xt77wm13nh55 https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt77wm13nh55/data/mets.xml Buck, Charles Neville, b. 1879. 1916  books b92-178-30418584 English Grosset & Dunlap, : New York : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Destiny  / by Charles Neville Buck ; illustrations by R.F. Schabelitz. text Destiny  / by Charles Neville Buck ; illustrations by R.F. Schabelitz. 1916 2002 true xt77wm13nh55 section xt77wm13nh55 


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       AUTHOR OF

      NEW YORK


      Copyright, 1916, by
    W. J. WATT  CoMPANr






                      PART I


                   CHAPTER I

O    UTSIDE the subtle clarion of autumn's dying
        glory flamed in the torches of the maples and
        smoldered in the burgundy of the oaks. It
trailed a veil of rose-ash and mystery along the slopes
of the White Mountains, and inside the crumbling
school-house the children droned sleepily over their
books like prisoners in a lethargic mutiny.
  Frost had brought the chestnuts rattling down in
the open woods, and foraging squirrels were scamper-
ing among the fallen leaves.
  Brooding at one of the front desks, sat a boy,
slender and undersized for his thirteen years. The
ill-fitting crudity of his neatly patched clothes gave
him a certain uniformity with his fellows, yet left him
as unlike them as all things else could conspire to
make him. The long hair that hung untrimmed over
his face seemed a black emphasis for the cameo delicacy
of his features, lending them a wan note of pathos.
On his thin temples, bluish veins traced the hall-mark



of an over-sensitive nature, and eyes that were deep
pools of somberness gazed out with the dreamer's un-
  Occasionally, he shot a furtively terrified glance
across the aisle where another boy with a mop of red
hair, a freckled face and a mouth that seemed over-
crowded with teeth, made faces at him and conveyed
in eloquent gestures threats of future violence.  At
these menacing pantomimes, the slighter lad trembled
under his bulging coat, and he sat as one under sentence.
  Had any means of escape offered itself, Paul Bur-
ton would have embraced it without thought of the
honors of war. He had no wish to stand upon the
order of his going. He earnestly desired to go at
once. But under what semblance of excuse could he
cover his retreat Suddenly his necessity fathered a
crafty subterfuge. The bucket of drinking water stood
near his desk-and it was well-nigh empty. Becoming
violently thirsty, he sought permission to carry it to
the spring for refilling, and his heart leaped hopefully
when the tired-eyed teacher indifferently nodded her
assent. He meant to carry the pail to the spring. He
even meant to fill it for the sake of technical obedience.
Later, some one else could go out and fetch it back.
  Paul's object would be served when once he was safe
from the stored-up wrath of the Marquess kid. As he
carried the empty bucket down the aisle, he felt upon
him the derisive gaze of a pair of blue eyes entirely
surrounded by freckles, and his own eyes drooped be-
fore their challenge and contempt. They drooped also
as he met the questioning gaze of his elder brother,
Ham, whose seat was just at the door. Ham had a
disquieting capacity for reading Paul's thoughts, and
an equally disquieting scorn of cowardice. But Paul




closed the door behind him, and, in the freedom of the
outer air, set his lips to whistling a casual tune. He
could never be for a moment alone without breaking
into some form of music. It was his nature's language
and his soul's soliloquy.
  Of course tomorrow would bring a reckoning for
truancy and a probable renewal of his danger, but
tomorrow is after all another day and for this after-
noon at least he felt safe.
  But Ham Burton's uncanny powers of divination
were at work, and out of his seat he slipped unobserved.
Through the door he flitted shadow-like and strolled
along in the wake of his younger brother.
  Down where the spring crooned softly over its
mossy rocks and where young brook trout darted in
phantom flashes, Ham Burton found Paul with his face
tight-clasped in his nervous hands. Back there in the
school-house had been only terror, but out here was
something else. A specter of self-contempt had risen to
contend with physical trepidation. The song of the
water and the rustle of the leaves where the breeze
harped among the platinum shafts of the birches were
pleading with this child-dreamer, and in his mind a
conflict swept backward and forward. Paul did not
at once see his brother, and the older boy stood over
him in silence, watching the mental fight; watching
until he knew that it was lost and that timidity had
overpowered shame. His own eyes at first held only
scorn for such a poltroon attitude, but suddenly there
leaped into them a fierce glow of tenderness, which he
as quickly masked. At the end of his silent contempla-
tion he brusquely demanded, "Well, Paul, how long is
it.going to take you to fill that bucket with water"
  The younger lad started violently and stammered.




