"Ye men who would learn to fly, take the humming bird for instructor; and be taught that the most powerful flight is not given to breadth of wing but to swiftness of motion or vibration; and in watching Sir Knight poised above a flower you may solve the mystery of a suspended flight.
"Finally we fix upon the place to build the nest, on a limb overhanging the eddying pool of a mountain torrent, just above the foam and spray of a waterfall.
"Equally careful search is made for material. The foundation is made of moss plastered into a mass and saddled on a limb. Then it is lined with white vegetable lint or down.
"I now lead a more sedate life as becomes one assuming the responsibilities of rearing a family; and, a believer in a small and well-groomed family, lay but two snow-white eggs.
"While I am busy on the nest, Sir Knight pugnaciously guards bride and home and, having much leisure, becomes an exterior decorator of the nest, dressing it in a becoming coat of gray lichens.
"A small hawk lights in the treetop; he is scarcely settled before our guard makes swift and vicious charge at his head and eyes with needle-like beak. The hawk in trepidation soars away, pursued for many a yard, too slow to strike back effectively.
"When the little fellows are old enough to make trips alone to the flowery feeding grounds I fly to the edge of the forest and there, tempted to feed from the cone-shaped flowers of a pendant vine, become enmeshed in the web of a great tropical spider.
"The spider stealthily approaches, watching a chance to spring when I have grown even more helpless from futile struggle. There is a whir of wing, a dart of rainbow light, a hole torn in the net. The spider is tossed from his footing and falls wounded to earth. There is another welcome whir of wings and I, torn loose, half flutter, half fly to a nearby limb. Sir Knight has rescued his lady love!
"It was then I awoke and found you standing beside me with those flowers in your hand."
* * * * *
John did not think it necessary to tell the girl what she had done before he aroused her. This knowledge, with the dream, was to him an uncanny thing. The girl's experience he felt was in some weird way a call from a misty and long-forgotten past. The dream but emphasized comparisons he himself had made. He had even told his mother the girl reminded him of a humming bird. This conception, with the dream, blotted out all thought of the consummation of a slowly growing love. Though he tried to conceal this feeling, the girl in a subtle way perceived it. They returned to the library, and the Neals shortly after returned home.
That night the girl was depressed and could not sleep. She found herself repeating: "Oh, why did I tell John that dream! He did not like it; I wonder why."
The long-distance call was a request from Mr. Rogers to come to Pittsburgh. He left the next morning on the early train, without seeing Dorothy, and was detained ten days. When he returned she had gone home. He wrote an almost formal letter explaining his sudden departure and expressing regret that upon his return he had not found her in Harlan. She answered, acknowledging the receipt of his letter and expressing the hope that when he came to Louisville he would call upon her.
As a business proposition, the trip to Pittsburgh had been a complete success. The company had contracted to purchase some valuable mining property in West Virginia and had sent for John to make a careful re-examination of the title and check up the abstract furnished by the vendor. This work required more than a week and when completed the company found it so satisfactory they paid him a bonus of $250.00 above his expenses and salary and informed him of a raise of his salary on the first of the month, when his first year would be completed, to two thousand dollars. This, with his practice, assured an income of four thousand dollars a year.
MARY AND JOHN PROGRESS.
The experiences of Mary on her trip East to Wellesley and the first few months of college life were such as to try her courage and earnestness of purpose. Her traveling experience, until the family moved to Madison County, had been limited to trips to Pineville, Middlesboro and Harlan. Since moving, she had been to Richmond, Winchester and Lexington.
A week or so before she went East, she and her mother had gone to Lexington to purchase her clothing. Her father had given her one hundred and fifty dollars for the purpose, to which she had added fifty dollars of her own money.
Before she bought anything she insisted on sitting an hour in the hotel parlor and then walking about the street for the purpose of noting the costumes of girls her own age. She had gone to church at Paint Lick and, sitting near the pew of the Clays, had seen Bradley Clay and his sister, Rosamond, come in. Watching the girl, she had thought what a becoming costume she wore. It was a dark blue dress, very simply, though carefully, made. With this limited experience, when she began purchasing, going to a neatly dressed clerk and asking that she show her some costumes, and such as she herself fancied; her purchases, when completed and fitted, were appropriate and becoming and almost transformed the girl.
When the time came to leave home, her resolution was near the breaking point. She feared her father might be convicted, though she had faith in Mr. Cornwall, which had been strengthened by his predicted reversal of her father's case. She had never been separated any length of time from her mother, except when at school in Pineville. Then she had lived with her mother's sister, her aunt Mandy, and went home every Saturday. Now, for many months, she would be away from all kindred and acquaintances, depending for sympathy and companionship on yet unmade friends.
Her father said: "Don't go, little girl, if you don't feel like it," while she cried in his arms.
"Father, I shall go; be good to mother, and when Mr. Cornwall gets you off never touch a gun."
Her mother accompanied her to Winchester and there, with face stained by tears and the coal dust of the local train, bade her good-bye. Mary bought her ticket by way of New York, on the C. & O. At the advice of the agent, who was a kindly man and had grown daughters of his own, she purchased a Pullman ticket and was told when she arrived in New York to go straight to the traveler's aid matron in the station.
When the train pulled up, her cheap, little trunk was put in the baggage car and she, with a paper shoe box of lunch under her arm and a cheap handbag in the other hand, boarded the train and took a seat in the day coach, where she would have remained, except that the agent, seeing her talking through the window with her mother, pointed her out to the conductor as a Pullman passenger. After the train started, the conductor piloted her to her section and, as he went out, whispered to the car conductor to shoo off the drummers.
In New York the station matron put her aboard her train and sent a telegram to the college, asking that some one meet her, which Mary signed and paid for.
She was unable to qualify for the freshman course, but was permitted to enter on probation. Her natural ability and application were such that in a few months she had qualified herself to continue in the class and at the end of the spring term was ranked among the most proficient of the freshmen.
Upon her arrival she had been given a room with a little snob, the only child of a newly rich couple who lived in a suburb of Boston. Her roommate did everything she could to make Mary as miserable as possible. She made fun of her clothes, ridiculed her local idioms and expressions and laughed at her inexperience. She would not study and tried to keep Mary from doing so. She rolled on Mary's bed, keeping her own tidy; appropriated three-fourths of the closet and most of the drawers of the dresser and washstand, leaving for Mary the bottom drawer of each and closet hooks in the dark corner. She reported to the matron that Mary was not neat and quarrelled all the time. But the matron, wise to the girls of her day and generation, had her suspicions, and by a careful and unsuspected surveillance soon became cognizant of true conditions.
Mary was changed to share the room of a girl from Austin, Miss Litton, whose disposition was more like her own. From then on conditions became comfortable.
After Dorothy returned home, Cornwall's friends said he was hard hit, because he turned his back on social diversions. He merely reverted to his habits preceding her visit. For a while he was invited everywhere, but declined; finally they discontinued sending invitations and left him to his hermithood.
His sole recreation was the improvement of the old place, at which he spent all the time not given up to his law business. That grew steadily, so that in 1900, six years after he had established himself in Harlan, he had an income in excess of $5,000.00. This, with his mother's annuity of $1,800.00, gave them more than three thousand dollars a year in excess of their actual needs.
The leisure of the fall and winter of 1895 was spent in cleaning up, trimming the trees, transplanting shrubs and vines, including border beds of hydrangeas which were planted around the walls of the house and out-buildings. When spring came and the garden had been plowed, rolled and planted, the grounds were in perfect condition.
The yard and garden, so artistically laid off and perfectly kept, emphasized the unattractive appearance of the bare, red-brick house until John and his mother felt forced to alter its rectangular barrenness. Since paying for the house they had saved something over $2,000.00 for that purpose and felt justified in commencing its alteration.
Duffield, the company engineer, was possessed of considerable artistic taste and an amateur architect. It so happened a friend of his from Pittsburgh, an architect, whose specialty was suburban homes, was spending his summer vacation camping and fishing on the Poor Fork. Duffield, who was with him, finally prevailed upon John to join the party. He rode up to the camp on Friday afternoon and remained until the following Monday.
The visiting architect, the afternoon of his arrival in Harlan, passed the Cornwall home with Duffield. He commented upon the artistic arrangement of the grounds; the contrast between them and the house; and the opportunity the house offered for easy and artistic improvement.
John, not knowing the visitor was an architect, or that he had even seen his home, but seeking Duffield's approval of the contemplated modifications, disclosed his plans and asked for suggestions.
The architect, recalling the house, began making suggestions, in the main approving John's plans. After they had discussed them for some time, the visitor stated that when the fishing camp broke up he would take a look and help out a bit. It was then John learned that Mr. Bradford was an architect and regarded as an authority on suburban homes.
