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Under the Tonto Rim

Country of origin: USA USA
Available texts by the same author here Dokument

Chapter 2

   The road down into this forest-land contrasted markedly with the ascent on the other side of the ridge; it was no longer steep and dusty; the soil was a sandy loam; the trees that shaded it were larger and more spreading. Birds, rabbits, and squirrels made their presence known.
   Some ferns and mosses appeared on the edge of the woods, and pine trees were interspersed among the cedars. Mr. Jenks was nothing if not loquacious, and he varied his talk with snatches of natural history, bits of botany, and considerable forestry. It appeared he had once been a forest ranger in one of the Northern states. Lucy had a natural thirst for knowledge, something that her situation in life had tended to develop.
   They descended to a level and followed the road through pine thickets above which an occasional monarch of the forest reared itself commandingly. At length they abruptly drove out of the woods into the first clearing. Lucy's thought was--how hideous! It was a slash in the forest, a denuded square, with dead trees standing in the brown fields, a rickety fence of crooked poles surrounding a squat log cabin, with open door and dark window suggestive of vacancy.
   "Family named Sprall once lived here," said Mr. Jenks. "Improvident sort of man. He has a large family, more or less addicted to white mule. They moved back in some canyon under the Rim."
   "I've heard of this white mule," replied. Lucy.
   "Of course it's a drink, and I gather that it kicks like a mule. But just what is it?"
   "Just plain moonshine whisky without colour. It looks like alcohol. It is alcohol. I once took a taste. Fire and brimstone! I nearly choked to death...The people of this district make it to some extent. They raise a kind of cane from which they distil the liquor. But I'm bound to say that seldom indeed do I see a drunken man."
   Beyond this deserted clearing the road tunnelled into a denser forest where the pungent odour of pine thickly pervaded the atmosphere. The ground was a smooth mat of pine needles, only sparsely grown over with underbrush. Live-oak trees appeared, at first stunted, but gradually developing into rugged members of the forest. Noon found the travellers halted beside the first brook, a tiny trickling rill of clear water. Lucy was grateful for a cool drink. Mr. Jenks had been thoughtful to provide a lunch, of which they partook while sitting in the shade of an oak.
   Here Lucy had opportunity to observe a small reddish-brown squirrel that was the sauciest little animal she had ever beheld. It occupied a branch above her and barked in no uncertain notes its displeasure and curiosity. Presently its chatter attracted a beautiful crested blue jay that flew close and uttered high-pitched notes, wild and fierce in their intensity.
   "I hope the people here are not as antagonistic as this squirrel and bird," observed Lucy.
   "A few of them are--like the Spralls, for instance," replied. Mr. Jenks. "Well, we still have far to go. I call it five miles from here to Johnson's. You'll say it's five leagues."
   If Lucy had not been eager and anxious to establish her position securely here in the region she would have revelled in the winding shady road through the green-canopied, sun-flecked forest. Along here it had a considerable sameness, that added to the distance. Lucy indeed found the so-called five miles almost interminable. About two o'clock Mr. Jenks drove into another clearing, somewhat less hideous than the first one, but still a crude, ragged, unpastoral kind of farm. A wide green field dotted by cows and horses was the only redeeming feature. Log corrals and pole fences led the eye to a large log cabin surrounded by shacks old and mouldy roofed, manifestly the first buildings erected.
   "This is the Johnson place, where I live," said Mr. Jenks, with a smile. "That framework of boards, covered by a tent, is my humble domicile. Do you know, Miss Watson, I have actually grown to love sleeping out there?...This is Sunday, which means the Johnsons will all be home or all away visiting."
   The school teacher drove through an open gate in the log fence, and past a huge flat barn, dark and odorous of horses, to draw rein at the back of the cabin. "I was wrong. Sam Johnson is home, at least. I don't know the boy with him," said Mr. Jenks as he threw the reins and got down.
   "I'd like to walk a little," rejoined Lucy.
