The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come
John Fox, Jr.
Part 2 out of 5
Major was amazed that anybody could have denied the boy food and lodging.
"Who were they, Tom?" he asked
The old driver turned:
"They was some po' white trash down on Cane Creek, I reckon, suh. Must'a'
been." There was a slight contempt in the negro's words that made Chad think
of hearing the Turners call the Dillons white trash--though they never said
"po' white trash."
"Oh!" said the Major. So the carriage stopped, and when a man in a black
slouch hat came out, the Major called:
"Jim, here's a boy who ain't had anything to eat for twenty-four hours. Get
him a cup of coffee right away, and I reckon you've got some cold ham handy."
"Yes, indeed, Major," said Jim, and he yelled to a negro girl who was standing
on the porch of his house behind the store.
Chad ate ravenously and the Major watched him with genuine pleasure. When the
boy was through, he reached in his pocket and brought out his old five-dollar
bill, and the Major laughed aloud and patted him on the head.
"You can't pay for anything while you are with me, Chad."
The whole earth wore a smile when they started out again. The swelling hills
had stretched out into gentler slopes. The sun was warm, the clouds were
still, and the air was almost drowsy. The Major's eyes closed and everything
lapsed into silence. That was a wonderful ride for Chad. It was all true, just
as the school-master had told him; the big, beautiful houses he saw now and
then up avenues of blossoming locusts; the endless stone fences, the
whitewashed barns, the woodlands and pastures; the meadow-larks flitting in
the sunlight and singing everywhere; fluting, chattering blackbirds, and a
strange new black bird with red wings, at which Chad wondered very much, as he
watched it balancing itself against the wind and singing as it poised.
Everything seemed to sing in that wonderful land. And the seas of bluegrass
stretching away on every side, with the shadows of clouds passing in rapid
succession over them, like mystic floating islands--and never a mountain in
sight. What a strange country it was.
"Maybe some of your friends are looking for you in Frankfort," said the Major.
"No, sir, I reckon not," said Chad--for the man at the station had told him
that the men who had asked about him were gone.
"All of them?" asked the Major.
Of course, the man at the station could not tell whether all of them had gone,
and perhaps the school-master had stayed behind--it was Caleb Hazel if anybody.
"Well, now, I wonder," said Chad--"the school-teacher might'a' stayed."
Again the two lapsed into silence--Chad thinking very hard. He might yet catch
the school-master in Lexington, and he grew very cheerful at the thought.
"You ain't told me yo' name," he said, presently. The Major's lips smiled
under the brim of his hat.
"You hain't axed me."
"Well, I axe you now." Chad, too, was smiling.
"Cal," said the Major. "Cal what?"
"I don't know."
"Oh, yes, you do, now--you foolin' me"--the boy lifted one finger at the
"Buford, Calvin Buford."
"Buford--Buford--Buford," repeated the boy, each time with his forehead
wrinkled as though he were trying to recall something.
"What is it, Chad?"
And then he looked up with bewildered face at the Major and broke into the
quavering voice of an old man.
"Chad Buford, you little devil, come hyeh this minute or I'll beat the life
"What--what!" said the Major excitedly. The boy's face was as honest as the
sky above him. "Well, that's funny--very funny."
"Well, that's it," said Chad, "that's what ole Nathan used to call me. I
reckon I hain't naver thought o' my name agin tell you axed me." The Major
looked at the lad keenly and then dropped back in his seat ruminating.
Away back in 1778 a linchpin had slipped in a wagon on the Wilderness Road and
his grandfather's only brother, Chadwick Buford, had concluded to stop there
for a while and hunt and come on later--thus ran an old letter that the Major
had in his strong box at home--and that brother had never turned up again and
the supposition was that he had been killed by Indians. Now it would be
strange if he had wandered up in the mountains and settled there and if this
boy were a descendant of his. It would be very, very strange, and then the
Major almost laughed at the absurdity of the idea. The name Buford was all
over the State. The boy had said, with amazing frankness and without a
particle of shame, that he was a waif--a "woodscolt," he said, with paralyzing
candor. And so the Major dropped the matter out of his mind, except in so far
that it was a peculiar coincidence--again saying, half to himself--
"It certainly is very odd!"
CHAPTER 8. HOME WITH THE MAJOR
Ahead of them, it was Court Day in Lexington. From the town, as a centre,
white turnpikes radiated in every direction like the strands of a spider's
web. Along them, on the day before, cattle, sheep, and hogs had made their slow
way. Since dawn, that morning, the fine dust had been rising under hoof and
wheel on every one of them, for Court Day is yet the great day of every month
throughout the Bluegrass. The crowd had gone ahead of the Major and Chad. Only
now and then would a laggard buggy or carriage turn into the pike from a
pasture-road or locust-bordered avenue. Only men were occupants, for the
ladies rarely go to town on court days--and probably none would go on that
day. Trouble was expected. An abolitionist, one Brutus Dean--not from the
North, but a Kentuckian, a slave-holder and a gentleman--would probably start
a paper in Lexington to exploit his views in the heart of the Bluegrass; and
his quondam friends would shatter his press and tear his office to pieces. So
the Major told Chad, and he pointed out some "hands" at work in a field.
"An', mark my words, some day there's goin' to be the damnedest fight the
world ever saw over these very niggers. An' the day ain't so far away."
It was noon before they reached the big cemetery on the edge of Lexington.
Through a rift in the trees the Major pointed out the grave of Henry Clay, and
told him about the big monument that was to be reared above his remains. The
grave of Henry Clay! Chad knew all about him. He had heard Caleb Hazel read
the great man's speeches aloud by the hour--had heard him intoning them to
himself as he walked the woods to and fro from school. Would wonders never
There seemed to be no end to the houses and streets and people in this big
town, and Chad wondered why everybody turned to look at him and smiled, and,
later in the day, he came near getting into a fight with another boy who
seemed to be making fun of him to his companions. He wondered at that, too,
until it suddenly struck him that he saw nobody else carrying a rifle and
wearing a coonskin cap--perhaps it was his cap and his gun. The Major was
amused and pleased, and he took a certain pride in the boy's calm indifference
to the attention he was drawing to himself. And he enjoyed the little mystery
which he and his queer little companion seemed to create as they drove through
On one corner was a great hemp factory.
Through the windows Chad could see negroes, dusty as millers, bustling about,
singing as they worked. Before the door were two men--one on horseback. The
Major drew up a moment.
"How are you, John? Howdye, Dick?" Both men answered heartily, and both looked
at Chad--who looked intently at them--the graceful, powerful man on foot and
the slender, wiry man with wonderful dark eyes on horseback.
"Pioneering, Major?" asked John Morgan.
"This is a namesake of mine from the mountains. He's come up to see the
Richard Hunt turned on his horse. "How do you like 'em?"
"Never seed nothin' like 'em in my life," said Chad, gravely. Morgan laughed
and Richard Hunt rode on with them down the street.
"Was that Captin Morgan?" asked Chad.
"Yes," said the Major. "Have you heard of him before?"
"Yes, sir. A feller on the road tol' me, if I was lookin' fer somethin' to do
hyeh in Lexington to go to Captin Morgan."
The Major laughed: "That's what everybody does."
At once, the Major took the boy to an old inn and gave him a hearty meal; and
while the Major attended to some business, Chad roamed the streets.
"Don't get into trouble, my boy," said the Major, "an' come back here an hour or
two by sun."
Naturally, the lad drifted where the crowd was thickest--to Cheapside.
Cheapside--at once the market-place and the forum of the Bluegrass from
pioneer days to the present hour--the platform that knew Clay, Crittenden,
Marshall, Breckenridge, as it knows the lesser men of to-day, who resemble
those giants of old as the woodlands of the Bluegrass to-day resemble the
primeval forests from which they sprang.
Cheapside was thronged that morning with cattle, sheep, hogs, horses, farmers,
aristocrats, negroes, poor whites. The air was a babel of cries from
auctioneers--head, shoulders, and waistband above the crowd--and the cries of
animals that were changing owners that day--one of which might now and then be
a human being. The Major was busy, and Chad wandered where he pleased--keeping
a sharp lookout everywhere for the school-master, but though he asked right
and left he could find nobody, to his great wonder, who knew even the master's
name. In the middle of the afternoon the country people began to leave town
and Cheapside was cleared, but, as Chad walked past the old inn, he saw a
crowd gathered within and about the wide doors of a livery-stable, and in a
circle outside that lapped half the street. The auctioneer was in plain sight
above the heads of the crowd, and the horses were led out one by one from the
stable. It was evidently a sale of considerable moment, and there were
horse-raisers, horse-trainers, jockeys, stable-boys, gentlemen--all eager
spectators or bidders. Chad edged his way through the outer rim of the crowd
and to the edge of the sidewalk, and, when a spectator stepped down from a
dry-goods box from which he had been looking on, Chad stepped up and took his
place. Straightway, he began to wish he could buy a horse and ride back to the
mountains. What fun that would be, and how he would astonish the folks on
Kingdom Come. He had his five dollars still in his pocket, and when the first
horse was brought out, the auctioneer raised his hammer and shouted in loud
"How much am I offered for this horse?"
There was no answer, and the silence lasted so long that before he knew it
Chad called out in a voice that frightened him:
"Five dollars!" Nobody heard the bid, and nobody paid any attention to him.
"One hundred dollars," said a voice.
"One hundred and twenty-five," said another, and the horse was knocked down
for two hundred dollars.
A black stallion with curving neck and red nostrils and two white feet walked
"How much am I offered?"
"Five dollars," said Chad, promptly. A man who sat near heard the boy and
turned to look at the little fellow, and was hardly able to believe his ears.
And so it went on. Each time a horse was put up Chad shouted out:
"Five dollars," and the crowd around him began to smile and laugh and
encourage him and wait for his bid. The auctioneer, too, saw him, and entered
into the fun himself, addressing himself to Chad at every opening bid.
"Keep it up, little man," said a voice behind him. "You'll get one by and by."
Chad looked around. Richard Hunt was smiling to him from his horse on the edge
of the crowd.
The last horse was a brown mare--led in by a halter. She was old and a trifle
lame, and Chad, still undispirited, called out this time louder than ever:
He shouted out this time loudly enough to be heard by everybody, and a
universal laugh rose; then came silence, and, in that silence, an imperious
voice shouted back:
"Let him have her!" It was the owner of the horse who spoke--a tall man with a
noble face and long iron-gray hair. The crowd caught his mood, and as nobody
wanted the old mare very much, and the owner would be the sole loser, nobody
bid against him, and Chad's heart thumped when the auctioneer raised his
hammer and said:
"Five dollars, five dollars--what am I offered? Five dollars, five dollars,
going at five dollars, five dollars--going at five dollars--going--going, last
bid, gentlemen!" The hammer came down with a blow that made Chad's heart jump
and brought a roar of laughter from the crowd.