"Unless you stay up here and fish a few days with us, Bradford and I will not help you change the sober face and severe interior of your old, red-brick house. A home should suggest the character of its occupant, and your character is growing more in concord with your house each day; your affinitive expressions in a year or two will be perfect."
"I must go to town Monday morning; it is county court day, but will return Wednesday evening and remain until I have persuaded Mr. Bradford to make his home with me while I pump him dry of plans for the improvement of the old house."
And so Cornwall had the cheerful and gratuitous assistance of an architect in remodeling his home, who otherwise would have charged more than he contemplated spending for improvement. When they returned to town the three, with Mrs. Cornwall, spent several pleasant evenings discussing and drawing up plans for remodeling it, Mr. Bradford and Duffield becoming almost as interested as John and his mother.
When the time came for Mr. Bradford to return home, John and his mother exacted a promise from him to return the following summer and pass his vacation as their guest.
By the first of November the improvements were completed at a cost of $3,300.00, making the total cost of the place nearly $10,000.00. It was conceded to be the most attractive and modern home in the county, though not the most expensive. Mr. Neal liked it so well that he offered John $15,000.00, which was declined.
The little mountain city in growth kept pace with John's improved conditions. There were many new brick business buildings. The character and appearance of the stores were modified from a general to a specialized stock. When you bought a saw you might have to go round the corner to buy a sack of flour or a pair of shoes. The names of the old merchants, such as Nolen and Ward and Middleton, disappeared and the new signs and advertisements read: "Shoes greatly reduced because of our fire last week; going at half price. Leo Cohen." "We cut everything half in two to make room for our new stock. Herman Mann." "Linens at less than cost. Jacob Straus."
A new bank and trust company were opened and the old bank, The Harlan National, doubled its capital stock. The ice and lighting plants were enlarged, and the city bought a site up the river, built a dam, installed pumping engines and constructed water mains into the city. An opera house was built, which, though its walls never re-echoed to the high soprano notes of a prima donna; had trembled to their foundations at the invectives of E. T. Franks; had shed sections of blistered plaster at the sad wailings of Gus Wilson, and had been moved by the matchless eloquence of A. O. Stanley when telling the tale of his setter dog.
The company's demands upon Cornwall's time had grown so that he asked for and received an increase of salary of $50.00 per month to be used in the employment of a stenographer. The young woman in the main office who had formerly done his work was now scarcely able to answer the company mail.
It being impossible to procure a competent unemployed local stenographer, he inserted an advertisement in a Louisville paper. The answers he received were varied and in some instances amusing. One or two sent their pictures. Several desired in advance to know the age of their prospective employer and whether he was blonde or brunette. One even asked that he send his picture, as she did not care to travel two hundred miles from home to face a fright.
He finally employed a little Jewess, whose reply dwelt particularly on the question of compensation; demanded Saturday afternoon off; and if the place did not prove satisfactory, even after several months' trial, that her return expenses to Louisville were to be paid. Her name was Rachael Rothchilds. She stated she was a sister of Mrs. Mann, whose husband had bought out the Middleton general store. She remained with him seven years until she married, and he never once regretted the selection.
When she came into the office the following Monday, Duffield was present; they were going over a survey together. After taking a good look at her he said: "Well, she'll not waste much time in flirtations. This office will give her the go-by." She weighed about ninety pounds, was twenty years old and had a sallow, scabby complexion. She evidently thought that her face called for an apology, and stated that she had just recovered from a spell of sickness, and her father thought the mountain air might do her good.
Her hair, however, was of remarkably fine texture and color, of a light chestnut, giving forth flashes of gold. She was of slight though good figure, was quick in catching a suggestion and endowed with considerable business sagacity.
As her father had expected, the mountain air did her good. Within three months her complexion cleared up and she took on several pounds in weight; color came into her lips and a snappy expression into her formerly dull eyes. Duffield, who had been so severe in his criticism of her appearance, began to take notice and to extend invitations to go driving, or to lunch, or for a walk, but she invariably answered that she could only go out with Jewish boys.
She must have been with Cornwall a year before he realized how she had improved in appearance. When sitting one day where the light and angle brought out the perfect profile of her features and the golden sheen of her hair, he first became aware that she was a beautiful woman, with as clear-cut and classic a face as the best cameo might exhibit.
She was so smilingly cheerful and sweet-tempered that the boys of the office gave her the name of "Cricket," and so competent that suggestions and directions were superfluous in the performance of her efficient work.
Slowly there crept into Cornwall's heart a tender feeling for the girl and when, several months later, Leo Cohen, the shoe merchant, began calling upon her and playing the devoted, and he saw how she responded to his attentions, even when walking with him, taking side steps to look up into his face with eyes of love and happiness, Cornwall suffered many jealous pangs.
In a way that women have, not known to men, she found out that Cornwall was a devoted and consistent admirer. While she was fond of him in a companionable way, the shoe merchant was too strongly entrenched in her heart to leave the least room for another.
The houses of Kentucky mountaineers are usually built upon a water course. Every native family living on Cumberland River, or its forks or tributaries, had a flock of geese which are kept to supply feathers for their feather beds. The geese are rarely eaten. It is bad enough to be plucked twice a year; the sensation is not pleasant and nights in the mountains are cool.
Even sadder days were in store for the geese after the establishment of the Jewish colony in Harlan; the average life of a goose is fifty years and this for the Harlan County flock was considerably reduced. The colony found no trouble in purchasing plucked geese at bargain prices for food and grease.
Leo began his regular Sunday call on Rachael Rothchilds at 11 a. m. and continued it without break or intermission until 11 o'clock every Sunday night.
Rachael, during each of three winters, expended a month's salary buying geese to feed Leo and he grew fat and slick, the sly, old fox, on hot-baked goose for dinner and cold roast goose for supper. Every time he sneezed she pressed upon him the gift of a jar of goose grease with which to anoint his chest, and he blackened and sold it to his customers for shoe oil.
Leo was slow and careful in making proposals and suggesting a wedding day. For three long, suspensive years he called from two to three times weekly upon the girl and each Sunday feasted upon the fat of Gooseland, which is at the headwaters of the Cumberland River—all the while making the girl believe that she was to be his wife, though she was made to understand that the date was far ahead in the dim vistal future when his financial position justified marrying one who bore the name of that celebrated family of bankers. The day of the girl's contemplated happiness might have been moved forward with satisfactory celerity had not Leo inquired of his friend Simon, of Louisville, as to old man Rothchild's bank account, and learned that he had nothing that sounded like real money but his name, whereas to Leo a rich Jewess by any other name would have seemed sweeter.
After the courtship had continued three years, the shoe merchant in preparing for a fire sale left too many tracks in the snow. The fire marshal reported that the fire was caused by an Israelite in the basement and Leo, after many worries and the loss of his insurance, sought other goose pastures.
In the early summer Cornwall wrote Howard Bradford, reminding him of his promise to spend his summer vacation with them, and received an answer saying he looked forward with pleasure to the time of keeping it, which would be about the 20th of July.
The first week in July, John, passing the Neal home, was surprised to see Dorothy Durrett standing on the porch. She had arrived the day before. He was glad to learn that she expected to spend the summer with her aunt. They had a pleasant chat, for the most part, about their parties of the summer of two years before. Dorothy was now nearly twenty-one and in appearance even more attractive than when he had first known her. He told her of Howard Bradford's contemplated visit, and they began formulating plans for the summer.
"You have not seen our house since it was remodeled according to Mr. Bradford's suggestion, nor have you seen my mother; come with me now. I am thinking of giving a dance in honor of our guest. Three rooms of the lower floor are so arranged that they can be made into one, giving us plenty of room to dance. Will you please help me out?"
"Certainly I will, John. You used to say we were meant to help each other. Let me get a hat and tell Aunt Anna where I am going."
"How the place is improved! The grounds were always delightful; now the whole is toned and in concord; a very delightful picture. There is your mother at the door waiting for her John. The woman who takes you off her hands gets an armload of responsibility. A man always compares his wife with his mother and you, John, will expect your wife to love and mother you as she has done."
"Oh, Dorothy! I am glad to see you! I did not know you in the start, or John, either. I do not see so well and I did not expect to see John with a woman. When did you come? You are even more attractive than when you were here two years ago. John has acted like an old man since then. I wish some nice girl would marry him."
