The Call of the Cumberlands (Chapter 8, page 1 of 10)


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Chapter 8

With his father's death Samson's schooling had ended. His
responsibility now was farm work and the roughly tender solicitude of a
young stoic for his mother. His evenings before the broad fireplace he
gave up to a devouring sort of study, but his books were few.

When, two years later, he laid the body of the Widow South beside that
of his father in the ragged hillside burying-ground, he turned his
nag's head away from the cabin where he had been born, and rode over to
make his home at his Uncle Spicer's place. He had, in mountain
parlance, "heired" a farm of four hundred acres, but a boy of twelve
can hardly operate a farm, even if he be so stalwart a boy as Samson.
His Uncle Spicer wanted him, and he went, and the head of the family
took charge of his property as guardian; placed a kinsman there to till
it, on shares, and faithfully set aside for the boy what revenue came
from the stony acres.

He knew that they would be rich acres when men
began to dig deeper than the hoe could scratch, and opened the veins
where the coal slept its unstirring sleep. The old man had not set such
store by learning as had Samson's father, and the little shaver's
education ended, except for what he could wrest from stinted sources
and without aid. His mission of "killing Hollmans" was not forgotten.
There had years ago been one general battle at a primary, when the two
factions fought for the control that would insure the victors safety
against "law trouble," and put into their hands the weapons of the
courts.

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