"What is the name, please?" said the auctioneer, bending forward with great
respect and dignity toward the diminutive purchaser.
The auctioneer put his hand to one ear.
"I beg your pardon--Dan'l Boone did you say?"
"No!" shouted Chad indignantly--he began to feel that fun was going on at his
expense. "You heerd me--CHAD."
"Ah, Mr. Chad."
Not a soul knew the boy, but they liked his spirit, and several followed him
when he went up and handed his five dollars and took the halter of his new
treasure trembling so that he could scarcely stand. The owner of the horse
placed his hand on the little fellow's head.
"Wait a minute," he said, and, turning to a negro boy: "Jim, go bring a
bridle." The boy brought out a bridle, and the tall man slipped it on the old
mare's head, and Chad led her away--the crowd watching him. Just outside he
saw the Major, whose eyes opened wide:
"Where'd you get that old horse, Chad?"
"Bought her," said Chad.
"What? What'd you give for her?"
The Major looked pained, for he thought the boy was lying, but Richard Hunt
called him aside and told the story of the purchase; and then how the Major
did laugh--laughed until the tears rolled down his face.
And then and there he got out of his carriage and went into a saddler's shop
and bought a brand new saddle with a red blanket, and put it on the old mare
and hoisted the boy to his seat. Chad was to have no little honor in his day,
but he never knew a prouder moment than when he clutched the reins in his left
hand and squeezed his short legs against the fat sides of that old brown mare.
He rode down the street and back again, and then the Major told him he had
better put the black boy on the mare, to ride her home ahead of him, and Chad
reluctantly got off and saw the little darky on his new saddle and his new
"Take good keer o' that hoss, boy," he said, with a warning shake of his head,
and again the Major roared.
First, the Major said, he would go by the old University and leave word with
the faculty for the school-master when he should come there to matriculate;
and so, at a turnstile that led into a mighty green yard in the middle of
which stood a huge gray mass of stone, the carriage stopped, and the Major got
out and walked through the campus and up the great flight of stone steps and
disappeared. The mighty columns, the stone steps--where had Chad heard of
them? And then the truth flashed. This was the college of which the
school-master had told him down in the mountains, and, looking, Chad wanted to
"I wonder if it'll make any difference if I go up thar?" he said to the old
"No," the old man hesitated--"no, suh, co'se not." And Chad climbed out and
the old negro followed him with his eyes. He did not wholly approve of his
master's picking up an unknown boy on the road. It was all right to let him
ride, but to be taking him home--old Tom shook his head.
"Jess wait till Miss Lucy sees that piece o' white trash," he said, shaking
his head. Chad was walking slowly with his eyes raised. It must be the college
where the school-master had gone to school--for the building was as big as the
cliff that he had pointed out down in the mountains, and the porch was as big
as the black rock that he pointed out at the same time--the college where
Caleb Hazel said Chad, too, must go some day. The Major was coming out when
the boy reached the foot of the steps, and with him was a tall, gray man with
spectacles and a white tie and very white nails, and the Major said:
"There he is now, Professor." And the Professor looked at Chad curiously, and
smiled and smiled again kindly when he saw the boy's grave, unsmiling eyes
fastened on him.
Then, out of the town and through the late radiant afternoon they went until
the sun sank and the carriage stopped before a gate. While the pickaninny was
opening it, another carriage went swiftly behind them, and the Major called
out cleanly to the occupants--a quiet, sombre, dignified-looking man and two
handsome boys and a little girl. "They're my neighbors, Chad," said the Major.
Not a sound did the wheels make on the thick turf as they drove toward the
old-fashioned brick house (it had no pillars), with its windows shining
through the firs and cedars that filled the yard. The Major put his hand on
the boy's shoulder:
"Well, here we are, little man."
At the yard gate there was a great barking of dogs, and a great shout of
welcome from the negroes who came forward to take the horses. To each of them
the Major gave a little package, which each darky took with shining teeth and
a laugh of delight--all looking with wonder at the curious little stranger
with his rifle and coonskin cap, until a scowl from the Major checked the
smile that started on each black face. Then the Major led Chad up a flight of
steps and into a big hall and on into a big drawing-room, where there was a
huge fireplace and a great fire that gave Chad a pang of homesickness at once.
Chad was not accustomed to taking off his hat when he entered a house in the
mountains, but he saw the Major take off his, and he dropped his own cap
quickly. The Major sank into a chair.
"Here we are, little man," he said, kindly.
Chad sat down and looked at the books, and the portraits and prints, and the
big mirrors and the carpets on the floor, none of which he had ever seen
before, and he wondered at it all and what it all might mean. A few minutes
later, a tall lady in black, with a curl down each side of her pale face, came
in. Like old Tom, the driver, the Major, too, had been wondering what his
sister, Miss Lucy, would think of his bringing so strange a waif home, and
now, with sudden humor, he saw himself fortified.
"Sister," he said, solemnly, "here's a little kinsman of yours. He's a
great-great-grandson of your great-great-uncle--Chadwick Buford. That's his
name. What kin does that make us?"
"Hush, brother," said Miss Lucy, for she saw the boy reddening with
embarrassment and she went across and shook hands with him, taking in with a
glance his coarse strange clothes and his soiled hands and face and his
tangled hair, but pleased at once with his shyness and his dark eyes. She was
really never surprised at any caprice of her brother, and she did not show
much interest when the Major went on to tell where he had found the lad--for
she would have thought it quite possible that he might have taken the boy out
of a circus. As for Chad, he was in awe of her at once --which the Major
noticed with an inward chuckle, for the boy had shown no awe of him. Chad
could hardly eat for shyness at supper and because everything was so strange
and beautiful, and he scarcely opened his lips when they sat around the great
fire, until Miss Lucy was gone to bed. Then he told the Major all about
himself and old Nathan and the Turners and the school-master, and how he
hoped to come back to the Bluegrass, and go to that big college himself, and
he amazed the Major when, glancing at the books, he spelled out the titles of
two of Scott's novels, "The Talisman" and "Ivanhoe," and told how the
school-master had read them to him. And the Major, who had a passion for Sir
Walter, tested Chad's knowledge, and he could mention hardly a character or a
scene in the two books that did not draw an excited response from the boy.
"Wouldn't you like to stay here in the Bluegrass now and go to school?"
Chad's eyes lighted up.
"I reckon I would; but how am I goin' to school, now, I'd like to know? I
ain't got no money to buy books, and the school-teacher said you have to pay
to go to school, up here."
"Well, we'll see about that," said the Major, and Chad wondered what he meant.
Presently the Major got up and went to the sideboard and poured out a drink of
whiskey and, raising it to his lips, stopped:
"Will you join me?" he asked, humorously, though it was hard for the Major to
omit that formula even with a boy.
"I don't keer if I do," said Chad, gravely. The Major was astounded and
amused, and thought that the boy was not in earnest, but he handed him the
bottle and Chad poured out a drink that staggered his host, and drank it down
without winking. At the fire, the Major pulled out his chewing tobacco. This,
too, he offered and Chad accepted, equalling the Major in the accuracy with
which he reached the fireplace thereafter with the juice, carrying off his
accomplishment, too, with perfect and unconscious gravity. The Major was nigh
to splitting with silent laughter for a few minutes, and then he grew grave.
"Does everybody drink and chew down in the mountains?"
"Yes, sir," said Chad. "Everybody makes his own licker where I come from."
"Don't you know it's very bad for little boys to drink and chew?"
"Did nobody ever tell you it was very bad for little boys to drink and chew?"
"No, sir"--not once had Chad forgotten that.
"Well, it is."
Chad thought for a minute. "Will it keep me from gittin' to be a BIG man?"
Chad quietly threw his quid into the fire.
"Well, I be damned," said the Major under his breath. "Are you goin' to quit?"
Meanwhile, the old driver, whose wife lived on the next farm, was telling the
servants over there about the queer little stranger whom his master had picked
up on the road that day, and after Chad was gone to bed, the Major got out
some old letters from a chest and read them over again. Chadwick Buford was
his great-grandfather's twin brother, and not a word had been heard of him
since the two had parted that morning on the old Wilderness Road, away back in
the earliest pioneer days. So, the Major thought and thought
suppose--suppose? And at last he got up and with an uplifted candle, looked a
long while at the portrait of his grandfather that hung on the southern wall.
Then, with a sudden humor, he carried the light to the room where the boy was
in sound sleep, with his head on one sturdy arm, his hair loose on the pillow,
and his lips slightly parted and showing his white, even teeth; he looked at
the boy a long time and fancied he could see some resemblance to the portrait
in the set of the mouth and the nose and the brow, and he went back smiling at
his fancies and thinking--for the Major was sensitive to the claim of any drop
of the blood in his own veins--no matter how diluted. He was a handsome little
"How strange! How strange!"
And he smiled when he thought of the boy's last question.
"Where's YO' mammy?"
It had stirred the Major.
"I am like you, Chad," he had said. "I've got no mammy--no nothin', except
Miss Lucy, and she don't live here. I'm afraid she won't be on this earth
long. Nobody lives here but me, Chad."
CHAPTER 9. MARGARET
The Major was in town and Miss Lucy had gone to spend the day with a neighbor;
so Chad was left alone.
"Look aroun', Chad, and see how you like things," said the Major. "Go anywhere
And Chad looked around. He went to the barn to see his old mare and the
Major's horses, and to the kennels, where the fox-hounds reared against the
palings and sniffed at him curiously; he strolled about the quarters, where
the little pickaninnies were playing, and out to the fields, where the
servants were at work under the overseer, Jerome Conners, a tall, thin man
with shrewd eyes, a sour, sullen face, and protruding upper teeth. One of the
few smiles that ever came to that face came now when the overseer saw the
little mountaineer. By and by Chad got one of the "hands" to let him take hold
of the plough and go once around the field, and the boy handled the plough
like a veteran, so that the others watched him, and the negro grinned, when he
came back, and said
"You sutinly can plough fer a fac'!"
He was lonesome by noon and had a lonely dinner, during which he could
scarcely realize that it was really he--Chad--Chad sitting up at the table
alone and being respectfully waited on by a kinky-headed little negro
girl--called Thanky-ma'am because she was born on Thanksgiving day--and he
wondered what the Turners would think if they could see him now--and the
school-master. Where was the school-master? He began to be sorry that he
hadn't gone to town to try to find him. Perhaps the Major would see him--but
how would the Major know the school-master? He was sorry he hadn't gone. After
dinner he started out-doors again. Earth and sky were radiant with light.
