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67 Fifth Avente. 

Copyright, 189s, 




GiDEOiT McLeod liad lived, from child- 
hood up, in the K"orth Carolina mountains, 
as had his father before him ; but it was not 
until the year 1864, when the conscript 
officers, under the spur of necessity, became 
unusually active, that he removed into the 
fastnesses of the wild Nantahalas. The 
mountaineers as a class were notoriously 
indifferent to the issues of the war, and 
Gideon McLeod was no exception to the 
rule. With his childless wife and such of 
his belongings as could well be transported, 
he retired from view at the first note of 
-^alarm, and was seen no more. 




2 Corona of the Nantahalas, 

The refuge he had selected was a sheltered 
nook or cove high up in. the mouutains, 
and fully fifteen miles remote from any 
other human dwelling-place. Here a rude 
cabin was built, and gradually a few acres 
of ground were cleared. At the outset it 
vras the intention of the refugees eventually 
to return to the lower valley and the neigh- 
bourhood of their friends, but time passed, 
and they remained where they were. The 
war was over long before they knew of its 
termination, and their desire to return had 
meanwhile weakened. Sensitive at first 
because they hud had no children — a cala- 
mity almost unheard of among their prolific 
neighbours — their alienation was intensified 
later on, when a son was born to them, 
who by-and-by proved to be both deaf and 

So the seasons came and went, and the 
McLeods thought no more of leaving their 
hiding-place. The husband gradually 
cleared more land, ploughed his fields, sowed 
and harvested his crops. The wife spun 
and wove, kept her house, and watched the 
boy, who, despite his sad afiliction, was 
none the less her joy and pride. They 
were simple, unschooled folk, to begin with, 

Corona of the NantaJialas. 3 

born in the lonely mountains/ and were 
contented and happy in their solitary situa- 
tion to a degree quite inconceivable from 
our point of view. A few times a year 
Gideon McLeod descended to the settle- 
ment in the lower valley, in order to procure 
certain necessaries, such transportation as 
he required being accomplished by means 
of a pack-mule. A mountain bridle-path 
was as yet the only highway. And this 
was tlieir sole communication with their 

As the years passed, as he made addi- 
tions to his house and became more com- 
fortable, and as he saw his few sheep and 
cattle develop into considerable flocks and 
herds, Gideon McLeod gave thanks that 
the wherewithal of life was within his grasp. 
He had no money and needed none. The 
few farm implements and articles of house- 
hold use purchased now and then in the 
lower valley were all paid for in hides and 
furs, fruit of the hunting and trapping of 
leisure hours. The wild mountains were 
his kingdom. The outside world might go 
to war, or be wasted with pestilence or with 
famine ; he was free and independent of it 

4 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

Ifc was when the boy, whom they had 
named Dan, was about five years old that 
an event occurred which was the beginning 
of a new epoch in their lives. 

Gideon McLeod was walking in the forest 
on the slope of the mountain below his 
farm, one af Lernoon, when his attention was 
attracted to a very unusual sound — the 
sound of horse-hoofs on the flinty path 
leading down toward the lower valley. He 
was at once stirred with curiosity and 
wonder, perhaps even with something of 
alarm. Concealing himself behind a tree, 
he awaited the appearance of the horse on 
that portion of the path in view from where 
he stood. 

No one in the lower valley ever toiled up 
to Lonely Cove, either on business or to 
make a social visit, and if this were a 
stranger from other parts, what could be his 
object ? If the perplexed mountaineer had 
guessed for a whole year, he would not have 
anticipated what he saw. 

In a few moments a horseman appeared 
and drew rein, horse and rider thus being 
thrown in relief against the opposite green 
wall of trees. Gideon McLeod saw at a 
glance that the horse was a fine animal. 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 5 

though wet with sweat and travel-stained, 
and that the rider was not a mountaineer, 
but wore the clothes and had the air of a 
man of the outside world. He was young 
in years, too, and of a handsome face, but 
distinguished by a curious wildness of the 
eye. McLeod's next discovery was that 
the strange young man's right arm sup- 
ported a little child, whose wavy, flowing 
hair of light gold was all entangled with 
twigs and leaves, as if from hurried and 
reckless travelling through pathless forests. 
Evidently the child was asleep from sheer 

These observations were scarcely made 
before the horseman turned at right angles 
and entered a little open glade between the 
path and the tree behind which McLeod 
was hidden. It was seen, now, that he was 
communing Avith himself, and, as he halted, 
these words were distinctly audible : 

*^ Shelley, Shelley, Shelley is a skylark, 
a cloud, a sensitive plant, a monster, a king 
of the fiends. He is thrice blessed and four 
times damned. He juggles with death and 
glorifies hell. He brings ^ight shade for 
the leaves when laid in their noonday 
dreams.' And I — I am an oak, and around 

6 Corona of the NantaJialas. 

me twined my dearest, my loved one, my 
little, little vine; and he took her from me, 
this king of the fiends. He tore her from 
my arms and twined her in his own- he 
bound her and held her, and recked not 
that she wailed. And between them anon 
up rose Valouette, the skylark fair, the sweet, 
wee bird, the sensitive plant, beneath the 
old tree; she came into life and wept and 
grew free till 'twas a maddening thing to 
see — ah! a damned thing to see. And I 
said to the king of the fiends, come and see 
if we can better agree when a sword judges 
'twixt us three! And I held him hard and 
slew him that day — I laughed as I slew him 
that day; and cared not that my vine 
still clung to his clay, stained with the 
blood " 

Suddenly breaking the thread of his in- 
coherent soliloquy, the strange man sj)rang 
to the ground. The shock awakened the 
child, and it began to cry. Gideon McLeod 
expected to see it tenderly hushed and com- 
forted, but the stranger did not even look 
at it, and walking a few steps away, he set 
it down carelessly. 

" Now let the blood flow blithe and free, 
blithe and free," he muttered returning. 

Corona of the NantaJialas. J 

Gideon McLeod could not believe that he 
saw aright as the strange man drew a pistol 
and, after looking furtively around, cocked 
it, and placed the muzzle against the head 
of the horse. Surely the whole thing must 
be a dream. The next moment there was 
a loud report, and the poor, unsuspecting 
animal fell to the ground. Then for some 
moments the slayer stood still, and, with a 
wild, indescribable glare of the eye, looked 
down upon the last struggles of his noble 
victim. Was there ever a deed so cold- 
blooded, useless, infamous ? Gideon Mc- 
Leod's eyes flaslied fire. 

Turning toward the child and recocking 
his weapon, the madman spoke again, in 
the same monotonous, swinging style: 

"And now, Valouette^ the wee, wee bird, 
the sensitive plant, the sweet fiend's child, 
the skylark blithe and free, must follow, 
must follow downward to the sea — the 
sea of red blood which flows from me. 
Then I — even I — will plunge into the 
deep; in oblivion's red gulf my soul will I 

The observer foresaw nothing from these 
mad utterances, but the stranger's actions 
lie could not mistake. At sight of the 

8 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

struggling horse the chikl had. begun cry- 
ing piteouslj, and the mountaineer's heart 
smote him as he listened. If need be, he 
would fight for its protection. Suddenly 
the pistol was raised, but instantly was 
lowered; the assassin, mad though he might 
be, seemed unable to forget that his pro- 
posed victim was a little child. By this 
time Gideon McLeod was trembling in 
every limb. He knew what was coming 
and prepared himself. His long rifle was 
raised and careful aim taken. 

''11 you shoot, I'll kill you!" he called 
out from bis place. 

The madman started and glanced about 
him, failing to locate the voice. Then, 
quick as a flash, he raised the pistol and 
fired. The one report was followed so 
closely by another that the two sounded 
as one. But the results were far diffe- 
rent. The child remained unhurt, the 
ball passing to one side; but the man 
dropped his weapon, fell heavily back- 
ward against a tree, and collapsed to a 
sitting posture, glaring about him and 

Gideon McLeod had rushed forward, full 
of horror at what he had done. Making 

Corona of the Nmttahalas, 9 

sure that the child was unharmed, he ap- 
proached the wounded man. 

•^'Ahl 'tis he — 'tis he — the king of the 
fiends," cried the madman, fiercely, as their 
eyes met. '^'Tis Clarence, * false, fleet- 
ing, perjured Clarence that stabbed me 
i' the field by Tewksbury ! ' Out of my 
sight, thou craven ! Get thee hence, base 
fellow " 

A sudden sense of pain seemed to inter- 
rupt him; he started, paused, as though 
groping for his words, then groaned: *' Oh, 
I am wounded to death ! " 

^'^God knows I didn't want to shoot you," 
cried Gideon McLeod, sorrowfully. '* But I 
couldn't help it. You was a-shootin' that 
innocent baby, and you can't blame me. 
What in the devil ailed you, man ? " 

With tears in his eyes, the mountaineer 
stood before his victim, speaking earnestly 
in his desire to justify himself. The wild 
glare of the wounded man's eyes faded out 
of them, slowly giving place to a glimmer- 
ing of reason. 

*' I was mad — crazy, do you understand ?" 
he articulated, huskily and painfully, for he 
was now weakening fast. " I wanted to 
kill — to kill — the child — and then — myself. 

10 Corona of the NantaJialas. 

Take — her — send — write " A gush of 

blood from the throat choked his utter- 
ance ; his head sank upon his breast, his 
body fell over on its side, and he became 

Gideon McLeod bent over and examined 
him. The shirt front was soaked with 
blood, indicating that the wound was there. 
The rude mountaineer was amazed at the 
fineness of the linen and underclothinof, 
but his attention quickly centred on the 
wound. The ball had entered the breast 
and pierced a vital part, for in a few 
moments it was quite clear that the man 
was dead. 

The child had ceased its cries, and stared 
at the mountaineer in a hungry, wistful way, 
as though it desired to be taken up by 
this unexpected and unknown friend. But 
Gideon McLeod looked only at the dead. 
A great fear fell upon him. He had killed 
a man. In his own heart he believed him- 
self blameless, but who else w^ould believe 
it ? Who could be found to credit the 
attempted murder of that fair and innocent 
child ? Assuredly the man was mad, as he 
himself had claimed ; but was he mad 
when he parted with his friends, and would 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 1 1 

not those friends be coming presently to 
demand a reckoning ? 

At this thought the mountaineer leaped 
forward and darted into the woods. The 
friends of the dead w^ere coming ; they 
must be very near by this time. Perhaps 
they were near enough to hear him as he 
ran. What an uproar the dried leaves 
made as they scattered before his feet, and 
how strangely loud was the cracking of the 
brittle twigs I He ran faster. The over- 
hanging branches whipped" him rudely 
across the face, and the underbrush seemed 
to strive to seize his flying body. Bursting 
into thickets of laurel, it seemed to him 
that at every leap he stumbled and was" 
thrown back. 

All at once the fleeing man heard a cry, 
and halted, breathless. Ah, they had come 
— and in another minute they would be on 
his track I The cry was heard again, more 
distinctly than before — the wailing cry of 
a little child, maltreated, forgotten, and 

Gideon McLeod turned red with shame, 
and thought no more of flight. He had 
risked too much for that child to think of 
deserting it now. Let them come, and if 

12 Corona of the Nayitahalas, 

they refused to believe his story, he would 
defend his life as best he could, and trust in 
God. Eetracing his steps with all speed, 
he spoke soothingly to the babe, lifted it 
tenderly, and bore it to his home. As the 
child ceased to sob, and shut its tiny fingers 
around his thumb in a trustful way, the 
heart of the rough mountaineer was deeply 

Mrs. McLeod stood in the doorway, her 
eyes distended with amazement, as her 
husband approached. 

^'What in the name o' ," she said, 

and stopped, unable to find words. 

'Tve killed a man, Polly," she heard 
her husband saying in a voice strangely 
calm, '^ but I done it fur this little one. God 
knows it wa'n't fur nothin' else." 

He stood on the ground below her, with 
his burden, and told his story. She 
listened motionless, without a word, her 
distended eyes riveted upon him till he had 
finished. For one brief while she doubted, 
as indeed she well might. Who could be- 
lieve such a story? 

'* Did you kill that man to git the child, 
Gid?" she asked at last, terror on her face, 
although her speech was calm. "Did you 

Corona of the NantaJialas. 13 

go and do that 'caze I hain't brought you 
no child that could talk ? " 

ti ^ell — Polly ! "' he exclaimed, deeply 
wounded. '* After ten years and better you 
can't take my word ! " 

He mounted the steps and passed by her 
into the house, placing the child on a bed, 
and covering it up. She stood back and 
allowed him to do all this, woman's work 
as it was. She was in no hurry to relieve 
him of his charge, which she feared was the 
price of blood. 

The child fell asleep almost at once, and 
the mountaineer turned away. He went 
outside again and stood by the steps, pon- 
dering. The wife then stepped to the bed 
and took one long look, afterwards return- 
ing and standing in the doorway again, 
looking anxiously at her husband. 

Gideon McLeod stood there twenty min- 
utes before he decided what to do. Gradu- 
ally it became clear to him that the dead 
man's friends were not to be expected 
at once, for during all this time there had 
been nothing to herald their approach. 
Most likely the madman had had no com- 
panions in the first place, and had ridden 
to the mountains alone with the child. 

14 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

Then, for the present, there was no fear, 
But the sun was low, darkness would soon 
fall, and then the wolves would come forth 
from their retreats. The body could not 
be left on the ground all night. A sugges- 
tion of prudence warned the mountaineer 
that the sooner all reminders of the tragedy- 
were removed the better. Six months some- 
times passed at Lonely Cove without wit- 
nessing the visit of even a strolling hunter, 
but no one could tell what a day might 
bring forth. 

With this. thought in mind, Gideon Mc- 
Leod went to a stable a short distance in 
the rear of his house, secured ropes, bridled 
his mule, and led him forth. 

^'Come on now and look for yourself," 
he said' to his wife, rather distantly. **ril 
be bound when you see that horse you won't 
think / killed him." 

'^ Oh, Gideon," returned the woman, brok- 
enly, " I believe you. Don't think hard o' 
me. I was jes' turrified." 

He insisted, however, and she meekly 
followed him, after shutting the door. The 
distance was hardly a quarter of a mile, 
and they were soon there. Nothing had 
been disturbed, and not a sound broke the 

CoronR of the Nantahalas. 1 5 

stillness of the primeyal forest. The moun- 
taineer pointed to the stiffening horse, then 
lifted the body of the man and put it on 
the mule's back, strapping it there with the 
ropes. Thus they returned home. 


The most careful search revealed no card, 
letter, or scrap of paper in any of the dead 
man's pockets, and for the present it was im- 
possible to establish his identity. Sixty 
dollars in notes were found, however, and 
a linen handkerchief with the letters *' H.M." 
embroidered in one corner with white silk 
thread. Also on one of the garments worn 
by the child the word ^* Corona " was found, 
similarly embroidered. After a consulta- 
tion, it was decided to tie the money up in 
the handkerchief and put it in a safe place, 
to be carefully kept for the future use of the 

Gideon McLeod set to work at once, and 
in less than two hours' time had constructed 
a rough coffin, in which he placed the body 
and nailed it up. The sun had now set, 
but he did not pause. Selecting a spot in 

Corona of the Nantahalas. ly 

the woods not far away, he began digging 
a grave — completing the work by the light 
of a torch held by his wife. The house 
meanwhile was shut up, the two children 
being asleep, while the dead lay at rest on 
the porch without. An hour or so after 
nightfall the weary mountaineer lifted the 
coffin to his shoulder, and staggered be- 
neath it to the grave, preceded by his wife, 
who carried a torch in one hand, a small 
copy of the Bible in the other. 

**It don't seem human, Gid, to bury him 
without readin' an' prayin'," she said, and 
he agreed. 

Having placed his burden in the bottom 
of the grave, Gideon McLeod opened the 
Book, made a hasty selection, and read 
aloud for a brief space. His wife listened 
with the tears streaming down her face. 
Then he recited a familiar prayer, and it 
was over. The earth was rapidly shovelled 
in, a slight mound raised, and a stake 
driven down to mark the place. 

" Now, if anybody comes, there ain't 
nuthin' fur 'em to see," he said with relief, 
as they returned to the house. 

In the morning, however, he thought it 
well to descend to the scene of the tragedy 

1 8 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

and carry a spade. As he had expected, 
nothing was left of the horse but a few 
bloody bones. These were soon buried 
out of sight, even the fresh earth being 
covered with dead leaves. The same day 
a heavy rain fell, obliterating all traces of 
what had taken place, and Gideon McLeod 
drew a long breath of relief. 

After the lapse of days, weeks, months, 
without a warning of the coming of the 
dead man's friends in search of him, the 
mountaineer gradually ceased to dread 
their arrival and their questions, and he 
saw that it rested with him to keep the 
secret for a lifetime if he chose. He could 
either contrive to advertise the lost child, 
and so restore it to its home, or do nothing, 
bringing it up as his own. 

After much uneasiness of mind, he chose 
the latter as the only safe course. He pitied 
the bereft mother, if a living mother there 
were, and Avould gladly have returned to 
her her own, could he have known where 
to find her; bnt to make the matter public 
would be to declare himself a homicide — 
some might say a murderer — and he could 
not persuade himself to do this. Besides, 
the difficulties of an investigation would be 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 19 

greater than he felt that he could success- 
fully undertake. 

After all, the little girl owed her life to 
him. But for his interference the mother 
would have been more truly bereft than 
now ; and he thought that this claim to a 
large degree justified his course. He saw 
that his position was impregnable, if he 
ehose to make it so ; it was within his 
power to say and maintain that the child 
was his own. No one could disprove it 
for he and his wife had lived absolutely 
alone and remote. J^o eye but theirs had 
seen the child until the clothes worn on 
the day of its arrival had been laid care- 
fully away and replaced by others, of Mrs. 
McLeod^s own making. The little waif 
was now apparently between two and three 
years old. Let a year or two pass, and she 
could scarcely be recognized by her own 
family. The prompt exchange of clothing, 
however, was accomplished less as a matter 
of concealment than as a precaution in- 
suring the means of a possible future iden- 

AjDparently delicate at first, the child 
soon began to thrive in the mountain air, 
developing into a bright, happy-hearted, 

20 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

docile little girl, strong of limb and beautiful 
of feature, the light of the mountaineer's 
eye, an ever-cheering companion to bis 
wife through her lonely hours, and the un- 
failing delight of the deaf mute Dan, who 
was always her willing and obedient slave. 
She was early taught to call her adopted 
parents uncle and aunt, and grew up igno- 
rant that these titles were a mere form. 
The McLeods supposed that the word 
" Corona," embroidered on one of the little 
garments now laid away, was the child's 
baptismal name ; but found it too difficult 
and strange for daily use, choosing rather 
to call their charge Anna. 

The infantile impressions of her past life 
were soon effaced from little Corona's mind, 
and the surround! nsrs of her mountain home 
assumed sole dominion in her memory. 
When she was five years old, and Dan was 
eight, a sense of responsibility began to 
weigh on Gideon MeLeod ; he felt that 
household training was not enough, and 
that something should be done looking 
toward the education of the two children. 
Little could be made of Dan, of course, 
owing to his infirmity, but much might be 
done for Corona. 

Corona of the Nantalialas. 21 

The mountaineer was a man of few words, 
and no book learning beyond a slight ac- 
quaintance with the ^' three E's," but he 
meant well, and the beginning that he 
made could not have been improved on. 
This beginning was the reading aloud, each 
evening, of a chapter from the historical 
parts of the Bible. Poor Dan could hear 
nothing; but Corona's manifest pleasure, 
as she gradually began to follow with com- 
prehension, was a continuing delight to 
him, and he never failed to sit beside her 
as she listened, just as if he understood 

A year or two later a primer and a little 
reader were procured from the store in the 
lower valley, lessons were given by the 
husband now and then in the evening, and 
by the wife more often in the afternoons; 
and in the course of a year both books were 

It was when Corona was ten or eleven 
that a schoolmaster came to the lower 
valley to spend a summer vacation. He 
was not a teacher of the mountaineer type, 
but a man of considerable attainment, who 
taught Greek and Latin in a select Carolina 
school. Gideon McLeod liked his looks. 

22 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

and one day sought him out and made 
an extraordinary proposition. He said, 
in substance, that he had sixty dollars 
to expend on his niece's education, and 
wished to secure the best talent he 
could find. If the schoolmaster would 
spend two vacations at Lonely Cove, and 
instruct the girl daily, the money was 
his. The offered salary, in more parti- 
cular terms, was ten dollars a month and 

The schoolmaster smiled at the naivete 
of the proposal, but he was poor, un- 
married, and unwell ; he needed the moun- 
tain air, and after some reflection signified 
his willingness to accept. Thus was the 
money found in the pockets of the dead 
man expended, and in this wise was Corona 
taught to speak, read and write English 
with ease and intelligence. 

So unusual was her progress, and such 
was the schoolmaster's affection for her, 
that he felt moved to promise her another 
summer's instruction gratis; but before the 
time arrived they were informed of his 
death. The letter carrying this intelli- 
gence also informed them that be had left 
certain of his favourite books to Corona, 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 23 

and in due time the package made its ap- 
pearance in the lower valley. This being 
carried up on the mule's back to Lonely 
Cove, and opened, a curious collection was 
displayed — considering that the books 
were intended for a young girl. There was 
no single volume more modern than 
Shakespeare. Most of them were transla- 
tions of Hesiod, Homer, ^Eschylus, Sopho- 
cles, Plato, Ovid, Virgil, and the Greek 
historians — Herodotus, Thucydides, and 

Corona began to read these books at 
thirteen, and in the course of time read and 
re-read them all, obliged at first to pass 
blindly over the words that were new to 
her, but going on, always going on, and 
receiving vivid, ineffaceable impressions. 
And here began new perplexities for 
Gideon McLeod and his wife. Corona 
asked a thousand questions, which they 
could not answer — abou goddesses, denw- 
gods, heroes, dryads, centaurs, satyrs, and 
so forth, in unending catalogue. Mrs. 
McLeod answered gravely that she had 
never '* hearn tell " of any of these things, 
and she was pretty sure they were not to be 
found anywhere in North Carolina, but they 

24 ■ Corona of the Nantakalas. 

might haye 'em across tlie mountains in 
Tennessee ; she really could not speak for 
Tennessee. People had often told her 
that the latter was the last place in the 
world to live in — the *' jumpin' off place/' 
so to speak, and there was no telling 
what might be found there. Being asked 
where Greece was, Gideon McLeod, who 
had never heard of that country, replied 
that all he knew about it was that it was 
usually in the frying-pan at hog-killing 

Her questions remaining unanswered. 
Corona's imagination supplied answers for 
herself, and it was a strange world which 
she constructed. As she grew older, the 
girl became more and more devoted to the 
schoolmaster's books, and the gradual effect 
of these ancient authors upon a thirsty and 
virgin mind may be imagined. Without 
instruction, intellectual companionship, or 
sympathy, without a modern book, periodi- 
cal, or newspaper, with nothing about her 
but wild mountains and forests, and a 
lonely frontier farm, she inevitably came to 
live more and more in a world of fancy — a 
world built upon old Greek forms, tempered 
by the more modern ShakesiDeare, and 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 25 

coloured but little by the realities of her 
actual human environment. 

It is not meant that she became silent, 
peculiar, or impractical. She was as human 
as she was beautiful, and never forgot her 
affection for, and her duty toward, her 
three companions at Lonely Cove. While 
her hands were engaged at the spinning- 
wheel or the loom, her thoughts might 
indeed wander off into her fantastic world ; 
she might fall to wondering whether the 
wood and water nymphs, which had so 
long eluded her search, were abroad in the 
forest to-day, laughing and singing and 
scattering the dry twigs before their feet as 
they ran through the long leafy aisles. But 
meanwhile her household work was not 
left undone. She became remarkably deft 
with the needle, and after some failures 
learned to fashion for herself a number of 
wonderful Greek gowns, designed from the 
illustrations in her beloyed books, and 
made of white or scarlet wool woven and 
dyed by her own hands. 