"Oh, John and I understand each other; we could be the best of friends, but never lovers. I will have to find him a good wife, else in his inexperience, with his head buried in a book, he may make a mistake. I know the very girl—Rosamond Clay, of Madison County; she visited me last winter. I shall have my aunt ask her to visit us while I am with her. Then I shall assign John to her and depend on Mr. Bradford or Mr. Duffield to entertain me. Watch what a match-maker I am, Mrs. Cornwall. Let us go through the house and then into the garden. My aunt insisted that I hurry back. What a delightful place for your dance! We can decorate with hydrangeas and golden glow. John, the garden looks just the same as it did that Sunday afternoon two years ago when we sat on this same bench under the arbor of ripening grapes and I told you my dream of the humming birds. For a while I regretted having done so, knowing that you saw too deeply into my heart and was not wholly satisfied with the vision. What you saw was, in a way, the soul of Dorothy. Now I am glad I told it. We would never have been real happy, John, though we were beginning to think so. I hope before I marry the one I love will tell me even his dreams; they sometimes lift the curtain to the inner self. I must go now."
"Mother, I am walking home with Dorothy and shall come right back."
"Don't say that, John; no sentiment; that day is gone, perhaps for our mutual happiness. You are my friend, John Cornwall, and always will be. Come over tomorrow evening and tell me about yourself and your friends. When Mr. Bradford comes I imagine I will like him. Good-night, John."
The following evening John called on Dorothy. He found Duffield and Helen Creech there. Duffield, rising when he came in, resumed his seat beside Dorothy, while he sat on the opposite side of the porch talking with Miss Creech. He remained an hour, walking home with her. As they were leaving, Dorothy said: "Aunt Anna wrote to Miss Clay today. Good-night, Mr. Cornwall. Come again whenever you can, Helen."
DOROTHY AND BRADFORD—ROSAMOND AND CORNWALL.
Howard Bradford arrived on the 21st of July. As he and Cornwall drove through the gateway, he had an excellent view of the Cornwall home. He declared the house charming as modified and complimented John on his efforts as a landscape gardener.
They spent the afternoon loafing around home, except an hour when John went to the office, while Bradford slept, fanned by a breeze that blew down the river and sang in softest murmurs through the windows of his corner room.
When Cornwall returned, Duffield came with him and remained for dinner and until a late hour. Bradford, when he learned that they each owned a saddle horse and that those for hire were saddle-galled and the free-goers nearly ridden to death, handed $250.00 to Duffield, who had said that he knew of a horse for sale at that price and worth the money, saying: "Though I shall be here but two weeks, the horse can be sent to Pittsburgh, or sold again if I do not like him."
They had intended camping on Poor Fork at the camp site of the preceding summer; but as each would have his own horse, and the fishing was better just at that time five miles from town than near the head of the river, they concluded to remain at home, spending the mornings fishing and the afternoons boating, swimming or mountain-climbing. At least this was the agreed programme until Duffield should complete surveying the Lockard grant in Leslie County, when his vacation commenced.
The next morning Cornwall sent Dorothy a note, telling her of his guest's arrival and asking permission to bring him around that evening. She answered: "You are to come at six and dine with us, remaining for the evening. I have a surprise for you, John. It is unnecessary to answer unless you find my invitation impossible. Dorothy."
At six o'clock the young men, looking fresh and comfortable in their white flannels walked over to the Neal home. Mrs. Neal and Dorothy were sitting on the porch and after greetings all found seats. Rosamond Clay, Dorothy's guest, came out and joined them.
She was a tall, athletic, strikingly handsome brunette, just eighteen and, as the boys subsequently found out, a better shot, swimmer and mountain-climber than either of them. In disposition and appearance she seemed the very antithesis of Dorothy, though Dorothy enjoyed an open-air life, and her wiry, little body was capable of withstanding great physical strain.
"Mr. Bradford, this is Miss Clay, and, John, this is Rosamond. She had just gotten in when I received your note and is the surprise I mentioned. She is to remain a month and I am counting on you helping to entertain her."
"May my surprises always be as agreeable. With Miss Clay's permission I shall do all in my power to make her visit a pleasant one. If she is fond of out-door sports, riding, fishing, boating and mountain-climbing, which we have a right to assume since she has come to the mountains, we can promise her a good time."
"That is just what I adore. I have brought my own saddle, fishing tackle and swimming suit. I wanted to bring a canoe, but Bradford said I could easily procure a dug out and refused to express anything but the paddles. I even thought of sending my horse, but father said that would scare Mrs. Neal to death, as she was expecting a visitor and had not offered to adopt me. I understand you have a fine saddle mare; I shall ride her and you can get a mule."
"You have mentioned just the things she loves. She constantly wants to be doing something or going somewhere. She rides, drives, swims, shoots, climbs cliffs and trees and is a good, all-round sportsman. I'm not sure, but I think she keeps several fox hounds. Her brother, Bradley, says they belong to him to save her reputation. As soon as she wrote she would visit me, I ordered some hob-nailed shoes and a bathing-suit from Louisville and sent to the drug store for a bottle of iodine, some surgeon's tape and several sheets of adhesive plaster. If you gentlemen can work in a dance in the evening after each mountain climb, her happiness is assured. Here comes father. Mr. Bradford, you are to sit beside me at dinner and you, John, with Rosamond."
After dinner Duffield and Miss Creech and Mr. Cornett and Miss Hall came in; and the time until eleven o'clock was spent in chit-chat on the porch or, when Mrs. Neal could be prevailed upon to play the piano, in dancing in the drawing-room.
Before the party broke up Bradford and Cornwall made an engagement to take Dorothy and Rosamond up the river fishing at 6:30 the next morning.
As the boys went home they stopped by the livery stable to hire three saddle horses. Finding this impossible, they engaged a light jersey wagon, which Cornwall and the girls were to use, while Bradford was to ride Cornwall's horse.
They had an early breakfast and left on time. When near the ford of Poor Fork, Bradley discovered that he had left his tackle at the stable. He rode back for it while the others, crossing the river, drove up the fork.
When they came to the creek, where it was planned they should seine their minnows, they waited some time for Bradford; then Cornwall tried to seine, but the stream was too deep and the seine too large for individual effort.
This Rosamond, the young and enticing Diana of the party, noticed and, gathering up the cotton lap-robe, a coffee sack and some twine, which she found in the box under the wagon seat, retired to a clump of elder bushes and in a few minutes came forth draped in the lap-robe and moccasined with coffee sacking.
Cornwall was a slave to her most fantastic command from the moment she stepped forth from her screen of elder bushes, topped with their white, pancake flowers, and, taking hold of one end of the seine, jerked and floundered him around while he attempted to retain possession of the other, dragging him barefoot over sharp pebbles and, when on a smooth ledge of rock, sat him down in water to his shoulders. He rejoiced at Bradford's absence and that no other man had seen her loveliness, half-hidden, half-revealed.
They soon had a bucket of minnows and as they drove up the river were overtaken by Bradford, who, mistaking the road, had ridden quite a distance down the main stream.
Miss Clay, Dorothy and Bradford had no trouble in landing a nice catch, but Cornwall's eyes were never on his float, which the fish converted into a submarine when baited and after the minnow had been stolen reposedly floated upon the surface, the resting-place of a big, lace-winged snake doctor.
"Mr. Cornwall, why don't you rebait your hook and try to catch something? What was the good of my going to all that trouble in helping you seine if you will not use the minnows? You look everywhere, except at your float; first at me, then over the treetops as though you wished I were at home or in Heaven."
"That's right, I look first at you. The minnows have helped you land the fish. I feel like a crappie on a dusty turnpike. You have caught more than one variety today! Let's go home. And I am not going to drive those sleepy, old plow horses unless you sit on the front seat." And so they rode home together.
The next afternoon they planned to climb the mountain, but when Bradford and Cornwall came to the house, he said to Rosamond: "Let us drive up the river to Helen Creech's; Bradford and Dorothy can find something else to do," to which she assented.
Driving slowly along the narrow, shaded road that bordered the river bank, he held her hand and called her "dear," and told her the love story that Kentucky boys tell the girls with whom they go; and she parried and checked him as she had several times before been called upon to do with other boys.
Thus each day, either paddling on the river or riding horseback, or fishing, or bathing, or mountain-climbing, the four were together or paired off; he with Rosamond and Bradford with Dorothy; and each repeatedly declared that they had never before had so glorious a holiday.
Cornwall, at the end of two weeks, made up his mind to propose; and Rosamond, expecting it, had decided she would accept—if he would consent to defer the marriage a couple of years.
Strange that Cornwall and Bradford should each have decided to propose at the same time and place; that is, the night of his dance and on the bench in the garden. Bradford, because he expected to leave the following Monday, his stay already having consumed more than the intended two weeks; Cornwall, thinking that he would first like to show Rosamond through his home.
While they were decorating the house, in which Mrs. Neal, Dorothy and Rosamond assisted Mrs. Cornwall, he showed her over the house and grounds and, pointing out the bench in the arbor, said: "Tonight, Rosamond, at eleven I shall bring you out here and ask you something. Watch the time and save that dance for me. If you do not, I may take it for your answer."