   "You'll probably walk, and climb, and besides ride horseback, before you're through to-day," replied Mr. Jenks, laughing, as he reached for his parcels on the seat.
   "Oh, that'll be fine!" exclaimed Lucy, delighted. And naturally she gazed over at the young men sitting on the rude porch. They might have been two of the boys she had seen in the dining-room at Cedar Ridge.
   "Sam, she's a looker," drawled one of them in a perfectly audible voice.
   The other stood up, disclosing a tall, lithe form clad in blue jeans. He had a shock of tousled chestnut hair and a freckled face that on the moment bore a broad grin.
   "Dog-gone me!" he ejaculated. "Teacher has fetched back a wife."
   Lucy met the teacher's eyes. They were twinkling. She could not restrain a laugh, yet she felt a blush rise to her face.
   "Sam flatters me, Miss Watson," said Mr. Jenks in a low voice. "But that illustrates."
   "They must have this wife business on the brain," retorted Lucy, half nettled.
   The teacher called to the young man, Sam, who approached leisurely, a young giant somewhere over twenty years of age, clean-eyed and smooth-faced.
   "Howdy, teacher!" he drawled, but his light hazel eyes were fixed on Lucy.
   "This is Sam Johnson," spoke up Mr. Jenks, turning to Lucy. "Sam, meet Miss Lucy Watson of Felix. She has come to sojourn awhile with us."
   "Right glad to meet you," said Sam, somewhat shyly.
   "Thank you, Mr. Johnson," replied Lucy.
   "Sam, will you saddle two horses for us? I'm taking Miss Watson up to Denmeade's," interposed Mr. Jenks.
   "Shore will, teacher," rejoined Sam, and moved away with sidelong glance at Lucy.
   "Have you any riding clothes?" inquired Mr. Jenks, as if suddenly reminded of something important.
   "Yes. I was careful not to forget outdoor things," replied Lucy.
   "Good! I'll carry your grips to my tent where you can change. Of course we'll have to leave your baggage here until we interview Denmeade. If all goes well it can be packed up to-night."
   The interior of Mr. Jenks's abode was vastly more prepossessing than the exterior. It was such an attractive little place that Lucy decided she wanted one similar to it, for the summer at least. The furnishings included a comfortable-looking cot, a washstand with mirror above, a table, books, lamp, and pictures. Several skins, notably a long grey furry one she took to have belonged to the lion Mr. Jenks had mentioned, served as rugs for the rude board floor. A picture of a sweet, sad-looking woman occupied a prominent place. Lucy wondered if she was his wife.
   It did not take her many minutes to get into her riding clothes. Fortunately they had seen a service which now appeared likely to serve her in good stead. At normal school Lucy had ridden horseback once a week, and felt that she was not altogether a tenderfoot. Finding her gauntlets, she had the forethought to pack her travelling suit, so that in case she remained at Denmeade's her baggage could be sent for. Then, with a last and not unsatisfied glance at herself in the mirror, she sallied forth from the tent, keen for this next stage of her adventure.
   A glossy, spirited little bay pony stood there saddled and bridled, champing his bit. Another horse, dusty and shaggy, large in build and very bony, was haltered to the hitching rail near by. Mr. Jenks was lacing something on the saddle of the smaller horse. Sam Johnson lounged beside him and the other fellow had approached. He did not appear so tall or so lean as young Johnson.
   Lucy felt uncertain how these backwoodsmen would take her rather trim and natty riding suit, but as she knew she looked well it gave her no great concern. She had made up her mind to win the liking of all these people, if possible.
   "What a pretty pony!" she exclaimed. "Am I to ride him, Mr. Jenks?"
   "Yes--if you can," returned the teacher dubiously as he looked up from his task. "I assure you he is no pony, but a very mettlesome mustang."
   "Aw, teacher, Buster's as gentle as a lamb," protested Sam. Then, indicating his companion by a sweep of his long arm, he said, "Miss Lucy, this here is my cousin, Gerd Claypool."