Great white tumbling clouds were piled high all around the horizon--and what a
long length of sky it was in every direction down in the mountains, he had to
look straight up, sometimes, to see the sky at all. Blackbirds chattered in
the cedars as he went to the yard gate. The field outside was full of singing
meadow-larks, and crows were cawing in the woods beyond. There had been a
light shower, and on the dead top of a tall tree he saw a buzzard stretching
his wings out to the sun. Past the edge of the woods, ran a little stream with
banks that were green to the very water's edge, and Chad followed it on
through the woods, over a worn rail-fence, along a sprouting wheat-field, out
into a pasture in which sheep and cattle were grazing, and on, past a little
hill, where, on the next low slope, sat a great white house with big white
pillars, and Chad climbed on top of the stone fence--and sat, looking. On the
portico stood a tall man in a slouch hat and a lady in black. At the foot of
the steps a boy--a head taller than Chad perhaps--was rigging up a
fishing-pole. A negro boy was leading a black pony toward the porch, and, to
his dying day, Chad never forgot the scene that followed. For, the next
moment, a little figure in a long riding-skirt stood in the big doorway and
then ran down the steps, while a laugh, as joyous as the water running at his
feet, floated down the slope to his ears. He saw the negro stoop, the little
girl bound lightly to her saddle; he saw her black curls shake in the
sunlight, again the merry laugh tinkled in his ears, and then, with a white
plume nodding from her black cap, she galloped off and disappeared among the
trees; and Chad sat looking after her--thrilled, mysteriously
thrilled--mysteriously saddened, straightway. Would he ever see her again?
The tall man and the lady in black went in-doors, the negro disappeared, and
the boy at the foot of the steps kept on rigging his pole. Several times
voices sounded under the high creek bank below him, but, quick as his ears
were, Chad did not hear them. Suddenly there was a cry that startled him, and
something flashed in the sun over the edge of the bank and flopped in the
"Snowball!" an imperious young voice called below the bank, "get that fish!"
On the moment Chad was alert again--somebody was fishing down there--and he
sprang from his perch and ran toward the fish just as a woolly head and a
jet-black face peeped over the bank.
The pickaninny's eyes were stretched wide when he saw the strange figure in
coonskin cap and moccasins running down on him, his face almost blanched with
terror, and he loosed his hold and, with a cry of fright, rolled back out of
sight. Chad looked over the bank. A boy of his own age was holding another
pole, and, hearing the little darky slide down, he said, sharply:
"Get that fish, I tell you!"
"Look dar, Mars' Dan, look dar!"
The boy looked around and up and stared with as much wonder as his little
body-servant, but with no fear.
"Howdye!" said Chad; but the white boy stared on silently.
"Fishin'?" said Chad.
"Yes," said Dan, shortly--he had shown enough curiosity and he turned his eyes
to his cork. "Get that fish, Snowball," he said again.
"I'll git him fer ye," Chad said; and he went to the fish and unhooked it and
came down the bank with the perch in one hand and the pole in the other.
"Whar's yo' string?" he asked, handing the pole to the still trembling little
"I'll take it," said Dan, sticking the butt of his cane-pole in the mud. The
fish slipped through his wet fingers, when Chad passed it to him, dropped on
the bank, flopped to the edge of the creek, and the three boys, with the same
cry, scrambled for it--Snowball falling down on it and clutching it in both
his black little paws.
"Dar now!" he shrieked. "I got him!"
"Give him to me," said Dan.
"Lemme string him," said the black boy.
"Give him to me, I tell you!" And, stringing the fish, Dan took the other pole
and turned his eyes to his corks, while the pickaninny squatted behind him and
Chad climbed up and sat on the bank letting his legs dangle over. When Dan
caught a fish he would fling it with a whoop high over the bank. After the
third fish, the lad was mollified and got over his ill-temper. He turned to
"Want to fish?"
Chad sprang down the bank quickly.
"Yes," he said, and he took the other pole out of the bank, put on a fresh
wriggling worm, and moved a little farther down the creek where there was an
"Ketchin' any?" said a voice above the bank, and Chad looked up to see still
another lad, taller by a head than either he or Dan--evidently the boy whom he
had seen rigging a pole up at the big house on the hill.
"Oh, 'bout 'leven," said Dan, carelessly.
"Howdye!" said Chad.
"Howdye!" said the other boy, and he, too, stared curiously, but Chad had got
used to people staring at him.
"I'm goin' over the big rock," added the new arrival, and he went down the
creek and climbed around a steep little cliff, and out on a huge rock that
hung over the creek, where he dropped his hook. He had no cork, and Chad knew
that he was trying to catch catfish. Presently he jerked, and a yellow mudcat
rose to the surface, fighting desperately for his life, and Dan and Snowball
yelled crazily. Then Dan pulled out a perch.
"I got another one," he shouted. And Chad fished silently. They were making "a
mighty big fuss," he thought, "over mighty little fish." If he just had a
minnow an' had 'em down in the mountains, "I Gonnies, he'd show'em what
fishin' was!" But he began to have good luck as it was. Perch after perch he
pulled out quietly, and he kept Snowball busy stringing them until he had five
on the string. The boy on the rock was watching him and so was the boy near
him--furtively--while Snowball's admiration was won completely, and he grinned
and gurgled his delight, until Dan lost his temper again and spoke to him
sharply. Dan did not like to be beaten at anything. Pretty soon there was a
light thunder of hoofs on the turf above the bank. A black pony shot around
the bank and was pulled in at the edge of the ford, and Chad was looking into
the dancing black eyes of a little girl with a black velvet cap on her dark
curls and a white plume waving from it.
"Howdye!" said Chad, and his heart leaped curiously, but the little girl did
not answer. She, too, stared at him as all the others had done and started to
ride into the creek, but Dan stopped her sharply:
"Now, Margaret, don't you ride into that water. You'll skeer the fish."
"No, you won't," said Chad, promptly. "Fish don't keer nothin' about a hoss."
But the little girl stood still, and her brother's face flushed. He resented
the stranger's interference and his assumption of a better knowledge of fish.
"Mind your own business," trembled on his tongue, and the fact that he held
the words back only served to increase his ill-humor and make a worse outbreak
possible. But, if Chad did not understand, Snowball did, and his black face
grew suddenly grave as he sprang more alertly than ever at any word from his
little master. Meanwhile, all unconscious, Chad fished on, catching perch
after perch, but he could not keep his eyes on his cork while the little girl
was so near, and more than once he was warned by a suppressed cry from the
pickaninny when to pull. Once, when he was putting on a worm, he saw the
little girl watching the process with great disgust, and he remembered that
Melissa would never bait her own hook. All girls were alike, he "reckoned" to
himself, and when he caught a fish that was unusually big, he walked over to
"I'll give this un to you," he said, but she shrank from it.
"Go 'way!" she said, and she turned her pony. Dan was red in the face by this
time. How did this piece of poor white trash dare to offer a fish to his
sister. And this time the words came out like the crack of a whip:
"S'pose you mind your own business!"
Chad started as though he had been struck and looked around quickly. He said
nothing, but he stuck the butt of his pole in the mud at once and climbed up
on the bank again and sat there, with his legs hanging over; and his own face
was not pleasant to see. The little girl was riding at a walk up the road.
Chad kept perfect silence, for he realized that he had not been minding his
own business; still he did not like to be told so and in such a way. Both
corks were shaking at the same time now.
"You got a bite," said Dan, but Chad did not move.
"You got a bite, I tell you," he said, in almost the tone he had used to
Snowball, but Chad, when the small aristocrat looked sharply around, dropped
his elbows to his knees and his chin into his hand--taking no notice. Once he
spat dexterously into the creek. Dan's own cork was going under:
"Snowball!" he cried--"jerk!" A fish flew over Chad's head. Snowball had run
for the other pole at command and jerked, too, but the fish was gone and with
it the bait.
"You lost that fish!" said the boy, hotly, but Chad sat silent--still. If he
would only say something! Dan began to think that the stranger was a coward.
So presently, to show what a great little man he was, he began to tease
Snowball, who was up on the bank unhooking the fish, of which Chad had taken
"What's your name?"
"Snowball!" henchman, obediently.
"Louder!" The little black fellow opened his mouth wide.
"S-N-O-W-B-A-L-L!" he shrieked.
At last Chad spoke quietly.
"He can't holler no louder."
"What do you know about it? Louder!", and Dan started menacingly after the
little darky but Chad stepped between.
"Don't hit him!"
Now Dan had never struck Snowball in his life' and he would as soon have
struck his own brother--but he must not be told that he couldn't. His face
flamed and little Hotspur that he was, he drew his fist back and hit Chad full
in the chest. Chad leaped back to avoid the blow, tumbling Snowball down the
bank; the two clinched, and, while they tussled, Chad heard the other brother
clambering over the rocks, the beat of hoofs coming toward him on the turf,
and the little girl's cry:
"Don't you DARE touch my brother!"
Both went down side by side with their head just hanging over the bank, where
both could see Snowball's black wool coming to the surface in the deep hole,
and both heard his terrified shriek as he went under again. Chad was first to
"Git a rail!" he shouted and plunged in, but Dan sprang in after him. In three
strokes, for the current was rather strong, Chad had the kinky wool in his
hand, and, in a few strokes more, the two boys had Snowball gasping on the
bank. Harry, the taller brother, ran forward to help them carry him up the
bank, and they laid him, choking and bawling, on the grass. Whip in one hand
and with the skirt of her long black riding-habit in the other, the little
girl stood above, looking on--white and frightened. The hullabaloo had reached
the house and General Dean was walking swiftly down the hill, with Snowball's
mammy, topped by a red bandanna handkerchief, rushing after him and the
kitchen servants following.
"What does this mean?" he said, sternly, and Chad was in a strange awe at
once--he was so tall, and he stood so straight, and his eye was so piercing.
Few people could lie into that eye. The little girl spoke first--usually she
does speak first, as well as last.
"Dan and--and--that boy were fighting and they pushed Snowball into the
"Dan was teasin' Snowball," said Harry the just.
"And that boy meddled," said Dan.
"Who struck first?" asked the General, looking from one boy to the other. Dan
dropped his eyes sullenly and Chad did not answer.
"I wasn't goin' to hit Snowball," said Dan.
"I thought you wus," said Chad.
"Who struck first?" repeated the General, looking at Dan now.
"That boy meddled and I hit him."
Chad turned and answered the General's eyes steadily.
"I reckon I had no business meddlin'!"
"He tried to give sister a fish."
That was unwise in Dan--Margaret's chin lifted.
"Oh," she said, "that was it, too, was it? Well--"
"I didn't see no harm givin' the little gal a fish," said Chad. "Little gal,"
indeed! Chad lost the ground he might have gained. Margaret's eyes looked all
at once like her father's.
"I'm a little GIRL, thank you."
Chad turned to her father now, looking him in the face straight and steadily.
"I reckon I had no business meddlin', but I didn't think hit was fa'r fer him
to hit the nigger; the nigger was littler, an' I didn't think hit 'as right."
"I didn't mean to hit him--I was only playin'!"
"But I THOUGHT you was goin' to hit him," said Chad. He looked at the General
again. "But I had no business meddlin'." And he picked up his old coonskin cap
from the grass to start away.
