"The Land of the Sky," Or, Adventures in Mountain By-Ways.

by
Christian Reid

Special Collections

###### Cover, "the Land of the Sky," Or, Adventures in Mountain By-Ways by Christian Reid. D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, UNC Asheville
Title "The Land of the Sky," Or, Adventures in Mountain By-Ways.
Alt. Title Land of the Sky
Identifier http://toto.lib.unca.edu/findingaids/books/reid_land_of_sky/reid_land_of_sky.htm
Creator Christian Reid, 1846-1920 [pseud.]
Alt. Creator Tiernan, Frances Christine Fisher.
Subject Keyword Western North Carolina ; Asheville, NC ; religion ; Southern Appalachians ; churches ; schools ;  mountaineers  ; Eloise Buckner Ebbs ;
Subject LCSH

Reid, Christian, 1846-1920
Asheville (N.C.) -- History
North Carolina -- Social life and customs
Appalachians (People)North Carolina -- Social conditions
North Carolina -- Description and travel
Asheville (N.C.) -- Description and travel

Date original 1929
Date digital  2007-12-30
Publisher New York, D. Appleton and Company, [1876], t.p. 1893
Contributor

Type Source type: text ;illustrations
Format image/jpeg/text ; 2 p. l., [3]-130 p. illus. 24 cm
Source Special Collections  PZ3 .T444 Lak
Language English
Relation E.M. Ball Photographic Collection, UNCA ; Becker, Kate Harbes. Biography of Christian Reid [pseud.]  [Belmont, N.C.]1941 ;
Coverage Temporal coverage temporal: late 1800's ;
Coverage Spatial Western North Carolina ; Asheville, N.C.
Rights Any display, publication or public use must credit D. H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville.
Copyright retained by the authors of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Donor Special Collections purchase
Description One of the first literary products of the regional tourism that attracted many writers and artists to Western North Carolina. Christian Reid's novel-travelogue, was the first use of the phrase, "Land of the Sky," and she is generally credited with the popular description of the region comprising western North Carolina, but centered on Asheville, North Carolina.
Acquisition 2009
Citation "The Land of the Sky;" Or, Adventures in Mountain By-Ways. Reid, Christian, 1846-1920. D. H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville
Processed by Special Collections staff,  2009
Last update 2009-11-28
Biography Christian Reid
 Page no. Image I.D. # Description Thumbnail Cover, front- 1 sous_001 The Land of the Sky 2 sous_002 Novels by Christian Reid The Picture of Las Cruces.   A Romance of Mexico.  12mo.    Paper, 50 cents;    cloth, $1.00 The Land of the Sun. VistasMexicanas. 12mo. Cloth,$1.75 Valerie Aylmer.    8vo.    Paper, 75 cents ;    cloth, $1.25 Morton House. 8vo. Paper, 75; cloth$1.25 Mabel Lee.   8vo.   Paper, 75 cents;    cloth $1.25 Ebb=Tide 8vo. Paper, 75 cents; cloth$ 1.25 Nina's Atonement, ect.    8vo.  Paper 75 cents;   cloth, $1.25 A Daughter of Bohemia. 8vo. Paper, 75 cents; cloth,$1.25 Bonny Kate.    8vo.  Paper, 75 cents;  cloth, $1.25 After Many Days. 8vo. Paper, 75 cents; cloth,$1.25 The Land of the Sky.   8vo.  Paper, 75 cents;  cloth, $1.25 Hearts and Hands. 8vo. Paper, 75 cents; cloth$1.25 A Gentle Belle.    8vo.  Paper, 50 cents A Question of Honor.  12mo.  Cloth, $1.25 Heart of Steel. 12mo. Cloth,$1.25 Roslyn's Fortune.    12mo.  Cloth, $1.25 A Summer Idyl. 18mo. Paper, 30 cents; cloth$1.00 Miss Churchill.    12mo.  Paper, 50 cents;  cloth $1.00 A Comedy of Elopement. 12mo. Paper, 50 cents; cloth,$1.00 3 sous_003 "THE LAND OF THE SKY;" OR ADVENTURES IN MOUNTAIN BY-WAYS. BY CHRISTIAN REID, AUTHOR OF "A QUESTION OF HONOR," " VALERIE AYLMER," " MORTON HOUSE," " NINA'S ATONEMENT," ETC. WITH ILLUSTRATIONS. NEW YORK: D. APPLETON AND COMPANY, 12 FIFTH AVENUE. 1896. 4 sous_004 ENTERED, according to Act of Congress, In the year 1875, BY D. APPLETON & CO., In the Office of tho Librarian of Congress, at Washington, 5 sous_005 TO THE KIND AND PLEASANT COMPANIONS OF A SUMMER IDLING THESE PAGES ARE AFFECTIONATELY INSCRIBED 6 sous_006 "THE LAND OF THE SKY;" ADVENTURES' IN MOUNTAIN BY-WAYS. CHAPTER I "Mountains that like giants stand, sentinel enchanted land." "I WANT you all to remember," says Eric, decidedly, " that I do not advise you to go." "I don't know how you can say that, Eric," replies Aunt Markham, " when you have talked incessantly of the beauty of the mountains, and said that everybody ought to go to see them." " He meant appreciative people," says Sylvia. "We are not appreciative; therefore his remarks do not apply to us." " He wants to go alone with a gun and 7 sous_007 "THE LAND OF THE SKY;" OR, a microscope," says Charley; "and has no fancy for playing cavalier-of-all-work to a trio of ladies," " He need not fear any tiring of that kind," I remark, " for you are going, and Rupert also. We shall, therefore, be well provided with cavaliers." Scene: a family party on a veranda at sunset. Aunt Markham lying back in a large chair, fanning as if her existence depends on keeping cool — as perhaps it does, poor woman! since she weighs at least fourteen stone; Sylvia reclining in a smaller chair, with her filmy dress falling around her to the floor, her pretty face flushed with heat, her gray eyes slightly languid ; Eric on the steps with his back against a jasmine-twined pillar, and a cigar, which he does not light, between his fingers ; Charley Kenyon stretched on the grass just below the steps; Rupert hovering to and fro; I established in the hall-door, for the sake of a through-draught —the month being July, and the thermometer standing at eighty-five. We have been discussing where we shall spend the months of August and September, and we have finally decided to turn our faces westward, and, crossing the Blue Ridge, explore as far as possible the comparatively unknown country which lies beyond—a country so elevated that its valleys lie more than two thousand feet above sea-level. The person by whose recommendation we decided on this programme is my cousin Eric Markham—a great hunter, a great lover of Nature, though outwardly the most unenthusiastic of human beings, a person whom his mother has never been able to drag to fashionable watering-places in her train, but who has spent summer after summer among the fair, wild, Carolina, mountains, until his attachment to them is a family proverb. " The reason why I don't advise you to go," he says, when our comments have ceased, " is because I have no doubt you will be bored and disgusted. You will find no fashionable hotels, no bands of music; and then you will blame me! So I accept no responsibility, but simply repeat what I have said before, that if you want fresh air and glorious scenery—the grandest this side of the Yosemite—you must go to Western North Carolina to find them." " We want just those things," says Sylvia —Sylvia is my sister, and we are Aunt Mark-ham's orphan nieces— "I am tired of dancing and flirting and toilets! What a comfort it will be to put on a linen traveling-dress and a pair of thick-soled shoes, such as Nora wore in 'Quits,' and set forth with an alpenstock to climb mountains." "A great comfort indeed," says Charley, lazily.—Charley is Eric's cousin, but not ours; and he and Sylvia have been quarreling and making love and tormenting each other ever since their childhood.—" You will wish for your silk dresses before you have been gone three days. Eric talks as if you were going into the wilderness, but that country has been a resort for fifty years, perhaps longer, and Asheville is decidedly a civilized place. I was there last summer, and I had the pleasure of seeing a great deal of fashion." "Then we must take our trunks," says Sylvia, alive to the importance of appearing as fashionable as her neighbors. " I thought we were only going to explore the mountains, but if we are likely to meet people—" "Of course you must take your trunks, my dear," says Aunt Markham, decidedly. "One meets exceedingly nice people. Besides, it is always well to be prepared for emergencies." " I shall take my gun," says Rupert, following Charley's example and flinging his long and rather awkward length of limb on the grass. It is impossible for any one not to be awkward who is six feet high and only seventeen years old. "And is it definitely settled, then, that we will go to Western Carolina ? " asks Sylvia. " All in favor of the motion please say 'Ay.' Very well," a rather languid but unanimous "Ay" responds. — "Now, Eric, tell us how to reach it." " There are two great gates of entrance," says Eric, " Swannanoa and Hickory-Nut Gaps. In the old time, when people traveled in their carriages, it was the general custom to cross the Blue Ridge by one gap in going to transmittances country, and by the other in coming away. — You remember that, mother? " "Certainly," answers Aunt Markham. "I went to Tennessee with your father thirty years ago, and we crossed the Hickory-Nut Gap in going, and Swannanoa in coming back." " Let us go in that way," says Sylvia. " Impossible," says Charley, " The rail road takes you to Swannanoa." 8 sous_008 ADVENTURES IN MOUNTAIN BY-WAYS. " A fig for the railroad ! We can go in our carriage, like the grandees of thirty years ago. Which is the finest gap, Swannanoa or Hickory-Nut ?" " Hickory-Nut is infinitely finer." "Then we must see it," says Sylvia, decidedly. She is of a nature easily roused to enthusiasm, and it is evident that this enthusiasm is beginning to wake in the interest of the long-neglected beauty lying within our own borders. "Listen!" she says, sitting upright in her chair, " why can we not go by the railroad to Swannanoa Gap, and take the stage-coach from there to Asheville, leaving the carriage to follow us to the same place, so that we can travel where we like in the mountains, and finally return by Hickory-Nut Gap? Is not that a good plan, Eric? " "Only open to the objection that the carriage will be likely to be broken to pieces," says Eric. " Why, I have heard you say that the roads beyond the Blue Ridge are excellent." " The turnpikes are generally excellent, but I humbly submit that all roads are not turnpikes; and, furthermore, that to reach the country beyond the Blue Ridge it is necessary to cross the mountains—to do which is no joke." "I don't know a more serious matter," says Charley. " You are jolted, and bumped, and thumped, until you do not care for any prospect that can be shown to you." "Pray speak for yourself," says Sylvia. " I am quite sure that no one else would think of putting a few jolts and thumps in comparison with the grandest scenery—" "In the Atlantic States !" says Charley. " I have heard that from Eric several times. I contemplated this scenery on many occasions, and from many different places, with no great degree of satisfaction; but the trout-fishing— that is something which warrants enthusiasm!" "And the hunting!" says Rupert, with an ecstatic smile on his sunburned face. " How many deer did you kill last season, Brother Eric?" "About the carriage," says Aunt Mark-ham, "I am inclined to think with Sylvia that it might be a good plan to send it to Asheville. The idea of traveling about the mountains in stage-coaches and hacks is insufferable!" " But we are more than enough to fill the carriage," says Eric. "Take two saddle-horses, also," cries Sylvia, with a bright light springing into her eyes. " One for you, and one for me—how delightful!" " And how economical!" She makes a gesture signifying that this consideration is not worth a moment's attention. " People expect to spend money when they are traveling," she says, " and the cost of the whole expedition will be less than a month at a fashionable watering-place." "And I'll take the horses along with the carriage," cries Rupert, eagerly. " The rest of you may go on the railroad if you like, but give me a horse forever!" "John will drive the carriage, and you can ride Cecil and load Bonnibelle," says Sylvia, with the air of a general issuing orders for a campaign. "Eric, what do you say?" asks Aunt Markham, turning to her eldest son, who is autocrat of the household. " What is left for me to say ? " responds Eric, lighting his cigar, " The matter is apparently settled. I only desire that it may be clearly understood that I am not account-able for consequences. If the carriage is up-set, and Bonnibelle breaks her own legs and Sylvia's neck, nobody is to blame me." " Nobody will think of blaming you," says Sylvia. " You accompany us under protest —and such trifles as broken legs and necks are to be exclusively our own affair." The next two weeks are devoted to preparing wardrobes and studying maps. Then, on a particularly warm Monday in August, we set forth on our journey. Rupert and John, with the Carriage and horses, started the day before for Asheville, via Hickory-Nut Gap. We take the railroad, and turn our faces toward Swannanoa, Our railroad -journey is uneventful, as railroad-journeys—unless varied by an accident—generally are. The cars are filled with the usual number of thirsty men and dusty women, of invalids, sight-seers, and pleasure-seekers. During the long pauses at the stations, we learn where most of these travelers are bound, and receive a great deal of interesting information about their social and domestic affairs. Few things strike one more forcibly in traveling than the general garrulity 9 sous_009 'THE LAND OF THE SKY," OR, and egotism of human nature. This is entertaining for a time, but finally—taken in connection with a choking amount of dust, and a simmering degree of hent—it becomes almost intolerable. At last over the blazing noonday a grateful shadow steals, and, for the first time since early morning, we lift our window-blinds and look out. We are between the villages of Morganton and Marion, and fairly among the mountains. Already there is a greenness over the land, in striking contrast to the parched brownness of the low-country which we left behind; great hills roll up on all sides, and on our right the magnificent dark-blue masses of Table-Rock and Short-Off Mountain, stand clearly defined against a lurid thunder-cloud. The road just here follows the lovely valley of the Catawba, and we are the river in the foreground, with its level meadow-lands, over which suddenly a white rain comes driving in a quick, sharp shower. I am sorry this gust has come up just now," says Eric. " I wanted to take you on the rear-platform of the car, and show you a very pretty view of the river-valley, with a glimpse of the Blue Ridge." But we are not sorry, for the rain, is delightful. It dashes in spray against our windows, peals of thunder sound above the clatter of the train, and flashes of lightning dart hither and thither to frighten nervous travelers. It does not continue very long, however. As suddenly as it began, the vehemence of the storm abates, the thunder rolls away, the cloud is evidently passing. A minute later a ray of sunshine falls on the scene, and lo! the earth is enchanted. The shower, which is still falling, is lighted up with prismatic radiance; away in the south dark clouds are piled, but around us all is freshness and beauty. Mists rise, like the white smoke of incense, and when we lift our windows a rush of odor enters—a hundred sweet secrets of growing things mingled and exhaled by the dampness. After this the run to Old Fort is very pleasant. The dust is laid, the heat is tempered, the sunshine is still partly obscured by clouds that dapple the changing landscape with soft shadows, and now and then we have a glimpse of blue heights far away. We pass beautiful valleys glittering with the late rain; we glide by grassy meadows, and streams where old-illumined mills stand embowered in trees. There is a shimmer over every thing—a mingling of mist and brilliance peculiar to a mountain-scene. Presently our leisurely rate of speed abates, and we find ourselves at the end of our railroad journey—Old Fort. This place—which takes its name from an old fort that is supposed to have existed in the days of Indian warfare—has only risen to comparative importance since the railroad abruptly and unexpectedly ended here. At least the railroad track ends here, but for many miles beyond the road-bed is graded, and a great deal of heavy work in the way of bridging and fierce and futile indignation against the plunderers who have worked the people such grievous wrong. " Is Old Fort a town ? " asks Sylvia, looking round as we descend from the train. " It is before you," gays Charley. " Judge for yourself." What is before us is an hotel perched on a hill. A few other houses are scattered widely and wildly around. Great wooded mountains rise in the background. The hotel, piazza seems crowded as we approach—Aunt Markham and Eric in front, Charley escorting Sylvia and myself. We are the last of the straggling procession of passengers, and receive the concentrated stares of all the languid ladies with yellow-backed novels in their hands and rundowns on their heads, all the open-eyed children, and lounging men. " Why on earth do these people stay here?" asks Sylvia, struggling with a veil which she is trying to draw down. " It looks like a very uninteresting place." " It is healthy, and the rates of board are, no doubt, cheap," says Charley. "Many of the people may also lack courage to cross the Gap—those being esteemed lucky who reach the other side whole of life and limb," This appalling statement is treated with the incredulous contempt which it deserves as we mount the hotel-steps. Hamlet says that " there's nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so ;" and this remark applies with peculiar force to Old Fort. Some people think it a very good place in which to spend weeks and months. Others are averse to spending more time there than the necessary hour which elapses between the arrival of the train and departure of the coach. 