Books Should Be Free is now
Loyal Books
Free Public Domain Audiobooks & eBook Downloads
Search by: Title, Author or Keyword

Westways   By: (1829-1914)

Book cover

First Page:

WESTWAYS

A Village Chronicle

by

S. WEIR MITCHELL, M.D., LL.D.

Author of Hugh Wynne , The Adventures of Fran├žois , Constance Trescot , etc., etc.

1913

I DEDICATE THIS BOOK WHICH RECALLS CERTAIN SCENES OF THE CIVIL WAR TO THE MEMORY OF MY THREE BROTHERS

R.W.M. N.C.M. E.K.M.

ALL OF WHOM SERVED IN THE ARMIES OF THEIR COUNTRY

PREFACE

There will be many people in this book; some will be important, others will come on the scene for a time and return no more. The life lines of these persons will cross and recross, to meet once or twice and not again, like the ruts in a much used road. To day the stage may be crowded, to morrow empty. The corner novels where only a half dozen people are concerned give no impression of the multitudinous contacts which affect human lives. Even of the limited life of a village this is true. It was more true of the time of my story, which lacking plot must rely for interest on the influential relations of social groups, then more defined in small communities than they are to day.

Long before the Civil War there were in the middle states, near to or remote from great centres, villages where the social division of classes was tacitly accepted. In or near these towns one or more families were continuously important on account of wealth or because of historic position, generations of social training, and constant relation to the larger world. They came by degrees to constitute what I may describe as an indistinct caste, for a long time accepted as such by their less fortune favoured neighbours. They were, in fact, for many years almost as much a class by themselves as are the long seated county families of England and like these were looked to for helpful aid in sickness and in other of the calamities of life. The democrat time, increasing ease of travel and the growth of large industries, gradually altered the relation between these small communities, and the families who in the smaller matters of life long remained singularly familiar with their poorer neighbours and in the way of closer social intimacies far apart.

It seemed to me worth while to use the life of one of these groups of people as the background of a story which also deals with the influence of politics and war on all classes.

WESTWAYS

CHAPTER I

The first Penhallow crossed the Alleghanies long before the War for Independence and on the frontier of civilisation took up land where the axe was needed for the forest and the rifle for the Indian. He made a clearing and lived a hard life of peril, wearily waiting for the charred stumps to rot away.

The younger men of the name in Colonial days and later left the place early, and for the most part took to the sea or to the army, if there were activity in the way of war. In later years, others drifted westward on the tide of border migration, where adventure was always to be had. This stir of enterprise in a breed tends to extinction in the male lines. Men are thinned out in their wooing of danger the belle dame sans merci . Thus there were but few Penhallows alive at any one time, and yet for many years they bred in old fashioned numbers.

As time ran on, a Penhallow prospered in the cities, and clinging to the land added fresh acres as new ambitions developed qualities which are not infrequently found in descendants of long seated American families. It was not then, nor is it now, rare in American life to find fortune favoured men returning in later days to the homes of their youth to become useful in many ways to the communities they loved. One of these, James Penhallow, and there was always a James, after greatly prospering in the ventures of the China trade, was of the many who about 1800 bought great tracts of land on the farther slope of the Pennsylvania Alleghanies. His own purchases lay near and around the few hundred acres his ancestor took up and where an aged cousin was left in charge of the farm house... Continue reading book >>




eBook Downloads
ePUB eBook
• iBooks for iPhone and iPad
• Nook
• Sony Reader
Kindle eBook
• Mobi file format for Kindle
Read eBook
• Load eBook in browser
Text File eBook
• Computers
• Windows
• Mac

Review this book



Popular Genres
More Genres
Languages
Paid Books