xt7jq23qvq7x https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt7jq23qvq7x/data/mets.xml Fox, John, 1863-1919. 1906  books b92-128-29178344 English C. Scribner's Sons, : New York : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Knight of the Cumberland  / by John Fox, Jr. ; illustrated by F.C. Yohn. text Knight of the Cumberland  / by John Fox, Jr. ; illustrated by F.C. Yohn. 1906 2002 true xt7jq23qvq7x section xt7jq23qvq7x 



















A KNIGHT OF THE
  CUMBERLAND

 
























  BOOKS BY JOHN FOX, JR.

  PUBLISHED BY CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS



A KNIGHT OF THE CUMBERLAND. Illustrated. 1.oo

FOLLOWING   THE SUN-FLAG. A VAUx PURSUIT
   THROUGH MANCHURA . . . . . . .. net, X.25

CHRISTMAS EVE ON LONESOME AND OTHER
   STORIES. Illustrated..... . . .   . i.5o

THE LITTLE SHEPHERD OF KINGDOM COME.
   Illustrated..... . . . .  .  ..  . i 5o

BLUEGRASS AND    RHODODENDRON. OurrDOoR
   LIFs 114 KENTUCKy. Illustrated . . . . net, 1.75

CRITTENDEN. A KENTUcKY STORY Op LOVE AND
   WAR ..1........               .... . St-25

A CUMBERLAND VENDETTA. Illustrated . . 1.25

HELL FOR SARTAIN AND OTHER STORIES. z.o

THE KENTUCKIANS. Illustrated... .   . 1.25

A MOUNTAIN EUROPA ........ . 1.25

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But every knight and every mounted policeman took out after the outlaw.



r  :, F  Y-


           o

                        1              e

 











A KNIGHT OF THE

   CUMBERLAND





           BY
      JOHN FOX, JR.



    ILLUSTRATED BY
    F. C. YOHN







CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
   NEW YORK:: 1906

 




















  Copyright, 1906, by
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

  Psublished, October, zgo6


 








           CONTENTS

                                     Page
  I. The Blight in the Hills             3

  II. On the Wild Dog's Trail        20

  III. The Auricular Talent of the Hon.
       Samuel Budd                   37

 IV. Close Quarters                  55

 V. Back to the Hills               83

 VI. The Great Day                   94

 VII. At Last-Tht Tournament         I 13

VIII. The Knight Passes             156

 This page in the original text is blank.


 









        ILLUSTRATIONS

           From Drawings by F. C. Yohn

But every knight and every mounted police-
    man took out after the outlaw Fronti

"If Id a' known hit was you Id a stayed
    in jail "

"Mart's a gittin' ready fer a tourney-
    ment "

The Knight of the Cumberland reined in
    before the Blight



spiece
Facing
page

  i6



58



i36

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A KNIGHT OF THE CUMBERLAND

 This page in the original text is blank.


 






I



      THE BLIGHT IN THE HILLS

      IGH noon of a crisp October day,
      sunshine flooding the earth with
the warmth and light of old wine and,
going single-file up through the jagged
gap that the dripping of water has worn
down through the Cumberland Mountains
from crest to valley-level, a gray horse
and two big mules, a man and two young
girls. On the gray horse, I led the tor-
tuous way. After me came my small
sister-and after her and like her, mule-
back, rode the Blight-dressed as she
would be for a gallop in Central Park or
to ride a hunter in a horse show.
                  [ 3 1

 






A KNIGHT OF THE CUMBERLAND



  I was taking them, according to prom-
ise, where the feet of other women than
mountaineers had never trod-beyond the
crest of the Big Black-to the waters of
the Cumberland-the lair of moonshiner
and feudsman, where is yet pocketed a
civilization that, elsewhere, is long ago
gone. This had been a pet dream of the
Blight's for a long time, and now the
dream was coming true. The Blight was
in the hills.

