one."
"Yes, there's plenty of nuts now."
"I don't believe I would reload her now; there's the house."
"Mr. Cornwall, I'll loan you my gun tomorrow and you can go hunting."
"You better let me have her all the time we are surveying the land."
Cornwall was met at the gate by Mary and her mother; they both seemed pleased to see him. Caleb took his horse to the barn and, removing the saddle, turned him loose for a roll in the dusty lot. Then he was put in a box stall and given three sheaves of oats.
"Mrs. Saylor, you see I am back and have brought three others with me. We will be here a week. I hope you will not find us too troublesome. The two chainmen will sleep in the loft on the hay, so as not to crowd you."
"We are glad to have you; come right in."
"Miss Mary, you must treat us like home folks; no extra work now or we will move down to old man Howard's. Your school and those big boys are enough of a worry."
"I have more time. They have another teacher at the school, Mrs. Field's sister. They removed me because of father's conviction."
"The county superintendent and the trustees."
"When we buy your father's land, why don't you go east to school?"
"I have been thinking of that. What school would you suggest?"
"Go to one of the best—Wellesley."
The next morning at sun-up the party started surveying the Saylor property. This they completed in two days; the boundary held three hundred and five acres.
Cornwall insisted on carrying Caleb's rifle; but the only squirrels they got were those killed by Henry Saylor. He was sixteen; a good axeman, and employed to blaze the lines and locate the corners.
Saturday morning they started on the Brock boundary; but quit work about four o'clock in the afternoon and had a most refreshing swim in a deep pool of the creek before supper.
Sunday afternoon the family went down to the school house, "to meeting." It was the first time Mary had been in the building or seen many of her acquaintances since the school had been taken from her.
When she walked in accompanied by Cornwall and Duffield, the surveyor, her face shone with happiness. Cornwall had dispelled the cloud of misfortune that had overshadowed it by the assurance that her father would be given a new trial and acquitted. Since her active, ambitious mind was building glorious castles of hope on the prospects of refinement and education, she found much joy and comfort in the company of the young lawyer; more than she admitted even to herself; and the young surveyor and his assistants were a source of amusement and entertainment.
She was so occupied with and hedged about by the two "furreeners" that young Doctor Foley, who had come to church with the hope of taking her home in his new buggy, had but time to greet her and pass on.
Several of the girls, who had rejoiced at her humiliation were disappointed when they saw how happy she seemed, saying: "She's a cool one; she don't care if her pap is in jail, now that she is bent on catching that city lawyer."
The preacher, a circuit rider, who during each month tried to preach not less than once at more than a dozen small log churches and school houses, many miles apart, was a godly man who traveled over the hills on an old gray mare, carrying most of his earthly possessions in his saddle-bags. His hair was thin and his frame almost a shadow. His deep-set eyes and strong face had an expression of righteousness and peace. Years before he had loved a young woman, but knew that he could not continue preaching in his district and support a wife. One day he came to her home and in tears, holding her hands, made and told her his choice.
Since then, with quivering voice but calm face, he had married her to a friend, and baptized her two children and had buried her husband. He loved her still, but his earthly treasurers were as meager as when she had wedded another.
The crowd was too great for the little school house, so they came out and sat upon the green under two great twin oaks, while God's ambassador, standing upon a rude bench nailed between the trunks, gave to them his message of simple words in the voice and tone of friend and neighbor.
Since early morning he had preached two sermons, christened a half dozen infants, baptized three confessors, visited a bed-ridden man and a feeble, old, blind woman, and given burial service to one of his congregation. Far in the night, when the day's work was done and he slept, his were dreams of peace. Two angels with forward pendant wings formed a mercy seat above his bed and on it sat One a thousand times brighter than the sun, who in a voice that might be heard through space, though softer than the music of riffled waters, spoke to him.
"Well done, good and faithful servant, continue in the labor of the Lord."
"But, Lord, I am lonely and weak and homeless and would rest."