She and the deaf mute Dan were de- 
voted friends, and had long ago learned to 
communicate their thoughts, in a measure, 
by signs. They were as venturous and 

26 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

bold as any two boys, wandering together 
or alone in the pathless forests far from 
home, and fearing nothing. They climbed 
the highest peaks and looked down on the 
clouds, caring not if the dark mists en- 
Teloped them, if the lightning blazed about 
them, or if the thunder shook the ground 
on which they stood. There was nothing 
in all this to frighten or distress these verit- 
able children of nature. 

The three highest points near their home 
were renamed Olympus, Parnassus, and 
Helicon, and much of their leisure was 
spent upon these peaks and in the spaces 
between. Strong of limb, light of foot, and 
tireless, such mountain climbing was to 
them as play. Oftentimes they were 
followed on their tramps by two tame 
deer, captured long ago when very young, 
which Corona had of late begun to call 
lo and Atalanta. And, to complete the 
classic outline, they w^ould sometimes run 
hard-fought races, and the victorious Dan 
would be crowned with a wreath of leaves 
of the mountain laurel. 

By the time Corona was seventeen the 
occasional hunter who looked in on Lonely 
Cove had spread the fame of her unusual 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 27 

beauty, and during the following two or 
three years one suitor after another ap- 
peared from among the young mountain- 
eers of the lower valley — finding their way 
up the mountain path early on Sunday 
morning, spending the day, and returning 
the same night. One after another they 
grew discouraged, and abandoned the diffi- 
cult undertaking. Corona took no inter- 
est in them after their first appearance. 
She was by no means unkind ; it was 
merely that she could not adapt herself to 
them, that they appeared to her, as it were, 
a species far removed ; and when she spoke, 
her words only seemed to fill them with 
wonder and strike them dumb. 

If they persisted, she did not scruple, 
finally, to leave them to be entertained by 
the elders, slipping away with a favourite 
book, and making good her retreat to the 
topmost peak of Helicon or Parnassus, fol- 
lowed by Dan. 

'^ He mought as well go barkin' up an- 
other tree," Gideon McLeod would say 
with a laugh, as each suitor appeared and 
assumed the regulation '"'courtin'" atti- 
tude. The girl's manifest indifference in no 
way alarmed her adopted parents. They 

28 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

loved her, were proud of her, and were 
in no hurry to see her marry an uncouth 
mountaineer, or even — had they been ac- 
quainted with one — a prince of the blood 


For years it was Corona's supposition that 
Lonely Cove was not very far removed, 
either by time or space, from ancient Greece — 
that one important country and civilization 
to which nearly all of her books referred. 
She knew nothing of the lapse of ages, of 
the story of the rise and fall of successive 
empires. She had only the Greece that 
was pictured in her books, and the moun- 
tains that loomed before her eyes. It was 
clear enough that Shakespeare wrote of 
another period, but there was no history of 
the middle age at hand, and she was unable 
to fill the gap. 

Her mountains were in a ^' State" called 
Carolina, she well knew, and beyond them 
there was another called Tennessee. She 
occasionally heard the expression *' United 
States," and had a general idea of an indefi- 

30 Corona of the Nantahalas, 

nite number of Oarolinas and Tennessees 
joined in some sort of union. And this 
was all. The schoolmaster had failed to 
teach her anything of geography or history, 
devoting his time, as well he might, to 
teaching her to speak and write correctly, 
and to read with intelligent comprehension, 
so far as was possible. 

There was, therefore, really nothing of 
the marvellous in the result that followed. 
Corona even wondered if the people of the 
outside world dressed like the Greeks. The 
Carolina mountaineers did not, so far as 
she had seen, but that proved nothing, for 
they were ignorant people as a class, doing 
nothing but raise sheep and till the ground, 
and having some characteristics that sug- 
gested comparison with the Spartan Helots. 
She recollected that the schoolmaster had 
not worn the Greek costume, but there may 
have been some reason for that also. 

One day she chanced to overhear McLeod 
saying to his wife that she was not akin to 
them. Going forward at once she asked 
what this meant, and they were obliged to 
reaffirm what she had alreadv heard. In 
reply to her eager questions as to where 
she had come from, they briefly replied 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 3 1 

that thev had found her iu the forest, 
and, being urged to do so, indicated the 

This knowledge was the text for many 
strange fancies. The girl wondered if she 
had ever had any parents at all — if she had 
not been born of the forests and mountains, 
as the wood nymphs were. For Corona 
was almost a pagan. She had not indeed 
foi'ofotten the stories read to her from the 
Bible in early life, nor what she had learned 
from it for herself. She believed there was 
one great God, the creator of the world and 
of mankind; but she supposed that the 
gods of the Greeks existed also, and, in a 
vague, uncertain way, thought of them as 
being in s.ome sort one and the same with 
the angels of the Scriptures. 

The prophets had seen the angels and 
the Greeks had seen the gods. Corona 
sometimes found herself wishing and hoping 
that she, too, might be allowed to see one 
or the other, or both — if indeed the two 
were distinct orders of beings. Many a 
time, as she walked forth in the forest alone, 
her fancy went before her and revelled in 
the bright presence of an angel or a god; 
and when the dream was not realized she 

32 Corona of the NantaJialas. 

did not lose faith, but told herself that she 
was unworthy of such honour. 

Untouched as she was by the all-per- 
vading doubt and scepticism of the modern 
world, there was the more opportunity for 
the development of her unquestioning beliefs 
and persuasions. Kepeated disappoint- 
ments failed to disturb her confidence, and 
she still dreamed of seeing a dryad, or at 
least a water nymph. Many a day she 
stole through the forest with bated breath, 
or sat watching beside the roaring mountain 
torrent, which she had named Simois — in 
vain, always in vain. 

One day in early summer for an instant 
she was almost convinced that her wish 
had been granted. She was now turned 
nineteen, and was tall and full of grace of 
movement. Her face was unusually per- 
fect in outline, and rich colour came and 
went in her rounded cheek. Her eyes were 
of the darkest brown, large, pensive, tender, 
and her whole expression was remarkable 
for a deep, dreaming wistfullness. Her dark, 
shining hair, long and wave-like, was now 
bound up in that conical pyramid so favoured 
by the women of Greece. Her head was 
crowned by a fillet of laurel leaves, and she 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 33 

wore one of those graceful robes of scarlet 
wool which she had learned to fashion so 
well. It was mid afternoon and she had 
gone forth to walk alone, a book in her 

The mountain forests were gay with the 
bloom of early summer. The fresh, light 
green of the poplars, maples, and beeches 
mingled in uncertain and irregular variation 
on the rising heights with the darker hue 
of the hemlocks and pines. The gardens 
of white birches were as light against the 
darkness of the funereal black balsams. 
Tender ferns grew in myriads, and yivid 
patches of colour were contributed here and 
there by rhododendrons and azaleas. 

Corona paused where a tiny stream gushed 
forth from the rocky soil, and sent a little 
rill to join the roaring Simois. The place 
was in full view of that other spot which 
she knew so well and had visited so often — 
the spot where she had been found as a 
child. Gideon McLeod avoided it for 
reasons of h"s own, but it possessed for 
Corona a strong fascination. Here had 
been ihe scene of her mystical birth ; here 
her celestial guardians had set her down 
within reach of those kind earthly guardians 

34 Corona of the Nantahalas, 

who had taken her in and cared for her so 
well. Here, if anywhere, she fancied, would 
the former be pleased to manifest them- 
selves to her. 

As this thought took shape in her mind, 
the girl heard the stroke of a horse's hoofs 
on the rocky path, just where Gideon 
McLeod had heard the same sound sixteen 
years ago ; but the vision which shortly 
presented itself was a far different one from 
that of a madman and a babe. Wiiat she 
saw was a young man of unusual physical 
beauty, clothed in a soft wool cap, a light 
silk outing shirt, and a coat and trousers of 
cream-coloured flannel. This could scarcely 
be a god, but might it not be one of the 
heroes, in spite of the strange apparel so 
unlike the Greek ? At the least he was a 
part of that great unknown outside world, 
so different from her mountains, and Corona 
gazed enrapt. 

The young man saw her, dismounted, 
threw the bridle over his arm, and ap- 
proached, believing he had found the object 
of his quest. He was on the look-out for 
that wonderful girl of the Xantahalas who 
was said to be "as Avise as a sage and as 
beautiful as a dream," and assuredly this 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 35 

was she of whom he had heard — this tall 
sylvan goddess in a scarlet Greek robe, 
with a fillet of leaves round her head and 
a book in her hand. There could not be 
two such extraordinary persons in the same 

''May I have a drink?" he asked, with 
smilino^ face and uncovered head, as he 
stepped forward. 

He marked a certain gravity and stateli- 
ness in her acknowledgment of his salute, 
but saw no lack of friendliness in her 
face. As she answered, he was struck 
by the engaging qiiaintness of her accent 
and dialect, in which latter he soon re- 
cognizee! a peculiar mingling of moun- 
tain idioms with many archaic words and 
phrases. Such a dialect, if reproduced, 
would seem stilted and unnatural at best 
and may with profit be left to the imagi- 

Stooping, Corona dipped up water for 
tlie stranger in the rude cup which belonged 
to the spring. While he drank, after thank- 
ing her, she thought of the meeting of 
Nausicaa and Odysseus. 

''Have I reached Mr. McLeod's?" he 

36 Corojia of the Nantahalas. 

"It is not far — up there," she auswered, 
pointing. "I will show you the way." 

" You do not live there?" 

"I have alwavs lived there. Mr. McLeod 
is my uncle." She checked herself, re- 
collecting that the relationship was not 

"My name is Henry Summerfield," the 
young man pursued, as an introduction. 

*'llike your name," she said innocently, 
as he paused. "Did they give it to you 
because they expected you to be as beauti- 
ful as the fields in summer? " The w^ords 
were those of a jest, but her face was wholly 
serious . 

"I hope not," said Summerfiel'd, asto- 
nished, his handsome face a broad smile. 
"They were doomed to disappointment 
in that case. And may I know your 

"They call me Anna, but Coronals my 
name," she answered simply, unaware that 
her failure to mention a surname excited 

"That means a crown — a name proper 
to a queen among women," he said with 
somewhat effusive gallantry. He felt that 
he was at liberty to say almost anything 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 37 

that was not unkind ; nature and not eti- 
quette ruled here. 

^^ Where did you come from ?" she asked, 
turning to lead the way up the slope. " You 
do not belong to the mountains. You are 
not like the mountain people." 

He told her that ^ew York was his home; 
he had been spending some weeks at Ashe- 
ville, and a few days since had concluded 
to make explorations higher up in the 
mountains. He had spent the night in the 
lower valley, and since early morning had 
been riding up the difficult pathway that 
led thence. It was said that Mr. McLeod's 
was the highest settled point, and he had 
wanted to visit it before returning. 

''My uncle will be glad to see you," said 
Corona, as he paused. '' We seldom have a 

They now walked forward together, the 
young man leading his horse. 

" What were you reading ? " he asked 
looking inquiringly toward the book in her 

''The 'Odyssey,'" she answered, holding 
it out to him. " Is it not beautiful ?" 

"Reallv. I don't know much about it," 
he acknowledged. "I recollect reading a 

38 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

little of it in Greek when I was in school. 
Have you read it all ? " 

*'This is the third time. And I have 
other beautiful books which I will show 
you," she said enthusiastically. 

He saw that there were illustrations in 
the volume, and understood the origin of 
her Greek dress, which had greatly puzzled 
him. He perhaps wondered at her and 
admired her all the more, however, for he 
realized that it must have required no little 
skill to fashion so graceful a robe from 
pictures alone. 

^'I have the 'Hiad' and the great Greek 
tragedies," she continued, '''and Shake- 
speare's dramas." 

^'I know something about Shakespeare," 
he said. 

'* I like the way you dress," she pursued 
naively, ''but when I first saw you I won- 
dered why you did not dress like the 
Greeks — like Perseus, and Heracles, and 
Theseus, and Meleager, and Jason, and 
Achilles, and Odysseus, and all the great 
heroes. My uncle and the mountaineers do 
not, but you are different from them." 

*'I am not acquainted with all the gentle- 
men you name," laughed Summerfield, 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 39 

" but I can tell you why I don't dress like 
them. Fashion has changed a good many 
times since their days, and fashion, you 
know, is a tyrant who rules with a rod of 

"What is fashion?" 

" The custom which dictates what we are 
to wear." 

" Then I am not in accord with fashion," 
she said, looking down at her flowing robe 
in a doubtful way. 

"Fowf" he exclaimed. " You are above 
fashion. You are perfect in that costume, 
and should wear no other." 

He looked at her with an artist's appr{*- 
ciation in his eyes, and she felt reassured 
and pleased, although she did not quite 

'* After all, fashion is a fickle jade," he 
laughed. ''It would take volumes to 
enumerate all the caprices she has indulged 
in since the time you refer to, which is, I 
suppose, about three thousand years." 

''Three thousand years!" exclaimed 
Corona, aghast. "I did not know — I did 

not dream " The girl looked like one 

who gazes, suddenly and without warning, 
into a bottomless abyss. " What has hap- 

40 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

penecl in all that time ? '' slie inquired at 

*^ Innumerable things. The world has 
been shaken with countless wars, empires 
have risen and fallen, Christianity has suc- 
ceeded Paganism — everything conceivable 
has happened." 

They were now at the gate of the farm. 

** There is so much that I must learn from 
you while you are here," she said, earnestly, 
her thoughtful eyes fastened upon him. 

Her tone was almost confidential, al- 
though they had met only a few minutes 
before. Summerfield smiled encouragingly, 
and his hand involuntarilv souo^ht a note- 
book in the pocket of his coat. He wished 
he could be alone for a short while in order 
to take down her speeches before he forgot 
them. He thought he saw a great oppor- 
tunity within his grasp, and congratulated 
himself on being where he was. 

'^ I shall be only too glad to tell you all 
you wish to know — so far as I can," he 
said, promptly. 

He felt encouraged by her words to con- 
template staying longer than he had in- 
tended at first. She was evidently as deeply 
interested in him as he in her, and the 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 41 

acquaintance promised to be very enter- 
taining and useful. Already he saw the 
outline of a possible story with her as its 
central insjoiration. Meanwhile he was far 
from considering her forward, perceiving 
at a glance that she was absolutely igno- 
rant of the conventions of social life, with 
nothing but an instinctive delicacy to guide 

As they reached the gate a large, mus- 
cular young man appeared from the woods 
in the opposite direction, and ran up to 
them eagerly. His broad, ruddy face indi- 
cated robust health, but not a high degree 
of intelligence, and there was something 
infantile in his expression, although his eye 
seemed keen enough. He smiled at Corona 
in passing. Then, halting less than three 
feet distant, he fixed his fearless eyes on 
Summerfield, devouring every detail of his 
features and dress. 

^'This is Dan, my uncle's son. He can 
neither hear nor speak," said Corona, not 
quite cheerfully. 

The deaf mute then turned to the girl, 
and his expression seemed to say " Where 
did you find this novelty in the way of a 
man?'' Corona having answered by signs 

42 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

aud gestures, Dan's devouring glance was 
again turned upon Summerfield. 

The mountaineer's house, first constructed 
as a mere log cabin of the rudest sort, had 
long since been improved on. It had now 
five or six rooms, besides a porch both at 
the front and the back. There were climb- 
ing plants growing on it, and in the yard a 
variety of shrubs and transplanted flowers. 
Though so simple and rude, the effect of 
the whole was pleasing and homelike to 
one fresh from wanderings through the wild 
forests and mountains. 

Mrs. McLeod, a timid, faded, solemn- 
faced woman, saw the stranger from the 
doorway, but did not go out. She called to 
her husband who was at work in the rear, 
and by the time the party had entered the 
yard he was there to meet them. He was 
almost as ruddy and robust as his son, but 
the evidences of advancing years were to 
be seen in his iron-gray hair and hard, 
wrinkled face. He, too, looked tenderly on 
Corona in passing. 

'' We are mighty glad to see you, sir," 
he said simply and heartily when Summer- 
field was presented. 


SuMMERFiELD explained that he was a 
tourist, with much time at his disposal, omit- 
ting to add that he was by profession a jour- 
nalist. He desired to spend a few days in 
the higher altitudes, and if they had room 
and could take him in, he would be glad 
to pay well. He saw at once that he had 
made a mistake, and that the mention of 
money was offensive. In the Nantahalas 
the sojourning traveller is taken in as a 
gaest or not at all. However, he was cor- 
dially urged to stay at the McLeods' home, 
and was not slow to accept the offered hos- 

He took copious notes relating to every- 
thing he thought interesting, and- before 
his departure had completed a letter for a 
newspaper with which he had a regular 
connection. He found that a mere de- 

44 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

scriptiou of the peaceful life at Lonely 
Cove was lacking in sensational features. 
In fact, with Corona left out — she being 
reserved for his romance — it was hopelessly 
tame. So, with much picturesqueness and 
humour, he described a dancing party, sug- 
gested by something seen in the backwoods 
elsewhere. Not content with this inven- 
tion, he boldly turned his peaceful place of 
sojourn into an illicit distillery of " moun- 
tain dew.'^ 

Gideon McLeod (not mentioned by name) 
was made to play the role of the regulation 
moonshiner, generous and hospitable with 
his friends, but burning with hatred of 
revenue officers and of all persons sus- 
pected of sympathizing with them. The 
distillery itself was described in detail, and 
placed in a convenient mountain cave not- 
far from the moonshiner's abode. The 
stealthy methods of disposing of the colour- 
less whisky to the lower valley people were 
recounted, one of them being the familiar 
practice of placing a jug and a piece of 
silver at some lonely spot in the forest, and 
returning later to find the money gone and 
the liquor there in its stead. 

Summerfield did not write all this with- 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 45 

out some slight prickings of conscience — 
he was not altogether hardened as yet — 
but he easily persuaded himself that he 
was doing no harm. It was notorious that 
there were illicit distilleries in the Korth 
Carolina mountains, and what mattered it 
if he located one at Lonely Cove? Xobody 
could claim that it was a libel on the sec- 
tion, and, as the readers of the *^ Chronicle" 
would not know where the place was, no 
harm could result. 

On the other hand, a readable letter could 
be written and his time not be wasted. 
Suuimerfield thought he had wasted too 
much time already in his search for illicit 
distilleries, since up to date he had found 
nothing more than a sort of rural " speak 
easy," where the colourless liquid was 
poured into the purchasers' bottles from a 
new and innocent -looking kerosene can. 
Summerfield was not the man to waste 
time in self-examination or in the contem- 
plation of moral questions. His attention 
was usually centred on gathering the mate- 
erial for a readable letter. Rather than fail, 
to do this, he was at all times ready to 
still the faint whisper of the inward monitor. 

It was Corona, however, who now ab- 

46 Corona of the NantaJialas. 

sorbed the greater part of his time and 
attention. As he came more and more to 
recognize her absohite innocence, he grew 
bold enough to take down her speeches, 
often as soon as they were uttered. The 
girl showed him Olympus, Helicon, Par- 
nassus, the Simois, and the Scamander — 
indeed, all her favourite haunts, and he was 
constantly taking notes. The deaf mute 
always accompanied them, whether from 
mere curiosity or because he was told so 
to do, the guest could not decide. 

Once, as they halted at a little stream, 
an affluent of one of the classical rivers, 
Summerfield threw himself down on the 
bank to drink. Corona, who was standing 
near, saw his reflection in the water, and 
noticed that he looked at it steadily before 
breaking the mirror with his lips. 

^^Eemember the fate of Narcissus," she 
said, with a half smile, but seriously. 
"There is danger in that for such as 
you. " 

'^Who was Narcissus?" asked the young 
man, as he rose to his feet. "I believe I 
knew once upon a time." 

Quite simply and seriously she repeated 
the story of the beautiful youth who fell 

Corona of the NantaJialas. 47 

hopelessly in love witli his own image re- 
flected in the mirror of the brook. 

Summerfield burst into a great laugh. 
*' Do you think I am as yain as that ?" he 
asked. ^^I think I could preserve a level 
head even if I were good looking." 

"Narcissus could not have been more 
beautiful," was Corona's thought, as she 
stood silent. 

'^You don't believe that story was true ?" 
asked Summerfield. 

*^I do not know. It may have happened. 
If it did not, it must have been invented in 
order to convey some hidden meaning. " 

*^ What possible hidden meaning could 
there be in such an idle fancy ? " 

*•' Socrates could have explained it, I think. 
He would perhaps have said the story was a 
fable, describing the disastrous results of un- 
bridled self-conceit." 

Summerfield took out his note-book and 
began to write. 

^^Why do you write so much in your 
book ? " she asked, for the first time. 

'^In order to make sure of things before 
they are gone forever," he said, laughing. 
'*One must pin down a thought before it 
blows awaj." 

48 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

She was far from comprehending him 
thoroughly, supposing he only wrote down 
reflections for the pleasure it gave him, and 
thinking he must therefore be thoughtful 
and wise. For the first time was thus 
suggested to her the idea of keeping a 

"It would he worth while for you to 
look in the brook's impartial mirror," said 
Summerfield, returning the note-book to his 

*' Why so ?" she innocently asked. 

"Because you would see beauty itself." 

''Do you think I am beautiful, Henry ?" 
the girl asked very seriously. 

He smiled as she pronounced his Chris- 
tian name, but preferred to leave her in 
ignorance of her unconventionality. He only 
said: "You are very, very beautiful." 

" I am glad," she said simply, going on to 
ask: "and am I as beautiful as the women 
you know in the outside world ?" 

"More so — far more so," was the earnest 

"But you will go back to them, Henry ?" 

"I must go back, but I can return — 
here," he said in a low voice, with something 
like passion. 

Corona of the Najitahalas. 49 

They stood near together, and his eyes 
were riveted upon hers. The deaf mute, 
who had lain on the ground absorbing 
tliem with his gUmce, now sprang suddenly 
to his feet and looked about him. Corona 
started, and what was perhaps the first 
blush of her life suffused her cheek and 
brow. She had led the conversation up 
to this climax with an innocence that was 
childlike, but her eyes were opened now, 
anil she feared she had committed a grave 
breach of decorum. Turning away in con- 
fusion, she moved to walk homeward. 

After one turbulent moment of disap- 
pointment, Summerfield felt quite resigned. 
He was not really in love, and did not de- 
sire to be-; therefore it was better that they 
should stop at that point and say no more. 
In spite of his journalistic lapses from 
virtue, there was something honourable in 

Before the week was quite gone, he de- 
cided that he had better take his leave. 
The purpose for which he came had been 
served. He had written a taking letter, 
his book was full of notes, and he felt sure 
of a good story. It would now be well to 
go — while there was time. Had Corona 

50 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

been less attractive, less beautiful, less inno- 
cent, lie thought he might have stayed. 
She was not the woman he ought to marry 
— and stay he could not. 

He observed that the girl was constantly 
more shy and reserved after the moment 
when she had blushed, and at the hour of 
parting she said little. After he bade the 
McLeods good-bye, Summerfield was ac- 
companied a little way into the forest by 
Corona and Dan, leading his horse and 
walking with them. 

"■ We will turn back here," said the girl 
abruptly, as they reached the spring. 

''Good-bye, Dan," said Summerfield, 
shaking the smiling deaf mute's hand. 
Then he turned to Corona with some 
rather commonplace expressions. He 
would never forget his stay at Lonely 
Cove ; some day he hoped to come back — 
if he might. 

" If you wish to —yes," she said, smiling. 
'' We should be glad to see you again. We 
rarely have a guest, and it gives my uncle 
great pleasure." 

^' All revoir, then — good-bye !" he said, 
with a warm clasp of the hand. 