  Nobody ever went to her mother's
house without asking to see her even when
she was a little thing with black hair,
merry face and black eyes. Both men and
women, with children of their own, have
told me that she was, perhaps, the most
fascinating child that ever lived. There
be some who claim that she has never
                 [ 4]

 







  THE BLIGHT IN THE HILLS

changed-and I am among them. She
began early, regardless of age, sex or
previous condition of servitude-she con-
tinues recklessly as she began-and none
makes complaint. Thus was it in her own
world-thus it was when she came to
mine. On the way down from the North,
the conductor's voice changed from a
command to a request when he asked
for her ticket. The jacketed lord of the
dining-car saw her from afar and ad-
vanced to show her to a seat-that she
might ride forward, sit next to a shaded
window and be free from the glare of the
sun on the other side. Two porters made
a rush for her bag when she got off the
car, and the proprietor of the little hotel
in the little town where we had to wait
several hours for the train into the moun-
tains gave her the bridal chamber for an
                 [5I

 






A KNIGHT OF THE CUMBERLAND

afternoon nap. From this little town to
" The Gap " is the worst sixty-mile ride,
perhaps, in the world. She sat in a dirty
day-coach; the smoke rolled in at the win-
dows and doors; the cars shook and
swayed and lumbered around curves and
down and up gorges; there were about
her rough men, crying children, slatternly
women, tobacco juice, peanuts, popcorn
and apple cores, but dainty, serene and as
merry as ever, she sat through that ride
with a radiant smile, her keen black eyes
noting everything unlovely within and the
glory of hill, tree and chasm without.
Next morning at home, where we rise
early, no one was allowed to waken her
and she had breakfast in bed-for the
Blight's gentle tyranny was established on
sight and varied not at the Gap.
  When she went down the street that
                 [6]

 







  THE BLIGHT IN THE HILLS

day everybody stared surreptitiously and
with perfect respect, as her dainty black-
plumed figure passed; the post-office clerk
could barely bring himself to say that there
was no letter for her. The soda-fountain
boy nearly filled her glass with syrup be-
fore he saw that he was not strictly mind-
ing his own business; the clerk, when I
bought chocolate for her, unblushingly
added extra weight and, as we went back,
she met them both-Marston, the young
engineer from the North, crossing the
street and, at the same moment, a drunken
young tough with an infuriated face reel-
ing in a run around the corner ahead of
us as though he were being pursued.
Now we have a volunteer police guard
some forty strong at the Gap-and from
habit, I started for him, but the Blight
caught my arm tight. The young en-
                 [ 7 ]

 






A KNIGHT OF THE CUMBERLAND

gineer in three strides had reached the
curb-stone and all he sternly said was:
  " Here I Here I "
  The drunken youth wheeled and his
right hand shot toward his hip pocket.
The engineer was belted with a pistol, but
with one lightning movement and an in-
credibly long reach, his right fist caught
the fellow's jaw so that he pitched back-
ward and collapsed like an empty bag.
Then the engineer caught sight of the
Blight's bewildered face, flushed, gripped
his hands in front of him and simply
stared. At last he saw me:
  "Oh," he said, "how do you do"
and he turned to his prisoner, but the
panting sergeant and another policeman-
also a volunteer-were already lifting him
to his feet. I introduced the boy and the
Blight then, and for the first time in my
                  [ 8 ]

 






  THE BLIGHT IN THE HILLS

life I saw the Blight-shaken. Round-
eyed, she merely gazed at him.
  " That was pretty well done," I said.
  "Oh, he was drunk and I knew he
would be slow." Now something curious
happened. The dazed prisoner was on
his feet, and his captors were starting with
him to the calaboose when he seemed sud-
denly to come to his senses.
  " Jes wait a minute, will ye " he said
quietly, and his captors, thinking perhaps
that he wanted to say something to me,
stopped. The mountain youth turned a
strangely sobered face and fixed his blue
eyes on the engineer as though he were
searing every feature of that imperturba-
ble young man in his brain forever. It
was not a bad face, but the avenging
hatred in it was fearful. Then he, too,
saw the Blight, his face calmed magically
                 [9]

 







A KNIGHT OF THE CUMBERLAND

and he, too, stared at her, and turned away
with an oath checked at his lips. We went
on-the Blight thrilled, for she had heard
much of our volunteer force at the Gap
and had seen something already. Pres-
ently I looked back. Prisoner and captors
were climbing the little hill toward the
calaboose and the mountain boy just then
turned his head and I could swear that his
eyes sought not the engineer, whom we
left at the corner, but, like the engineer,
he was looking at the Blight. Whereat I
did not wonder-particularly as to the en-
gineer. He had been in the mountains for
a long time and I knew what this vision
from home meant to him. He turned up
at the house quite early that night.
  "I'm not on duty until eleven," he
said hesitantly, " and I thought I'd "
  "Come right in."
                 [ IO]