Chagrined tears welled into his deep eyes, and a flush
spread over his thin cheeks.
  "I just-just got to thinkin'," he exculpated lamely,
"an' I fogot to hurry. Listen at that water singin',
Ham !" His voice took on a rapt eagerness. "An'
them leaves rustlin'. It's all like some kind of music
that nobody's ever played an' nobody ever can play."
  Ham's face, looking down from the commanding
height of his sixteen years, hardened.
  "Do you figure that Pap sends you to school to
set out here and listen at the leaves rattlin'" was the
dry inquiry. "To hear you talk a feller'd think there
ain't anything in the world but funny noises. What
do they get you"
  "Noises!" the slight lad's voice filled and thrilled
with  remonstrance.  "Can't you   ever understand
music, Ham There's all the world of difference be-
tween music an' noise. Music's what the Bible says the
angels love more'n anything."
  Ham's lips set themselves sternly. He was not one
to be turned aside with quibbles.
  "Look here, Paul," he accused, "you didn't come
out here to get water and you didn't come to listen
to the fishes singin' songs either. You sneaked out
to run away because you're scared of Jimmy Mar-
quess an' because you know he's goin' to punch your
face after school."
  The younger lad flushed crimson and he began an
unconvincing denial. "I ain't-I ain't afraid of him,
neither," he protested. "That ain't the truth, Ham."
  "All right then." The elder boy filled the bucket and
straightened up with business-like alacrity. "If you
ain't scared of him we might as well go on back there
an' tell him so. He thinks you are."




  Instinctively Paul flinched and turned pallid. He
gazed about him like a trapped rabbit, but his brother
caught him roughly by the shoulder and wheeled him
toward the school-house.
  "But-Ham-but-" The younger brother's voice
faltered and again tears came to his eyes. "But I don't
b'lieve in fightin'. I think it's wicked."
  "Paul," announced the other relentlessly, "you're a
coward. Maybe it ain't exactly your fault, but one
thing's dead certain. There's just one kind of feller
that can't afford to run away-an' that's a coward,
like you. Everybody picks on a kid that's yeller.
You've got to have one good fight to save a lot of
others an' this is the day you're goin' to have it.
After school you've got to smash Jimmy Marquess a
wallop on his front teeth an' if you don't shake 'em
plumb loose I'm goin' to take you back in the woods
an' give you a revelation in lickin's that'll linger with
you for years." Ham paused and then added omi-
nously, "Now you can do just exactly as you like. I
don't want to try to influence you, but that Marquess
kid is your softest pickin'."
  Facing the dread consequences of such a dilemma,
Paul went slowly and falteringly forward with the un-
happy consciousness of his brother following warily at
his heels.
  "Come to think of it," suggested Ham casually,
"I guess you'd better write a note before we go in-
it seems a kind of shame to treat Jimmy like that with-
out givin' him any warnin'." He set the bucket in the
path and fumbled in his pocket for a scrap of paper.
"I'll just help you out," he volunteered graciously.
"Start with his name-like this 'James Marquess;




  Paul hesitated, and Ham took a step forward with
a cool glint in his eyes before which the other quailed.
"I'll write it, Ham," he hastily whimpered.

  "James Marquess; Sir-" continued the laconic
voice of the directing mind. "If you think I am afraid
of you, you have erred in judgment. I don't like you
and I don't care for your personal appearance. If you
so much as squint at me after school today I intend to
change the general appearance of your face. It won't
be handsome when I get through, but I guess it will
be an improvement, at that.
                                 "PAUL BURTON."