Then he was off and away before she 

Corona of the Nantahalas. ^l 

could realize that the parting had really 
come. The two stood looking after him 
till he was lost to view, and then their eyes 
met. *' I have only you now," Corona's 
glance seemed to say. Acting from a 
sudden impulse, slie leaned forward and 
kissed Dan on the cheek, to his evident 

A moment later both her strength and 
composure gave way. With a low, desolate 
cry, she fell j)rone upon the grass and burst 
into tears. Such an unwonted exhibition of 
distress greatly excited Dan, and with a 
face expressive of astonishment and deep 
concern, he bent over her, uttering inarticu- 
late sounds as though struggling to make 
inquiry. But she took no notice of him, 
and only seemed to sob the more. 

All at once a ray of intelligence appeared 
in the deaf mute^s perplexed eyes, and, 
leaping to his feet, he looked threateningly 
in the direction Summerfield had gone. 
The fierce glance returned once or twice to 
the girl's figure on the grass, only to dart 
again down the leafy vista through which 
the horseman had disappeared. For a few 
moments longer Dan stood thus, and then, 
apparently seized by a sudden and serious 

52 Corona of the NantaJialas. 

determination, he took a few doubtful steps, 
and at last darted away in the direction of 
the farm-house. 

It is certain that Summerfield felt a 
distinct admiration and something of a 
vague reverence for Corona. He w^as con- 
scious of almost a tender regard for her 
welfare, of a real regret that her lot had 
been cast in such desolate places, and of a 
hope that bright days were awaiting her in 
times to come. But as he rode along the 
downward path through the forest, it is 
equally certain that his thoughts were 
but little concerned with her personally, 
although as a j^rototype for one of the love- 
liest of heroines, she absorbed his whole 

For the time he was almost serenely 
happy. Just now, after starting, he had 
something like an inspiration. The idea 
for which he had been waiting had come 
to him, that central idea which would 
give life and vigour to his proposed tale. 
His halting imagination was aroused ; scene 
after scene took pleasing shape before his 
vision, and the hours spent on this long 
lonely ride promised to be among the most 
agreeable of his life. 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 53 

He was not troubled with thoiiglits of 
the personal Corona. He did not ask him- 
self how she was now to take up the 
threads of her life, and go on with them in 
the old-time simplicity and content. He 
did not see her sorrowful, hungry days 
foreshadowed — her sweet and oitter fancies, 
her hopes and fears, which would be irre- 
vocably commingled, though less evenly 
than the warp and woof at her weaving; 
her sighs, which would blend with the 
mournful sound of the spinning-wheel, and 
mayhap her tears which would dampen 
the s^oun yarn as she drew it through her 
fingers. How should he ? How was he 
to know that one week of pleasure could 
entail such results in the history of a lonely 
soul ? He did not and could n Dt ; he only 
saw her before him radiant, lovely, in a 
luminous cloud of fancy — his inspiration. 

As Summerfield pursued his journey, 
looking neither to the right nor to the left, 
absorbed wholly in the play of his imagina- 
tion, he was suddenly and rudely aroused. 
He was first aware of a whirring sound, as 
of something flying rapidly through the air. 
A shadow glanced before his eyes, and then 
he knew that a rope had tightened around 

54 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

his waist, pinioning his arms to his sides. 
Before he saw whence the attack came, 
he was jerked from the saddle and fell 
heavily to the ground. 

In the act of bounding to his feet, he 
was borne down again. A heavy, muscular 
man had sprang upon him with the agility 
of a cat. With his knees planted upon the 
prostrate man's breast, the assailant threw 
his body toward the feet, quickly slipping 
a noose around them and binding them 
together. Thus was Summerfield so 
securely bound that he could move neither 
hand nor foot, before he saw the face of his 

''What does this mean?" he cried 
fiercely, as he recognized the deaf mute. 

Dan saw that his prisoner's lips were 
moving, but did not trouble himself further 
than to see that the knots were securely 
tied. A moment later he was off to secure 
the straying horse. Keturning shortly, he 
lifted his struggling captive upon the 
animal's back, and strapped him there. 

In his fury Summerfield made use of 
the most fiery invective, railing ai the 
deaf mute, just as if he heard it all ; he 
was an idiot, a madman, a robber, an 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 5 5 

assassin — all these, with qualifying ad- 
jectives of an expressive and explosive 
kind. But Dan gave no sign, and walked 
steadily forward through the forest, the 
bridle over his arm. 

Realizing that he might as well talk to a 
stone, Summerfield at last bottled up his 
wrath and was silent. Anon his anger 
cooled, and anxiety succeeded. What was 
to be done with him ? This could not be 
mere sport on Dan's part ; he must have 
been incited to it. Could Corona know ? 
Assuredly not. Was it, then, McLeod ? 
Was he waiting at an appointed spot, and 
would they murder him for the sake of his 
horse and what money he might have ? 

A prey to such misgivings, Summerfield 
forgot how uncomfortable was his position. 
Though absorbed in reflecting upon the 
probable outcome of his captivity, he did 
not fail to note that the deaf mute led the 
horse away from the path and over a wind- 
ing route through the forest, halting only 
after almost an hour's tramp. 

The stopping place was not familiar to 
Summerfield. The mountain side rose 
almost perpendicularly at this point, and 
in the rocky wall the captive's anxious eye 

56 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

descried a small opening, perhaps the 
mouth of a cave. There was indeed an 
opening, but the cramped chamber within, 
of some fifteen by thirty feet^ was rather a 
niche in the wall than a cave. 

The spot was one well known to Corona 
and Dan. Years before, the rocky chamber 
had been a favourite playhouse with them. 
Later on, it had been classically entitled 
the cave of Calypso. 

The opening was fringed with vines, and 
was larger than it looked. When Dan 
lifted the burden from the back of the horse 
and shouldered it, he was able to enter the 
cave without stooping. The rocky, uneven 
floor of the dim interior was softened in 
one corner by a pile of dead leaves. Here 
the unresistinsc form of Summerfield was 
gently deposited, and a few moments later 
the amazed young man was left to his own 
thoughts and conjectures. 


By this time it was near the hour of noon, 
but the suu had set before Summerfield was 
disturbed. As the time wore away, his 
amazement was intensified. Try as he might, 
he could invent no reasonable explanation 
of the situation. If his detention meant 
murder and robbery, why should there be 
such delay ? He asked himself this ques- 
tion again and again, and the long hours 
and deep silence only emphasized the pro- 
blem, while bringing no solution. Once or 
twice daring the afternoon he thought he 
heard stealthy footsteps. Once he was con- 
vinced that a shadow darkened the vine- 
clad doorway, that some one stood there for 
an instant looking at him ; but he lay with 
his feet toward the inner wall of the cave, 
and before he could twist his head about 
and direct his glance toward the opening, 
the shadow was gone. 

58 Corona of the Naiitahalas. 

Shortly after sundown the deaf mute 
appeared and offered him food — with a face 
very serious, almost remorseful. Summer- 
field scowled threateningly, and motioned 
the offered refreshment away. But Dan 
refused to remove it, and seemed to be 
much grieved by this obstinacy. Hesitat- 
ing a moment, he took up another mouthful 
on a fork, and put it to the captive's lips. 

Summerfield had eaten nothing since 
breakfast, and was very hungry. As the 
grateful odour of fried venison again entered 
his nostrils, involuntarily his lips relaxed. 
After all, why not eat and be comfortable 
while Avaiting to know his fate ? Dan 
smiled with all the delight of a successful 
child, continuing to ply the fork, and when 
the prisoner's hunger was appeased, he 
took his leave, apparently well satisfied with 

Summerfield had spent the afternoon in 
multiplying vain conjectures as to the 
meaning of his captivity, and in struggling 
to loosen his bonds, by turns. He now did 
neither, beino^ wearv of both. Comforted 
by the food, he lay quite still, and soon fell 
asleej). The morning light had entered the 
doorway when he awoke, and he then lay 

Corona of the N.jitahalas. 59 

for hours, as it seemed to him, awaiting the 
next visit of his jailer, meanwhile listening 
with impatience rather than pleasure to the 
twitter of the early birds and the soft sigh 
of the breeze in the trees outside. 

At last he hijard footsteps near the open- 
ing, and voices. Who was that speaking ? 
A woman ? Yes, it was Corona I She, then, 
knew of his capture — had caused it, per- 
haps. Summerfield's face flushed and his 
heart beat violently — with indignation, or 
was it with pleasure ? Corona loved him — 
she wished him to stay ; this could be the 
only explanation. The modern Odysseus 
w^as a prisoner in the cave of Calypso, and 
Calypso herself was coming — by her spells 
and her love to lure him to stay. If, then, 
she willed it with such passionate determi- 
nation, with such forgetfulness of the cus- 
toms of mankind, why should he not be 
persuaded to stay — for a time, if not for the 
full seven years ? 

As soon as Dan had deposited his burden 
in the cave and secreted the horse, he ran 
to the spot where he had left Corona weep- 
ing on the grass. Finding no trace of her, 
he looked for her at the farm-house, but 
she was nowhere to be seen. Immediatelv 

6o Corona of the Nantahalas. 

returning to the forest, Dan sought her in 
one after another of their favourite haunts, 
in vain. He even climbed Helicon, and 
then Parnassus. By this time it was mid 
afternoon ; he was weary and hungry, and 
concluding that he had missed her, he re- 
turned home. 

Inquiring of his mother by signs, he 
learned that Corona had just come in from 
the woods after an absence of five or six 
hours, that she complained of being ill, and 
had retired to her room without eating. 
Seeking her there forthwith, he found the 
door shut and fastened from within, and 
there was no response to his knocks. 

Gideon McLeod received little assistance 
from Dan during the remainder of that 
afternoon. The thought of what he had 
done weighed upon the deaf mute, and half 
an hours pursuit of quiet labour was as 
much as he could bear at a time. Twice 
he dropped his hoe and ran to the cave in 
order to see how the captive fared ; more 
often still, he returned to the house in the 
hope of finding his beloved playmate visible. 
And when supper had been cooked and 
served, he surreptitiously carried off a plate- 
ful to the cave, as above described. 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 6 1 

Nothing more was seen of Corona till 
next morning, when she came forth, a little 
pale, but otherwise unaltered. As soon as 
breakfast was disposed of, she placed her 
sj)inniug wheel on the porch and worked 
with an eagerness suggesting desperation. 
Dan seated himself on the steps in the direct 
line of her vision, and from time to time 
endeavoured to engage her attention. But 
she had no o^lances for him to-dav. At 
length he went and stood by her, making 
signs. Did she not want to walk with him 
in the woods ? Did she not wish to visit 
once again the cave of Calypso? 

*' Not now," she said. " Go away, Dan." 

But he persisted. If she only knew what 
he had there to show her, she would come. 
He had a great surprise in store for her. 
What was it? He would not tell; she 
must guess. She would be sorry if she did 
not go and see it. And at last the girl 
rose and followed him through the thick 
woods to the cave. 

^^ Have you lo and Atalanta shut up 
there?" Corona asked aloud, forgetting to 
make signs. *^I have not seen them this 

This was just as they arrived, and these 

62 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

were the words partly overheard by Sum- 
merfield. Dan shook his head, with an 
im^^ortant smile, as the inquiry was duly 
communicated to him, and motioned his 
companion to enter. Leaning forward to 
look through the doorway. Corona drew 
back hastily as she saw the indistinct out- 
lines of a man lying on the ground. 

**^ Don't be afraid/' signed Dan, and en- 
tered first. 

Corona followed, but with great hesita- 
tion. Her eyes were not yet accustomed 
to the dim light, and she neither saw 
Summerfield's bonds nor recognized his 

'^ What can this mean ?'' she cried aloud. 

**Good morning, Miss Corona!" said 
Summerfield, with affected gaiety. 

The girl started at the sound of that 
familiar voice, and looked at Dan almost in 
terror. One instant of uncertainty, and 
she stepped quickly forward and stooped 
over the form of the captive, recognizing 
his face and perceiving his helpless condi- 
tion all at once. Summerfield saw amaze- 
ment, concern, fear, written in every line of 
her face, and his heart smote him for having 
so cruelly misjudged her. 

Corona of the Nantahalas, 63 

"Don't bo alarmed," he said gently. "I 
am all right. The experience has been 
rather uncomfortable, but there are no bones 

*^How came you here?" asked Corona, 
excitedly. '^I thought you were many miles 

*' Evidently I did not walk," he answered 
with a laugh, struggling a little within the 
folds of the rope. 

" Who has done this ? " exclaimed the 
girl, her eyes aflame. 

*' Your playful cousin there," was the 
answer. ^^As 1 rode away yesterday, ab- 
sorbed in thought, he threw a lasso oyer me, 
jerked me from the saddle, and jumped on 
me. Before I realized what was going on, 
he had slipped another noose over my feet 
and had me secure. He then put me on my 
horse, and brought me to this place — for 
what purpose, I have as yet been wholly un- 
able to guess. "" 

Corona rose slowly to her feet, directing 
a fiery glance at Dan, before which he 

'^And you did that I" she said, a look of 
mingled grief, anger, and horror on her 
face. *' Who would have believed there was 

64 Corojia of the Nantahalas. 

such wickedness in your heart ? No wonder 
the gods decreed that you should be deaf and 

Recollecting that he could not compre- 
hend her spoken words, she began to ad- 
dress Dan by signs: 

'^What could have made you do this 
frightful thing? What evil influence has 
possessed you ? " she said, in substance. 

"It was all for you/' indicated the un- 
happy deaf mute by means of his rapid signs 
and gestures. " I saw you fall on the 
ground and weep after he had gone. I 
thought you wanted him to stay, but he 
would not, and so I " 

Corona turned away, and his silent speech 
was cut off. The blood had rushed turbu- 
lently to her face, spreading from neck to 
brow ; now it is as suddenly receded, leaving 
her alarmingly pale. For an instant her 
body seemed to sway, as though she would 
fall ; but she recovered suddenly and turned 
again to Dan. 

"Untie him!" she said, and her gesture 
denoted an imperious command. 

She had spoken aloud, not by signs, 
but the deaf mute had read her face and 
comprehended fully. He started, as if 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 65 

from a sudden and unexpected blow, and 
bounded forward to do her bidding. The 
blade of a knife gleamed in the dim light, 
and the ropes were soon cut. 

''Now fetch his horse, ^' commanded 
Corona, this time by signs, and Dan hurried 
from the cave. 

Summerfield gathered himself up stiffly, 
and followed the girl through the vine-clad 
doorway into the open air. 

'*I know not what to say," she faltered 
with downcast eyes. ''Such an outrage " 

" Do not speak of it," the young man 
interrupted kindly. 

" My uncle will be most deeply mortified 
— as I am," she pursued. " He knew nothing, 
nor did I, till now. "We beg of you to ac- 
cept our apology, and ask you to remember 
that this poor Dan is only a child as to his 
mind, and is truly not responsible for his 

" I am quite aware of it — I have seen it," 
was the considerate reply. 

Dan now appeared, leading the horse. 
Delivering the bridle to Summerfield, he 
turned away, a sad, perplexed look on his 

"And now I will ask you to mount and ride 

^^ Corona of the Nantahalas. 

away at once,'' continued the girl bravely, 
" so that my uncle will not know of this at 
all. It would grieve him co the heart. Good- 
bye ! All our good wishes go with you, 
although you leave us unhappy — grieved 
for this terrible thing that has occurred." 

He pitied her in her mortification. She 
looked very sad and very beautiful ; he 
almost believed that he loved her. 

" May I come — may I come again ? " he 
asked ardently. 

" If yon wish it," she replied, in a low 
voice, and with averted face. 

Admiration for her came suddenly over 
him in a great wave. He felt touched be- 
yond expression ; and yet^ even in that 
generous moment, a theatrical impulse 
which sometimes moved him, rose to the 
surface. He felt irresistibly impelled to 
seize her hand, to bend low and press his 
lips upon it. 

"The memory of Corona will live with 
me forever ! " he said, with a touch of real 

Siie drew her hand quickly away. " Wait 
until you return," she said. 

Then he leaped on his horse, lifted his hat 
to her, and was gone. 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 6y 

When the sound of his horse's hoofs was 
no longer heard, Corona turned toward 
Dan, who stood apart and seemed afraid to 
look directly at her, shame and perplexity 
written on his face. However, he now per- 
ceived that she beckoned him, and he 
timidly approached. She seated herself on 
a stone, and bade him do likewise. 

**My poor Dau,'^ she said aloud, as he 
obeyed. For a time she spoke no more, 
looking along the path Summerfield had 

"And you did all that for me," she 
mused at last, looking at Dan again. ** You 
meant to please me, but you have broken 
my heart, poor boy." 

Then all at once she put her arms round 
his neck, rested her head on his shoulder, 
and wept as the desolate weep. 


The winter season was over at Asheville, 
and the summer season had not yet began. 
The long veranda of the Battery Park 
Hotel was almost deserted; scarcely an 
eye was left that cared to dwell on the wide 
prospect — the scattered town below, the 
rolling valley beyond, and the blue moun- 
tains against the horizon. The only persons 
enjoying the ubiquitous rocking-chair were 
two young men, who were more than half 
persuaded to stretch their legs over the 
balustrade. Why not? It was so com- 
fortable, and there was no one in sight 
likely to be shocked. There seemed to be 
an end, now, of that incessant tramping 
back and forth of ladies who had nothing 
in the world to do but to seek an appetite 
for dinner. 

" When do you go away, Summerfield? " 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 69 

"To-morrow. And you?'' 

''As soon as I can get everythiag ready 
for camping." 

The last speaker was a man of perhaps a 
little more than thirty — half-a-dozen years 
older than Htnry Summerfield. In many 
respects the t\yo were contrasting types. 
Edward Darnell's clothes did not fit well, 
nor were they yery new, and although his 
features were good, and there was eyidence 
of strength in his serious face, no one would 
haye called him handsome. He bore the 
air of one who had giyen oyer play for 
work. His dark hair and eyes emphasized 
the pallor of his rather thin face, and, 
although it was not possible to detect the 
odour of the traditional midnight oil, there 
was about him an unmistakable air of the 

''You don't mean to say that you expect 
to camp all alone another summer ? " asked 
Summerfield, with an air of concern which 
was hardly genuine. 

"I did it in the Yellowstone last summer 
without disaster, and why not here ?'' was 
the reply. " These ^orth Carolina moun- 
tains," Darnell continued, " are remarkable 
for being forest-clothed up to the top. 

70 Corona of the Naiitahalas. 

although so very high — the highest land 
east of the Kockies, in fact. I want to give 
a special study to the flora of these high 

"If I were you, then, Td choose the 
Nantahalas, rather than the Smokies or 
Unakas," said Summerfield. *' Eeally, they 
are wonderful. And, besides, that's where 
I met that remarkable girl," he lightly 

" I had been thinking of Mount Mitchell," 
Darnell continued, passing over his friend's 
last remark. "I don^t quite know where 
the JSTantahalas are. They are not visible 
from this point." 

Summerfield said he fancied they were 
about a hundred miles to the south-west. 
''^ But how are you able to manage this 
camping of yours ? " he asked a few mo- 
ments later. *' Where do you get anything 
to eat ? " 

*' Simple enough. I carry a pot and a 
supply of steam -cooked oatmeal. Then, 
too, you really have no idea what a public 
benefactor was the inventor of canned 
goods," Darnell went on, smiling and almost 
enthnsiastic. " I have my gun along, and 
occasionally I take the trouble to kill and 

Corona of the Naiitahalas, yi 

cook a partridge, or something else not 
always as nice. I eat when hungry, drink 
when thirsty, sleep when weary — the most 
independent life in the world, I assure you. 
I can't lay claim to the gipsy's blood, but I 
dote on the gipsy's way of life. '^ 

" But how dull it must be! " 

*'Ko time for that when a man is collect- 
ing, classifying, and cataloguing specimens." 

" But you can't work all the time." 

'* Certainly not. Of course I carry a few 
of my favourite books, and now and then I 
condescend to read a novel. I even read 
your sketches occasionally." 

"You don't say!" Summerfield laughed 
heartily. '* But, after all, you must often be 
desperately lonely.'^ 

^* Ah, there you say true" — with a half 
sigh. ^' But then I am a lonely man in the 
city, you know. I have nothing but my 
lectures at the Academy and my books." 

*'What a dry life! By the way, has that 
rich cousin of yours made any further efforts 
to introduce you into society?" 

'^ She mentioned it again last fall, but I 
backed as usual. I don^t care for fine 
ladies. I don't know much about either, 
but I prefer the working girl." 

72 Corona of the Nantahalas, 

"The kind who stands behind a counter 
and says that one colour is more becoming 
'than what' another is for a light com- 
plexion, and who informs you that she has 
a sister ' Alus ' also in business, and that if 
their father Miad of known how to hold 
on to his money they would all now be 
driving in a 'cope,' instead of — et cetera, et 

''You mustn't go into particulars. That 
is the way to spoil the best of theories," 
said Darnell, smiling. "I mean the work- 
ing girl in the abstract. I prefer her 
because, to my mind, she is more in the 
order of creation. She does something for 
others — something of use to her neighbours 
— while the fine lady lives only for herself. 
I admit, of course, that where the working 
girl does not love her work, the one is as 
selfish as the other." 

"But how do you dispose of the advan- 
tages of culture and " 

'•' True education is a great thing for any 
one, especially if he be caught young. But 
the varnish called cultivation will not im- 
prove a shallow mind or refine a selfish 
soul. I prefer strong characters, wherever 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 73 

'* Darnell, you ought to meet that girl I 
saw last summer." 

"Who is she?" 

"Did you read that story of mine 
published last winter called *A Sylvan 
Princess ? ' " 

" Yes." 

*^The whole thing was based on what 
happened to me in the Nantahalas in con- 
nection with this girl. I dared not describe 
everything Just as it was. I knew it wouldn't 
be believed." 

*' What were you doing there ? " 

"Last summer I went up to the mountain 
village of Bryson, on my way to Oconoluf tee, 
the Cherokee reservation — I wanted to write 
an article about the Indians, — and while 
there I heard mentiou of a remarkable 
young woman who lived some forty miles 
away — far up in the fastnesses of the 

*^ Not alone?" 

'^ No. Her companions were an old 
farmer, his wife, and a deaf-mute son. It 
was said, in substance, that she was as wise 
as a sage and as beautiful as a dream, and 
I determined to see her." 

"How singular." 

74 Corona of the Nantahalas, 

*'Take another cigar, and I'll tell you all 
about it." 

^^ It is certainly a remarkable story," said 
Darnell half an hour later, after listening to 
an outline of his friend's experience in the 
Nantahalas. *^And you have never since 
communicated with her?" 

"No. I thought once or twice of send- 
ing her a copy of the story of which she 
was the inspiration, but decided not to. I 
believe I should have gone back myself 
long before this if I had dared. It seemed 
wiser to stay away; she is too fascinating. 
I am not ready to marry yet, and, if I were, 
she is hardly the kind of girl to introduce 
to one's friends." 

'^ She is worth a hundred of the conven- 
tional girl, if your report is at all accurate," 
said Darnell positively. 

'^No doubt she is — in a way. But 
society's way are different. She'd interest 
you, Darnell, I am sure; and there would be 
no risk in your going. You are such a cold, 
phlegmatic fellow, that there would be no 
danger of your falling in love, and " 

"And as I am not good looking, there 
would be no danger of her falling in love 
with me, eh ? " Darnell replied dryly. 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 75 

''You know I did not mean to say that." 
*^It is true, however, and it is possible 
that I may adopt your suggestion. I can 
doubtless find the same specimens on the 
peaks of the Xantahalas as on Mount 
Mitchell, and there seems no real reason 
why I should not follow your trail." 


_ CoRON"A waited in vain through the long 
weeks and months of the summer and 
autumn. Summerfield did not come back, 
and sent no word. Many a time the girl 
visited the spring where he had first entered 
her life, and lingered there, vaguely hoping 
to hear his horse's hoof-strokes on the flinty 
path — huge red long and drearily, falling 
prone upon the ground at last before the 
oppression of her disappointment and grief. 
She had little idea of the long distances, of 
the hindrances that might prevent, and had 
really expected him to return, believing im- 
plicitly all he had said. She had learned 
many things about the outside world during 
the few days he was with her, but she had 
not learned enough. 

