The Call of the Cumberlands (Chapter 4, page 1 of 12)


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Chapter 4

In days when the Indian held the Dark and Bloody Grounds a pioneer,
felling oak and poplar logs for the home he meant to establish on the
banks of a purling water-course, let his axe slip, and the cutting edge
gashed his ankle. Since to the discoverer belongs the christening, that
water-course became Cripple-shin, and so it is to-day set down on atlas
pages. A few miles away, as the crow flies, but many weary leagues as a
man must travel, a brother settler, racked with rheumatism, gave to his
creek the name of Misery. The two pioneers had come together from
Virginia, as their ancestors had come before them from Scotland.

Together, they had found one of the two gaps through the mountain wall,
which for more than a hundred miles has no other passable rift.
Together, and as comrades, they had made their homes, and founded their
race. What original grievance had sprung up between their descendants
none of the present generation knew--perhaps it was a farm line or
disputed title to a pig. The primary incident was lost in the limbo of
the past; but for fifty years, with occasional intervals of truce,
lives had been snuffed out in the fiercely burning hate of these men
whose ancestors had been comrades.

Old Spicer South and his nephew Samson were the direct lineal
descendants of the namer of Misery. Their kinsmen dwelt about them: the
Souths, the Jaspers, the Spicers, the Wileys, the Millers and McCagers.
Other families, related only by marriage and close association, were,
in feud alignment, none the less "Souths." And over beyond the ridge,
where the springs and brooks flowed the other way to feed Crippleshin,
dwelt the Hollmans, the Purvies, the Asberries, the Hollises and the
Daltons--men equally strong in their vindictive fealty to the code of
the vendetta.

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