  The coerced writer groaned deeply as he scrawled
the signature which pledged him so irretrievably to
battle.  He felt that his autograph to such a missive
was distinctly inappropriate, and invited sure calamity.
Ham, however, only nodded approval as he com-
manded, "When you take the bucket up, lay that on
his desk and be sure he gets it."
  Yet as Paul plodded on, a piteous little shape of
quaking terror, Ham let the glance of militant tender-
ness flash once more into his eyes, and his voice came
in sympathetic timbre.
  "Paul, I can't always do your fightin' for you. If
I could I wouldn't make you do it-but you've got to
learn how to stand on your own legs. It ain't only
the Marquess kid you're fightin'.  You've got to
lick the yeller streak out of yourself before it ruins
you." He paused, then magnanimously added, "If you
trim him down good and proper, I'll get you a newt
violin string in place of the one you busted."




  It was a very unmilitary shape that huddled in its
seat, watching his adversary read the ultimatum. As
for the heir of the house of Marquess, he allowed his
freckled face for a moment to pucker in blank aston-
ishment, then a smile of beatitude enveloped it. It was
such beatitude as might appear on the visage of a cat
who has unexpectedly received a challenge to mortal
combat from a mouse.
  An hour of the afternoon session yet intervened
between the present and the awful future and upon
Paul Burton it rested with its incubus of dire suspense.
It was an hour which the Marquess kid employed con-
genially across the aisle. Whenever the tired eyes of
the teacher were not upon him he gave elaborate pan-
tomimes wherein he felt the swelling biceps of his right
arm, and made as if to spit belligerently upon his
doubled fist. Sometimes his left hand seemed strug-
gling to restrain the deadly right, lest it leap forth
untimely in its hunger for smiting. These wordless
pleasantries were in no wise lost on the shrinking Paul
in whose slight body slept the spirit of the artist ur.-
fortified with martial iron of combat.
  The world of boyhood has little understanding or
sympathy for a soul like Paul's; a soul woven of
dreams and harmonies which knows no means of
attuning itself to the material. This lad walked with
his head in the clouds and his thoughts in visions. His
playmates were invisible to human eyes and he heard
the crashing of vast symphonies where others felt only
the silences. Now in a little while he was to have his
face punched by a material and normal young savage
whose very freckles shone with anticipation.
  Ham Burton, looking on from his desk, recognized
th'it in the frail lad who "wouldn't stick tip fo:- him-




self" burned the thin hot fire of genius without the
stamina that alone could fan it into effective blaze.
For Ham, whose face revealed as little of what went
on back of his eyes as an Indian's, was the dreamer,
too, though his dreams were cut to a different pattern.
As he dealt in visions, so William the Conqueror may
have dealt when a boy in his father's bakeshop; so
Napoleon may have dreamed before the world had heard
his name. The younger lad dreamed as the hasheesh-
eater, for the vague and iridescent glory of visioning,
but the elder dreamed otherwise, in preface to achieve-
  The teacher rose at length to dismiss the classes, and
as the children piled out into the crisp air, the Mar-
quess kid was first on the hard-trodden soil of the
school-yard-for there triumph awaited his coming.
Paul' was less impulsive. He collected his books with
the most deliberate care, dusting them off with an un-
wonted solicitude. Then he spent an indefinite period
searching for a stub of slate-pencil, which at another
time would not have interested him. He hoped against
hope that Jimmy Marquess would not have time to wait
for him.
  At last, the laggard in war felt Ham's strong hand
on his coat-collar. Vainly protesting and sniffling, he
was hustled toward the rotting threshold and catapulted
upon his enemy so abruptly and skillfully that to the
casual eye he might have seemed bursting with im-
patience for battle.
  And as he stumbled, willy-nilly, upon the Marquess
kid, the Marquess kid joyously gathered him in and
began raining enthusiastic rights and lefts upon the
blanched and blue-veined face.
  Suddenly Paul Burton woke to the fact that at his