 






THE BLIGHT IN THE HILLS



  I asked him a few questions about busi-
ness and then I left him and the Blight
alone. When I came back she had a Gat-
ling gun of eager questions ranged on him
and-happy withal-he was squirming no
little. I followed him to the gate.
  " Are you really going over into those
God-forsaken mountains" he asked.
  " I thought I would."
  " And you are going to take her"
  " And my sister."
  " Oh, I beg your pardon." He strode
away.
  " Coming up by the mines " he called
back.
  " Perhaps-will you show us around"
  " I guess I will," he said emphatically,
and he went on to risk his neck on a ten-
mile ride along a mountain road in the
dark.
                 I I ]

 







A KNIGHT OF THE CUMBERLAND



  "I like a man," said the Blight. "I
like a man."
  Of course the Blight must see every-
thing, so she insisted on going to the po-
lice court next morning for the trial of the
mountain boy. The boy was in the wit-
ness chair when we got there, and the
Hon. Samuel Budd was his counsel. He
had volunteered to defend the prisoner, I
was soon told, and then I understood.
The November election was not far off and
the Hon. Samuel Budd was candidate for
legislature. More even, the boy's father
was a warm supporter of Mr. Budd and
the boy himself might perhaps render good
service in the cause when the time came-
as indeed he did On one of the front
chairs sat the young engineer and it was
a question whether he or the prisoner saw
the Blight's black plumes first. The eyes
                [ 12 ]

 







  THE BLIGHT IN THE HILLS

of both flashed toward her simultane-
ously, the engineer colored perceptibly and
the mountain boy stopped short in speech
and his pallid face flushed with unmistak-
able shame. Then he went on: " He had
liquered up," he said, " and had got tight
afore he knowed it and he didn't mean
no harm and had never been arrested
afore in his whole life."
  " Have you ever been drunk before"
asked the prosecuting attorney severely.
The lad looked surprised.
  " Co'se I have, but I ain't goin' to agin
-leastwise not in this here town." There
was a general laugh at this and the aged
mayor rapped loudly.
  " That will do," said the attorney.
  The lad stepped down, hitched his chair
slightly so that his back was to the Blight,
sank down in it until his head rested on
                 [' 3 ]

 







A KNIGHT OF THE CUMBERLAND

the back of the chair and crossed his legs.
The Hon. Samuel Budd arose and the
Blight looked at him with wonder. His
long yellow hair was parted in the middle
and brushed with plaster-like precision
behind two enormous ears, he wore spec-
tacles, gold-rimmed and with great staring
lenses, and his face was smooth and age-
less. He caressed his chin ruminatingly
and rolled his lips until they settled into a
fine resultant of wisdom, patience, tolera-
tion and firmness. His manner was pro-
found and his voice oily and soothing.
  " May it please your Honor-my young
friend frankly pleads guilty." He paused
as though the majesty of the law could ask
no more. " He is a young man of natu-
rally high and somewhat-naturally, too,
no doubt-bibulous spirits. Homaoopathi-
cally-if inversely-the result was logical.
                 [ I4]

 






THE BLIGHT IN THE HILLS



In the untrammelled life of the liberty-
breathing mountains, where the stern spirit
of law and order, of which your Honor is
the august symbol, does not prevail as it
does here-thanks to your Honor's wise
and just dispensations-the lad has, I
may say, naturally acquired a certain reck-
lessness of mood-indulgence which, how-
ever easily condoned there, must here be
sternly rebuked. At the same time, he
knew not the conditions here, he became
exhilarated without malice, prepensey or
even, I may say, consciousness. He would
not have done as he ham. if he had known
what he knows now, and, knowing, he will
not repeat the offence.  I need say no
more. I plead simply that your Honor
will temper the justice that is only yours
with the mercy that is yours-only."
  His Honor was visibly affected and to
                 [ IS ]

 






A KNIGHT OF THE CUMBERLAND



cover it-his methods being informal-he
said with sharp irrelevancy:
  " Who bailed this young feller out last
night " The sergeant spoke:
  " Why, Mr. Marston thar "-with out-
stretched finger toward the young en-
gineer. The Blight's black eyes leaped
with exultant appreciation and the engineer
turned crimson. His Honor rolled his
quid around in his mouth once, and peered
over his glasses:
  " I fine this young feller two dollars and
costs."  The young fellow  had turned
slowly in his chair and his blue eyes blazed
at the engineer with unappeasable hatred.
I doubt if he had heard his Honor's
voice.
  " I want ye to know that I'm obleeged
to ye an' I ain't a-goin' to fergit it; but
if I'd a known hit was you I'd a stayed
                 [ i6 ]


 











7

 This page in the original text is blank.

