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?” “No.” Then Molly had scolded her cow-puncher, and to this he had listened with pleasure undisguised, as indeed he listened to every word that she said.

“Why, it has come too late,” he had told her when the scolding was over. “If I was one of your little scholars hyeh in Bear Creek schoolhouse, yu’ could learn me to like such frillery I reckon. But I’m a mighty ignorant, growed-up man.” “So much the worse for you!” said Molly.

“No. I am pretty glad I am a man. Else I could not have learned the thing you have taught me.” But she shut her lips and looked away. On the desk was a letter written from Vermont. “If you don’t tell me at once when you decide,” had said the arch writer, “never hope to speak to me again. Mary Wood, seriously, I am suspicious. Why do you never mention him nowadays? How exciting to have you bring a live cow-boy to Bennington! We should all come to dinner. Though of course I understand now that many of them have excellent manners. But would he wear his pistol at table?” So the letter ran on. It recounted the latest home gossip and jokes. In answering it Molly Wood had taken no notice of its childish tone here and there.

“Hyeh’s some of them cactus blossoms yu’ wanted,” said the Virginian. His voice recalled the girl with almost a start. “I’ve brought a good hawss I’ve gentled for yu’, and Taylor’ll keep him till I need him.” “Thank you so much! but I wish--”

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.