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Chapter 1
"Good morning!" The voice was cheery, insistent. It brought the young girl on the porch above to the white wooden rail about its edge.

"Good morning!" she called back lightly.

"Beautiful day!" persisted the young man saying inanely the first words he could think of for the sole purpose of keeping her there in sight.

"Lovely!" cried the girl enthusiastically, leaning a little further over the rail. A vine, which had climbed the round pillar and twined its tendrils about the porch's edge, set waving by the slight motion, sent a shower of scarlet leaves about the young man below; one fluttered upon his breast, he caught it and held it over his heart as if it were a message from her to him; and then he fastened it in his button-hole.

[Pg 2]

The young woman laughed carelessly as he did so; she was too used to students to exaggerate the meaning of their words or deeds, and there was no answering flash in her gray eyes as she looked down on him.

"Don't you think it too fine to stay indoors?"

"I'm not in," answered the girl turning her head to look up at the blue arch of the sky overhead.

"Oh, well"—the young fellow bit his lip, and flushed hotly,—"you know it's—Come, take a walk across the quadrangle," he added boldly. "There's no one around."

Frances leaned further for a survey of campus and corridor. "All right!" she cried, and he could hear her footsteps as she ran down the polished stair in the big old house. When she opened the great hall door she was charmingly demure. "Glad to see you Mr. Lawson!" she exclaimed mischievously to the young man, who stood hat in hand by the wide step.

"Delighted, I'm sure!" he flashed back, holding the hand she extended as long as he[Pg 3] dared,—so long that the young woman had drawn herself up quite straight and was looking gravely along the corridor when he released it.

"You haven't mailed your letter!" she said looking at the missive he still held.

"Oh! and I came—"

"There's the box, don't forget it!"

"Which way are you going?"

"Up to the Rotunda, of course."

"See how it commands everything else," said Frances, pausing at the sunken, well-worn steps in the terraced corridor to look about her. The morning shadows of the maples on the quadrangle stretched to the brick pavement at their feet, scarlet and yellow leaves, blown across the green grass, rustled about them; the picturesque buildings on the other side the campus loomed in deep shadowings, for the sun was yet behind them. A late student slammed his door and went hurrying down the corridor, his footsteps echoing along the way.

"It is beautiful!" said Frances softly, as she went up the few steps.

[Pg 4]

"Beautiful, yes, and you don't appreciate it half as much—"

"Appreciate it!"

"Don't you hear the men raving over it everywhere? Those from a good long distance especially—Oregon, for instance, that's my state you know; but you Virginians—"

"Are not given to boasting!" said the girl proudly.

"There you are! You are"—"a queer lot," he was about to say, but remembered himself in time. "You are—" he blundered; "one scarce knows how to take you."

"Don't take us!" said the girl quietly.

"Now, Miss Holloway," deprecated the young man, "you see, the things other people think you would be proudest of, you don't care for at all, and the things other people don't care for—"

"Perhaps there are some people who don't talk about the things they care for most. Perhaps," she went on, her flushing cheek and darkening eye belying her light tone, "that's a secret you haven't found out, and[Pg 5] it may be the reason you don't know how to take us," she repeated.

"I'm not going to quarrel about it a morning like this," declared the young man as they went up the wide steps to the Rotunda and along the marble floor of the east wing which roofed over the rooms devoted to the learning of law.

"No, nothing is worth it," answered the girl as she leaned against the balustrade at the edge and looked off towards the mountains, and they both were silent.

It was a scene the young man had not yet gotten used to, nor the girl either, though she was born in its sight. Beyond the stretch of the outer grounds of the University, beyond the far-reaching roofs and spires of Charlottesville and the narrow valley of the Rapidan, rose, high and bold, the last spur of the Ragged Mountains. The blue haze veiled it even at this early hour; the frost clothing much of it showed all colors save those of sombre hue; and, set on its crown, just where it began to dip downwards, shone the whiteness of Monticello.

[Pg 6]

"He was a great man!" said the young man presently.

The girl nodded. No one ever sat thus, the buildings of the University stretching at their feet, Monticello gleaming on its mountain crest and asked the name of the man they lauded.

By and by she asked a question. "For what is Jefferson noted?"

"For being the founder of the democratic—"

"I thought so!" indignantly.

"Indeed! Oh! for founding the University of Virginia."