10 sous_010 ADVENTURES IN MOUNTAIN BY-WAYS. We belong to the latter class. After dinner we assemble on the piazza and take a vote for going or staying; and it is nearly unanimous to go. " Catawba Falls are in the neighborhood," says Eric, anxious to fulfill his duties as cicerone. " If you stay until to-morrow you may see them, and they are well worth a visit." " Stay a night—stay two nights—here! " Bays Aunt Markham. " It is impossible to think of such a thing!" "Are the Falls easily reached?" asks Charley, with his usual air of protest against any exertion. "They are by no means easily reached," answers Eric; " but they can be reached, which is the point, I take it." " By no means," says Sylvia. " The point is to cross the Blue Ridge as soon as possible. Who cares for falls and cascades on this side ? They may be pretty enough, but we are bound to the land of the sky—and yonder comes the coach to take us there. How splendid !" It is not the coach which draws forth this commendation, but the six beautiful gray horses which are harnessed to it. We watch them admiringly, and Eric calls our attention to the manner ill which they are controlled by their driver, who is no less a person than the renowned John Pence, Of this famous character I have heard so much that I regard him with great interest. My knowledge of stage-drivers in real life being limited, I had drawn a "fancy picture of a portly figure in top-boots and a " sprigged weskit;" instead, I see a spare, sinewy man, dark as an Indian, with the eye of a hawk, who wears a pair of the brownest and dirtiest of corduroy trousers, a 'striped shirt, the sleeves of which are rolled up above the elbows showing thin, muscular arms, and a hat slouched rakishly over his brow. This is John Pence, who for twenty years has driven back and forth over Swannanoa Gap, and whom his admirers declare to be the best driver on the continent. If success is the test of merit, merit certainly must be his; for during these twenty years no accident has ever happened to a coach driven by him; and those expert in such matters say that one hardly realizes the art of driving until one has seen him handle the ribbons. That we have such a charioteer is a matter for congratulation, since the appearance of the coach is not calculated to fill us with confident hopes of a safe journey. It is evidently old and much dilapidated. It is also heavily loaded. The boot is full of trunks, and as many are piled on top as can possibly be put there. Besides which, Aunt Markham has the anguish of beholding her largest and most valuable one standing on the ground, while the proprietor of the house informs her that Mr. Pence says he is overloaded, and that trunk cannot possibly " go over the Gap this trip." " Mr. Pence ! " repeats the lady, indignantly. " Who is Mr. Pence, pray ? My trunk shall go !—Eric, do you hear this ? " "I hear, mother," replies Eric, "but I don't think there is any redress. The coach is overloaded, and I should not consent for you to enter it as it stands if anybody but John Pence was going to drive. When you see the precipices past which that top-heavy vehicle must pass—" "Oh!" she says, turning pale, "if that is the case, tell him to take off my other trunk, and Sylvia's and Alice's also." But Sylvia and Alice protest against ibis, and a Babel of confusion follows. It is Eric who summarily ends it. 11 sous_011 "THE LAND OF THE SKY;" OR, " Let me put you in the coach," be says. " Leave the trunks to me. I will arrange for them to be sent over safely to-morrow." Then the labor of stowing us away begins. There are already an old lady, a middle-aged lady, two children, and an elderly gentleman, within the coach. By the united efforts of Eric, Charley, and the host, Aunt Markham is lifted and deposited inside. She sinks into her seat with an apoplectic " How fearful! " I am lifted in next; but, when it comes to Sylvia's turn, that young lady declines to enter. "I am going up aloft—like the cherub that watches over poor Jack," she says.—" I know you don't want me, Charley—you want to smoke. But Eric will take me with him —won't you, Eric? " "I wonder if you think Erie doesn't want to smoke?" says Charley. " He can if he chooses, and you, too, for that matter—so don't look so disconsolate, but help me over this wheel." She is assisted over the wheel, and elevated to the deck-seat. Charley sits down by her side, Eric springs to a place by the driver, that illustrious person cracks his long whip, the six horses start with one accord, the heavy coach sways. We are off. " Over the Mountains of the Moon, Down the valley of shadow, Hide, boldly ride, The shade replied, If yon §eek for El Dorado." This is what Charley sings to an improvised air, as we rattle down a steep hill and cross a clear, flashing, rocky - bottomed stream. The mountains which we are going to scale rise in towering masses before us— splendid heights that seem to defy the locomotive at their base. The gentleman who is our fellow-passenger points out some of the unfinished railroad-work. Aunt Mark-ham looks at it regretfully. " If only the road were finished to Asheville!" she says. "No railroad in the country has been so mercilessly plundered, madam," says the gentleman, sternly. "Ever since the war, it has been in the hands of rogues and swindlers, who have stolen every thing but the road-bed—which could not conveniently be made away with." " I should not be surprised if you were one of the defrauded contractors," I think; but there is not much opportunity for conversation on the great grievance of Western North Carolina. We hare begun the ascent of the mountain, and to say that the road is stony would convey but a poor idea of its actual state. It is my settled conviction that no one knows what stones really are until he or she has traveled from Old Fort to the top of the Blue Ridge. The road is covered with them, of every size, shape, and variety, and the constant rolling, jolting, and pitching of the coach baffle description. A ship at sea in a stiff gale is steady compared to it. We settle ourselves grimly to our fate; endeavor to keep ourselves steady by straps or any thing else that is convenient; gasp a brief "Excuse me 1" when we are hurled against each other; and, in the intervals of being tossed about the coach, lean out of the windows to admire the wild beauty which surrounds us. At least I do. Nobody else paya much attention to it. Aunt Markham resigns herself to martyr-like endurance, and preserves a martyr-like silence, until a tremendous lurch, which knocks her bonnet out of shape,, also exhausts her patience. "Alice," she says, severely, " if I had entertained an idea of any thing like this, nothing would have induced me to come." " There's worse than this afore us," remarks the old lady, placidly. "I've been over the Gap times and times—for my daughter's married and living in Buncombe—and my bones always ache for about three weeks afterward." " If nothing happens worse than a few jolts," says the gentleman, " we can stand them well enough, but I don't like the look of this stage. I told Burgin before we left Old Fort that it was a shame to send travelers over the Gap in such a conveyance. He said it had been sent from Asheville. I don't believe it will go back there without an accident." "Good Heavens!" says Aunt Markham, turning pale, as she remembers all that she has heard of the precipices that border the road. "If I had suspected that the coach was not safe, I would never have entered it. —Alice, speak to Eric at once.—Dear met what is that ? " Chorus of children, "O ma, did you hear something crack?" Something undoubtedly cracked — and that loudly—under the body of the vehicle. A convulsive swayiog and jerking is followed 12 sous_012 ADVENTURES IN MOUNTAIN BY-WAYS. by an abrupt halt and the descent of Mr. Pence himself. Clamor immediately ensues. All the passengers thrust their heads out of the windows and request to be told what is the matter. Mr. Pence deigns no reply to their inquiries, but he says a few words to Eric— who has also descended from the top. The latter at once opens the door and tells us that we must alight. "A brace has broken," he says. "Mr. Pence is going to send to Old Fort for assistance to mend it — when the assistance comes, the coach has to be lifted forward, so you must all get out." Remonstrance being useless, we are lifted down and set on our feet. Sylvia, assisted by Charley, descends like a bird from her *' Not with John Pence at the helm, mother," says Eric; "the thing is impossible.— Now, while we have to wait, suppose you come and look at the tunnel a little farther on. It is an exceedingly interesting piece of work." But Aunt Markham does not care for tunnels, and she declines to go. So we leave her seated on a bundle of shawls and waterproofs, while we follow Sylvia and Charley, who have already walked on in the direction of the interesting piece of work. When we come in sight of the tunnel they are just entering it, and by the time we reach it we see their figures at the farther end, clearly denned against the light. " I have a peculiar horror of these places," lofty perch—she has a faculty of doing things gracefully which other women do awkwardly. Our prophet of evil scrambles out, and pokes his stick, with an air of triumph, under the body of the coach. "I said this stage was unsafe as soon as I saw it," he remarks. " It is fortunate that the brace broke just here. If the accident had occurred by one of the precipices a little farther on we should all, madam " (this to Aunt Markham), " have lost our lives." " I never heard any thing more infamous !" says Aunt Markham, who does not hesitate to use strong terms. " This What's-his-name ought never to be allowed to drive a coach again. The idea of risking our lives.'—Eric, do you hear this? We might have begun dashed over a precipice and—" I say, as we enter, and Eric points out the admirable masonry. " I never feel nervous in traveling except when passing through a tunnel; but then I always think, ' Suppose a collision should occur, and we should be crushed in the debris of a wrecked train down here in the bowels of the earth !' " " What a cheerful reflection ! " says Eric. " You will be particularly partial to traveling on this road when it is completed, for there are three tunnels just here—two short ones, and one very long one through the Blue Ridge." "I certainly prefer going over it with John Pence and his six gray horses to burrowing under it like a mole. By-the-by, if the railroad ever should be finished, what will become of John Pence ? " 13 sous_013 "THE LAND OF THE SKY;" OR, " He will break his heart and die, I suppose." Midway in the tunnel we meet Sylvia and Charley. We turn and go back with them. From Point Tunnel, looking east, there is a very beautiful, though not very extended, view; and we sit down near the mouth of the tunnel to admire it, while we wait for the coach. Giant hills, clothed to their crest with verdure, rise around us. The road winds like a thread along the side o£ the mountain on our left, a green valley lies be-low, golden sunshine glints down through leaves to which diamond-drops of rain still cling, stillness encompasses us—when our voices cease we hear nothing save the sweet singing of waters in the forest-recesses and the notes of birds. Sylvia makes a pretty adjunct to the picture as she sits in her gray dye's and blue veil on a pile of stones, arranging some ferns which she has gathered. Charley, as usual, is lying at her feet, regardless of the fact that the grass is very damp. I open my sketch-book, and make a hurried outline of the scene, writing underneath," En route to Arcadia!" By the time this is finished the coach appears, and, as it halts, Aunt Markham's fan is seen at the window beckoning imperatively. " This gentleman says the road is frightfully dangerous," she remarks, when we come up, " and the coach is certainly very unsafe. There is no telling when we shall reach Asheville, or whether we shall reach there at all. We can only trust in Providence." Some people grow pious whenever they are frightened. Aunt Markham is one of them. She never alludes to Providence unless she desires substantial aid from that quarter. Eric laughs. " Trust in John Pence, too, mother," he says. " You may be sure he will take you safely to Asheville." After this the ascent begins in earnest. The road is almost perpendicular, and so narrow that there is barely room for the coach. On one side the mountain rises in a sheer cliff, on the other are precipices, down which the size is lost in twilight. At least once in every half-mile we ford a stream of considerable size, while innumerable rivulets cross our way. There is no point in our upward journey where we miss the music of flowing water. Clear as crystal and cold as ice these streams come leaping in cascades down the rocky glens, flash along our path, bordered by ferns, shadowed by laurel and ivy, and at last plunge into the tangled greenness of the depths far below. It is impossible to write, in terms which will not seem extravagant, of the forest which covers the great mountains towering across the gorge. The evergreens especially attract our notice and admiration. We see familiar shrubs grown to stately trees, and trees to giants. The spruce-pine, here in its native air, towers to an almost incredible height, the hemlock, the white-pine, the " bonny ivy-tree," the hoi-ly, and mountain-laurel—what words can describe the beauty of these, mingled with the lighter foliage of the oak, the chestnut, the maple, the ash, and countless others ? Beautiful berries gleam, strange wild-flowers shine like stars, ferns run riot in luxuriance, velvet-like mosses cover every rock and fallen tree. Up, still up we go, as if we meant to pierce the very clouds. The horses strain, the coach sways, the air grows fresher; in the great shadow of the hills we forget the sultry heat of August lying over the parched country below. We feel that we are on our way to the land of the sky. I say as much to Aunt Markham, who resignedly expresses a hope that we may reach it. After a while the children, who have been devouring large slices of cake, cry out for water, and Mr. Pence obligingly stops by a spring that gushes out at the foot of a gray rock. Eric descends also, and asks for a cup. "You must all drink," he says, "for this is the head of the Catawba River. A few miles from here, on the other side of the Ridge, is a spring which is called the head of the Swannanoa, so that in the course of one afternoon you can drink from the fountains of two rivers—one of which is bound to the Atlantic Ocean, the other to the Gulf of Mexico." " Dear me!" says the old lady, " to think of their traveling so far I But I always thought the Swannanoa emptied into the French Broad." "This is a beautiful place, Eric," I any, hastily, looking at the narrow defile in which the coach stands, the escarpment of the bold cliff leaning over us, the green abyss on the other side, beyond which mountains hem the 14 sous_014 ADVENTURES IN MOUNTAIN BY-WAYS. " I wonder if Mr. Pence would not -jp long enough for me to sketch it ? " "Impossible," answers Erie. "We have been so much delayed that I doubt if we shall reach Asheville before midnight." Aunt Markham groans at this. "T shall be dead 1" she says. " I cannot endure this terrible jolting much longer." Despite this dismal prophecy, we go on— higher and yet higher. Now and then, glancing backward, we catch glimpses of the world below—an azure sea broken into a hundred giant billows—and feel that it is pleasant to be exalted so far above it. These glimpses, however, are very brief. We struggle upward for another weary hour. Then comes a sudden halt, and Erie cries: "Look !" We look. For one minute we grasp such a perfect pleasure as docs not often come in this imperfect world. The arduous part of our journey is over; we are on the top of the Blue Ridge; looking back down the mountain up which we have for three hours BO laboriously climbed, we see the country we are leaving spread out in the beauty of blue, misty distance. The afternoon is clear and golden, the air of this great altitude inexpressibly pure and fresh. The shower at noon has left the day like crystal; and turning eastward the glance sweeps over an infinite expanse of broken country, range after range of mountains melting into each other, high, cultivated valleys lying between, soft cloud-shadows falling in patches here and there, bold outlines against the farthest distance, the graceful line of heavenly-looking hills telling into the horizon, and over all the refulgent glory of the sapphire sky. We are now on the summit of Swannanoa Gap, and from this point begins that gradual descent which will bring us to the elevated basin in which Asheville lies. At " Curley's " we change horses and drivers, and not far from here meet the coach from Asheville. It is obtrusively bright and new in appearance. The inside is lined with crimson plush—in contrast to our faded leather—and on the seats three fresh and cheerful-looking ladies sit. Two gentlemen are on the top. They all stare at us—we return the compliment. The driver jeeringly tells our driver \hat he is not likely to reach Asheville before morning—to which the latter replies that he will be there by ten o'clock. With thin interchange of civilities we part. " How odiously complacent those people looked 1" says Sylvia. " I am glad they have to go down that steep mountain." As we advance, the path widens, the mountains recede; dells, and coves, and sweeps of cultivated land appear; now and then we see a farm-house ia some sheltered nook, looking very diminutive in the shadow of the hilla. Already the aspect of every thing is changed. A greenness like that of early spring is spread over the land; there is a sense of freedom, of freshness and repose, in the pure air. It is Arcadia which we have entered, and which lies around us, serene and peaceful in the long light and deep, slanting shadows of the afternoon. Presently Sylvia's voice is heard asking is a walking guide-book," she says, " and he has been telling me all about the country. We have crossed the Blue Ridge and left it behind, you know. These mountains on each side of us now are spurs of that chain—those on the left are called the hills of the Swannanoa, these on the right belong to the Black Mountain range. Eric says that in a little while we shall see the Black itself." " Vive le roi" I answer. "The Black is 'the monarch of mountains'—at least the monarch of Atlantic mountains. One cares nothing about those enormous and no doubt ugly peaks in the West." " There is very good philosophy in valuing what we have, and despising what we have not," says Eric. " Yonder is the Black now ! Look, what a fine peak ! " " Very fine, indeed! " says Aunt Markham, gazing out of the wrong side of the coach and nodding approvingly at one of the hills of the Swannanoa. But I see what Eric means. Indeed if he had not spoken I think I should have known that the magnificent crest up thrust against the evening sky could only be the chief of Appalachian mountains. Shall I ever forget that first sight of its majestic beauty ? Its splendid peaks were outlined with massive distinctness, and its dark-blue sides were purpling in the light of a luminous sunset. Round the pinnacle a few light clouds were floating, which caught the golden radiance of the west. " Those form the monarch's crown," says 15 sous_015 "THE LAND OF THE SKY;" OR, Eric. "It is rare to see the peaks of the Black free from clouds." Besides the Black, there are other mountains— part of the same range — in sight. Nothing can be more superb than the great Hues of Craggy as they trend westward. Its peaks, to the unscientific eye, look as high as the cloud-girt pinnacle of its mighty neighbor, and their effect is nearly as grand. That we see this beautiful range at sunset seems to us a very gracious boon of Fate. Magical shades of color melt and blend into each other as the nearer and farthest heights change their hues with the changing light. Finally a soft mist, neither blue nor purple, but something between the two, begins to steal over them, and deepen in all the clefts and gorges, as if they were drawing their robes about them for the night. It is not long that we hare this view. The road turns, other mountains intervene, and we find ourselves facing a great pomp of . sunset. In the midst of it rises, like a dream of the celestial country, a glorified azure peak of exquisite symmetry, and Eric says, "Pisgah!" - Presently the sunset fades, and twilight softly melts into moonlight. All along their day's crests the mountains are touched with on, but the night grows more and more beautiful. We cross again and again a swift, bright stream, which we ;ire told is the Swannanoa, and at last we find ourselves journeying along its banks. Is this an enchanted land of pastoral delight to which we have come? It is impossible not to believe so. Fertile fields and softly swelling hills surround ns; houses gleam in the moonlight; the level road over which even the coach rolls smoothly is immediately on the river-bank. We see the current rippling and swirling over its rocky bed with a music which fills all the lustrous night with sweetness. Lovely depths of foliage—drooping trees and tangled vines—fringe its banks. Nothing can be conceived more fairy-like time this charming river. Though I am growing very sleepy, I cannot refrain from expressing my admiration, and the gen. gleeman by my side begins to explain that "Swannanoa" does not mean "beautiful," but "great road, or pass, over the mountains." 