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Destiny   By: (1879-1930)

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Note: Images of the original pages are available through the Electronic Text Collection of the Kentuckiana Digital Library. See http://kdl.kyvl.org/cgi/t/text/text idx?c=kyetexts;cc=kyetexts;xc=1&idno=B92 178 30418584&view=toc

DESTINY

by

CHARLES NEVILLE BUCK

Author of The Call of the Cumberlands, Etc.

New York Grosset & Dunlap Publishers Copyright, 1916, by W.J. Watt & Company

OTHER BOOKS BY CHARLES NEVILLE BUCK

THE KEY TO YESTERDAY THE LIGHTED MATCH THE PORTAL OF DREAMS THE CALL OF THE CUMBERLANDS THE BATTLE CRY THE CODE OF THE MOUNTAINS

DESTINY

Part I

THE LAND OF PROMISE

CHAPTER I

Outside the subtle clarion of autumn's dying glory flamed in the torches of the maples and smoldered in the burgundy of the oaks. It trailed a veil of rose ash and mystery along the slopes of the White Mountains, and inside the crumbling school house the children droned sleepily over their books like prisoners in a lethargic mutiny.

Frost had brought the chestnuts rattling down in the open woods, and foraging squirrels were scampering among the fallen leaves.

Brooding at one of the front desks, sat a boy, slender and undersized for his thirteen years. The ill fitting crudity of his neatly patched clothes gave him a certain uniformity with his fellows, yet left him as unlike them as all things else could conspire to make him. The long hair that hung untrimmed over his face seemed a black emphasis for the cameo delicacy of his features, lending them a wan note of pathos. On his thin temples, bluish veins traced the hall mark of an over sensitive nature, and eyes that were deep pools of somberness gazed out with the dreamer's unrest.

Occasionally, he shot a furtively terrified glance across the aisle where another boy with a mop of red hair, a freckled face and a mouth that seemed overcrowded with teeth, made faces at him and conveyed in eloquent gestures threats of future violence. At these menacing pantomimes, the slighter lad trembled under his bulging coat, and he sat as one under sentence.

Had any means of escape offered itself, Paul Burton would have embraced it without thought of the honors of war. He had no wish to stand upon the order of his going. He earnestly desired to go at once. But under what semblance of excuse could he cover his retreat? Suddenly his necessity fathered a crafty subterfuge. The bucket of drinking water stood near his desk and it was well nigh empty. Becoming violently thirsty, he sought permission to carry it to the spring for refilling, and his heart leaped hopefully when the tired eyed teacher indifferently nodded her assent. He meant to carry the pail to the spring. He even meant to fill it for the sake of technical obedience. Later, some one else could go out and fetch it back.

Paul's object would be served when once he was safe from the stored up wrath of the Marquess kid. As he carried the empty bucket down the aisle, he felt upon him the derisive gaze of a pair of blue eyes entirely surrounded by freckles, and his own eyes drooped before their challenge and contempt. They drooped also as he met the questioning gaze of his elder brother, Ham, whose seat was just at the door. Ham had a disquieting capacity for reading Paul's thoughts, and an equally disquieting scorn of cowardice. But Paul closed the door behind him, and, in the freedom of the outer air, set his lips to whistling a casual tune. He could never be for a moment alone without breaking into some form of music. It was his nature's language and his soul's soliloquy.

Of course tomorrow would bring a reckoning for truancy and a probable renewal of his danger, but tomorrow is after all another day and for this afternoon at least he felt safe.

But Ham Burton's uncanny powers of divination were at work, and out of his seat he slipped unobserved. Through the door he flitted shadow like and strolled along in the wake of his younger brother... Continue reading book >>




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