   Lucy had to give her hand to the brown-faced young man, for he had extended a great paw. She liked his face. It was rich and warm with healthy blood, and expressive of both eagerness and bashfulness. Lucy was not going to forget his remark, "Sam, she's a looker!" and she gazed as demurely as possible into his blue eyes. It took only one glance to convince her that he was of the type Mrs. Lynn had praised so heartily. Lucy also saw that he was quite overcome.
   "Mettlesome mustang?" echoed Lucy, gazing from Mr. Jenks to Sam. "Does that mean anything terrible? I assure you I'm no cowgirl."
   Sam's shrewd eyes sought her boots and then her gauntlets. "Wal, you're shore no stranger to a hoss. Buster isn't a bronc. He's never pitched with a girl yet. Talk to him some an' pat him as if you'd no idea a hoss could be mean."
   Lucy did as she was bidden, successfully hiding her nervousness; and it appeared that Buster did not show any viciousness or fear. He had a keen, dark eye, somewhat fiery, but not at all fierce. As he was a small horse, Lucy mounted him easily, to her satisfaction.
   "How's the length of your stirrups?" asked Mr. Jenks.
   "Just right, I think," replied Lucy, standing up in them.
   "Wal, I reckon they're a little long--I mean short," drawled Sam, approaching.
   Lucy was quick to grasp the guile in this young gentleman of the woods. He was as clear as an inch of crystal water. She grasped just as quickly the fact that she was going to have a good deal of fun with these boys. Sam knew her stirrups were all right; what he wanted was a chance to come close to her while she was in the saddle. It was an old cowboy trick.
   "Thanks, I'm very comfortable," she said, smiling at him.
   Meanwhile Mr. Jenks had mounted and turned his horse toward the road.
   "I never rode this nag," he said. "Come now, Miss Watson."
   "Teacher, look out she doesn't run off from you," called Sam as they started. His voice was full of mirth. "An', Miss Lucy, that's shore a regular hoss you're ridin'."
   Lucy turned in the saddle. "I nearly forgot to thank you, Mr. Johnson. It is good of you to let me ride him."
   She found Buster rather hard to hold in. Before she had followed Mr. Jenks many paces she heard Sam blurt out to his cousin, "Gerd, by golly! it's shore worth a lot to have Edd Denmeade see that girl ridin' my best hoss."
   "Haw! Haw!" roared Gerd, and then made a reply Lucy could not distinguish.
   Presently she caught up with her guide and together they rode out through the corral.
   "Mr. Jenks, did you hear what they said?" inquired Lucy.
   "Indeed I did. They're full of the Old Nick, those boys. I'd like to be in your boots, yet again I wouldn't."
   "What did he mean by saying it was worth a lot to have Edd Denmeade see me riding his horse?"
   "It was a compliment to you, especially his emphasis on the qualifying adjective before girl," replied the teacher, with a chuckle. "You see, Edd Denmeade seems a superior sort of person to most of the boys. Really he is only forceful--a strong, simple, natural character. But the boys don't understand him. And the girls do still less. That is why I suspect some have refused to marry him. Sam now is tickled to have Edd see the very prettiest girl who ever came to Cedar Ridge ride up on his horse. Edd will be wild with jealousy."
   "Goodness! I'm afraid most girl visitors here have been homely," replied Lucy.
   "No, they haven't been, either," declared the teacher. "Now, Miss Watson, we have a mile or so of good sandy road before we cut off on the trails. Let's have a gallop. But be sure you don't do what Sam hinted--run off from me. You might get lost."
