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The Three Black Pennys A Novel   By: (1880-1954)

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THE THREE BLACK PENNYS

THE THREE BLACK PENNYS

A NOVEL

JOSEPH HERGESHEIMER

GROSSET & DUNLAP

PUBLISHERS

By Arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf

COPYRIGHT, 1917, BY

ALFRED A. KNOPF

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A DEDICATION

Dear John Hemphill

This is a record and act of memory of you at Dower House of June nights on the porch, with the foliage of the willow tree powdered against the stars; the white panelled hearth of the yellow room in smouldering winter dusks; dinner with the candles wavering in tepid April airs; and the blue envelopment of late September noons. A quiet reach like the old grey house and green fields, the little valleys filled with trees and placid town beyond the hill, where the calendar of our days and companionship is set.

Joseph Hergesheimer

CONTENTS

I THE FURNACE

II THE FORGE

III THE METAL

I THE FURNACE

I

A twilight like blue dust sifted into the shallow fold of the thickly wooded hills. It was early October, but a crisping frost had already stamped the maple trees with gold, the Spanish oaks were hung with patches of wine red, the sumach was brilliant in the darkening underbrush. A pattern of wild geese, flying low and unconcerned above the hills, wavered against the serene, ashen evening. Howat Penny, standing in the comparative clearing of a road, decided that the shifting, regular flight would not come close enough for a shot. He dropped the butt of his gun to the ground. Then he raised it again, examining the hammer; the flint was loose, unsatisfactory. There was a probability that it would miss firing.

He had no intention of hunting the geese. With the drooping of day his keenness had evaporated; an habitual indifference strengthened, permeating him. He turned his dark, young face toward the transparent, green afterglow; the firm eyebrows drawn up at the temples, sombre eyes set, too, at a slight angle, a straight nose, impatient mouth and projecting chin. Below him, and to the left, a heavy, dark flame and silvery smoke were rolling from the stack of Shadrach Furnace. Figures were moving obscurely over the way that led from the coal house, set on the hill, to the top and opening of the furnace; finishing, Howat Penny knew, the charge of charcoal, limestone and iron ore.

Shadrach Furnace had been freshly set in blast; it was on that account he was there, to represent, in a way, his father, who owned a half interest in the Furnace. However, he had paid little attention to the formality; his indifference was especially centred on the tedious processes of iron making, which had, at the same time, made his family. He had gone far out from the Furnace tract into an utterly uninhabited and virginal region, where he had shot at, and missed, an impressive buck and killed a small bear. Now, that he had returned, his apathy once more flooded him; but he had eaten nothing since morning, and he was hungry.

He could go home, over the nine miles of road that bound the Furnace to Myrtle Forge and the Penny dwelling; there certain of whatever supper he would elect. But, he decided, he preferred something now, less formal. There were visitors at Myrtle Forge, Abner Forsythe, who owned the other half of Shadrach, his son David, newly back from England and the study of metallurgy, and a Mr. Winscombe, come out to the Provinces in connection with the Maryland boundary dispute, accompanied by his wife. All this Howat Penny regarded with profound distaste; necessary social and conversational forms repelled him. And it annoyed his father when he sat, apparently morose, against the wall, or retired solitary to his room.

He would get supper here; they would be glad to have him at the house of Peter Heydrick, the manager of the Furnace. Half turning, he could see the dwelling at his back a small, grey stone rectangle with a narrow portico on its solid face and a pale glimmer of candles in the lower windows... Continue reading book >>




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