back was an extremely solid wall; on his right an
equally impassable fence; on his left his implacable
brother and at his front-nothing but the Marquess
  Of the four obstacles Jimmy seemed the most vulner-
able, and upon him Paul hurled himself with the exalted
frenzy of a single idea: an idea of boring his way out
of an insupportable position. That Jimmy's blowrs
hurt him so little astonished him, and under the spur of
fear he fought with such abandon that to Ham's face
came a slow grin of contentment and to that of the
Marquess kid an expression of pained amazement, fol-
lowed by one of sudden panic. Of this particular
mouse, the cat had had enough and amid jeers of
derision the cat withdrew with more of haste than of
dignity in his departure.
  But five minutes later as Paul trudged along the
forest path toward his home, the unaccustomed light
of battle that had momentarily kindled in his eyes be-
gan to fade. There glowed in them no such lasting
triumph as should come from a boy's first victory.
Instead, they wore again the far-away look of dreamy
pensiveness. Already, his thoughts were back in their
own world, a world peopled with fancies and panoplied
with imaginings. Suddenly he halted, and threw back
his head, intently listening. High and far away came
the honking cry of wild geese in flight; travelers of the
upper air-paths, winging their way southward. Dis-
tance softened the harshness of their journeying
clamor into a note of appealing wanderlust.
  Paul's lips were parted and his eyes aglow. The
memory of the fight he had dreaded was effaced; the
bruises on his sensitive face were forgotten. His heart
was drinking an elixir through his ears, and at the




sounds floating down from the heights new fancies
leaped within him.
  11am with his eyes shrewdly fixed upon his brother
swung his books to his other hand and shrugged his
shoulders. He, too, was looking in fancy beyond the
misty hills, but not to the flight of geese. He saw cities
with shaft-like structures biting the sky and dark
banners of smoke floating above the clash of conflict.
His heart was burning to be at the center of that
  He, too, heard a song of sirens, but it was such a
song as Richard Whittington heard when barefooted
in Pauntley the notes of the Bow bells stole out to him:

"Sang of a city that was blazoned like a missal-book,
  Black with oaken gables, carven and inscrolled;
Every street a colored page, every sign a hieroglyph,
  Dusky with enchantments, a city paved with gold."

  Then he gazed about the desolate country -where
morning wore to night in a sequence of hard chore upon
hard chore, and he groaned between his set teeth.
  Here and there along the way stood deserted houses
where the wind searched the interiors through the eye-
less sockets of unglazed windows and where the roof-
trees were broken and twisted. They were blighting
symbols of this soul-breaking existence in a land of
abandoned farms where Opportunity never came. They
were mutely eloquent of surrender after struggle.
They summed up the hazard of life where to abate the
fight and rest meant to lose the fight and starve.
  His heart told him that no other battle-field was
hard enough or desperate enough to spell his defeat.
The world was his if he could go out into the world to




claim it, but here in this meager land of barrenness his
soul would strangle without a fight. The things that
had long flamed in his heart had flamed secretly, like
a smothered blaze which gnaws the vitals out of a ship
whose hatches are battened down. He, too, had kept
the hatches of silence battened. But through many
wakeful nights the voice that speaks to those whom
the gods have chosen cried to him with the certainty
of a herald's bugle. "What the greatest have been,
you can be! Of the few to whom impossibility is a jest,
you are one! Nothing can halt your onward march
save-want of opportunity. You have kinship with the
world's mightiest, but you must go out into the world
and claim your own." For that was how Ham Bur-
ton dreamed.
  As the Burton boys came to the farm-house where
they had been born, the sun was sinking behind the
ragged spears of the mountain-top, and its last fires
were mirrored in the lake whose name was like an
epitome of their lives-Forsaken.
  The house seemed to huddle in the gathering
shadows with melancholic despair. Its walls looked
out over the unproductive acres around it as grimly as
a fortress overlooks a hostile territory, and its oc-
cupants lived with as defensive a frugality as if they
were in fact a beleaguered garrison cut off from fresh
supplies. This was the prison in which Ham Burton
must serve his life sentence-unless he responded to
that urgent call which he heard when the others slept.
Tonight he must share with his father the raw chores
of the farm, and, when his studies were done, he must
go to his bed, exhausted in body and mind, to be
awakened at sunrise and retread the cheerless round
of drudgery. Every other tomorrow while life fettered




