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EVEN HP TO DATE. "I can't help how much yer love me, Van; I can't marry yer, and you'd just a, well look a,t matters in a reagonable way." "But, why, Mandy? There ain't no other feller yer thinkin' more of than yer air of me, is there?" "I'm talkm' fair and squar' to yer, Van Jones. I've always liked yer as a. friend, but if yer want to keep friendly" with me ver'll have to stop this talk right here. I've told yer that I didn't love yer, and, more'n that, I never could, an' aa to lovm' or thinkin' more ef some body else, that's soiiiethin' I don't think con- sarns ye in the least." "Oh, come, now, Mandy, don't put me off in this here way. If yer a friend to me it won't take yer long' to love me. I've been mighty nigh crazy fer yer for the last three year. "I've got so I can't work fer thinkin' of yer in the day ner sleep fer thinkin' of yer in the night. There's lots o' other girls in Chincapin Holler, but ver takes the shine out of all of 'em. They're no more like yer than a dish-rag's like a silk handkercher. In my eye yer as far above 'em as Pilot Knob's above Cowskin Flat. I'd give my mansion in the New Jerusalem fer jest one kiss o' them purty little red lips o' yer's." So saying. Van tried to draw Mandy toward himself, but Mandy with flashing eyes arose to her feet, and. as she did so, gave him a smart slap in the face and said:— "Van Jones, yer a fool! Ye take yerself right off from here or I'll call pa. I've been a-tryin' to reason with yer as a. friend, but. I see yer ain't got no sense. Thur's the door. and don't yer never come back here ao-ain "But,Mandy——" ''Don't Mandy me—pa, Van did not stop to meet "pa," but took up bis hat and, with a scowl on his face and an path in his heart, left the house. He was an ill-visaged fellow. His features wore the un- mistakable marks of cruelty, cunning, and sen. suality. His face was dark naturalty, but it was coloured a deeper dye by the smoke of hia forge, for Van was the blacksmith of Chincapin Hollow. His burly Mack head was set upon a thick neck and thus fastened to a herculean trunk. He had all the characteristics of cruel and ferocious being. He wended his way slowly up the Hollow, muttering curses as he went. ° "I know who she's stuck on it's that darn ham Gray, but, by thunder. I'll get even with 'em," he hissed between his teeth. woulan t own to it, but I've had my ere on him, confound him." ?tw?a, lovely Sunday evening in the month of Member in that part of Arkansas called the Boston Mountains. The sidea of the mountains were covered with luxuriant chin. capins, scrubby oaks, and trailing, heaw-Iaden ???,? ? ?? C-hin'?in"MI? v-as delightful to one in a frame of mind to njoy it, .bu.t Vai-i Jones saw none of its beauty 01 Si ?"btful ? he ever was conscious If he took any further notice of them at all r?d? ?' ??' ? brush. He soon u? ? ? '? T?? ?? some distance up the hollow. It was an old log building o T'w?? ? striking resemble to a swa.v-ba,ck horse. The totterino. chimney ?S? ? ? ? ? r?h ?? battered Ml.k tile on a drunken sailor The ? ?? ?? ?' ? ?? ?ly ?v ? ?? ??"? ? ?? buiiding to a?nd ? -? '? ??S Promiscuously around, and it was evident that. Van was not ??t?? '?- ? ?? '? building. ?nce'SisrS??,?-' ? ————? -? 