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—“And since we have the vaward of the day,
My love shall hear the music of my hounds.
Uncouple in the western valley; let them go!
We will, fair queen, up to the mountain's top.”

Midsummer Night's Dream.

Not far above the junction of the Little Tennessee
and Holston rivers, immediately upon the banks of the
former stream, occurs a level plat, or “cove,” as it is
there called, of most romantic beauty. Here the river
suddenly ceases its wild leaping down the mountains, and,
like a maiden about to be married, pauses to dream
upon the alliance it is speedily to form with a mightier
stream. On each side the wide expanse of this still
river-lake, broad level meadows stretch away some miles
down the stream, until the hoydenish river wakes from
its dream and again dashes down its narrow channel
between the mountains.

The meadows are inclosed by precipitous ridges,
behind which succeed higher ridges, and still higher,
until the lofty mountains wall in and overshadow them

The hills sit here like old dethroned kings, met for
consultation: they would be very garrulous, surely, but
the exquisite peace of the pastoral scene below them
has stilled their life; they have forgotten the ancient


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anarchy which brought them forth; they dream and
dream away, without discussion or endeavor.

On the last day of September 1860, huntsman Dawn
leapt out of the east, quickly ran to earth that old fox,
Night, and sat down on the top of Smoky Mountain to
draw breath a minute. The shine of his silver hunting-gear
lit the whole mountain, faintly. Enough, at any
rate, to disclose two men who with active steps were
pursuing a road which ascends the mountain half way,
and which at a distance of two miles from the cove just
described diverges from a direct course to the summit,
passing on to the Carolina line. The younger of the
two, equipped with a light sporting-rifle and accoutrements,
walked ahead of his companion, a tall, rawboned,
muscular mountaineer, who with his right hand
carried a long slim-barrelled gun, while with his left he
endeavored to control the frantic gambols of a brace of
deer-hounds whose leash was wrapped round his bony

“Waal I reckin!” exclaimed the mountaineer, whom
the 24,999 may hereafter recognize as Cain Smallin;
“and how many bullets, mought ye think, was fired afore
he fotch the big un to the yeth?”

“O! Gordon Cumming was a hunter, you know, and
all hunters exaggerate a little, perhaps unconsciously.
He says he fired two hundred balls into the elephant
before he fell.”

“A maaster heap o' lead, now, certin, to kill one
varmint! But I suppose he got a mortial sight o'
ven'zon, an' hide an' truck o' one sort an' another
off'n him. I recommember Jim Razor flung fifteen
bullet into a ole b'ar over on Smoky Mount'n, two


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year ago come Chris'mas; but hit ai'nt nothin' to your
tale. Would 'n' I like to see one o' them — what was 't
you called 'em? I 'm forgitful.”


“One o' them elephants a-waddlin' up yan mount'n
of a hot summer's day!”

As this idea gained upon the soul of Cain Smallin,
he opened his mouth, which was like a pass in the
mountains, and a torrent of laughter brawled uproariously
through it.

“I hardly think he would make as good time as that
deer yonder, that you 've frightened half to death with
your monstrous cackle. Look, Cain! In with the
dogs, man! I 'm for the top of the mountain to see the
sun rise; but I 'll come down directly and follow along,
as you drive, to catch any stragglers that may double
on you.”

With a ringing yell the mountaineer loosed his dogs,
and followed after with rapid strides.

“Take my hat,” muttered he, “an' boots! The boy
said he had 'n' seen a deer sence he left here four year
ago fur college, an' I raally thought he 'd be master
keen fur a drive. An' he a runnin' away f'om the
deer, an' hit in full sight, an' the dogs a'ter it! But
them blasted colleges 'll ruin any man's son, I don't
care who he is!”