him here held a repetition of just that and nothing
  The white fire of rebellion leaped mutinously up
in Ham's heart. RHe would go away. He would
answer the loud clarion that called to him from beyond
the horizons. The first line of hills should no longer
be his remotest frontier. And if he did that-a whis-
pering voice of loyalty and conscience argued in-
sistently-who would wear the heavy harness here at
home His father would never leave, and upon his
father the infirmities of age would some day come
creeping. There was Paul-but, at the thought of
Paul with his strong imagination and his weak muscles,
Ham laughed. If he went away he must go without
consent or parental blessing; he must slip away in the
night with his few possessions packed in his battered
bag. Very well; if that were the only way, it must be
his way. The voices were calling-always calling-
and it might as well be tonight. Destiny is impatient
of temporizing.  Yes, tonight he would start out
there, somewhere, where the battles were a man's
battles, and the rewards a man's rewards.
  But at the door his mother met him. There was a
moisture of unshed tears in her eyes, and she spoke
in the appeal of dependence-dependence upon her
eldest son who had never failed her.
  "Son, your father's in bed-he's had some sort of
stroke. He's feelin' mighty low in his mind, an' he says
he's played out with the fight of all these years. I
told him that he needn't fret himself because we have
you. You've always been so strong an' manly even
when you were a little feller. You'd better see him,
Ham, an' cheer him up. Tell him you can take right
hold qr' rmin the farm."




  Ham turned away a face suddenly drawn. A lemon
afterglow hung above the hills, and where it darkened
into the evening sky, a single star shone in a feeble
point of light. It was setting-not rising-and to
the boy it seemed to be his star.
  "I'll go in and see him," he said curtly.
  Thomas Burton lay on his bed with his face turned
to the wall. When his son entered, he raised it and
shifted it so that the yellow light of an oil lamp shone
on it above the faded quilt.
  It was a hopeless, beaten face, and for the first
time in his life Ham saw the calloused hand which crept
out to his own shake feebly.
  He took it, and the father said slowly:
  "Ham, somehow I feel like an old hoss that just
goes as long as he can an' then lays down. Right often
he don't get up no more. It's a hard fight for a boy
to take up, this fight with rocks and poor soil, but I
guess you'll have to tackle it. I didn't quit so long
as I could keep goin'."
  The boy nodded.    He composed    his face  and
answered steadily: "I guess you can depend on me."
  But outside by the barn fence he set down his milk-
pail a few minutes later and in the coming night his
face twitched and blackened.
  "So after all," Ham told himself bitterly, "I've got
to stay."
  He reached out mechanically and began loosing the
top bar from its sockets, while he called in the cows
to be milked. So many times had he taken down and
put up that panel of bars that his hands knew from
habit every roughness and knot in every rail.
  "Mornin' an' evenin' for three hundred and sixty-
five days a year ;" the boy said to himself in a low and


14                  DESTINY

very bitter voice. "That makes seven hundred and
thirty times a year I do this same, identical thing. I
ain't nothin' more than servant to a couple of cows."
He stood and watched the two heifers trot through the
opening to the water-trough by the pump. "By the
time I'm thirty-five," he continued, "I'll do it fourteen
thousand and six hundred times more    When Na-
poleon was thirty-five " But there he broke off with
an inarticulate sound in his browned young throat that
was very like a groan.