The spot became hateful at last, and she 
went there no more; but on Helicon and 

Coro7ia of the Nantahalas yj 

the other heights which they had visited 
together, on the banks of the Simois, and 
in the cave at Calypso, she still thought of 
him. After some weeks, in the intervals 
between weaving, spinning and other work, 
she went back to her books, especially her 
poets, with renewed affection and absorp- 
tion. She had felt the pangs of a great 
disappointment, and now understood the 
feelings of Ariadne, of Medea, of Calypso, 
of Dido, of Cleopatra, and Ophelia, as never 

Still later, though scarcely less sad. 
Corona found a certain relief in giving ex- 
pression to her troubled thoughts in spoken 
words. As she wandered alone through 
the wild woods, or sat upon the loftiest 
point of Helicon or Olympus and looked 
out over the vast, hazy blue sea of moun- 
tains, she now and then fell into a measured 
recitation of her griefs, her thoughts, her 
ho^^es. It did not occur to her that she 
spoke in rhythm ; the voices of the ancient 
bards forever haunted her mind, and, had 
she thought of the matter, their mode of 
speech would have seemed to her more 
natural and fitting than prose for these 
melancholy soliloquies. She was observant 

78 Corona of the Nantahalas* 

and reflective enough, however, to become 
aware that this habit of measured soliloquy 
was growing on her, and she wondered if 
she were the victim of a peculiar form of 
madness. While wandering on one of the 
higher peaks of the neighbourhood one day 
late in the fall Corona witnessed a thunder- 
storm in the clouds beneath her, and Avas 
filled with delight rather than awe by the 
terrific beauty and grandeur of the scene. 
Eeturning home it occurred to her that if 
Summerfield had seen it he would have 
written about it in his book. It was this 
suggestion which ended in her spreading 
paper before her the next day and be- 
ginning to write. 

Once begun, the habit grew on her, and 
almost every day Corona wrote something 
in a little blank book left behind by the 
schoolmaster. From this beginning of a 
simjole description of the thunderstorm, she 
advanced toward the most fantastic and 
poetical fancies, everywhere coloured by 
the pagan atmosphere in which she had 
grown up. What the birds said to each 
other, what the river said to the mountain, 
the myriad murrnurings of the forest from 
day to day, the beat of the gentle rain 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 79 

on the glad leaves, the language of the 
clouds, of the stars, the soft coo of the 
doves who knew that her heart was torn, 
the harsh laugh of the crows who knew 
it, too, the friendly sympathy of the wood 
and water nymphs, of whom she still 
dreamed, the indifference of fauns and 
satyrs, the mystery, the beauty, the sad- 
ness, the joy, of the vast, illimitable world 
of nature. 

Once, forgetful of her uncle's warning 
that the place was unsafe even while it was 
day. Corona wandered into the pathless 
forest on the far side of Parnassus. Dan 
was busy and could not go, so she called 
the deer and started ofif, lo and Afcalanta 
trotting contentedly at her heels. As the 
way became precipitous and diflScult her 
pets strayed oS, feeding, and she ascended 
to the top alone, remaining there an un- 
marked length of time absorbed in con- 
templating a grand prospect of unknown 
peaks wreathed in smoky blue, of wide 
intervening valleys traversed by slender, 
shining streams, and of shifting white 
mists which here and there swam low 
between the piny walls of long, deep 


8o Corona of the Nantahalas, 

Descending into the great forests again, 
she came upon a huge old tulijD tree with 
a small hollow at its centre on a level 
with the ground, evidently at one time 
the den of some animal, for the rotting 
protuberances were all worn smoothly 
away. Its height would not permit stand- 
ing erect, but Corona calculated that two, 
perhaps three, persons could sit comfort- 
ably within the hollow, should shelter from 
a storm be desired at any time. 

She would show this to Dan without 
delay, and should a rain-cloud descend 
upon them while in this neighbourhood, 
they could henceforth find refuge here. It 
was while she thought of this that she 
missed the deer. Detecting a faint sound 
of howling in the distance, she remem- 
bered her uncle's warning, and feared the 

In a few minutes fleet-footed Atalanta 
bounded through some neighbouring laurel 
bushes and leaped madly forward. At 
sight of Corona, and at the sound of her 
voice, the frightened hind halted and came 
to her, panting and trembling. lo followed 
in another moment. The howling had now 
grown loud and fierce, and the pursuers 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 8 1 

were close at hand. Corona had barely 
had time to push the terrified but obedient 
young deer into the hollow of the tree, and 
follow them, when half-a-dozen wolves burst 
through the laurel and halted snarling be- 
fore her. 

As if fully aware of the helplessness 
of their prey, two of the foremost beasts 
sprang half way into the hollow, and, 
sinking their teeth into the neck of poor 
Atalanta, dragged her forth, in spite of 
Corona's threatening cries and the futile 
blows from her bare hands. Fearlessly the 
girl went forth after them, and, seizing 
a large stone, dealt one of the wolves a 
blow which caused it to relax its hold with 
a howl of pain. The advantage thus gained 
was only momentary. Two more wolves 
immediately sprang upon the bleeding 
hind, a third seized Coronals dress in its 
teeth, tearing it to shreds, while a fourth 
attacked lo, who was shrinking in the 

The consequences would doubtless have 
been disastrous for Corona as well as her 
pets but for the fortunate arrival of Gideon 
McLeod, who, while hunting on the moun- 
tain slope at no great distance, heard the 

S2 Corona of the Nantahalas, 

howling and hurried to the scene. Two of 
the wolves were quickly shot, and the 
remainder sought the safety of distance. 
But poor Atalanta was dead, and lo 
staggered about, bleeding from several 

For the first time since the day of Suui- 
merfield's departure, Corona wept copious 
tears, and could with difficulty be consoled. 
Having examined lo's wounds and found 
that they were not serious, at the weephig 
girl's suggestion Gideon McLeod sought a 
burial-place for Atalanta. Not far away he 
found a small rocky hollow in a steep slope, 
and here was deposited the dead hind. 
Corona first strewing the bottom with 
laurel leaves, regretting that she could not 
obtain the funereal cypress which the Trojan 
matrons threw into the graves of their loved 
ones. A pile of loose stones was heaped 
over the spot, and then they started home- 
ward, i^oor lo limping after them. All 
this was recorded in the little book in highly 
imaginative style, the mystical, ancient 
idea of metempsychosis playing a part. 
Poor Atalanta was made the flesh -clothed 
soul of a beautiful maid of some far time — 
was not the original lo transformed into 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 83 

a cow? — and the pack of wolves, while 
scourged with a whip of flaming words, 
were declared the eternal prison-house of 
the souls of once depraved and wicked men. 

The fall and winter wore awaj, the 
monotony of Corona's life being varied 
only by the regular visits of one Jonathan 
Scruggs, a mountaineer from the lower 
valley. This young man, who was not 
good looking or otherwise attractive, ap- 
peared to be decidedly deficient in mother 
wit, and could not take no for an answer. 
He was less lacking in appreciation of his 
own importance, and was thoroughly con- 
vinced that Corona would succumb to his 
persuasive eloquence in time. However, 
he was wise enough not to be disagreeably 
urgent, and so his frequent presence was 
tolerated by the family, the elder McLeod 
being always polite to him. But Dan 
more than once meditated a quarrel, 
seeing how his beloved playmate was 

After the winter snows had melted, and 
Scamander and Simois had borne the waste 
of water down to the lower country, when 
the bare trees leafed out and the spring 
flowering began. Corona was less unhappy 

84 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

while still thinking of him who had come 
into and gone out of her life, to return no 
more. She thought of him, but quietly, 
with a patience and resignation which she 
had learned at last. In her little book she 
wrote that the budding of the leaves was 
her returning smile after the dark winter 
of })ain — her sad, forgiving smile which 
would go downward through the world to 

One day early in June, about a year after 
the departure of Summerfield, she walked 
forth in the forest alone. It was afternoon, 
and her work was done — the hour when 
she usually went out with Dan ; but to-day 
she avoided him and slipped away alone. 
She felt unequal to the tramp up to the 
heights, and went and sat by the roaring 
Simois, watching with unfailing interest the 
turbulent sweep of the crystal water over 
the rocks and shoals. Her old fancies re- 
turned to her as she lingered, and she 
found herself wondering if, after all the 
faithless Summerfield had said, the naiads 
were not there in the swirling water, 
chasing each other playfully round the 
eddies, and laughing in the fullness of their 

Corona of the Na^itahalas. 85 

The path she chose ia returning led past 
the cave of Calypso, a spot still yisited, 
though associated with some of her most 
painful recollectioDS. The sun had set ere 
she reached the spot. As she drew near, 
the sound of an axe caused her to halt in 
great surprise. A little nearer, she saw that 
a fire glimmered through the trees, and won- 
dered what Dan, who should be at home 
milking the cows, could be doing there at 
this hour. 

At the verge of the open in front of the 
cave the girl stopped, amazed. Close to 
the opening in the rock two men were 
engaged in driving down the stakes of 
a small, comfortable-looking tent. Near 
by, two horses and a mule were tethered, 
and between the stamping animals and 
the busy men, a saucepan simmered on 
a fire. A tin teapot, a few other utensils, 
and some unpacked luggage, all within 
a few feet of the fire, completed the 
catalogue of strange objects presented to 

It could be seen at a glance that one of 
the men was a mountaineer from the lower 
valley. As a twig snapped under Corona's 
foot, the other man looked up quickly, saw 

86 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

her, and came forward. There was still 
light enough for the girl to observe that he 
was tall, with striking but not handsome 
features. His dark hair and eyes seemed 
the darker in contrast with the pallor of his 
face. He wore a woollen cap, a grey Nor- 
folk jacket, and dark trousers ; and though 
neither of the latter fitted as well as they 
might, it was evident that he was a man of 
the world. As he approached. Corona re- 
gretted that she had not exchanged her 
plain working garb for one of her Greek 

"Good evening, madam," he said. ''I 
suppose you are from Mr. McLeod's ?" 

"Yes. I was passing this way — I did 
not know you were here," she answered. 

"My name is Edward Darnell. I have 
come here in order to study the flora — the 
plants. We passed your house this after- 
noon, and would have stopped, but saw no 
one about. There was little time to lose, 
and we came on here and struck camp. 
Do you suppose Mr. McLeod will have 
any objection to my camping here for a 
time ? " 

"None at all, I am sure. How could 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 8/ 

"Thank you. I thought it a suitable 
place on account of the little cave. I can 
build my fire there on rainy nights." 

It occurred to Corona that to make a 
kitchen of that cave would be a desecra- 
tion, and it was the expression of her face 
which prompted him to add : 

" But perhaps I intrude. It seems to 
have been used " 

"You do not intrude. It was only used 
as a playhouse when my cousin and I were 
children. You are welcome to it." 

Again he expressed his thanks, and she 
turned to move away. " I must go. My 
uncle will like to see you at the house," she 

Darnell had contracted the unwholesome 
habit of thinking aloud at times, from living 
much alone, and when she had gone, and 
he turned toward the fire, he absently re- 
marked — the mountaineer being too far 
away to hear : 

" She doesn't make as striking a picture 
as I expected — for of course this is she. 
I might have known that Summerfield's 
imagination had coloured everything con- 
nected with her." 


"I LIKE your mountains," said Darnell, with 
great cheerfulness. ** Already I have dis- 
covered a new plant — a new species. I say 
new — it may be as old as the mountains 
themselves; what I mean is that it is not 
recorded in the books. At this rate I shall 
be on the high road to fame before the 
summer is over." 

" Is it worth so much to find a new 
plant ? " asked Corona. 

*^It is a distinct gain for science." 

Darnell sat on a goods box near his tent. 
Stretched out at full length in front of him 
lay Dan, devouring him with his glance; 
and close to the deaf mute Corona sat up- 
right in a low hammock. Two weeks had 
passed since the botanist's arrival, and all 
his arrangements for a summer's sojourn 
were now complete^. The mountaineer who 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 89 

had brought him and his goods up from 
the lower valley had long since returned, 
taking the horses on which they had ridden, 
and the pack-mule which had staggered 
beneath the weight of the tent, the blankets, 
the canned goods, the outmeal, and the rest 
of the camper's outfit. Several visits had 
meanwhile been made at the farm-houee, 
where he was cordially entertained, and 
Darnell now felt well acquainted with its 
unusual inhabitants, and thoroughly do- 
mesticated at Lonelv Cove. 

Corona interested him intensely from the 
first, not as a type — or rather as a unique 
specimen — of womankind, not as a literary 
artist's material or model, but as a women, 
as a strong, free nature which had de- 
veloped beyond the reach of the trivialities 
of civilization. A certain vague disap- 
pointment, which had been felt at the 
first glimpse, was quickly effaced and for- 

The cave was hardly half a mile away, 
but Corona had felt shy about going there, 
and it was only now, at the end of two 
weeks, that she took Dan with her and 
made their new neighbour a visit. Gideon 
McLeod had gone several times, and the 

go Corona of the Nantahalas. 

two men had sat and smoked together with 
great amity, each seeming to like and re- 
spect the other from the first meeting. 

Almost as a matter of course, Darnell 
was soon cordially invited to make the farm- 
house his home, but he politely refused. 
In order to make amends for what seemed 
to them a shockingly inhospitable state of 
things, the McLeods sent Dan to tlie camp 
with frequent presents— as a chicken pre- 
pared for the pot, or a hind quarter of 
mutton or venison. 

After this first visit, Corona found it 
easier to go, and as time passed their inter- 
course became more and more a source of 
pleasure. Later on it seemed the most 
natural of all things to walk out with Dan 
every afternoon and halt for some time at 
Darnell's camp, while the young man, on 
his part, fell readily into the habit of 
spending two hours each evening at the 
farm-house, smoking on the porch with 
Gideon McLeod, but talking mostly for the 
benefit of Corona, who always sat by. 

''Do you believe in the gods, Edward?" 
the girl asked suddenly, as they walked 
together in the woods one afternoon, ac- 
companied only by the earless Dan. 

Corona of the Nantahalas, 91 

"It perhaps does not matter here," said 
Darnell, *' but if you were out in the world 
it would not do to call a young man by his 
Christian name, unless you had known him 
very intimately for a long while." 

"I did not know," said Corona, with a 
blush. After some hesitation she continued: 
*'I always spoke to Henry so, although I 
saw him only for a few days, and he did 
not — tell me." It was her first reference to 

*'He ought to have told you." 

^' Did you know him?" she faltered. 
This question had many times trembled on 
her lips. 

"If you mean Henry Summerfield, yes. 
I saw him recently. He is a friend of 


"Is he— well?" 

"He is the picture of health." 

" Will he come to the mountains to — to — 
see you ? " 

"Not likely. No ; I don't think he will 
ever come here again." 

They walked on then in silence till they 
reached a point where the little mountain 
river which Corona had named from the 
Homeric Simois fell with a thunderous roar 

92 Corona of the NantaJialas. 

some seventy feet over the rocks. There 
they halted long, and she, half smiling, half 
serious, bade him listen and he would hear 
the naiads singing. She freely told him how 
often she had waited and watched along the 
stream, hoping to see them ; she knew they 
came out and spoke to the dryads of the 
forest when she had gone. 

" These are only the poetic fancies of the 
ancients," he said, hardly smiling. '^ They 
are not to be entertained seriously, as 

" They have been very real to me." After 
a moment's thought she added : ^' You did 
not answer about the gods." 

''Did you mean to ask if I believed the 
gods really existed ? If so, certainly not. 
The ancients may have seen something of 
a hidden and true meaning in those old 
tales, but to us they are nothing but fables. 
There were many noble men among the 
ancients, but even these for tlie most part 
groped in comparative darkness." 

"I cannot believe that — not as yet," re- 
sponded Corona, earnestly. " To me the 
ancients seem to have been the best and 
wisest of men, understanding the most pro- 
found questions," 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 93 

'' It is likely enough/' he rejoined, '' that 
they often saw a meaning ia what is to us 

" Can you tell me why it is," she asked, 
^' that when I have good thoughts all things 
appear more pleasing ? Even the birds fly- 
ing across my path are then the harmless 
and beautiful ones. But when I have evil 
thoughts there is a change — nothing is 
beautiful, and if I walk out I am sure to 
see birds of prey, or snakes, and such ugly 

'^ You never think or do evil ?" 

" Indeed, yes. Does not every one, at 
times ? I remember once when my aunt 
wanted me to weave, I refused, and ran 
away to the woods ; and the first things I 
saw were a hawk, a toad, and a poisonous 

The next day she asked him if he under- 
stood the Logos of Plato, and by way of 
rejoinder he said : 

^^ You know too much about the ancient 
world and not enough about the modern. 
It is certainly true that the modern world 
is more or less over-educated as to the head 
and gone to decay as to the heart, and in 
some ways the ancient was perhaps best; 

94 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

but the latter is ages gone, while the former 
is at hand. You must read some modern 

He said he' had a few that would be use- 
ful to her, and proposed that they read 
them together and discuss them — which 
suggestion pleased her greatly. ^' I am not 
a wise man/' he said, smiling, " but I can 
tell you a good many things that you need 
to know.'' 

*' You are not beautiful like Henry," 
Corona naively informed Darnell one day 
toward midsummer, " but you are good, 
most good, and I like you as I never liked 
any one before, except him. If I could 
have a brother, I should wish him to be 

" I should prefer some one else to be 
your brother ! " he answered quickly, a 
strange glow leaping to life in his quiet 

Corona supposed he must be offended, 
wondered wherefore, and changed the sub- 
ject. A day or two later, as they talked 
over a book they had read together in which 
there was much about love, she fully con- 
fessed her feeling for Summerfield, earnestly 
avowing that she could never love another. 

Corona of the NantaJialas. 95 

and describing what displeasure was ex- 
cited in her bj the attentious of her moun- 
taineer suitors. Darnell listened without 
much comment, the same curious fire in 
the eyes which now and then were fixed 
upon her. 

''What a Penelope you are!" he said, as 
she referred to her suitors from the valley. 

"Am I not rather a Calypso or a Dido, 
since Henry has deserted me?" she asked 
frankly, almost mournfully. 

" Far from it. You did not love as they 
loved. No; your love was only a thing of 
the imagination." 

'' If you but knew what pain I felt — still 
feel," she said, solemnly. 

"Love is a union of two minds or souls 
of a similar cast which mentally attract 
each other," he pursued. " There cannot 
be this union until two people thoroughly 
know each other inwardly as well as out- 
wardly, and no two can come to know each 
other in this way in the space of a few days. 
Therefore your love was not real." 

But she refused to be convinced, and the 
next day, in order to refute him, brought 
her journal and read aloud to him much of 
what she had written during the past year 

96 Corona of the NantahaL 


Darnell listened with profound interest, dis- 
relish, admiration, amazement, written on 
his face bj turns. 

''What do you say now, dear friend?" 
she asked at last. 

The young man was slow to answer. 
''I am of the same opinion," he said at last. 
"This writing does not prove that you 
truly loved, but I think it proves that you 
might become a poet." 


OxE day, when Dan was too busy to ac- 
company her, serenely ignorant of the im- 
propriety of such a j)roceeding, Corona 
visited the camp alone. Glad enough to 
have her all to himself, Darnell, too, forget 
conventionality and proposed her favourite 
ramble. Together the two then walked or 
climbed to the top of Mount Parnassus. 
Darnell thought no pen could suggest the 
impressiveness of the endless mountain soli- 
tudes encompassing them. To him the sol- 
emn stillness was sometimes terrible, and yet 
beautiful, for it seemed to speak with a thou- 
sand faint and far away voices of things 
ineffable; fit abiding place for the poet- 
souled girl at his side. 

They spoke frequently of things beyond 
their surroundings, and were more intent 
on each other than on the sights before 

98 Corona of the Nantahalas, 

their eyes ; but afterward it seeraed to Dar- 
nell that every smallest detail of that moun- 
tain climb was pictured on his memory. 
The vast solitude, the profound stillness 
full of strange whisperings, the endless for- 
ests, the brawling streams, the deep ravines, 
the gardens of white birches, the jungles 
of dark laurel, the vivid colours of the 
rhododendron, the still ferns, the damp 
green mosses on the rocks, the black balsams 
shuddering and groaning before the gale at 
the summit, the cold sweep of the air cur- 
rents over then arrow, grass grown "bald," 
the pale sunlight and azure sky, the deep, 
deep, hazy valleys, the crow^ding blue moun- 
tains far away — this was the picture that 
went with him for days as a background 
for the yet more vivid image of the girl at 
his side. 

As they climbed upward their con- 
versation wandered to the subject of the 

"Did you name this mountain Parnassus 
because you thought the immortal Nine 
would be more likely to appear to you here 
than elsewhere ? " asked Darnell. 

^•'Yes. I thought they would choose it 
because it was the most beautiful." 

Corona of the Nantahatas. 99 

^^It may be that Calliope lias appeared 
to you," said the young man, turning upon 
his companion a pair of laughing eyes. 
*' Doubtless she came while you were asleep, 
imprinted a kiss on your forehead, and left 
her shadow behind. Then, in the morning, 
you rose and began to write those poetical 

^'I used to hope especially to meet Cal- 
liope and Clio here," she told him seriously. 
^' They were my favourites. But after Henry 
left it seemed to me that Melpomene would 
more likely visit me." 

'^ It may be that /have made the acquain- 
tance of Erato without seeking it," said 
Darnell with heightened colour, then abruptly 
called Corona's attention to a rare flower 
which they were passing. 

. As they stood on Parnassus' grass-covered, 
treeless top an hour later, and looked far out 
0:1 an endless scene of mountain peaks and 
ridges crowding to the horizon in every 
quarter, some of them in shadow, some 
gleaming in the pale sunlight — all wooded, 
the nearer dark green, the distant milky 
blue, and none marked by a single clearing 
or sign of a human habitation — as tliey 
gazed upon this indescribably grand and 

100 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

louely prospect, the botanist's quick eye 
took note that clouds were gathering and 
drifting toward their own lofty point. 
Slowly the great aerial monsters swam to- 
ward them from the far horizon, becoming 
more and more clearly outlined as they 
drew near. Some were above, some on a 
level, and some below the top of Parnassus; 
all basked in a sea of sunshine from above, 
contrasting with the darker atmosphere 
below through which the rain fell fast as 
from great sieves. Enormous patclies of 
shade in the deep valleys below imitated the 
uncertain movements of the great Protean 
creatures on high. 

As the vast, ragged cloud-bodies floated 
nearer, sudden flashes of lightning zig- 
zagged from one to another, and a deafen- 
ing roar of thunder reverberated through 
the mountains. The suggestion was of 
gigantic swimming monsters at war, each 
plunging a sword of flame into the breast 
of his adversary, and bellowing hoarsely 
and mightily when so served in turn. 
As the battle raged, the loosened rain 
descended upon the fair valleys in tor- 

** We shall get wet," announced Darnell. 

Corona of the Nantahalas. loi 

''Those clouds will be here in less than 
fifteen minutes. " 

He turned to go, but Corona still gazed 
enrapt, loath to move. A second suggestion 
of retreat was made, somewhat more 
urgently, and then they hurried away on 
the downward track. They had scarcely 
entered the forest when the treeless top of 
the peak was enveloped in the higher va- 
pours, and in a few minutes the wliole upper 
portion of the mountain was wrapped in the 
dense gray mist we call a cloud. Hurrying 
downward through this, they soon passed 
beloTv^ the region of cloud-land, where the 
rain no longer floated, but fell, and fell 

They were now not far from the hollow 
tree where Atalanta had fallen a prey to 
the wolves, and it was decided to seek the 
shelter of that retreat. Corona led the way 
at a run, and they reached the place in time 
to escape a thorough drenching. There 
they were obliged to remain an hour or 
more, as the rain continued to fall steadily, 
accompanied by blinding flashes of light- 
ning and a perceptible quaking of the 
mountain after each thunderous roar. 