Meanwhile, Philip Sterling, the unconscious object
of the mountaineer's commiseration, by dint of much
climbing and leaping over and across obstacles which he
seemed to despise in the wantonness of youthful activity,
at length reached the mountain-top, and stood still upon
the highest point of an immense rock, which lay like an


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altar upon the very summit. A morning mist met him,
and hung itself in loose blank folds before him, like
the vast stage-curtain of some immeasurable theatre.
But the sun shot a straight ray through the top of the
curtain and, as if hung to this horizontal beam with
rings of mist, it drew itself aside and disclosed the
wonderful-scened stage of the world — a stage (thought
Philip Sterling) whose tricksy harlequins are Death
and Chance, and whose trap-doors are graves — a
stage before which sits an orchestra half composed of
angels, whose music would be ravishing did not the
other half, who are devils, continually bray all manner
of discords by playing galops for our tragedies, and
dirges for our farces — a stage whose most thrilling
performances are sad pantomimes, in which a single
individual's soul silently plays all the parts — a queer
“Varieties” of the Universe, where rows nightly occur,
in which the combatants are Heaven and Hell.

Airy 24,999 who hover with me round this mountain-top,
ye might almost see these thoughts passing in
review in Philip Sterling's eyes, as he stands dreamily
regarding the far scene below him. Ye do not notice,
I am certain, the slender figure, nor the forehead, nor
the mouth, nose, and chin; but the eyes — Men and
Women! — the large, gray, poet's eyes, with a dream
in each and a sparkle behind it — the eager, hungry
eyes, widening their circles to take in more of the
morning-beauties and the morning-purities that sail invisibly
about — these ye will notice!

“From the eyes a path doth lie
To the heart, and is not long;
And thereon travel of thoughts a throng!”


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— quoth Hugo von Trimberg. And these eyes of
Philip Sterling's go on to say, as plainly as eyes can
say: “Thou incomprehensible World, since it is not
possible to know thee perfectly, our only refuge is to
love thee earnestly, that, so, the blind heart, by numberless
caresses, may learn the truth of thy vast features
by the touch, and may recognize thy true voice
in the many-toned sounds that perplex a soul, and may
run to meet thee at hearing thy step only.”

“Yet I know not, O World, whether thou art a
wrestler whom I must throw heavily, or a maiden whom
I must woo lightly. I will see, I will see!” cried Philip
Sterling to himself.

(Bless my life, 24,999! How long our arms are
when we are young! Nothing but the whole world
will satisfy their clasp; later in life we learn to give
many thanks for one single, faithful, slender waist!)

“And so,” continued our young eager-soul, “I choose
to woo thee; thou shalt be my maiden-love. I swear
that thy voice shall be my Fame, thy red lips my
Pleasure, thine eyes my Diamonds; and I will be true
knight to thee, and I will love thee and serve thee with
faithful heart and stainless sword till death do us part!”

“But what a fool I am,” said Philip Sterling aloud,
“to be vowing marriage vows before I'm even accepted,
nay, before I 've fairly declared my passion! Hasty,
mi-boy! But I wish I were down in the cities; I'm
ready for work, and it's all a dream and a play up here
in the mountains.”

One may doubt if Pygmalion, being so utterly in
love, was at all surprised when his statue warmed into
life and embraced him. Philip Sterling, at any rate,
making love to this sweet statue of the world, did not


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start when he heard a step behind him. He turned,
and beheld a tall figure, in whose face, albeit mossed
like a swamp-oak with beard, beamed a cheerful earnestness
that was as like Philip's enthusiasm as a star is
like a comet.

“`Life is too short,”' quoted the stranger, advancing
with open hand extended, “`to be long about the forms
of it.' My name 's Paul Rübetsahl!”

“And mine is Philip Sterling!”

The two hands met and clasped. Philip had always
a penchant for the love-at-sight theory, and I know not
if Paul Rübetsahl was any more sensible. The two
young transcendentalists looked in each other's faces.
The frank eyes searched each other a moment, and
then turned away, gazing over the valley, along the
river dividing the mountains, on, to the far horizon.
In this gaze was a sort of triumphal expression; as
who should say, “Two friends that have met on a
mountain may always claim that as their level, and
their souls may always sail out over hills that are hard
to climb, over valleys that are tilled with sweat and
reaped with Trouble's sickle, over cities whose commerce
perplexes religion, over societies whose laws and
forms oppress a free spirit; from such a height we
may look down and understand, at least not despise,
these things.”

And with that high egotism of youth whereby we
view the world in its relations to us, and not also in
our relations to it, and stretch out our eager hands to
grasp it, as if it were made for us and not we also for
it; in this happy exaltation, each of these two youths
cried out in his heart, “Behold! O world, and sun,
and stars — behold, at last, two Friends!”