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The Virginian--A Horseman Of The Plainsr

Grandmother Stark
Except for its chair and bed, the cabin was stripped almost bare. Amid its emptiness of
dismantled shelves and walls and floor, only the tiny ancestress still hung in her place,
last token of the home that had been. This miniature, tacked against the despoiled boards,
and its descendant, the angry girl with her hand on an open box-lid, made a sort of couple
in the loneliness: she on the wall sweet and serene, she by the box sweet and stormy. The
picture was her final treasure waiting to be packed for the journey. In whatever room she
had called her own since childhood, there it had also lived and looked at her, not quite
familiar, not quite smiling, but in its prim colonial hues delicate as some pressed flower.
Its pale oval, of color blue and rose and flaxen, in a battered, pretty gold frame,
unconquerably pervaded any surroundings with a something like last year's lavender. Till
yesterday a Crow Indian war-bonnet had hung next it, a sumptuous cascade of feathers;
on the other side a bow with arrows had dangled; opposite had been the skin of a silver
fox; over the door had spread the antlers of a black-tail deer; a bearskin stretched beneath
it. Thus had the whole cosey log cabin been upholstered, lavish with trophies of the
frontier; and yet it was in front of the miniature that the visitors used to stop.
Shining quietly now in the cabin's blackness this summer day, the heirloom was presiding
until the end. And as Molly Wood's eyes fell upon her ancestress of Bennington, 1777,
there flashed a spark of steel in them, alone here in the room that she was leaving forever.
She was not going to teach school any more on Bear Creek, Wyoming; she was going
home to Bennington, Vermont. When time came for school to open again, there should
be a new schoolmarm.
This was the momentous result of that visit which the Virginian had paid her. He had told
her that he was coming for his hour soon. From that hour she had decided to escape. She
was running away from her own heart. She did not dare to trust herself face to face again
with her potent, indomitable lover. She longed for him, and therefore she would never see
him again. No great-aunt at Dunbarton, or anybody else that knew her and her family,
should ever say that she had married below her station, had been an unworthy Stark!
Accordingly, she had written to the Virginian, bidding him good-by, and wishing him
everything in the world. As she happened to be aware that she was taking everything in
the world away from him, this letter was not the most easy of letters to write. But she had
made the language very kind. Yes; it was a thoroughly kind communication. And all
because of that momentary visit, when he had brought back to her two novels, EMMA
and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.
"How do you like them?" she had then inquired; and he had smiled slowly at her. "You
haven't read them!" she exclaimed.
"No."
"Are you going to tell me there has been no time?"
 
 
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