1 listen with disgusted incredulity, and before he concludes have fallen asleep, indifferent to the fact that it is the hard wood of the coach against which my head rests. When I wake we are entering Asheville silver, while the pearly radiance bathes valley, and rock, and stream, with a flood of enchantment. The coach and the hours drag slowly The coach is rattling up a long, stony street, lights are gleaming, and there seem a great deal of movement about. Our journey is 16 sous_016 ADVENTURES IN MOUNTAIN BY-WAYS. an end, and with a sense of grateful repose we soon iie down to sleep, waiting for the morning to show us what manner of place this is which we have entered in the still, bright beauty of an August midnight. CHAPTER II. "Wandering as in a magic dream By shadowy wood By mountain-peak crystal stream, forest-dell, is love to dwell, We enter the enchanted clime, Forgotten In the lapse of time, The golden land of Mindless, Of sylvan sports and joyousness." with a stimulating quality in the air unlike the languid lucent we left below, a cloudless sky, a flood of sunshine, a sparkling mist draping the distant azure mountains— this is the aspect with which Buncombe greets the strangers within her borders when they open their windows the next These windows look down on the Main Street, but there is room and to spare in Asheville, so we are not hedged in by buildings. Immediately in front is an open space through which we look at the green hills on which the town is built, rising with gentle, undulating swell in every direction, while afar lie the blue mountains, height overtopping height, peak rising behind peat, graceful lines blending, through the gaps more remote ranges to be seen lying so pale and faint on the horizon that it is almost impossible to tell where mountains end and sky begins. It is only a glimpse of the beauty which is in store for us, yet we are delighted. There is a brilliancy about the scene which is almost startling. We were not prepared for such clear, exquisite colors— colors that would thrill an artist's inmost soul—such emerald greenness, such heavenly blue-ness, such diamond-like brightness of atmosphere. " It is a country of which to dream!" cries Sylvia, clasping her hands. "Why have we never come here before? Why have we gone everywhere else, and neglected this Arcadia lying a t our very door?"" "In order that we might be fitted to appreciate it when we did come," I reply. " We are now able to compare it— unbiased by any spell of earthly association—with much more famous regions, and to declare that it surpasses them all." " Surpasses them !—I should think so, indeed! Have you ever seen anywhere else such tints as those on the mountains yonder? Come! I see a piazza—let us go out on it. One cannot have too much of this air. It is like an elixir of life." We go out on the piazza. The air is indeed like an elixir in its buoyancy and lightness. Birds are singing in the leafy depths of the trees that droop before the hotel, people are passing up and down the street— among them we presently recognize Eric, 17 sous_017 "THE LAND OF THE SKY;" OR, walking with a more elastic step than customary with him in the low-country, Macgregor's foot is plainly on his native heath. He stops to shake hands with every other person whom he meets, and there is much cordiality in these greetings, Sylvia watches him with amused eyes. When lie pusses under the piazza she leans over and speaks : " What is- the Arcadian form of salutation, Erie ? Shall one say ' God save you!' or 'The top of the morning?' Isn't it delicious—the country, I mean? Alice and I are here. Come up." "You had better come down," he says. " The breakfast-bell is ringing. I will meet you in the parlor in five minutes." In five minutes we meet in that apartment. Aunt Markham has declined to rise for breakfast, and reports that she ia aching in every Gap. "I don't know when I shall recover," he says, solemnly. Churley is always incorrigibly lazy, therefore it follows that we go in to breakfast attended by Eric alone. It is the height of the season for tourists, and we hear—in fact, we heard before we crossed the mountains—that every house of entertainment in Asheville is crowded. The "Eagle" demurred about receiving us, but Eric's influence carried our point. This morning we see that the hotel is full to overflowing. As we e:it our breakfast leisurely, we criticize the parties that come and go, and me edified by a great deal of fashion. | After a while Charley appears, and drops into a seat by Sylvia. " I see no signs of tho linen blouse, the alpenstock, or the thick boots," he says, regarding her pretty toilet with evident appreciation. " Are we going to resign the role of explorers, and subside into ordinary summer idlers ? " " I have not the faintest idea what you mean to do," she replies, " but, judging by I should think you were likely to be more of a summer idler than any thing else. As for the rest of us, we have arranged our plan of action for the day. After breakfast we are going to devoid ourselves to seeing Asheville and the French Broad. This afternoon we shall walk to—to—what is the name of the place, Eric?" " Beaucatcher," answers Eric "And to-night let us go to Elk Mountain," says Charley, meekly. "It is only about seven miles distant—a pleasant point for a moonlight stroll." " No, to-night we are going to—what is the name of that place, Eric ? " "Battery Porter," says Eric. "Yes, and then to-morrow we are going to MacSomebody's Hill —Eric says it commands the finest view east of the Mississippi —and the day after to Elk Mountain, and the day after that—" But the expression of Charley's face is so full of genuine consternation that I interpose. ; " Pray spare us, Sylvia. We are not ranking the tour of Europe after the manner" of Brown, Jones, and Robinson—the great- in the smallest deal or lime. We are summer idlers, and we do not mean to exhaust ourselves by malting a business of pleasure. Don't let us be tied down to a programme. Let us see ail these beautiful places in the manner and at the time that seems to us beau" "Hear! hear!" says Charley, gratefully —but Sylvia regards me with, disapprobation. " We are not likely to see very much if the manner and the time are left to some of tile party," she remarks. "May I be allowed to suggest riding or driving, instead of walking ? " says Charley. "Asheville is a town of magnificent distances—every place is a mile at least from every other place—and the French Broad, which you speak of seeing, is, a mile from them all." " What are miles in this climate ? " asks Sylvia, loftily. After breakfast we set forth to discover what miles are in this climate, and we find them quite as long as those to which we have been accustomed. Charley is right. Asheville is a place of magnificent distances, and if it is ever built up within its corporate limits, it will be the metropolis which its inhabitants fondly hope to see it. Yet as we stroll around and about (or, to speak more correctly, up and down the streets), we decide that one could hardly under any circumstances wish it other than it is—less a town than n collection of country-seats scattered irregularly and picturesquely over the innumerable 18 sous_018 ADVENTURES IN MOUNTAIN BY-WAYS. hills. There is no point from which the eye-does not command a great expanse of country and mountain-ranges overtopped by mountain-ranges, besides the most charming bits of foreground landscape. As a rule, I dislike comparisons in scenery—especially comparisons which introduce Switzerland—but it is impossible to refrain from saying that in general effect Asheville reminds one of a Swiss town. The green heights over which the gabled houses are scattered, the roads winding away to the breezy uplands, the air of brightness and cleanliness, the winsome glades and valleys, and the frame of distant mountains—so soft, so graceful, so heavenly fair, that it is impossible to wish their violet outlines transformed to the dazzling majesty of the pure, awful Alpine peaks. "Sour," says Eric, as with much expenditure of breath we gain the top of the beautiful hill on which the Catholic church stands—decidedly the loveliest site in the town—"you can see how Asheville is situated. You perceive that the hills on which it is built rise up from the valleys of the French Broad and Swannanoa—" "How can we perceive it?" demands Sylvia. "Neither the French Broad nor the Swannanoa is visible. It is a matter of faith, not sight, so far as they are concerned. I see the hills—and they are astonishingly " West of the Blue Ridge the famous blue grass grows—which makes Western North Carolina one of the finest grazing regions in the world," says Charley, who is seated in the church-door, fanning himself with his straw hat. He utters this item of information with an air which seems to say that Eric shall not monopolize all the honors of cice-roneship. " And what are those ?—and those?—and those?" asks Sylvia, indicating various peaks in the beautiful mountain panorama spread toward the south and west. " Those at which you are looking," says Eric, " belong to the range of the Cold Mountain—and that most prominent peak is Pisgah. Its shape and height make it a landmark through all the country south of the Black," We can well credit this, looking at Pisgah with admiring eyes. It lifts its head boldly, this commanding pyramid, from among a number of lesser peaks, the lines of which recede away on each side until they Me like azure clouds on the far horizon. "From Beaucatcher, yonder," says Eric, pointing to a bold hill—the last of a spur running down from the Black—which bounds the prospect on the east, " there is a most extensive view. One hundred and eighty peaks are said to be in sight. I never counted them—but I can believe it." " Let us go there at once," says Sylvia. A faint groan proceeds from Charley in the rear. "Not this morning," I say. " Let us go there for the sunset. Now we are bound to the French Broad." Charley groans again—evidently this is not much of an improvement in Beaucatcher —but he rises and we descend the hill. A steep street runs along its base. We climb this for some distance, and presently find ourselves in a shady lane, with a stretch of meadow-land before us, and several country-seats in sight. " What a charming place!" says Sylvia, sitting down on the roots of a great oak by the road-side to rest. "We are in the country, and yet not in the country. Alice, had you any idea that Asheville would be like this?" "Not the least," I answer, looking beyond green meadows and wooded hills to the shadows moving across the distant mountains. " How confidently one draws a mental picture of a place and accepts it for reality!" Sylvia goes on, tracing figures in the sand with the point of her parasol. "I fancied we should find an ordinary village—rather pretty, perhaps—but chiefly remarkable for being twenty-two hundred feet above the seen—" " Twenty-two hundred and fifty," says Charley. "The people insist on having the credit of every fraction." "Good as a health-resort, no doubt," Sylvia proceeds, "but full of the depressing village air and village stagnation one knows so well. Instead,-!.look round, and what do I see?" " Mountains," says Eric, literally. "A bright little spa," the young Indy announces, emphatically, " which only needs fashion to make it an American Baden." " I hope it may fee a long time before fashion finds it," says Eric, dryly. 19 sous_019 "THE LAND OF THE SKY;" OR, " Then you must hope that it may be a long time before there is a railroad," I say. "One cannot expect to keep Fashion out when once steam has opened the way for her capricious majesty." "The place, even now," says Charley, " might be a great Bummer-resort—counting its visitors by thousands, instead of by hundreds — if it would arouse to a sense of its own interest, and provide a proper place to lodge them.* A modern hotel, " And a band of music," says Sylvia. " Of course a band of music, a good table, and food servants, would realize your American Baden in short order." "You are fine Arcadians," I remark, severely, " to plan deliberately the destruction of all you profess to admire. If I had Mr. Ruskin's gift of invective, I would wither you with my indignation. Not having it, I exult in the fact that you can neither build your hotel, nor bring your bands of music and army of tourists." "The railway will bring them, however," says Sylvia, beginning to hum a Strauss waltz. At, this moment a carriage appears driving along the lane. It is a small basket-phaeton, drawn by a large horse, instead of a pony, and contains a lady and a gentleman. The wheels roll smoothly and easily over the shadow-dappled road; the lady holds her fringed parasol with coquettish grace; the sound of their gay voices floats to us. We begin to walk on, but Sylvia looks round. "After all, driving is pleasanter than walking," she says. "Are you tired?" says Charley. "Take my arm." Before she can accept or decline this phaeton, "del!" cries a voice with a French accent, "is not that Sylvia Norwood? I am sure it must be!—Victor, stop—stop a moment!" " But you are not sure, Adele," a man's voice remonstrates. "I must make sure," replies the other, eagerly. Then the tall horse is induced to stop, and we look at Sylvia. She turns toward the phaeton, and, as the lady springs lightly to * Since this party were in Asheville, a "proper place'' has been provided. the ground, advances, and holds out her hand. "You are Adele DuPont," she says " I am very glad to meet you." " it is—it is herself! " cries Miss Dupont. rushing forward, and embracing her with effusion. In the effort to refrain from smiling— knowing that the eyes of the gentleman in the phaeton are upon us—we all look so grave that one might suppose something very said to be occurring. In reality I am much amused. I have heard of Miss Dupont—a Creole, from New Orleans, with whom Sylvia was at school—and I know that the encounter is not altogether agreeable to the latter. She puts what is popularly known as when the embraces and kisses subside, says : " How singular that we should meet here, Adele Where do you come from ? " " From the Warm Springs," answers Adele. " We reached there a month ago, and I should have been content to stay until it was time to go back to New Orleans, but some of our party wanted to travel. We arrived here day before yesterday. We are going—oil, everywhere! And you?" " I reached here with a party, last night The length of our stay is indefinite—our plans are indefinite, also. Here is my sister, let me introduce you." Miss Dupont is introduced to me, Eric is presented, also Charley. She says something graceful and flattering to each of us—being, evidently, one of the persons whose ease and readiness, especially in the line of compliments, make less-favored people feel stiff and awkward. Then she turns to Sylvia: " Now that you have made me acquainted with your sister and cousins," she says, " I must introduce my brother to you.—Victor, can you leave the horse for a few minutes?" Victor does so readily enough. He is a slender, dark-eyed man, with a great deal of French grace in his manner. He is thirty, perhaps, and looks interesting and artistic; I see Charley (who is neither dark-eyed, interesting, nor artistic) regard him with evident disfavor. Eric is more cordial, and, while he and Sylvia talk to the stranger, Miss Dupont informs me, in a dramatic aside, that he is a charming musician, that he has been a gallant soldier, and that " we"—the Dupont family understood—are most proud of and devoted to him. 20 sous_020 ADVENTURES IN MOUNTAIN BY-WAYS. " But where are you all going ? " she asks, suddenly turning her attention from me to Charley, in a manner for which I am not entirely unprepared, " Victor and I have been driving aimlessly. Is there any special plant to go to? Is there any particular thing to be seen ? " Now, Adele Dupont is by no means a very pretty woman, but she is a woman who inn the best of her personal appearance, and who has a grace and style that would redeem ugliness itself. She is attractive and beguiling. She knows it, and Charley knows it, too. " There are several places," lie replies. " Have you been to Beaucatcher ? Have you driven out to the Swannanoa—or the French Broad f " "We came up the French Broad, you know. As for Beaucatcher—no, I have not "We were just on our way to Beau-catcher," says Mr. Dupont to Sylvia. "You had better wait until this afternoon, and join our party," says Erie, good-naturedly. " We are going there to see the sunset." " Yes, of course we will wait," says Miss Dupont, graciously. "If Victor and I went alone, we should not know one mountain from another; but no doubt you"—the beguiling eyes again appeal to Charley—" know the names of them all." "Not quite," replies Charley, modestly— he really does not know a single mountain besides Pisgah, which, from its shape, is unmistakable—" but I will do my best to enlighten you." With this arrangement we separate. The Duponts return to their phaeton. We continue our walk, discussing them the while— not altogether in a spirit of charity. " Adele Dupont is delightful until you find that she is insincere," says Sylvia, when Charley remarks that she is very agreeable. " A little insincerity in a woman does not matter," says that lax young moralist, " if the result is good." " Indeed !" says Sylvia, in a tone of sarcasm. " How edifying it is to the feeble feminine intellect to hear masculine opinions! If insincerity is not objectionable in a woman, what do you consider it in a man ? " " Almost as contemptible as affectation," Mr. Ken yon replies- "and, unless lam greatly mistaken, Monsieur Victor Dupont If a very good example of the last." Sylvia smiles scornfully. " I have never seen an Anglo-Saxon man," she says, " who did not consider a foreigner, or anybody with foreign manners, affected, Such judgments are—are—" " Pray don't hesitate to say what they are," remarks Charley, quietly, as she hesitates. "Are generally the result of prejudice, jealousy, or provincial ignorance," she goes on, impetuously, with the color mounting to her cheeks. "Prejudice, jealousy, provincial ignorance!" repeats Charley, meditatively. "Un-der which head does my judgment come, I wonder? Prejudice?