 







  THE BLIGHT IN THE HILLS

in jail an' seen you in hell afore I'd a been
bounden to ye."
  " Ten dollars fer contempt of couht."
The boy was hot now.
  " Oh, fine and be-" The Hon. Samuel
Budd had him by the shoulder, the boy
swallowed his voice and his starting tears
of rage, and after a whisper to his Honor,
the Hon. Samuel led him out. Outside,
the engineer laughed to the Blight:
  " Pretty peppery, isn't he" but the
Blight said nothing, and later we saw the
youth on a gray horse crossing the bridge
and conducted by the Hon. Samuel Budd,
who stopped and waved him toward the
mountains. The boy went on and across
the plateau, the gray Gap swallowed him.
  That night, at the post-office, the Hon.
Sam plucked me aside by the sleeve.
  "I know Marston is agin me in this
                [ I7 ]

 






A KNIGHT OF THE CUMBERLAND



race-but I'll do him a good turn just the
same. You tell him to watch out for that
young fellow. He's all right when he's
sober, but when he's drunk-well, over in
Kentucky, they call him the Wild Dog."

  Several days later we started out through
that same Gap. The glum stableman
looked at the Blight's girths three times,
and with my own eyes starting and my
heart in my mouth, I saw her pass behind
her sixteen-hand-high mule and give him a
friendly tap on the rump as she went by.
The beast gave an appreciative flop of one
ear and that was all. Had I done that,
any further benefit to me or mine would
be incorporated in the terms of an insur-
ance policy. So, stating this, I believe I
state the limit and can now go on to say
at last that it was because she seemed to
                 [ i8 ]

 







THE BLIGHT IN THE HILLS



be loved by man and brute alike that a
big man of her own town, whose body,
big as it was, was yet too small for his
heart and from whose brain things went
off at queer angles, always christened her
perversely as-" The Blight."



[' 9 ]


 







-II



      ON THE WILD DOG'S TRAIL

SO up we went past Bee Rock, Preach-
      er's Creek and Little Looney, past
the mines where high on a " tipple " stood
the young engineer looking down at us,
and looking after the Blight as we passed
on into a dim rocky avenue walled on each
side with rhododendrons. I waved at him
and shook my head-we would see him
coming back.  Beyond a deserted log-
cabin we turned up a spur of the mountain.
Around a clump of bushes we came on
a gray-bearded mountaineer holding his
horse by the bridle and from a covert high
above two more men appeared with Win-
                [20]

 







ON THE WILD DOG'S TRAIL



chesters. The Blight breathed forth an
awed whisper:
  " Are they moonshiners"
  I nodded sagely, " Most likely," and
the Blight was thrilled. They might have
been squirrel-hunters most innocent, but
the Blight had heard much talk of moon-
shine stills and mountain feuds and the
men who run them and I took the risk of
denying her nothing. Up and up we went,
those two mules swaying from side to side
with a motion little short of elephantine
and, by and by, the Blight called out:
  " You ride ahead and don't you dare
look back."
  Accustomed to obeying the Blight's or-
ders, I rode ahead with eyes to the front.
Presently, a shriek made me turn suddenly.
It was nothing-my little sister's mule had
gone near a steep cliff-perilously near, as
                 [ 21 ]

 







A KNIGHT OF THE CUMBERLAND

its rider thought, but I saw why I must not
look back; those two little girls were riding
astride on side-saddles, the booted little
right foot of each dangling stirrupless a
posture quite decorous but ludicrous.
  " Let us know if anybody comes," they
cried. A mountaineer descended into sight
around a loop of the path above.
  " Change cars," I shouted.
  They changed and, passing, were grave,
demure-then they changed again, and
thus we climbed.
  Such a glory as was below, around and
above us; the air like champagne; the sun-
light rich and pouring like a flood on the
gold that the beeches had strewn in the
path, on the gold that the poplars still
shook high above and shimmering on the
royal scarlet of the maple and the sombre
russet of the oak. From far below us to far
                 [ 22 ]

 







