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Judith of the Cumberlands   By: (1858-)

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Author of "The Wiving of Lance Cleaverage," "The Last Word," "Huldah," "Return," Etc.

With Illustrations in Colour by George Wright

[Illustration: "The moonlight flickered on the blade in his hand as he reeled backward over the bluff" (page 145).]

Grosset & Dunlap Publishers, New York

Copyright, 1908 by Alice MacGowan

This edition is issued under arrangement with the publishers, G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York and London


To my mountain friends, dwellers in lonely cabins, on winding horseback trails and steep, precarious roads; or in the tiny settlements that nestle in the high hung inner valleys; lean brown hunters on remote paths in the green shadowed depths of the free forest, light stepping, keen eyed, humorous lipped, hitting the point as aptly with an instance as with the old squirrel gun they carry; wielders of the axe by many a chip pile, where the swinging blade rests readily to answer query or offer advice; tanned, lithely moving lads following the plough, turning over the shoulder a countenance of dark beauty; grave, shy girls, pail in hand, at the milking bars in dawn or dusk; young mothers in the doorway, looking out, babe on hip; big eyed, bare footed mountain children clinging hand in hand by the roadside, or clustered like startled little partridges in the shelter of the dooryard; knitters in the sun and grandams by the hearth; tellers and treasurers all of tales and legends couched in racy old Elizabethan English; I dedicate this their book and mine.


I have been so frequently asked how I, a woman, came by my intimate acquaintance with life in the more remote districts of the southern Appalachians, particularly in the matter of illicit distilling, that I think it not amiss to here set down a few words as to my sources of knowledge.

I have always lived in a small city in the heart of the Cumberlands, and a portion of each year was spent in the mountains themselves. The speech of Judith and her friends and kin has been familiar to me from childhood; their point of view, their customs and possessions as well known to me as my own. Then when I began to write, I was one summer at Roan Mountain, on the North Carolina Tennessee line, probably less than two hundred miles from Chattanooga by the railway, and Gen. John T. Wilder, who had campaigned all through the fastnesses of that inaccessible region, suggested to me that I buy a mountain bred saddle horse, and ride such a route as he would give me, bringing up, after about a thousand miles of it, at my home. To follow the itinerary that the old soldier marked out on the map for me was to leave railroads and modern civilisation as we know it, penetrate the wild heart of the region, and, depending on the wayside dwellers for hospitality and lodging from night to night, be forcibly thrust into an intimate comprehension of a phase of American life which is perhaps the most primitive our country affords.

I was more than eight weeks making this trip, carrying with me all necessary baggage on my capacious, cowgirl saddle with its long and numerous buckskin tie strings. At first I shrank very much from riding up to a cabin a young woman, alone, with garments and outfit that must challenge the attention and curiosity of these people in the dusk of evening or in a heavy rain storm, and asking in set terms for lodging. But it took only a few days for me to find that here I was never to be stared at, wondered at, nor questioned; and that, proffering my request under such conditions, I was met by instant hospitality, and a grave, uninquiring courtesy unsurpassed and not always equalled in the best society, and I seemed to evoke a swift tenderness that was almost compassion.

During this journey I became acquainted with some features of mountain life which I might never have known otherwise. My best friends in the mountains in the neighbourhood of my own home had always been a little shy of discussing moonshine whiskey and moonshiners; but here I earned a dividend upon my misfortunes, being more than once taken for a revenue spy; and in the apologetic amenities of those who had misjudged me, which followed my explanations and proofs of innocence, I have been shown in a spirit of atonement, illicit still and "hideout... Continue reading book >>

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