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From the Valley of the Missing   By: (1868-1957)

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First Page:

[Illustration: ANN SHELLINGTON ANTICIPATES EVIL.

Frontispiece ( Page 276.)]

FROM THE VALLEY OF THE MISSING BY GRACE MILLER WHITE

AUTHOR OF TESS OF THE STORM COUNTRY

ILLUSTRATED WITH SCENES FROM THE PHOTO PLAY PRODUCED AND COPYRIGHTED BY THE FOX FILM CORPORATION

GROSSET & DUNLAP PUBLISHERS: NEW YORK

Copyright, 1911, by W. J. WATT & COMPANY

Published, August, 1911

"FROM THE VALLEY OF THE MISSING"

CHAPTER ONE

One afternoon in late October four lean mules, with stringy muscles dragging over their bones, stretched long legs at the whirring of their master's whip. The canalman was a short, ill favored brute, with coarse red hair and freckled skin. His nose, thickened by drink, threatened the short upper lip with obliteration. Straight from ear to ear, deep under his chin, was a zigzag scar made by a razor in his boyhood days, and under emotion the injured throat became convulsed at times, causing his words to be unintelligible. The red flannel shirt, patched with colors of lighter shades, lay open to the shoulders, showing the dark, rough skin.

"Git git up!" he stuttered; and for some minutes the boat moved silently, save for the swish of the water and the patter of the mules' feet on the narrow path by the river.

From the small living room at one end of the boat came the crooning of a woman's voice, a girlish voice, which rose and fell without tune or rhythm. Suddenly the mules came to a standstill with a "Whoa thar!"

"Pole me out a drink, Scraggy," bawled the man, "and put a big snack of whisky in it see?"

The boulder shaped head shot forward in command as he spoke. And he held the reins in his left hand, turning squarely toward the scow. Pushing out a dark, rusty, steel hook over which swung a ragged coat sleeve, he displayed the stump of a short arm.

As the woman appeared at the bow of the boat with a long stick on the end of which hung a bucket, Lem Crabbe wound the reins about the steel hook and took the proffered pail in the fingers of his left hand.

"Ye drink too much whisky, Lem," called the woman. "Ye've had as many as twenty swigs today. Ye'll get no more till we reaches the dock see?"

To this Lem did not reply. His shrewd eyes traveled up and down the girlish figure in evil meaning. His thick lips opened, and the swarthy cheeks went awry in a grimace. Before the hideous spasm of his silent merriment the woman who loved him paled, and turned away with a shudder. She slouched down the short flight of steps, and the man, with a grin, malicious and cunning, lifted the tin pail to his lips.

"It's time for her to go," he muttered as he wiped his mouth, "it's time for her to go! Git back here, Scraggy, and take this 'ere drink cup!"

This time the woman appeared with a fat baby in her arms. Mechanically she unloosened the pail from the bent nail on the end of the pole and put it down, watching the man as he unwound the reins from the hook. Again the long eared animals stretched their muscles at his hoarse command. He paid no more attention to the woman, who, seated on a pile of planks, was eying the square end of the boat. She drew a plaid shawl close up under the baby's chin and threaded her listless fingers through his dark curls. Scraggy's thin hair was drawn back from her wan face, and her narrow shoulders were bowed with burdens too heavy for her years; but she hugged the little creature sleeping on her breast, and still kept her eyes upon the scene. Beyond she could see the smoke rising from the buildings in the city of Albany, where they were to draw the boat up for the night. On each side of the river bank, behind clumps of trees, stood the mansions of those men for whom, according to Scraggy Peterson's belief, the world had been made. Finally her gaze dropped to the scow, where little rivers of water made crooked paths across the deck. Piles of planks reared high at her back, and edged the scow with the squareness of a room... Continue reading book >>




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