   With that he urged his mount from walk to trot and from trot to gallop. Lucy's horse did not need urging; he bolted and shot down the road ahead of Mr. Jenks. Lucy was alarmed at first and found it hard to keep her feet in the stirrups. But soon she caught the swing of the mustang and then a wild impulse prompted her to let him run. How fast he sped on under the pines. His gait made the saddle seem like a rocking-chair. But she hauled hard on Buster, obedient to the resolve she had made--that she would restrain herself in all ways. Pulling him to a swinging canter, Lucy took stock of pleasant sensations. The rush through the pine-scented air was exhilarating; soon the exercise had her blood dancing all over her; low branches of pine tore at her hair; the turns of the winding road through the woods allured with their call of strange new scenes. Rabbits darted ahead of her, across the open, into the pine thickets. At length, some distance ahead she saw where the road forked, and here she brought Buster to a stand. She was tingling, pulsing with heated blood, and felt that she could have cried out with the joy of the moment.
   Mr. Jenks came galloping up to halt beside her. "That was bully," he said. "Miss Watson, you need not be ashamed of your riding...We take the left-hand road. That to the right goes on to my log-cabin school. I wish we had time to see it. A little way farther we strike a trail."
   Soon after that Lucy was riding behind the teacher along a narrow trail that almost at once began to lead downhill. The forest grew denser and the shade became dark and cool. Rocks and ledges cropped out of the ground, and all about her appeared to tend toward a wilder and more rugged nature. The dreamy, drowsy hum which filled Lucy's ears swelled to a roar. It came from far down through the forest. It was running water, and it thrilled Lucy. How sweet and welcome this verdant forest to eyes long used to desert glare! The trail took a decided pitch, so that Lucy had to cling to the pommel of her saddle. It led down and down, into a ravine full of mellow roar, deep, murmuring, mystical, where the great trees shut out the sky.
   Only faint gleams of sunlight filtered down. They came to a rushing brook of amber water, brawling and foaming over rocks, tearing around huge mossy boulders, and gleaming on down a wild defile, gloomy with its shadows.
   The horses stopped to drink and then forded the brook, crashing on the rocks, plunging on to splash the water ahead. Lucy had a touch of that sweet cold water on her face. On the other side the trail turned up this beautiful glen, and followed the brook, winding in and out among boulders that loomed high overhead. Ferns and flowers bordered the trail. Maples and birches grew thickly under the stately pines. Lucy became aware of another kind of tree, the most wonderful she had ever seen, huge-trunked, thick with drooping foliage, and lifting its proud height spear-shaped to the sky. Her guide informed her that this tree was a silver spruce, which name seemed singularly felicitous.
   Again they forded the brook, to Lucy's mingled dismay and delight, and after that so many times that she forgot them and also her fears. The forest became a grand temple. Higher towered the forest patriarchs, two hundred feet and more above her head, mingling their foliage in a lacy canopy, like a green veil against the blue. She caught a glimpse of wild, sleek, grey creatures bounding as on rubber legs into the brush. Deer!
   At last the trail led out of the fragrant glen and zigzagged up a slope, to the dry forest of pines, and on and upward, farther and higher until Lucy felt she had ascended to the top of a mountain. She lost the mellow roar of the brook. The woodland changed its aspect, grew hot with dusty trail and thick with manzanita, above which the yellow-barked pines reached with great gnarled arms. Open places were now frequent. Once Lucy saw a red wall of rock so high above her that she gasped in astonishment. That was the Red Rim Rock, seemingly so closer though yet far away. Lucy became conscious of aches and pains. She shifted from side to side in the saddle, and favoured this foot, then the other. Often she had to urge Buster on to catch up with her guide.
   Suddenly she turned a corner of the brushy trail to ride out into a clearing. Bare brown earth, ghastly dead pines, like spectres, seemed to lift her gaze to where, sky-high, the red wall heaved, bold, strange, terrific, yet glorious with its zigzag face blazing in the hues of sunset, and its black-fringed crown wandering away as if to the ends of the earth.
   Strangely then into her mind flashed a thought of this backwoods boy whose name had been on the lips of everyone she had met. Born under that colossal wall! All his life in this forest and rock solitude! Lucy could not help but wonder what manner of man he was. She resented an involuntary interest. The force of a personality had been thrust upon her. It was feminine intuition that caused her, unconsciously, to fortify herself by roused antagonism.