"Weary not in well-doing. My grace is sufficient for thee; My strength is made perfect in weakness—you have a home not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
* * * * *
On Tuesday the surveying party began work on the Helton property. This was so distant from Saylor's that they thought of moving headquarters to Asher Brock's at the head of the creek valley; but as a couple of days would complete the work they concluded to remain where they were, riding forth in the morning and back in the evening.
Mary fixed a lunch, which was placed in a grain sack and tied behind Cornwall's saddle. Near noon they stopped to rest and eat under some elms in the upper creek valley, when Cornwall discovered that the lunch was gone, the sack having been pulled off while he was riding through the dense underbrush.
Their appetites were whetted by the smell of frying ham, wind-wafted down the creek from Asher Brock's. They rode to the house and asked to share the meal. The maintainer is like the Arab; he never refuses to entertain a guest.
The old man sat at the end of the table, with Duffield on his right and his daughter, a girl about seventeen, and barefooted, next beyond. The family circle was large and, with the four guests, the table was crowded.
In the midst of the meal they were startled by the girl who, crying "Ouch!" jumped up from the table.
Her father, looking at Duffield with murder in his eye, said: "What's the matter, Cinthy?"
"The cat scratched my foot."
The old man looked under the table for confirmation; and there sat the old, black cat, looking as innocent as a Madonna. And the family resumed the meal.
That afternoon, as they were running one of the lines, Cornwall said to Duffield: "That cat saved your life."
"Heck! That cat scared me to death."
"Oh, I'm on to you; I have heard of your tricks when you were surveying in Clay and Leslie."
"You mean that time over on Red Bird; that is the greatest fishing stream in Kentucky, and most appropriately named, as each papaw bush and hazel and blackberry thicket is the home of a family of red birds.
"From Big to Bear Creek it is a succession of riffles and smooth pools. These pools are the favored haunts and playgrounds of bass, perch and soft-shell turtles. A single drag with a minnow seine in one of the feeding brooks will give you an ample supply of bait. When carefully keeping behind the overhanging shore brush and exercising caution not to knock brush or clod into the stream, an hour's mediocre effort is rewarded by a dozen bass of uniform size, weighing about a pound each. Should you make an unusual noise, break a twig or cause the sandy bank to cave and ripple the water, you must pass on to the next pool and use more caution.
"We were stopping at old man White's. The house had three rooms in the front. It was in the spring, and at night we sat in the big middle room around the open fireplace and joined in the family conversation. This was the bedroom of the old folks. Their grown daughter, who attended school, sat by the table worrying over her lessons in compound interest, the practical application of which in after years would be as needful as a mariner's compass to steer her father's log canoe, tied to the root of a sycamore. I went over and helped her a bit and she became quite cordial in manner.
"When I handed back her slate, I wrote upon it: 'By moonlight, when all is still, I will play Romeo under your window.' I saw that she read it when, with a half-blush, half-smile, she applied the rag with vigor to her slate. I knew she understood. All the girls in this broad land, though they may not know the sum of seven times eight, are familiar with the story of Romeo and Juliet and the balcony scene in ancient Verona.
"Coleman Reid was with me. You know he is always butting in when there is a girl around. He came over and began drawing cartoons on the slate and, satisfied with prospective arrangements, I gave him my seat, taking his by the fire.
"In a short while the girl and her sister went to their room on the right end of the house and Reid and I to ours on the left.
"Reid wore his hair long and roached back; mine I have always worn short. We undressed and went to bed, both pretending to be sleepy.
"After an hour I got up, dressed, and started out, when my friend, who had been playing possum all the time, said: 'Where are you going?'
"'I'm not sleepy; I think I will take a little walk.'
"'Don't you want your hat?'
"And so I walked around to the north end of the house, where our host's daughter sat at the open window.
"I said something about it being a pleasant night, to which she replied:
"'Ayr you the long-haired or the short-haired one?'
"'The short-haired one.'
"'Bend over so I can feel and see.'
"So I bent over, happy to have my clipped locks caressed by her capable hands, when she gave me a crack with a rolling pin or some other delicate instrument. And, without a word, half staggering, I walked out from the shadow of the house into the moonlight and sat down on the stile blocks until I could distinguish the real from the artificial stars. Then I went in and to bed.