"You know your lesson quite well," with a little tinge of sarcasm; "if you stay here long enough you'll find he did a great many other things. Ah! he knew the beautiful. Look! were there ever any buildings more in harmony, more exquisite in design, more fitted for living—Pshaw!" she broke off petulantly at the young man's laugh, "you've made me boast! You've seen Monticello?" she asked a little haughtily, as she straightened from her leaning position.

[Pg 7]

"Of course."

The girl's eyes darkened as she stood looking down the campus from her point of vantage, and though she was too proud to speak again of its beauty—for it was her home—the young man's glances followed hers and he noted it all; the inner quadrangle framed in its buildings of quaint architecture, the velvet green of the campus, set with maples, and dipping thrice and then deeply toward the gleaming buildings at the end; the long stretch of corridors and white pillars, the professors' houses rising two-storied above the students' homes: and about these, outside, the wide grounds, the embowering trees, yellow and russet and red; rows of cottages showing their tops here and there; and far off, rimming it all, the misty, hazy mountain tops.

"I'm going into the library," announced Frances, all the banter gone from her voice.

"Have you been to breakfast?" in astonishment.

"Haven't you? Oh! you are lazy! You[Pg 8] must go at once. Mrs. Lancey won't save it for you."

"Yes she will!" He followed her into the fairy white interior of the Rotunda, with its great pillars bearing above their Corinthian pilasters the carved circle on which were written the names of the giants of the book world.

He had some faint desire to see before which of the cases she would pause. He was proud of his knowledge of his fellow beings, but this young woman puzzled him. It was a pleasure to his beauty-loving eyes to gaze on her—tall, slender, but well set up, frank-eyed, clear-skinned with an air of utter independence; the things he had heard her say and seen her do kept her from any place in his category.

The long serge gown rustling softly on the marble pavement, she went straight to the books she wanted. It was late, and she wished to avoid the stream of students that would soon be setting roomwards and hallwards.

She took down the volumes instantly[Pg 9]—Fiske's "Old Virginia and her Neighbors," and Byrd's "History of the Dividing Line." If Lawson was astonished she gave him no chance to express it.

"You must hurry to breakfast," she insisted as they went out.

The young man looked down at the sunlit quadrangle. "Won't you go for a drive about ten?" he asked abruptly.

"I'm going."

He caught his breath, but before he could answer—

"Susan wants some chickens. I promised her I'd get them. You are not going out?" severely.

"It's such a temptation!"

"Young men who come all the way from Oregon come to study."

He strove for answer, but the young woman's nod was positive. It sent him to the mess hall, while she hurried along the corridor, hurried to avoid the crowd that would soon be abroad. So she had been trained, and such was second nature. She was not afraid of any student or of all of[Pg 10] them. She had had delightful friends among them. But she was not a students' belle; her dear father's abhorrence of such had kept her unscathed.

She lived among them, but the traditions of her household kept her apart. She was motherless, but her mother's influence had set her feet in the path of freedom and her father saw to it that they kept their way. In all the gay students' life that surged about her she was somehow untouched. She was keenly alive to its phases, to all the life as a whole, but not to any unit forming it. She saw the belles of the season come and go at Christmas, at Easter, or the Finals, without the least desire to outshine them, or shine with them; yet it would have been easy enough had she wished it. Had she social aspirations she would find many matrons in the professors' homes to chaperon her; had she been sentimental she could have made many a bosom friend in the young girls of the town; had she been trained otherwise, her record from her first long skirt might have been one of reckless[Pg 11] flirtations—for there is no limit to a student's daring—but as it was, she lived among them quite simply.

She ordered her father's house; she read, few knew how deeply; she rode, she drove, and went her own way happily.

One lesson she had at heart. She took the young men about her without an atom of seriousness. It was this which nettled Frank Lawson.

His attentions had been taken quite seriously usually, too seriously once, he might have remembered. It aroused his insistence; it sent him loitering by the gate to the grounds when Frances came driving down the ribbony road winding outwards.

"I think you might take me," he declared, as she drove slowly by.

"Jump in!" Frances pulled the horse around and left the wheels towards him hospitably opened.

Lawson thought of the beauty he had driven the afternoon before, of the roses on her breast for which she had thanked him so graciously, of the shining skins of[Pg 12] his horses and the glittering wheels of his carriage, and he set his teeth; but he climbed up into the trap and sat down by Frances' side.

She did not offer him the reins, and he hated being driven by a woman.