The hollow of the tulip was far from 

I02 Corona of the Na7itaJialas. 

ample, and the refugees were necessarily 
bronglit into close contact. As they sat 
thus, while the storm raged without, Darnell 
was obliged to struggle hard to resist the 
oft-recurring desire to put his arm around 
his companion. They were all alone on 
the wild, stormy mountain; each had only 
the other, and should be all the world to 
that other. How Darnell wished it were 
literally true that she had liim only! Corona, 
on her part, felt now and then that she would 
like to rest her tired head on his shoulder, 
just as she would have done had Dan been 
at her side instead; he was such a dear, 
wise friend, had become so necessary to 
her, and she liked and trusted him so 

"I wish you were my brother," she said 
innocentlv at last. "Then we could be 
together always." 

** Don't say such things — it is too painful 
to listen to!" he rejoined quickly, and as 
she looked into his face she saw that he was 
deeply moved. 

" What can you mean ? " she asked in 
astonishment and concern. 

''I mean that this is a strange world, 
where love wastes itself on every side, in 

Corona of the Nantahatas. 103 

vain. You love Summerfield, or think you 
do, and he will never love jou. I love you, 
and you cannot love me. You want me to 
be your brother, and I want you to be my 
wife ! " 

'' Oh, Edward ! " 

'^ It is true. I asked your uncle last 
week if I might become a suitor, and he 

'* I am very sorry," she said, simply, a 
pained look on her face. **I can never love 

Darnell started up suddenly. '^ I must 
get out of this," he said, huskily, and stepped 

Fortunately the rain had now decreased 
to a drizzle. He stood in it waiting, bid- 
ding her remain where she was. A few 
minutes later she ventured out in spite of 
his protest. However, the drizzle was soon 
over now. 

'^ I was never in love before, and it is hard 
to bear ; but you need not be afraid of me," 
he said, with a ghostly smile. 

" I shall never be afraid of you," she 
answered gently. 

Tho subject was then dismissed. Calling 
him to look at the pile of stones over the 

104 Corona of the N ant ahalas. 

grave of Atalanta, Coroua told the story of 
the memorable day of the poor hind's 
death. And afterward, as they descended 
the mountain, he walked ahead in silence, 
carefully shaking the rain from the branches 
which must touch her. 


Corona did not visit the camp next day, 
but Darnell came to the farm-house as usual 
in the evening, and sat and smoked with her 
uncle on the porch. As he rose to go at 
nine o'clock, she rose, too, and accompanied 
him to the gate. 

" If what you told me yesterday is — is 
true," she said, *' perhaps we should see less 
of each other." 

^' Do you want to torture me ! " he asked 
with such a fierceness of gloom that she was 

" That is why — why I did not go to-day," 
she added gently, then said good-night, and 
turned toward the house. 

Next morning, while out in the mountains 
looking after his sheep, Gideon McLeod had 
a fall and sprained his ankle so severely 
that, although he dragged himself home, 

i 06 Corona of the Nantahalas, 

lie was confined to the house a week there- 
after. At first he suffered much pain, and 
the two anxious women cared for him very 
tenderly. Thus Corona^ who doubted the 
wisdom of going near Darnell, found an 
excuse for staying at home. 

It was near noon 0^ tlie third day after the 
accident that Jonathan Scruggs, Corona's 
persistent suitor, appeared at the gate and 
hailed her uncle. His manner was excited, 
and his horse was wet with sweat and 
flecked with foam. Evidently he had ridden 
up from the lower valley in great haste. 

Mrs. j\rcLeod went out and invited him 
to *' 'light," beginning at once to tell him 
of the accident to her husband. The visitor 
listened to the particulars with manifest 
signs of impatience. He was a well-grown 
young man of twenty-five, already a little 
inclined to be stout, whose excessively florid 
complexion was perhaps partly due to 
exposure, but more largely to vigorous 

" I ain't got time to 'light," said he, look- 
ing behind him anxiously. '^ They'll be 
h-yer turreckly. I li-yeared 'em say thar to 
Wolf Creek that the revenue men and the 
sheriff aimed to 'rest Gid McLeod, and I rid 

Corona of the Na7itahalas. 107 

up right off to tell you, so the old man 'ud 
have time to hide out." 

"'Eest him for what?'' asked Mrs. 
McLeod, bewildered. 

"Fur distillin' whisky." 

"He ain't no distiller," declared the 
wife, indignant. 

"Well, that's what they're after him fur, 
and I thought 1 ought to let you all know. 
Good-bye — I'm gone. They'll be h-yer in 
ten minutes, and it won't do fur 'em to see 
me. It was all I could do to git h-yer first." 

" Thank you, Jonathan," called out 
Corona, who had come out on the porch 
and overheard everything. To gain favor 
with her had been the young mountaineer's 
main object in coming, and he now de- 
parted well satisfied with himself. 

The two women hurried in and reported 
everything to the lame man. As it was 
impossible to go forth and hide himself in 
the mountains, Gideon McLeod decided to 
stay where he was, ordering the house shut 
up close in order to give the impression 
that nobody was at home. To Corona this 
seemed unwise, but she knew not what else 
to suggest. Before the door was closed, 
however, she took a horn out on the porch 

io8 Coroita of the Natitahalas. 

and blew three long blasts. Darnell had 
proposed that she should call him in this 
way if she should ever have need of him, 
and she felt sure he would be of use 

When shut up, the house looked inno- 
cent enough, except in one particular — the 
smoke issuing from one of the chimneys. 
A fire burned in the room where the lame 
man lay, and this fact was overlooked in his 
calculations. Accordingly, when four horse- 
men shortly emerged from the woods and 
halted at the gate they were not deceived. 
After a careful survey of their surroundings, 
three of them dismounted and approached 
the house. One of these was the county 
sheriff, another a revenue collector. The 
former knocked loudly at the door, and 
after some moments of dead silence called 
out authoritatively : 

" Open this h-yer door! In the name of 
the law I summons Gideon McLeod to 
come out." 

The majesty of the law was disregarded, 
for there was no response, and the only 
sound was that of the sheriff's loud knock 
as it w^ent off echoing among the hills. 
After knocking and calling repeatedly, the 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 109 

angry representative of the law uttered an 
oath and shouted: 

'' Bring me the axe ! They can't fool me." 

Gideon McLeod leaped out of bed and 
reached for his gun, which stood in the 
corner of the room; but as he came down 
upon his lame foot his face was distorted 
with agony, and he fell groaning on the 
floor. Leaving Mrs. McLeod with him, 
Corona disappeared along the passage 
leading to the back porch. Unfastening 
the door, she went out and shut it softly 
behind her. Then she walked around the 
house and faced the intruders. 

" What do you want here ? " she asked 

All eyes were riveted upon her, and ad- 
miration showed on every face. Corona 
had never been so angry in all her life. 
Her faced was flushed, her eyes flashed, her 
breath came in short, quick gasps. They 
thought her beautiful beyond all the re- 
ports they had heard. 

"We "want Gid McLeod," said the 
sherifl', after dropping the axe jast brought 
him and backing away from the door. 
"We got a warrant to arrest him for dis- 
tillin' whisky." 

I lo Corona of the Nantahalas. 

" Are you the sheriff ? " asked the girl. 

*'I am, mura." 

*^And you intend to arrest an innocent 
man ? " 

" We got the proofs, mum. A man was 
up h-yer some time back and seen it goin' 


'^ Which man was that ? " demanded 
Corona, looking eagerly from one face to 
another. ^'Is there a man here who will 
dare tell me he saw it going on ? " Again 
she looked from one to another, and every 
eye quailed before her. 

" We got the proofs," repeated the sheriff 

^' The man who says he saw whisky dis- 
tilled here Z/es," spoke Corona, in low, 
distinct tones. ** Were he sheriff, judge or 
king, I would tell him to his face that he 

The three men stared at their accuser, 
dumbfounded. There was now th sound of 
the opening of the gate. Corona glanced 
that way, saw Darnell, and ran to meet him 

'•These wicked men," she said excitedly, 
'-want to arrest my uncle and carry him 
away to jail." 

Corona of the Nantahalas. in 

She hurriedly told him of the warning 
brought by Scruggs, of her uncle's deter- 
mination to shut up the house, of the 
arrival of the raiders, and of the assault 
upon the door. As soon as the situation 
was clearly before him Darnell advised her 
to go instantly and open every door and 
window, and tell her uncle not to be 
alarmed. Then he walked forward and 
spoke to the men. 

*' Surely you have made a mistake and 
come to the wrong place," he began 

'' No, we hain't," declared the sheriff. 
"Ef this warn't the place, what made 'em 
lock up that way and try to fool us ? " 

*' They received warning of your ap- 
proach and were badly frightened — that 
was all." 

'^ Warning, eh ? We knowed somebody 
rid up ahead of us. We seen the fresh 

"There is no whisky distillery here," 
Darnell declared earnestly. ^' I have 
camped for seven weeks within half a 
mile of this house, and spent a great deal 
of my time here, and I have seen no 
signs of anything of the sort. You are 

•112 Corona of the Nantahalas, 

on the wrong scent, and you will find it 

They saw that they had to deal with an 
intelligent man of the world, and listened 
to him respectfully. The sheriff, who had 
heard of the " camping gentleman," and 
was not surprised to meet him, showed his 
warrant. The revenue collector also 
stepped forward, and unfolding a news- 
paper which he took from his pocket, he 
invited Darnell to look at the "proof." 
The latter saw at a glance that it was a 
copy of the paper with which Summerfield 
had a regular connection. He found that it 
contained a letter from the North Carolina 
mountains signed " Henry Summerfield," 
with such startling headlines as " On the 
Track of the Moonshiners," ''How the 
Mountain Dew is Bought and Sold," "Our 
Correspondent Discovers an Illicit Dis- 
tillery at Lonely Cove." 

Glancing hastily through the letter, 
Darnell's eyes were arrested by the follow- 
ing paragraph : 

*'The cave was naiTOW at the opening, but 
widened as we proceeded. A number of dark, 
irregular passages strayed off from the central 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 1 1 3 

cavern which we were following. An unex- 
pected turn brought us upon the place. Sud- 
denly an uncertain, reddish haze swam before 
our eyes ; then came dusky, distorted figures, 
curling smoke, and a fixed band of flamy red — 
the latter, as was soon found, being the coals 
visible beneath the closed door of the furnace. 
At this moment the door itself was thrown open 
with a rusty creak, the strong red light revealing 
several uncouth figures, one bent over to feed 
the fire, another seated on an inverted basket, 
a third but dimly outlined in the gloom beyond. 

The central feature of the 

place was the rude furnace of fire rock, with 
its all-important . accompaniment of a small 
copper still, the neck of which curved away 
into the shadow. The sound of gurgling water 
from an underground spring was heard, as it 
flowed through the tub where the worm was 
coiled and served to condense the precious 
vapors which dripped slowly into the primitive 

''Have you noticed that this paper is 
nearly a year old ?" asked Darnell, breaking 
off from what he was reading. 

''Yrs/' replied the revenue collector, 
rather uneasily. ''The fact is, that marked 
copy was mailed to me last fall, but it 
got misplaced, and T only read the article 

1 14 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

two weeks ago. I began to try to find out 
where Lonely Cove was right off, but didn't 
succeed till I stopped at Wolf Creek yester- 
day. They told me there that Gideon 
McLeod was the only man who had a 
place up here, so I got out a warrant against 

'^And on such a flimsy bit of evidence as 
this you expect to drag a man away from his 
home ?" 

^' Well, you see, I calculated to surprise 
him and get positive proof." 

**If you can do that, justice will be on 
your side," said Darnell. ^' But you will 
have to go to work and find that wonderful 
cave and all it contains, as described in this 
paper. There is a cave — a very little one — 
but you will be mightly disappointed when 
you go through it. I venture to say that if 
you kept a spy in these mountains for six 
months, you would get no more 'proof than 
you have now." 

'^ Well, we'll take a look around anyhow," 
said the revenue collector, with a knowing 
look, but yet with somewhat of a disap- 
pointed air. 

'^ We'd hardly have a right to take him, 
less'n we could find a plant or a stock of 

Corona of the Nantahalas, 1 1 5 

liquor some'res about," remarked the sheriff 
dubiously, inclining to Darnell's view of 
the case. He had a lurking sympathy for 
McLeod, innocent or guilty. He had never 
been able to understand why a man should 
not be allowed to turn a portion of the 
fruits of his own cornfield and orchard into 
pure, colourless whisky and applejack, and 
even sell a little of it if he chose ; and his 
motive in accompanying the revenue col- 
lector w^as no more nor less than to make a 
show of doing what he considered his duty. 
He had grown angry, and called for an axe 
to beat down the door, because he felt 
that his authority should have been more 
promptly recognized. 

" I happen to know the man who wrote 
this letter," said Darnell, again glancing 
into the paper; ''in fact, he considers him- 
self a friend of mine. I know that he spent 
a few days here last summer. He talked 
to me a great deal about his stay here, but 
said not a word about moonshine whisky. 
I know something of his habits as a 
journalist — I have found him inaccurate 
before — and I give you my word, gentlemen, 
that the whole thing is a pure invention — a 
newspaper yarn.^' 

1 1 6 Corona of the Na?itakaias. 

*^Do you mean he had a grudge " 

began the sheriJB^. 

'*0h, no. He didn't do it maliciously. 
If he had supposed the result would be 
anything like this, I am sure he wouldn't 
haye done it. He merely wanted to write 
a sensational and readable letter, and doubt- 
less assured himself that no reader of the 
* Chronicle ' would have the remotest idea 
wlicre Lonely Cove was. Write to this 
Summerfit'ld in care of this paper, and he 
will confirm what I tell you.^' 

Corona now appeared on the porch, 
having conferred with her uncle, and opened 
the house, as she had been advised to do. 
Darnell invited the men to enter, and talk 
the matter over with McLeod, which they 
did, the sheriff being moved to apologize 
for his violence. As a matter of course, the 
suspected man swore that he was innocent, 
and bade his accusers search the premises. 
The afternoon was spent in doing this. The 
house, the barn, the neighbouring woods, 
including Darnell's tent and Calypso's cave, 
were carefully searched, without the dis- 
covery of a single trace of ''mountain dew," 
or the machinery of its manufacture. Darnell 
followed them over every foot of ground. 

Corona of the Nantahatas, 1 1 / 

and toward sundown returned with them 
to the farm-house. The revenue collector 
was greatly annoyed and disgusted, and 
swore roundly at the writer of the misleading 

" Either that man was a blamed liar, or 
there is a still up here somewhere. We'll 
keep on the look-out, I promise you/' he 
said to Darnell, who disdained to reply. 

Gideon McLeod sent his timid wife out 
to ask the party to wait for supper before 
starting on their fifteen mile ride, but they 
had the grace to refuse this invitation. 

'*! wish you'd give me that newspaper," 
said Darnell, as the revenue ofiBcer was 
mounting his horse. 

" What do you want with it ?" 

" I want it," said the young man simply, 
a rising flush on his face. 

"What good would that do?" — sus- 
piciously. *^I could send for another easy 

*' Certainly you could. I had no such 
object in asking for it ; my object is a 
private one. I will engage to return the 
paper promptly, if you will give me your 

A few minutes later the party rode away, 

1 1 8 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

leaving their copy of the mischief-making 
newspaper behind. Darnell folded it care- 
fully and put it in his pocket, then called 
out to Corona: 

^^ Tell your uncle not to be uneasy. They 
won't come back." And then, instead of 
going to listen to their thanks, as the girl 
was hoping he would do, he *bade her good 
nightj and took the path leading to his 
solitary camp. 

After this Corona hesitated no longer. 
Go to him she must and would, and thank 
him for his friendly help in a time of great 
need. The following afternoon she took 
Dan with her and walked to the camp. 
They found the botanist lying in his ham- 
mock reading, his work for the day evidently 
being done. Near him on the ground lay 
an unfolded newspaper, and on a box within 
reach of his hand several books. He was 
so absorbed in what he read that he did 
not observe their approach. Not until 
Corona stooped to pick up the newspaper 
did he see them and start up with a glad 
look of welcome. 

^'It brings back the old days to see you 
here again," he said. 

*' Those days are hardly ' old,' are they ? " 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 119 

she answered. '''It is less than a week since 
I was here." 

*' It seems a twelvemonth." 

Dan threw himself on the ground and 
began absorbing them with his eyes, as 
usual. Darnell invited Corona to sit in 
the hammock, and clearing tlie box of its 
weight of books, moved it away a little and 
seated himself thereon. The girl remarked 
that he had seemed deeply interested in his 
book, and suggested that he should go on 
with it a little longer while she examined 
the newspaper ; she had seen but few during 
her life, and these were all old. 

The proposal was agreed to, but although 
he reopened his book, Darnell did not read 
a line. His attention was riveted on the 
girl. He marked that she glanced aimlessly 
at the headings in the paper for a few 
moments, then suddenly an intent look 
crept into her eyes, and her glance wandered 
no more. A flush overspread her face as 
she read, and her breath quickened. The 
minutes passed ; her glance gradually trav- 
elled down to the bottom of the sheet, 
then leaped to the top, and continued 
steadily down to the middle, where the 
article was apparently signed and came to 

120 Corona of the Nantahatas. 

an end, for her eye descended no further. 
As she came to the stopping place and 
paused, the observer marked that her height- 
ened colour gave place slowly to a deadly 
paleness, and tiiat her eyes were full of 
quickening fire. The paper dropped to her 
lap and she looked up. 

^^ Have you read this article, this 'On the 
Track of the Moonshiners ' ? '^ she asked, in 
a voice so unlike her own that he was 

•'Yes, I have read it." 

*' Where did you get the paper ? '' 

'* That revenue man gave it to me yester- 

" And it was this that brought them here, 
that made them suspect my uncle ? " She 
stood erect as she asked the question, the 
expression of her face showing that the 
inquiry was needless. 


" It is so difficult to believe — that he 
wrote this. How can it be true ? '^ she 
asked, with a sound in her throat resembling a 
sob. For one moment she looked stupefied 
— crashed. 

''It is certainly true,''' said Darnell, look- 
ing into his book. 

Corona of the Nayitahalas, \1\ 

''And it was such a man as this that I 
hare loved ! " It was a cry of incredulity 
— of angry realization — of sore pain. Her 
spirit was not broken. 

Darnell threw down the book and looked 
into the forest with flashins; eyes. What 
could he say to her ? Could he be expected 
to defend such a man as Sumnierfield, and 
when that man was his rival ? It would be 
ranting hypocrisy, cant, lying. He said 

'*Hesiod declared that there had been a 
golden age, a silver, a brazen, and finally in 
his own day the age of iron," said Corona, 
reseating herself and looking absently before 
her. *' Tills, must be the age of a baser metal 
still — the age of clay, of mud, of mire !" 

" I must say to you, as I said to those 
men yesterday," spoke up Darnell, ''that 
Summerfield did not do it maliciously, and 
doubtless believed no harm could come of 
it." He went on to repeat what he had said 
the day before as regarded the journalist's 

'''It is just as much a lie," said Corona, 
silmost fiercely. 

"Many would not consider it so — would 
see something of palliation." 

122 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

Her expression showed liim that she was 
unalterably fixed in her opinion. She rose 
and moved toward him with outstretched 

** You told me once that I knew too little 
about this modern world, and you were 
right/' she said. *^I know too little how a 
sincere and beautiful face can be made the 
mask of a wicked heart. Teach me — teach 
me to see behind the mask." 

He took her hand, lifted it and gently 
kissed it. But she promptly drew it away. 

*^0h, no, not that," see pleaded. '*I 
cannot love again. You are my dear friend, 
my brother ; but I can love no more in 
that way." 

'*It is something gained to know that 
you no longer love another," he answered 

The next day Corona burned the little 
book in which she had written so often 
while thinking of Summerfield. She slowly 
tore out leaf after leaf and committed it to 
the flames, wdth never one thought of a 
possible literary value which the work 
might possess, or a regret of any other 
nature. She wished to be rid of all re- 
minders — to start afresh. She was still 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 123 

ignorant that she had been loving a mere 
phantom, but understood at least that she 
loved no longer. 

** Thus perish the memory of that beau- 
tiful wicked one," was her thought. 


Some days later^ when yisiting the camp in 
the company of the silent Dan, Corona told 
Darnell that after burning her little book she 
had determined to write no more sad 
thoughts, and to have done with vain 
imaginings. She had wished, while think- 
ing no more of Snmmerfield, also to give 
over her past follies, to dream no longer of 
naiads and wood nymphs, to cease to fancy 
the hemlock, the spouse of the pine, the 
beech of the oak, the birch of the maple, 
and to imagine never again that the dove 
cooed sympathy, or that the crow and the 
hawk mocked her in her pain. 

She had striven to have done with all 
these fancies, and to turn her thoughts 
toward the realities which he had taught 
her, but she had not wholly succeeded. 

The old imaginations had not entirely 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 125 

vanished at her bidding; and one morning 
a tale had taken form in her mind, and 
grew and grew, and she had thought upon 
it until it was pain. She had tried to for- 
get it but could not, and so she had come 
to him to ask advice. 

^^ When a tune persists in haunting me," 
Darnell told her, '^my remedy is to ultimate 
it by singing or whistling it, and then it 
drops out of sight and leaves me in peace. 
Suppose yon do that. Tell me your tale, 
and it will then doubtless fade away from 
your mind and trouble you no longer."' 

Adopting the suggestion. Corona seated 
herself on a stone a few feet from him, and, 
casting her eyes down the long leafy vistas 
of the forest, began to speak in soft and 
low but measured and impressive tones, 
her manner serene, fearless, free from every 
appearance of self-consciousness. And this 
was the tale she told: 

In the honse of Orcus, the Athenian 
archon, there was that day a happy mar- 
riage. Philippa, his sisters daughter, had 
been wooed and won by a gallant leader of 
the hoplites, one Telamon, whose suit was 
pleasing to the maid as well as to her kin- 

126 Corona of the Nantahalas, 

dred, and this was not always so in Athens. 
No priest stood forth to bless the tie, but 
wine was poured out before the altar of 
Zeus in the great hall of the andronitis, or 
male quarter, and before the never-for- 
gotten shrine of white-souled Hestia in the 
privacy of the female quarter. Votive 
offerings had also been made to Here, 
Artemis, and Aphrodite; all omens had 
been anxiously observed; and lastly, the 
bride had piously bathed in water from the 
sacred fountain of Kalirrhoe. And so, after 
a merry dinner in the house of Orcus, Tela- 
mon and Philippa were man and wife. 

At nightfall, arrayed in beautiful flower- 
adorned robes, the veiled bride was assisted 
to a chariot, and, preceded by slaves with 
flashing torches and followed by a gay train 
of friends, drove with her husband through 
the streets of Athens, listening meanwhile 
to the joyful notes of the marriage-song 
and the cheerful piping of the flutes. This 
till the house of Telamon was reached, when 
the procession lost itself, all the kindred and 
invited guests being led within and given 
couches around the bauqueting-board. 

The greatness of the occasion permitted 
also the women to be present at the feast, 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 127 

but only at a separate table where the bride 
still wore her veil and ate her food in dis- 
creet and modest silence, her example fol- 
lowed by all her friends. Nor was there 
much speech at the table of the men until 
the solids were removed and the dessert was 
brought in, preceded by a golden vessel of 
wine from which was poured out a liberal 
libation. But after the finger-bowls of 
scented water were handed round, and gar- 
lands of myrtle and roses were distributed, 
the symposium — the ^' feast of reason and 
flow of soul " — began. 

