The ledge passed, he stopped with a curse at his lips and the pain of a knife-thrust at his heart. A heap of blackened stones and ashes was before him. The wild mountain-grass was growing up about it. The bee-gums were overturned and rifled. The garden was a tangled mass of weeds.
The stable was at its side, while back of the buildings themselves, angling off behind the screening shoulder of a steep spur of hillside, stretched a small orchard where only gnarled apple trees and a few "bee-gums" broke a small and level amphitheatre into which the possible passerby could not see.
It is true, that a Hastings, with his forged treaties and despoilment of ancient "bee-gums," is no longer governor-general of India; it is true that an Impey no longer deals out "Justice" in that unhappy land; but the industrial condition of the toiling millions is worse to-day than when they were being despoiled to erect the Peacock throne at Delhi, adorned with its "Mountain of Light."
The zigzag lines of the rail fence, the bee-gums all awry ranged against it, the rickety barn and fowl-house, the gourd vines draping the porch of the dwelling, all had a glimmer of dew and a picturesque symmetry, while the spinning wheel as Loralinda sat in the white effulgent glow seemed to revolve with flashes of light in lieu of spokes, and the thread she drew forth was as silver.
The bee-gums of that day were made of sections of hollow trees. Naturally this remarkable proposition made Judge Tait madder than ever, and he wrote to Judge Dooly that he intended to publish him as a coward. Judge Dooly calmly informed Judge Tait by letter that he had no sort of objection to the publication, provided it was at Tait's expense.
Geese and ducks were hunting crawfish in the little creek that ran from a milk-house of logs, half hidden by willows at the edge of the forest, and a turn in the path brought into view a log-cabin well chinked with stones and plaster, and with a well-built porch. A fence ran around the yard and there was a meat house near a little orchard of apple-trees, under which were many hives of bee-gums.