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The Ordeal A Mountain Romance of Tennessee

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THE ORDEAL ***

Produced by The Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)

[Illustration: A SWIFT, ERECT FIGURE STEPPED INTO THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD _Page 101_]

THE ORDEAL

A MOUNTAIN ROMANCE OF TENNESSEE

BY CHARLES EGBERT CRADDOCK

AUTHOR OF

"THE RAID OF THE GUERILLA," "THE PROPHET OF THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS," "THE FAIR MISSISSIPPIAN," ETC.

WITH A FRONTISPIECE IN COLOR BY DOUGLAS DUER

PHILADELPHIA & LONDON J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY 1912

COPYRIGHT, 1911, BY J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY COPYRIGHT, 1912, BY J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY

PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER, 1912

PRINTED BY J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY AT THE WASHINGTON SQUARE PRESS PHILADELPHIA, U.S.A.

Transcriber's Notes:

This paragraph in Chapter II. is obviously a printer's error:

Here they found a change of sentiment prevailing. Although failing in no observance of courtesy, Mrs. Briscoe had been a little less than complaisant toward the departed guest. This had been vaguely perceptible to Briscoe at the time, but now she gency constrained him.

In addition, a Table of Contents has been created for the convenience of the reader.

Contents

I. II. III. IV. V. VI. VII. VIII. IX. X. XI. XII. XIII. XIV.

THE ORDEAL

I.

Nowhere could the idea of peace be more serenely, more majestically, expressed. The lofty purple mountains limited the horizon, and in their multitude and imposing symmetry bespoke the vast intentions of beneficent creation. The valley, glooming low, harbored all the shadows. The air was still, the sky as pellucid as crystal, and where a crag projected boldly from the forests, the growths of balsam fir extending almost to the brink, it seemed as if the myriad fibres of the summit-line of foliage might be counted, so finely drawn, so individual, was each against the azure. Below the boughs the road swept along the crest of the crag and thence curved inward, and one surveying the scene from the windows of a bungalow at no great distance could look straight beyond the point of the precipice and into the heart of the sunset, still aflare about the west.

But the realization of solitude was poignant and might well foster fear. It was too wild a country, many people said, for quasi-strangers, and the Briscoes were not justified in lingering so long at their summer cottage here in the Great Smoky Mountains after the hotel of the neighboring springs was closed for the season, and its guests and employees all vanished town-ward. Hitherto, however, the Briscoes had flouted the suggestion, protesting that this and not the spring was the "sweet o' the year." The autumn always found the fires flaring on the cosy hearths of their pretty bungalow, and they were wont to gaze entranced on the chromatic pageantry of the forests as the season waned. Presently the Indian summer would steal upon them unaware, with its wild sweet airs, the burnished glamours of its soft red sun, its dreamy, poetic, amethystine haze. Now, too, came the crowning opportunity of sylvan sport. There were deer to stalk and to course with horses, hounds, and horns; wild turkeys and mountain grouse to try the aim and tax the pedestrianism of the hunter; bears had not yet gone into winter quarters, and were mast-fed and fat; even a shot at a wolf, slyly marauding, was no infrequent incident, and Edward Briscoe thought the place in autumn an elysium for a sportsman.

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