—why should I be prejudiced? Jealousy?—of whom should I be jealous ? Provincial ignorance ?—I am afraid I must plead guilty on that score, I have never been in New Orleans." ' "You have been in Paris, however," I observe, "and therefore ought to be familiar with French manners." " And Miss Dupont's are very good," he says, with the air of one making a deduction. I give the matter up, and walk on with Eric, leaving Sylvia and Charley to fight their battle alone. We hear them disputing behind us. " A person may be enthusiastic and effusive without being affected," Sylvia declares. " With an impressionable temperament, feelings are so easily effaced that persons of that kind are often unjustly accused of insincerity," Charley says. Eric and I look at each other and smile. We are accustomed to the sparring and wrangling of these two. We do not go to the French Broad. An avenue which is very creditable to the town, has been opened toward it, and along this we walk for some distance, admiring at every step the green landscape around us and the splendid heights far away ; but our pedestrian powers are exhausted before we reach the river. Wiser with regard to Asheville distances, and saddened by the necessity of toiling over the cobble-stones which pave the streets, we return to the hotel. As we approach the door, we are astonished to see a stout lady in the act of being assisted from the small phaeton with which 21 sous_021 THE LAND OP THE SKY;" OR, we have already made acquaintance, by a slender, graceful gentleman. " There is Mr. Dupont" says Sylvia, looking at the latter. "There is Aunt Markham ! " I exclaim, looking at the former. " Aunt Markham !" repeats Charley, " By Jove, so it is! What do you suppose she has been doing?" '• Driving with Mr. Dupont, apparently," says Eric, whom nothing surprises. We find that this conjecture is correct. When we come up, Aunt Murkham receives us benignly. "Mr. Dupont, whom I believe you have met," she says—we bow, and Mr. Dupont bows—"has been kindly driving me around Asheville a little. It is really a very pretty place—only exceedingly scattered. I should dislike to be obliged to walk very much here. You must all be dreadfully tired." " I am more vexed than tired," says Sylvia, " for we did not reach, the French Broad after all—it is too far away." " If you would like to see that river, will Mr. Dupont proposes—a Drive. you not allow me the pleasure of driving you to it?" says Mr. Dupont, eagerly. " I shall be greatly honored." Sylvia hesitates. *' But your horse must be tired," she says, " and you—are not you tired, also, of playing cavalier of dames ? " " The horse has done nothing to speak of —nothing to tire him," says the young creole, gallantly; " and, as for me, life offers me no greater happiness than to be a cavalier of dames. If mademoiselle will only be gracious enough to trust herself with me—" Mademoiselle is gracious. She smiles ; nobody knows better than Sylvia herself that she has a very charming smile. "You are very kind," she says, " and the phaeton looks very inviting. Yes, I will go. The French Broad is only a mile distant, I believe." As he assists her into the little carriage, Mr. Dupont says something in French—like all Creoles, he falls into this language when-ever he wants to be very complimentary or impressive—the substance of which is that he should be glad if it were twenty miles distant. Then they drive away, leaving us standing on the sidewalk. "Mr. Dupont is a most agreeable person," says Aunt Markharn, taking Eric's arm as she slowly mounts the steps of the hotel-piazza. "It is a very good test of a young man's breeding and disposition when he is attentive to an elderly woman. He pressed me to drive with him as if I had been seventeen." Charley puts his hands in the pockets of his coat, and I see that it would relieve his mind to whistle. He refrains, however, and is repaid for this act of self-denial. As we enter the hotel, a light, silvery voice is heard in the parlor, singing a gay French song. " That is Miss Dupont, I suppose," I say to Charley. He nods, and, turning, enters the room. The song breaks off abruptly. There is a trill of laughter; then I hear, " So my brother has carried Sylvia off! Are you inconsolable, Mr. Kenyon ? " " Not if you will let me hear the rest of that song," says Charley the hypocrite. An hour, two hours pass, without any sign of the return of Sylvia and Mr. Dupont. Aunt Markham grows uneasy, and asks if I do not think that the horse may have run away and killed them, or else that they may have fallen into the river and been drowned. I quiet her fears by assuring her that there is no great probability that either of these 22 sous_022 ADVENTURES IN MOUNTAIN BY-WAYS. events has occurred. I entertain a strong suspicion of what has occurred, but I say nothing about it, having long since realized that while men (and women) are what they are, flirtation will be very likely to exist. The dinner-bell rings presently, and, notwithstanding her uneasiness, Aunt Markham decides not to wait for the absent culprit. petite," she says. We so down-stairs, therefore, but, as we cross the passage, the tall horse and small phaeton draw up before the door, and, Sylvia's pretty, flushed face looks " Don't scold, auntie!" she cries, as she enters the hall, bearing a large stone jug in both her hands. " I have been on such an expedition in your behalf! Can you imagine what I have here ? You must taste it at once.—Mr. Dupont, please make somebody bring a glass !" Mr. Dupont darts away, and in less than a minute returns with a glass. He holds it while Sylvia uncorks the jug. "Is it mountain-dew ?" I ask, skeptically. She laughs, the liquid flows clear as crystal into the glass ; Mr. Dupont presents it, with a bow, to Aunt Markham, who receives and tastes it. "Sulphur-water!" she says, as " Champagne!" " Yes, sulphur-water," says Sylvia, exultantly, " quite as good—I mean as bad— as that in Greenbrier, Virginia, of which you are so fond!" "Not quite so good, my dear," says Aunt Markham, tasting again, with the air of a connoisseur. " It is not so strong as the Green-brier sulphur." "It is strong enough," says Sylvia. "I tasted it and thought it so abominable that I determined to bring you some at once. So Mr. Dupont went to a house on a hill—" " All houses are on hills in this country," I say, parenthetically. " Except those that are in coves," says Sylvia. "He borrowed the jug there, and " But I thought you made the journey on Aunt Markham's behalf, and from this it appears that you did not think of her until you were at the spring? " " I will tell you all about it at dinner," says the young lady, flying up-stairs. At dinner we hear an account of the expedition. " To begin at the beginning," says Sylvia, " the French Broad is a most beautiful river. We crossed it on a long bridge, and I made Mr. Dupont stop in the middle while 1 took in the view. On one side the stream— which is so clear that its water is a translucent emerald—winds through a fertile valley, with Smith's Creek—why don't they give things better names ?—flowing into it, draped over with lovely trees and vines. On the other side there are bold, green hills, rising abruptly from the water's edge, round the base of which the river makes a sweeping curve as it disappears from sight. It was SO charming that I could not bear to come back, and Mr. Dupont, seeing that I was anxious to go farther—" "H'm!" says Charley. " Said that he remembered having been here when a child, and staying at a place called Deaver's Springs, a few miles from Asheville. ' It was a very pretty place,' he said, ' if I could remember where it was.' I suggested that we should ask the direction from some inhabitant of the country—which we accordingly did, and heard that we must 1 drive straight on.' So we drove straight on, along an excellent ridge road, with mountains 23 sous_023 "THE LAND OF THE SKY;" OR, to right of us, mount inns to left of us, mountains before us and behind us, I have never conceived any thing so beautiful as the lights and shades on those superb heights, or their exquisite colors. Once we saw rain falling far away among the purple gorges, with the <*un shining on it, and the effect was fairly divine 1" "A very common effect among mountains," says Erie. " I am sorry for people who can only ad- ignoring this remark, "that we drove on, forgetting all about time and distance, until after a while we reached some bars, where we had been directed to ' turn of—or, rather, u> turn in. Mr. Dupont let them down, and from a house across the road several children came rushing to mind the gap while we went to the spring. The road into which we turned led us past a log-cabin, in front of which two or three stout men were lazily smoking and gossiping. We asked for a tumbler—were mire uncommon things," says Sylvia, "when the things that are best worth admiring in the world are all of them common. Mr. Dupont fully agrees with me that this is the most beautiful country in America." " I wonder if he has seen them all ? " says Charley, " We were so engrossed," Sylvia proceeds, given one of thick, green glass, and drove on. Mr. Dupont pointed out a hill on the left at the site of the hotel which was once quite a place of resort." " I have heard of Deaver's Springs," says Aunt Markham. "The hotel was burned, I believe." " Yes, burned and never rebuilt; but the 24 sous_024 ADVENTURES IN MOUNTAIN BY-WAYS. springs are still there, with a pavilion over them. We drove down the hill at the risk of smashing the phaeton or breaking our necks—for, having come so far, of course we felt it incumbent on us to drink some of the water.—As soon as I tasted it, I thought of you, auntie, and I sent Mr. Dupont back to the house to get a vessel in which we could bring some to you. He returned with the jug you have seen, and I filled it myself." " Thank you, my dear," says Aunt Mark- " The moral of the story," says Eric, " is that this young lady was going to see the French Broad, and the only glimpse of the river to be obtained between Asheville and Deaver's Springs is what you see while crossing it." " The moral of the story is that the best philosophy in life is to enjoy all that you can, when you can," says Sylvia, gaily. CHAPTER III. " And always, lie the landscape what it may-Blue misty hill, or sweep of glimmering plain-It is the eye's endeavor still to gain The fine, faint limit of the bounding day. God haply, in this mystic mode, would fain Hint of a happier home, far, far away." "AND this is Beaucatcher in front of us! " says Sylvia. "Such a fine height deserves a better name." "The name is vulgarly foolish," says Eric, "but, as far as absolute ugliness goes, there are worse within the borders of Buncombe. What do you think of creeks named Hominy, Cane, Turkey, Sandy Mush—? " " 0 Eric ! " " Literally true, I assure you. Then there •re Beaver Dam, Bull, and Flat—all clear, rushing mountain-streams." "It is infamous!" says Sylvia, with the most feeling indignation. "Something ought to be done—the Legislature ought to interfere 1 If the Anglo-Saxon settlers had no sense of poetry in their own rude organizations, they might at least have spared the Indian nomenclature, which is beautiful and appropriate wherever it is found." "Yes, it is beautiful," says Eric, who has a passion for all Indian names, and repeats them with the lingering intonation which makes them thrice musical. "Compare with such a nomenclature as I have just men-tioned, Swannanoa, Nantahala, Tuckaseegee, Hiawassee, Cheowah, Feloneke, and Tahkeeostee—all Cherokee names, and all possess-ing excellent significations." "What, are the significations?" I ask. "Swannanoa means 'Beautiful;' Nantahala,' Woman's Bosom,' from the rise and fall if its breast of waters; Tuckaseegee, 'Ter-rapin Water;' Cheowah,'River of Otters; Feloneke, ' Yellow River;' and Tahkeeostee —the Cherokee name of the French Broad— the most expressive of all, for it means "Baking River." "And no doubt there were any number, just as admirable, which have been lost," says Sylvia. "It is unbearable 1 We do not find that the French or Spanish settlers left such barbarities behind them." "No," says Victor DuPont, who is walking by her side, " I have been thinking, while Mr. Markham spoke, of the names in Louisiana and Texas. None of them lire ugly unless—forgive me!—they are English. Many melodious Indian names are left, und those which the first settlers gave are full of a religious poetry — such as Laguna del Madre, Isla del Padre, Bay of St. Louis, Bayou St.-Denis, lie au Breton." "Those are certainly very different from Smithville and Jonesville, and Big Pigeon River," says Sylvia, "but I wish the Indian names could have been preserved everywhere." This conversation takes place as we walk out of Asheville along the winding road which leads to Beaucatcher. The sun is sinking low toward the western mountains, spreading a mantle of gold over the uplands, and leaving the glades and dells full of softly-toned shadows. Eric and I form the advance-guard of the party. We have been tried friends and comrades for many a day, and, when we were younger, he often paid me the compliment of wishing I were a boy. Sylvia and Victor come next, Charley and Adele loiter in the rear. Scattered around in every direction are villa-like houses " bosomed high in tufted trees;" before us are the green hills— that in a different country would be esteemed mountains—behind, the marvelous peaks at which we are forbidden to place. "Nobody must look round," cries Adele, playfully waving a flowering branch. "You shall all be turned to stones, like the princes 25 sous_025 "THE LAND OF THE SKY;" OR, In the story of the singing water if you do! "The view is not to be devoured piecemeal," says Charley, " but to be taken whole L —like an oyster—from the top of the knob to which we are bound." So we go on, with our backs to the glory which is behind. The ascent of Beaucatcher is not difficult. A very excellent road leads over it to a highly-cultivated cove in the mountains behind, where day begins an hour or two later, and ends an hour or two earlier, than in Asheville. We leave this road at the gap where it crosses the mountain, and follow a steep path to the top of the knob which rises on the right. " One could not easily drive up here," says Sylvia, as we clamber over the rocks, " but it would be quite possible to ride without difficulty." "Shall we try it to-morrow, if saddle-horses are to be found in Asheville ? " asks her attendant. " I thought we were to return to the Sul-phur Spring to-morrow," she says, laughing. Eric arid I reach the summit first. It is smooth, level, and green. There is a grass-grown fortification where a Confederate bat-tery was once planted, and close beside it a dead tree that from Asheville, and miles be- yond, presents the perfect appearance of a large cross. We mount the fortification just as the sun sinks behind the distant mountains. At our feet Asheville is spread, but we scarcely glance at the picture which the town presents, crowning the verdant beauty of its summer hills, with the fertile valleys of the French Broad and Swannanoa on each side. Our gaze turns beyond—to the azure world that stretches, far as the eye can reach, to the golden gate-way of the sun—an infinity of loveliness, with the sunset radiance trembling on the crests of more than a hundred peaks. The atmosphere is so transparent that it is impossible to say how far the range of one's vision extends. Mountains rise behind mountains, until they recede away into dimmest distance, their trending lines lying faint and far against the horizon. Blue as heaven, and soft as cloud?, the nearer ranges stand—serried rank behind rank, and peak upon peak. The view is so boundless and so beautiful, that the imagination is for a time overwhelmed. Are those sapphire heights the Delectable Mountains?