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141, 284, 431, 574, 717, 860
A Magazine of Literature, Science, Art, and Politics.
Vol. LVII. - JANUARY, 1886. — No. CCCXXXIX.
IN THE CLOUDS.
for hours on a rock on the summit,
smoking his pipe and idly watching the In the semblance of the cumulus- varying aspects of the great peak. Somecloud from which it takes its name, times it was purple against the azure charged with the portent of the storm, heavens ; or gray and sharp of outline the massive peak of Thunderhead tow- on faint green spaces of the sky; or ers preëminent among the summits of misty, immaterial, beset with clouds, as the Great Smoky Mountains, unïque, if the clans had gathered to claim the impressive, most subtly significant. changeling
What strange attraction of the earth “ 'Pears-like ter me ez I could n't laid hold on this vagrant cloud-form? herd cattle along of a mo' low-sperited, What unexplained permanence of des- say-nuthin' critter ’n ye be, Ben,” his tiny solidified it and fixed it forever in partner said one day, sauntering up the the foundations of the range?
slope and joining him on the summit. Kindred thunderheads of the air lift “ Ye jes' set up hyar on the bald an' above the horizon, lure, loiter, lean on gape at Thunderhead like ez ef ye war its shoulder with similitudes and con- berest. Now, down in the cove ye altrasts. Then with all the buoyant lib- ways air toler'ble good company, — nimerties of cloudage they rise, - rise! ble-tongued ez ennybody.”
Alas! the earth clasps its knees; the He thrust his cob-pipe into his mouth mountains twine their arms about it; and pulled away silently at it, gazing at hoarded ores of specious values weigh the smoke as it curled up with delicate
It cannot soar! Only the sinuosity and transparently blue. cumbrous image of an ethereal thing! Ben Doaks did not reply at once. Only the ineffective wish vainly fash- There was no need of haste on Piominioned like the winged aspiration ! go
Bald. It may have said naught of this to “ Waal, I dunno but it air a sorter Ben Doaks, but it exerted strenuous lonesome place, au’a-body don't feel fascinations on the sense alert to them. much like talkin' no-ways,” he drawled at Always he turned his eyes toward Thun- last. “ But ye 'll git used ter it, Mink,” derhead, as he came and went among he added, in leisurely encouragement. his cattle on the neighboring heights of “ Ye'll git used ter it, arter a while.” Piomingo Bald, a few miles distant to Mink looked down disconsolately at the northeast. Often he left the herd- the vast array of mountains below him er's cabin in the woods below, and sat on every side. The nearest were all
Copyright, 1885, by HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & Co.
tinged with a dusky purple, except for that hung down upon his collar, curling the occasional bare, garnet - colored like a cavalier’s. He had a keen, clear stretches of the "fire-scalds," relics of profile, a quickly glancing, restless dark the desolation when the woods were eye, and his complexion was tanned to burned in the autumn; the varying tints a rich tint that comported well with the were sublimated to blue in the distance; out-door suggestions of his powder-horn then through every charmed gradation and belt and shot-pouch, which he wore, of ethereal azure the ranges faded into although his rifle was at the cabin. He the invisible spaces that we wot not of. maintained the stolid gravity characterThere was something strangely over- istic of the mountaineer, but there was whelming in the stupendous expanse of a covert alertness about him, a certhe landscape. It abashed the widest tain sharpness of attention almost inliberties of fancy. Somehow it discon- imical, and slow and dawdling as he was certed all past experience, all previous be gave the impression of being enprejudice, all credence in other condi- dowed with many an agile unclassified tions of life. The fact was visibly pre- mental faculty. sented to the eye that the world is made His eyes followed the flight of a bird of mountains.
soaring in great circles high above the That finite quality of the mind, aptly “bald,” sometimes balanced motionless expressing itself in mensuration, might in mid-air, — a pose of ineffable strength find a certain relief in taking note of and buoyancy, -- then majestically cirthe curious“ bald” itself, — seeming cling as before. some seventy or eighty bare acres on the “ That thar buzzard 'pears ter be summit. Wild grass grows upon its a-loungin' around in the sky, a-waitin' gradual slope; clumps of huckleberry fur we-uns ter die,” he said, lugubriously. bushes appear here and there ; occa- Doaks broke with an effort from his sional ledges of rock crop out. A hardy reverie, and turned his languid gaze on flower will turn a smiling face respon- the malcontent herder. sive to the measured patronage of the “In the name o' heaven, Mink Lochilly sunshine in this rare air. The rey,” he said solemnly, “what is it ye solemnity of the silence is broken only do like ter do?” by the tinkling of cow-bells, faint, far, Despite the spark of irritation in his from the herds of cattle among the eye, he seemed colorless, especially as woods lower down on the mountain contrasted with his comrade. lle had side.
a shock of fair hair and a light brown “I never kin git used ter it,” said beard; the complexion which is the Mink, desperately. “I never kin git complement of this type had freckled in used ter hevin' sech dumbness about me, its exposure to the sun instead of tanan' seein' the time go so slow. 'Pears ning, and added its original pallor to the ter me some fower or five hunderd year negative effect. He had good features, sence we eat bre’kfus, - an' I ain't inconsequent in their lack of any marked hongry, nuther."
peculiarity except for the honest, candid Ile was a tall, singularly lithe man look in the serious gray eye. He too of twenty four or five, clad in a suit of wore a broad white wool hat and a suit brown jeans. He wore his coat closely of brown jeans. buttoned over his blue-checked cotton Mink gazed at his companion with shirt, for the August days are chilly on an expression of brightening interest. Piomingo Bald. His broad-brimmed He found himself and his own idiosynwhite wool hat was thrust back on his crasies, even when berated, more agreehead, showing his tousled auburn hair able to contemplate than the mountains.