When the hour came he claimed the dance. After dancing a minute or two, they passed into the dining-room and out the side door into the moonlit garden.
As they drew near the arbor they heard Bradley say: "This was my dream, Dorothy." Cornwall, thinking of Dorothy's dream of two years before, and remembering what she had recently said to him about dreams, was slightly startled. He let go Rosamond's arm and unconsciously turned towards the house. Rosamond, surprised and conscious of some subtle change in his mood, suggested that they return to the ballroom.
Bradford, without giving Dorothy time for thought, brought her into the garden and told his dream of the night before.
"Last night I came directly home after I left you and went to my room. Feeling I could not sleep, I sat in the window, looking out upon the moonlit mountain side and the silent river, the moon seeming to make a path of silver on the water to the base of the little trail up the mountain where yesterday I told you that our friendship, at least to me, grew stronger with each succeeding day. Then I said the simple prayer my mother had taught me when a little boy and went to bed and to sleep.
"I dreamed that mother let go of my hand and I went forth alone, a little boy in knee trousers, walking along a narrow path that followed down the bank of a tiny rivulet. As I walked along I grew older, my clothing changed to suit my age, the path began to broaden and the stream to deepen, and I passed along through the school days and other experiences of my boyhood, still following the broadening path and deepening stream and passing one by one the experiences I have known. The start was at sunrise and the day perhaps a third gone when, I, a grown man, came out into a valley and to a river over which was a fragile bridge. I saw that thousands of trails like my own converged at its approach and spread out fan-like from the other end. As I stood and looked, the trails around faded out, except the one down which I had come and another. A short way above the bridge a stream like the one I had followed flowed into the river and along its bank was a path much like the one I had followed. As I looked a young woman came round the turn and saw the river and the bridge and that I stood waiting at its approach. She hesitated for a moment and then came slowly on. When she drew near I saw it was you and, going up, took your hand and together, hand in hand, we crossed the bridge. Looking ahead, I saw that the many trails at the farther end had disappeared except the small one up the mountainside; this we took.
"The trail gradually broadened into a bright, smooth way and the ascent, though unbroken, was not difficult. All the time I held you by the hand. One day your step grew slower and, looking for the cause, I noticed that, though I still held your left hand, a small boy walked on the right and held the other. I felt some small, warm thing take hold of my left hand with a tender, warm pressure and, looking down to see the cause, saw it was another Dorothy, a miniature of your own sweet self; and would have taken her up on my arm, but you, wiser than I in such things, said: 'She must walk the trail—all you can do is to go more slowly and lead her by the hand.' After a time I noticed that these two found no trouble in keeping up with us and, before we reached the top, they occasionally restrained themselves to keep pace with us. When at the top, the boy, unknowingly, let go your hand. He followed a trail to the right along the comb of the ridge, which you and I could not follow, though we tried. The girl with a cry of joy released my hand and took that of a young man who seemed waiting for her, and they journeyed on to the left. I, taking both your hands in mine because our idle hands seemed lonely, looked into your face, as I had not done since first we met by the river. Your face had grown more thoughtful and more calm, more patient and more kind; the lovelight in your eyes spoke of the soul. Your hair, though white, was more beautiful than when pure gold. I knew your unspoken thoughts; and, with the lingering kiss of yesterday and a smile for the morrow, we turned our faces and journeyed downward into the vale of years. Dorothy, shall we make the dream come true or must I go back to the bridge and hunt another trail?"
"If you are quite sure you wish it above all else the world can give, we will live the dream."
* * * * *
Cornwall spent the entire day after the dance at his office. He found a note from Mary in his mail. She was at her home in Madison County. He wondered how she might look after three years at Wellesley. She mentioned that one of her neighbors was visiting in Harlan, Miss Clay, whose brother, Bradley Clay, had called the evening before, and stated his sister had written she was having a perfectly glorious time.
The thought occurred to him that if Mary were near enough, he would go to her. Rosamond I love when near her; I think of Mary every day—yet I have not seen her for three long years.
When Bradford, entering the room and all smiles, said: "Come, let's go to the Neals,'" he answered: "No, I think I shall rest tonight; I am moody and prefer solitude."
"Well, I'll go for Duffield. Pleasant dreams, John, as happy as mine shall be; so long!"
John went into the library and read the first few pages of Machiavelli's "History of Florence," about a king of the Zepidi and his daughter, Rosamond, and he slept, and as he slept he dreamed.
It seemed to him that his Rosamond, perhaps ten year older, came into the room. She was clothed in vivid draperies and wore a circlet of old gold upon her brow, heavy bracelets upon her upper arm and a chain-like girdle of gold around her waist, from which hung a jeweled dagger.
As he looked she spoke:
"I rarely see father, except in armor. Day after day mother and her maids work at bandages and wound dressings. The halls of the castle are littered with arms and the courtyard and plain surrounding the walls is the assembly ground of armed horsemen preparing to go and returning from distant camps. It has been thus since Narses drove our kinsmen home to Pannonia, after several years' quiet occupancy of northern Italy.
"Now, Alboin, King of Lombardy, instigated by Narses and aided by the Avars, following after our expelled kinsmen, has invaded our country even to the plains of the Danube. We can see from the castle walls not only our own, but his invading host as they make preparation for final battle to determine the sovereignty of Pannonia.
"With such a drama pending, I am not content to be a bandage and salve-maker in the women's quarter. Who would, if brought up to ride and fence and wrestle with brothers and cousins, when they had all gone to war? I desired to go, but was not permitted. Now with Maria, my maid, I have found a good observation point in the tower and watch the opposing forces maneuvering for position in advance of hostilities.
"Maria, I make out father's standard on the hillside near the grove; and just across the small stream, not more than five hundred yards away, that of Alboin, King of Lombardy. See! they charge each other; you may hear the din and shouting even at this distance.
"Maria asks: 'Mistress Rosamond, no matter what happens, will you care for and keep me with you?'
"Do not be afraid; father will win. Our men heretofore have fought under other leaders not so brave, while he massed this force for the supreme struggle. * * * They seem to have fought for hours, neither side gives an inch. * * * See! the stream which runs through the field of battle and flows by the castle is red with blood. * * * I fear 'tis a sad day for Pannonia. Oh! our army gives on the north wing, * * * but father holds firm in his position * * * Oh! the north wing has broken and flees toward the castle! All seems lost! Father will be surrounded! See how our men and the enemy are intermingled in their flight. They will reach the castle gates together; it will be impossible to let them in. Maria, run to the gatemen and tell them to close the gates and let no one in till father comes. That cowardly mass if they entered, would be no protection but surrender the castle. But wait; we will go together to the gates.
"Gatemen! Friend and foe come together. Raise the draw! Close the gates! Let the first to flee be the first to die, and at the castle gates! Let them make an unwilling stand in defense of their own lives and so defend the gates! They tell me a coward fights hard when cornered. Dare disobey at your peril! It is the command of your king.
"The princess is right; to let this fleeing mob enter is but to surrender the castle. Raise the draw! Drop the portcullis!
"In a few minutes there was a struggling mass in front of the gates. Our men, finding them closed and no way to escape their assailants, fought with the desperation of cornered beasts.
"The standard of Pannonia still floated where first the conflict began, showing that my father, the king, made desperate resistance against overwhelming odds. * * * But even as I looked I saw it swept down under a driving charge and knew he was of the dead and the battle lost.
"In a short while the fighting ceased around the gates. Alboin, King of Lombardy, riding up. I ordered the bridge lowered and the gates raised, when he rode unopposed into the court yard.
"Those were fierce, wild days. A feast in celebration of the victory and of Alboin's coronation as King of Pannonia was held in the castle and a week later I was forcibly made wife of the victorious king. I was told my father's skull had been shaped into a drinking cup and used by Alboin at the feast of victory.
"He was comely and commanding; demanding and receiving homage and instant obedience from all. In time I might have loved him, except for the drinking cup.
"So Alboin reigned King of Pannonia and I his queen for more than two years.
"Then Narses, who commanded the forces of Justinian in all Italy until the Emperor's death, was deposed by his son and successor, Justin, who, at the instance of his Queen, had Longinus appointed in Narses' place. In revenge he invited my husband to invade Italy.
"Alboin consented; and was so successful in the undertaking as to gain possession of all Italy from the northern boundary to the Tiber. He established his capital at Pavia and his household and court were moved from Pannonia to that city.
"A great feast was held at Verona to celebrate his victories and the establishment of the new kingdom. I sat across the table from him. The ferocious and heartless man ordered the drinking cup made from the skull of my father and filling it with red wine to the brim, passed it to me, saying: 'It is but fitting in celebration of our great victories that you should drink with your father.' I tossed the contents into his face, threw the cup from the window into the Adige and fled from the banquet hall.
