“A Night in the Mountains.” Appleton’s Journal, vol. 3, Dec. 1877, pp. 505-10.

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“A Night in the Mountains.” Appleton’s Journal, vol. 3, Dec. 1877, pp. 505-10.


North Carolina; Appalachian mountains; marriage


"A Night in the Mountains."

THE child's eyes turned from her old black maumee, on whose lap she lay, to her mother, kneeling beside her, and then out to the yard gay with dahlias and rich lilies, and the cotton-field beyond, which had been the boundaries of her little life. The black face and the white, the cotton-balls, the well-curb which she had climbed every day, grew small and dim to her as a far-off picture.

Old Dr. Deems stooped and touched her cheek. It had always been thin and yellow, as are the faces of Southern children fed on hot bread and coffee, but even that meagre life was leaving it now.

"She is going," he motioned to the younger physician. "Take her mother out of the room."

It was the mother, indeed, of whom they all thought, rather than the child.

"Cousin Betty—" Dr. Fred stooped to lift her gently. But she caught the old man's hand in both of hers.

"Save her! save her!" she cried. "She is all I have in the world!"

He looked anxiously over at a stout, sandy-haired man, who stood by the foot of the bed watching the child, but who came now and lifted Mrs. Sevier in his arms.

"Betty! Betty!" he whispered, with a dreadful love and pity in his voice, but his eyes did not leave the little girl's face.

In the silence the sun shone broadly on the bed and yard without; the perfume from the sour-wood tree overpowered the smells of the sick-room. Thud! thud! came the taps of a far-off woodpecker from its hollow trunk. The eyes of the child settled on the black face above her and grew still.

"Yeh, honey! Yhah am its ole maumee. She cahn't see me! She am goin' in!"

"Papa!" cried the shrill, babyish voice, once; then all was still. The sunshine grew hotter, and the taps of the woodpecker more loud.

Dr. Deems reverently covered the face of the dead child, but its mother did not move. She had slipped down to the floor again, and held its feet clasped to her breast. Her cousin Fred looked down at her with some curiosity in his compassion. He was from Pennsylvania, and knew but little of these Southern kinsfolk. Mrs. Sevier was a thin, sallow woman, very like the child, and with a slow-moving, gentle stolidity of temperament entirely novel to the Northerner. She had daily concerned herself smilingly for his comfort, as his own sisters had never done. Yet when he had been bitten a week or two ago by a moccasin snake, she had gone on smiling calmly, and assured him that "the bite was poisonous and sometimes fatal, but usually yielded to prompt treatment."

By dint of poultices and whiskey he was saved, but he naturally regarded his cousin Betty thereafter as the most wooden of women. Now, there was a new, strange fire in her eye, as she held her dead child, which alarmed him. He tried gently to lead her away.

"You shall not take her from me," she said; "she is all I have in the world!"

Fred looked again at the stout man, who came to her promptly, as if to serve her was the one business of his life.

"Give her the usual anodyne, Tom," said the old doctor, "in double quantity. Her life depends upon quiet."

"What have I to live for?" she muttered; "I have nothing left."

Tom, carrying her out, looked straight down into her face at this, and back at the little stiff form upon the bed. Tom was her husband and the father of the child.

* * * * * * *

The next year Mr. Sevier, finding that his wife did not recover health of body or mind after the loss of the child, took her up to the mountains. He had a strong, light wagon, suited to the dangerous roads in the gaps, and a couple of stout Canadian ponies. He himself drove. Dr. Fred Keyes went with them, partly as medical attendant, partly as companion for Betty. Tom Sevier hardly felt that he could claim to be called a companion or intimate friend of his wife, dear as they were to each other.

"You're younger than I, Fred," he said. "You read the same books as Betty. You can fall into her ways of thinking, eh? I've always been a busy man in the country—fond of fishing, or caucuses, or a dance, or anything that brought folks together."

"But you've given that all up since you were married?" eying him keenly.

Tom pulled his scrubby beard.