The women now retired to the gynae- 
conitis, or female quarter, where, after con- 
gratulations were spoken, the guests were 
left with others of the household, and the 
bride, together with her mother, withdrew. 
The retired apartment which they sought 
was small but richly furnished. Elaborate 
frescoes on the walls showed the Graces, the 
god Dionysos, and the harvesting of the 
grapes. Soft purple rugs were scattered on 
the marble floor, the centre of which was 
marked with a delicate star-shaped mosaic. 
The curiously-carved chairs and couch were 
inlaid with ivory and gold, and over the 
latter a scented coverlet of knitted peacock- 

128 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

plumes were spread. But the glory of the 
room was a statue of the goddess Aphro- 
dite, wrought hy Phidias a hundred years 
before that day. 

Upon a long, low-cushioned seat against 
the farther wall, the two women silently 
seated themselves. The elder, the widowed 
Ariana — she whose solemn duty it was to 
light the nuptial torch — was now gray- 
haired and marked with age ; but the early 
beauty of her face had not all faded, and 
there was a noble patience in her manner 
which told of sorrows long subdued but not 

"Here will we talk, my daughter," she 
began, with soft solemnity. **I need not 
tell thee to be good and true, and ever love 
thy husband ; for all this thou hast heard 
full often, as together we spun the wool in 
the days sinoe thy betrothal. Instead of 
added counsel, let me now speak of what 
befell at Delphi long ago. For thou wilt 
surely hear it now from thy good husband, 
and I would have thee know the tale, not as 
men may please to tell it, but as it is written 
on my heart. 

'' Know then, Philippa, that in my youth 
I was less merry and content than thou. 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 129 

A thoughtful, dreaming child, I early was 
endowed with ardent faith in the invisible 
world, learning before my time all that was 
taught of the immortal gods and all the 
histories of demi-gods and heroes. For 
always, when the bards or the rhapsodes 
came and sat in the court of the andronitis 
and struck their harps, I begged to go out 
and listen, and so heard many and long 
recitals from the sacred books of Hesiod 
and Homer, telling the grand story of the 
days when gods and heroes walked upon the 
highways of our world. 

^^From a very child, I nursed the hope 
that one day I might see a god, although I 
heard it out of Hesiod that the golden age 
was long gone by, and that men were now 
too wicked to be thus blessed. But might 
it not yet be in the hearts of the glorious 
gods to manifest themselves at times to 
chosen men ? And if I did no evil, and 
worshipped with a pure and reverent heart, 
might I not be chosen ? Assuredly the fell 
spirits of evil whispered this proud thought 
to me, for I did often strive to shun it as a 
grevious sin; but always it came back and 
followed me through the days and years. 
Sometimes I ceased to strive, and lost myself 

1 30 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

in raj^turous contemplation of such a holy 
destiny; and so it was, that, in every grove 
or solitary place which I might chance to 
visit, my fancy ever ran before me aod rev- 
elled in the glorious presence of a god. 

^'Thus dreaming on, I grew up tall and 
handsome; and one day, Tcucer made pro- 
posals to my father for my hand. Teucer 
was a man in whom my father was well 
pleased; but I had long abhorred him as 
one of those rich and lazy Athenians who 
refused to go out to battle when Epami- 
nondas, the noble Tlieban, was humbling 
haughty Laceda^mon, our ancient cruel 
enemy. All this was 3'ears agone, but I 
had not fore'otten. Mv mind and heart 
alike rebelled against this Teucer, but my 
father Avould not barken to my prayers. 
No mother was there to pity me, and those 
were sad days, my Philippa. I grew at 
last to be a very shadow of my former self, 
from grief, so that they feared for me and 
hastened to make the accustomed offerings 
to Esculapius. And then they ceased to 
speak of Teucer for the time, and I came 
slowly back to health. 

''When almost well again, my father took 
mo with my brothers to Delphi — thej to 

Corona of the Nantahatas. 131 

join in the celebnition of the Pjthiaa 
festival, and I to be with them, looking to 
their comfort, as they tarried there. Tiie 
house in which we lodged at Delphi was 
on the outskirts of the town, close on the 
borders of the forest which leads up from 
the shining Gulf of Corinth to the green- 
clothed heights of Mount Parnassus, whereon 
the Muses dwell. One day — my kinsmen 
being gone — I stole out alone and lost 
myself among the pines and laurels, the 
olives and the myrtles, of this great wood. 
It was the full noon of summer, and the 
blessed Graces had clothed the world all in 
a glory of colour, perfume, and brightness. 
Up from the sea, ^'Eolus blew a sweet and 
gentle breath; and, as I walked, I heard 
the spirits of the air whispering softly 
among the quivering leaves. Here was the 
place: oh that I might now see a god! 

** Suddenly a cuckoo fluttered swiftly by 
me, and my startled eyes alighted on a 
peacock, all with gorgeous plumes out- 
spread. My heart leaped in my breast. 
These were her birds: could she be coming? 
Oould Here, beautiful-browed, ox-eyed 
Here, Queen of heaven, be pleased to walk 
abroad in this great w^ood? I fell, all 

1 32 Corona of the NantaJialas, 

trembling, on my knees, and lifted up my 
heart to her in prayer. 

" I waited long, yearning and hearkening, 
while all was deathly still, save for the 
spirit-whisperings among the trembling 
leaves; but she came not. I rose up sadly 
and wandered on; and when a hind ran 
past me from the bush, the thought that it 
might herald the approach of beloved 
Artemis shook me again with hopes and 
fears. But no goddess' presence blessed 
the wood: I was unworthy. That well I 
knew; and as I still moved forward, tears 
came to ease my grieving heart. I plucked 
some flowers, and took fresh hope ere long. 
Might not I see a dryad or a river-god, or 
at the least a water-nymph? But all along 
the shore of a deep round pool I stole, 
with bated breath and stealthy foot, in vain. 

" At last, despondent, I rested in a smooth 
green-swarded glade, and made a crown of 
red oleander for my long, dark hair. Tlie 
tireless whispering in the leafy heights was 
mingled here with the sleopy drone of 
golden bees and the far-off piping of strange 
wild birds. My senses revelled in such 
gentle uproar, and I tarried long. So came 
it that the shadows of the tall tree- trunks 

Corona of the Na7itahalas. 133 

fell all nth wart tlie glade when at last I 
started up from my forgetfulness, with in- 
tent quickly to return to Delphi. But ere 
I took a step, the sound, of fast-approachiug 
feet fell on my ear; and as my eyes swept 
hastily over the encompassing spaces, lo, I 
beheld a youth who looked and walked a 
very god. 

^^In his right hand he swung a long 
bright javelin ; and at his heels there fol- 
lowed close a pearl-white goat. Except 
for the laurel fillet round his head, he wore 
naught save a leopard's skin about his 
loins; but, my Philippa, not one of Phidias' 
beauteous statues was ever so endowed 
with grace of shape and poise. To me, the 
dark clustering locks about his brow were 
far more comely than a young king's crown. 
In tremulous wondering joy I waited, as 
with heavy step he came toward me down 
the glade, the light twigs and leaves spray- 
ing and scattering before his sandaled feet. 
At last I had my wish : this — this must 
be a god ! 

*' He saw me and halted, looking at first 
amazed, then smiling brightly ; and as he 
smiled, I thought of the liquid sun which 
pours through breaking clouds. 

1 34 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

** With great respect, he asked me who I 
was and whence I came, and, trembling, I 
made answer: 

** ' I am Ariana, a maid of Athens, who 
long hath hoped and prayed to see a 

" 'And hast thou seen one?' asked he, 
with freshening smiles. 

" ' Never till now — if now I have. I did 
suspect thou wert no common man of 
earth. ' 

'^ A look of laughing wonder danced 
within his eyes; I marvelled that he should 
seem so amazed and yet so merry. ' Thou 
hast truly guessed,' quoth he at last, the 
voice of laughter in his words. ' I am im- 
mortal ; and down from high Olympus 
have I wandered in this shepherd's guise, 
to view the affairs of men.' 

" Lo, it was even as T thought. My 
knees quaked under me ; I bowed before 
him to the ground, lifting my eyes in adora- 
tion. I saw a swift shadow fall athwart his 
face — a look almost of fear — as he stooped 
in haste to raise me up. 

" ' Thou shalt not kneel to me, fair maid,' 
quoth he, with returning smiles ; ' for, by 
right of beauty, thou art thyself almost a 

Corona of the Nafitahalas. 135 

goddess. Yea, I did take thee for the very 
queen of dryads in tins wood/ 

"With hearing such sweet words of 
praise, I presently grew more bold, and 
asked of him ; * Art thou not the god 

" Lightly laughing, he answered me : * I 
will not tell thee now by what name they 
call me on Olympus. Let it suffice thee 
that I am immortal.' 

" And then he took my willing hand, and 
thus we went down though the wood to- 
ward the sea, the frisking pearl-white goat 
behind us. Ah, my Phi lip pa, the gates of 
heaven seemed open to my view ; the 
world was all a glorious happiness. The 
whole forest sung for us as we passed. 
From the tall tops of the oaks and pines, a 
long, sweet welcoming whisper reached us ; 
and from the vine-twined thickets of the 
bending myrtles, there seemed to come the 
voices of dryads in mingled chorus, faintly 
swelling and falling. "The very crocus 
seemed to scatter its scarlet blossoms in 
homage as it brake before our feet. 

"What said we to each other ? I asked 
him timid questions about Olympus and 
the under-world, and he — still with his 

136 Corona of the Nantahata$. 

sportive smile — made answer that our 
sacred poets had told us all that it was meet 
for men to know. Then he recited from 
Hesiod and from Homer, like the bards, 
but far more beautifully, although he had 
no harp. Never before did the great poets 
speak such grand things to my ear. 

" The sandy verge of the Corinthian sea 
was reached in time to view departed 
Helios' after-glow upon the mountains and 
mark the slow gathering of the dusky 
spirits of night. Here we sat down to eat 
the clusters of the early grape, which we 
had gathered along our path. It was then 
I asked him what was that ambrosia which 
the gods were said to eat, and, with his 
sunshine smile, he repeated the poet's 
words, naming it as the food which gives 
immortal life. 

*'^ ' Oh that I, too, might taste that food ! ' 

"Without answer to my foolish words, he 
looked suddenly toward the sea and cried : 
' Behold the chariot of Artemis ! ' 

*'I turned and saw one half of the beau- 
tiful golden orb, as if afloat upon the far 
dark water, and then I knelt and said the 
accustomed prayer to the glorious goddess 
who rides in the changeful moon. As we 

Corona of the Nantahatas. I'^J 

watched her mount higher and higher up 
the sky, I asked yet another question ; for 
he seemed so full of sport and gentleness 
that I ever felt more bold : 

" *My lord Apollo, what do the gods when 
among themselves and not concerned with 
the affairs of men ? ' 

''At first he laughed outright, then turned 
on me his eyes, which seemed to falter 
betwixt mad merriment and concern. ' Let 
me warn thee,' quoth he, in mild rebuke, 
'that pitfalls lie in wait along the path of 
the over-curious. Yet will I show thee what 
the gods sometimes are pleased to do.' 

" Then up he rose, and among the rocks 
behind us found a round flat stone much 
like the discus ; and, as the time Avore on, 
he showed me many marvellous fea(s of disc- 
throwing, leaping, and casting the javelin. 
I sat there on the sand and watched him 
with delight, as his long lithe form moved 
back and forth between me and the dusky 
arching sky, where Artemis' beauteous moon, 
already become small and pale, climbed on 
its upward track through scattered bits of 


Weary of this sport anon, lie sat him 
down and sang for me, as never bard in 
Athens sang, a love-song of beantiful-tongued 
Sappho's. Listening absorbed, I marked not 
that the light was fading fast, until I 
chanced to look on high and beheld a dim- 
ness in the moon. The orb now wore a 
strange and gibbous look and seemed slowly 
to withdraw behind a black and hideous 
cloak. Already full one half its shinning 
surface had been thus obscured. 

*^^0h, look, my lord !' I ciied. MYhat 
means it ? Is she angry ? Is great Artemis, 
thy twin sister ' 

"He waited not to hear me; without a 
word, he turned from me and went down 
toward the darkening water. And as I fell 
upon my knees, I saw him likewise bow 
himself and lift his hands to heaven. 

Corona of the Nantahalas, 139 

"< Beloved Artemis, gentle goddess/ I 
prayed in fear, ' why art thou angry ? 
thou huntress, thou friend of water-uymphs, 
thou careful guardian of all pure-hearted 
maidens, what have I done to thy dis- 
pleasure ? ' I hid my face in darkness on 
the ground and further prayed; but when 
I looked again, the goddess' chariot was 
but a silver crescent against the devouring 
darkness. And he — out there before me 
on the sand, he still bowed low. In abject 
fear, I crept to him. 

" ' My lord,' I whispered, whereat he 
turned and looked at me, his face all dark 
and mournful. 

''^'Twas thou,' quoth he, "twas thou — 
not I ! ' 

'^ ^ My lord, what have I done ? ' 

''He made no answer, but fiercely seized 
my hand and led me fast along the shore. 
I strove in vain to match his rapid gait, 
and anon I stumbled and almost fell. Bat 
never did I murmur, such was my fear. 
Yet, through all this, I wondered why he 
should dread his sister's wrath. 

" Into the dreaming woods, we came at 
last, and fled alono^ a path which he ap- 
peared to know. The dusky, sighing trees 

140 Corona of the Nantahalas, 

hovered high about us as if on spectral 
wings, and reeled past swiftly in noiseless 
crowding troops. Huge spirits of the earth, 
with faint uncertain outHnes, seemed to rise 
along our path and draw back whispering as 
we passed. At every turn, the wood was 
thick with nameless shapes, which sprang 
up hastily from their beds of leaves, to 
hearken with bent heads as the brittle twigs 
snapped harshly beneath our feet. 

*^The ground began to rise before us, 
and cruel stones to bruise our feet, until 
the world was all a blackness of despair 
before my sight. * My lord, where go we ? ' 
I implored, and fell all breathless against 
his side. And then in silence he took me 
up and held me close and tenderly, and so 
went on. Ere long, his breast was heaving 
and he panted like a hunted stag, but 
struggled on with equal pace and would not 
set me down. 

^^ The rest was like a dream. At last, 
high up on the mountain's side, we gained 
a level ground, and there I saw that Artemis' 
beauteous orb was now a dull-red ghastly 
spot upon the sky. I shut it, shuddering,- 
from my sight, and looked no more to the 
right or left until I was set gently down 

Corona of the Naiitahalas. 141 

before tlie threshold of a house. Then he 
that carried me fell full length on the 
ground, and raised his weary hands to beat 
upon the door. The sound seemed loud 
and harsh, and went off echoing on the 
night air far among the hills. I wondered 
why should he — a god — be weary; and 
was amazed when anon a woman came to 
let us in, and he cried to her frenziedly 
from the ground : 

*'' Mother — mother, take her in! Take 
care of her, mv mother.' 

"The woman faltered, but said: ^ Come 
in.'' As one walks cloudily in a dream, I 
followed her and left him panting and pros- 
trate there. The woman led me straight- 
way to a spare chamber of the house, gave 
me milk to drink, and left me with scarce 
a word. Like one stunned, I looked about 
me stupidly for a time, then lay down 
wearily and lost myself in sleep. 

^' That night, I dreamed that, in a hollow 
of the hills near Delphi, all the great gods 
came and smiled on me. Pallas Athene 
and Demetcr dressed me in a robe of 
knitted oleanders and roses, and with 
ambrosia anointed my head; then, beauti- 
ful Aphrodite having sweetly kissed me 

142 Coro7ia of the Nantahalas, 

and clasped her starry girdle round my 
waist, they led me — as they said — to meet 
Apollo before the throne of Zens. And 
wlien we came, lo, the god and the noble 
youth of the leopard-skin were one I But, 
all in a moment, there was then a wondrous, 
frightful change. My heart grew deathly 
sick to see the glorious goddesses trans- 
formed to tittering bold-eyed Phokian 
maids, and Zeus himself to a chubby-fisted 
clown of Athens, who came down from his 
throne, laughing a loud, coarse laugh. Only 
my lord Apollo remained the same, and, 
amid the loud derisive laughter of the rest, 
he but smiled tenderly and held his arms 
round me. 

'' When I at length awoke, rosy fingered 
Eos had long opened wide the doors of day, 
and Helios' chariot had climbed far uj) the 
sky. I rose in haste and looked about me 
fearfully. What if he had gone! The 
woman heard me and came in. She bade 
the gods give me good health, and placed 
goat's-milk, figs, and barley bread on a 
table for me to eat. 

** ^ Where is — he who brought me here ?' 
I asked at once, and through the window 
she showed me where he stood, not far 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 143 

from us, on the green brow of a steep in- 
cline looking toward Delphi. Careless of 
the food, I hastened out and found my way 
to him. 

He stood so still, and looked with such 
strange earnestness at a single spot of 
ground before him, that I marvelled and 
was afraid. Nevertheless, I went close up 
to him. 

'*'My lord, why tarry we in this poor 

** Thereat he turned on me a deep and 
mournful glance. ' I am not thy lord,' 
he answered, very low. ' I lied to thee 
when I called myself a god. I am Philo- 
meu, a shepherd, and yonder dame's my 

**The world recoiled — the land shrunk 
away from my feet — suffocating mists 
swam round before my eyes. At last — 
at last I could see him and could speak: 

'^ '■ Thou blasphemer! ' 

" ' Ay, so am I — the gods pardon me.' 

^* ^Thou cunning rustic ! Thou—slave I' 

"He leaped as though one struck him. 
*Thou alone mayest dare to call me so,' 
cried he, in vehement, husky tones. ' I 
would have thee know that, if I am but 

144 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

a shepherd youtli, I have the hlood of 
the Heracleid gens, and am as proud as 

"^Thou hast done honour to thy noble 
gens/ I answered without pity. 

'^ ' Let me go/ he cried, like one mad- 
dened. ^My father will take thee safe to 

'' * Stay, thou lying shepherd/ I called, as 
he was going. ^Explain to me how is it 
that the just gods still let thee live.' 

" I could not stand his gaze. I faltered, 
recalling, how unwittingly I had tempted 
him, how always he had laughed and 
seemed but to sport. My anger was sud- 
denly burned out and left me helpless. 
The wide world was a desolation before my 
eyes. I fell upon the grassy earth and 
wept ; and, as I wept, I knew that he came 
close to me and tarried there, although he 
made no sound. At last, I called to him 
from where I lay ; and by-and-by my 
questions bade him speak. And so he told 
me that not always had he lived a shepherd 
boy on Mount Parnassus. 

" He had been early sent to friends in 
Thebes, there becoming excellent in all 
athletic games and learning to repeat the 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 145 

poets by heart ; aud so, when he returned 
to keep his father's sheep, he pined and 
pined. He knew all the story of the grand 
ancient days, — the voyage of the Argonauts, 
the Kalydonian boar-hunt, the Trojan war ; 
he envied and wished to rival Perseus and 
Heracles, Theseus and Meleager, Jason and 
Achilles ; he gloried in the Greeks who 
fought at Marathon and Thermopylae, and 
exulted in the story of Xenophon and the 
Ten Thousand. Oh, that he too might go 
forth to battle and become more than a 
peaceful shepherd ! But Epaminondas had 
long ago beaten Spartans at Leuctra 
and Mantinea, and Greece was sunk and 
decaying in the indolence of peace ; he 
prayed the gods for war in vain. Xothing 
was left but the four great festivals, and all 
of these he visited — even the Olympian in 
far Elis. He could have stood up bravely 
before any man in Greece ; but only the 
rich and great may enter the contests, 
in these davs. So he came back from the 
Olympian, self-crowned with olive, and 
followed his sheep over this mountain 
again, with rage in his heart. Likewise, after 
the Isthmian, he crowned himself with pine, 
and after the Nemean with parsley, only to 

146 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

tear up the wreaths anon, deriding himself 
for the cheap device, while jet believing 
that he mio-ht have fairlv won them. He 
was fresh from the Pythian games with 
another cheap-gotten fillet, this time of 
laurel, when he met me in the wood and 
sinned the sin of blasphemy, which is not 

^^ His sin came not of a callous heart 
onl3\ In Athens, he heard men say that 
there were no gods — that the wise pronounced 
them fables ; and he knew how banished 
Pisistratus had regained control of the city 
by leading forth a tall, handsome maid from 
a village in Attica, and showing her to the 
people as the goddess Athene. So he 
doubted, asking himself, if the gods lived 
and were greats would they suffer such 
blasphemy. Then, too — he confessed hum- 
bly — he had been made vain by a sculptor 
in Corinth; Avho said the great Phidias would 
have given a pile of gold to procure him as 
a model for the Apollo. 

'* * It all returned to me,' quoth he, 'when 
I met thee yesterday and heard thy inno- 
cent, trusting speech ; and so I lied to thee 
in merry jest, repenting only when great 
Artemis showed her anger. And then, as 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 147 

Delphi was far away, 1 brought thee hastily 
to my father's house. And now I go, never 
more to afflict thee with the sight of me. I 
go over the mountain to Kirra, to procure 
an ass whereon thou mayest ride as mv 
father doth lead thee back to Delphi. But, 
ere I go, let me tell thee that thy tears have 
fallen with the pain of showering darts upon 
my naked heart; and, though I go from 
thee accursed of the gods, thy beauteous 
face will ever go with me, a star to light my 
forward path.' 

**I looked not up, but heard his moving 
feet. So he was gone — gone from me, and 
the world was left a gaping void. All my 
heart went forth to follow him on his way; 
I felt that I should die if he were lost. I 
got me up from the ground in haste and 
searched for him with frantic eyes, calling 
aloud his name. 

''He was not far; he came to me on 
winged feet. He caught me close and 
kissed me on the mouth, and the mountain 
seemed to swim as we stood lost in love's 


And so I staid and was his wife. He 
was no god ; he was but a Phokian shepherd 
youth, but he would dwell forever in my 
heart. We made our offerings to Zeus, to 
Here, and to Artemis ; and then I said a 
prayer to Aphrodite, and it was done. All 
i:i secret made I my praye^' and in such wise : 

" * O Aphrodite, queen immortal 
Of love's blest joys in heaven begotten, 
Bend down to me from thy pure ether; 
Incline thine ear to my petition 
thou most lovely ! 

" 'Breathe thou on him, O gentle goddess- 
On him now yoked with me in marriage ; 
Sow in his heart the seeds all golden 
Of love most true, of love eternal, 
From thee outflowing. 

Corona of the Nantahatas. 149 

" ' O thou fair child of Zeus almighty, 
Heed now my prayer : when all my beauty 
With length of years hath waned and wasted, 
Be with me still ; do not forsake me — 
Oh, I implore thee ! 

" 'Blind thou his eyes, when age hath claimed 

Send down thy birds of plumage dusky. 

Thy precious doves, that they may whisper 

Still in his ear and quicken ever 

Love's holy rapture. 

" ' And when in death we pass the borders 
Of mortal life, do thou us welcome; 
Do thou provide, blest Aphrodite, 
That there our love, with youth endowered, 
Shall keep for ever ! 

" ' For this dear boon my soul will praise thee — 
Praise thee with gladness — day and evening; 
So shall I walk before thee ever. 
In purity of thought and doing — 
Thus to adore thee.' 

** Seven times the God Helois climbed up 
and down the great sky-dome while I dwelt 
upon Parnassus with Philomen, my husband; 
seven times he rested in the zenith and 
sought with warm and piercing gaze his 
own chosen cattle, sleek and beautiful in 

150 Corona of the Nantahalas, 

their pastures; seven times the happy spirits 
of light awoke from sleep, brightening to 
the glory of the mid-noon and slowly 
waning to the evening. Then came the end. 

'^^Philomen's sin weighed on our hearts 
and frighted us through all our joy. Then, 
too, the shadow of my injured father haunted 
every hour; each day, I felt the more that 
filial piety had been shamed by me. My 
love and I confessed our thoughts and made 
agreement to go to Delphi and uncover our 
hearts before the god, then seek my father. 
So in the early day, when white cloud-mists 
swam low between the piny hills of the 
long, deep glens, we joined our hands and 
followed down the path which w^nt to 

''And as we rested at the mountain's 
foot, lo, all at once, they fell upon us there 
— my father and my brothers, come forth 
from the town to search for me once more. 
My Philomen rose up and fought them 
with the might of three brave men ; but 
they were four beside the slaves and bore 
him down. But for my cries, they would 
have slain him without pity ; and when I 
showed him how I was the shepherd's wife, 
my father burned with wrath and most 

Corona of the Nantalialas. 1 5 1 

cruelly reproached me. He waited but to 
hear the tale, then hurried us on toward the 
temple of the god. 