"From that night my sole purpose in life was to avenge the insult. I determined that he should die by my procurement or at my hand.
"The maid, Maria, who in devotion would have given her life for mine, had a lover, Helmichis, shield-bearer of Alboin. I plotted with her that he should become the instrument of my vengeance and so had her bring him to my chamber. There I soon discovered he was not sufficiently in love with the maid to assume any risk on her account or at her solicitation.
"Willing to take any risk or make any promise to accomplish the assassination, I finally agreed to marry him, if he would kill my husband. This he did.
"The Lombards were so exasperated over their King's death we dared not remain in Pavia or even in Lombardy; but, seizing the royal treasure and leaving Maria behind, we fled to Ravenna, where Longinus, Narses' successor, had his capitol. There we were royally entertained and most kindly treated.
"It was not long before Helmichis grew disgustingly wearisome to me. He quarreled much about the possession and division of the royal treasure, which was very great, but never once did he see within the chests. He was anything but a model husband, delighting in low company, flirting with every maid and peasant girl and by nature fiercer and much less refined than Alboin, whom I had found endurable, except when drunk.
"Longinus, on the other hand, was a refined and courtly man, having been brought up in the palace of Justinian. I admired him much. He was wise, brave, ambitious and most prepossessing in appearance. He had told me several times that had I come to his court a widow, his disappointment would have been great had I not remained as his Queen.
"About this time the Emperor Justin died and was succeeded by Tiberius. He was so occupied by his wars with the Parthians as to neglect his Italian possessions, leaving them masterless or to be ruled by Longinus as the real, though not the nominal, King.
"I had become the confidential adviser of Longinus; and in discussing matters of state and the condition of the empire, we concluded it was a most opportune time to take possession of northern Italy to the Tiber; and were convinced that by pooling our resources this could be accomplished, were it not for Helmichis. The first step in the consummation of our plan was to be rid of him.
"Each day he took a hot bath. He always came forth thirsty and demanded that I prepare a cool, acid drink and hand him. Longinus, knowing this, gave me a strong poison to put in his drink, and when next I mixed and served it I used the poison.
"Helmichis drank more than half when, noticing the flavor, his suspicion was aroused, and, knowing that he knew, I smiled. He snatched up his short sword, caught me by the hair and, handing me the goblet, shouted: 'Drink or lose your head.'
"Preferring to die from the poison than be a disfigured, headless corpse, I drank what remained, and died within five minutes of my despised husband."
John awoke with a start, considerably disquieted by his dream.
The next evening, with Bradford, he called at the Neals'. Dorothy met them at the door and they found seats. Rosamond, tall, graceful and queenly, came into the room. To John it seemed a shadow followed after her; the wraith of the widow of Alboin, co-conspirator with Helmichis and Longinus.
It was impossible to live down this unpleasant impression for a day or two. While doing so, Rosamond took offense at his coolness and announced her intention of returning home the following Monday. Dorothy expressed disappointment at this and Saturday afternoon stated that she, too, would leave on Monday. Bradford left on the same train. The three traveled together as far as Stanford, where Rosamond left them; then Bradford and Dorothy rode on to Louisville.
There Dorothy was met by her mother. Mr. Bradford was introduced and drove with them to the Durrett home. He remained in Louisville several days and called at the Durrett home every afternoon, remaining for dinner and until a late hour.
The morning of his departure, glancing through the personals—a suspicious act, as it was rather unusual for him—he read of his departure after a brief visit, and at the head of the column that Mr. and Mrs. Harrison Durrett announced the engagement of their daughter, Dorothy, to Mr. Howard Bradford, of Pittsburgh.
THE SAYLOR FAMILY.
While Cornwall prospered financially and established an enviable reputation as a lawyer, fortune did not overlook the Saylor family.
Old man Saylor and his wife were thrifty souls. Though their farm, with its fine colonial dwelling, was one of the best in their end of the county, they had never been given the opportunity to entertain extensively or had occasion to maintain a stylish and expensive establishment.
Mary's four years at Wellesley had cost about four thousand five hundred dollars. This outlay old man Saylor would never have consented to, looking upon it as an absolute waste of good money, except that he gave Mary as much credit for his acquittal of the Spencer killing as he did John. He had the money to spare, having each year cleared more than that sum on his tobacco and speculations in the mule market.
He was a great judge of mules. Bradley Clay said when a mule colt was foaled Saylor could look at it and tell within five pounds of its weight as a four-year-old.
Caleb had been sent to Lexington to school. He remained during the fall term and until after the spring races. Then he returned home, having been expelled because every day he had attended the races and bet on the horses. It was even said that he had procured a jockey to throw a stake race. He announced that he had finally quit school, which he argued was a waste of time, as he intended to practice law and enter politics.
He was the owner of a fine saddle mare and a gelding that could trot a mile on the smooth turnpike to a light side-bar buggy in 2:45. Either riding the one or driving the other he attended all the farm auctions; nor did he ever miss a county court day or jury trial at either Richmond or Lancaster. At these trials he first sat back of the railing; then, making friends with the sheriff, the clerk and the younger lawyers, he sat within the reservation for members of the bar. The sheriff and clerk had each offered to appoint him a deputy, but these honors he declined with thanks. When he was twenty-one he was more than six feet tall, weighed a hundred and seventy and, as the sheriff said, was the hustlingest politician in the county. He had been voting for several years.
Though his folks were Republicans, and had been since the Civil War, he deemed it a political mistake to vote that ticket in a Democratic county. At an early age he began voting and working in the Democratic primaries and soon acquired considerable influence with farm laborers and tenant-farmers, the men who usually do the voting in country primaries.
One summer morning (he was not yet twenty-four) he told his father he was going to put one over on old man Chenault and beat him for the Legislature. Colonel Chenault was a native of the county; he had been a lieutenant in the Confederate army, was a rich farmer and, it was generally supposed, would have no opposition for re-election.
Caleb began riding over the county, telling the tenant-farmers and laborers that they should send from a farming community a representative who was a laboring man like themselves, instead of a land-grabbing "Colonel," a man who thought himself better than anybody else. "Has Colonel Chenault or his wife or his daughters ever been in your house? You see them often at the house on the hill. Did he ever speak to or shake hands with you? Yes, when he was a candidate for the Legislature; then he wipes his hand on the seat of his pants."
"That's right; I never thought about that; but who'll we run?"
"Oh, I ain't got no education much; I've got to harvest this crop."
"Well, we'll find somebody, even if I have to run to beat the damn aristocrat. You keep still about it, but be sure and come to the convention at the court house next Saturday at two o'clock."
"Oh, I'll do that; so long."
* * * * *
Colonel Chenault, with about twenty of his friends, all of whom were good judges of horses, whiskey and tobacco, and who could tell a pair of deuces from a full hand, came rather late to the convention, not having the least intimation of opposition.
They were surprised to find the court room filled with farmers and men of the hills, from the eastern side of the county. This gathering the Colonel appropriated as evidence of his popularity and as a spontaneous endorsement for his renomination. Obsessed with this thought, he strutted up the aisle like a pouter pigeon.
The temporary chairman of the meeting, Chesley Chilton, who expected to be nominated for sheriff the following year, and who saw that a surprise was about to be sprung on the Colonel, called Caleb to one side and asked the cause of the gathering.
"Oh, you stand by us and we'll help you out next year. I know what you want. Chenault is a dead one and don't know it. We are after his scalp. Here he comes with his collection of fossils; time's up; call the convention to order."
Caleb moved that the temporary be made the permanent chairman; this was done without opposition. Then a secretary and three tellers were chosen—all friends of Caleb's. One of Colonel Chenault's friends complained that all this was a waste of time, as the Colonel had no opposition.
Then the chairman called for nominations and Colonel Chenault was pompously nominated by Colonel Shackelford, who closed his remarks by moving that nominations close and the Colonel be unanimously declared the nominee.
At this suggestion there was a stentorian clamour of noes. In the midst of the uproar Webster James, a candidate for county attorney, who had the promise of Caleb's support and an understanding with him, rose and was recognized by the chairman.
"Mr. Chairman: I have always felt that office should come unsought; should seek the man. I know not how many appreciate the special fitness of the young man whose name I am about to present to the democracy of this county, suggesting his nomination from this the Seventy-second Legislative District. I know he will be surprised when he hears his name, but this great gathering is in his honor and he must regard the call as one to duty and service, which, though it comes unsought, can not be disregarded. The office seeks the man and it is tendered by his fellow-citizens. I have the honor to nominate Hon. Caleb Saylor, of the Paint Lick precinct."
At the mention of Saylor's name and the resounding cheers which greeted it, Colonel Chenault nearly collapsed with surprise and indignation.
