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0105_001E A Mountain Woman Elia W. Peattie

A Mountain Woman

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"That is the first woman," she declared, "I ever met who would make a fit heroine for a book."

"Then you will not feel under obligations to educate her, as you insinuated the other day?"

"Educate her! I only hope she will help me to unlearn some of the things I know. I never saw such simplicity. It is antique!"

"You're sure it's not mere vacuity?" "Victor! How can you? But you haven't talked with her. You must to-morrow. Good-night." She gathered up her trailing skirts and started down the corridor. Suddenly she turned back. "For Heaven's sake!" she whispered, in an awed tone, "I never even noticed what she had on!"

The next morning early we made up a riding party, and I rode with Mrs. Brainard. She was as tall as I, and sat in her saddle as if quite unconscious of her animal. The road stretched hard and inviting under our horses' feet. The wind smelled salt. The sky was ragged with gray masses of cloud scudding across the blue. I was beginning to glow with exhilaration, when suddenly my companion drew in her horse.

"If you do not mind, we will go back," she said.

Her tone was dejected. I thought she was tired.

"Oh, no!" she protested, when I apologized for my thoughtlessness in bringing her so far. "I'm not tired. I can ride all day. Where I come from, we have to ride if we want to go anywhere; but here there seems to be no particular place to -- to reach."

"Are you so utilitarian?" I asked, laughingly. "Must you always have some reason for everything you do? I do so many things just for the mere pleasure of doing them, I'm afraid you will have a very poor opinion of me."

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"That is not what I mean," she said, flushing, and turning her large gray eyes on me. "You must not think I have a reason for everything I do." She was very earnest, and it was evident that she was unacquainted with the art of making conversation. "But what I mean," she went on, "is that there is no place -- no end -- to reach." She looked back over her shoulder toward the west, where the trees marked the sky line, and an expression of loss and dissatisfaction came over her face. "You see," she said, apologetically, "I'm used to different things -- to the mountains. I have never been where I could not see them before in my life."

"Ah, I see! I suppose it is odd to look up and find them not there."

"It's like being lost, this not having anything around you. At least, I mean," she continued slowly, as if her thought could not easily put itself in words, -- "I mean it seems as if a part of the world had been taken down. It makes you feel lonesome, as if you were living after the world had begun to die."

"You'll get used to it in a few days. It seems very beautiful to me here. And then you will have so much life to divert you."

"Life? But there is always that everywhere." "I mean men and women."

"Oh! Still, I am not used to them. I think I might be not -- not very happy with them. They might think me queer. I think I would like to show your sister the mountains."

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A Mountain Woman
Elia W. Peattie

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