"Reid was half-dressed when I came in and, about the time I climbed into bed, he went out the door for a walk, blaming me for waking him up.
"In a little while he came back, looking the worse for wear. A few drops of blood discolored his cheek near the ear. He never told me what happened. I only know that after that night he was not so restless and took no moonlight strolls.
"The next night I helped the girl again with her compound interest, but Reid talked to the old man about running logs down the river on the June tide."
Thursday morning, Cornwall and his party, having completed the surveys, returned to Harlan.
A week later Mrs. Saylor met him by appointment in Pineville. They went to the jail with a notary, when she and her husband executed a deed to the Pittsburgh Coal & Coke Company for the Straight Creek place, and were given a check for the purchase price, thirty-five thousand dollars.
THE SAYLORS MOVE TO THE BLUEGRASS.
In November the Court of Appeals reversed the case of Saylor against the Commonwealth and remanded it for retrial. Saylor gave bail in the sum of three thousand dollars and was discharged from custody.
He passed the first two or three days of his freedom at the old place on Straight Creek; then he and his wife took the train at Pineville for Richmond and spent more than a week driving through the country examining farms on the market in Garrard, Madison and Clark counties. They finally purchased one in Madison County, between Silver Creek and Paint Lick.
Then they returned home and, after preparations were completed for their departure, loaded their household goods into a two-horse wagon and drove through, nearly a hundred miles, to the new home. The women folks rode in the wagon. The old man and the boys preceded them on horseback, driving their small bunch of cattle and sheep.
Before the move, Cornwall received a letter from Mary asking that he write Wellesley, making inquiries as to the cost of the course and the preparation necessary to matriculate. This he did and forwarded the reply to her on Straight Creek. A few days later he received a short note of thanks for that and the many other services he had rendered them. She also asked that he come and see them before their removal and gave the new home address.
He intended riding over to Straight Creek before they moved, but court was in session and he was very busy. When he did make the trip, he found the house deserted.
He saw no member of the family until the February term of the Bell Circuit Court, which Saylor and his wife attended for his retrial.
He received a Christmas card from Mary, mailed at Wellesley, and wrote her a note of thanks for the remembrance, of congratulation at the realization of her desire, and a wish that the New Year might prove one of happiness and further realization.
Old man Saylor, dispensing with the services of Squire Putman, insisted that Cornwall try his case alone and fix his own fee; but not being acquainted in the county, he asked Judge Hurst to help, particularly in selecting the jury, and paid him $150.00 of the $500.00 fee charged Saylor for services in the Court of Appeals and the retrial of his case.
All new residents of the county on the panel, if not excused for cause, were peremptorily challenged. The case was tried by a native jury that had respect for Saylor's plea of self-defense and apparent necessity and who understood what Simpson's threat meant. They were out about twenty minutes and returned a verdict of "not guilty."
Cornwall, knowing with what anxiety Mary would await news of the trial, telegraphed her: "All court matters concluded and to your entire satisfaction"; so wording it that she might not be embarrassed.
Saylor and his wife after the trial exhibited no haste to return to the Bluegrass or to re-establish social relations with their new neighbors. They spent several days visiting up the creek and in old Pineville.
One night they called at Cornwall's hotel. Little was said about the trial, though Mrs. Saylor shed a few tears and called Cornwall a good boy. As usual, the old man did most of the talking.
"Well, young man, how are you coming on up to Harlan Town. I shore do miss old Pine Mountain and the rocks and trees; the jingle of the bells as the cows at evening hasten homeward from the timbered hills; the big, open fireplace with its light and glow of burning oak and chestnut where we huddled in happy talk and kinship; the darkness of the night where even the moon came slowly over the mountain and peeped timidly through the trees; the stillness of the night when all in the house might hear Susie whispering her prayers and the whippoorwills calling in the thickets.
"The first thing in the morning I used ter go by the friendly, old well and drink a gourdful of the soft, cool water, then feed Tom and Jerry and bring in an armload of wood. As I came in the door the frosty air was sweet with the smell of home-cured bacon which the old woman was fixing fer breakfast and when I sat down there it was jest right, a streak of lean and of fat showing in thin layers. And the big pones of cornbread hot from the Dutch oven; of meal fresh from the old water mill and sweet to the taste; a big dish of fried apples, a jug of sorghum and a glass of milk. It was a nice place to live. I would not care to pass the old house now. The door might be shut, the fireplace cold; I would find no welcoming face."