111 get even with him if it takes fifty y?ars, he sna.rled. "He shan't marry Mandy Piggm because he's got ? good larm and a hor?e or two more'n I've got. I'll get even wiTh him if I've got to burn his barn or pizen his well. I'll let him know that the man he's buckin agin in this business ain't no slouch," and a diabolical scowl settled over his features as he ceased muttering and drew from his pocket a, large clasp knife, which he proceeded to sharpen upon a grindstone. While Van was thus occupied the sun wa.s slowly smking. Lc.ng shadows fell across the Hollow. Gradually the distant mountain toi)31 were wrapped in roseate mists, and over the valleys Sorted purple vapours. The shadows begin to. deepen in the HolJow, and finally the ?ast ray of light vanishes from the moun'. tain's peak. First one bright star and then another nse? in the east, p&ering down into the shadows below. Slowly the heavens become decked with the myriads of bright, pcintillatinn. gems of night. It is a. calm, dBIÍghÜful night in early nutumn; the pure mountain air, like an ethereal elixir, exhilarates and cheers both man and be&st. In the starlit night a man on horseback is seen slowly riding toward Jeiierson Piggin's house. He seems to be in no hurry, for he allows the splendid mare he is ridipg"to cboc-3e her own gait. He rides up to the. front of the picket fence surrounding the house, throws the bridle over one of the pickers, and, knock !ns- gently at. the dcor, is met by the Mushin? Mandy a.sd bashfully invited in. "Howdy do, Miss Mandy? How air ye this evemn?" "Purty well, I thank ye, Mr. Gray. How air ye and how air yer folks?" /'rm purty well, I thank ye, and the folks air about as common. Been eniYino' "P1'Af tn. !day, Miss Mandy?" w "No,Ihaven't,Mr.G-ray. It's Leen an un- common dull day to me. Ycu bsen injying yerself to-day, Mr. Gray?" "No, I can't say that I hev. Miss Maud?. I was down at a. shootia ma.tch at Cowskin Flat, but. there was no good shootin done, and I came home. But looks like a. purty ga.l like you shouldn't feel lonesome—hev, Alias Ma.ndy?" /'Wby not, Mr. (:!ray? Don't you think g-a.L /'Wby not, Mr. (:!ray? Don't you think gals git lonesome sometimes?" "Well, I thought. Miss.Ma?dy.ve'd have plenty cump'ny, spesh'iy 0:1 Sunday." "Oh, yes, I've had oump'ny, but it warn't a. "Oh, yes, I've had oump'ny, but it warn't a bit agreeable. I'd rather be alone at, eny time than to hev it." "If it's a 'fair question, who's been yer cump'ny to-day, Miss M.a,ndy?" "'Nobody?in pertic'ler—at least, that's whut I t.hi.nk of Van Jones." "Why, seems to me, Miss Mandy, that Vaa ought to be purty good company; 'he's a. right smart feller, I allus thought." "'Well, I don't like hmi, Mr. Gray, and hopa he'll never call ag'Jn." "Why, Miss Mandy, did you and inm hev any trouble?" "Alittle, not much." "Would ye mind telling- me wliat it was a.bout, Miss Mandy?" and Sam ba.9hl'!jliy hitched his chair a few inches nearer the blush- ing' Mandy. "I'd rather not, Sam," she replied, hangiun' her head in modesty at calling him for the first thue by his name. "Of cour.-c, Mandy, if it's a. secret I don't wa-nt to hear it; it's none o'f my biznes no how. I reckon, is it, Mandy?" and Sam's arm bega,n a. cautious journey around Miss Mandy's apro.u strings.. Mandy (unconsciously, no doubt) helped Sam's arm along a. little by leaning towar<i him, as she answered:— "Well, Sam, I guess you won't tell a.nybody if I tell you. Van Jones's been trying his best to get me to have him, and 1 jest p'intedly told him he couldn't. He then wanted to know if I thought more of some one else, and I told him it didn't consam 1dm. I had ter threaten to call pa before he'd leave. Ho were power- fully disap'inted whe-n I give him no for an answer. I've allus thought purty well of V&n as a. friend, but I'm afraid if -h's dander's up he'll do somethin. mean." "And what did you refuse Van fer, Mandy?" said Sam, as he .gave the girl a sly squeeze. "How kin yer ask, Sam? Didn't, yer know kasa whv ? Kin a woman marry a man she don'tluv?" "Then yer didn't luv Van, Mandy, is that a, fac'. a.n couldn't yer if he'd married