"Hold on, little man," said the General.
"Dan, haven't I told you not to tease Snowball?" Dan dropped his eyes again.
"You struck first, and this boy says he oughtn't to have meddled, but I think
he did just right. Have you anything to say to him?"
Dan worked the toe of his
left boot into the turf for a moment "No, sir."
"Well, go up to your room and think about it awhile and see if you don't owe
somebody an apology. Hurry up now an' change your clothes.
"You'd better come up to the house and get some dry clothes for yourself, my
boy," he added to Chad. "You'll catch cold."
"Much obleeged," said Chad. "But I don't ketch cold."
He put on his old coonskin cap, and then the General recognized him.
"Why, aren't you the little boy who bought a horse from me in town the other
day?" And then Chad recognized him as the tall man who had cried "Let him have
"Well, I know all about you," said the General, kindly. "You are staying with
Major Buford. He's a great friend and neighbor of mine. Now you must come up
and get some clothes, Harry!" --But Chad, though he hesitated, for he knew now
that the gentleman had practically given him the mare, interrupted, sturdily,
"No, sir, I can't go--not while he's a-feelin' hard at me."
"Very well," said the General, gravely. Chad started off on a trot and stopped
suddenly, "I wish you'd please tell that little GURL"--Chad pronounced the
word with some difficulty--"that I didn't mean nothin' callin' her a little
gal. Ever'body calls gurls gals whar I come from."
"All right," laughed the General. Chad trotted all the way home and there Miss
Lucy made him take off his wet clothes at once, though the boy had to go to
bed while they were drying, for he had no other clothes, and while he lay in
bed the Major came up and listened to Chad's story of the afternoon, which
Chad told him word for word just as it had all happened.
"You did just right, Chad," said the Major, and he went down the stairs,
"Wouldn't go in and get dry clothes because Dan wouldn't apologize. Dear me! I
reckon they'll have it out when they see each other again. I'd like to be on
hand, and I'd bet my bottom dollar on Chad." But they did not have it out.
Half an hour after supper somebody shouted "Hello!" at the gate, and the Major
went out and came back smiling.
"Somebody wants to see you, Chad," he said. And Chad went out and found Dan
there on the black pony with Snowball behind him.
"I've come over to say that I had no business hittin' you down at the creek,
and--" Chad interrupted him:
"That's all right," he said, and Dan stopped and thrust out his hand. The two
boys shook hands gravely.
"An' my papa says you are a man an' he wants you to come over and see us and I
want you--and Harry and Margaret. We all want you."
"All right," said Chad. Dan turned his black pony and galloped off.
"An' come soon!" he shouted back.
Out in the quarters Mammy Ailsie, old Tom's wife, was having her own say that
"Ole Marse Cal Buford pickin' a piece of white trash out de gutter an' not
sayin' whar he come from an' nuttin' 'bout him. An' old Mars Henry takin' him
jus' like he was quality. My Tom say dae boy don' know who is his mammy ner
his daddy. I ain' gwine to let my little mistis play wid no sech trash, I tell
you--'deed I ain't!" And this talk would reach the drawing-room by and by,
where the General was telling the family, at just about the same hour, the
story of the horse sale and Chad's purchase of the old brood mare.
"I knew where he was from right away," said Harry. "I've seen mountain-people
wearing caps like his up at Uncle Brutus's, when they come down to go to
The General frowned.
"Well, you won't see any more people like him up there again."
"Because you aren't going to Uncle Brutus's any more."
The mother put her hand on her husband's knee.
"Never mind, son," she said.
CHAPTER 10. THE BLUEGRASS
No humor in that phrase to the Bluegrass Kentuckian! There never was--there is
none now. To him, the land seems in all the New World, to have been the pet
shrine of the Great Mother herself. She fashioned it with loving hands. She
shut it in with a mighty barrier of mighty mountains to keep the mob out. She
gave it the loving clasp of a mighty river, and spread broad, level prairies
beyond that the mob might glide by, or be tempted to the other side, where the
earth was level and there was no need to climb; that she might send priests
from her shrine to reclaim Western wastes or let the weak or the unloving--if
such could be--have easy access to another land.
In the beginning, such was her clear purpose to the Kentuckian's eye, she
filled it with flowers and grass and trees, and fish and bird and wild beasts.
Just as she made Eden for Adam and Eve. The red men fought for the
Paradise--fought till it was drenched with blood, but no tribe, without mortal
challenge from another straightway, could ever call a rood its own. Boone
loved the land from the moment the eagle eye in his head swept its shaking
wilderness from a mountain-top, and every man who followed him loved the land
no less. And when the chosen came, they found the earth ready to receive
them--lifted above the baneful breath of river-bottom and marshland, drained
by rivers full of fish, filled with woods full of game, and
underlaid--all--with thick, blue, limestone strata that, like some divine
agent working in the dark, kept crumbling--ever crumbling--to enrich the soil
and give bone-building virtue to every drop of water and every blade of grass.
For those chosen people such, too, seemed her purpose--the Mother went to the
race upon whom she had smiled a benediction for a thousand years--the race
that obstacle but strengthens, that thrives best under an alien effort to
kill, that has ever conquered its conquerors, and that seems bent on the task
of carrying the best ideals any age has ever known back to the Old World from
which it sprang. The Great Mother knows! Knows that her children must suffer,
if they stray too far from her great teeming breasts. And how she has followed
close when this Saxon race--her youngest born--seemed likely to stray too
far--gathering its sons to her arms in virgin lands that they might suckle
again and keep the old blood fresh and strong. Who could know what danger
threatened it when she sent her blue-eyed men and women to people the
wilderness of the New World? To climb the Alleghenies, spread through the
wastes beyond, and plant their kind across a continent from sea to sea. Who
knows what dangers threaten now, when, his task done, she seems to be opening
the eastern gates of the earth with a gesture that seems to say--"Enter,
reclaim, and dwell therein!"
One little race of that race in the New World, and one only, has she kept
flesh of her flesh, bone of her bone--to that race only did she give no
outside aid. She shut it in with gray hill and shining river. She shut it off
from the mother state and the mother nation and left it to fight its own fight
with savage nature, savage beast, and savage man. And thus she gave the little
race strength of heart and body and brain, and taught it to stand together as
she taught each man of the race to stand alone, protect his women, mind his
own business, and meddle not at all; to think his own thoughts and die for
them if need be, though he divided his own house against itself; taught the
man to cleave to one woman, with the penalty of death if he strayed elsewhere;
to keep her-- and even himself--in dark ignorance of the sins against Herself
for which she has slain other nations, and in that happy ignorance keeps them
to-day, even while she is slaying elsewhere still.
And Nature holds the Kentuckians close even to-day--suckling at her breasts
and living after her simple laws. What further use she may have for them is
hid by the darkness of to-morrow, but before the Great War came she could look
upon her work and say with a smile that it was good. The land was a great
series of wooded parks such as one might have found in Merry England, except
that worm fence and stone wall took the place of hedge along the highways. It
was a land of peace and of a plenty that was close to easy luxury--for all.
Poor whites were few, the beggar was unknown, and throughout the region there
was no man, woman, or child, perhaps, who did not have enough to eat and to
wear and a roof to cover his head, whether it was his own roof or not. If
slavery had to be--then the fetters were forged light and hung loosely. And,
broadcast, through the people, was the upright sturdiness of the
Scotch-Irishman, without his narrowness and bigotry; the grace and chivalry of
the Cavalier without his Quixotic sentiment and his weakness; the jovial
good-nature of the English squire and the leavening spirit of a simple
yeomanry that bore itself with unconscious tenacity to traditions that seeped
from the very earth. And the wings of the eagle hovered over all.
For that land it was the flowering time of the age and the people; and the bud
that was about to open into the perfect flower had its living symbol in the
little creature racing over the bluegrass fields on a black pony, with a black
velvet cap and a white nodding plume above her shaking curls, just as the
little stranger who had floated down into those Elysian fields--with better
blood in his veins than he knew--was a reincarnation perhaps of the spirit of
the old race that had lain dormant in the hills. The long way from log-cabin
to Greek portico had marked the progress of the generations before her, and,
on this same way, the boy had set his sturdy feet.
CHAPTER 11. A TOURNAMENT
On Sunday, the Major and Miss Lucy took Chad to church--a country church built
of red brick and overgrown with ivy--and the sermon was very short, Chad
thought, for, down in the mountains, the circuit-rider would preach for
hours--and the deacons passed around velvet pouches for the people to drop
money in, and they passed around bread, of which nearly everybody took a
pinch, and a silver goblet with wine, from which the same people took a
sip--all of which Chad did not understand. Usually the Deans went to Lexington
to church, for they were Episcopalians, but they were all at the country
church that day, and with them was Richard Hunt, who smiled at Chad and waved
his riding-whip. After church Dan came to him and shook hands. Harry nodded to
him gravely, the mother smiled kindly, and the General put his hand on the
boy's head. Margaret looked at him furtively, but passed him by. Perhaps she
was still "mad" at him, Chad thought, and he was much worried. Margaret was
not shy like Melissa, but her face was kind. The General asked them all over
to take dinner, but Miss Lucy declined--she had asked people to take dinner
with her. And Chad, with keen disappointment, saw them drive away.
It was a lonely day for him that Sunday. He got tired staying so long at the
table, and he did not understand what the guests were talking about. The
afternoon was long, and he wandered restlessly about the yard and the
quarters. Jerome Conners, the overseer, tried to be friendly with him for the
first time, but the boy did not like the overseer and turned away from him. He
walked down to the pike gate and sat on it, looking over toward the Deans'. He
wished that Dan would come over to see him or, better still, that he could go
over to see Dan and Harry and--Margaret. But Dan did not come and Chad could
not ask the Major to let him go--he was too shy about it--and Chad was glad
when bedtime came.
Two days more and spring was come in earnest. It was in the softness of the
air, the tenderness of cloud and sky, and the warmth of the sunlight. The
grass was greener and the trees quivered happily. Hens scratched and cocks
crowed more lustily. Insect life was busier. A stallion nickered in the barn,
and from the fields came the mooing of cattle. Field-hands going to work
chaffed the maids about the house and quarters. It stirred dreamy memories of
his youth in the Major, and it brought a sad light into Miss Lucy's faded
eyes. Would she ever see another spring? It brought tender memories to General
Dean, and over at Woodlawn, after he and Mrs. Dean had watched the children go
off with happy cries and laughter to school, it led them back into the house
hand in hand. And it set Chad's heart aglow as he walked through the dewy
grass and amid the singing of many birds toward the pike gate. He, too, was on
his way to school--in a brave new suit of clothes--and nobody smiled at him
now, except admiringly, for the Major had taken him to town the preceding day
and had got the boy clothes such as Dan and Harry wore. Chad was worried at
first--he did not like to accept so much from the Major.