M     ARY BURTON was eleven. Of late, thoughts
         which had heretofore not disturbed her had
         insistently crept into the limelight of con-
sciousness.  One morning as she stood, dish-towel
in hand, over the kitchen table, her eves stole
ever and anon to the cracked mirror that hung
against the wall, and after each glance she turned
defiantly away with something like sullenness about
her  lips.  Elizabeth  Burton, the   mother, and
Hannah Burton, the spinster aunt, went about their
accustomed tasks with no thought more worldly than
the duties of the moment. It never occurred to Aunt
Hannah to complain of anything that was. If her life
spelled unrelieved drudgery she accepted it as the
station to which it had pleased God to call her, and
conceived that complaint would be a form of blasphemy.
Now as she wielded her broom, her angular shoulders
ached with rheumatism, and, in a voice as creaking as
her joints, she sang, "For the L1Iaster said there is
work to do!" Such was Aunt Hannah's creed, and it
pleased her while she moiled over the work to an-
nounce in song that she acted upon divine command.
To Aunt Hannah's mind, this lent an august dignity to
a dust-rag.
  When Mary savagely threw down her dish-towel and
burst unaccountably into tears, both women looked
u p, startled. Mary was normally a sunny child and
one not given to weeping.



  "For the name of goodness!" exclaimed the mother
in bewilderment. "What in the world can have struck
the child" It was to Aunt Hannah that she put the
question, but it was Mary who answered, and answered
with a sudden flow of vehemence:
  "Why didn't God make me pretty" demanded the
girl in an impassioned voice. "They call me spindle-
legs at school, and yesterday Jimmy Marquess said,

    'If I had a sister Mary that had eyes like that,
    I'd put her out of pain with a baseball bat.'

It ain't fair that I've got to be ugly."
  Mrs. Burton, confronted with a situation she had
not anticipated, found herself unequipped with a reply,
but Aunt Hannah's face became severe.
  "You are as God made you, child," she announced in
a tone of finality, "and it's sinful to be dissatisfied."
  But, if dissatisfaction was wicked, Mary was re-
solved upon sin. For the first time in her eleven years
of life she stood forth mutinous. Her eyes blazed,
and she trembled passionately through her slender
child-body, with her hands clenched into tight little
  "If God made me this way on purpose, He didn't
treat me fair," she rebelliously flamed out. "What
good can it do God to have me skinny and white, with
eyes that don't even match"
  Aunt Hannah's face paled as though she feared that
she must fall an innocent victim to the avenging bolt
which might momentarily be expected to crash through
the roof.
  "Elizabeth," she gasped, "stop the child! Don't let
her invite the wrath of the Almighty like that! Tell




her how wicked it is to complain an' rebel against In-
finite Wisdom."
  They heard a low, rather contemptuous laugh, and
saw Ham standing in the door. His coarse lumber-
man's socks were pulled up over his trousers' legs and
splashed with mud of the stable lot.
  "Aunt Hannah, what gave you the notion that there's
anything wrong about complainin'" he demanded
shortly, and Mary knew that she had acquired a
  "Complainin' against God's will is a sin. Every
person knows that." Aunt Hannah spoke with the
aggrieved uncertainty of one unexpectedly called upon
to defend an axiom. "An' for a girl to fret about
her looks is worldly."
  "Oh, I see," the boy nodded slowly, but his voice
was insurgent. "I guess you think Almighty God
wants the creatures He made to sit around and sing
about there bein' work to do. I wonder you don't feel
afraid to eat buckwheat cakes that He doesn't send
down to you by an angel with His compliments. My
idea is that He wants folks to do things for themselves
and not to sing about it. As for being discontented,
that's the one thing that drives the world around. I
think God made discontent just for that."
  Aunt Hannah moistened her lips. For decades she
had been the member of a God-fearing, toiling family
whose righteousness was the righteousness of stagna-
tion. Now she stood face to face with radical heresy.
  "But," she argued with some dumb feeling that she
was defending Divinity, "the Scriptures teach content-
nmnt an' it's worldly to be vain."
  "Why not be worldly" flared the boy with a new
and indomitable light in his eyes. "As for me I'm