—and do those dazzling clouds veil the jasper walls of the city of God? It almost seems so. The sunset sky is a miracle of loveliness—of tints which it would be presumption to attempt to describe— and the majestic sides of Pisgah grow softly porkpie as the incarnadine glow " Oh, what a scene!" says Sylvia, with a long sigh. She stands like one entranced, gazing at the farthest peaks where their blue outlines melt into the sunset gold. " I scarcely thought there were so many mountains in the world," says Addie DuPont. " It is one great charm of the Asheville views," says Eric, without looking round— he is standing in front, with his arms folded —" that they possess such magnificent expanse, and all the effect of farthest distance. It is difficult to exaggerate the advantages of the incomparable situation of (he town— especially in the fact that, although surrounded by mountains, it is not overshadowed, but regards them from a sufficient distance, and it sufficient elevation, to behold them like this." " I see several depressions, like gaps, in the chain," I observe. " What are they? " "They are gaps," Eric answers. "That 26 sous_026 ADVENTURES IN MOUNTAIN BY-WAYS. west is the gorge of the French Yonder is the Homminy Gap—there farthest Broad, Yonder is the Homminy Gap—the Hickory-Nut. Swannanoa is in the east." " Don't let us go home," says Sylvia. " Let us vive in this land of the sky forever. It is enchanted." "I think it is," says Victor DuPont. " As a Frenchman remarked of Niagara, it is ' grand e— magnifique very good!'" says Charley. " Do you mean to live just here? Shall we build you a cottage, and call the hill—to the absurd name of which you very justly object—Mount Sylvia ? " "The name would suit it very well," I say. "It is sylvan enough." "Woo," says Eric, "don't build a cottage here. " Wait until I show you the view from McDowell's Hill. It is finer than this." Chorus: "Finer than this ! Impossible!" " Wait and see," says our leader. But we refuse to entertain such an idea. With the enthusiasm of ignorance, we cannot believe that any thing—not even the view from the Black Mountain itself—can surpass the scene spread before us in softest beauty, to the farthest verge of the dying day. We sit on the fortification und watch the fires of sunset slowly fade, and the lovely dusk of summer steal over the laud. Winds laden with the freshness of the great hills come to us from remote distances. Venus gleams into sight like a tremulous diamond in the delicate sky. The immense expanse, the great elevation, seem to embody at once infinity and repose. " This is delightful!" says Charley. " We may fancy ourselves lotus-eaters, ' propped oil j beds of amaranth' far above the world." Sylvia smiles; and, without turning her eyes from the distant scene, she repeats in tlie sweetest tone of her sweet voice: Let us swear an oath, and keep it with an equal mind, In the hollow lotus-laud to live and He reclined On the hills like gods together, careless of mankind. For they lie beside their nectar, and the bolts are hurled Far below them in (he valleys, and the clouds fierce lightly curled Round their golden boosts, girdled with the gleaming world.'" "That was all very well for the gods," lays Eric, " but we have no nectar, and your house is not yet built, Sylvia; therefore we must go down to supper." Let us stay a little hours of life are short," " Let us enjoy them to Chorus; "Not yet longer." " The enchanted I says Victor DuPont. the last minute." comes," says Eric, walking away. It does not come for some time. We cannot resolve to break the spell which rests over us. We talk very little, and that little in low tones. It is enough to see the splendor of the west grow faint and more faint, while the far, heavenly mountains change from blue to tender gray. Suddenly Charley lifts himself on his elbow and points toward the east. We turn and see the silver face of the full moon rising slowly over the tree-tops into the hyacinth sky. The appearance of her pale, pure majesty above the chain of hills that stretch eastward to the Black, fills our cup of pleasure to the brim. It is a scene to hold in remembrance while life shall last. We linger until we see lights like stars, gleaming here und there in Asheville. Then we know that our enchanted hour has ended. " At least one enchanted hour," says Sylvia, as Mr. DuPont folds her shawl around her, "but I hope that there are many more in reserve for us. Like Moses, I have had a glimpse of the Promised Land, and now 1 shall not be content till I have seen everything that is to be seen." Silver lights and dark shadows are lying on the streets of Ashville when, foot-sore and weary, we cross the large open square in the business part of the town, and turn into the street which leads to our hotel. To tired and hungry humanity, the lights blazing out from the last are more cheerful than the beauty of the great constellations shining overhead; and, although Eric has made one or two astronomical remarks, we have not paid them" the attention which no doubt they deserve. " To-morrow night we will go to Battery Porter and study astronomy at our leisure," says Sylvia. "To-night I shall first do full justice to the cuisine of the 'Eagle,' then I shall beg Mr. DuPont to play for me the ' Cradle Song,' und perhaps a strain of Mendelssohn. After that I shall say good night to everybody, I shall go to bed, and 1 shall sleep—like a top!" "I thought you would have said like au angel," says Victor. 27 sous_027 "THE LAND OF THE SKY;" "But angels never sleep," says Charley. This programme is carried out. After supper the young Creole goes to the piano, shrugs his shoulders in expressive disgust over its untamed condition, and makes Sylvia understand that it is only because she desires it that he condescends to touch so poor an instrument. But when he begins to play, he draws forth, even from it, such melody that the chattering groups which fill the room are bushed into silence. His sister is right—he. It is an admirable musician, an amateur evidently, but cultivated in taste and technique as few amateurs are. His music is in the lullaby key which Sylvia suggested — the " Cradle Song" for which she asked, and those exquisite, dreamy nocturnes in which German composers excel—until at last he turns and asks with a smile if she is asleep. " Xot yet," she answers, " but, if this goes on, I soon shall be. It is like mesmerism." " Before you go," he says, " listen to what I thought of when we came down that hillside this evening with the moonlight and delicate shadows all about us." His lissome fingers sweep the keys, and the next instant we hear the Maries lightly tripping over the greensward in the wonderful scherzo of Berlioz's " Queen Map." The fairy-like measure seems to us—who have so lately looked on the scene which suggested it to the musician's recollection—filled with a double grace and sentiment. Queen Map's court, if we had surprised them at their revels, could scarcely have charmed us more. When the strain ceases, Sylvia looks at the musician with her eyes shining. " Whenever I think of this evening," she says, " I shall always think of that." " And whenever I hear or play it, I shall think of you," says the young man. " I am afraid this is going to be a very serious flirtation;" I say to myself, as I walk across the room to where Aunt Turnham is silting, trying to look interested in a conversation on mineralogy, which Eric is holding with a gentleman well known for his devotion to that science. I am rather inclined to like mineralogy—at least to the extent of taking an interest in probable diamonds and emeralds—so, I join the group, and receive a great deal of information on the mineral wealth of Western North Carolina, which unhappily I forget as soon as it is acquired. Aldie DuPont is, meanwhile, the centre of a group at the other end of the apartment. She is charmingly dressed, and her gay, vivacious manners have a fascination which the men surrounding her plainly feel. have charms to soothe the savage, but not the jealous, breast. Some lime since he muttered something about smoking, and took his departure. In a lull of the conversation around me, I hear Adele's light tones addressing her court. " What birds of passage you all seem to be! No two of you come from the same point, no two of you are going to the same point. It reminds me of the old nursery game—' One flew east, and one flew west, and one flew over the eagle's nest." "I wish you would fly with us to-morrow," says one of the gentlemen, gallantly. " But with the best disposition in the world to be obliging, I could not fly with all of you," she answers, laughing. When I retire presently and fall asleep, my dreams are a strange mélange of blue mountains and tripping fairies, of Aladdin's garden—the mineralogy is accountable for this—and men in strange guise flying east and west and north and south over endless peaks. Notwithstanding these freaks of fumy, my slumbers are sound and sweet, for Buncombe nights are delicious in their coolness—nights of which to dream in the heal-parched, mosquito-haunted low country. I sleep late the next morning, and, when I wake, Sylvia is gone. I rub my eyes and 28 sous_028 ADVENTURES IN MOUNTAIN BY-WAYS. took again. There is no doubt of the fact— her bed is empty, her boots have vanished. She is certainly gone. I gaze around in mute amazement. In all the twenty years that I have had the pleasure of her acquaintance, such a thing has never happened before as that, of her own accord—without the most stringent outside pressure-1—Sylvia should rise with the lark. While I make my toilet I wonder what this strange caprice can possibly mean, and it is not until I am nearly dressed that the mystery is solved. Then the door opens, and the pleasant, dusky face of our chambermaid appears. She has come to tell me that " the gentleman" wants to know if I am ready for breakfast. The gentleman in question is Eric, so I reply that I shall be ready presently. " You can hand me a necktie," I add ; " and pray, Malvina, do you know what has become of my sister?" Malvina is evidently surprised. She pauses on her way to the trunk, and stares at me. " I thought you would have heard the young lady, ma'am," she replies, " though it's true she was very keerful not to make a noise to disturb you. I waked her at five o'clock, and she went to ride." " To ride !" I ejaculate. " With whom ?" " I think she called the gentleman Mr.— Mr. Dewing," answers Malvina. Then I remember that there were signs of a secret understanding between Sylvia and Victor DuPont the night before, and, when they parted, I caught the words " sunrise" and " Beaucatcher "—but I was too sleepy to give them due weight, or to be equal to that mathematical calculation known as putting two and two together. Now, every thing is plain. "Sunrise — ah!" I say to myself. " Not difficult to understand what that means! " Leaving my room, I meet Aunt Markham issuing from hers, and as we go down-stairs together I tell her of Sylvia's escapade. She is surprised and concerned. " To mount a strange horse—how rash ! She may be thrown—there may be a terrible accident — who knows whether Mr. DuPont understands horses ? " "Be is old enough to understand them," I say—and just then a cheery voice speaks above us: " Good-morning, Madame I — good - morning, mademoiselle. Ah, what a charming day!—is it not?—how cool, how fresh, how delicious!" We glance up. Descending the stairs is Madame Later—Adele DuPont's aunt various lady, with dark eyes, a sallow complexion, and a foot like a fairy. " It is pleasant to think that, while we have been sleeping, those dear young people have been enjoying the first freshness of This delightful morning!" she goes on, after we have returned her greeting. "Cherie petite Adele was so eager about her ride that she must have waked at five o'clock. I saw them off from my window. Ah, it was heavenly, the air sweet, the birds singing !—and then I returned to bed like a sluggard." " So Miss DuPont went to ride, also," says Aunt Markham. " I wonder if there is no danger about the horses ? Do you think Mr. DuPont was quite sure that they were safe ? When one gentleman has charge of two ladies—" " Pardon ! " says Madame Lamoure, looking a little surprised, " but Mr. Kenyon went also. He accompanied Adele. Victor escorted your charming niece. Be sure she is quite safe under his protection. He is a dauntless rider," etc , etc. I do not hear the end of the panegyric on Mr. DuPont, because I am so much surprised by this news of Charley. If it is strange tliat Sylvia should have been smitten with a mania for the beauties of Nature, sufficient to rouse her from her slumbers at daylight, what can be thought of an indolent gentleman, who has consistently and persistently declined to appreciate those beauties, when he also leaves his pillow for the saddle at five o'clock in the morning ? We go to breakfast, and are devoting ourselves to beefsteak, hot cakes, and coffee, when the mutational equestrians make their appearance. They come in directly from horseback —the girls still in their habits, loose locks of hair floating, fresh color mantling, youth and good spirits in looks, manner, and bearing. They cause quite a sensation in the large dining-room as they make their way to our table. Sylvia sits down and heaves a deep sigh—a common mode with her of expressing inexpressible feelings. " Oh, it was heavenly ! " she says. I am hungry as a wolf," remarks Charley. " What will I have ?" for the waiter 29 sous_029 "THE LAND OF THE SKY';'-' OR, " Any thing and every tiling ! When a man has been riding on an empty stomach for three hours, he is ready to exhaust your bill-of-fare." "Mrs. Markham," cries Adele, eagerly, ."it was lovely beyond everything you Olin imagine!— Victor, tell them all about it 1 I am famished." "I wonder if she thinks Victor is not famished, too ? " says Eric, under his mustache. However that may be, Victor obeys. Like most Frenchmen and people of French blood, he describes dramatically — his dark eyes quicken, he uses many gestures. "Wlien we rode out of Asheville," he says, " it was very early — some time before and the mist, like a white curtain rapped  We knew that this would add greatly to the effect if we could reach the top of the hill on which we were yesterday evening, in time to see the sun rise, so we rode at a brisk pace and soon The Morning Ride found ourselves there — mademoiselle and myself in advance of Adele and Mr. Ken-yon." " My horse was slow," says Adele, " and I grew tired of urging him on—I knew we should reach there soon enough." "We rode up to the fortification," continues Mr. DuPont. "The east was all aglow with radiance—the most beautiful colors momentarily changing on the sky—and the re- flexion fell over and. gilded the great sea of Viper at our feet, which the wind was gently agitating into billows." " The resemblance to the sea was perfect," says Sylvia, eagerly. "You cannot imagine any thing more delusive ! The waves caught the light on their crests, just as ocean-waves do. All below us—allover Asheville and the distant mountains—there was nothing to be seen but this boundless, rippling expanse, aglow with tints so roseate and so radiant that we could only stand and gaze in breathless wonder. The effect lasted I cannot tell how long, but for some time." " At least half an hour," says Mr. DuPont. " Then the sun rose over the lulls behind us, and his rays fell horizontally over the shifting sea of vapor. Fop a minute it was like a vastly deep of molten gold heaving and tossing at our feet. Then it began to dissolve, and peaks tinged with the same beautiful tints appeared here and there like islands." " Pisgah first!" says Sylvia. " You should have seen how superbly the great crest came up out of the mist which still clung around the lower heights. Then gradually the other mountain-tops appeared, and we saw islands and continents, diversified by seas and lakes —all bathed in the most delicious colors!" "I'll tell you what it was like," says Charley, speaking for the first time. " It was as if the world was being newly created, and we saw the water divided from the lined." "And every thing was so fresh!" cries Sylvia. "The earth seemed, as Charley says, new made. I don't think I have ever known an hour of purer delight than that which we spent on Beaucatcher—odious name! V " Mount Sylvia," says Victor DuPont, with " Well, Mount Sylvia,- then. Even after our sea was dried up, the mist of early morning still wrapped in soft haze the far heavenly heights of the glorious prospect. Asheville remained submerged to the last, but, when finally we saw its green hills and scattered houses emerge, we turned our horses' heads, and, piloted by Charley, descended Beau-Mount Sylvia at the back. The road led us down, through a shaded gorge of the hills, to the valley of the Swannanoa. Oh, if I could—if I only could tell you of all the beautiful things we saw ! We rave over evening scenes—over the long shadows and westering 30 sous_030 ADVENTURES IN MOUNTAIN BY-WAYS. light—yet how pathetic it is compared with the joyousness of early morning! The effects of light and shade are somewhat similar, but the spirit is so different. If you could have seen the rocks this morning blushing in the sun, the mosses and lichens, gemmed with dew and hung with fairy-like cobwebs, the ineffable freshness of the whole landscape—as if Nature I'm washed her face —and then the river, when we reached it— ah!" "Total bankruptcy in the matter of adjectives!" says Enc, aside. "I have been anticipating it for some time. Wilt a fortunate thing that bliss DuPont's appetite is so excellent, else she would probably take up the strain and chant for us the beauties of the Swannanoa!" After breakfast I chance to be coming down-stairs just as Charley is standing alone in the hall, lighting' a cigar. I take advantage of the opportunity to walk up to him, to button-hole him, and conduct him into a private corner. Here I look straight into his eyes. "Charley," I say, "what is the meaning of your conduct this morning? What unholy-lowed influence is at work with you ? Such a thing has never been known before that you —you should rise at daylight for the pleasure of riding several miles with a young lady! Tell me, honestly and seriously, are you flirting, or are you falling in love, with this girl ? " "Women's heads always run on flirting and Calling in love," replies Charley, with an air of carelessness, " Suppose I return your question and ask you whether Sylvia is flirting or falling in love with Monsieur le Musician " What insufferable nonsense! How dare you imagine that she is doing either? Can she not be civil and agreeable to the young man without incurring such suspicions ?" "And can I not be civil and agreeable to Miss DuPont without incurring ditto ? " "Of course, if you choose to take that tone about it, there is nothing to be said," I remark, with dignity, " but, if you think I do not understand the matter, you are vastly mistaken !" "I don't know that there is any thing to understand," says Charley, coolly, "except that Sylvia ia amusing herself with Mr. DuPont "I hope you are not both playing with fire," I say, vexed. " If we are, we shall probably be scorched," returns Monsieur Imperturbable, walking away.   