   Mr. Jenks pointed to a little rough grey house, half log, half stones, that dominated the clearing. "Denmeade built it twenty-three years ago," said the teacher. "He and his wife walked up here, from no one knows where. They had a burro, a cow, a gun, and an axe, and some dogs. They homesteaded this section. He has five girls and four boys, all born in that little one-room hut. Edd is the oldest--he's twenty-two. Last year they built quite a fine log cabin, up in the woods beyond the fields. You can't see it from here."
   The surroundings seemed fitting for such heroic people as these Denmeades.
   "They may be backwoodsmen," declared Lucy, voicing her thought, "but I'd call them pioneers. Which is to say real Americans."
   "Miss Watson, I like that," replied the teacher warmly. "You have gotten the significance. These people are great."
   Over against that impulsive impression Lucy had the crudeness of the scene to oppose it. She was intelligent enough to accept crudeness as a part of pioneer life. It could not be otherwise. But she gazed over the slash cut in the forest, and found it lacking in anything she could admire. The Red Rim Rock and the encircling belt of mighty green were facts of nature. This space of bare ground with its ghastly dead trees, its ruined old hut, its uncouth shacks of boards and poles, its pigs rooting around, its utter lack of what constituted her idea of a farm, somehow did not seem to harmonise with the noble pioneer spirit. Lucy hesitated to make this impression permanent. She did not like the look of this place, but she was broad-minded enough to wait. She hoped she would not find these people lazy, shiftless, dirty, existing in squalid surroundings. Yet she feared that would be exactly what she would find.
   The trail led along a patchwork fence of poles and sticks, here rotting away and there carelessly mended by the throwing of an untrimmed branch of tree. At the corner of the huge field snuggled the rude shacks she had seen from afar, all the worse for nearer view. They rode between these and a round log corral, full of pigs of all sizes, and from which came an unbearable stench. Some of the hogs were stuck in the mud. Lucy saw some tiny baby pigs, almost pink, with funny little curly tails, and sight of these gave her unexpected pleasure. So she experienced two extremes of feeling in passing that point.
   From there the trail led through an uncared-for orchard of peach trees, into a narrow lane cut in the woods. The pines had been left where they had fallen, and lay brown and seared in the tangle of green. This lane was full of stumps.
   "You appreciate why we needed horses to get here, don't you?" inquired Mr. Jenks.
   "Indeed I do!" replied Lucy.
   "Denmeade said he'd never live in a place where wheels could go. I rather sympathise with that spirit, but it is not one of a progressive farmer. I dare say you will have it to combat."
   The lane descended into a ravine, where clear water ran over stones that rang hollow under the hoofs of the horses. Lucy saw cows and calves, a very old sheep, woolly and dirty, and a wicked-looking steer with wide sharp horns. Lucy was glad to get safely past him. They rode up again, into a wider lane, at the end of which showed a long cabin, somewhat obscured by more peach trees. A column of blue smoke curled up against the background of red wall. A fence of split boards surrounded the cabin. A strip of woods on the right separated this lane from the bare field. Lucy could see light through the pine foliage. The brook meandered down a shallow ravine on this side; and on the other a deep gully yawned, so choked with dead trees and green foliage and red rocks, that Lucy could not see the bottom. She heard, however, the fall of water.
   A dog barked. Then rose a chorus of barks and bays, not in the least a friendly welcome. It increased to an uproar. Lucy began to be conscious of qualms when a loud sharp voice rang out. The uproar ceased.
   "Hyar, you onery dawgs, shet up!" the voice continued.
   Then Lucy saw a tall man emerge from the peach trees and come to the gate. His garb was dark, his face also at that distance, and they gave a sinister effect.
   "That's Denmeade," whispered Mr. Jenks. "We're lucky. Now, young lady, use your wits."