sick of this life in a place that's dry-rotting. What
I want is the world-the whole of it, good an' bad. I
want what you can win out of fighting. Mary wants
to be pretty. Why shouldn't she What does any
woman get out of life except what men give her-and
what man gives much to the ugly ones"
  "It ain't what men give that's to be counted a prize,"
came the pious rejoinder. "It's what heaven gives."
  "Heaven gave you a dust-rag and rheumatism. If
they suit you, all well and good. I'm going to see
that the world gives Mary what she wants. If a girl
can be made pretty Mary's going to be pretty. It's
what a woman's got a right to want and I'm going to
get it for her."
  With a violent gesture the boy flung himself from
the room and slammed the door behind him.
  Because it was Saturday and there was no school
that day, Ham left the house and turned into the
woods. He tramped with his brow drawn and a hun-
dred insurgent thoughts swirling in his brain.
  He passed across hills holding to their final flare
of color, where leaves were drifting down from trees
of yellow and crimson. He threaded alder thickets
and passed through groves of silver birches that
shivered fastidiously in the breeze. Wild apple trees
raised gnarled branches under which the "punches" of
hooves told of deer that had been feeding. At last,
he came to a clearing where fire had eaten its way and
charred the ruins of the forest. There a large buck
lifted its antlered head among the berry bushes and
stood for a moment at startled gaze. But Ham made
no movement to raise the rifle that swung at his side,
and as the red-brown shape disappeared with a soft
clatter, the boy did not even throw a glance after it.




He was saying to himself: "William the Conqueror was
a baker's son; Napoleon was the friend of a washer-
woman; Cecil Rhodes was a poor boy-but they didn't
stay tied down too long."
  Now and again, a rabbit scuttled off to cover, and
often with the whir of drumming wings a grouse rose
noisily and lumbered away with spread tail into the
painted foliage. But all the beauty of it was a beauty
of wildness and of nature's victory over man. For
such beauty Ham felt no answer of pulse or heart.
  Of the cabins he passed, most were empty and those
quiet vandals, Weather and Decay, were noiselessly at
work wrecking them. Here a door swung askew; there
a chimney teetered. Every such tenantless lodging
was an outpost surrendered on a field scarred with
human defeat; a place where a family had fought
poverty and been put to flight. Once he paused and
looked down a long slope to a habitation by the road-
side. The miserable battle was just ending there, and,
though he stood a quarter of a mile away, he stopped
to watch the final act. The family that had dwelt
there for two generations was leaving behind every-
thing that it had known. John Marrow was at that
moment nailing a padlock to the front door, a lock
at which the quiet vandals would laugh silently.
  In a farm wagon was heaped the litter of household
effects. These people were whipped, starved out,
beaten. Ham Burton turned on his heel and trudged
away. His father's farm was little more productive
than this one, but his father had that uncompromising
iron in his blood that comes from Pilgrim forebears.
He would hold on to the end-but to what end and
how long
                      5         0     




  That Saturday afternoon, Mary was walking along
the sandy road that led to the village. She had no pur-
pose, except to be alone, and she carried an old
fashion paper which she meant to con. This newly
discovered necessity of beauty was a very serious af-
fair, and since she meant to devote herself to its study
she conceived that these pages should give tidings from
the fountain head.
  She did not expect to meet anyone, and she was
quite content to spend that Indian-summer afternoon
with her companions of the printed page. These were
beautiful ladies, appareled in the splendid vogues of
Paris and Vienna. There were delightful bits of in-
formation concerning some mysterious thing called the
haute monde and likewise pictures that instructed one
how to dress one's hair and adorn the coiffure with
circlets of pearls. Mary's sheer delight in such mys-
teries was not marred by any suspicion that the text
she devoured told of fashions long extinct and sup-
planted by newer edicts.
  On the great rock which jutted out from the wooded
tangle into the margin of Lake Forsaken, with lesser
sentinel rocks about it, she sat cross-legged until she
glanced up at last to see that the west was kindling,
and that she must start back to the duller realities
of home. She had been interrupted by no break in
the silence except the little forest twitter of birds and
now and then the cool splash where a bass leaped in
the lake.
  But as she made her way along the twisting road
she heard the rattle of wheels on the rocks and turned
to see a vehicle driven by a man who obviously had
no kinship with stony farms or lumber camps. She
paused, and the buggy came up. Its driver drew his




hiorse down, and in a singularly pleasing and friendly
oice inquired:
   "Can you tell me, little sister, how I can get to
Middle Fork"
   Middle Fork was the village at the end of the six-
mile mountain descent, and Mary, who knew every