yer?" "No, Sam. I never could," a.nd Mandy looked at the floor as she spoke. "Mandy, if yer don't ana can't luv Van, and yer ain't luvin anybody else, how, er— an—er- -humph would yer like ter"—— "Like ter what?" softly asked MaBdy. "As I was going on ter say, Maudy," and he took one of her hands in his as he continued, "as I wus goin on ter say-if yer don't luv Van, and yer have told him to go, how'd be if er—I—e.r'—wus ter a.x"— Here Sam stopDed stock till, as if he was unable to pro- ceed any fa.rtber. Mandy beamed encouragingly on him, and smiting one of her sweetest smiles, said: "What wus yer goin ter say, Sajn? Yer needn't ter be a bit uneajsy, Sam, fer I won't say a word about it ter anybody, if it's a secret." ? ,L_ "Well, as I wus a-sa,ying, Ma,ndy, if yer don't like any other feller better than yer do me—- would efr—er—yer mind 0.' h&vin me?" and Sam broke down completely. Mandy turned a.s red as a hollyhock, and it seemed to Sam that the weig-ht of her shoulder increased as it rested heavily against him. Whether he feared tha.t he could not thus sup- port her weight, or that she would fa.ll, lie suddenly clasped her in his arms. She threw her arms around his neck and sweetly whis-j pered in his ear. "I luv yer, Sam, and I'll have yer." yer." A pair of wicked eyes gleamed through the single, uncurtained window at the picture. The eyes were those of Van Jones. "Ah! yer there, are yer, blast yer "'he ground between his teeth. "Well, I'd like ter kill yer both, but I'll not do it to-nig'ht. But I know what I can do. I can spile the beauty of this yer line mare o' his'n. He'll never know who dun it," and walking to where Sam's ma.re stood patiently awaiting her master's return, he whipped his knife from his pocket, and in another instant cut oS both of the poor a.nima.I.'s ears close to her head. "There now," he growled to himself. "Sa.m Gray, I know that'll almost kill yer when ye see it. I wish to God it would, and the brute slunk off in the darkness to his den. When Sa.m Gray on the following morning discovered the disfigurement of his best horse— by the loss of both her ears-he v.'a,s the mad- dest man in states." Yet lie held his tongue. S:mi was not a. man to make threats. He was a reticent fellow, and kept his troubles to I imsc-If But he was mad, and in his heart he swore to be revenged on the one who had perpetra.ted 'the outrage. The nrst person his rival's dastardly nature full well. lie took out his cia.spxn.ite. mid. cajetuiiy exa.mined its edge. It semed to be satisfac- tory. Without saying a word to anyone he leisurely walked into Van's shop. The latter was pumping away at his bellows. "Vaji," he beg&n, "ye've cut off my mare's ears, and I've come here to settle- with v r." "I didn't do anything of tlie kind. Sum Gray, and yer know it," snarled Van. "I didn't, 'come ter a.rgy with yer, V&n. &it down on yer knees," and as he spoke Sa.m threw the cold muzzle of his pistol in Van's face. "Good God! yer not goin to kill me, a.ir yer, Sa.m?" piteously ?eried tile c'ringdng coward US,L- a.s he sank to his knees. "Lord, Sam, don't kill me! For mercy sake, take th&t pistol a.way from my head "Yer hRve a.ny mLercy on my maTe, Van. But yer needn't ter be afra.id. I a,in't ter goin to kill yer, but I've a great mmd ter. I'm just goin to trim them ears o' yers like yer trimmed the mare's." With the pistol still levelled at Van's head. Sa-m drew his knife from his pocket, opened it with his teeth, and with two rapid strokes the ma,n's ears lay upon the ground. Turning to the horri'8ed 'wretch, who seemed hardly conscious of his condition, Sam said, "That ma.ke3 usejyen up ter d&.t.e, Van," and left the shop.—"Arkansaw Traveler." .t:œ:1I