Dwellers in the Hills (Chapter 3, page 2 of 10)


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Chapter 3

It all went swimmingly when Ward was by, but no sooner was he stretched out with a dislocated shoulder from that mysterious blunder of the Black Abbot, than here was Cynthia trailing over the country with Hawk Rufe.

I stopped at the old Alestock mill where Ben's Run goes trickling into the Stone Coal, climbed down from El Mahdi and washed my face in the water, and then passed the rein under my arm and sat down in the road to await the arrival of my companions. The echo of the horses' feet was already coming, carried downward across the pasture land, and soon the head of the Cardinal arose above the little hill behind me, and then the Bay Eagle, and in a moment more Ump and Jud were sitting with me in the road.

We usually dismounted and sat on the earth when we had grave matters to consider. It was an unconscious custom like that which takes the wise man into the mountains and the lover under the moon. I think the Arab Sheik long and long ago learned this custom as we had learned it,--perhaps from a dim conception of some aid to be had from the great earth when one's heart is very deeply troubled.

I knew well enough that my companions had not passed Woodford without running the gauntlet of some interrogation, and I waited to hear what they had to say. I think it was Jud who spoke first, and his face was full of shadows. "I wouldn't never a believed it of Miss Cynthia," he began, "I wouldn't never a believed it."

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