"I'll pay you back," said Chad. "I'll leave you my hoss when I go 'way, if I
don't," and the Major laughingly said that was all right and he made Chad,
too, think that it was all right. And so spring took the shape of hope in
Chad's breast, that morning, and a little later it took the shape of Margaret,
for he soon saw the Dean children ahead of him in the road and he ran to catch
up with them.
All looked at him with surprise--seeing his broad white collar with ruffles,
his turned-back, ruffled cuffs, and his boots with red tops; but they were too
polite to say anything. Still Chad felt Margaret taking them all in and he was
proud and confident. And, when her eyes were lifted to the handsome face that
rose from the collar and the thick yellow hair, he caught them with his own in
an unconscious look of fealty, that made the little girl blush and hurry on
and not look at him again until they were in school, when she turned her eyes,
as did all the other boys and girls, to scan the new "scholar." Chad's work in
the mountains came in well now. The teacher, a gray, sad-eyed, thin-faced man,
was surprised at the boy's capacity, for he could read as well as Dan, and in
mental arithmetic even Harry was no match for him; and when in the spelling
class he went from the bottom to the head in a single lesson, the teacher
looked as though he were going to give the boy a word of praise openly and
Margaret was regarding him with a new light in her proud eyes. That was a
happy day for Chad, but it passed after school when, as they went home
together, Margaret looked at him no more; else Chad would have gone by the
Deans' house when Dan and Harry asked him to go and look at their ponies and
the new sheep that their father had just bought; for Chad was puzzled and awed
and shy of the little girl. It was strange--he had never felt that way about
Melissa. But his shyness kept him away from her day after day until, one
morning, he saw her ahead of him going to school alone, and his heart thumped
as he quietly and swiftly overtook her without calling to her; but he stopped
running that she might not know that he had been running, and for the first
time she was shy with him. Harry and Dan were threatened with the measles, she
said, and would say no more. When they went through the fields toward the
school-house, Chad stalked ahead as he had done in the mountains with Melissa,
and, looking back, he saw that Margaret had stopped. He waited for her to come
up, and she looked at him for a moment as though displeased. Puzzled, Chad
gave back her look for a moment and turned without a word--still stalking
ahead. He looked back presently and Margaret had stopped and was pouting.
"You aren't polite, little boy. My mamma says a NICE little boy always lets a
little GIRL go first." But Chad still walked ahead. He looked back presently
and she had stopped again--whether angry or ready to cry, he could not make
out-- so he waited for her, and as she came slowly near he stepped gravely
from the path, and Margaret went on like a queen.
In town, a few days later, he saw a little fellow take off his hat when a lady
passed him, and it set Chad to thinking. He recalled asking the school-master
once what was meant when the latter read about a knight doffing his plume, and
the school-master had told him that men, in those days, took off their hats in
the presence of ladies just as they did in the Bluegrass now; but Chad had
forgotten. He understood it all then and he surprised Margaret, next morning,
by taking off his cap gravely when he spoke to her; and the little lady was
greatly pleased, for her own brothers did not do that, at least, not to her,
though she had heard her mother tell them that they must. All this must be
chivalry, Chad thought, and when Harry and Dan got well, he revived his old
ideas, but Harry laughed at him and Dan did, too, until Chad, remembering
Beelzebub, suggested that they should have a tournament with two rams that the
General had tied up in the stable. They would make spears and each would get
on a ram. Harry would let them out into the lot and they would have "a real
charge--sure enough." But Margaret received the plan with disdain, until Dan,
at Chad's suggestion, asked the General to read them the tournament scene in
"Ivanhoe," which excited the little lady a great deal; and when Chad said that
she must be the "Queen of Love and Beauty" she blushed prettily and thought,
after all, that it would be great fun. They would make lances of ash-wood and
helmets of tin buckets, and perhaps Margaret would make red sashes for them.
Indeed, she would, and the tournament would take place on the next Saturday.
But, on Saturday, one of the sheep was taken over to Major Buford's and the
other was turned loose in the Major's back pasture and the great day had to be
It was on the night of the reading from "Ivanhoe" that Harry and Dan found out
how Chad could play the banjo. Passing old Mammy's cabin that night before
supper, the three boys had stopped to listen to old Tom play, and after a few
tunes, Chad could stand it no longer.
"I foller pickin' the banjer a leetle," he said shyly, and thereupon he had
taken the rude instrument and made the old negro's eyes stretch with
amazement, while Dan rolled in the grass with delight, and every negro who
heard ran toward the boy. After supper, Dan brought the banjo into the house
and made Chad play on the porch, to the delight of them all. And there, too,
the servants gathered, and even old Mammy was observed slyly shaking her
foot--so that Margaret clapped her hands and laughed the old woman into great
confusion. After that no Saturday came that Chad did not spend the night at
the Deans', or Harry and Dan did not stay at Major Buford's. And not a
Saturday passed that the three boys did not go coon-hunting with the darkies,
or fox-hunting with the Major and the General. Chad never forgot that first
starlit night when he was awakened by the near winding of a horn and heard the
Major jump from bed. He jumped too, and when the Major reached the barn, a
dark little figure was close at his heels.
"Can I go, too?" Chad asked, eagerly.
"Think you can stick on?"
"All right. Get my bay horse. That old mare of yours is too slow."
The Major's big bay horse! Chad was dizzy with pride.
When they galloped out into the dark woods, there were the General and Harry
and Dan and half a dozen neighbors, sitting silently on their horses and
listening to the music of the hounds.
The General laughed.
"I thought you'd come," he said, and the Major laughed too, and cocked his
ear. "Old Rock's ahead," he said, for he knew, as did everyone there, the old
"He's been ahead for an hour," said the General with quiet satisfaction, "and
I think he'll stay there."
Just then a dark object swept past them, and the Major with a low cry hied on
his favorite hound.
"Not now, I reckon," he said, and the General laughed again.
Dan and Harry pressed their horses close to Chad, and all talked in low
"Ain't it fun?" whispered Dan. Chad answered with a shiver of pure joy.
"He's making for the creek," said the Major, sharply, and he touched spurs to
his horse. How they raced through the woods, cracking brush and whisking
around trees, and how they thundered over the turf and clattered across the
road and on! For a few moments the Major kept close to Chad, watching him
anxiously, but the boy stuck to the big bay like a jockey, and he left Dan and
Harry on their ponies far behind. All night they rode under the starlit sky,
and ten miles away they caught poor Reynard. Chad was in at the kill, with the
Major and the General, and the General gave Chad the brush with his own hand.
"Where did you learn to ride, boy?"
"I never learned," said Chad, simply, whereat the Major winked at his friends
and patted Chad on the shoulder.
"I've got to let my boys ride better horses, I suppose," said the General; "I
can't have a boy who does not know how to ride beating them this way."
Day was breaking when the Major and Chad rode into the stable-yard. The boy's
face was pale, his arms and legs ached, and he was so sleepy that he could
hardly keep his eyes open.
"How'd you like it, Chad?"
"I never knowed nothing like it in my life," said Chad.
"I'm going to teach you to shoot."
"Yes, sir," said Chad.
As they approached the house, a squirrel barked from the woods.
"Hear that, Chad?" said the Major. "We'll get him."
The following morning, Chad rose early and took his old rifle out into the
woods, and when the Major came out on the porch before breakfast the boy was
coming up the walk with six squirrels in his hand. The Major's eyes opened and
he looked at the squirrels when Chad dropped them on the porch. Every one of
them was shot through the head.
"Well, I'm damned! How many times did you shoot, Chad?"
"What--missed only once?"
"I took a knot fer a squirrel once," said Chad.
The Major roared aloud.
"Did I say I was going to teach you to shoot, Chad?"
The Major chuckled and that day he told about those squirrels and that knot to
everybody he saw. With every day the Major grew fonder and prouder of the boy
and more convinced than ever that the lad was of his own blood.
"There's nothing that I like that that boy don't take to like a duck to
water." And when he saw the boy take off his hat to Margaret and observed his
manner with the little girl, he said to himself that if Chad wasn't a
gentleman born, he ought to have been, and the Major believed that he must be.
Everywhere, at school, at the Deans', with the darkies--with everybody but
Conners, the overseer, had became a favorite, but, as to Napoleon, so to Chad,
came Waterloo--with the long deferred tournament came Waterloo to Chad.
And it came after a certain miracle on May-day. The Major had taken Chad to
the festival where the dance was on sawdust in the woodland--in the bottom of
a little hollow, around which the seats ran as in an amphitheatre. Ready to
fiddle for them stood none other than John Morgan himself, his gray eyes
dancing and an arch smile on his handsome face; and, taking a place among the
dancers, were Richard Hunt and--Margaret. The poised bow fell, a merry tune
rang out, and Richard Hunt bowed low to his little partner, who, smiling and
blushing, dropped him the daintiest of graceful courtesies. Then the miracle
came to pass. Rage straightway shook Chad's soul--shook it as a terrier shakes
a rat--and the look on his face and in his eyes went back a thousand years.
And Richard Hunt, looking up, saw the strange spectacle, understood, and did
not even smile. On the contrary, he went at once after the dance to speak to
the boy and got for his answer fierce, white, staring silence and a clinched
fist, that was almost ready to strike. Something else that was strange
happened then to Chad. He felt a very firm and a very gentle hand on his
shoulder, his own eyes dropped before the piercing dark eyes and kindly smile
above him, and, a moment later, he was shyly making his way with Richard Hunt
It was on Thursday of the following week that Dan told him the two rams were
once more tied in his father's stable. On Saturday, then, they would have the
tournament. To get Mammy's help, Margaret had to tell the plan to her, and
Mammy stormed against the little girl taking part in any such undignified
proceedings, but imperious Margaret forced her to keep silent and help make
sashes and a tent for each of the two knights. Chad would be the "Knight of
the Cumberland" and Dan the "Knight of the Bluegrass." Snowball was to be
Dan's squire and black Rufus, Harry's body-servant, would be squire to Chad.
Harry was King John, the other pickaninnies would be varlets and vassals, and
outraged Uncle Tom, so Dan told him, would, "by the beard of Abraham," have to
be a "Dog of an Unbeliever." Margaret was undecided whether she would play
Rebecca, or the "Queen of Love and Beauty," until Chad told her she ought to
be both, so both she decided to be. So all was done--the spears fashioned of
ash, the helmets battered from tin buckets, colors knotted for the spears, and
shields made of sheepskins. On the stiles sat Harry and Margaret in royal
state under a canopy of calico, with indignant Mammy behind them. At each end
of the stable-lot was a tent of cotton, and before one stood Snowball and
before the other black Rufus, each with his master's spear and shield. Near
Harry stood Sam, the trumpeter, with a fox-horn to sound the charge, and four
black vassals stood at the stable-door to lead the chargers forth.