"Yes, of course. 'Twasn't her way. But it had coarsened me, no doubt. Well, you'll look after Betty, Fred, on this journey? Try and cheer her up a bit?"

Nobody must think that this history is to be a repetition of the old play of the trusting husband betrayed by his wife and friend. Fred Keyes was a most susceptible fellow, as far as plump, tender young girls were concerned, but he was not likely to meddle with the affections of a woman old enough to be his mother, lean and hungry-eyed to boot. Tom Sevier humored her like a spoiled child, in a way that disgusted his cousin. He had indeed no patience with the universal habit in the South of indulging women as though they were helpless babies. Fred had half a mind to bring this one to her senses by a sharp pull of common-sense. Yet he had a strong curiosity to know the meaning of those hungry, remonstrating eyes of hers. Sometimes he had caught an unguarded look in them that roused in him an eager pity, and gave her for the moment stronger power over him than the most beautiful woman.

They left the low bottoms of the Saluda River, where the Sevier plantations lay, and, crossing the Nantahela Mountains, reached the high table-lands of North Carolina. For two or three weeks they passed slowly through the mightiest peaks of the Appalachian chain; now going down into some fertile valley, with its solitary, dilapidated farm-house; now into some vast canyon or succession of gorges, vastnesses inhabited only by the bear or wolf; or up into the heights, while the clouds wrapped the base of the mountain at their feet. At night they stopped at a farm-house, where host and hostess with their dozen children, gaunt, gigantic, and dirty, but invariably kindly and low-voiced, made room for them; or perhaps in a hunter's log-hut, with plenty of dogs, tame bears, and fleas, for company. Tom Sevier had hunted through these ranges when he was a young man, and found many old friends. The solitary mountaineers meet so few strangers that they keep close hold on them in their memories. They had much talk with him, too, of Stoneman's raid and the "s'render," which seemed to them a matter of yesterday, although it was ten years ago.[1] They dated even the ages of their children by it. Fred, who had fought on the other side, always joined in the talk, and there was hearty good-humor all round, unless Mrs. Sevier was present. Her pale, darklined face was quite calm, but everybody felt latent thunder in the air.

"Betty says little, but the whole spirit of the rebellion is smouldering within her," Tom said to Dr. Keyes, with an apologetic laugh.

Day by day Fred was led to wonder more what other secret fire was smouldering within her.

Tom himself, as Keyes soon found, was an incomparable comrade with whom to go vagabondizing. He was alive, zealous, full of practical good sense and information. Whether it was politics, mica-mining, bear-baiting, or a weed or bird by the wayside that attracted Fred, Sevier's knowledge of it was full and accurate. Fred spoke of this to his cousin Betty one day.

She nodded indifferently.

"Mr. Sevier has been a closer student than is usually supposed," she said, in her thin, pleasant voice, the accent always on the drawled first syllable.

"The sweetest-tempered man, too, that I ever knew," pursued Fred, watching her jealously.

She nodded again, smiled civilly, and turned her eyes again on the lofty peaks above her, the inexplicable questioning look rising in her face slowly.

"You take very little interest in facts?" Fred persisted. "I observe you seldom listen to Sevier's explanations."

She did not answer for a moment.

"When I traveled over these mountains before, other meanings were given to them than 'profitable timber-lands' or 'investments for capital in mining."'

That afternoon Fred and Sevier walked on ahead.

"You brought Cousin Betty here on your wedding journey?" Keyes asked.

"No. She never was in the mountains before. It is all new to her."

Dr. Keyes made a note of this point. Here was a chapter, and, he suspected, a chapter full of meaning, in Mrs. Sevier's life, of which her husband had been kept in total ignorance. Like most young men fresh from their books, Fred believed himself to be a most impartial student of human nature. His cousin Betty was a specimen of a genus unknown to him. He dignified his curiosity with the name of philosophic research.

One day, alone with her in the wagon, he began to use his probe again.