CHAPTER IV. " A land of streams! some, like a downward Slow-dropping veils of thinnest lawn, did go; And some through wavering lights and shadows broke, Rolling a Blmnb'rona sheet of foam below. They BMW the gleaming river seaward flow From the inner land. Far off three mountain-tops Stood sunset-flushed." "ALICE," says Sylvia, as she stands before the mirror arranging her hat, "I shall ride with Mr. DuPont this afternoon." Preparing for " Very well," I answer, indifferently, being engaged just then in fitting on my gloves and gazing out of the window. " There seem to be a great many people here," I remark, " and such a number of ox-carts !" " And I want you to go with Charley," point, and I am allowing Miss DuPont to she proceeds. amuse herself with me. Voilottout!" "Indeed!" I say, roused to interest by 31 sous_031 "THE LAND OF THE SKY;" OR, this. "How kind of you to think of me! But there is one slight objection to my going with Charley—he has not asked me to do so." "But you can ask him to go with you," she says, persuasively. " You can take him in the phaeton, and make Eric go on horseback with Adele." "If he and Eric were puppets, and if I had any desire for Charley's society, I might —perhaps. As it is, such a thing is impossible. Why do you suggest it? " "Because I don't want Adele to have the pleasure of flirting with him," is the candid reply. " She is a dreadful flirt, and has a particular knack of making fools of men. Of course, I am not afraid of her making a fool of Charley in any serious manner, but still I should like her to be disappointed—and you know she could do nothing with Eric." " I know that I have occasionally heard of such a thing as Satan reproving sin. If you want Charley looked after, why don't you do it yourself?" "How can I, with Mr. DuPont on my hands? " "Turn Mr. Pulpit over to me. I will take charge of him." I make this suggestion in a spirit of malice which Sylvia under stands. She takes up her gloves as she quietly replies : "Mr. DuPont asked me if I would not ride sidle, therefore, for me to turn him over to any one else." " I am afraid Charley will become a hopeless victim to Miss DuPont's fascinations, then," I say, coolly. Events verify this prediction. When we go down-stairs, we find the horses standing before the door, and Charley in the act of assisting Miss DuPont to her saddle. This feat, is accomplished very well on both sides. The lady puts one dainty foot—all creole women have pretty feet—into the gentleman's hand, he lifts her, she springs, and presto! the thing is done. Mr. Kenyon swin»9 himself into his own saddle as quickly, then turns and waves his hand to us— " ' She is won I we are off, over bush, bank, and scour— They'll have fleet steeds that follow,' " he says, as they ride away. "Their steed were not particularly fleet the last time they rode, were they, Mr. DuPont ?" says Sylvia, looking after them. " Adele, you know, said her horse wouldn't go; but he seems to go now very well. I hope they will miss the road for their hypocrisy!" " Charley has probably taken care to make inquiries," says Eric, handing me into the small phaeton. Few rivers have been more praised and rhymed than the Swannanoa, toward which 32 sous_032 ADVENTURES IN MOUNTAIN BY-WAYS. we take our way. To those who have not penetrated far into the mountains, und seen wilder and lovelier streams, it is certainly a thing of beauty. The stream itself is clear as crystal, and flows with glancing swiftness between its vine-draped banks, while it is scarcely possible to imagine a more charming picture of fertility than the valley presents, We follow the river Cur several miles—every turn opening fresh scenes of loveliness—and finally pause at a ford where Sylvia and Mr. DuPont ride into the stream. Lances of sunlight dart through the lace-work of shade, touch the sparkling current, and dapple the glossy coats of the horses. The rippling river makes a background in long perspective for the two riders, and on the opposite side the road leads up between high, picturesque banks. "Is not this delightful?" cries Sylvia. " One might expect to see Diana and all her nymphs. Instead, I see an ox-cart coming in one direction, and two horsemen in another." The ox-cart is lumbering directly down upon the phaeton in which I am seated, so I cry out to Eric for rescue. He comes and drives into the river just as the two horse- men' ride' down between the sloping, slide-arched banks. At this double invasion of the ford, Sylvia and her escort turn their horses to ride out, and in doing so face the last-comers. One of them stops and lifts his hat. " Miss Norwood ! " he cries. '' What an unexpected pleasure!" Sylvia checks her horse, and holds out her hand with a laugh. "Is it possible this is you, Mr. Lanier? " she says. Eric and I glance at each other. We both think of Charley. Of ail Sylvia's suitors—and she has not a few—Ralph Laurie is the most devoted, the most persevering, and the most wealthy. Consequently, he is the one whom all her friends and acquaintances have long since decided to be Destined by Providence for her. Mr. Lanier is plainly delighted at the encounter. "To think that I should meet you here-! " he says, rapturously. " My uncle has a country-seat near Fiat Rock, and I have been spending a week or two with him. We only came to Asheville this morning, and I was thinking of leaving the mountains tomorrow." "Leaving!—so early in the season?" says Sylvia. " What a strange idea ! " " I find this country very dull," says Mr. Lanier, shrugging his shoulders. " I am no great admirer of Nature. I prefer civilization and society. I was thinking of going to the White Sulphur and Saratoga, and hoped very much to meet you." " You would have been disappointed," she says, coolly. " I have become an Arcadian, and abjured all resorts of that kind. We are just beginning an extensive tour through this country which bores you so much.—By-the-by, here are Alice and Eric— and let me present Mr. DuPont." Hands are shaken and proper speeches made—the Swannanoa, the while, rippling gently round us, the sunbeams slanting, the vines drooping, the setting of the whole scene idyllic enough for a pastoral poem. We learn that Mr. Lanier is accompanying his uncle to pay a visit to a friend who lives near by. "Nonsense!" says Eric. "A man does not come to Arcadia to pay or receive visits. We are going to McDowell's Hill for the sunset. You had better come with us." 33 sous_033 "THE LAND OF THE SKY:" OR " Probably Mr. Lanier is no admire of sunsets," says Sylvia, with a slight touch of Mr. Lanier is quick enough to hear this. " On the contrary, I admire them exceedingly," he easy. " If my uncle will excuse me, I will accompany you with pleasure." The uncle readily excuses him, so he turns his horse and rides by Sylvia's side up the road down which he came. As Eric and I follow, we exchange a few remarks about the .pleasure in store for Charley. "Poor fellow!" I say. "An evil fate seems to war against him. I could not help hoping that on this expedition he might have a fair field for once; yet still—first Mr. DuPont appeared, und now Ralph Lanier, hit most formidable rival." " Charley is his own worst rival," says Eric, touching the horse sharply. " If Sylvia ends by marrying somebody else, it will be his fault, and I shall not pity him. A man should be ready to fight for every thing — fortune, fame, and the woman he loves." When we reach McDowell's Hill we find all the equestrians assembled, Sylvia attended by her two cavaliers, Charley standing with an air of great nonchalance by Adele's horse. Only the very best actors do not overact a part, however, and there is a trifle too much nonchalance in this young gentleman's bearing for perfect unconcern. The manner in which his hat is pushed back as he looks up into Adele's eyes is significant of irritated defiance. As soon ns we draw up, he turns abruptly and comes to the side of the phaeton. "Where did you pick up that fellow?" he asks. "He is a fish caught in the Swannanoa," says Eric. " I think you may find him a kindred spirit: he is nearly as fond of Nature, and of the exertion which a liking of that kind entails, as you are." "I should not judge so from his appearance," says Charley, with a sneer. Now, it must be stated that there is nothing in Mr. Lanier's appearance to draw forth a sneer. He is dressed as men in cities dress, but that is, to say the least, not a heinous crime, and he would be called by most people a very handsome man. Charley is oat handsome, though his fret, pleasant face infinitely more agreeable than Ralph easier';. well-cut features. Is blue eyes - OK into mine with in odd bind of appeal, and I say hurriedly, "Don't be disconsolate, Charley — be talks of going to-morrow!" Then Eric claims my attention for the view. It is certainly fine, though not so extensive as that from Beaucatcher. At our feet the hill shelves down abruptly, and two hundred feet below lies a green expanse—the valleys of the French Broad and Swannanoa at their junction. Here the Swannanoa, making a graceful curve on the verdant plain, empties its waters into the channel of the beautiful stream which has come from the far heights of the Balsam to seek it. It is only possible to mark the winding course of its current by the trees that fringe its banks, but the French Broad spreads out in full view—its splendid "breast of waters " Shining in the glow of sunset. Bounding the cultivated valley, green hills roll softly up, while beyond stretches the blue-waving mountain-line, with the majestic outlines of Pisgah and the Cold Mountain overtopping their lower brethren. Far and faint in the west the trending heights that overlook Tennessee stand, their violet crests outlined against a bed of glory into which the sun is sinking with great pomp. This portion of the view is like that which Beaucatcher commands, but turning northward we have a prospect which no other point near Asheville possesses. There, dark and massive, rise the great peaks of Craggy, and the stately pinnacle of the Black. As usual, these mountains are cloud-topped, and even at this distance—eighteen or twenty miles—wear the deep shade of color which running down from them form a chain of hills around the entire northeastern horizon, and at their base lies Asheville, scattered over its picturesque slopes. " I am converted," says Mr. Lanier, breaking the silence. " The country which contains such views ns this is worth seeing.— Miss Norwood, will you accept a recruit for your party ?" " I must refer you to Eric," says Sylvia. " I am not the leader of the party, nor qualified to judge of your fitness for the service. I am afraid, however, that, if you like society and civilization, yoa will be disgusted with j the wilds to which we are going." 34 sous_034 ADVENTURES IN MOUNTAIN BY-WAYS. "But we shall take the best of society I find civilization with us," he remarks, gallantly. " We'll show you at least what a mountain-view is before we get back," says Charley. " Only hopeless ignorance could excuse anybody for thinking this worth any special admiration." There is a chorus of indignant dissent, in which only Sylvia fails to join. She says, quietly; "We are both hopelessly ignorant then, Mr. Lauier, for 1 think this the most beautiful view I have seen in the mountains." '• You have not yet seen any thing at all," says Charley. " Beaucatcher in itself is very little, but it is finer than this, which proves that your taste needs cultivation. Mr. Lanier, no doubt, will be able to assist you in cultivating it." What reply the young lady makes is not audible to the rest of the party, but there is a flash in her eye and a flush on her cheek that do not bode well for Master Charley. After this hostilities are suspended while we watch the sun go down behind the last chain of western heights. For several minutes after his disk has disappeared, the mountains behind which he sank are transformed into dazzling, translucent gold. The effect is indescribable. " They cannot be mountains; they must be clouds," some one nays; but they are mountains, though they lie like clouds on the distant horizon. Meanwhile a hide of luminous color spreads over the blue chain encircling the southern sky, and the wide breast of the French Broad is painted by the magical splendor. It is so beautiful that we linger until the fires of sunset have nearly burned out, and Venus is shining in serene stite. Then we return to Asheville by a road which leads through woods full of dusk shadows and sweet odors. Arching shade droops over us; the air is inexpressibly fresh and pure; we cross a bridge with the ripple of flowing water underneath ; every sound seems " but an echo of tranquility " in the soft hush of the summer twilight. When we reach the hotel we find Aunt Markham on the piazza. The carriages and horses have arrived, she tells us, and have made the trip very well. "John" (the coachman) "assures me that the road over Hickory-Nut Gap is excellent," she says. " We will certainly that way." Rupert makes the same report. " I saw no bad road at all," he says. " We issued the Gap and came on to Asheville today easily." Eric and Charley go to look after John and the horses, while Mr. Laurie expresses again an intention of joining our party. " The only way to travel through such a Duntry as this is In the manner you propose," he says. " I can easily obtain a horse from my uncle if I may be allowed to join "We shall be happy to have you do so," says Aunt Markham, graciously. She glances at Sylvia, and I know as well /hat she is thinking as if her thoughts were expressed in words. As I turn and go up-stairs, I think again, "Poor Charley!" Two hours later the iron is rising, where we leave the hotel and take our way to an elevated point in the western part of the town known as "Battery Porter." We are advised against visiting this at night, and warned of fences to be climbed and terrible dogs to be braved, but such trifles do not weigh with tourists in search of a view. Aunt Markham declines to accompany us, but Rupert volunteers to do SO. To raise our spirits he draws from his pocket, and opens, an enormous knife. "I could cut a dog's throat with that," he Buys. I am amused at the order into which the procession fills. Miss DuPont slips her hand with an air of proprietorship into Charley's "You'll take care of me, I'm sure," she says, in a tone of confident trust. "I'll defy all the dogs in Asheville, if need be," he answers—but I see him glance at Sylvia. This young lady has in some intangible manner made it understood that she prefers Mr. Lanier's attendance, therefore I find Mr. Dupont at my side. He is courteous and at-' attentive, but a little melancholy. No doubt it is trying to be coolly kid on the shelf when a new admirer appears on the scene.- An Anglo-Saxon man under such circumstances sulks, or else (like Charley) diverts his mind by flirting with some one else. This young 35 sous_035 "THE LAND OF THE SKY;" OR, Creole is merely pensive, and we stroll along, talking of music—of Schumann, and Wagner, and Thomas's orchestra—while Sylvia's gay laugh floats back to us, and Eric and Rupert discuss the horses and the roads behind. Before attempting the dangers of the narrow road which leads to Battery Porter we decide to wait until the moon rises. We pause, therefore, in a street bounded on one side by a low stone-wall, beyond which is a sloping field, and on the other by a row of houses set on the side of a hill, which rises in the rear to the elevation we desire to ascend. Here, on the stone-wall, we sit down in a row and watch the moon rise. It is very beautiful. There is an alabaster glow all over the eastern sky, against which the trees on the distant hilltops stand distinctly defined, and the great cross on Beaucatcher is thrown into relief by the broad, yellow shield of the moon herself. The circle of mountains all around the horizon are bathed in radiance, while Asheville— which we partly overlook—still lies in shadow. Lights gleam here and there from the houses, foliage is darkly massed in every direction, overhead the stars shine in the dark-blue sky with a brilliance which almost seems to equal the advancing moonlight. From the field below us rises a dewy odor of sweet, fresh grass. " Come out and hear the waters shoot, the owlet hoot, the owlet boot; Ton crescent moon—o golden boat—hone dim behind the tree, The dropping thorn makes while the grass, O sweetest lass and sweetest late. Come out and smell the rocks of hay adown the croft with me," It is Ralph Loftier who repeats this as he stands by Sylvia, and we think the application, despite a few trifling inaccuracies, very good. The " sweetest lass " looks up with her brightest smile. " How charming I" she says. " What a picture those four lines paint!" "Not any prettier picture than this," says Rupert. He is standing erect on the wall, despite a suggestion from Charley that people may fancy the Cardiff giant has arrived in their midst. '* Or perhaps they will think that some imprudent person has found and opened one of King Solomon's bottles," says Sylvia. " Rupert always reminds me of those remark-able genii in tile ' Arabian Nights.' He is so very long in proportion to his width—as if he had shot up out of a bottle suddenly— and he can double himself into such a smile compass, that I tiling; be could go back again, if necessary." "I'm slink—that's the reason I look so tall," says Rupert. " But I shouldn't think any thing in the way of height could astonish people here, after some of the men I've seen. There! now she's over the trees I" (This remark applies to the moon.) " Let us go on to Battery Porter.—Brother Eric, hadn't we better open our knives?" These weapons prove unnecessary. The dogs rush out and bark at us, making that hideous with their uproar, but, deterred probe-ably by the imposing appearance of our phalanx, they make no attack. We pass the point of danger, and reach the open summit of the hill in safety. Then what a picture is spread around 113 ! North, south, east, and west, the eye sweeps over an apparently limitless prospect, bounded only by far, faint mountain-lines, and bathed in a flood of enchantment. It is not night, but sublimated day—white, lustrous, magical, and so still what we hear the refrain which the French Broad is chanting as it takes its way between the hills that overshadow it. "How distinctly one hears that river!?' says Lanier. " It can't be far away." " Not more than half a mile, I suppose," answers Victor DuPont. " How beautiful it must be in this light I" cries Sylvia, addressing the company. " Let us go down there. It will be better than staying here." "And returning to the hotel better than either," says Charley. "Then do you return," she says. "But I don't think one can possibly have too much of this divine beauty. All who are in favor of adjourning to the French Broad please hold up their hands." Three pairs of hands are immediately lifted—to wit, Mr. DuPont's. Mr.. Lanier's, and Rupert's. "I shall be well protected, at any rate," says Sylvia, coolly. "Will nobody else come ?" " I've no doubt everybody else will come," says Mr. Lanier. "How can they resist such an invitation ?