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The Cup of Trembling and Other Stories   By: (1847-1938)

The Cup of Trembling and Other Stories by Mary Hallock Foote

First Page:

THE CUP OF TREMBLING

AND OTHER STORIES

BY MARY HALLOCK FOOTE

BOSTON AND NEW YORK HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY The Riverside Press, Cambridge 1895

Copyright, 1895, BY MARY HALLOCK FOOTE.

All rights reserved.

The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., U. S. A. Electrotyped and Printed by H. O. Houghton & Co.

CONTENTS

THE CUP OF TREMBLING

MAVERICK

ON A SIDE TRACK

THE TRUMPETER

THE CUP OF TREMBLING

I

A miner of the Coeur d'Alêne was returning alone on foot, one winter evening, from the town in the gulch to his solitary claim far up on the timbered mountain side.

His nearest way was by an unfrequented road that led to the Dreadnaught, a lofty and now abandoned mine that had struck the vein three thousand feet above the valley, but the ore, being low grade, could never be made to pay the cost of transportation.

He had cached his snow shoes, going down, at the Bruce boys' cabin, the only habitation on the Dreadnaught road, which from there was still open to town.

The snows that camp all summer on the highest peaks of the Coeur d'Alêne were steadily working downward, driving the game before them; but traffic had not ceased in the mountains. Supplies were still delivered by pack train at outlying claims and distant cabins in the standing timber. The miner was therefore traveling light, encumbered with no heavier load than his personal requisition of tobacco and whisky and the latest newspapers, which he circulated in exchange for the wayside hospitalities of that thinly peopled but neighborly region.

His homeward halt at the cabin was well timed. The Bruce boys were just sitting down to supper; and the moon, that would light his lonelier way across the white slopes of the forest, would not be visible for an hour or more. The boys threw wood upon their low cooking fire of coals, which flamed up gloriously, spreading its immemorial welcome over that poor, chance suggestion of a home. The supper was served upon a board, or literally two boards, nailed shelf wise across the lighted end of the cabin, beneath a small window where, crossed by the squares of a dusty sash, the austere winter twilight looked in: a sky of stained glass colors above the clear heights of snow; an atmosphere as cold and pure as the air of a fireless church; a hushed multitude of trees disguised in vestments of snow, a mute recessional after the benediction has been said.

Each man dragged his seat to the table, and placed himself sidewise, that his legs might find room beneath the narrow board. Each dark face was illumined on one side by the fitful fire glow, on the other by the constant though fading ray from the window; and, as they talked, the boisterous fire applauded, and the twilight, like a pale listener, laid its cold finger on the pane.

They talked of the price of silver, of the mines shutting down, of the bad times East and West, and the signs of a corrupt generation; and this brought them to the latest ill rumor from town a sensation that had transpired only a few hours before the miner's departure, and which friends of the persons discussed were trying to keep as quiet as possible.

The name of a young woman was mentioned, hitherto a rather disdainful favorite with society in the Coeur d'Alêne the wife of one of the richest mine owners in the State.

The "Old Man," as the miners called him, had been absent for three months in London, detained from week to week on the tedious but paramount business of selling his mine. The mine, with its fatalistic millions (which, it was surmised, had spoken for their owner in marriage more eloquently than the man could have spoken for himself), had been closed down pending negotiations for its sale, and left in charge of the engineer, who was also the superintendent. This young man, whose personal qualities were in somewhat formidable contrast to those of his employer, nevertheless, in business ways, enjoyed a high measure of his confidence, and had indeed deserved it... Continue reading book >>




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