   ON THE WILD DOG'S TRAIL

above us a deep curving ravine was slashed
into the mountain side as by one stroke of
a gigantic scimitar. The darkness deep
down was lighted up with cool green, in-
terfused with liquid gold.  Russet and
yellow splashed the mountain sides beyond
and high up the maples were in a shaking
blaze. The Blight's swift eyes took all in
and with indrawn breath she drank it all
deep down.
  An hour by sun we were near the top,
which was bared of trees and turned into
rich farm-land covered with blue-grass.
Along these upland pastures, dotted with
grazing cattle, and across them we rode
toward the mountain wildernesses on the
other side, down into which a zigzag path
wriggles along the steep front of Benham's
spur. At the edge of the steep was a
cabin and a bushy-bearded mountaineer,
                 [ 23 ]

 







A KNIGHT OF THE CUMBERLAND

who looked like a brigand, answered my
hail. He "mought " keep us all night,
but he'd "ruther not, as we could git a
place to stay down the spur." Could we
get down before dark The mountaineer
lifted his eyes to where the sun was break-
ing the horizon of the west into streaks
and splashes of yellow and crimson.
  " Oh, yes, you can git thar afore
dark."
  Now I knew that the mountaineer's idea
of distance is vague-but he knows how
long it takes to get from one place to an-
other. So we started down-dropping at
once into thick dark woods, and as we
went looping down, the deeper was the
gloom. That sun had suddenly severed all
connection with the laws of gravity and
sunk, and it was all the darker because
the stars were not out. The path was
                [ 24 ]

 







   ON THE WILD DOG'S TRAIL

steep and coiled downward like a wounded
snake.  In one place a tree had fallen
across it, and to reach the next coil of the
path below was dangerous. So I had the
girls dismount and I led the gray horse
down on his haunches. The mules refused
to follow, which was rather unusual.  I
went back and from a safe distance in the
rear I belabored them down. They cared
neither for gray horse nor crooked path,
but turned of their own devilish wills
along the bushy mountain side. As I ran
after them the gray horse started calmly
on down and those two girls shrieked with
laughter-they knew no better. First one
way and then the other down the mountain
went those mules, with me after them,
through thick bushes, over logs, stumps
and bowlders and holes-crossing the path
a dozen times. What that path was there
                 [ 25 ]

 







A KNIGHT OF THE CUMBERLAND



for never occurred to those long-eared
half asses, whole fools, and by and by,
when the girls tried to shoo them down
they clambered around and above them
and struck the path back up the mountain.
The horse had gone down one way, the
mules up the other, and there was no
health in anything. The girls could not
go up-so there was nothing to do but go
down, which, hard as it was, was easier
than going up. The path was not visible
now. Once in a while I would stumble
from it and crash through the bushes to
the next coil below. Finally I went down,
sliding one foot ahead all the time-know-
ing that when leaves rustled under that
foot I was on the point of going astray.
Sometimes I had to light a match to
make sure of the way, and thus the ridicu-
lous descent was made with those girls in
                [ 26 ]

 







   ON THE WILD DOG'S TRAIL

high spirits behind. Indeed, the darker,
rockier, steeper it got, the more they
shrieked from pure joy-but I was any-
thing than happy. It was dangerous. I
didn't know the cliffs and high rocks
we might skirt and an unlucky guidance
might land us in the creek-bed far down.
But the blessed stars came out, the moon
peered over a farther mountain and on
the last spur there was the gray horse
browsing in the path-and the sound of
running water not far below. Fortunately
on the gray horse were the saddle-bags of
the chattering infants who thought the
whole thing a mighty lark. We reached
the running water, struck a flock of geese
and knew, in consequence, that humanity
was somewhere near. A few turns of the
creek and a beacon light shone below.
The pales of a picket fence, the cheering
                 [ 27 ]

 






A KNIGHT OF THE CUMBERLAND

outlines of a log-cabin came in view and
at a peaked gate I shouted:
  " Hello I "
  You enter no mountaineer's yard with-
out that announcing cry. It was medixval,
the Blight said, positively-two lorn dam-
sels, a benighted knight partially stripped
of his armor by bush and sharp-edged
rock, a gray palfrey (she didn't mention
the impatient asses that had turned home-
ward) and she wished I had a horn to
wind. I wanted a " horn " badly enough
-but it was not the kind men wind. By
and by we got a response:
  " Hello I " was the answer, as an opened
door let out into the yard a broad band of
light. Could we stay all night The
voice replied that the owner would see
" Pap." " Pap " seemed willing, and the
boy opened the gate and into the house
                 [ 28 ]