Near the stiles were the neighbors' children, and around the barn was gathered
every darky on the place, while behind the hedge and peeping through it were
the Major and the General, the one chuckling, the other smiling indulgently.
The stable-doors opened, the four vassals disappeared and came forth, each
pair leading a ram, one covered with red calico, the other with blue cotton,
and each with a bandanna handkerchief around his neck. Each knight stepped
forth from his tent, as his charger was dragged--ba-a-ing and butting--toward
it, and, grasping his spear and shield and setting his helmet on more firmly,
got astride gravely--each squire and vassal solemn, for the King had given
command that no varlet must show unseemly mirth. Behind the hedge, the Major
was holding his hands to his side, and the General was getting grave. It had
just occurred to him that those rams would make for each other like tornadoes,
and he said so.
"Of course they will," chuckled the Major. "Don't you suppose they know that?
That's what they're doing it for. Bless my soul!"
The King waved his hand just then and his black trumpeter tooted the charge.
"Leggo!" said Chad.
"Leggo!" said Dan.
And Snowball and Rufus let go, and each ram ran a few paces and stopped with
his head close to the ground, while each knight brandished his spear and dug
with his spurred heels. One charger gave a ba-a! The other heard, raised his
head, saw his enemy, and ba-a-ed an answering challenge. Then they started for
each other with a rush that brought a sudden fearsome silence, quickly
followed by a babel of excited cries, in which Mammy's was loudest and most
indignant. Dan, nearly unseated, had dropped his lance to catch hold of his
charger's wool, and Chad had gallantly lowered the point of his, because his
antagonist was unarmed. But the temper of rams and not of knights was in that
fight now and they came together with a shock that banged the two knights into
each other and hurled both violently to the ground. General Dean and the Major
ran anxiously from the hedge. Several negro men rushed for the rams, who were
charging and butting like demons. Harry tumbled from the canopy in a most
unkingly fashion. Margaret cried and Mammy wrung her hands. Chad rose dizzily,
but Dan lay still. Chad's elbow had struck him in the temple and knocked him
The servants were thrown into an uproar when Dan was carried back into the
house. Harry was white and almost in tears.
"I did it, father, I did it," he said, at the foot of the steps.
"No," said Chad, sturdily, "I done it myself."
Margaret heard and ran from the hallway and down the steps, brushing away her
tears with both hands.
"Yes, you did--you DID," she cried. "I hate you."
"Why, Margaret," said General Dan.
Chad startled and stung, turned without a word and, unnoticed by the rest,
made his way slowly across the fields.
CHAPTER 12. BACK TO KINGDOM COME
It was the tournament that, at last, loosed Mammy's tongue. She was savage in
her denunciation of Chad to Mrs. Dean--so savage and in such plain language
that her mistress checked her sharply, but not before Margaret had heard,
though the little girl, with an awed face, slipped quietly out of the room
into the yard, while Harry stood in the doorway, troubled and silent.
"Don't let me hear you speak that way again Mammy," said Mrs. Dean, so sternly
that the old woman swept out of the room in high dudgeon And yet she told her
husband of Mammy's charge;
"I am rather surprised at Major Buford."
"Perhaps he doesn't know," said the General. "Perhaps it isn't true."
"Nobody knows anything about the boy."
"Well, I cannot have my children associating with a waif."
"He seems like a nice boy."
"He uses extraordinary language. I cannot have him teaching my children
mischief. Why I believe Margaret is really fond of him. I know Harry and Dan
are." The General looked thoughtful.
"I will speak to Major Buford about him," he said, and he did--no little to
that gentleman's confusion--though he defended Chad staunchly--and the two
friends parted with some heat.
Thereafter, the world changed for Chad, for is there any older and truer story
than that Evil has wings, while Good goes a plodding way? Chad felt the
change, in the negroes, in the sneering overseer, and could not understand.
The rumor reached Miss Lucy's ears and she and the Major had a spirited
discussion that rather staggered Chad's kind-hearted companion. It reached the
school, and a black-haired youngster, named Georgie Forbes, who had long been
one of Margaret's abject slaves, and who hated Chad, brought out the terrible
charge in the presence of a dozen school-children at noon-recess one day. It
had been no insult in the mountains, but Chad, dazed though he was, knew it
was meant for an insult, and his hard fist shot out promptly, landing in his
enemy's chin and bringing him bawling to the earth. Others gave out the cry
then, and the boy fought right and left like a demon. Dan stood sullenly near,
taking no part, and Harry, while he stopped the unequal fight, turned away
from Chad coldly, calling Margaret, who had run up toward them, away at the
same time, and Chad's three friends turned from him then and there, while the
boy, forgetting all else, stood watching them with dumb wonder and pain. The
school-bell clanged, but Chad stood still--with his heart well nigh breaking.
In a few minutes the last pupil had disappeared through the school-room door,
and Chad stood under a great elm--alone. But only a moment, for he turned
quickly away, the tears starting to his eyes, walked rapidly through the
woods, climbed the worm fence beyond, and dropped, sobbing, in the thick
An hour later he was walking swiftly through the fields toward the old brick
house that had sheltered him. He was very quiet at supper that night, and
after Miss Lucy had gone to bed and he and the Major were seated before the
fire, he was so quiet that the Major looked at him anxiously.
"What's the matter Chad? Are you sick?"
But the Major was uneasy, and when he rose to go to bed, he went over and put
his hand on the boy's head.
"Chad," he said, "if you hear of people saying mean things about you, you
mustn't pay any attention to them."
"You're a good boy, and I want you to live here with me. Good-night, Chad," he
added, affectionately. Chad nearly broke down, but he steadied himself.
"Good-by, Major," he said, brokenly. "I'm obleeged to you."
"Good-by?" repeated the Major. "Why?"
"Good-night, I mean," stammered Chad.
The Major stood inside his own door, listening to the boy's slow steps up the
second flight. "I'm gettin' to love that boy," he said, wonderingly-- "An' I'm
damned if people who talk about him don't have me to reckon with"--and the
Major shook his head from side to side. Several times he thought he could hear
the boy moving around in the room above him, and while he was wondering why
the lad did not go to bed, he fell asleep.
Chad was moving around. First, by the light of a candle, he laboriously dug
out a short letter to the Major--scalding it with tears. Then he took off his
clothes and got his old mountain-suit out of the closet--moccasins and
all--and put them on. Very carefully he folded the pretty clothes he had taken
off--just as Miss Lucy had taught him--and laid them on the bed. Then he
picked up his old rifle in one hand and his old coonskin cap in the other,
blew out the candle, slipped noiselessly down the stairs in his moccasined
feet, out the unbolted door and into the starlit night. From the pike fence he
turned once to look back to the dark, silent house amid the dark trees. Then
he sprang down and started through the fields--his face set toward the
It so happened that mischance led General Dean to go over to see Major Buford
about Chad next morning. The Major listened patiently--or tried ineffectively
to listen--and when the General was through, he burst out with a vehemence
that shocked and amazed his old friend.
"Damn those niggers!" he cried, in a tone that seemed to include the General
in his condemnation, "that boy is the best boy I ever knew. I believe he is my
own blood, he looks a little like that picture there"--pointing to the old
portrait--"and if he is what I believe he is, by --, sir, he gets this farm
and all I have. Do you understand that?"
"I believe he told you what he was."
"He did--but I don't believe he knows, and, anyhow, whatever he is, he shall
have a home under this roof as long as he lives."
The General rose suddenly--stiffly.
"He must never darken my door again."
"Very well." The Major made a gesture which plainly said, "In that event, you
are darkening mine too long," and the General rose, slowly descended the steps
of the portico, and turned:
"Do you really mean, that you are going to let a little brat that you picked
up in the road only yesterday stand between you and me?"
The Major softened.
"Look here," he said, whisking a sheet of paper from his coat-pocket. While
the General read Chad's scrawl, the Major watched his face.
"He's gone, by --. A hint was enough for him. If he isn't the son of a
gentleman, then I'm not, nor you."
"Cal," said the General, holding out his hand, "we'll talk this over again."
The bees buzzed around the honeysuckles that clambered over the porch. A crow
flew overhead. The sound of a crying child came around the corner of the house
from the quarters, and the General's footsteps died on the gravel-walk, but
the Major heard them not. Mechanically he watched the General mount his black
horse and canter toward the pike gate. The overseer called to him from the
stable, but the Major dropped his eyes to the scrawl in his hand, and when
Miss Lucy came out he silently handed it to her.
"I reckon you know what folks is a-sayin' about me. I tol' you myself. But I
didn't know hit wus any harm, and anyways hit ain't my fault, I reckon, an' I
don't see how folks can blame me. But I don' want nobody who don' want me. An'
I'm leavin' 'cause I don't want to bother you. I never bring nothing but
trouble nohow an' I'm goin' back to the mountains. Tell Miss Lucy good-by. She
was mighty good to me, but I know she didn't like me. I left the hoss for you.
If you don't have no use fer the saddle, I wish you'd give hit to Harry,
'cause he tuk up fer me at school when I was fightin', though he wouldn't
speak to me no more. I'm mighty sorry to leave you. I'm obleeged to you cause
you wus so good to me an' I'm goin' to see you agin some day, if I can.
"Left that damned old mare to pay for his clothes and his board and his
schooling," muttered the Major. "By the gods"--he rose suddenly and strode
away--"I beg your pardon, Lucy."
A tear was running down each of Miss Lucy's faded cheeks.
Dawn that morning found Chad springing from a bed in a haystack--ten miles
from Lexington. By dusk that day, he was on the edge of the Bluegrass and that
night he stayed at a farm-house, going in boldly, for he had learned now that
the wayfarer was as welcome in a Bluegrass farm-house as in a log-cabin in the
mountains. Higher and higher grew the green swelling slopes, until, climbing
one about noon next day, he saw the blue foothills of the Cumberland through
the clear air--and he stopped and looked long, breathing hard from pure
ecstasy. The plain-dweller never knows the fierce home hunger that the
mountain-born have for hills.
Besides, beyond those blue summits were the Turners and the school-master and
Jack, waiting for him, and he forgot hunger and weariness as he trod on
eagerly toward them. That night, he stayed in a mountain-cabin, and while the
contrast of the dark room, the crowding children, the slovenly dress, and the
coarse food was strangely disagreeable, along with the strange new shock came
the thrill that all this meant hills and home. It was about three o'clock of
the fourth day that, tramping up the Kentucky River, he came upon a long, even
stretch of smooth water, from the upper end of which two black boulders were
thrust out of the stream, and with a keener thrill he realized that he was
nearing home. He recalled seeing those rocks as the raft swept down the river,
and the old Squire had said that they were named after oxen--"Billy and Buck."
Opposite the rocks he met a mountaineer.
"How fer is it to Uncle Joel Turner's?"
"A leetle the rise o' six miles, I reckon."