"I have good news for you, Betty. The day before we left home I heard that Tom was certain of a seat in Congress next term. I have no doubt when we go back we shall find he has been elected."

"Very likely. I know nobody who can represent our part of the State except Mr. Sevier," dropping her eyes to her book again.

"I believe in my soul, Betty, Tom's only reason for wishing success is to give you a taste of life in Washington. He has no ambition but to make your life happier."

"Most men, I suppose, make their wives the first object of consideration" (calmly, turning a page).

After this Fred used to watch with wrath and pity Sevier's behavior to his wife. Day and night his guardianship was unceasing, anxious, deprecating. Tom was the most frank, hearty human being in the world; but with his wife he was never at ease; a chill in body and soul seemed to fall on him whenever she looked at him. Yet there were little incidents now and then which made Keyes laugh to himself. There was something absurd to him in the spectacle of a man vehemently in love with his own wife, and she both middle-aged and homely.

One night the men occupied the same room in a mountain-cabin, and, as Sevier undressed, a long tress of red hair fell from his breast. Fred, as he handed it to him, saw that it had belonged to his dead child.

"Yes," stammered Tom, "I try to keep little Lou near me. It's a horribly empty world since she went, Keyes."

"You have Betty."

"Betty! She died to me years ago!" he said, passionately. There was an awkward silence. Even Fred, curious as he was, was sorry for this outbreak.

Tom came to him the next morning.

"I must explain what I said to you last night, Keyes."

"No, not a word. I shall never think of it again."

"But I prefer to set you right. The trouble is but a trifle, after all. The truth is, Betty and I were married hastily. I had been waiting on her a long time, but with no hope; and she suddenly changed her mind and married me. She is very fond of me. I don't want you to think, Keyes, that she is not fond of me-the most amiable, careful wife and a capital housekeeper; there's not a duty she has neglected. But there is not that sympathy between us, in taste or opinion, which I could wish. I have tried, too, to accommodate myself to her; I've tried ever since the day we were married. But I can't. I can't hit the key-note, somehow. I shall some day, though, please God."

The young fellow, glancing furtively into his face, saw that which made him feel for this sluggish, calm-blooded woman a cordial hatred.

They had gradually ascended range after range, until the vast spurs of the Blue Ridge and Nantahela swept downward from them, and the clouds lay billowed like a sea at the base of the heights which they had reached. Late one October afternoon they came to the little village of Waynesville, a drowsy hamlet hung upon the edge of a lofty summit, shadowy peaks ramparting it—the sky, as it seemed, threatening to sink down upon it at every moment.

During the last two days Mrs. Sevier had grown more and more silent. Naturally, she had a keen eye for odd phases of character, and a shrewd little turn of humor which had brought out every ludicrous point of the journey, greatly to Fred's amusement. She had ceased to notice anything now, and moved and spoke like a woman in a dream. Her eyes were contracted, her features settled into dark lines.

Mr. Sevier watched her anxiously, and vainly brought out one little vial of homeopathic pills after another.

"The evil spirit of the mountains has laid his hold on you," said Keyes, laughingly, to her, as they entered the little inn. "She has been here before," he said to himself, nodding sagaciously. "Whatever ghost it is that she sees in these mountains, is more real to her than poor Tom or all the long years he has given her."

The tiny inn, with porches as large as the interior, was wrapped in mist as they opened the outer door. The hostess, a gaunt, slab-sided, friendly-eyed woman, sat beside a roaring fire with one or two cronies, all with twigs in their mouths, enjoying a cozy "rub" of snuff and gossip. She led Mrs. Sevier up-stairs, while Tom and Fred, with half a dozen negroes, went out to the stable.

"We're powerful full of company to-day," she said. "There's two gentlemen from Georgia hyah, a-huntin'. But I'll give you uns the big room. Oh, you've bin hyah before," as Mrs. Sevier hastily passed before her and opened the door. "Jes' make yersel's at home thin, and I'll send Samanthy to yheys up the fire."