 







   ON THE WILD DOG'S TRAIL

went the Blight and the little sister.
Shortly, I followed.
  There, all in one room, lighted by a
huge wood-fire, rafters above, puncheon
floor beneath-cane-bottomed chairs and
two beds the only furniture-" pap,"
barefooted, the old mother in the chimney-
corner with a pipe, strings of red pepper-
pods, beans and herbs hanging around and
above, a married daughter with a child at
her breast, two or three children with yel-
low hair and bare feet-all looking with
all their eyes at the two visitors who had
dropped upon them from another world.
The Blight's eyes were brighter than
usual-that was the only sign she gave
that she was not in her own drawing-
room.   Apparently  she  saw  nothing
strange or unusual even, but there was
really nothing that she did not see or hear
                 I 29 ]

 







A KNIGHT OF THE CUMIBERLAND

and absorb, as few others than the Blight
can.
  Straightway, the old woman knocked
the ashes out of her pipe.
  " I reckon you hain't had nothin' to
eat," she said and disappeared. The old
man asked questions, the young mother
rocked her baby on her knees, the children
got less shy and drew near the fireplace,
the Blight and the little sister exchanged
a furtive smile and the contrast of the ex-
tremes in American civilization, as shown
in that little cabin, interested me mightily.
  " Yer snack's ready," said the old
woman. The old man carried the chairs
into the kitchen, and when I followed the
girls were seated. The chairs were so low
that their chins came barely over their
plates, and demure and serious as they were
they surely looked most comical. There
                 [ 30 ]

 







   ON THE WILD DOG'S TRAIL

was the usual bacon and corn-bread and
potatoes and sour milk, and the two girls
struggled with the rude fare nobly.
  After supper I joined the old man and
the old woman with a pipe--exchanging
my tobacco for their long green with more
satisfaction probably to me than to them,
for the long green was good, and strong
and fragrant.
  The old woman asked the Blight and
the little sister many questions and they, in
turn, showed great interest in the baby in
arms, whereat the eighteen-year-old mother
blushed and looked greatly pleased.
  " You got mighty purty black eyes,"
said the old woman to the Blight, and not
to slight the little sister she added, " An'
you got mighty purty teeth."
  The Blight showed hers in a radiant
smile and the old woman turned back to her.
                 [ 3' ]

 






A KNIGHT OF THE CUMBERLAND

  "Oh, you've got both," she said and
she shook her head, as though she were
thinking of the damage they had done.
It was my time now-to ask questions.
  They didn't have many amusements on
that creek, I discovered-and no dances.
Sometimes the boys went coon-hunting and
there were corn-shuckings, house-raisings
and quilting-parties.
  " Does anybody round here play the
banjo "
  " None o' my boys," said the old wom-
an, " but Tom Green's son down the creek
-he follers pickin' the banjo a leetle."
" Follows pickin' "-the Blight did not
miss that phrase.
  " What do you foller fer a livin' " the
old man asked me suddenly.
  " I write for a living." He thought a
while.
                [3211

 






   ON THE WILD DOG'S TRAIL

   " Well, it must be purty fine to have a
good handwrite." This nearly dissolved
the Blight and the little sister, but they
held on heroically.
  " Is there much fighting around here"
I asked presently.
  " Not much 'cept when one young feller
up the river gets to tearin' up things. I
heerd as how he was over to the Gap last
week-raisin' hell. He comes by here on
his way home." The Blight's eyes opened
wide-apparently we were on his trail.
It is not wise for a member of the police
guard at the Gap to show too much
curiosity about the lawless ones of the
hills, and I asked no questions.
  "They calls him the Wild Dog over
here," he added, and then he yawned cav-
ernously.
  I looked around with divining eye for
                 [ 33 ]

 







A KNIGHT OF THE CUMBERLAND

the sleeping arrangements soon to come,
which sometimes are embarrassing to
" furriners " who are unable to grasp at
once the primitive unconsciousness of the
mountaineers and, in consequence, accept a
point of view natural to them because en-
forced by architectural limitations and a
hospitality that turns no one seeking shel-
ter from any door. They were, however,
better prepared than I had hoped for.
They had a spare room on the porch and
just outside the door, and when the old
woman led the two girls to it, I followed
with their saddle-bags. The room was
about seven feet by six and was win-
dowless.
  " You'd better leave your door open a
little," I said, " or you'll smother in
there."
  "Well," said the old woman, " hit's all
                 [34]

