Page by Page Books
Read Books Online, for Free
In a Hollow of the Hills Bret Harte

Chapter VIII.

Page 8 of 9

Table Of Contents: In a Hollow of the Hills

Previous Page

Next Page

Previous Chapter

More Books

More by this Author

"I see--I see--I see, Mr. Key," murmured the injured man. "Thet's wot I've been sayin' to myself lyin' here all night. Thet's wot I bin sayin' o' my wife Sadie,--her that I actooally got to think kem back to me last night. You see I'd heerd from one o' those fellars that a woman like unto her had been picked up in Texas and brought on yere, and that mebbe she was somewhar in Californy. I was that foolish--and that ontrue to her, all the while knowin', as I once told you, Mr. Key, that ef she'd been alive she'd bin yere--that I believed it true for a minit! And that was why, afore this happened, I had a dream, right out yer, and dreamed she kem to me, all white and troubled, through the woods. At first I thought it war my Sadie; but when I see she warn't like her old self, and her voice was strange and her laugh was strange--then I knowed it wasn't her, and I was dreamin'. You're right, Mr. Key, in wot you got off just now--wot was it? Better to know nothin'--and keep the old thoughts unchanged."

"Have you any pain?" asked Key after a pause.

"No; I kinder feel easier now."

Key looked at his changing face. "Tell me," he said gently, "if it does not tax your strength, all that has happened here, all you know. It is for HER sake."

We have hundreds more books for your enjoyment. Read them all!

Thus adjured, with his eyes fixed on Key, Collinson narrated his story from the irruption of the outlaws to the final catastrophe. Even then he palliated their outrage with his characteristic patience, keeping still his strange fascination for Chivers, and his blind belief in his miserable wife. The story was at times broken by lapses of faintness, by a singular return of his old abstraction and forgetfulness in the midst of a sentence, and at last by a fit of coughing that left a few crimson bubbles on the corners of his month. Key lifted his eyes anxiously; there was some grave internal injury, which the dying man's resolute patience had suppressed. Yet, at the sound of Alice's returning step, Collinson's eyes brightened, apparently as much at her coming as from the effect of the powerful stimulant Key had taken from his medicine case.

"I thank ye, Mr. Key," he said faintly; "for I've got an idea I ain't got no great time before me, and I've got suthin' to say to you, afore witnesses"--his eyes sought Alice's in half apology-- "afore witnesses, you understand. Would you mind standin' out thar, afore me, in the light, so I kin see you both, and you, miss, rememberin', ez a witness, suthin' I got to tell to him? You might take his hand, miss, to make it more regular and lawlike."

The two did as he bade them, standing side by side, painfully humoring what seemed to them to be wanderings of a dying man.

"Thar was a young fellow," said Collinson in a steady voice, "ez kem to my shanty a night ago on his way to the--the--valley. He was a sprightly young fellow, gay and chipper-like, and he sez to me, confidential-like, 'Collinson,' sez he, 'I'm off to the States this very night on business of importance; mebbe I'll be away a long time--for years! You know,' sez he, 'Mr. Key, in the Hollow! Go to him,' sez he, 'and tell him ez how I hadn't time to get to see him; tell him,' sez he, 'that RIVERS'--you've got the name, Mr. Key?--you've got the name, miss?--'that RIVERS wants him to say this to his little sister from her lovin' brother. And tell him,' sez he, this yer RIVERS, 'to look arter her, being alone.' You remember that, Mr. Key? you remember it, miss? You see, I remembered it, too, being, so to speak, alone myself"--he paused, and added in a faint whisper--"till now."

Page 8 of 9 Previous Page   Next Page
Who's On Your Reading List?
Read Classic Books Online for Free at
Page by Page Books.TM
In a Hollow of the Hills
Bret Harte

Home | More Books | About Us | Copyright 2004