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Crittenden A Kentucky Story of Love and War   By: (1863-1919)

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First Page:

[Illustration: John Fox, Jr.]

CRITTENDEN

A KENTUCKY STORY OF

LOVE AND WAR

BY

JOHN FOX, JR.

ILLUSTRATED BY

F. GRAHAM COOTES

NEW YORK

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

1911

COPYRIGHT, 1900, BY

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

To

THE MASTER OF

BALLYHOO

ILLUSTRATIONS

John Fox, Jr. (from a photograph) Frontispiece

FACING PAGE

"Go on!" said Judith 76

"Nothin', Ole Cap'n jes doin' nothin' jes lookin' for you" 132

CRITTENDEN

I

Day breaking on the edge of the Bluegrass and birds singing the dawn in. Ten minutes swiftly along the sunrise and the world is changed: from nervous exaltation of atmosphere to an air of balm and peace; from grim hills to the rolling sweep of green slopes; from a high mist of thin verdure to low wind shaken banners of young leaves; from giant poplar to white ash and sugar tree; from log cabin to homesteads of brick and stone; from wood thrush to meadow lark; rhododendron to bluegrass; from mountain to lowland, Crittenden was passing home.

He had been in the backwoods for more than a month, ostensibly to fish and look at coal lands, but, really, to get away for a while, as his custom was, from his worse self to the better self that he was when he was in the mountains alone. As usual, he had gone in with bitterness and, as usual, he had set his face homeward with but half a heart for the old fight against fate and himself that seemed destined always to end in defeat. At dusk, he heard the word of the outer world from the lips of an old mountaineer at the foot of the Cumberland the first heard, except from his mother, for full thirty days and the word was war. He smiled incredulously at the old fellow, but, unconsciously, he pushed his horse on a little faster up the mountain, pushed him, as the moon rose, aslant the breast of a mighty hill and, winding at a gallop about the last downward turn of the snaky path, went at full speed alongside the big gray wall that, above him, rose sheer a thousand feet and, straight ahead, broke wildly and crumbled into historic Cumberland Gap. From a little knoll he saw the railway station in the shadow of the wall, and, on one prong of a switch, his train panting lazily; and, with a laugh, he pulled his horse down to a walk and then to a dead stop his face grave again and uplifted. Where his eyes rested and plain in the moonlight was a rocky path winding upward the old Wilderness Trail that the Kentucky pioneers had worn with moccasined feet more than a century before. He had seen it a hundred times before moved always; but it thrilled him now, and he rode on slowly, looking up at it. His forefathers had helped blaze that trail. On one side of that wall they had fought savage and Briton for a home and a country, and on the other side they had done it again. Later, they had fought the Mexican and in time they came to fight each other, for and against the nation they had done so much to upbuild. It was even true that a Crittenden had already given his life for the very cause that was so tardily thrilling the nation now. Thus it had always been with his people straight down the bloody national highway from Yorktown to Appomattox, and if there was war, he thought proudly, as he swung from his horse thus it would now be with him.

If there was war? He had lain awake in his berth a long while, looking out the window and wondering. He had been born among the bleeding memories of one war. The tales of his nursery had been tales of war. And though there had been talk of war through the land for weeks before he left home, it had no more seemed possible that in his lifetime could come another war than that he should live to see any other myth of his childhood come true... Continue reading book >>




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