All was quiet and lonely around Carew's Crossing when Frale dropped from the train and struck off over the mountain. Soon there would be bustle and stir and life about the place, for the hotel would be open and people would be crowding in, some to escape the heat of the far South and the low countries, some from the cities either North or South to whom the bracing air of the mountains would bring renewed vitality—business men with shattered nerves and women whose high play during the winter at the game of social life had left them nervous wrecks.
But now the beauty of the spring and the sweet silences were undisturbed by alien chatter. As yet were to be heard only the noises of the forest—of wind and stream—of bird calls and the piping of turtles and the shrilling of insects or vibrant croaking of frogs—or mayhap the occasional sound of a gun, discharged by some solitary mountain boy, regardless of game laws, to provide a supper at home,—only these, as Frale climbed rapidly away from the station toward the Fall Place, and Cassandra. He would stop there first and then strike for his old haunts and hiding-places.
He felt a leaping joy in his veins to be again among his hills. How lonely he had been for them he had not known until now, when, with lifted head and bounding heart, he trod lightly and easily the difficult way. And yet the undercurrent of a tragedy lay quiet beneath his joy and haunted him, keeping him to the trails above,—the secret paths which led circuitously to his