Mrs. Sevier stopped, looking slowly about her. She stood in a small, square room, the floor covered with a faded rag carpet; dirty patches of a blue wallpaper with gigantic flowers clinging to the delicately-grained walls of poplar planks. A log smouldered on the hearth. Outside of the little window opened a spectral country of driving mists and dizzy heights. An ordinary apartment enough in these mountain-regions; but some secret presence in it seemed to grasp and hold the woman who had entered it with power. Her chin began to quiver; she closed her eyes, as if to shut out a sight that pained them.

She was neither a weak nor a bad woman, and the force of this old passion which had laid hold on her since she came into the mountains shocked and alarmed her. What was it to her that in this very room, years ago, her life had risen to heights which it could never touch again? Was she not Tom Sevier's wife? She told herself, too, that she had been a faithful, affectionate wife to him. She had never been able to make a companion of him, perhaps because she was forced to compare him continually with a man of much higher type. But that was not her fault.

This old memory should not make her less faithful—

"Curse the gun!"

There was a crash, as if the weapon had been dashed to the ground.

At the first sound of the voice, Mrs. Sevier shivered as if she had been struck, and stood motionless.

The rooms were separated by a thin partition of planks, and the door between was unlatched. Two men were cleaning their rifles after the day's hunting. The elder, with an oath, gave his a kick as it lay on the floor.

"I shouldn't let a bad day's luck put me out of temper, colonel," the other dragged out. lazily.

"I never had any but accursed luck in this place. I told you I did not want to come here."

The young man shrugged his shoulders. The colonel, half drunk and in "a humor," was not desirable as friend or foe.

"I'll go down and see to feeding the dogs," he said, and left the room.

Colonel Chaplin yawned, and walked to the fire. The colonel strutted, though it was dark, and there was nobody to see him.

"Missed that buck at twelve paces, by Gee!" rolled the bloody current of his thoughts as he drove his heel at the back-log. "Hands growin' shaky, tongue's gettin' thick! Old age, by Gee! This yure mountain whiskey tastes insipid's water. Can't hunt, can't drink-nothin' left! What's left me? Proputty, negroes, gone to the devil! Women—" He raised his nodding head as if awakened by a sudden thought. "Why, the woman I loved best in the world turned her back on me in this house."

His bloated face grew a shade darker purple, the small black eye kindled.

"Fine woman, Elise Voneida!" with a chuckle.

The next moment he stood erect, with a gasp of astonishment. The door was pushed open, and Elise stood before him in the very spot where she had parted from him, flushed and trembling with anger, ten years ago. Her face was pale now, and dropped on her breast; both her white hands were held out to him.

The colonel's heart, as he would have told you, was tender to any of the fair sex, and the truth was, all the clean, honest affection of which he was capable had been given to this woman.

"Good God, Elise! have you come back to me?"

"I—I never have been lost to you, Louis!" The words came as if wrenched from her. Whatever was the passion that had bound her to him, it had never yet been wakened in her by her husband; but the voice of this old love roused it again. It mastered her like a fiery poison running through her veins. She said to herself that she was Tom Sevier's wife, and that God's law—

"I only came to ask you to forgive me, Louis," she amended.

" It's time, by Gee! You flung me hard, Elise."

Mrs. Sevier had dreamed of this meeting a thousand times; but these were not the kind of words she had heard in her dreams from her hero. She looked up at him, and drew back. This hero's mouth was yellow with tobacco, and his cheeks were bloated and pimpled.

Yet the old magnetic power remained in him still. He took her hands in his puffy, ringed ones, and they shook as they never had done in Tom Sevier s grasp.

"That scoundrel Sevier maltreats you."

"No, no!"

"I say he does! Why, your cheeks are hollow as if you were forty years old. And what kind of a shabby dress is this? I'd have hung velvet and diamonds on you."

Mrs. Sevier drew up her head. She was forty years old, but Tom always treated her like a girl of sixteen. He would not think rags shabby if they were on her.