   They rode on the few remaining rods, and reaching the rude hitching rail in front of the fence, they halted the horses. Mr. Jenks dismounted and greeted the big man at the gate.
   "Howdy, teacher!" he replied in a deep pleasant drawl.
   "Fine, thank you, Denmeade," returned Mr. Jenks as he extended his hand over the fence. "I've brought a visitor to see you. This is Miss Lucy Watson of Felix."
   Lucy essayed her most winning smile as she acknowledged the introduction.
   "Glad to meet you, miss," responded Denmeade. "Get down an' come in."
   Dismounting, Lucy approached the gate, to look up into a visage as rugged as the rock wall above. Denmeade was not old or grey, though his features showed the ravages of years. Lucy had no time to mark details. The man's eyes, grey and piercing as those of an eagle, caught and held her gaze.
   "If you please, I'd like to talk to you alone before I go in," she said appealingly.
   Denmeade removed the huge battered black sombrero, and ran a brawny hand through his thick dark hair. The grey eyes twinkled and a smile changed the craggy nature of his face.
   "Wal, seein' as Edd ain't hyar, I reckon I can risk it," he drawled.
   Mr. Jenks suggested that they sit in the shade; and presently Lucy found herself seated on a stump, facing this curious backwoodsman. He seemed a more approachable person than she had pictured, yet there was something about him, strong, raw, fierce, like the wilds in which he lived. Lucy had worried about this coming interview; had schooled herself to a deliberate diplomacy. But she forgot worry and plan. The man's simplicity made her sincere.
   "Mr. Denmeade, I want a job," she announced bluntly.
   It was good to see his astonishment and utter incredulity. Such a situation had never before happened in his life. He stared. His seamed visage worked into a wonderful grin.
   "Wal, I reckon yo're foolin'," he said, and he turned to Jenks. "Teacher, shore you've hatched some kind of a joke."
   "No, Denmeade. Miss Watson is in earnest," replied the school-teacher.
   "Indeed I am," added Lucy, trying to restrain her impulsiveness.
   But Denmeade still could not take her seriously. "Wal, can you chop wood, carry water, pick beans, an' hop around lively--say fer a fellar like my Edd?"
   "Yes, I could, but that is not the kind of a job I want," returned Lucy.
   "Wal, there ain't no other kin' of work up hyar fer a woman," he said seriously.
   "Yes, there is...It's to make better homes for the children."
   "Better homes! What you mean?" ejaculated Denmeade.
   Briefly Lucy explained some of the ways the homes in the wilderness could be made happier for women and children. Denmeade was profoundly impressed.
   "Wal now, young woman, I reckon it's good of you to think of them nice an' pretty ways fer our kids an' their mothers. But we're poor. We couldn't pay you, let alone fer them things they need so bad."
   Lucy's heart throbbed with joy. She knew intuitively that she had struck the right chord in this old backwoodsman. Whereupon she produced her papers.
   "It's a new thing, Mr. Denmeade," she said earnestly. "State welfare work. My salary and the expenses I incur are paid by the state. It's all here for you to read, and my references."
   Denmeade took her papers in his horny hands and began to read with the laborious and intense application of one to whom reading was unfamiliar and difficult. He took long to go over the brief typed words, and longer over the personal letter from the superintendent of the state department that had engaged Lucy. Finally he absorbed the import.
   "Welfare! State government! Dog-gone me!" he ejaculated, almost bewildered. "Say, Jenks, what ails them fellars down thar?"
   "Perhaps they have just waked up to the needs of this north country," replied the teacher.
   "Shore them papers don't read like they had an axe to grind. Reckon it ain't no politics or some trick to make us pay taxes?"
   "Denmeade, they read honest to me, and my advice if you ask it is to accept their help."
   "Humph! It shore took them a long time to build us a school-house an' send us a teacher. Whar did they ever get this hyar welfare idee?"
   "Mr. Denmeade," spoke up Lucy, "I had something to do with this idea. It really developed out of my offer to go into welfare work in a civilised district."