The boy was faint with weariness, and those six miles seemed a dozen. Idea of
distance is vague among the mountaineers, and two hours of weary travel
followed, yet nothing that he recognized was in sight. Once a bend of the
river looked familiar, but when he neared it, the road turned steeply from the
river and over a high bluff, and the boy started up with a groan. He meant to
reach the summit before he stopped to rest, but in sheer pain, he dropped a
dozen paces from the top and lay with his tongue, like a dog's, between his
The top was warm, but a chill was rising from the fast-darkening shadows below
him. The rim of the sun was about to brush the green tip of a mountain across
the river, and the boy rose in a minute, dragged himself on to the point
where, rounding a big rock, he dropped again with a thumping heart and a
reeling brain. There it was--old Joel's cabin in the pretty valley below--old
Joel's cabin--home! Smoke was rising from the chimney, and that far away it
seemed that Chad could smell frying bacon. There was the old barn and he could
make out one of the boys feeding stock and another chopping wood--was that the
school-master? There was the huge form of old Joel at the fence talking with a
neighbor. He was gesticulating as though angry, and the old mother came to the
door as the neighbor moved away with a shuffling gait that the boy knew
belonged to the Dillon breed. Where was Jack? Jack! Chad sprang to his feet
and went down the hill on a run. He climbed the orchard fence, breaking the
top rail in his eagerness, and as he neared the house, he gave a shrill yell.
A scarlet figure flashed like a flame out of the door, with an answering cry,
and the Turners followed:
"Why, boy," roared old Joel. "Mammy, hit's Chad!"
Dolph dropped an armful of feed. The man with the axe left it stuck in a log,
and each man shouted:
The mountaineers are an undemonstrative race, but Mother Turner took the boy
in her arms and the rest crowded around, slapping him on the back and all
asking questions at once. Dolph and Rube and Tom. Yes, and there was the
school-master--every face was almost tender with love for the boy. But where
"Where's--where's Jack?" said Chad.
Old Joel changed face--looking angry; the rest were grave. Only the old mother
"Jack's all right."
"Oh," said Chad, but he looked anxious.
Melissa inside heard. He had not asked for HER, and with the sudden choking of
a nameless fear she sprang out the door to be caught by the school-master, who
had gone around the corner to look for her.
"Lemme go," she said, fiercely, breaking his hold and darting away, but
stopping, when she saw Chad in the doorway, looking at her with a shy smile.
The girl stared at him mildly and made no answer, and a wave of shame and
confusion swept over the boy as his thoughts flashed back to a little girl in
a black cap and on a black pony, and he stood reddening and helpless. There
was a halloo at the gate. It was old Squire Middleton and the circuit-rider,
and old Joel went toward them with a darkening face.
"Why, hello, Chad," the Squire said. "You back again?"
He turned to Joel.
"Look hyeh, Joel. Thar hain't no use o' your buckin' agin yo' neighbors and
harborin' a sheep-killin' dog." Chad started and looked from one face to
another--slowly but surely making out the truth.
"You never seed the dawg afore last spring. You don't know that he hain't a
"It's a lie--a lie," Chad cried, hotly, but the school-master stopped him.
"Hush, Chad," he said, and he took the boy inside and told him Jack was in
trouble. A Dillon sheep had been found dead on a hill-side. Daws Dillon had
come upon Jack leaping out of the pasture, and Jack had come home with his
muzzle bloody. Even with this overwhelming evidence, old Joel stanchly refused
to believe the dog was guilty and ordered old man Dillon off the place. A
neighbor had come over, then another, and an other, until old Joel got livid
"That dawg mought eat a dead sheep but he never would kill a live one, and if
you kill him, by , you've got to kill me fust."
Now there is no more unneighborly or unchristian act for a farmer than to
harbor a sheep-killing dog. So the old Squire and the circuit-rider had come
over to show Joel the grievous error of his selfish, obstinate course, and, so
far, old Joel had refused to be shown. All of his sons sturdily upheld him and
little Melissa fiercely--the old mother and the school-master alone remaining
quiet and taking no part in the dissension.
"Have they got Jack?"
"No, Chad," said the school-master. "He's safe--tied up in the stable." Chad
started out, and no one followed but Melissa. A joyous bark that was almost
human came from the stable as Chad approached, for the dog must have known the
sound of his master's footsteps, and when Chad drew open the door, Jack sprang
the length of his tether to meet him and was jerked to his back. Again and
again he sprang, barking, as though beside himself, while Chad stood at the
door, looking sorrowfully at him.
"Down, Jack!" he said sternly, and Jack dropped obediently, looking straight
at his master with honest eyes and whimpering like a child.
"Jack," said Chad, "did you kill that sheep?" This was all strange conduct for
his little master, and Jack looked wondering and dazed, but his eyes never
wavered or blinked. Chad could not long stand those honest eyes.
"No," he said, fiercely--"no, little doggie, no--no!" And Chad dropped on his
knees and took Jack in his arms and hugged him to his breast.
CHAPTER 13. ON TRIAL FOR HIS LIFE
By degrees the whole story was told Chad that night. Now and then the Turners
would ask him about his stay in the Bluegrass, but the boy would answer as
briefly as possible and come back to Jack. Before going to bed, Chad said he
would bring Jack into the house:
"Somebody might pizen him," he explained, and when he came back, he startled
the circle about the fire:
"Whar's Whizzer?" he asked, sharply. "Who's seen Whizzer?"
Then it developed that no one had seen the Dillon dog--since the day before
the sheep was found dead near a ravine at the foot of the mountain in a back
pasture. Late that afternoon Melissa had found Whizzer in that very pasture
when she was driving old Betsy, the brindle, home at milking-time. Since
then, no one of the Turners had seen the Dillon dog. That, however, did not
prove that Whizzer was not at home. And yet,
"I'd like to know whar Whizzer is now!" said Chad, and, after, at old Joel's
command, he had tied Jack to a bedpost--an outrage that puzzled the dog
sorely--the boy threshed his bed for an hour--trying to think out a defence
for Jack and wondering if Whizzer might not have been concerned in the death
of the sheep.
It is hardly possible that what happened, next day, could happen anywhere
except among simple people of the hills. Briefly, the old Squire and the
circuit-rider had brought old Joel to the point of saying, the night before,
that he would give Jack up to be killed, if he could be proven guilty. But
the old hunter cried with an oath:
"You've got to prove him guilty." And thereupon the Squire said he would give
Jack every chance that he would give a man--HE WOULD TRY HIM; each side could
bring in witnesses; old Joel could have a lawyer if he wished, and Jack's
case would go before a jury. If pronounced innocent, Jack should go free: if
guilty--then the dog should be handed over to the sheriff, to be shot at
sundown. Joel agreed.
It was a strange procession that left the gate of the Turner cabin next
morning. Old Joel led the way, mounted, with "ole Sal," his rifle, across his
saddle-bow. Behind him came Mother Turner and Melissa on foot and Chad with
his rifle over his left shoulder, and leading Jack by a string with his right
hand. Behind them slouched Tall Tom with his rifle and Dolph and Rube, each
with a huge old-fashioned horse-pistol swinging from his right hip. Last
strode the school-master. The cabin was left deserted--the hospitable door
held closed by a deer-skin latch caught to a wooden pin outside.
It was a strange humiliation to Jack thus to be led along the highway, like a
criminal going to the gallows. There was no power on earth that could have
moved him from Chad's side, other than the boy's own command--but old Joel
had sworn that he would keep the dog tied and the old hunter always kept his
word. He had sworn, too, that Jack should have a fair trial. Therefore, the
guns--and the school-master walked with his hands behind him and his eyes on
the ground: he feared trouble.
Half a mile up the river and to one side of the road, a space of some thirty
feet square had been cut into a patch of rhododendron and filled with rude
benches of slabs--in front of which was a rough platform on which sat a
home-made, cane-bottomed chair. Except for the opening from the road, the
space was walled with a circle of living green through which the sun dappled
the benches with quivering disks of yellow light--and, high above, great
poplars and oaks arched their mighty heads. It was an open-air
"meeting-house" where the circuit-rider preached during his summer circuit
and there the trial was to take place.
Already a crowd was idling, whittling, gossiping in the road, when the Turner
cavalcade came in sight--and for ten miles up and down the river people were
coming in for the trial
"Mornin', gentlemen," said old Joel, gravely.
"Mornin'," answered several, among whom was the Squire, who eyed Joel's gun
and the guns coming up the road.
"Squirrel-huntin'?" he asked and, as the old hunter did not answer, he added,
"Air you afeerd, Joel Turner, that you ain't a-goin' to git justice from ME?"
"I don't keer whar it comes from," said Joel, grimly--"but I'm a-goin' to
It was plain that the old man not only was making no plea for sympathy, but
was alienating the little he had: and what he had was very little, for who but
a lover of dogs can give full sympathy to his kind? And, then, Jack was
believed to be guilty. It was curious to see how each Dillon shrank
unconsciously as the Turners gathered--all but Jerry, one of the giant twins.
He always stood his ground--fearing nor man, nor dog--nor devil.
Ten minutes later, the Squire took his seat on the platform, while the
circuit-rider squatted down beside him. The crowd, men and women and
children, took the rough benches. To one side sat and stood the Dillons, old
Tad and little Tad, Daws, Nance, and others of the tribe. Straight in front
of the Squire gathered the Turners about Melissa and Chad--and Jack as a
centre--with Jack squatted on his hanches foremost of all, facing the Squire
with grave dignity and looking at none else save, occasionally, the old
hunter or his little master.
To the right stood the sheriff with his rifle, and on the outskirts hung the
school-master. Quickly the old Squire chose a jury--giving old Joel the
opportunity to object as he called each man's name. Old Joel objected to
none, for every man called, he knew, was more friendly to him than to the
Dillons: and old Tad Dillon raised no word of protest, for he knew his case
was clear. Then began the trial, and any soul that was there would have
shuddered could he have known how that trial was to divide neighbor against
neighbor, and mean death and bloodshed for half a century after the trial
itself was long forgotten.
The first witness, old Tad--long, lean, stooping, crafty--had seen the sheep
rushing wildly up the hill-side "'bout crack o' day," he said, and had sent
Daws up to see what the matter was. Daws had shouted back:
"That damned Turner dog has killed one o' our sheep. Thar he comes now. Kill
him!" And old Tad had rushed in-doors for his rifle and had taken a shot at
Jack as he leaped into the road and loped for home. Just then a stern, thick
little voice rose from behind Jack:
"Hit was a God's blessin' fer you that you didn't hit him."
The Squire glared down at the boy and old Joel said, kindly:
Old Dillon had then gone down to the Turners and asked them to kill the dog,
but old Joel had refused.
"Whar was Whizzer?" Chad asked, sharply.
"You can't axe that question," said the Squire. "Hit's er-er-irrelevant."