The colonel was in a glow of triumph. He had hated Sevier viciously for twelve years, the humiliation of being "thrown" growing sharper as his rival had succeeded in the world. But here was victory! He remarked to himself that "he knew how to seize it"—with an oath big enough in his opinion to round the subject.

"You are mine! Damnation, don't say a word! You shall be mine, in spite of all the Seviers alive. We're not as young as we once were, but there's a good slice of life left us yet. Hush! here he comes. I'll meet you by the ford to-morrow morning. You remember the ford?"

Yes, she remembered the ford. She went slowly back to the other room, and was standing by the fire when Dr. Keyes entered.

"Tom found that one of the horses—" he began, and then stopped abruptly, looking keenly at her. She had seen the ghost! He perceived the smell of tobacco from the adjacent room, and glanced at the door. It was shut. Turning again to Mrs. Sevier, he found her eyes fixed on it with a terrified fear of discovery.

"Poor Tom!" thought Keyes, as he beat a dreary tattoo on the window.

Mrs. Sevier sat down and stared in the fire, her hands clasped on her knee. She felt very much as a man who has passed through an earthquake, and finds his house, his belongings, his very foothold, a wreck beneath him. What was this she had promised to do? To meet a friend in a casual morning walk! There was no wrong to Tom in that. For years it had been a kind of gospel with her, much more forcible than that which she heard in church, to believe in her first love, and in the man to whom she gave it. She had been used to listen to mournful music, to find the voice of that first love in it, and then to recall Tom's virtues with a sigh, acknowledging to herself that he was the most eminently respectable of men, but that her heart was irrevocably given to a man of higher order. She was groping about now miserably for this man, bewildered by cloud of stale tobacco, whiskey, and oaths, breathed from a sensual mouth.

This middle-aged woman, looking for her first love in Colonel Chaplin, was not a fit subject for the savage ridicule which Dr. Keyes was secretly pouring on her head. It is no joke when the religion of a life is proved to us to be senseless folly, and our age and ugliness do not make the lesson any less black and bitter.

Meantime, Colonel Chaplin was laying his plans. It must be remembered that he was a man of violent passions and naturally full of seething energy. He had been in a forced state of idleness for a long time, and now, in the very moment when life seemed emptiest to him, the woman he had once loved was placed within his grasp. Nothing came between them but a man he hated, and the colonel's talent for hating was exceptional. After an hour's reflection, and several drinks beyond the hourly average, he went down and introduced himself to Tom and Dr. Keyes.

Keyes, with Northern caution, held him at arm's length; but Mr. Sevier was cordial and hearty with him beyond his wont.

"Poor old Chaplin! terrible wreck!" he said, afterward, to Fred. "Rum and the war have been too much for him. I promised to go fishing with him to-morrow morning. I thought Betty would like some mountain-trout."

* * * * * * *

Mrs. Sevier woke the next morning with a start and smile. Her husband was dressed, standing by the fire.

"What is it, Betty?"

"I thought Lou had crept on the bed to waken me as she used to do."

She covered her eyes with her hands and cried quietly. Tom stroked her hair.

"My poor girl, you've had hard measure in this world!" he said.

She took her hands away, and looked at him steadily. Had she hard measure? In that moment, for the first time since she had been married, she felt how strong, how true this man's love was; how firm a foundation it was for her. The searching, wild look she fixed on him puzzled Tom. The next moment she drew coldly away from him.

"If you are going down now, I will dress."

But she lay quiet thinking when he was gone. Had she now? Love was love forever. All these years she had looked on herself as a woman set apart for a conflict of mighty passions. Was she to find herself only a good wife with a good husband of the commonplace, happy sort?

She came out on the upper porch presently, and looked down. Tom was below with Colonel Chaplin. She never had noticed before what an erect, clean-skinned, clear-eyed man he was beside other men; how true and merry his voice was. Bah! it needed other qualities than these to win a woman's heart. But she did not go to the ford.

Colonel Chaplin waited there for her an hour or more. Sevier was a tyrant. The poor creature was evidently in terror of her life. She would never dare to come to him, as her heart prompted, while her husband lived.