" ' The sacred oracle shall declare his 
fate ! ' they cried. 

**'As we ascended the rocky Pytho, my 
soul fell deathly sick within me ; well I kiipw 
how it would end. My haughty kinsmen 
would not brook my marriage with a shep- 
herd, and were resolved to slay him. I saw 
it in their looks, their covert speech, in their 
rich gifts of gold to the temple priests who 
came forth at our call. 

"When these had heard the case and 
retired from our view, Philomen reverently 
knelt him down, all in his bonds, and thus 
he waited with bowed head to hear his fate. 
I would have passed the guarding slaves and 
knelt beside him, but my father drove me 
back with harsh and much upbraiding till I 
drew away and tempted him no more. So 
came it that I wandered back and forth 
beneath the oaks, with lightness in my head 
and heaviness in my feet, my eyes afloat in 
agonies of unshed tears, and straining all 
my soul to pierce the darkness of the com- 
ing hour. At last I came upon a side door to 
the temple, and, when none looked, I entered 

152 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

there and softly stole within the holy place, 
in mad unconsci«)usness of what I did. 

"And when I thus drew nigh, lo, all the 
priests were upon their knees, and utter 
stillness filled the place. Enthroned upon 
the mystic tripod, the Pythian priestess 
looked before her with a dull straight stare, 
and there was that about her pale, unearthly 
face and swollen eyes which made me to 
loathe her with my utmost strength. All 
hope within me died; full well I knew she 
would speak ill for Philomen. As thus 
I looked and thought, all on a sudden a 
wave-like thrill or spasm seized the priestess' 
form and seemed to shake her cruelly, even 
to her inmost seat of life. As suddenly it 
was gone, leaving her white and still, with 
hands fast clenched. Then slowly she made 
shift to speak in words which fell like 
leaden hail upon my heart ; lo, thus she 
spake : 

" ' The mountain wolf, that from his hiding-place 

comes forth 
To make a lie, to build with crafty words a 

To breed, in supine, halting Hellas light concern 
For majesty enthroned above — on him the 

curse ! 

Corona of the Nantahalas, 1 5 3 

The sons of men shall rise upon him in their 

might ; 
The tender lamb, by him deceived, shall mark 

his fall; 
With throe on throe, his slow-quenched springs 

of life shall cease ! 
Say to the kings of men: who blasphemes 

gods — ' 

**So miicli I heard, and then the world 
dissolved in darkness. They lifted me and 
bore me out and away, all when I knew it 
not. We had come down the steep incline 
and gone far into the woods, when I awoke 
to life. They brought me there that I, who 
was the lamb, might behold the wolf in the 
throes of death: so they read the oracle. 
I broke from those supporting me, and 
stopped them as they raised their cruel 
swords. A. madness seized me, and I stood 
forth, fearless, against my father and my 

" ' The relentless Erinnys pursue you 
now and for ever, if ye do this awful 

'^^Thou art mad,' they cried. 'We but 
obey the sacred oracle.' 

" ' The word of the oracle is dark and 
hidden, and ye but bend it to your wicked 


1 54 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

purjiose/ I answered them. *If ye say true, 
the oracle is no longer the Yoice of great 
Apollo, but a lie. The gods would not 
condemn a shepherd youth who sinned in 
jest, and pardon the far more grave offence 
of a mighty man of Athens. Philomen 
sinned only to make sport of a foolish maid 
who loves him and who is his wife, but 
Pisistratus blasphemed in the name of Pallas 
and deceived the whole Athenian state! 
Which one, tell me, hath done the sin which 
may not be forgiven?' So I spake on 
till the world was again a dark and form- 
less waste, and I sunk down before their 

*^ My Philippa, they did not slay thy 
father. Divine Apollo looked with pity on 
my woe and touched their cruel hearts. It 
was my good brave Orcus who spake of 
mercy first, and bent my father's will. 

*^ ' If we slay this youth to whom her soul 
is knit,' quoth he, 'we slay thy daughter too. 
Let him go free, my father, and send thy 
sons to slay a real wolf — thus to obey the 
oracle's sacred word.' 

"And when the cloudy sea of faintness 
rolled back from over me, lo, they prepared 
to loose his bonds. 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 155 

'' ' Swear never more to approach this 
maid, and thou art free,' quoth they, in 

'' But he disdained the price and opened 
not his mouth, whereat their wrath waxed 
hot and again they drew their swords. But 
he set his face and locked his lips, and would 
not swear. Then fiercely turned my father 
on me and cried : * Swear by the throne of 
Zeus never to look upon this youth again, 
or, by the gods, the fowls shall eat his 
flesh ! ' 

'^ my daughter, I swore — to save his 
life, I swore. And then they loosed him 
and angrily bade him go ; but, as they 
swiftly bore me away, he still stood proudly 

*' After those many, many days of va- 
cancy at Athens, I remember that my 
father and brothers were pleased to show 
concern for me. Tliey took me to see the 
tragedies of ^Antigone' and * The Seven 
Chiefs against Thebes,' desirous thus to 
divert me from my griefs. My brother 
Orcus also contrived that I might see a 
comedy, and strove hard to make me 
merry. But, with me, the springs of mirth 
were all dried up; only after I heard thy 

1 56 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

voice, Philippa, could I smile for my good 

"What of thy father? Once, with a 
band of mountain men, he came within 
ten stadia of the walls of Athens, and got 
me word through slaves. I sent thee out 
that he might kiss and bless thee, but I 
would not look upon his face. I remem- 
bered the sacred oath which had saved his 
life and broken my heart, and bade him 
go his way. That was the end. Ere that 
Olympiad drew to its close, he fell before 
the Macedonians at (Jli^eronea, and all the 
glory of Greece died with him there. 

*' Men have wooed me since those days, 
but all in vain. For me, in all the uni- 
verse, there is but one — my Philomen. It 
is as if I had no life apart from him ; and 
well do I believe that, when I wander down 
to the under-world, I shall be joined with 
him. In these sad days of callous unbe- 
lieving men, some say there is no under- 
world — that man in death can only rot and 
so return to mother earth ; but I look for- 
ward to the day when Death shall touch 
me with his frozen lips, as to a long-pre- 
vented voyage to a wished-for shore. 

*^ But enough, my daughter. The sym- 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 157 

posium is ended; I hear the guests as they 
go forth. Let me now lead thee to thy 

Darnell sat dumb, staring at the girl. 
Ions after the music of her low-toned voice 
had ceased. She, too, sat motionless, an 
expression of relief on her face. 

" Did it weary you ? " Corona asked at 

"It fascinated me," was the prompt 
answer. "But it is so sad. Why did you 
make it so?" 

" Because I am sad and could not make 
it otherwise. And then, according to his- 
tory, you remember, it was in that sad 
time when the glory of Greece was fading, 
dying. I thought of a woman deceived," 
she told him further, " because I have been 
deceived. But I was moved with pity for 
her, and made it possible that she could 
still love." 

"One can see you in the tale." 

"You said once that I might become a 
poet," she reminded him anon. "Do you 
think what the Greek girl says to Aphrodite 
in her prayer is poetry? " 

" In essence surely, if not in form. You 

158 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

may acquire the form," Darnell added after 
a moment. 

*'I shall not try. The thoughts that 
come to me are too sad and give me too 
much pain. I shall leave writing to Mm 
who has no heart and will not feel it. I 
have told you my sad tale and am done/^ 
she added later. *' Teach me of other 
things — teach me of the plants you love. 
I write no more." 

" Many would call me selfish, but I am 
glad," was Darnell's smiling answer. '*' I'd 
rather see you a woman than a poet." 


Seated on the porch, Corona and Darnell 
talked late one evening a few days later. 
Gideon McLeod sat on the steps most of the 
time, smoking his pipe and taking no pai-t in 
the conversation. The night was beautiful. 
The full moon rose high over the dark, slum- 
bering mountains. Helicon, Parnassus, and 
the other peaks lifted themselves skyward in 
dim, uncertain, yet bulky outlines. A gen- 
tle current of air shook the foliage on the 
neighboring trees, and the occasional chirp 
of a sleepless bird was borne to the listeners 
from among the rustling leaves. 
. Darnell had been saying that people who 
dwelt close to nature's heart, as in the 
lonely places of the mountains, were likely 
to entertain serious thoughts more uninter- 
ruptedly than the people of the cities ; to 

1 60 Corona of the Nantahalas, 

be less merry, but more trustful and more 
really contented ; and this was likely to 
affect the expression of their faces, giving 
them an air of unusual gravity. 

'^ But vou, who are from the cities, have 
that serious look, too/'' said Corona. ^^ I 
have often observed that you were so differ- 
ent from — from Henry." 

'^ Perhaps I have, but if so there is a 
reason for it. It is doubtless because of 
the unhappy atmosphere in which I grew 

" Will you not tell me about your early 
life, Edward ? " she asked earnestly. '^ Was 
it so unhappy ? " 

*'I can tell you, but it will hardly in- 
terest you." He made an effort to change 
the subject, but she brought him back to 

"I know almost nothing about my own 
parents beyond the fact that their name 
was Darnell," he began at last. '^ I was 
left a destitute orphan at the age of six, 
and was adopted by a remote cousin of 
my mother's. My adopted mother was the 
wife of a man named Casimiro, a Cuban 
cigar merchant in Charleston. Carlos Casi- 
miro, judging from all I have since heard 

Corona of the Nantahalas. i6i 

of him, was perhaps over punctilious and 
particular in matters of honour, but he was 
sober, intelligent, and probity itself. He 
made a place for himself even in a strange 
citv, and in the course of time he married 
into a good family, as such things go, 
although neither he nor his wife, Evelyn 
Merion, could be called wealthy. It may 
interest you to know that you have often 
reminded me of my adopted mother. She 
did not have your dark eyes and hair, but 
she had your expression, your manner, and 
she was like you in disposition. 

*' It was a case of love on both sides, and 
there appeared to be only two obstacles in 
the way of complete happiness for the Casi- 
miros. One was the fact of their having 
no children — that is why I was adopted ; 
the other was the presence in the house of 
a third person, brother of the wife. My 
adopted uncle, Harry Merion, started out 
well, and was generally supposed to be a 
youth of bright promise, though there were 
afterwards some who declared that they 
always knew there was a screw loose some- 
where. His father and mother had been 
first cousins, and some people attributed 
the trouble to that. Whatever the cause, 

1 62 Corona of the Nantahalas, 

by the time lie was eigliteen his mind had 
gone under a cloud, and after that he was 
never quite right. He should have been 
sent to au asylum where he could have 
been treated systematically, and perhaps 
cured. Some of the relatives were wise 
enough to urge this, seeing that he had to 
be taken out of school, and became a bur- 
den in his mother's home ; but no step to- 
ward such an arran element was taken. His 
mother was bitterly opposed to it, and 
willing to sacrifice the remainder of her 
familv for him. When slie died, his sister 
Evelyn assumed the cross, and would listen 
to no proposals looking toward a separa- 
tion. She finally married Casimiro with 
the understanding that her afflicted brother 
should always be permitted to live in their 

''Harry Merion was never very violent 
until toward the last, but he often raved 
mildly and talked irrationally f(jr hours 
without a moment's pause.' They said he 
would talk, of everything, from the Pope to 
the chickens hanging in the market. He 
had read much poetry, and usually recited 
his interminable imaginings in a sort of 
singsong rhythm. I can remember his 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 163 

roamiug about the house late in the night, 
makiug queer noises. He early showed a 
deep and jealous affection for his sister, and 
this in itself was sufficient cause for their 
separation after her marriage. He made 
trouble between husband and wife more 
than once, but Casimiro was not alarmed, 
and allowed affairs to drift on from bad to 

" Two years after my adoption a child was 
born to the Casimiros, a girl, whom the father 
named Corona, because, as he said, she had 
crowned his life with happiness,^' 

''How strange — my name!" murmured 
Corona, deeply interested, and Gideon 
McLeod turned his head as though he had 
begun to listen. 

''That is another reason why you have 
reminded me of my adopted mother," pur- 
sued Darnell. " I have often wondered 
where your parents, being mountain people, 
got such a name. When the baby came, 
Harry Merion w^as about twenty years old. 
Not long after that it was observed that he 
grew steadily worse. He seemed to love 
the child more than its mother, but there 
were times when this remarkable affection 
disappeared utterly, and they became afraid 

1 64 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

to leave bim alone with it. Meanwhile his 
insane dislike of Casimiro increased until it 
was clear that he felt little short of hatred 
for the man who had generously opened his 
home to him. 

''So the time went on until the child was 
a little more than two years old, and then 
came the terrible tragedy which, it has al- 
ways seemed to me, they might have foreseen 
and guarded against. One night - I was a 
boy of twelve and asleep in the house at the 
time — Harry Merion flew into a rage and 
shot Casimiro dead without any provocation 
whatever, and while the mother was weeping 
over her husband's bleeding body, he lifted 
their sleeping baby out of its cradle and dis- 
appeared, Neither the one nor the other 
was ever seen again." 

Corona suppressed a desire to interrupt 
with questions, and Darnell proceeded: ''It 
was learned that a man answering to his 
description boarded an outgoing train and 
got otf somewhere in North Carolina at a 
late hour of the same night, still carrying 
the sleeping child. There all ti-ace of them 
was lost. It was thought that he might 
have thrown the child into a river, or aban- 
doned it in some town where it was picked 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 165 

up and adopted, and that in some way he 
met his own death. It was easy to multiply 
conjectures, but not one of them was ever 
verified. Thousands of dollars were spent 
in the search for the madman and the child, 
but neither of them was ever heard of 
again. If they had gone away in a balloon, 
all traces of them could not have been 
more completely obliterated.'^ 

Gideon McLeod sat still on the steps, say- 
ing nothing, but so intense was his interest 
in Darnell's narrative that he had forgotten 
to smoke, and had allowed his corn-cob pipe 
to go out. 

'^Now you have the story of the unhappy 
atmosphere in which I grew up,^"* the 
speaker concluded. ''Robbed of her hus- 
band and child in one night, my adopted 
mother received a shock from which she 
never rallied. Necessarily our home was a 
gloomy one. I think I did all I could to 
cheer her ; certainly I tried hard to be a 
true son to her, and I know that she loved 
me. The tragedy occurred when I was 
twelve, and she died when I was nineteen. 
There was not a great deal of money left 
after the estate was settled, and what there 
was I expended on my education. I went 

1 66 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

to New York, and spent several years at 
Columbia College, afterwards pursuing the 
study of botany in Europe. Five years ago 
I returned to New York, which is still mv 

The sad story deeply engaged Corona's 
interest, and she now asked question after 
question, thus bringing out many particulars 
which had been omitted. Finally, when 
there seemed no more to tell, Gideon 
McLeod moved uneasily on the steps and 
cleared his throat several times, as if about 
to speak. 

*'Mr. Darnell," he began at last, *^if you 
was to see a man — a crazy-lookin' man — 
about to kill a little child, what would you 

'*rd prevent it," answered Darnell, sur- 
prised at the question. 

'^ Would you shoot him ? " 

^'No; I'd jump on him — overpower him 
— get the child out of the way." 

'' But s'posin' '^ — Gideon McLeod seemed 
to hesitate — " s'posin' you was to come upon 
him jes' ez he was about to shoot the child, 
and you had a gun with you ?" 

/* I don't like to propose to myself such 
questions," answered Darnell, more sur- 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 167 

prised. ^' At such such a crisis I should cer- 
tainly act, however. It would surely be in- 
human to stand by and not attempt to 
prevent such a shocking — but why do you 
ask ? " 

" I was jes' a wonderin'. What would be 
the law in such a case? " 

^' I never heard of such a case, but I don't 
see how the law could touch a man wiio 
shot a madman in order to save the life of 
an innocent child." 

*' Well, now, that's jes' the way it seemed 
to me, and when I seen him p'intin' his 
pistol at the child that day it was more'n I 
could stand, and I jes' blazed away." 

"What! You really shot — a madman — " 

Gideon McLeod suddenly got upon his 
feet and went and stood before them, stag- 
gering like a drunken man. In the pale 
light of the moon they perceived that he 
was strangely excited. 

" It's out now, and I mought ez well tell 
it," he said in an agitated voice. " I'm goin' 
to tell you two what nobody in the world 
knows but me and my wife, and you kin 
judge betwixt me and that crazy man." 

Corona made room for him on the bench, 
and he sat down by them and told the story 

1 68 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

without inteiTuption, although both his com- 
panions were breathing hard with excite- 
ment and their minds were full of conjec- 

''What did you do with the child?" 
asked Darnell as soon as there was a pause, 
leaping to the conclusion. 

'' Here she is — right here " — placing his 
hand on the girl beside him. 

Corona and Darnell both started to their 
feet, incredulous, yet believing. " Can it 
be — can it really be true ? " they repeatedly 
exclaimed, a glad note in the sound of their 

''Mebby she ain't the child that was took 
from you-all, Mr. Darnell," said Gideon 
McLeod solemnly, "but ez shore ez I'm a 
liyin' she's the child that crazy man was 
about to shoot in the woods down yonder. 
And now do you blame me?" he asked 
with eagerness. 

"J blame you?" echoed Darnell. *' I 
thank you." 

" You saved me and became my father, '' 
murmured Corona, reseating herself and 
putting her arms round the mountaineer's 

'' Your only fault," said Darnell, on second 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 169 

thoughts, ^^ was in keeping the secret. If 
you had advertised and reached the stricken 
mother — how much happiness you could 
have given her ! " 

^* I would 'a, but I was a-scared — and I 
didn't know how," was the remorseful 

'^ But when was this ? " Darnell hurried 
on to ask. 

" Eighteen years ago this last spring." 

'^ The dates agree exactly, but that alone 
is not proof enough. Were there any letters 
on him — anything by which to identify him 
or the child ? " 

By way of answer the mountaineer went 
into the house, calling his wife. 

''If this be really true, then you are my 
brother," said Corona gladly. 

*'N"ot by blood," was the prompt correc- 
tion. " If you are Corona Casimiro, I am 
a very distant relative of yours, nothing 


Gideon McLeod ' returned shortly, bring- 
ing a candle and a white bundle which 
proved to be the garments worn by the 
hapless little girl eighteen years before. 
The word '' Corona " embroidered in white 
silk, now yellow with age, on one of them^ 

I/O Corona of the Nantahalas. 

was pointed out, and then they were shown 
the linen handkerchief marked ^^ H. M." 
which had been found in the madman's 

''It is sufficient." said Darnell at last. 
** There can be no further doubt. That 
handkerchief certainly belonged to Harry 
Merion. My adopted mother was fond of 
doing such embroidery. I still have a 
handkerchief laid away somewhere on which 
she embroidered my name with that same 
thread." Turning to the girl, he continued : 
" The proofs may not be sufhcient to estab- 
lish your identity before a court, but that 
will not be necessary. You have no fortune 
to win, and need not go to law. As I have 
told you, I spent everything that was left 
on my education, and I engage to pay it 
back to you." 

** Only half of it could be called mine, 
and 1" 

'* You shall have it all. There can be no 
possible doubt," he continued. '' From the 
first day you have reminded me of your 

''That crazy man must 'a found that 
horse standin' waitin^ fer somebody else 
when he got off the train that night," said 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 171 

Gideon McLeod, '' and I reckon he tuck to 
the woods right straight and kep' a comin' 
till he got h-yer. It was a mighty fine 

Darnell seconded this conjecture, although 
he had barely caught the gist of the remark, 
being occupied with Corona's multiplying 
questions concerning her parents and kin- 
dred. The mountaineer presently re-entered 
the house and returned with a torch, pro- 
posing that they should go and see where 
Harry Merion was buried, as the distance 
was short. They rose and followed him. 
Corona continuing her questions as they 
walked down the path, out at the gate, and 
into the woods. 

^^I'm more 'n middlin' glad you ain't got 
no call to go into court," said the moun- 
taineer, as a silence fell between the two 
younger people. ^^ There wa'n't no witnesses 
to the shootin' and how I come to do it, 
and I mought git into a sight 0' trouble." 

They were now on the ground, but there 
was nothing to be seen but the stake that 
had been driven down on that memorable 
night so long ago. Gideon McLeod held 
the torch aloft and told them how, at the 
suggestion of his wife, he had read from the 

1/2 Corona of the Nantahalas, 

sacred Book and recited a prayer before the 
earth had been shovelled in. As they were 
retracing their steps, Darnell assured him 
that he had nothing to fear, then or in the 
future. It was not necessary to go into 
court, and as all the relatives were dead but 
distant ones, the facts need never be known 
outside of Lonely Cove. "Corona can go 
back with me to New York as my wife or 
my sister, as she chooses, and it will not be 
necessary to tell her history." 

They did not observe it, but the expres- 
sion of the old mountaineer's face suddenly 
altered strangely, and he uttered a deep 
sigh as he relapsed into silence. 

"It is just as well," Darnell continued, 
" for the story would doubtless be received 
with incredulous smiles." 

They were now at the gate, and he went 
no farther ; Corona halted also, but Gideon 
McLeod walked on, presently subsiding 
into his old seat on the steps, too excited 
and wide awake to think of retiring as yet. 

"We belong to each other now, whether 
you ever marry me or not," said the young 
man, in a low, glad voice, before taking his 

"Yes — we are brother and sister." 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 173 

As Corona returned slowly and medita- 
tively toward the house, she observed the 
figure on the steps and distinctly heard these 
words muttered in a troubled voice : " He'll 
take her — of course ; but, tliank God, 
I done my duty, anyhow." The girl ran 
forward and seated herself by the moun- 
taineer's side, resting her arm upon his 
shoulder affectionately. 

*' You'll be goin' off from us soon, I 
reckon," he said, in the same troubled voice. 
'' That's why I hated to fell — I knowed he'd 
carry you off." 

"Dear uncle," said Corona, impulsively, 
deeply moved, "I will stay — I will not 
leave you." 

" No use a sayin' that," he laughed. " It 
wouldn't be right nohow. Young folks 
must marry." 


Corona still felt unable to think of Dar- 
nell as a lover. She thought she could never 
love again ; but he had become very dear to 
her, and was . almost constantly in her 
thoughts. It had seemed more and more 
difficult of late to construct a future which 
did not include him as an important part of 
it, and she had begun to wish earnestly that 
he might always be beside her to guide, in- 
struct and protect. Now that her family 
history had come to light, revealing the 
fact that he was not only a relation but an 
adopted brother, she. basked in the sunshine 
of a great content. This man in whom 
she thoroughly believed, this man of a noble 
heart, was now in very truth her brother, 
teacher, friend, protector ! 

She had occasion to think of him espe- 
cially in the latter respect a few days later. 

CoroJia of the Nantahalas. 175 

Within a week after warning them of the 
approach of the raiders, Jonathan Scruggs 
turned up at Lonely Cove, unmistakably in 
the role of a suitor come a-courting. They 
one and all treated him with every kind- 
ness; he ate heartily of the early dinner 
prepared for him, and in the cool of the 
afternoon, as Corona and Dan started off 
for a walk, he was invited to accompany 
them. The girl had intended going straight 
to the camp, in case he remained with the 
McLeods, as she hoped he would; but the 
party now took their way toward the river 

"Ain't you got no good word for me. 
Miss Anna, after what I done for you-all 
t'other day?" asked the foolish lover, with 
the air of one come to claim a reward. 

They had seated themselves on the little 
river's bank, and were watching the clear 
water swirling white and frothy over the 
rocks. Corona turned and looked at him 

"Xothing, Jonathan," she said, '^except 
that we all thank you for warning us as 
you did." 

