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“You are very good to put yourself to all this trouble for a young girl!”

Prince Cherry.

Silently, seven months like seven ghosts flitted by
our two women in the still mountains. At last came a
day which was not ghostly, but which opened its mouth
and gave news.

On the day before the deer-drive at Thalberg,
Gretchen was stirring before Ottilie awoke, and must
needs run out to pluck a fern-spray and a heart-leaf,
and mayhap a lingering tiger-lily, that her beloved
Ottilie might be greeted with something beautiful upon
the breakfast-table. At about this same hour Mrs. Razor,
the nearest neighbor of Ottilie, had an exposition of
gooseberry-pie come upon her, and the good lady had
sallied forth, basket on arm, to gather wherewithal to
satisfy her longing.

“Goot morgen, Mrs. Razor.” Gretchen was not on
good terms with the king's English.

“Mornin', mum. A'ter gooseberries, this mornin'?”

“No. I am come to find some little grün leaf for
mein frient. How ish all width your house?”

“Waal, so 's to git about, thank ye. Th' ole man's
jest started over to Mountvale Springs. Gwine to have
a mighty shootin'-match that to-day; an' I do hear as
how there 's to be a treemenjious fancy-ball thar tomorrer


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night, ur the night a'ter, an' I forgit which, preecisely!
Haint a-gwine, I reckon?”

“No, no.”

“Thought may be you was, like. All the folks from
Talburg is a-gittin' ready to go. Mister Cranston —”

“Who?” quickly interposed Gretchen.

“Mister Cranston tole my Jake yistiddy as how they
was all a-gwine from thar, an' tole him he must come
over an' shoot fur the beef.”

“Who ish dis Mr. Cranston?”

“Why, massy me, aint you heerd of him afore this?
He seed John Sterlin's gal at the Springs this season, an'
follered her over to ther house, in the cove, yan. They
do say as how he is gwine to marry her, afore long.”

“Und was für ein man ish Mr. Cranston?”

“Waal, I haint nuvver seed him myself, you know;
but my Jake says, he 's a maaster tall un', 'ith black
beard to his face, an' says he kin play the fiddle jest
about as peert as the next un.' Mought know him

“Oh no.”

Forgetting fern-leaves and Mrs. Razor, and the conventionalities
alike, Gretchen turned and walked rapidly
back toward her cottage.

If I could only get them together, what might not
happen? She dies here. Her heart grinds itself to
powder, revolving upon itself with its weight of grief.

But she would never go willingly to meet him.

Then I must bring him to meet her.

But she would refuse to see him.

Then I must manage it without her knowledge.

The fancy-ball; — if she would but go! The excitement


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of strange faces would be charming for her pale
cheeks. Ah! would Cranston be willing to meet her?

I must mystify him till it is too late for him to retreat.

These thoughts flashed through Gretchen's mind, as
she hurried home. Her heart was lighter, because her
brain was busier than it had been for many a day.
The premonition of some catastrophe which, whatever
it should be, would at least change the dreadful monotony
of these dead days, animated her soul as she
entered and saluted Ottilie, just sitting down at the

“Well, Gretchen, since they do not print any morning
paper in Cade's Cove —”

“O Fraulein, the idea!” said Gretchen, glad to speak
her German again. “A morning paper here! Imagine
the local column: `We are pained to record
that our esteemed friend and neighbor, Mrs. Razor,
met last night with a serious domestic calamity, in the
loss of two fine chickens and a goose, supposed to have
been kidnapped by a wild-cat:' or, `It is our unpleasant
duty to record an unfortunate personal rencontre, which
took place late on yesterday afternoon, in the streets
of Cade's Cove, between a black bear and four hounds
belonging to Mr. Razor, in which, though the bear was
worsted, two of the dogs were badly wooled;' and
then, Fraulein, the commercial column: `The market
in Cade's Cove has been exceedingly quiet the past
week, and commercial transactions extremely limited.
Indeed, except in the single article of whiskey, we have
to report absolutely nothing doing. We have account
of sales of whiskey, yesterday, amounting in all to


Page 58
twenty-six (26) drinks, twenty-five (25) of which being
bought on time or by barter, we make no cash quotations,
especially as the twenty-sixth sale might prove a
false criterion and mislead dealers, it being a drink
paid for, cash, by a stranger going through to North
Carolina, who, not knowing the prices of whiskey in
Cade's Cove, was charged double rates by our enterprising
friend who runs the distillery.' And so forth,
and so forth, Fraulein!”

“Why, Gretchen, thy tongue trips it garrulously this

“Indeed, I am the morning paper to-day! I am
just come from `'Change:' that is to say, I have been
talking with a neighbor. Do me the favor, Fraulein,
to glance down my column headed `Great news!
Grand things toward, not far from us! Our readers
will be thrown into a state of frantic excitement, when
we tell them that there is soon to be a masque ball at
Montvale Springs, in which, besides the present guests,
the whole country-side is expected to take part. The
enterprising managers have determined to close the
season with an affair worthy of the brilliant company
now sojourning at that popular watering-place, and to
make this ball one unsurpassed in variety and splendor
of costume. Madame So-and-So is to come over, to
superintend the costumes;' and so forth, and so forth
— you need not read the whole column, Fraulein!”

And then came silence. Gretchen plotted and
plotted, the hypocrite! and Ottilie became grave and
thoughtful, as if a curious idea had presented itself.

Toward the close of the meal Ottilie looked up,
and with a nonchalance which did not half conceal


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from Gretchen the earnestness which underlay it,

“How far to these Springs, Gretchen?”

“It is but four or five miles.” Aha, thought
Gretchen, my little trout nibbles! Entice thou, O
bait, as never bait enticed before!

Ottilie went out for her walk; whereupon ensued a
diplomatic interview between Gretchen and the Indian,
Chilhowee, which resulted in the departure of that
taciturn individual toward Thalberg, where he had
arrived, as was related, just in time to kill John Sterling's
escaping buck.

He met with no opportunity to speak with Cranston
that day, and had lounged idly about the grounds until
night came on, when he threw himself upon the grass
and slept; that is to say, dreamed of Ottilie.