The colonel folded his arms, and gazed darkly into the water. To-day should be the culminating point of his life. There was that narrow pass in the Catalonche—a sheer descent into the stream of fifty feet. When he had brought Sevier to it, he would tell him calmly how matters stood between them, and then—

They should never both leave the pass alive. But there must be no weapons used. Bullets tell tales. If Sevier missed his footing, and fell into the Devil's Grave, he was not the first man to whom the accident had happened. If it was Louis Chaplin who was worsted, Sevier could tell what lie he chose.

"As well that end as the other," blustered the colonel, with a portentous sigh. But he surveyed his bulky limbs complacently. Tom Sevier was not half the man he was.

"Shall I take my gun, colonel? " called Tom, as soon as he appeared in sight. "We may start a buck."

"No, nor even pistols; one sort of game at a time is my motto."

 "I'll be with you in a moment."

He ran up the stairs to the little porch where his wife sat looking beyond the mountains into vacancy, her hands, as usual, clasped on her knees. Dr. Keyes was reading an old newspaper.

"Good-by, Betty."

"Good-by," without turning her eyes. It had once been a habit with him never to leave the house without kissing her. He had given it up of late years. But he hesitated now.

"I may not be back until night. Don't be uneasy, Betty."


"Good-by," turning to go down the stairs.

"0 Tom!" said Keyes, looking up, "have you called at Judge Stein's since you came?"


"Your cousin Lola is living still?"

"Yes," glancing quickly at his wife.


"I believe so." He went hastily down the stairs. Keyes coughed significantly, and turned to his paper.

"Who is Lola Stein?" asked Mrs. Sevier, sharply.

"Lola? Tom's cousin. You've heard of her, surely?" Fred spoke reluctantly.

She knew by his face there was something to conceal.

"I've heard of her, but nothing particular."

Fred buried his face in his paper, and did not answer.

"How I detest the habit of giving romantic foreign names to our women!" said Mrs. Sevier, tartly. "They called me Elise when I was a girl. Absurd! This Lola, I suppose, is some ungainly creature in gaudy calico, who rubs snuff, and drives the steer and wagon when she makes visits."

"Not precisely. By George! there she is!"

Mrs. Sevier bent eagerly forward. A delicate little figure on horseback was just below the porch. The horse was a spirited one. She managed it with easy grace. As she turned her head, Mrs. Sevier caught sight of a dimpled mouth, an oval face warmed with a peachy bloom, and soft, blue eyes.

"How old is she?"

"About thirty, I suspect."

"She—she has worn well," her hand going up involuntarily to her own thin cheek.

There was silence for several minutes.

"Dr. Keyes" (in more irritable tones), "why did that new-found relation of mine never marry?"

Fred's embarrassment was apparent.

"I don't know, Cousin Betty. She has had plenty of lovers, I hear. There was an old story which my mother told me years ago, of her attachment to a man who was in every way worthy of her, but who suddenly changed his mind, and married another woman."

"Was—did this man love Lola Stein?"

Fred changed color, and turned his newspaper nervously.

"It was said that he did. But why should he marry another woman? Moreover, his wife has, no doubt, driven poor Lola out of his head and heart by this time."

Mrs. Sevier sat motionless a moment, then she rose and went hastily to her own room. Keyes looked after her with a queer smile, threw his old paper down, and went out to amuse himself. He had finished his day's work.

Mrs. Sevier was standing before the glass. She saw in it a fair, cheerful face beside the sallow, skinny one. Why did he marry her? Because when she quarreled with Louis she had almost flung herself into his arms, thinking she made him happy for life. He had loved another woman! He had married her only out of a chivalric sense of honor. All these years in which she might have won him she had held him aloof, wrapping herself in a feverish passion for—)God! for what? What brutal creature was it that she had set up in her husband's place?