** Tve been a runnin' after you a right 
smart while, Miss Anna," he ventured, 

I j6 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

after a few moments. "It's now goin' on 
two year." 

"It is a pity to waste so raucli time," she 
remarked, her glance returning to the leap- 
ing water. 

"I love to waste it — on yoxi^,'' declared 
this personification of obtuseness. '^Tm 
Willi q' to waste a big sight more on yon." 
His little, yellow eyes seemed to dance as he 
gazed at her. 

" I have told you often that it was useless 
to continue," she reminded him. 

" So you did," he assented, his broad, red 
face expanded in a knowing smile, ''but 
women folks is powerful a23t to change their 
minds, they tell me. Mebby we'll make it 
after a while. l^othin' like keepin' at a 
thing," he laughed loudly. 

Corona rose to walk on, an expression of 
disgust on her face. Just then they heard 
the sound of approaching footsteps, and 
the girl's face lighted up as Darnell ap- 
peared. He carried a light spade, very 
long and narrow, and two or three uprooted 

" I'm so glad you have come," she said to 
him in a low voice. 

Darnell's smile showed that he was no 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 177 

less glad. After a moment he turned from 
her and nodded to Dan and young Scruggs. 
The latter was unwise and intemperate 
enough to scowl instead of returning the 
salute, and presently burst out with the 
rude remark : 

'' Two is comp'ny and three is none, they 
tell me." 

Corona and Darnell both turned at this, 
the latter surveying the angry mountaineer 
with a critical eye. " What do you mean by 
that ? " he asked mildly. 

'' I mean two is comp'ny, and three is 
none in my country." 

'' Then suppose we leave him," suggested 

Corona indicating assent, they began to 
walk on. 

At that Jonathan Scruggs swore an oath, 
and lost his head completely. ^'I reckon 
this is my innin'," he shouted. " I walked 
out with her first, and you or any other man 
has got me to whip before you kin take her 
away from me that-a way." 

He rushed up to his rival with doubled 
fists, and stood close to him in a threatening 
attitude. The blood mounted to Darnell's 
face, and before he knew it he had taken 

178 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

the iaitiative. Suddenly liis right arm shot 
out from the shoulder, and there was the 
dull sound of a heavy blow. The moun- 
taineer staggered back, and for a moment 
he seemed to be falliug; but he ralhed, 
leaped forward, and the two men grappled. 

Though an inch or two taller, Darnell 
was much the lighter man; but he had had 
considerable athletic training in his youth, 
and his many summers of outdoor life, 
with much mountain climbing, had aided in 
the develonment of his muscles. The over- 
confident Scruggs soon found that he had 
met his match. For many moments the 
issue of the struggle seemed doubtful ; 
round and round over a confined open 
space carpeted with dead leaves they gradu- 
ally worked their way. Corona looked on, 
terrified, yet conscious of a strange fasci- 
nation, while Dan was so pleased at so un- 
common a sight that he could not contain 
himself, but went leaping and dancing about 
the wrestlers, smiling and uttering inarticu- 
late sounds of delight. 

Corona was conscious of the most intense 
satisfaction, of almost a desire to shout, 
when at last she saw Scruggs go down 
heavily and Darnell partially rise with his 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 1 79 

knees upon the breast of his panting and 
furious ad versary. 

"You deserve a great deal more than 
this, but T am going to let you go," said 
Darnell sternly, as he held the man down 
and they glared at each other. '^Another 
time I hope you will know how to behave 
yourself in the presence of a lady." 

When released, Scruggs gathered himself 
up very quickly, considering that he was 
out of breath and pretty well spent. He 
looked from Corona to the victor, his face 
aflame with passion. "I'll get even with 
you yet," he said huskily, with a dark, 
threateuino: look toward the latter. 

"You ought to be satisfied," "said Darnell, 
smiling serenely. "I am. It was a fair 

By way of response the mountaineer re- 
peated his threat, more bitterly than before. 
Fearing more and perhaps worse trouble, 
Corona sisrned to Dan to take Scrucrors 
back to the house, and speaking urgently 
to Darnell, the two walked aw:iy together, 
leaving the deaf mute to obey his orders — 
if he could. 

Some men would have seriously reflected 
over the fact of having aroused the bitter 

l8o Corona of the Nantahalas. 

enmity of another, and would thereafter 
have always been more or less on their 
guard. A more cautious man would per- 
haps not only have been on the look-out by 
day but would not have slept unrrotected 
by night. Darnell, however, did not give 
the mat-ter more than a passing thought, 
and soon forgot the threats of the vanquished 

It was in the morning, a week or two 
later, while preparing his breakfast", that he 
once or twice thought he heard stealthy 
footsteps beyond the borders of the open 
sp'ice surrounding his camp. He raised his 
head and scanned the leafy aisles leading 
away in all directions, but saw nothing. 
He attributed the sounds to the rustle of 
dry leaves moved by the wind. At the 
same time he reflected that the air seemed 
phenomenally still that morning, and w^on- 
d'M'ed if some little animal, perhaps a 
squirrel, were not frisking about in the 
vicinity. Having breakfasted, and set his 
tent and surroundings in something like 
order he made ready for a tramp. 

"The air is remarkably still," he said 
aloud, as he stood, spade in hand, ready 
to start. 

Corona of the Nantahalas. i8i 

It was just then that his eye caught the 
leap of a slender tongue of flame from the 
thicket directly in front. Almost at the 
same instant he felt a heavy, burning blow, 
heard a loud report, and realized, as one in 
a dream, that he tottered and fell. 

Darnell knew that he was shot — a burn- 
ing, tingling pain in his left leg, about half 
way above the knee, was distinctly per- 
ceptible — and a great fear seized him. He 
was alone — he might bleed to death; the 
assassin would of course abandon him to 
his fate. He was about to lift himself on 
his arm and look around, but hearing foot- 
steps he remained quiet, closing his eyes. 

Seeing his victim in a state of physical 
collapse, the assassin emerged from cover 
and cautiously drew near, curious to see if 
death had been the result of the shot. 
When the approaching footsteps were 
stilled, and he felt that some one bent over 
him and stared into his face, Darnell sud- 
denly opened his eyes and recognized Jona- 
than Scruggs. 

*'0h, it is you, is it?" he said con- 
temptuously, a feeling of recklessness sud- 
denly succeeding his state of fear. 

'^Yes, it's me," was the mountaineer's 

1 82 Corona of tJie NantaJialas, 

defiant response, after a start of surprise. 
His haggard face and bloodshot eyes 
emphasized the malevolence of his expres- 

*^What made you shoot me?" 

" You know well enough.''' 

'* Because I whipped you in a fair fight, 
or because you think I stand in your light 
with the woman you want to marry but do 
not love?'' 

'•'Who says I don't love her?" 

•'The love of a good woman ought to 
make a man out of any sort of a fellow. 
Instead of making a man of you, it has 
made you the most despicable of all 
creatures — an assassin, which is only an- 
other name for devil/' 

The mountaineer flushed with anger and 
shame, lifting his rifle threateningly. ''If 
you don't stop sassin' me," he burst out, 
"I'll put you out o' yo' mis'ry mighty 

Suddenly Darnell closed his eyes, and a 
faintness stole upon him. In a moment or 
two he oj)ened them again and said: "If 
you don't intend to finish me, bring me 
some water." 

Then quite as suddenly his face blanched, 

Corona of the Naittahalas. 183 

his eyes closed, and he lapsed into uncon- 

*^ He's dead ! " whispered Scruggs, draw- 
ing away in horror and fear. 

A few moments of intense stillness suc- 
ceeded. They were cut short by the rustle 
of dry leaves beneath the tread of approach- 
jng feet. Scruggs bounded away like a 
hare in the opposite direction, and when 
Corona appeared along the path leading 
from the farm-house nothing met her gaze 
but the mouth of the cave, the tent, the 
empty hammock, and presently the limp 
figure on the ground. She stopped, startled 
— could he be asleep in such an attitude 
and on the bare ground ? Drawing nearer, 
she beheld all in one moment the deathly 
pale face and the blood which had oozed 
through the thick woolen of Darnell's 

With a low cry unlike anything she had 
ever uttered in her life before, the girl 
threw herself upon the prostrate figure. 
She saw that he did not breathe — assuredly 
he was dead! She gathered him to her, 
pillowing his head on her breast and press- 
ing her lips long upon his, inwardly say- 
ing : ^* If he be dead, how can I live ? Let 

1 84 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

me die, too, my God ! " She knew at 
last the difference between a dream and a 

Suddenly Darnell revived, and, without 
opening his eyes, called faintly, "Water!" 

Gently, but swiftly, and with the light of 
a great joy in her eyes, the girl laid him 
out of her arms before he was aware of her 
presence. Running to the tent she found 
water standing in a bucket, ran back with 
a cupful, and put it to his lips. He drank 
eagerly, then looked to see who ministered 
to him. 

" Oh, it is you," he murmured contentedly. 
"My last thought was of you, Corona. I 
thought I was going to die, and I wished 
you could be by me. ... I have been 

" I am here and will stay with you," sha 
said, touching his forehead caressingly with 
her hand. She would not ask the name 
of the assassin, fearing to excite him. 

'* And I am not to die, it seems," he said. 
'*' How could I from a wound in the leg? " 

''But it bleeds rapidly," she said, with 
anxiety. ''I can feel the blood gushing 
forth under the cloth. It has run out on 
the ground.' 


Corona of tJie Nantahalas. 1S5 

^'The femoral artery must be cut," he 
said, weakening with sudden misgiving. 
^' If so I shall bleed to death, unless the 
wound has very careful attention." 

Corona started to her feet; something 
sliould be done at once. A deadly pallor 
overspread Darnell's face, and a second time 
he lapsed into unconsciousness. 

The girl's distress was intensified. She 
realized that she must act — immediately — 
but what should slie do ? Should she leave 
him — run to the house for help ? He might 
die while she was gone; no, she could not 
leave him. Perhaps she could carry him 
there — if she tried hard — desperately hard ; 
she was very strong — she believed she could 
do it. 

Stooping over him, she exerted all her 
strength, lifted him in her arms, and stag- 
gered a few steps with her burden. She 
could not do it — she could never do it ; 
something else must be done. 

Looking about her helplessly — sup2:)li- 
catingly — her eye fell upon a crooked ram's 
horn belonging to Dan. It lay on the 
ground near the tent, where he had dropped 
it perhaps the day before. Leaping upon 
it as though in fear lest it should fly from 

1 86 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

her, Corona put it to her lips and blew 
three long blasts, then three more, and then 
three more. Surely they would hear that 
at the farm-house, and understand that 
something was wrong and come to her 

The stillness that followed was frightful 
to her in its intensity and suggestion of 
disaster. Half an hour must eLip.-e before 
any one could come to her aid, and mean- 
while the assassin's victim might bleed to 
death. She could not wait — she must begin 
the work. Dropping the horn, she returned 
to Darnell's side, steeling herself to the 
accomplishment of the task before her. The 
blood must be stanched — she must do it — 
and before it could be done his clothing 
would have to be removed. As she stood 
over liim, hesitating, a suggestion came to 
her. Eunning to the tent, she looked about 
eagerly, picked up a long, sharp knife, and 
came back. 

It was the work of but a few moments 
to 7'ip open Darnell's trousers, and lay bare 
the wound, from which the blood flowed in 
a rapid stream. She did not stop here, but 
cut away the ripped cloth entirely, and, 
tearing it into long strips, bound them 

Corona of the NantaJialas. 187 

tightly around the exposed lirab, covering 
the wound and checking the great flow of 

By the time all this was done she heard 
the sound of footsteps. Looking up, she 
was overjoyed to find DaQ at her side. 
Mrs. McLeod had been alarmed by the 
repeated blowing of the horn, and had sent 
him off at a run. Hardly stopping to S2:)eak 
a word in explanation of the situation, 
Corona bade the deaf mute lift Darnell and 
carry him home as fast as he could. 

Dan, who was '^.Imost as strong as an ox, 
willingly obeyed her. Lifting the still in- 
sensible man, and placing him p:irtly across 
his shoulders and partly on his back, he 
trotted easily after Corona along the path 
leading to the house. 


GiDEOiq- McLeod was out in the moun- 
tains looking after some stmying sheep. 
When his wife saw Corona running towards 
the house, followed by Dan with his burden, 
her first thought was of her husband, and 
she began at once to blow the horn. She 
blew blast after blast, ceasing only when 
Corona reached the steps. 

'as it Mr. Darnell that's hurt?'' she 
asked anxiously. 

" Yes " — with a gasp for breath. 

'' What ails him ? Look at the blood I " 

'^He has been shot." 

''Too done it?" 

''I believe it was Jonathan." 

Dan carried the still unconscious man in, 
and they placed him gently on a bed. 
Then, as the two woman busied themselves 
about the room, he went out, as he was 

Corona of the Nantahalas, 189 

directed to do, took up the horn, and walk- 
ing some distance from the house, blew it 
with all his strength. 

A short while afterwards, as Corona, in 
her own room, was tearing cloth into strips 
for fresh bandages, Mrs. McLeod came to 
her and said: 

^^He's come to. He says we must get a 
doctor right off to probe for the bullet.^' 

'' I thought that ought to be done, but I 
was waiting for uncle to see him,^' was the 
anxious reply. 

The girl ran out and looked toward the 
mountain heights. Dan was still blowing 
the horn at intervals, and there was as yet 
no sign of his father. Corona caught his 
eye, beckoned to him, and began to make 
signs, directing him to bridle the horse, and 
put on her side saddle. Dan himself could 
not go for the doctor — no one at Wolf Creek 
would understand his signs — and it would 
not do to wait for his father, who might be 
beyond the reach of the horn. Corona de- 
cided that she must go herself. 

Having reached this determination, she 
returned to the wounded man^s bedside, and 
bent low over him, saying that the doctor 
was to be sent for at once. He smiled as 

190 Corona of the N ant ahalas. 

he saw her, pressed her hand gently, but 
seemed too faint to speak; and then she 
left him. 

" Watch him closely till I return," she 
whispered to Mrs. McLeod, but did not an- 
nounce her determination, fearing opposi- 
tion, and thus delay. 

Corona wore one of her white Greek 
gowns, and it was now stained with blood, 
but she did not pause to make a change. 
The horse was ready, and not a moment 
was lost. Once upon his back, and out be- 
yond the gate, she plied the whip and rode 
at a breakneck speed along the difficult path- 
way leading downward through the moun- 
tains. Over fallen trees, along narrow ledges, 
above yawning ravines, through shallow, 
roaring mountain torrents full of huge, slip- 
pery stones — on she went ! 

She had made the journey to Wolf Creek, 
a distance of at least fifteen miles, only 
twice in her life, and the last time more 
than five years since; but there were no 
cross roads, and she knew that she could 
not miss her way. But the horse might 
slip or stumble, and fall at a dangerous 
point, and both be precipitated downward 
io certain death. Corona thought not of 

Corona of the Nantahalas, 191 

this ; her only fear was that Darnell might 
die while she was on the road, and with 
apparent recklessness she urged her labour- 
ing horse with a merciless hand. 

Two hours or more later, as the panting 
animal carried her into the more level 
region of the lower valley, she saw on the 
road ahead of her a horseman riding 
rapidly toward Wolf Creek. As she neared 
the villao'e and saw him turn off to the 
right, she recognized the face of Jonathan 
Scruggs, and was confirmed in her suspicion 
of his villainy. 

The inhabitants of the mountain village, 
which consisted of a lialf-dozen or so of 
dwelling houses, a post oflBce, and two small 
stores, were amazed at the sight of a pant- 
ing, foam-flecked horse, with a handsome 
young girl on its back, dashing madly into 
their midst. Thinking it a runaway, one 
man rushed into the road to the rescue, but 
Corona promptly motioned him back and 
began to check her plunging horse. As she 
came to a standstill several men approached 
her questioningly. 

'^ Please tell me where the doctor is/' she 
said to them hurriedly. 

*^ Yonder he is risrht now — there in front 

192 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

o' the post office," said the nearest, pointing 
out a stout man who sat in a ohair, reading 
a newspaper, under a tree fronting a little 
frame house. '^ I'll go and tell him." 

" Anybody sick ? " asked another. 

**A man has been shot in the mountains. 
He is at the McLeods'. I am from there." 

They asked a few more questions, and 
then the doctor came forward. Corona 
waited for no introduction, and earnestly 
appealed to him. Could he get a horse 
and go with her at once ? The case was ur- 
gent. The man at Lonely Cove might bleed 
to death. 

' ' Who shot him ? " asked the doctor de- 

He was a little fat man somewhat past 
middle age, w^ho looked as if he had never 
been in a hurry in his life. 

^' I found him so in the woods, answered 
Corona restively. " I suspect a certain man, 
but as I am not sure, I will not mention 
his name — as yet. Can we not start at 
once ? " 

The doctor looked at the sun. " Dinner 
will be ready in 'bout an hour," he ob- 
served. ^^ Won't you 'light and take dinner 
with me and my wife ? Then we could 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 193 

start right off. It's a powerful long ways 
up to Lonely Cove, and we ought to have 
dinner first." 

Corona made no answer, but looked 
steadily at the speaker, a peculiar, fiery 
glare in her eyes. The expression of her 
face was such as to frighten him, and to 
stir the sympathy of the bystanders. 

*^*Go^n' ter stop and eat when a man's 
a-dyin' ? " asked one of them in disgust. 

" Well, I'll be dog gone ! " audibly mut- 
tered another. 

** Well, I'll go and git ready right off," 
acquiesced the doctor, reluctantly turning 

The girl wondered what such a man could 
be made of, as she saw him movino: slowly 
about, making his preparations. She almost 
feared that she would shriek out in her ex- 
asperation and pain. He was not made of 
stone, as she half believed, but of heavy, 
solid flesh, iron nerves, and phlegmatic feel- 
ings. What if a man had been shot and 
was lying bleeding to death, could the 
doctor be expected to excite himself and 
rush around till his fat person was bathed 
in a profuse perspiration ? People must 
die, and if need be hearts must break, and 

194 Corona of the Nantahalas. 

mean while — if denied the privilege of wait- 
ing for his dinner — the doctor must at least 
take time to catch his breath. 

Corona was repeatedly urged to alight and 
refresh herself, but, after drawing rein in 
front of the doctor's house, she refused to do 
aught but sit on her horse and wait for 
him. She saw him moving deliberately 
about his house for some minutes before he 
sent a half-grown lad to saddle his horse, 
and she told herself bitterly that he was in- 
exorable — he ought to be tortured ! 

At last he joined her, picking his teeth, 
and they took the road. Then the girl led 
him a fearful race upward through those 
mountain wilds, and the plump doctor 
cursed his hard luck. He was too proud to 
allow himself to be left far behind, and at 
many a risky turn in the path he swore 
beneath his breath. But when, about the 
middle of the afternoon, they arrived at the 
farm-house, though severely jaded, he 
showed interest in the case, rolled up his 
sleeves, and went to work with a will. 

Corona sprang to the ground and ran in 
ahead of him. Mrs. McLeod met her at the 
door, and answered the agonized appeal in 
her eyes, by saying : ''He 'pears to be 'bout 

Corona of tJie Nantahalas. 195 

the same, though hit looks to me like he's 
drunk euough water to kill him. Gid 
didn't git home till you was half w\ay, I 
reckon. He said you ought to 'a' waited for 
him to fetch the doctor." 

Corona said nothing in answer, and after 
the doctor had gone into Darnell's room, 
taking her uncle and Dan with him, she sat 
down by her aunt on the porch, looked 
long with dry eyes toward Parnassus, and at 
leno^th sobbed convulsively. 

The backwoods physician was not much 
of a surgeon, and knew little of anatomy, 
but he got the ball out successfully, and 
performed such other offices as seemed im- 
perative. He said the Avound was not 
necessarily dangerous, but was very serious 
and needed careful watching. The bullet 
had passed close to the femur, narrowly 
grazing the femoral artery and actually 
cuttinsf two or more of its branches or 
ramifications, and had deej^ly embedded 
itself in the abductor muscles. The doctor 
made several subsequent visits ; for it was 
more than three weeks before Darnell could* 
stand on his feet, and two months elapsed 
before he entirely lost his limp. 

After his first visit the doctor stayed over 

196 Corona of the Nantahalas 

niglit, and as Darnell was resting quietly 
next morning, he returned home, at a rate 
of speed much more leisurely and satisfac- 
tory than that forced on him the day before. 
Gideon McLeod accompanied him, with 
the intention of procuring the arrest of 
Jonathan Scruggs, whose name Darnell 
had faintly articulated on the previous day 
in response to the questions of his host. 

Early in the evening of the same day the 
mountaineer returned with the unexpected 
news that Scruggs had been arrested the 
afternoon before — not many hours after tlie 
shooting — and carried off to jail on proof of 
his being engaged in illicit distilling. 

" When they git through with him for 
that, we'll settle with him for sneakin' round 
and shootin' from the bushes at an honest 
man," said Gideon McLeod, with emphasis. 

Corona was too much a child of nature 
to hide her feelino;s when nothinoj demanded 
such concealment. She hesitated only until 
Darnell was resting tranquilly and not 
likely to be harmed by excitement. On 
the morning after her uncle's return from 
Wolf Creek she went into Darnell's room 
alone, and kneeling beside the bed, took the 
hand which he extended. 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 197 

" I was hoping you would come to me/' 
he said. 

" Do you still love me, Edward ? ^' she 
asked abruptly. 

" I shall always love you, Corona. I am 
not one of those who change." 

'* And you wish to marry me ? " 

** One question involves the other. I 
could not love you without wishing to 
marry you." He turned his head on the 
pillow and looked up at her intently, in- 
quiring: " Why do you ask me this ?" 

'^ Don't you understand, Edward?" she 
said, with a low laugh, a great new light in 
her eyes, and her face a flame of blushes. 
" I ask because — I love you!" Her head 
was suddenly caught fast between his 
hands and her face drawn down close upon 
his, so that their lips rested together. 

"I know now that it has been so a long 
time," she told him, when at last he let her 
go, " but it was not until I found you lying 
on the ground — shot — and thought you 
dead that — that " 

^^That reconciles me to my wound," he 
interrupted with a laugh. *^ The would-be 
assassin little knows that he is my greatest 

198 Corona of the NantaJialas. 

By the time the invalid was fully restored 
the summer was quite gone, and the neces- 
sity of returning to New York in order to 
fulfil his engagements presented itself to 
him. He preferred to marry at Lonely Cove 
rather than later on somewhere else, and as 
any other arrangement would have wounded 
the McLeods, this way was determined on by 
the lovers. 

"It almost breaks my heart to think of 
leaving them,'^ said Corona as the time 
drew near. 

*^ We can come here every summer if you 
wish," Darnell promised; "and they will 
not feel that they are giving you up en- 
tirely. As for Dan, if his father agrees, we 
can take him to New York and put him 
in a school where he will learn to read and 
write, and a whole new world will open to 

A license was procured at "Wolf Creek for 
the marriage of Edward Darnell and Corona 
Casimiro, and the 15th of September was 
the day chosen. The fat, lazy little doctor, 
being invited to accompany the minister, 
again submitted to the rough and dangerous 
ride up from the lower valley in order to 
eat a piece of Mrs. McLeod's cake and 

Corona of the Nantahalas. 199 

witness the marriage of the girl for whom 
he felt a mixture of admiration and fear. 

The devotees of fashion would have been 
shocked to see a beautiful girl, arrayed in a 
laurel wreath and a Greek robe of white 
wool, stand up to marry a young man 
wearing an outing shirt and a Norfolk 
jacket ; but the two people most concerned 
cared little for fashion or other such ex- 
ternal matters, and thought only of their 
arrival at the threshold of a great, enduring 


Lover and Husband 


Translated from the 14th French Edition 

5VO, CLOTH, GILT TOP, $2.00 

* * * * Frederic Masson has undertaken to reveal the lover's 
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