—Miss DuPont, you don't really mean to stay behind? " No, Adele does not mean to stay behind The French Broad by moonlight is too tempting 36 sous_036 ADVENTURES IN MOUNTAIN B5T-WAYS. for liner powers of resistance, even though the reluctance of her attendant is patent to the dullest observation. Carried away by the contagion of example, and feeling, in a measure, bound to look after the others, Eric and I bring up the rear, and so we stroll, in straggling procession, down, the winding, moonlit road, toward the French Broad. The least romantic of us feel repaid for our walk when we stand, at length, on the bridge, and see the river flowing underneath, all silver light and dark shadows. This bridge seems to mark the boundary of the change which awaits the stream. Up to this point it in swift but placid, impetuous yet not tumultuous, and flows through the loveliest of fertile valleys—first in Transylvania, then in Buncombe. Looking up the stream we see, lying whist in the moonlight, the broad fields of the last; but, turning our gaze down the current, a very different picture greets us. Sheer and bold rise the hills among which the river enters liege, and which it will not leave again until it has cut its stormy way through to Tennessee. " It seems to invite us to follow it," says Sylvia, watching the sweeping current, " Listen ! does it not say 'Come and follow me?' Why should we not do so ? " " Why not?" says Charley. " Yonder is a canoe. Let us embark and attempt the through navigation of the French Broad." " We can at least get into the canoe and take a row," says Ad^le. " What is the good of water if one cannot go on it?" " A row !—a pole, you mean," pays Charley. " That is a mere dug-out, with half a foot of water in the bottom." "I know all about poling," says Rupert, cheerfully. "I'll take you, Miss DuPont." But Miss DuPont thinks of her pretty boots, her dainty skirts, and declines. "Dug-outs are muddy things," she says. " Now, at the Warm Springs there are excellent boats." "The Warm Springs I" says Sylvia. "That is what I mean—that is where the river is inviting us. Why should we not go there at once?" "There is no reason why we should not— if you like," says Eric. "O mademoiselle," says Victor, reproachfully, " how can you be so cruel I You promised that you would join our party. And now to talk of turning in the opposite direction—" " I don't think I promised, Mr. DuPont," says the young lady, calmly. " I had no right to promise for the rest, you know. Of course, we can't decide any thing without Aunt Murk. ham's consent; but I am inclined to think that this might be the best time to go down to the Warm Springs. A little gayety, now and then, is relished by the wisest men—and women, Asheville is not very gay." " But Nature!" says the young man, rather aghast. " I thought you were so enthusiastic. I thought gayety would only annoy you !" "Not at all," says Sylvia. "On the contrary, I like it—taken with Nature, And then this magnificent river! I must see it before I go anywhere else. I shall propose the Warm Springs to Aunt Fordham, tomorrow. Meanwhile, I am going to get into the canoe, despite the half a foot of water, and whoever likes may come and pole me." CHAPTER V. " Cliffs that rear their haughty head Hard o'er the river's darksome bed, Where now all naked, wild, mid gray. Now waving all with greenwood spray; The trees to every crevice clung And o'er the dell their branches hnug. Anil there, ail splintered and uneven, The shivered rocks ascend to heaven." SYLVIA carries her point without mirth difficulty. None of us are averse to turning our faces down the French Broad, and Aunt Markham is specially pleased by the idea. " It is a good plan," she says, '* because we shall escape joining the DuPont party. That Madame—what is her name?—fatigues me to death with her raptures and compliments." " I think the Dupont party is, in a certain sense, at the bottom of the suggestion," says Eric. " It changes our plan of travel altogether, but I am not inconsolable. I can endure any thing better than traveling in a gang, like convicts." " You are very felicitous in your comparisons," says Charley. "I doubt whether we shall get rid of DuPont, however. He is 37 sous_037 "THE LAND OF THE SKY;" OF so desperate that I think he will leave his own party to join our3." "Perhaps you will exchange with him," says Sylvia. " I can't imagine how you will support life without Adele." "It will be difficult, no doubt," says Charley, serenely, " but in traveling, as in politics, it is best to stand by one's party. If DuPont joins us, I shall not greatly object. He is a degree or two better than that fellow Lanier." The gentleman designated in this complimentary manner, meanwhile intakes his arrangements to join us. But, when we are in readiness to start, one of those unavoidable misfortunes that sometimes befall summer travelers occurs — the rainy season in August begins. For three days it rains steadily—Asheville appearing the while depressingly dirty and dull—and it is only on the fourth day that the clouds disperse a little, the carriages are ordered, and we prepare to set forth. The order of our going is soon arranged. Sylvia, Charley, and Mr. Lanier, are on horseback; Aunt Markham, Rupert, and I, together with John, fill the phaeton; Eric—who cannot endure that any one else should hold the reins while he sits by—drives the "jersey," which serves as a baggage-wagon, with Harrison (its nominal driver) by his side. " So you have lent Charley your horse? " I say to him just before we start. "It is more than he deserves after having refused to bring his own." " I thought it would be too cruel to sentence the poor fellow to the carriage, with Lanier by Sylvia's side," he answers, "but, of course, we will vary our modes of travel. If it does not rain, I shall invite you to share my seat in the baggage-wagon, by way of relief from the carriage." The clouds, however, are determined that this pleasure shall be indefinitely deferred. As we drive down the long, muddy hill that leads out of Asheville, we observe that they hang low on the mountains—always a threatening sign — and, before we have traveled three miles, a white rain is upon us. Much to her disgust, Sylvia is forced to enter the Carriage, while Rupert mounts her horse; I here is a general enveloping in water-proof Llama and coats, a consultation as to whether we shall turn back, a unanimous vote to go an. and a resolute setting forward in the teeth of the storm. It does not last very long; then there is a slight interlude: the cloud* cease to rain, though they still curtain the sky in watery grayness. We are by this time immediately tin the banks of the river, following that famous "Buncombe turnpike' which for more than fifty years was the grail highway of travel between North Carolina and 'the Southwestern States. Originally an Indian trail, it has been and still remains the most picturesque road in the mountains. The fall of the river from Asheville to the Warm Springs — a distance of thirty-six miles — is seven hundred feet, from which the rapidity of its current may be conceived, and the height of the hills that overshadow it. As the gorge deepens they tower higher and yet higher, these beautiful mountains, sometimes round and swelling, at other times broken into cliff-like escarpments, with great masses of rock overhanging the narrow pass, and tropical verdure feathering every ledge and point. What studies of form, and color are here for a future generation of artists, no words can fitly say. The road, as it stretches before us, is a picture never to be forgotten. On one side the whirling, tumultuous river channel; on the other steep hill-sides hang, dark with shade, green with ferns, damp with trickling streams. The road turns, and there is a fairy glen, down which a white cascade comes leaping over its rocks "to join the brimming river," or a narrow stretch of valley, planted generally in tall, rustling corn. We are not allowed to enjoy this charming beauty with any satisfaction to ourselves very long. The clouds gather again, the rain begins once more—this time with a steady, settled persistence, that gives no hope of abatement; and presently Rupert rides up to the side of the carriage. " Brother Eric Says we shall have to stop at Alexander's. He declares it is impossible to go on to the Springs in such weather as this. It is disagreeable to us, and hard on the horses." " What a bore !" says Sylvia. " Alexander's is no doubt a very pleasant place, but when one starts with an object in view, one likes to attain it. What must be, must be, however. We should certainly see little of the gorge in this deluge." Consequently we make our first halt at Alexander's, ten miles below Asheville. No 38 sous_038 ADVENTURES IN MOUNTAIN BY-WAYS. house of its kind is more widely known, or more deservedly popular, than this delightful hostelry. One secret of its charm is in the fact that there is no aping of the modern hotel about it. Nothing can be more quaint, more old-fashioned, more comfortable, and thoroughly unpretentious, than all its arrangements, A pleasant farm-house on a large scale, with a post-office and bowling-alley in front, a bridge crossing the river, and high, green hills rising abruptly around —this is Alexander's. Of the comfort of its lodging, the excellence of its table, thousands of travelers can speak. Withal it is a dreamy, restful place, where even the racing river grows tranquil, and, shut in by the great hills, one feels as if one might enjoy that repose of mind and body which is rare in this feverish age. We find the house, as usual, full of guests —so full that Mr. Alexander demurs about receiving us; but, moved to compassion by the towering skies and our drenched condition, finally agrees to stretch a point and take us in. This is something for which to be grateful, since their-e is no cessation in the steady down-pour for the rest of the day. The river—usually green as Niagara—sweeps by, a turbid flood, and sight-seeing is utterly tut of the question. We play whist on the vine-draped piazza, go over to the bowling, alley under umbrellas, grow friendly with all the inmates of the house, study maps, and cairn all about the great floods of the past spring. " Almost all the bridges in this part of the country were swept away," says Mr. Alexander. "The bridge over Laurel went —you for I the river now—and the bridge at the Warm Springs over the French Broad." "Do we ford there?" asks Aunt Mark-ham, terrified at such a prospect. " No, there is a ferry." " One of the most inconvenient modes fiat ever was devised for crossing a stream," says Eric. " I don't think we are likely to cross any streams in any manner very soon," says Charley. " The clouds look as if they had settled steadily to business, and meant to rain for a week." This is depressingly true, yet, as we sit on the piazza late in the afternoon, there is a light indication of breaking away. The rain "holds up," ;is country people say; a glow of some faint, indescribable kind begins to light up the vapory heaven and lurid river-stretch. When we come out from tea the scene has become beautiful. Far down the river a primrose tint in the west shines through the green foliage, and the clouds are rolling away from the eastern heavens. Every thing is dripping with moisture; but, equipping ourselves with waterproofs and overshoes, we go out on the bridge. It is impossible to describe the fresh loveliness of the scene as we stand with the turbulent, swollen river flowing underneath in long, swirling ripples, and watch the light die out of that portion of the west which we see through the river-gap. The clouds change their shapes and aspects modestly— now watery gray, as they have been all day, now white as snow-drifts against a dark-blue sky. Solemn and stately the great hills enclose us, with their aspect of eternal, melanin holy calm, and from all the defiles white mists are rising. Something in the picture touches Sylvia. She turns from Ralph Lanier to where Charley stands leaning over the wet railing and whistling softly; laying her hand on his " Ton told me first about the French Broad," she says, " but I did not fancy it was half so beautiful this." " As this! " repeats Charley. " Why, this is nothing. The grandeur of the gorge does not begin until four or five miles below here." "Well," she says, with a laugh, "it is pleasant to think that something better is coming—but this is good enough. Charley, that looks like a very pleasant road along the river-bank yonder. Can we not walk a littlie?" "Certainly," answers Charley, with an alacrity he would not be likely to display if any one else made the same suggestion. "You'll find it rather damp, but if you have on overshoes—" " Oh, yes, overshoes and a water-proof. Come ! I don't want to go back to the house to play whist and be bullied by everybody round the table for not leading trumps." She takes his arm, and they start, but Mr. Lanier in his anxiety cannot forbear entering a protest. "You are surely not going to walk on the side of the river, Miss Sylvia," he says 39 sous_039 "THE LAND OF THE SKY;" OR, " You've no idea how wet it is—you will certainly take cold.—Kenyon, this is very imprudent—" " Very good of you to consider my health," says Charley. " I am afraid I may take a sore-throat, or something of the kind; bin when a lady gives an invitation, you know it is impossible to refuse." "Aunt Markham will take my hand at whist, Mr. Lanier," says Sylvia's guy, mischievous voice. Then they wilt away, and we soon see their figures strolling along the winding road by the river-bank. Eric laughs at the vexed expression which, even in the dim light, we see on Mr. Lanier's face as he watches them. " Give her line, Ralph," lie says, good-naturedly. "A fish like that is not landed at once—if, indeed, you are lucky enough to land her at all." " I sometimes think, by Jove, that I never shall," says Mr. Lanier, with emphasis. " One minute she is as kind and gracious as could possibly be desired; the next she thrusts a fellow off at arm's length. I don't pretend "They don't generally intend that you should understand them," says Eric, quietly. Alter this we return to the house and play another game of whist—Aunt Markham Inking Sylvia's hand, and calling Mr. Lanier sharply to account for all the blunders which he makes, and which owe their origin to a distracted mind. Whist-players know what concentration of thought this game demands, and poor Mr. Lanier's thoughts are following Sylvia up and down the wet river-side. She comes hi late, with wet boots and draggled skirts, but a pretty flush on her cheeks and light in her eyes. "We have been watching the moon rise," she hastens to assure Aunt Markham. " There is a bluff about a quarter of a mile down the river, which is perfectly lovely.—Are my feet wet ? Well, yes—slightly so, but I am going to bed, so it does not mutter. Good-night." "One moment, Miss Sylvia!" cries Mr. Lanier, springing after her; but she flits away with a laugh and is gone. The first sound I hear next morning is that of rain heavily falling, but by breakfast-time a few faint gleams of sunshine have appeared, and after breakfast we decide to order the carriages and make another effort to reach the Warm Springs. Half a dozen amateur weather-prophets assure us that it will be a clear day. "The mists are rising, the clouds are breaking," they say. "By twelve o'clock you will have as much sun as you want, and perhaps a little more." Cheered by these assurances we start. Eric and I in the wagon lead the way, the carriage and horsemen follow. But for the heaviness of the road the day would be delightful—a perfect day for traveling. Light veils of cloud obscure the sun, though now and then a burst of sunlight breaks forth and lights up the world with splendor, Three or four miles below Alexander's we enter on that part of the road which leads below the cliffs. They rise over our heads hundreds of feet, these beautiful, majestic heights, broken ledges and masses of rock, in every interstice of which great pines grow, and thickets of rhododendron flourish. In the dark shade, ferns, flowers, and mosses abound, together with trees of every variety, while down the hill-sides and over the rocks countless streams come leaping in foam and spray. We make slow progress here. It is impossible not to pause and linger at every step. The road, flecked with shadows, stretches before us, bounded on one side by the tumultuous river, overshadowed on the other by these inexpressibly picturesque escarpments. Sylvia descends from her lore, and, looping up her habit, climbs the rocks with almost childlike delight— followed by her two attendants, who do not probably en-joy the scrambling so much. Yet a change has evidently come over Charley. Despite his indolence he has a genuine love of Nature, and it begins to assert itself. Lanier, on the contrary, would be plainly content to sit on his horse and say, "Really, very beautiful!" "How little idea most people have of the grandeur of this country!" says Eric..-. "The pass of the Toasts is nothing  this gorge of the French Broad — yet com-pare tl>e renown of the one with the obscure-my of the other." " Yet the scenery of the French Broad is tame compared to some that ia to be found in these mountains—and which is absolutely unknown," says Charley. "Tame!" repeats Sylvia. "Arc we always to remain below in the scale of comparison ? Shall we never see any thing which has the distinction of being superlative?" 40 sous_040 ADVENTURES IS MOUNTAIN' BY-WAYS. "Yes, you will stand on the Black Mountain and you will see Hickory-Nut Gap," Eric answers. " Those two things are superlative." Since the day is wearing on, we cannot linger so long as we should like. Though our road is bounded by the narrow walls of the gorge through which the river forces its WHY, there is no monotony in the scenery. Every curve of the winding stream gives us a picture of new beauty—a picture essentially unlike any that we have seen before. As we advance, the mountains on each aide rise higher, the stream grows wilder, the masses of rock which strew its channel are larger, sometimes piled in fantastic shapes with the winter surging around and boiling under them, or forming islands covered with greenness. Toward the middle of the day the sun Alpines out hotly—making our noonday rest, while we eat our luncheon, very pleasant. It At Mache! is while we are engage i in this manner, scattered over the rocks by the river-bank, under the-shade of the trees, that to our surprise the state, which we expected to meet much later in the day, comes .driving past. Two or three voices hail the driver : "Hilltop!