   "Wal, comin' from a gal like you, it ain't hard to accept," he declared, and he extended his great brown hand. His grey eyes flashed with a softened light.
   Lucy placed her hand in his, and as he almost crushed it she was at considerable pains to keep from crying out. When he released it she felt that it was limp and numb.
   "You--you mean it--it's all right?" she stammered. "You'll let me stay--help me get started?"
   "I shore will," he replied forcefully. "You stay hyar with us as long as you want. I reckon, though, the other four families close by in this high country need you more'n us. Seth Miller's, Hank Claypool's, Ora Johnson's, an' Tom Sprall's."
   "Miss Watson, the Ora Johnson he means is a brother of the Sam Johnson you met," interposed Mr. Jenks.
   Lucy was too happy to express her gratitude, and for a moment lost her dignity. Her incoherent thanks brought again the broad grin to Denmeade's face.
   "Jenks, come to think about it, thar's angles to this hyar job Miss Lucy is aimin' at," he remarked thoughtfully. "She can't do a lot for one family an' slight another. If she stays hyar with us she'll have to stay with the others."
   "Of course. That's what I expect to do," said Lucy.
   "Wal, miss, I ain't given to brag, but I reckon you'll find it different after stayin' with us," rejoined Denmeade, shaking his shaggy head.
   Plain it was for Lucy to see that Mr. Jenks agreed with him.
   "In just what way? queried Lucy.
   "Lots of ways, but particular, say--Ora Johnson has an old cabin with one room. Countin' his wife, thar's eight in the family. All live in that one room! With one door an' no winder!"
   Lucy had no ready reply for such an unexpected circumstance as this, and she gazed at Mr. Jenks in mute dismay.
   "I have a tent I'll lend her," he said. "It can be erected on a frame with board floor. Very comfortable."
   "Wal, I reckon that would do fer Johnson's. But how about Tom Sprall's? Thar's more in his outfit, an' only two cabins. But shore no room for her. An' the tent idee won't do--sartin not whar Bud Sprall goes rarin' around full of white mule. It wouldn't be safe."
   "Denmeade, I had that very fear in mind," said Mr. Jenks earnestly. "Miss Watson will have to avoid Sprall's."
   "Shore, it'd ought to be done. But I'm reckonin' that'll raise hell. Tom is a mean cuss, an' his outfit of wimmen are jealous as coyote poison. They'll all have to know Miss Lucy is hyar helpin' everybody equal. They'll all want equal favours from the state. I ain't sayin' a word ag'in' Tom, but he's a rustler. An' thar's turrible bad blood between Bud Sprall an' my boy Edd."
   "You see, Miss Watson, it's not going to be as rosy as we hoped," said Mr. Jenks regretfully.
   "I'm not afraid," replied Lucy resolutely. "It never looked easy. I accept it, come what may. The Spralls shall not be slighted."
   "Wal, you've settled it, an' thar ain't nothin' wrong with your nerve," replied Denmeade. "Come in now an' meet my folks. Teacher, you'll eat supper with us?"
   "I'm sorry, Denmeade. I must hurry back and send Sam up with her baggage," returned Jenks, rising. "Good-bye, Miss Watson. I wish you luck. Come down to school with the children. I'll see you surely at the dance Friday night."
   "I'm very grateful to you, Mr. Jenks," replied Lucy. "You've helped me. I will want to see you soon. But I can't say that it will be at the dance."
   "Shore she'll be thar, teacher," said Denmeade. "She can't stay hyar alone, an' if she wanted to, Edd wouldn't let her."
   "Oh--indeed," murmured Lucy constrainedly, as Denmeade and the school-teacher exchanged laughs. How irrepressibly this Edd bobbed up at every turn of conversation! Right then Lucy resolved that she would certainly not go to the dance. And she realised an undue curiosity in regard to this backwoods boy.

Chapter 3 >