Daws came next. When he reached the fence upon the hill-side he could see the
sheep lying still on the ground. As he was climbing over, the Turner dog
jumped the fence and Daws saw blood on his muzzle.
"How close was you to him?" asked the Squire.
"'Bout twenty feet," said Daws.
"Humph!" said old Joel.
"Whar was Whizzer?" Again the old Squire glared down at Chad.
"Don't you axe that question again, boy. Didn't I tell you hit was
"What's irrelevant?" the boy asked, bluntly.
The Squire hesitated. "Why--why, hit ain't got nothin' to do with the case."
"Hit ain't?" shouted Chad.
"Joel," said the Squire, testily, "ef you don't keep that boy still, I'll
fine him fer contempt o' court."
Joel laughed, but he put his heavy hand on the boy's shoulder. Little Tad
Dillon and Nance and the Dillon mother had all seen Jack running down the
road. There was no doubt but that it was the Turner dog. And with this clear
case against poor Jack, the Dillons rested. And what else could the Turners
do but establish Jack's character and put in a plea of mercy--a useless plea,
old Joel knew --for a first offence? Jack was the best dog old Joel had ever
known, and the old man told wonderful tales of the dog's intelligence and
kindness and how one night Jack had guarded a stray lamb that had broken its
leg--until daybreak--and he had been led to the dog and the sheep by Jack's
barking for help. The Turner boys confirmed this story, though it was
received with incredulity.
How could a dog that would guard one lone helpless lamb all night long take
the life of another?
There was no witness that had aught but kind words to say of the dog or aught
but wonder that he should have done this thing--even back to the
cattle-dealer who had given him to Chad. For at that time the dealer said--so
testified Chad, no objection being raised to hearsay evidence--that Jack was
the best dog he ever knew. That was all the Turners or anybody could do or
say, and the old Squire was about to turn the case over to the jury when Chad
"Squire," he said and his voice trembled, "Jack's my dog. I lived with him
night an' day for 'bout three years an' I want to axe some questions."
He turned to Daws:
"I want to axe you ef thar was any blood around that sheep."
"Thar was a great big pool o' blood," said Daws, indignantly. Chad looked at
"Well, a sheep-killin' dog don't leave no great big pool o' blood, Squire,
with the FUST one he kills! He SUCKS it!" Several men nodded their heads.
"Squire! The fust time I come over these mountains, the fust people I seed
was these Dillons--an' Whizzer. They sicked Whizzer on Jack hyeh and Jack
whooped him. Then Tad thar jumped me and I whooped him." (The Turner boys
were nodding confirmation.) "Sence that time they've hated Jack an' they've
hated me and they hate the Turners partly fer takin' keer o' me. Now you said
somethin' I axed just now was irrelevant, but I tell you, Squire, I know a
sheep-killin' dawg, and jes' as I know Jack AIN'T, I know the Dillon dawg
naturely is, and I tell you, if the Dillons' dawg killed that sheep and they
could put it on Jack--they'd do it. They'd do it--Squire, an' I tell you,
you--ortern't--to let--that sheriff--thar--shoot my--dog--until the Dillons
answers what I axed--" the boy's passionate cry rang against the green walls
and out the opening and across the river--
The boy startled the crowd and the old Squire himself, who turned quickly to
"Well, whar is Whizzer?"
"He ain't been seen, Squire, sence the evenin' afore the night o' the
killin'!" Chad's statement seemed to be true. Not a voice contradicted.
"An' I want to know if Daws seed signs o' killin' on Jack's head when he
jumped the fence, why them same signs didn't show when he got home."
Poor Chad! Here old Tad Dillon raised his hand.
"Axe the Turners, Squire," he said, and as the school-master on the outskirts
shrank, as though he meant to leave the crowd, the old man's quick eye caught
the movement and he added:
"Axe the school-teacher!"
Every eye turned with the Squire's to the master, whose face was strangely
"Did you see any signs on the dawg when he got home?" The gaunt man hesitated,
with one swift glance at the boy, who almost paled in answer.
"Why," said the school-master, and again he hesitated, but old Joel, in a
voice that was without hope, encouraged him:
"What was they?"
"Jack had blood on his muzzle, and a little strand o' wool behind one ear."
There was no hope against that testimony. Melissa broke away from her mother
and ran out to the road--weeping. Chad dropped with a sob to his bench and
put his arms around the dog: then he rose up and walked out the opening while
Jack leaped against his leash to follow. The school-master put out his hand
to stop him, but the boy struck it aside without looking up and went on. He
could not stay to see Jack condemned. He knew what the verdict would be, and
in twenty minutes the jury gave it, without leaving their seats.
The Sheriff came forward. He knew Jack and Jack knew him, and wagged his tail
and whimpered up at him when he took the leash.
"Well, by --, this is a job I don't like, an' I'm damned ef I'm agoin' to
shoot this dawg afore he knows what I'm shootin' him fer. I'm goin' to show
him that sheep fust. Whar's that sheep, Daws?"
Daws led the way down the road, over the fence, across the meadow, and up the
hill-side where lay the slain sheep. Chad and Melissa saw them coming--the
whole crowd--before they themselves were seen. For a minute the boy watched
them. They were going to kill Jack where the Dillons said he had killed the
sheep, and the boy jumped to his feet and ran up the hill a little way and
disappeared in the bushes, that he might not hear Jack's death-shot, while
Melissa sat where she was, watching the crowd come on. Daws was at the foot
of the hill, and she saw him make a gesture toward her, and then the Sheriff
came on with Jack--over the fence, past her, the Sheriff saying, kindly,
"Howdy, Melissa. I shorely am sorry ta have to kill Jack," and on to the dead
sheep, which lay fifty yards beyond. If the Sheriff expected to drop head and
tail and look mean he was greatly mistaken. Jack neither hung back nor
sniffed at the carcass. Instead he put one fore foot on it and with the other
bent in the air, looked without shame into the Sheriff's eyes--as much as to
"Yes, this is a wicked and shameful thing, but what have I got to do with it?
Why are you bringing ME here?"
The Sheriff came back greatly puzzled and shaking his head. Passing Melissa,
he stopped to let the unhappy little girl give Jack a last pat, and it was
there that Jack suddenly caught scent of Chad's tracks. With one mighty bound
the dog snatched the rawhide string from the careless Sheriff's hand, and in
a moment, with his nose to the ground, was speeding up toward the woods. With
a startled yell and a frightful oath the Sheriff threw his rifle to his
shoulder, but the little girl sprang up and caught the barrel with both
hands, shaking it fiercely up and down and hieing Jack on with shriek after
shriek. A minute later Jack had disappeared in the bushes, Melissa was
running like the wind down the hill toward home, while the whole crowd in the
meadow was rushing up toward the Sheriff, led by the Dillons, who were
yelling and swearing like madmen. Above them, the crestfallen Sheriff waited.
The Dillons crowded angrily about him, gesticulating and threatening, while
he told his story. But nothing could be done--nothing. They did not know that
Chad was up in the woods or they would have gone in search of him--knowing
that when they found him they would find Jack--but to look for Jack now would
be like searching for a needle in a hay-stack. There was nothing to do, then,
but to wait for Jack to come home, which he would surely do--to get to
Chad--and it was while old Joel was promising that the dog should be
surrendered to the Sheriff that little Tad Dillon gave an excited shriek.
"Look up thar!"
And up there at the edge of the wood was Chad standing and, at his feet, Jack
sitting on his haunches, with his tongue out and looking as though nothing
had happened or could ever happen to Chad or to him.
"Come up hyeh," shouted Chad.
"You come down hyeh," shouted the Sheriff, angrily. So Chad came down, with
Jack trotting after him. Chad had cut off the rawhide string, but the Sheriff
caught Jack by the nape of the neck.
"You won't git away from me agin, I reckon."
"Well, I reckon you ain't goin' to shoot him," said Chad. "Leggo that dawg."
"Don't be a fool, Jim," said old Joel. "The dawg ain't goin' to leave the
boy." The Sheriff let go.
"Come on up hyeh," said Chad. "I got somethin' to show ye."
The boy turned with such certainty that with out a word Squire, Sheriff,
Turners, Dillons, and spectators followed. As they approached a deep ravine
the boy pointed to the ground where were evidences of some fierce
struggle--the dirt thrown up, and several small stones scattered about with
faded stains of blood on them.
"Wait hyeh!" said the boy, and he slid down the ravine and appeared again
dragging something after him. Tall Tom ran down to help him and the two threw
before the astonished crowd the body of a black and white dog. "Now I reckon
you know whar Whizzer is," panted Chad vindictively to the Dillons.
"Well, what of it?" snapped Daws
"Oh, nothin'," said the boy with fine sarcasm. "Only WHIZZER killed that
sheep and Jack killed Whizzer." From every Dillon throat came a scornful
"Oh, I reckon so," said Chad, easily. "Look dhar!" He lifted the dead dog's
head, and pointed at the strands of wool between his teeth. He turned it
over, showing the deadly grip in the throat and close to the jaws, that had
choked the life from Whizzer--Jack's own grip.
"Ef you will jes' rickollect, Jack had that same grip the time afore--when I
pulled him off o' Whizzer."
"By --, that is so," said Tall Tom, and Dolph and Rube echoed him amid a
dozen voices, for not only old Joel, but many of his neighbors knew Jack's
method of fighting, which had made him a victor up and down the length of
There was little doubt that the boy was right--that Jack had come on Whizzer
killing the sheep, and had caught him at the edge of the ravine, where the
two had fought, rolling down and settling the old feud between them in the
darkness at the bottom. And up there on the hill-side, the jury that
pronounced Jack guilty pronounced him innocent, and, as the Turners started
joyfully down the hill, the sun that was to have sunk on Jack stiff in death
sank on Jack frisking before them--home.
And yet another wonder was in store for Chad. A strange horse with a strange
saddle was hitched to the Turner fence; beside it was an old mare with a
boy's saddle, and as Chad came through the gate a familiar voice called him
cheerily by name. On the porch sat Major Buford.
CHAPTER 14. THE MAJOR IN THE MOUNTAINS
The quivering heat of August was giving way and the golden peace of autumn
was spreading through the land. The breath of mountain woods by day was as
cool as the breath of valleys at night. In the mountains, boy and girl were
leaving school for work in the fields, and from the Cumberland foothills to
the Ohio, boy and girl were leaving happy holidays for school. Along a rough,
rocky road and down a shining river, now sunk to deep pools with trickling
riffles between--for a drouth was on the land--rode a tall, gaunt man on an
old brown mare that switched with her tail now and then at a long-legged,
rough-haired colt stumbling awkwardly behind. Where the road turned from the
river and up the mountain, the man did a peculiar thing, for there, in that
lonely wilderness, he stopped, dismounted, tied the reins to an overhanging
branch and, leaving mare and colt behind, strode up the mountain, on and on,
disappearing over the top. Half an hour later, a sturdy youth hove in sight,
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