"Mr. Saylor, what about the new home?"
"Oh, it does pretty good; the cattle are picking up, but Tray sits in the open o' nights and howls at the moon. We have three hundred acres, mostly pasture, with a few oak, walnut and wild cherry trees and a muddy pond or two and a thimble spring. There's one little thicket in a draw big enough to hide a cotton tail. The world is too big down there and I can see too far all ways at once; too many homes and men and too few hills and trees. The house is of brick with a porch and big pillars three feet through that reach to the roof. We sleep upstairs; there are ten rooms; but there is no place to sit and toast your shins. Can't see a fire in the house and it is as hot and stuffy as hell; got one of them hot-air things down in the cellar; she shore eats up the coal. There are no whippoorwills and no hoot owls, but lots of crows and jay birds and meadow larks. I like to hear that little, yaller-chested feller whistle from the pasture gatepost. Far off to the south, when the air is keen and the sun shines bright, you can see the blue mountains. The window of the barn loft looks that way. When I ain't feeling right peart, I go out to the barn and climb up to the loft. I used to keep a joint of stove pipe up there. When I held that tight to my face I could look through and see nothing but them hills. Last month down at Richmond town I bought me a spy glass. It's a good one and she brings them close.
"One day a young feller who lives on yan side of Silver Creek rid up in a side bar buggy. I thought he was kinder expecting to git acquainted with Mary. He tied at the gate and come in. I met him in the front yard where we keep the calves and let the sheep run. He walked up and shook hands and says: 'I'm Bradley Clay.' I says: 'Dang it, I can't help it.' He kinder stiffened his back, then he laffed and says: 'Mr. Saylor, there is a stock sale down at Paint Lick Saturday; come down; you might get some good cattle and sheep cheap for your fine pasture lands.' I says: 'All right, young feller, I'll be thar. Will you come in the house and have a cheer?' He says, 'No,' and rides off. I went over and bought some right good stock pretty cheap.
"The men were right friendly, specially Jack Gallagher, the auctioneer, and we passed a few jokes. There was a whole bunch of wimen folks there, but I didn't meet none of them and they don't seem to visit round much, at least they don't come much to our house. I sometimes think the old woman is most as lonesome as I be.
"Caleb went over to the Paint Lick school house after Christmas; kept it up three days and had a fight every day, then he had the mumps. That boy is young yet, jest ten, so we let him quit the school, 'cause the teacher called him a mountain wildcat. He traded a feller out of a fox hound; now he and his houn' dog hunt rabbits and 'possums nigh 'bout all day long.
"Mary went east to school about Thanksgiving. It cost me nine hundred dollars, but she's a good girl and helped you git me off. She writes her mother nearly every day. I do hope you git down to see us soon. They tell me there are some nice-looking gals 'round our settlement. You can have the big boy's buggy which he bought ter take Clay's terbaccy tenant's darter buggy riding. Do you dance? So do I, but not their kind down there. They hug each other tight and slip erlong, while we shuffle our feet and swing.
"Before I go back I am going up to Berry Howard's and try to buy a hundred-weight of home-cured bacon. Well, old woman, I think you and this here young lawyer have talked erbout enough. Let's go on up to Aunt Mandy's and go to bed. Come down soon; good luck and, as Caleb learned from that Dago, 'boney sarah.'"
CORNWALL BUYS A HOME.
About eight months after Cornwall settled in Harlan, an old brick house fronting the principal residence street, with a large yard of forest trees and behind it a garden extending back to the river, about three acres, was offered for sale. Cornwall, who was present as a spectator, became suddenly and irresistibly possessed with a desire to purchase it, and did so for fifty-eight hundred dollars, paying one-third of the purchase price down, which was all the money he had, borrowing the remainder from the local bank.