"You know most of the roads about here?"

The young man assented.

"Out towards Monticello and down beyond the University and Park Street; but you don't know this."

Frances had turned towards town, and was driving smartly past Chancellor's and Anderson's, bookstore and drug store and loitering grounds of the students, though the porches were empty now, along the long street, across the high bridge spanning the narrow valley through which the Southern railroad swept into the town, on down a steep hill; and then she pulled sharply to the left, down a rough road past negro cabins, another sharp hill, across a clear mountain stream, and they were in the country.

[Pg 13]

"You've never been this way before," repeated Frances as she began to point out the features of the country. She spoke of house and cabin and mill; but Lawson's eyes were turned towards the misty mountains. The keen air blew in his face, the frosty touch sent his pulses tingling: the smell of green grass and falling leaves and fresh earth was abroad, and over there, to right to left, swam the mountain-tops in purple mists. Each hill they topped showed vistas of hill and valley and far-reaching crest.

The horse went at a good pace; his driver was the most companionable of drivers; Lawson was absurdly happy.

"What's that little blue flower?" he asked, pointing to a starry bloom, daisy-shaped, blossoming on a weed-like stem.

"That's another of the beauties for which we thank Jefferson, that and the Scotch broom in the woods; you saw it?"

"But where does this come from?"

"Don't ask me! Scotland, also, perhaps; here we are!" She pulled up sharply before[Pg 14] a cabin by the road, and, before he could take the reins she threw down, sprang out.

Lawson sat feeling like a chagrined schoolboy. It was one of the small accomplishments of which he was proud, to lift a woman from carriage or saddle. He had strong muscles well trained, and he had a fashion of putting his hands at the woman's waist and giving her a lift, quick, light, and sure, and setting her on her feet with a look of pleased astonishment in her eyes; now he sat holding the reins like any good boy and watching the flutter of a blue skirt around the clusters of zinnias and marigolds by the cabin corner. And then he heard voices and laughter and the squawks of terrified chickens.

Frances was coming back,—a colored woman, with a bunch of chickens in either hand, walking by her side. He listened to the woman with intense amusement.

"Why don't you say thanky?" she was demanding.

Frances only laughed.

"I done tole yuh how pretty yuh is; now why don't yuh say thanky?"

[Pg 15]

"She ought to, that she ought," called Lawson from the trap.

"Hi, honey!" cried the delighted darkey, "is dat him? La, chile, now he suttenly is a nice beau!"

"Aunt Roxie," said Frances haughtily, "put the chickens in the back of the trap. You're sure you've got them tied all right?"

"'Co'se I is!"

Lawson, delighted with Frances' discomfiture, was fussing about, helping the colored woman.

"Jes lissen at her, jes as mighty as you please," she muttered to him, and then quite loudly, "some folks suttenly is hard to please; yuh praises dem, dey got nutten to say; yuh praises de beau an' dey looks mad!"

"Never mind!" cried Frances, "never mind! I'm not going to bring you any tobacco next time I come!"

"La! Miss Frances, what mattah long yuh now—yuh know—hyar, chile, lemme pull yuh some dese hyar flowers; de fros' done totch dem anyhow!"

But Frances was not listening; she was off[Pg 16] fast as her horse would trot, the chickens squawking indignantly, and Roxie by her zinnias and marigolds gazing in open-mouthed astonishment. Lawson was shaking with laughter. He was even with her he felt, and perhaps a little ahead. He was sure he was ahead when, just outside the University gate, one of the chickens, freed after much straining, fluttered under the edge of Frances' skirt and shrieked a loud and triumphant squawk. Frances sprang to her feet; but for Lawson she would have been out and under the wheel. There was no laughter about that young man for one swift instant, when he threw his arm out, pulled her back into the seat and snatched the falling reins. The danger past, he caught the offending fowl, fluttering now in the dash-board, handed it gravely to Frances and then, without a word of excuse, leaned back and laughed until the tears were in his eyes.

As for Frances, she was white, she was cold. She had been frightened for the first time in her life into a silly deed. She was mad through and through, but it was useless.[Pg 17] Under that ringing laugh all else gave way; she must join in it.

"Never mind," she declared, when Lawson drew rein outside the quadrangle and lifted her out impressively. "I shall have that chicken for supper."

"I'm coming to help eat him!"

"Come on!" she called gayly, as she disappeared along the walk to the campus.


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