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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Heart Of The Hills - Chapter 44
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The Heart Of The Hills - Chapter 44 Post by :promonde Category :Long Stories Author :John Fox Date :May 2012 Read :1944

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The Heart Of The Hills - Chapter 44


Jason did not meet young Aaron on the train, though as he neared the county-seat he kept a close watch, whenever the train stopped at a station, on both doors of his car, with his bag on the seat in front of him unbuckled and unlocked. At the last station was one Honeycutt lounging about, but plainly evasive of him. There was a little group of Hawns about the Hawn store and hotel, and more Honeycutts and Hawns on the other side of the street farther down, but little Aaron did not appear. It seemed, as he learned a few minutes later, that both factions were in town for the meeting between Aaron and him, and later still he learned that young Honeycutt loped into town after Jason had started up the river and was much badgered about his late arrival. At the forks of the road Jason turned toward the mines, for he had been casually told by Arch Hawn that he would find his mother up that way. The old circuit rider's wife threw her arms around the boy when he came to her porch, and she smiled significantly when she told him that his mother had walked over the spur that morning to take a look at her old home, and that Mavis had gone with her.

Jason slowly climbed the spur. To his surprise he saw a spiral of smoke ascending on the other side, just where he once used to see it, but he did not hurry, for it might be coming from a miner's cabin that had been built near the old place. On top of the spur, however, he stopped-quite stunned. That smoke was coming out of his mother's old chimney. There was a fence around the yard, which was clear of weeds. The barn was rebuilt, there was a cow browsing near it, and near her were three or four busily rooting pigs. And stringing beans on the porch were his mother--and Mavis Hawn. Jason shouted his bewilderment, and the two women lifted their eyes. A high, shrill, glad answer came from his mother, who rose to meet him, but Mavis sat where she was with idle hands.

"Mammy!" cried Jason, for there was a rich color in the pallid face he had last seen, she looked years younger, and she was smiling. It was all the doing of Arch Hawn--a generous impulse or an act of justice long deferred.

"Why, Jason!" said his mother. "Arch is a-goin' to gimme back the farm fer my use as long as I live."

And Mavis had left the old circuit rider and come to live with her. The girl looked quiet, placid, content--only, for a moment, she sank the deep lights of her eyes deep into his and the scrutiny seemed to bring her peace, for she drew a long breath and at him her eyes smiled. There was more when later Mavis had strolled down toward the barn to leave the two alone.

"Is Mavis goin' to live with you all the time?"

"Hit looks like hit--she brought over ever'thing she has."

The mother smiled suddenly, looked to see that the girl was out of sight, and then led the way into the house and up into the attic, where she reached behind the rafters.

"Look hyeh," she said, and she pulled into sight the fishing-pole and the old bow and arrow that Jason had given Mavis years and years ago.

"She fetched 'em over when I wasn't hyeh an' HID 'em."

Slyly the mother watched her son's face, and though Jason said nothing, she got her reward when she saw him color faintly. She was too wise to say anything more herself, nor did she show any consciousness when the three were together in the porch, nor make any move to leave them alone. The two women went to their work again, and while Mavis asked nothing, the mother plied Jason with questions about Colonel and Mrs. Pendleton and Marjorie and Gray, and had him tell about his graduating speech and Commencement Day. The girl listened eagerly, though all the time her eyes were fixed on her busy fingers, and when Jason told that Gray would most likely come back to the hills, now that his father would get well, she did not even lift her eyes and the calm of her face changed not at all.

A little later Jason started back over to the mines. From the corner of the yard he saw the path he used to follow when he was digging for his big seam of coal. He passed his trysting-place with Mavis on top of the spur, walled in now, as then, with laurel and rhododendron. Again he felt the same pang of sympathy when he saw her own cabin on the other side, tenanted now by negro miners. Together their feet had beat every road, foot-path, trail, the rocky bed of every little creek that interlaced in the great green cup of the hills about him. So that all that day he walked with memories and Mavis Hawn; all that day it was good to think that his mother's home was hers, that he would find her there when his day's work was done, and that she would be lonesome no more. And it was a comfort when he went down the spur before sunset to see her in the porch, to get her smile of welcome that for all her calm sense of power seemed shy, to see her moving around the house, helping his mother in the kitchen, and, after the old way, waiting on him at the table. Jason slept in the loft of his childhood that night, and again he pulled out the old bow and arrow, bandling them gently and looking at them long. From his bed he could look through the same little window out on the night. The trees were full-leafed and as still as though sculptured from the hill of broken shadows and flecks of moonlight that had paled on their way through thin mists just rising. High from the tree- trunks came the high vibrant whir of toads, the calls of katydids were echoing through forest aisles, and from the ground crickets chirped modestly upward. The peace and freshness and wildness of it all! Ah, God, it was good to be home again!

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The Heart Of The Hills - Chapter 45 The Heart Of The Hills - Chapter 45

The Heart Of The Hills - Chapter 45
CHAPTER XLVNext day Jason carried over to Mavis and his mother the news of the death of Colonel Pendleton, and while Mavis was shocked she asked no question about Gray. The next day a letter arrived from Gray saying he would not come back to the hills--and again Mavis was silent. A week later Jason was made assistant superintendent in Gray's place by the president of Morton Sanders' coal company, and this Jason knew was Gray's doing. He had refused to accept the stock Gray had offered him, and Gray was thus doing his best for him in another way. Moreover,

The Heart Of The Hills - Chapter 43 The Heart Of The Hills - Chapter 43

The Heart Of The Hills - Chapter 43
CHAPTER XLIIICommencement day was over, Jason Hawn had made his last speech in college, and his theme was "Kentucky." In all seriousness and innocence he had lashed the commonwealth for lawlessness from mountain-top to river-brim, and his own hills he had flayed mercilessly. In all seriousness and innocence, when he was packing his bag three hours later in "Heaven," he placed his big pistol on top of his clothes so that when the lid was raised, the butt of it would be within an inch of his right hand. On his way home he might meet little Aaron on the train,