 







   ON THE WILD DOG'S TRAIL

right to leave the door open. Nothin's
goin' ter bother ye, but one o' my sons is
out a coon-huntin' and he mought come in,
not knowin' you're thar.  But you jes'
holler an' he'll move on." She meant
precisely what she said and saw no humor
at all in such a possibility-but when the
door closed, I could hear those girls
stifling shrieks of laughter.
  Literally, that night, I was a member
of the family. I had a bed to myself
(the following night I was not so fortu-
nate)-in one corner; behind the head of
mine the old woman, the daughter-in-law
and the baby had another in the other
corner, and the old man with the two boys
spread a pallet on the floor. That is the
invariable rule of courtesy with the moun-
taineer, to give his bed to the stranger and
take to the floor himself, and, in passing,
                 [ 35 ]

 







A KNIGHT OF THE CUMBERLAND

let me say that never, in a long experience,
have I seen the slightest consciousness-
much less immodesty-in a mountain cabin
in my life. The same attitude on the part
of the visitors is taken for granted-any
other indeed holds mortal possibilities of
offence-so that if the visitor has common
sense, all embarrassment passes at once.
The door was closed, the fire blazed on
uncovered, the smothered talk and laugh-
ter of the two girls ceased, the coon-hunter
came not and the night passed in peace.
  It must have been near daybreak that I
was aroused by the old man leaving the
cabin and I heard voices and the sound of
horses' feet outside. When he came back
he was grinning.
  " Hit's your mules."
  " Who found them"
  " The Wild Dog had 'em," he said.
                 [ 36 ]


 







III



   THE AURICULAR TALENT OF THE
          HON. SAMUEL BUDD

1 EHIND us came the Hon. Samuel
      Budd. Just when the sun was slit-
ting the east with a long streak of fire, the
Hon. Samuel was, with the jocund day,
standing tiptoe in his stirrups on the misty
mountain top and peering into the ravine
down which we had slid the night before,
and he grumbled no little when he saw
that he, too, must get off his horse and
slide down. The Hon. Samuel was am-
bitious, Southern, and a lawyer. Without
saying, it goes that he was also a poli-
tician. He was not a native of the moun-
                [ 37 ]

 






A KNIGHT OF THE CUMBERLAND

tains, but he had cast his fortunes in the
highlands, and he was taking the first step
that he hoped would, before many years,
land him in the National Capitol. He
really knew little about the mountaineers,
even now, and he had never been among
his constituents on Devil's Fork, where he
was bound now. The campaign had so far
been full of humor and full of trials-not
the least of which sprang from the fact
that it was sorghum time. Everybody
through the mountains was making sor-
ghum, and every mountain child was eat-
ing molasses.
  Now, as the world knows, the straight-
est way to the heart of the honest voter is
through the women of the land, and the
straightest way to the heart of the women
is through the children of the land; and
one method of winning both, with rural
                [ 38 ]

 







    THE AURICULAR TALENT

politicians, is to kiss the babies wide and
far. So as each infant, at sorghum time,
has a circle of green-brown stickiness about
his chubby lips, and as the Hon. Sam was
averse to " long sweetenin'" even in his
coffee, this particular political device just
now was no small trial to the Hon. Samuel
Budd. But in the language of one of his
firmest supporters-Uncle Tommie Hen-
dricks:
  " The Hon. Sam done his duty, and he
done it damn well."
  The issue at stake was the site of the
new Court-House-two localities claiming
the right undisputed, because they were
the only two places in the county where
there was enough level land for the Court-
House to stand on. Let no man think this
a trivial issue. There had been a similar
one over on the Virginia side once, and
                 [ 39 ]

 







A KNIGHT OF THE CUMBERLAND

the opposing factions agreed to decide the
question by the ancient wager of battle,
fist and skull-two hundred men on each
side-and the women of the county with
difficulty prevented the fight. Just now,
Mr. Budd was on his way to "The
Pocket "-the voting place of one faction
-where he had never been, where the
hostility against him was most bitter, and,
that day, he knew he was " up against "
Waterloo, the crossing of the Rubicon,
holding the pass at T