After a careful examination of the house and grounds, which he had not done in advance of the purchase, he became convinced he had made a bargain and was confirmed in that idea when, two months later, Mr. Neal, the owner of some coal properties on Clover Fork, who had brought his family from Louisville to Harlan, offered seventy-five hundred dollars for it.
This offer he declined, because he had already written his mother of the purchase, telling her the place was to be their home, and how well satisfied he was with his work, and of the prospect for better things the little mountain city offered. She had answered that it was her intention to visit him as soon as the railroad was completed, when, if he was as well satisfied and she found the place one-half as nice as he declared it to be, she would remain and they would try to make the old place a comfortable home.
He answered at once that: "Several Louisville and Lexington families have recently moved here, quite nice people, and you will find sufficient social entertainment for one of your quiet disposition. When we can afford to repair and remodel the house and furnish it, using your handsome, old furniture, we will be very comfortable. Personally, I can conceive of no more satisfactory arrangement. The railroad from Pineville will be completed in less than a month, which will give connection by rail with Louisville. Then you can ship our household effects through and find the trip a reasonably comfortable one."
Upon the completion of the railroad the little mountain city assumed quite a metropolitan air. Many strangers came to town. This made business; and Cornwall had as much to do as he could comfortably handle and retain his position with the company.
While at breakfast on the 6th of July, he was handed a telegram announcing his mother's arrival on the morning train. The hotel was crowded, but he procured a comfortable room and made arrangements to meet her with a carriage. Then he went to the office and worked until it was time to drive to the station.
As he came out upon the platform the train pulled in; and his mother, whom he had not seen for a year, waved to him from the rear platform. He caught her in his arms and lifted her down, while she shed a few happy tears and responded to his caresses. Then taking her hand baggage in one hand and her arm with the other, he started towards the carriage.
"One moment, John; I beg your pardon, Dorothy. This is my son, John Cornwall; and John, this is Miss Dorothy Durrett, a niece of Mrs. Neal's. She is making her a visit and expects to remain during the summer. We came all the way together. I met her just after the train left the Louisville station; we had opposite berths last night and breakfast in Pineville at the same table, so we are fairly well acquainted."
"Miss Durrett I know your uncle very well and have met your aunt. I do not see either of them here."
"I should have telegraphed, but am careless about such matters."
"I have a carriage at the door and lots of room; mother and I will be glad to drive you to your uncle's."
"I have found your mother such agreeable company, I would like to continue the journey with her, even to uncle's door."
The three walked to the street together, entered the carriage and drove first to the Neal residence, where they left Miss Durrett, then to the hotel.
Mrs. Cornwall liked the town. Its location on the river bank and the sloping foothills of Pine Mountain, the murmur of the river, and the quiet, practical lives of her neighbors, all fit into her idea of a place to live. The yard and garden of the place her son had purchased she found charming and in sweet concord with the river and the hills. She was not a critical woman, but all she could say in favor of the house was; "It is substantial and seemingly built to withstand the incursions of time." Though it had been built before the Civil War, the foundation of stone, the wails of red brick and the roof of steel gray slate, were as sound as when first constructed. The arched front door, bordered with a transom and small panes of glass, was the one artistic thing; and she declared must not be altered. But the small iron porch, little longer than the width of the doorway, must be supplanted by a broad veranda, the roof of which should be supported by massive colonial pillars, in keeping with the grounds, and curative of the barrenness of the house.
The interior, she said, was a desecration of architecture as an ornamental science, a waste of room and a destruction of grace and beauty. Though John would not concede the waste of room, since every thing was built on a right angle plan and nothing appropriated room but the partition walls and a narrow stairway. The interior looked as though it were fashioned by artisans who were zealous disciples of a carpenter's square and who carried it about for insistent and perpetual use. She pointed out where many new windows must be cut or old ones enlarged and considerably modified in form.
"John, you and I must save our money for the next year, then we will have an architect give our modifications the sanction of his approval. We must not be too precipitate with alterations; living in the old house as it is a year, will settle just what we desire. In the meantime we can find plenty to do in the yard and garden.
"I have four thousand dollars in bank which I have been saving for you. We will use it to pay off the balance of the purchase price and to supplement my furniture, which is not more than half enough for the house.