An hour later Mrs. Sevier put on her hat and the prettiest dress she had, and went to call on this new cousin. She came back looking more ghastly, walking quickly, as if urged on some matter of life and death. Lola had proved to be the most gentle, merry, winning woman she had ever known. She told Fred this with a speechless terror in her eyes that made him almost pity her. No man who had loved such a woman, she said, could ever forget her. Where was Tom? Only an hour since he went fishing.

It seemed like days.

"Order them to saddle the horses" (imperiously). "We will follow them."

"To Catalonche?"

"Wherever he is, I must see him. I have lost Lou; I have lost everything. I must see him. If there is any chance—" She went heavily to her room, muttering to herself.

"My medicine will kill or cure," said Dr. Fred, as he went to the stables.

* * * * * *

About noon the two fishermen came to the bluff which overlooked the Devil's Grave. The colonel had not spoken for two or three miles. He drank repeatedly from his pocket-flask, and chewed the end of an unlighted cigar.

"That's a nasty bit of road," said Tom, looking up at the pass. "Let's try the laurel."

"When I want my game, I don't turn back for a rough climb. Are you afraid?" blustered the colonel.

"Oh, no," said Tom, carelessly. "I'll keep with you, of course."

They reached the pass—a ledge of rock on the edge of a precipice not two feet wide.

"I have a word to say to you, Sevier."

The colonel, who was ahead, turned and faced the smaller man.

"Not here, Chaplin," laughed Tom; "I am absurdly dizzy."

"Yes, here and now—damnation!"

"What's the matter?" (staring about him). "Hello! There is Keyes. And Betty!" He was delighted as a boy.

When he had descended the hill his wife was waiting alone. Keyes had prudently lingered to pull rhododendrons.

"What is it? Have you been ill, Betty?" She was leaning down from her horse, her hands on his shoulders, her eyes on his with an agony of entreaty, of love, such as he had never seen there before.

"0 Tom! I thought I had lost you."

He lifted her down, and placed her on a gray rock by the path. He did not laugh at her. There was something here more than nervous folly—something, he thought, which he had been waiting for for years. He had despaired that it would ever come to him.

"Tom, do you care for me at all? Won't yon try to love me a little? No matter how inferior I am to-to other women, I have nothing but you—nothing!" she sobbed, humbled and terrified at last into her real self.

Dr. Keyes saw very little of his friends that day. The next morning Mrs. Sevier met him on the grassy village-street. She was leaning on her husband's arm. Her cheek was flushed, and her eyes brilliant.

"We leave in an hour, doctor," she said, a little quaver of triumph in her tone. "I always had a prejudice against this village, and Mr. Sevier is quite willing to indulge me in my whims."

"I am ready to go at any time. Colonel Chaplin, too, found the fishing poor and game scarce, and left last night. He asked me to tender his adieus and best wishes."

Mrs. Sevier bowed. "I knew Louis Chaplin very well once," she said, frankly; "but I found it hard to recognize him in this poor, degraded creature. There are the horses. I want to feel that we are actually on the road—to home, Tom," she added, in a happy whisper, clinging to his arm.

* * * * * * * *

"I have struck the key-note at last, Fred," said Sevier, when they drove off, his face glowing. "But I can't explain. Nobody can understand such matters between a husband and wife, you know."

"No," said Dr. Keyes, and lighted his cigar.

[1]Stoneman’s Raid refers to several maneuvers by Major General George Stoneman’s Union troops in East Tennessee and North Carolina in March and April of 1865. Often referred to as one of the last significant military operations of the Civil War, Stoneman’s Raid involved sending troops to limit escape options for Confederate forces commanded by General Robert E. Lee if they were defeated in Virginia.


Alicia Mischa Renfroe


February 29, 2020


Alicia Mischa Renfroe



Alicia Mischa Renfroe, ““A Night in the Mountains.” Appleton’s Journal, vol. 3, Dec. 1877, pp. 505-10.,” Rebecca Harding Davis: Complete Works, accessed October 1, 2020, http://rebeccahardingdaviscompleteworks.com/items/show/208.

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