He turned to Colonel Shackelford, saying: "I am beaten and by that mountain upstart. I would not let him in my front door."
The chairman directed that those favoring Colonel Chenault should gather on the right side of the center aisle, while those favoring Hon. Caleb Saylor should gather on the left, so they might be counted without confusion by the tellers.
This was quickly done. Though it was midsummer, the Chenault men gathered about the court-house stove.
In ten minutes the vote was counted and reported by the tellers. The secretary announced the vote:
Colonel Hamilton Chenault 23 Hon. Caleb Saylor 217
Whereupon the Colonel marched out, followed by a mere squad, and, there being no other business, the convention adjourned.
At the following November election Caleb Saylor beat his Republican opponent by more than three hundred majority.
On the first day of January, several days before the Legislature was to convene, he came to Frankfort, desiring to be on hand for all party caucuses. He soon became a familiar figure around the hotel lobby and the corridors of the Capitol.
He made it a point to meet all State officials and every prominent politician, Democrat or Republican, who visited the Capitol. When the lower house was not in session and the Court of Appeals was, he attended its sessions and sat within the space reserved for attorneys. He and Judge Singer, whose judicial ear was attuned to the hum of the gubernatorial bee, became great friends. As a member of the Judiciary Committee he supported a pending bill allowing to each judge of the court a stenographer, and helped through the committee other bills that Judge Singer and the several members of the court favored.
Having procured the necessary certificate of good character, he made application for admission to the bar and was given an examination by Judges Grinder, Singer and Dobson.
Among certain questions propounded by the court and all of which he answered—he always had an answer ready—were the following:
"Mr. Saylor, define the difference between real and personal property."
"If I had a hundred dollars in my pocket, that would be real property; if I had your note for a hundred, that would be personal property."
"When, in a criminal trial, is the defendant declared to have been placed in jeopardy?"
"When he acts like a jeopard."
"Do you deem yourself qualified to render valuable and efficient assistance to a client or to appear as amicus curiae?"
"Yes, sir; especially in the trial of a jury case; but he's had more experience that I have; he's now assistant city attorney of Louisville."
"Where do you get that idea?"
"Judge Dobson, that is what this court says in the case of Ewald Iron Company against The Commonwealth, 140 Ky. 692: 'Clayton B. Blakey and Amicus Curiae, attorneys for the City of Louisville.'"
"What law books have you read?"
"I have read Bryce's American Commonwealth, Cooley's Constitutional Limitations and a work on Constables. I have been too busy getting practical ideas about courts and juries to read much law; with me the main thing is to know the judge and the jury."
His examiners issued a license. Judge Dobson at first demurred, but finally consented when his colleagues explained what efficient service Saylor had rendered as a member of the Judiciary Committee, saying: "I ought not to do it, but his neighbors will soon find out what he knows and leave him alone; he will not have opportunity for much harm."
After the adjournment of the Legislature Caleb moved to Richmond and formed a partnership with Webster Jones, who was a graduate of an eastern law school. Jones prepared their pleadings and attended to all equity practice, while Caleb solicited business and tried their jury cases. The firm obtained its share of the business and Caleb met with more than average success in the handling of his jury cases.
His vanity was tremendous. No one had ever succeeded in satisfying its voracious appetite; it would swallow anything and hungrily plead for more. His father, having started early and knowing what pleased his boy, was his most satisfactory feeder. It was Caleb's practice to drive out to the farm on Saturday afternoon and remain until Monday morning, boasting of his successes in business and politics and listening with satisfaction to his father's unstinted praise.
One Sunday afternoon, about a year after he began practicing law, his father being ill and there being no one about the house who cared to spend the afternoon talking with him about what he had done; he decided to drive over to Colonel Hamilton Clay's and call upon his daughter Rosamond.
He had tried it once or twice before. She had sent word she was not at home, then made it a point as he drove away to show herself at a door or window, so he might know that another call was not expected. But this species of reception did not deter Caleb or penetrate the armor of his conceit. It was impossible for him to believe that Miss Clay, or any other woman, might not find his attentions desirable.
As he drove up before the old Clay homestead, which had been the birthplace of a General, a Governor and an Ambassador, Rosamond, reading near an upper window, saw Mose, the stable man, take his horse. She thought: "Here comes that conceited boor, Caleb Saylor, to see me again; I shall send word I am not at home; * * * but it is dreadfully dull this afternoon, no one else seems to be coming, this book is the worst ever, he might prove entertaining; I'm twenty-nine and can't be so particular; I'll go down and see how the clown talks."
"Well, Mr. Saylor, it has been quite a time since you called. Take this seat," and Rosamond sat down on the other end of a large hair-cloth sofa, where her Aunt Margaret had sat and entertained her Sunday afternoon visitors more than thirty years before.
She was the same queenly, thrilling Rosamond that John Cornwall, ten years before, had loved for a few days. Her beauty was certainly none the less; her maturer form, more charming, was becomingly exhibited in a closely fitting dark blue gown.
After a few commonplace remarks, Caleb Saylor made himself the sole topic of his own conversation. This was the subject nearest his heart and one upon which he elaborated with minuteness and eloquence. As she looked at and listened to him the thought at first unwelcome, entered her mind that here was a man she might have, and without effort, for a husband. And as she listened to his tale of "I done this" and "I done that" and "I will do this and that" she thought how she, a woman of tact and judgment and refinement, might take into her hands this thing and, in a sense, make it plastic clay, and use its elements of life, and power, and energy, and unscrupulousness, and nerve, and egotism, and mountain courage, and almost make a man like her great grandfather.
The experiment was a fitting opportunity for an ambitious and courageous woman who, though she might not find full measure of happiness and love which only comes with respect, yet would meet with adventure, would dare fate and hazard chance with fickle fortune. The prospect to her mind was more pleasing than to be the wife of a gentleman farmer and grow fat and matronly—the other chance just then offered.
For the first time she appraised his virtues and was pleased with his appearance. She wondered if he had sense enough to keep still when silence was golden, and could be taught at opportune times to shift the shower of his eloquent eulogy of himself to an ambitious friend.
Caleb and Rosamond passed two hours of the afternoon together in the parlor of the old mansion undisturbed in their communion by the portraits of her patrician ancestors; the living members of her family walked softly, even when they passed the closed door. When she received they dared not intrude, though they had never felt more curious or been more surprised than at this protracted visit.
As Caleb rose to leave, he took her hand and said: "I have shorely enjoyed my call and am coming again next Sunday afternoon."
"Do, Mr. Saylor! I shall keep the date for you. It is not becoming in neighbors to be so unsociable or see so little of each other," and slowly, after a lingering pressure, she withdrew her hand.
The next Sunday afternoon Caleb called again. He came at two and when he left the spring sun had kissed the fields goodnight. To Rosamond's great surprise, he proposed.
"We are scarcely acquainted, Mr. Saylor. Though we have been neighbors for years, you have denied me the pleasure of your visits. You know a girl can not call upon a man. How do you know that you love me as you should? I have never thought about you as a husband, though I find your company most agreeable. You must give me another week before you press for an answer."
"I will press you now and let you say 'yes' again next week."
And they laughed and the bride-to-be blushed, and with downcast, dreamy eyes, slowly yielding to the increasing pressure of his strong, young arm, unexpectedly found her head nestling in contentment and happiness upon his broad shoulder.
That night she disturbed the peace and quiet of the family circle by announcing that she was to be a June bride and Mr. Saylor was to be the groom.
Her mother rose and kissed her and in tears resumed her seat without speaking. Her father grew red of face and swore that the upstart should never again put foot upon the place, at which she informed him that his remarks were uncalled for and his energy wasted. Her brother told her she was lowering herself and disgracing the family name, but, he supposed, taking advantage of what she must consider a last opportunity. To which she replied: "I did not expect such remarks from you, Bradley, as three years ago you asked Mary Saylor to be Mrs. Bradley Clay, an honor she declined with thanks." Nothing more was said in opposition to the marriage.
During April and May, Rosamond and her mother were busy preparing for the wedding, which occurred on the 5th of June and was attended by the aristocracy of four counties. There were a few guests from even a greater distance. Judge Singer and his wife were present, as was a former Governor; Dorothy and her husband came on from Pittsburgh, Mrs. Neal from Harlan, and Mary from Wellesley; but John Cornwall was not invited.
Two years after his marriage Caleb was made a member of the Democratic State Central Committee and a member of the Campaign Committee from his district in a close race for Governor. Taking the advice of his wife, which was becoming a habit, he made a liberal contribution, sending it directly to the candidate, and rendered very efficient and valuable service. He made two very good speeches, which were written by his wife, who also drilled him in preparation for their delivery. She long since had spread the information throughout the State that his mountain idioms and ungrammatical lapses were affectations to catch the uneducated voter.