—from the Warm Springs already ?" Driver: " Haven't been to the Springs- today—couldn't cross Laurel yesterday evening." I it too high for fording ? " Much too high." " Do you think it is down by this time ? " "Couldn't tell—maybe." Then the lumbering vehicle rattles on, and we look at each other.. "By George! here's a promising slate of affairs!" says Mr. Lanier, twisting the ends of his black mustache. "I've had my doubts about Laurel from the first," says Charley, taking another sandwich. "It's a dangerous-looking stream even at low water." "O Eric," cries Aunt Markham, with perturbation on her countenance, "let us go back to Alexander's." " I'm opposed to turning back," says Rupert, who is balancing himself in a precarious manner on a tree which lungs over the water. "If we can't rest Laurel, we can camp out." ".Well said, Rupert!" cries Sylvia. "I have always desired two things enemy—lo camp out all night, and to be lost in .the mountains. If we can compass the first, I shall have hopes of the last." "Sylvia, how can you talk so foolishly! " says Aunt Mark ham.—" Eric, what do yon mean to do* " . "To. go on, mother," answers Eric. "These mourning stream run down as fast as they rise. We can't reach Laurel before late afternoon, and it will be low enough to cross by that lime." Two tidings which are very essential in a leader Eric possesses —coolness and resolution. Many men under such circumstances would say to the party, " What shall we do?" and endless discussion would be the result. and even Aunt Markham. "You'll promise that if there is any danger yon won't take us in !" she says; and, when he says, " I promise that most positively," she is content. Our luncheon over, we start again. A few miles brings us to Marshall, the seat of Madison County. A more singularly-located village cannot well be imagined. It is situated immediately on the river, in a valley not more than a quarter of a mile wide, with,-sheer, steep hills rising abruptly behind, and  the river in front. 41 sous_041 "THE LAND OF THE SKY;" OR, "The streams in this part of the country cannot rise like ours," I say to Eric, " or else Marshall would be submerged twice a year at least. Think of the Yadkin, that rose last spring folly feet! " " The French Broad never rises like that," he answers; " it runs off too rapidly. A bridge has been swept away here, but I doubt if the river came up to the town. We'll ask." We do ask, and are told that it came up to the first row of houses—about ten feet above its usual level—but rose DO farther. The bridge went like a thread, and a pretty, cultivated island lying in the middle of the Stream was entirely overflowed. We try to obtain some information about Laurel here, but nobody knows any thing. As we drive out of the town, a direly-threatening cloud is hanging over the mountains, and we hear "sounds of thunder afar." We pause at the toll-gate, where a woman comes out to receive the toll, superintended by a cadaverous-looking man, evidently ill with fever, who is lying on a mattress in an upper piazza. Of him, auto, we solicit information of Laurel. " I haven't seen nobody from there to-duty," he responds, " but the stage came back last night without crossing. If it hasn't rained anymore on the head-waters, the river may be down by this time. There's an old man living there that'll show you the ford. Travelin' fur?" " Down to the Springs," answers Eric, touching the horses ; and on we go. Just below Marshall the river makes a magnificent" curve, sweeping with a bold and beautiful stretch around the base of the wooded cliffs that rise abruptly from its verge, and from this point the grandeur of the gorge is unmatched, and absolutely beyond description. The scenes grow wilder with every mile. Our ears are filled with the roar of the tumultuous river that lashes itself 10 fury among the rocks of every conceivable form that seem trying to bar its way. Much of the road is made in the bed of the stream, and, as we wind around the cliffs that jut out here and there, it is always with the de- with some other vehicle. In such a case it is impossible to see what either pity would or could do. We are spared any thing of the kind, however, and so we go on, feeling as if we were leaving civilization altogether behind, and plunging deeper and deeper into the heart of primeval Nature. The fact that we meet no travelers strikes us. "I am afraid Laurel is up," Eric says, doubtfully, " else we should have met somebody from beyond there." One feature of the day's travel also impresses us—the number of people who are ' engaged in fishing. At least once in the course of every half mile we pass a group of men and boys employed in this manner. Our curiosity is roused at last. Why should the whole population of the French Broad be devoting themselves to fishing on this special j day ? We ask two or three, but receive little satisfaction. Unless approached with some tact, your mountaineer is apt to prove sulky The road is so rough and so muddy that it is impossible to travel fast, and the afternoon is more than half gone before we hear -that we are nine miles from Laurel, of the state of which we have not yet received any definite information. " Eric," says Charley, riding up to the side of the phaeton which Eric is driving, "I have grave doubts about that river ahead 42 sous_042 ADVENTURES IN MOUNTAIN BY-WAYS. of us. If we can't cross it, where do you propose to spend the night? There is not a tolerable place between the Springs and Alex-un tier's." " We can camp out," says Sylvia, riding up on the other side.—" Eric, pray let us do that.—Aunt Markham, wouldn't you rather sleep in the carriage than in such houses as we have passed? " "I think I should," says Aunt Markham, " but I would rather cross Laurel lean do earlier." Charley shakes his head as he falls back. He is plainly not sanguine about Laurel. The case is desperate now, however ; it is too far showers have passed over us, but we are inured to wettings by this time, and do not mind them; massed clouds are before and we drive for three miles farther, rugged cliffs hanging over us, a rocky road below, the rushing river by our side. Every thing around is so wild that unconsciously our spirits begin to fail a little. What if Laurel should be up! where and how shall we spend the night ? " I think there is a storm coming over, Eric," says Aunt Markham, presently, from the back of the phaeton, "Haii we not better put up the top? " Eric turns, partly to look at the clouds, partly to assist in pulling up the top. In doing so, he fails to avoid one of the rocks of which the road is full. Crash against it goes the phaeton-wheel, there is a loud snap under our feet, and, as Erie pulls up the horses, he says: " By George, there goes a spring! " The equestrians are lingering in the rear, but, seeing our abrupt halt, Charley comes " Ride on and stop those fellows in front," says Ed, as he comes abreast of us, " und tell John to brings a rope here.—I am sorry to say you must all get out of the carriage. —Rupert, come and unhorses the horses." We alight, and Aunt Markham seats herself on a rock with an expression of countenance that might move a statue to amusement. Disgust, despair, consternation, unutterable resignation to any thing that may occur—all this is so plainly visible on her fade that I go to the river-bank—about two poet distant—to enjoy a private laugh. Meanwhile, Sylvia and her escort appeal on the scene. " Spring broken ? " says Mr. Lanier, looking almost its much concerned as Aunt Mark' ham. "What luck!" " I've been 'feard of that spring all along, Miss Eric," says John, coming up with a coil of rope over his shoulder. " Well, the worst has come," says Eric, " so now let us go to work and remedy it.— Charley, lend a hand here." While Rupert holds the horses—which have been taken out of the carriage — and Eric, Charley, and John, bandage the broken spring, Mr. Lanier sits on his horse and contemplatively pulls his mustache. He is evidently of the opinion that misfortune has marked us for its own, and that traveling on the French Broad has its disadvantages. Suddenly Aunt Markham extends her hand like a tragedy-quiet, and points up the river. " The rain is coming," she says. "Will somebody bring me a water-proof ?" goes in search of this garment—not an instant too soon. We have scarcely time to envelop ourselves before the rain is upon us. There comes a blaze of lightning} a volleying peal of thunder, then the clouds empty themselves in a white, blinding sheet that almost takes away our breath, and promises to soak us to the skin. " 0 Alice, isn't this dreadful ? " says Sylvia, whose taste for adventure begins to be a little damped. As for Aunt Markham, she thinks that forbearance has ceased to be a virtue, and she cries that she must and will get into the carriage. " I cannot sit here in a pool of water !" she says. "Eric, I shall take my death of cold—I am sure of it." " We'll be reply for you in a minute, mother," says Eric, working like a Train the midst of all this, a horseman unexpectedly appears, riding around a cliff just ahead of us, where the river makes a bend. He pauses—naturally surprised at the scene find parties of our description on the French Broad in a pouring rain. We hail him with our usual question: " Can you tell us how far we are from Laurel ?" 43 sous_043 "THE LAND OF THE SKY;" OR, " Four miles," he answers, staring harder. " Broken a spring? " " Yes. Is Laurel up ? " "Pretty high. You are not thinking about crossing it ? " "We are thinking exactly that," says Eric, turning round, " if the stream isn't too high. Have you crossed it ?'' "No—it's beyond crossing, except in a fast—oil, don't you think he might cross it if we went on ? " The new-comer—who in face and manner is more decided and intelligent than any other native of the region we have met—glances at her, and then points to the tossing, turbulent current of the French Broad. " You could just as soon drive to that rock yonder," he says, indicating a black, canoe. "I'm just from there, though. I live on Laurel, five miles from the mouth. The river has been past fording for five days. It is running eight or ten feet deep now, and will swim a horse." "By Jove!" says Mr. Lanier. Nobody else utters a word. We are all stunned, and we gaze at the messenger of evil tidings with a mixture of indignation and appeal. " It can't be! " cries Sylvia, entreatingly. " They say mountain-streams run down very jagged point two-thirds of the distance across the river. " Laurel is fully that wide, and fully that swift." We look at each other in dismay. What is to be said, what is to be done? Torrents of rain are pouring on us, lightning is flashing around, and thunder bellowing above. We are in the wildest part of the wild river-gorge, with Laurel "deep enough to swim a horse" in front, and Alexander's eighteen miles behind! 44 sous_044 ADVENTURES IN MOUNTAIN BY-WAYS. CHAPTER VI. " A chieftain, to the Highlands bound. Cries,' Boatman, do not tarry 1 And I'll give thee a silver pound, To row us o'er the ferry.' " "ERIC," cries Aunt Markham, with strong symptoms of hysterics, "come here this instant and tell me if we are all to be drowned!" Eric is undutiful enough to disregard this appeal. He walks instead up to the man who has warned us, and who, with supreme indifference to the rain, is sitting on his horse watering our proceedings with great interest. " If you are sure there is no possibility of our crossing Laurel," he says, " can you tell me any house within a moderate distance where we can spend the night ? " " Eric! " cries Aunt Markham again. The prospect of spending the night in any one of the houses which are found commonly through the country is nearly as appalling as the idea of being drowned. But Eric knows what is best for us, and goes on inflexibly: " I must find some shelter for these ladies," he says. " Where is the nearest house? " " About a mile back," the other answers. "You can get accommodation there, I expect. It's the house of a friend of mine. There's no other that I know of nearer than five or six miles." "John, turn the carriage as soon as you put in the horses," says our commanding officer.— "Charley, ride forward and see that Harrison does the same with the wagon." So it is settled. John turns the carriage —a dangerous matter this on the narrow road —then we crowd in and shield ourselves as well as we can from the driving rain that cornea in our faces in sheets of spray. So we start back. But our progress is slow. Streams that were rivulets an hour before are leaping torrents now, with currents so strong and swift that it is as much as our horses can do to pull us through. Once the danger seems so imminent that we may be swept into the river that Aunt Markham utters a scream, Sylvia only clasps my hand tightly, and, when we reach the bank in safety, she says, "What must Laurel be!" All our fancy for adventurous camping-out is dissipated by the blinding, soaking. We feel that any shelter will be welcome, no matter how rough it may be. And the shelter to which we presently come is very rough. Yet the house has plainly seen better days. It is a two-story frame-building —once, no doubt, a well-kept farm-house— situated a little back from the road. Two or three men are seated in the piazza. One comes forward, and, when Eric says, "Can you take us in for the night ? " answers, with a doubtful glance at our number, " Well, I reckin so." We do not wait for the slow assent to spring out and take refuge in the piazza. Then we utter a long sigh of relief. After all, it is pleasant to have a roof over one's head 1 Our host leads us into a large, barn-like room, with several smaller ones opening from it. " I'll kindle some fire to a minute for you to dry yourselves," he says. We certainly stand in need of drying. Mermaids could scarcely be more wet. Wherever we stand or sit, a pool of water soon settles. We take off our water-proofs and shawls, and stretch them on chairs, laughing the while at our plight. Aunt Markham plainly thinks this mirth very ill-timed. She looks round with a shudder as she sits, majestic and dripping, in the middle of the room — but she says nothing. Words are too weak to express her feelings. Presently a fire is roaring up the great chimney, and, by the time the gentlemen come to inquire how we have fared, we are restored to our normal condition of dryness and warmth. Nevertheless, flasks are produced, and potations insisted upon, " It is the only way to keep from taking cold," says Eric, imperatively. ' "Your wishes are gratified, Miss Sylvia," says Ralph Lanier, with rather an air of reproach. " You were desiring adventures— here they are." " Do you consider me the Jonah who has brought all this ill-luck f " she asks, laughing. " In that case I ought to be thrown overboard—ought I not ? The river is convenient for any thing of that kind." The violence of the rain abates before very long, and we go out on the piazza to look around. The prospect is cheerless in the extreme. The house has a dispirited air of decay, and rose-trees have grown to a tangled thicket in front. At the end of the piazza two young men are talking to our host Charley says that they are from South Cam 45 sous_045 "THE LAND OF THE SKY;" OR, "They came from the Springs to-day," he adds, " and Crosse Laurel in a canoe. We met them, if you remember, just before our break-down." As the rain abates, our spirits sink. Let it abate ever so much, we have still the certainty of an aimless afternoon and comfortless night before us. No hope of crossing Laurel before the next day, no possible chance of returning to Alexander's. Suddenly, however, a cry is raised that somewhat cheers us : "The stage is coming ! " " By Jove! " says Mr. Laurie, " I felt sure that fellow was deceiving us about Laurel." "That fellow" has also arrived by this time, and, in a very damp condition, is seated near. It is a chance whether or not he hears this grateful speech. Fortunately, the attention of every one is fastened on the stage, which comes into sight— empty ! We salute the driver with a cry. " Are you going over Laurel ? " Driver. "Mean to try." Then he nods to " How are you, George ? " George shakes his head. " You can't cross," he says. " I'll take the mail to the banks any way," responds the other, driving on. "If you find that you  Sylvia manner. What a place this is for ladies to spend the night!" " Don't trouble yourself about us," replies Sylvia, nonchalantly. " We do not mind a little hardship; but I am afraid you have made a grave mistake. Had you not better turn round even yet and go to the White Sulphur and Saratoga? " The young man colors. " Of course it does not matter to me—at least not very much." " Has anybody brought a pack of cards along? " asks Charley, sauntering up. " Let us have a game of euchre." "Up back for us,' via, eagerly. " He's not likely to cross," say the men at the other end of the piazza. Mr. Lanier shrugs his shoulders impenitently. " There's no relying on a word these people say," he remarks. " But the bridge should have been rebuilt long ago. It is info mom a for travelers to be delayed in this In the midst of this, and just a? Sylvia is another cry: " Here comes a man who has crossed Laurel!" Up we spring, and rush to the edge of the 46 sous_046 ADVENTURES IN MOUNTAIN BY-WAYS. piazza A man driving two horses in a jersey wagon is stopped by a storm of tumultuous questions. " Yes, I'm from the other side of Laurel," he replies. " Forded the river ? " asks the incredulous chorus. " No—ferried it in a canoe. I've been water-bound on the other side three days, and I couldn't stand it any longer, so I took my wagon-body off the wheels, slipped it on the canoe, and swam the horses over." " Eureka t " cried Eric, striking one hand on the other; " that is an idea for us! What has been done can be done again. If Laurel is still up to-morrow, I'll take the carriages over in that way." "You'll run a great risk if you do," says Mr. Lanier, who evidently does not know what reckless thing may be proposed or executed next. " A fig for the risk!" says Charley. " I'd quite as soon cross that way as another." "And I would rather cross that way!" cries Sylvia. " What fun it will be!" Mr. Lanier looks grave. Crossing swollen streams in a canoe is not his idea of fun. " Let us hope the stream may be down by to-morrow," he says. We return to our game of euchre, but I cannot forget the width and general appearance of the wagon who was said to have been brought over on a canoe. "Eric," I say, "these people must be talking about a boat—a constructed boat. They can't possibly mean a dug-out.' "Our friend here will tell us," says Eric. Then he turns to our first acquaintance— the man who lives five miles from the mouth of Laurel. " Is that craft of which you are all talking a dug-out ? " he asks. " Yes, it's H d u