"How happy we shall be planning and changing the house and grounds to suit our mutual fancy. It will be the second time for me. When your father was thirty we had saved three thousand dollars, just enough to buy a little home. Then we changed our plan and built one fresh and new. He died before the newness wore away and the place really looked like home. I believe your plan the better one; to buy an old home with a large front yard of great forest trees and a garden back of the kitchen, a house of substantial wall and foundation and living in it, as fancy dictates or need requires or purse affords, make your alterations; then the place grows from strangeness to sympathy and takes on individuality.
"These old cherry and pear trees we will make room for in our plans. But you must cut out the dead tops and spray the trees. We want even these old trees to look comfortable and happy. Oh, they are sickle pears and nearly ripe. Just such ones as grew on father's place near Middletown; and I, a girl in sun bonnet and gingham apron, climbed the trees or picked them from a ladder. I must have a sun bonnet again and some gingham aprons. When you come home in the evening I will stand erect or walk with a sprightly step as a young girl and the sun bonnet will hide my gray hair and pale face and you will say; 'I wonder who that slender country girl is out under the trees? I suppose mother has gone to the house for something.' When I turn round you will say; 'Why, it is little mother; the mountain air and sunshine and the garden are doing wonders for her.' John you are a good boy and you are helping too.
"Look, John, there's a whole row of snowball and lilac bushes, and here are some early yellow roses, and over there a border of golden glow and a bed of lilies of the valley, and yet further on some hardy lilies and peonies, and beyond the walk a strawberry bed and sage, and gooseberries and red raspberries and an arbor of grape vines and a rustic bench.
"We are at home, John. The garden makes me young again and I see your father's face in your own. It is as though God had given me the two in the one body. John, brush off the bench and let us sit here and watch the shadows lengthen and fade and the coming darkness add zest and brilliance to the full moon. Then we'll go to the house hand in hand and you can help with the supper. You are not too hungry to wait a bit, John?"
They sat for some time in silence as the twilight deepened.
"Mrs. Neal and her niece, Dorothy Durrett, called today. You must take me over some evening to see them. I must not forget that you are a man and that some time you will be looking for a wife. You must go out occasionally, else you will appear awkward in the presence of young ladies or be considered a crank."
"I like to go, mother, but I have not much time since I've been up here. Everything was new and I had to work hard and, even with that, have got many a knock I might have dodged; and lost once or twice because of inexperience. Experience in the practice is the best professor in law, but rather hard on the client. * * * I met one nice girl. Though her family were homely mountain people, she was making the best of her opportunities. Last winter she took a preliminary course at Wellesley and this fall enters the college as a freshman. I believe you would like Mary; I did, anyway. This is Thursday; suppose we go over to the Neals' Sunday afternoon or Monday evening."
"I will go with you Sunday afternoon at four o'clock."
* * * * *
The Neal home was within easy walking distance of the Cornwall place. John and his mother made their visit as planned. Their reception was cordial; Dorothy showed that she was glad of the diversion.
She was quite popular with the boys of her set at home; and it was an unusual experience when she was not called upon to entertain one or more young men Sunday afternoon and evening.
She and Cornwall sat upon the porch, joining in the general conversation. After a time Dorothy suggested that he carry the chairs out in the side yard, where they sat under the shade of two wide spreading elms.
They talked of several recently published romances; of mutual friends in Louisville; of their amusements, coming out parties; engagements and of the marriage of two of their friends, which had proven a disappointment to each party.
"Well, Miss Durrett, what about the mountains; do you like them?"
"They are all right for the summer if you could have a big house party, bringing your friends with you. I must confess that I have done little but read the week I have been here."
"Oh, make new friends; adapt yourself to your environment; I can do so with the men. There are some fine young fellows here; though they are usually at work, except when they are hunting, or swimming or fishing. I believe girls are scarce; at least I know very few. I will bring Duffield and Reid around from our office and ask young Cornett to come with us. How will it do for Wednesday evening. If you feel unequal to entertaining the four, your aunt might ask a couple of girls in. We'll be very glad to go for them and take them home again. Give me their names and I will arrange with the boys."