The Governor, shortly after qualification, appointed Saylor as a Colonel on his staff, and he and his wife were entertained at the mansion. His wife was named as among those to receive at a reception given by the Governor to the newly inducted State officials and the General Assembly.
About this time a very wealthy man who owned a farm near Lexington died. The State became involved in litigation, seeking to recover inheritance and ad valorem taxes from his estate, claiming he had died a resident of Kentucky. Similar litigation was pending in the State of New York.
Upon the recommendation of the Attorney General that special counsel was needed, the Governor appointed Colonel Caleb Saylor and ex-Chief Justice Dobson to represent the State. Without a great deal of trouble they collected eight hundred thousand dollars and were paid a fee of fifty thousand dollars for their services, thirty-five thousand of which by contract went to Colonel Saylor as senior counsel.
He and his wife had spent a pleasant week in New York while he made his investigation and compromised the State's claim. The day before they returned home they visited Tiffany's. Mrs. Saylor's love and respect for her husband were in no sense lessened when he invested three thousand dollars in two rings, which, though they were flawless gems, could scarcely be said to adorn his wife's tapering fingers and patrician hands.
His friends noticed that now, instead of singing his own praises, he could never say too much in laudation of his wife; and she clung to his arm and whispered sweet speeches into his ear as a bride of eighteen might do.
It was noticeable that the Colonel had grown to be adept at showering compliments upon his superiors and always had pretty speeches for their wives. On county court day he went out to the cattle market and shook hands all round with the farmers.
* * * * *
In the spring of 1899, about seven years before Colonel Saylor's marriage, Cornwall received an invitation to the commencement exercises of Wellesley and noticed that Mary was named as salutatorian of her class.
He sent her a set of "The American Poets," gilt-edged in white leather bindings, and received a note of thanks and an invitation to visit the Saylor home any time he found it convenient during the summer.
Mary came home the first of June and for a while enjoyed undisturbed the quiet of the old farmhouse. The neighbors, including Bradley and Rosamond Clay, were just beginning to call upon her and ask her to their entertainments when she received and accepted an offer as assistant teacher of mathematics at Wellesley. The first of September she returned to the college, stopping for several days in Washington and New York. The following summer she spent traveling with several girl graduates and the teacher of French in England, France and Italy. She sent Cornwall a remarkably fine photograph of herself taken at Rome.
This he framed and kept upon his dresser. His mother, seeing and admiring the picture, asked;—"Who is the young lady, John?"
"I do not know, but as soon as I can discover her name and domicile, I propose to propose."
"It certainly is time; you are nearly thirty. I hope to see you married before I go, John."
"Mother, I know no argument against that ancient and hallowed institution, and would not advise a friend against taking such a step, even at the present and ever-increasing high cost of living. I do not use such language. Since I first put on long trousers I have hunted high and low for a wife, and with a persistence equalling that of a young penniless widow, but without success. Just when it seems that within a few days I shall be the happy recipient of the congratulations of my friends who in their hearts feel certain I am about to fall victim to the wiles of a designing female person, cruel fate steps in and with peremptory halting gesture and commanding voice has always said;—thus far, but no father. You will doubtless live to see me at fifty struggle through a dance with the daughter of my old sweetheart while the son of another breaks us; and I, broken of wind and mopping my bald head, shall retire to a corner and rest while conversing with the hostess' grandmother. Seriously, mother, I intend to marry just as soon as a girl as good and sweet as you are will have me. I am beginning to think it will be Mary, or my stenographer. I have not seen Mary for more than five years; it is nearly a year since I heard from her. In some ways the photograph of that beautiful, fashionably-gowned girl reminds me of her. Do you suppose that's Mary? But she surely is not in Rome!—How do you like this, mother?" And John, whanging an accompaniment on the piano, sang this Arabian song:
"My daughter, 'tis time that thou wert wed; Ten summers already are over thy head; I must find you a husband, if under the sun, The conscript catcher has left us one.
"Dear mother, ONE husband will never do: I have so much love that I must have two; And I'll find for each, as you shall see, More love than both can bring to me.
"One husband shall carry a lance so bright; He shall roam the desert for spoil at night; And when morning shines on the tall palm tree, He shall find sweet welcome home with me.
"The other a sailor bold shall be: He shall fish all day in the deep blue sea; And when evening brings his hour of rest, He shall find repose on this faithful breast.
"There's no chance my child, of a double match, For men are scarce and hard to catch; So I fear you must make one husband do, And try to love him as well as two.
"Goodbye, I must go to the office; kiss me, mother!"
* * * * *
"Well, good morning, Miss Rachael, junior partner; how is the firm business coming on? What must we take up first? You have been with me more than five years and it's always a smile and a pleasant word. You are twenty-five and not married. Some one of your race and faith is very slow finding out what a fine wife you would make. My mother was after me today, saying; 'John, you must get married; you are nearly thirty;' and I said; 'mother, if I do, I guess it will be Mary, or Rachael.' You don't know Mary, and I doubt if I would if I met her; I have not seen her for five years."
"Mr. Cornwall, there's lots of mail to answer and in an hour you are to take depositions in the Asher case."
"Rachael you are too practical. Why don't you let me love you. I am convinced that with just a little encouragement I would propose. It's time we both were married. We have never had a quarrel in all these years. I am worth twenty-five thousand and have a good business. You can have everything you want. Why not, Rachael?"
"That's just why I am practical; to keep my head and my place; I like the work.—Yes, you can hold my hand if you wish and kiss me just once. But if you ever try it again, I must return to Louisville. Were you of my race and faith, you would not have to ask me twice. I hope when I do marry the man will be much like you; but he must be a Jew. We are a scattered people, without flag or country; yet a proud nation, seeking no alliances with other people. Your religion, founded on my faith, holds mine in both reverence and abhorrence. We have different sacred and fast days. I must eat other foods. We follow different customs in rearing our children. If I should marry you I must become a stranger to my own people and will be despised by yours. I will bring neither riches nor position and, like Ruth of old, must turn my back upon my own people. Thy people are not my people. For this time I will call you John, and again say it cannot be. I am crying; Oh! please! please let's work!"
MARY AND JOHN ARE MARRIED.
About two weeks after Caleb Saylor and Rosamond were married, John Cornwall left Harlan on a business trip for Boston and Pittsburgh. As he had never gone east over the C. & O., he concluded to travel that route, boarding the train at Winchester.
His intention was to travel direct to Boston, where he was to make settlement with the executors of the estate of Giusto Poggi, who had died some months before, a resident of that city. He had left $20,000.00 to Cornwall's client, Luigi Poggi, a miner living on Straight Creek near the old Saylor home.
After this settlement was made it was his intention to return home by way of Pittsburgh, stopping there to attend a stockholders' meeting of the Pittsburgh Coal & Coke Company, of which corporation he had been a director for more than three years.
As he took his seat in number 9 he saw that quite an attractive-looking young woman occupied the opposite section. Her face seemed quite familiar, in that she might have sat for the photograph which occupied so conspicuous a place on his bedroom dresser. He watched her, hoping that she might glance up from the book which claimed her whole attention.
On the front seat of her section, from beneath a summer wrap thrown over the back, the end of a small leather handbag protruded and on it he read; "M. E. S. Wellesley, Mass."
He felt a thrill of surprise and pleasure. Taking a second and very careful look at the lady, he was convinced that he had found the original of the photograph and discovered the identity of the attractive stranger, though it was more than twelve years since he had last seen her.
How Mary had changed! Her beauty was none the less than when he had first seen her, a rosy-cheeked mountain girl, who looked at every strange thing in wide-eyed, timid wonder; who blushed when she was spoken to; and finally, when her timidity wore away, talked with him in her crude mountain idioms and localisms. He felt sure that when this cultured creature, who radiated poise and refinement, should feel inclined to speak after a most formal introduction, her voice would be soft and low, her words precise and her accent give certain identity of Bostonian culture and residence.
So the mountain lawyer, too snubbed by even this thought to rise and speak, sat in confusion across the aisle and made timid inventory of the charm and grace of his traveling companion.
She looked up from her book at a screw head in the panel about two feet above John's head, with a fixed thoughtful glance that saw nothing else; and John blushed. Her dreamy brown eyes spoke of a shackled or slumbering soul, voluntarily enduring the isolation of cultured spinsterhood, in search for the higher life. He felt the cold, bony hand of death reach out and crush his dream of love. After another hour of observation, the sun came through the window and shed its bright warm rays upon her hair and he revived a bit when he discovered there the warmth and color and glow of the southland. She put down her book and walked down the aisle; then he saw that her figure, though tall and slender, possessed a freedom of movement, healthy vigor and curves that told of a clean and vigorous life from early girlhood. When she returned to her seat he studied her face with care and knew it as the one he had seen in his dreams for years and each time had yearned to kiss.
