Once more about each pair the elements of social tragedy began to concentrate, intensify, and become active. The new development in the hills made business competition keen between Shade Hawn and Hiram Honeycutt, who each ran a hotel and store in the county- seat.

"Jason," he drawled, "you can come back home now when you git good an' ready. Thar ain't no trouble down thar just now, an' Babe Honeycutt ain't lookin' fer you." Jason gasped.

"Jason's mammy was a Honeycutt an' she married my daddy an' they run away," she went on eagerly, "an' I had to foller 'em." "Where's Jason?" Again her eyes filled. "I don't know." John Burnham put his hand on her head gently and turned to his desk.

Both had double balconies, both were ramshackle and unpainted, and near each was a general store, run now by a subleader of each faction Hiram Honeycutt and Shade Hawn for old Jason and old Aaron, except in councils of war and business, had retired into the more or less peaceful haven of home and old age.

With all his jabberings, Honeycutt is sly and furtive and is obsessed with the idea that there is one thing he won't tell." "Will you go and see him one more time?" "What's the good, Mark? If he does know, he gets lockjaw at the first word. I've tried " "There's one thing we haven't tried. Old Honeycutt is as greedy a miser as ever gloated over a pile of hoardings.

He could see the mouth of Hawn Branch and the mouth of Honeycutt Creek could see the spur, the neck of which once separated Mavis's home from his and with a joyful throb and a quickly following pang he plunged down the ravine.

Steve Hawn would be under suspicion as his own father had been, Steve would probably have to live on the Honeycutt side of the ridge, and Jason's own earlier days of shame he must go through again. That was his first thought, but his second was a quick oath to himself that he would not go through them again.

Thus it was that only Arch Hawn could have brought about an agreement that was the ninth wonder of the mountain world, and was no less than a temporary truce in the feud between old Aaron Honeycutt and old Jason Hawn until the land deal in which both leaders shared a heavy interest could come to a consummation.

Likewise, too, was there for a while nothing sinister in the talk, for at first Mavis held to the mountain custom, and would not walk in the woods with Gray unless one of the school-children was along nothing sinister except to little Aaron Honeycutt, whose code had been a little poisoned by his two years' stay outside the hills.

When his host showed him to his room, the boy examined his pistol with such care while he was unbuckling it, that, looking up, he found a half-smile, half-frown, and no little suspicion, in his host's face; but he made no explanation, and he slept that night with one ear open, for he was not sure yet that no Honeycutt might be following him.