"How very kind; you are just the sort of friend one needs. Let's go at once and speak to Mrs Neal."
"Aunt, Mr. Cornwall and I are planning a little party for Wednesday evening. He is to be responsible for the young men and you are to ask three of the girls who have called;—and serve some light refreshments, else Mr. Cornwall will have to take us to the drug store. Does Wednesday evening suit you?"
"Yes, indeed; what girls would you suggest Mr. Cornwall?"
"They've hardly been in my line since I have been up here. I only know one or two. It's nice to come not knowing who you will meet;—besides I am not as deeply interested as the other three men. I shall speak for Miss Durrett in advance and have the pick of all possible prospects."
They returned to their seats under the elms and completed their plans; Mrs. Neal having announced that she would ask Bessie Hall, Mary Norwood and Helen Creech.
Dorothy said; "The young men suggested shall go for them while you come ahead and make yourself generally useful. This is the penalty for being so presumptuous as to demand me as a partner before I have seen the other gentlemen."
* * * * *
Mrs. Neal and Dorothy were both experienced entertainers and the little party was a complete success.
From Wednesday evening the Neal home became the center of gaiety for more than a dozen young persons. At night when Dorothy was at home each window seat and rustic bench was the stage of a scene from the first act of a seemingly serious love affair, had not the actors changed partners and rehearsed the same scenes.
By day there were picnics to the mountain tops, fishing and bathing parties, horseback rides up Clover Fork and down the river and at night card parties, informal dances, hay rides and suppers.
Cornwall, who for more than a year had been very studious and unduly sedate, went everywhere; making repeated apologies to his mother for leaving her so much alone all the while declaring that he thought a thousand times more of her than any girl in the world.
She and Mrs. Neal became great friends. Mr. Neal said, when his wife was not at home he knew she was over at the Cornwalls', and John, who heard the remark, replied; "I am always coming over to your house hunting mother," at which the young crowd on the porch roared with laughter.
Dorothy was the most popular of the girls and in her bird-like way a beautiful little creature. A blonde of the purest type, of petite and perfect form, weighing about a hundred pounds.
Every boy that came to the house, at one time or another, gave her a great bouquet of roses or mountain laurel or a box of chocolates. Among themselves, they called her Dolly Dimples Durrett. All the household and the girls called her Dolly; even Cornwall unconsciously called her Dolly several times; once in Mrs. Neal's presence. After he left the house Mrs. Neal asked Dorothy when he began doing that. "Oh! He did it unconsciously; he is around and hears it so much; I am expecting every day to call him John and probably have. It doesn't mean anything. I'm almost sorry to say."
She seemed not to care in the least who of the boys was her cavalier, making it a point rather to keep the whole company entertained and in the best of spirits though Cornwall was most with her and they were such good friends as to feel privileged not to weary each other with forced conversation, taking time to think a little.
She was as vivacious and light of heart as a feathery summer cloud; and, I was about to say, reminding one of a butterfly; but there was nothing of the sedate, slow, hovery movement of that beautiful insect. Her's was an extremely animated, aggressive daintiness. She always seemed to be hovering near or peeping into a bunch of flowers or carefully selecting a piece of candy for her dainty little mouth.
Her costumes were filmy creations of silk or other soft fluffy stuffs that gave forth the iridescence and sheen of a perfect opal; a coal of unquenchable, oscillating ruby fire in the heart of a milky diamond. She was a gorgeous little humming bird. So John described her to his mother and she knew he had not found the girl he wished for his wife.
One Sunday Dorothy and Mr. and Mrs Neal came from church to dine with them.
After dinner, while the others sat in the cool, darkened library, Dorothy and John wandered about the yard and garden.
They passed a bed of flowers in full bloom, over which darted and poised a pair of humming birds. The flowers were not attractive to the eye or of pleasant odor; but the long corollas held a pungent, honeyed sweetness that attracted the birds and many insects. Its technical name was Agave Americana. The seed had been brought from Mexico by the former owner of the place who, after making a great fortune in mining, had first settled in Harlan, but moved away, as the place offered very limited opportunities for spending his income.