At one of the stops a knight of the road, whose business was selling women's ready-to-wear garments, came into the car and walked down the aisle past several vacant sections to number 10, where, pausing, he said complacently;
"Miss, may I occupy the forward seat of your compartment, until the conductor assigns me one?"
"Certainly, the space is unoccupied."
"You probably find it tiresome traveling alone?"
"I usually find it more comfortable without company."
"Are you traveling far?"
This question the lady seemed not to hear, but rang the bell for the porter.
"Porter, please tell the conductor I wish to speak to him."
"Conductor, this gentleman has expressed a wish to be assigned a seat; he probably desires one in another section."
"There's plenty of room; I told him as he came in to occupy number 4. 'Porter, put this gentleman's baggage in number 4.' This is number 10; yours is the third section forward."
Another half hour passed. John opening his handbag, took out some papers; then, reversing the end, moved it so the bag protruded slightly from under the arm-rest into the aisle. He took the forward seat and read a while; then, resting his head against the window frame, pretended to sleep.
The young lady finished her book. She looked out her window until the view was blotted out by the nearness of the hillside; then indolently turned and glanced out the opposite window at the swiftly running little river and a narrow valley hemmed about by timbered hills. Then her glance rested for a moment on the protruding handbag, and she read; "John Cornwall, Harlan, Ky."
There was an exclamation of surprise; a slight blush of anticipation; a look of joy; and she glanced up into the face of the sleeper, whose dreams were evidently pleasant as he slightly smiled. She saw a man past thirty, of strong and thoughtful face, whose hair was slightly thinning over the temples. The dozen years since she last had seen him added much to an expressive face; his shoulders had broadened and he weighed perhaps a pound or more for each year;—but it was the same John, her John,—and she sat and looked into his face and two tears stole down her cheeks. He stirred, and she turned her face towards her window.
The twilight shadows deepened into night. A waiter came through calling; "Last call for supper." She arose and walking down the aisle towards the diner, heard her neighbor move and come following after. When she reached the vestibule she dropped her handkerchief and as she stooped, he picked it up. Then the little comedy of surprise and recognition was acted;—"Oh, John!" "Oh, Mary!"
As they passed into the diner a wise old waiter, who knew he made no mistake when he spoke of a handsome woman to a man as his wife, though she might not be, said; "Will this table suit your wife, Sar?" Then John found that Mary could blush like the mountain girl of old.
They ate slowly, talking of the many things that had happened since last they parted on Straight Creek at the foot of the Salt Trace trail, and until the waiter told them; "Boss, this car is drapped at the next station and they's blowin' fer her now." Then John paid the check and gave him a dollar. As the waiter closed the door after them he said to another; "There goes a sure nuff Southern gentleman."
They took seats in Mary's section and continued their talk several hours; about the marriage of Caleb and Rosamond; Mary's school days; her trip abroad and her experiences of five years as a teacher; and John of his business, of his mother, of Bradford and Dorothy and Rosamond; he even told how near he came to proposing to Rosamond.
"That explains why you were not invited to the wedding. I quarreled with Caleb and Rosamond when I learned you had not been. Caleb said he supposed you were; while Rosamond made the excuse that she intended to but overlooked you in the rush. She calls her husband John Calhoun and Caleb has promised to change the sign on his office door and to order new business stationery, which is to be embossed with the name, John Calhoun Saylor."
The conductor passing through the car glanced at them several times as did the drummer who occupied the seat forward. They met in the smoking compartment and the drummer handed the conductor a cigar.
"Well, Mr. Drummer, she seems to like the other fellow; at least she hasn't sent for me. He must have nerve to tackle her after he saw her squelch you. But you can never tell what a woman is going to do."
"If you had kept off a bit I would be sitting right there now instead of that young fellow. They seem to chatter away like old friends."
The next morning John and Mary ate breakfast together in Washington and that afternoon journeyed on to New York. When they went into the diner for supper and the waiter referred to Mary as John's wife, she did not blush, but touched his arm and looked at him with a smile of confidence and love. As he returned the glance a close observer would have said; "They are newly married."
* * * * *
The next morning Mrs. Cornwall received a telegram: "Have followed your advice. Married Mary last night. Her picture is on my dresser. You can wire us at The McAlpin. John."
Mary and John also telegraphed her mother announcing the marriage and stating that they would stop over ten days on their way home to Harlan.
* * * * *
John accompanied Mary to Wellesley, where she finally succeeded in explaining why it was necessary that she should be permitted to resign as teacher of mathematics.
The girls at first sight of John were quite hysterical, exclaiming: "What a handsome man Miss Saylor's brother is!" When they learned his identity and that he came to take her away, he was condemned as a horrid old baldheaded man. This opinion was mildly modified at the farewell dinner the school gave to Miss Saylor, where John at his best gave the young ladies an informal talk on,—"School Days, School Teachers and Matrimony." More than half of the girls were so impressed by the sense and sentiment of his talk that for a day or two they thought seriously of becoming teachers and waiting until they were thirty, when they would marry a nice-looking and prosperous young lawyer like Miss Saylor's John.
John rushed through his business engagement in Boston; then they went down to Atlantic City for several days.
He had written Bradford and Mr. Rogers telling of his marriage. They had each telegraphed congratulations and insisted that John wire the time of their arrival in Pittsburgh. This he did.
They were met at the station by Bradford and Dorothy and Mr. Rogers and his wife. Both families insisted that they should be their guests while in the city. A compromise was effected by going home with Bradford and Dorothy and accepting an invitation to be the guests of honor Thursday evening at the Rogers home, where they were to remain for the night after a reception and dinner, leaving the next day for Kentucky over the Pennsylvania.
Saturday noon they arrived at Paint Lick and were met at the station by Mr. and Mrs. Saylor, Sr. in the family carriage drawn by two sleek black mules; and Mr. and Mrs. Saylor, Jr. in their new Pierce Arrow.
Rosamond had consented to come over, having forgiven John, because she thought he had in a spirit of disappointment at her marriage, rushed to Wellesley and married Mary.
The more than a dozen years that had gone by since John had seen Mr. and Mrs. Saylor had been kind to them. Mr. Saylor had the look and ways of a prosperous farmer. He had grown stout and seemed to enjoy the good things of life. His was a jovial, easy-going disposition. He considered that fortune had been kind, now that Mary was married to Mr. Cornwall and Caleb, his boy, was a big man and married to one of the Clays. He owned a farm of more than four hundred acres and each year had saved some money, so that now he was considered one of the rich farmers of the county.
He stood in dread and fear of only one person in the world and that was Caleb's wife. The lady, disputing the family record which he had made when she was a little tot, rechristened his Caleb, John Calhoun Saylor, and he dared not protest. It was several months before his hard head adjusted itself to the new name. He reached perfection by gradation; from Caleb to John Caleb and finally mastered John Calhoun.
Upon receipt of the telegram from New York, opening the big family Bible to make an entry of Mary's marriage in the family record, he was surprised to find that the entry of birth of Caleb Saylor made by him in 1885 had been changed by Mrs. Saylor, Jr., to John Calhoun Saylor, 1883 which only left his son about two years his wife's junior. Subsequently he discovered that his son and Rosamond were each born in 1883 when he examined a carefully mutilated record in the Clay Bible.
John liked Mrs. Saylor. She was a most unselfish soul, giving every thought of mind and every movement of her body to service for her husband and children.
She was a slender, large-framed woman, with snow-white hair and a wrinkled, tired, though kindly face. The face was a happier one than when he first knew her;—then it seemed all joy had departed from it. She never whimpered or found fault or raised her voice in anger. She was a woman of few words and few tears. Her hands, while not those of a lady, were those of a capable, hard-working mother and had a touch of gentle softness for the cheek of those she loved. Only when Mary and Susie were both home did she find time to rest.
Caleb was even more an egotist than when a boy. When he did not talk about himself his other subject of discussion was the charms of his wife, yet John, and others thrown with him, discovered he was not a fool. Under the tutelage of his wife he was gradually acquiring another faculty or subject of conversation, and that was the power unstintedly to praise any vain person who might prove of service to him. He had improved in speech and knowledge, but by contact. He scarcely ever looked into a book, except to memorize a passage. He always carried a pocket dictionary and when an unfamiliar word was used in his presence, surreptitiously consulted it and, familiarizing himself with the meaning of the word, used it the first time occasion offered. If he once heard a thing he seemed never to forget it, nor a man's name or face. If his wife wrote out a speech and read it to him a couple of times it was his for delivery in practically her words. He struck John as a man devoid of conscience, yet, at first blush, of pleasant manner and appearance.