When Dorothy passed the flower bed she gathered a handful and held them to her face with evident relish as they walked through the garden and found seats on the bench under the arbor.
They had been seated a few minutes when a messenger came from the public telephone office calling for John to answer a call from Pittsburgh. Knowing it was urgent, he excused himself, asking Dorothy to wait in the arbor, expecting to be gone five minutes. He was delayed at least twenty. When he returned she was peacefully sleeping on the bench. To awaken her he held the bunch of flowers to her face.
She smiled, sat up and stretching out her arms moved them up and down more rapidly than he thought humanly possible; the vibration or arc described, being one eighth of a complete circle. She bent forward, placing her lips above first one corolla then another. Her actions were unmistakable imitations of a humming bird. During the whole time she kept up an incessant humming or a chirpy little chatter, when John, almost in tears, taking her by the arm, awoke her.
"Oh! Oh! While you were away I slept and had the funniest dream. Come with me to the hammock under the oaks in the yard and I will tell it. Tell me the name of those strangely familiar flowers? Why they are the very ones I saw in my dream!"
"I sat on a bare twig, far from the ground, feeling safer at that giddy height than nearer earth, preening pinions, polishing beak and uttering the while a plaintive little chatter.
"There was a whirry buzz from above, a breeze of swift motion, a tremor of my perch, and beside me sat a gorgeous little knight, dressed even more brilliantly than I.
"His general body armor was of shining golden green, duller and giving gradual place to an opaque black underneath. He wore a crown of metallic violet and gorget of emerald green; his tail feathers were a brassy sheeny green and upon his breast and near his eyes were a few feathers of snowy white, as though he had been caught for a second in a snow storm.
"As he moved in the sunlight those colors shifted and changed until, if I had not been restrained by modesty, in ecstasy I must have cried;—'What a gorgeous being you are!' and he, doubtless reading my thoughts and more than pleased that I liked his appearance, moved yet closer and whispered words of love to me.
"From our perch we looked out upon the land, the foothill country. It was loved and kissed by the sun. The scent of fragrant blossoms filled the air and the fields were dotted with vari-colored flowers. Far above to the north was a mountain range, the highest peaks of which were covered with snow, and far below to the south was a lazy tropic river hemmed to the water's edge by forests of dense shade. There we never ventured though sometimes when the sun was hottest we flew to the very edge of the snow fields and sipped the most delicious nectar from the white wax-like flowers that grew on their moist border.
"It was a life of freedom and movement. Not a moment of inactive discontent; to dart with the speed of an arrow but pursue as variant a course as fancy dictated; from twig top to field, feeding upon honeyed nectar and small insects which also loved the flowers and fed upon their sweets. Not perching in sluggish dumbness at the place of feeding but hovering in a fragrant flowery world over the red or white or blue corolla cloth of an ever changing dinner service, leading all the while a life of intense movement, to pass as a bar of light, to stop and rest and as suddenly depart.
"There is a flash of green, red and purplish light, as the iridescence of the purest gem. Was it the airplane of a fairy passing by that gave forth all those gorgeous hues, or had an angel in passing from heaven to earth dropped a jewel from his crown? I saw no wings in motion, but I have grown to know and love the sound I heard; 'tis Sir Knight returning from one of his excursions.
"He alights, and preening his feathers a second, the while humming a little love ditty comes very close and whispers; 'Love, will you be mine?' And the answer is so low that nothing but a humming bird may hear.
"So we leave the twig and skimming over field and rill come into a land of flowers; and many of them are such flowers as I had just gathered.
"No longer alone, we mingle with the bees and butterflies and many insects and others of our kind, all intent upon a breakfast of honey dew freshly garnered and served each morning; and such a service! The very air is alive with the gathering; our ears are deafened by the whistling sounds of flight, from a plaintiff treble to a resonant bass, mingled with cries of joy and greeting and quarrelsome chatter. It is the chit-chat of the insect world.
"My mate on vibrant invisible wing is immovably suspended in a near vertical position over a large bell white corolla, while I feast from a platter with a scarlet border and a golden center.