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- The Re-Creation of Brian Kent - 1/41 -


THE RE-CREATION OF BRIAN KENT

by HAROLD BELL WRIGHT

DEAR AUNTIE SUE:

I have wondered many times, while writing this simple story of life and love, if you would ever forgive me for putting you in a book. I hope you will, because if you do not, I shall be heartbroken, and you wouldn't want me that way, would you, Auntie Sue?

I fancy I can hear you say: "But, Harold, how COULD you! You know I never did the things you have made me do in your story. You know I never lived in a little log house by the river in the Ozark Mountains! What in the world will people think!"

Well, to tell the truth, dear, I don't care so very much what people think if only they will love you; and that they are sure to do, because,--well, just because-- You must remember, too, that you will be eighty-seven years old the eighteenth of next November, and it is therefore quite time that someone put you in a book.

And, after all, Auntie Sue, are you very sure that you have never lived in a little log house by the river,--are you very sure, Auntie Sue?

Forgive my impertinence, as you have always forgiven me everything; and love me just the same, because I have written only in love of the dearest Auntie Sue in the world!

Signature [Harold]

The Glenwood Mission Inn, Riverside, California, April 30, 1919.

"And see the rivers, how they run Through woods and meads, in shade and sun, Sometimes swift, sometimes slow,-- Wave succeeding wave, they go A various journey to the deep Like human life to endless sleep!"

John Dyer--"Grongar Hill."

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I. A REMARKABLE WOMAN

II. THE MAN IN THE DARK

III. A MISSING LETTER

IV. THE WILL OF THE RIVER

V. AUNTIE SUE RECOGNIZES A GENTLEMAN

VI. IN THE LOG HOUSE BY THE RIVER

VII. OFFICERS OF THE LAW

VIII. THAT WHICH IS GREATER THAN THE LAW

IX. AUNTIE SUE'S PROPOSITION

X. BRIAN KENT DECIDES

XI. RE-CREATION

XII. AUNTIE SUE TAKES A CHANCE

XIII. JUDY TO THE RESCUE

XIV. BETTY JO CONSIDERS

XV. A MATTER OF BUSINESS

XVI. THE SECRET OF AUNTIE SUE'S LIFE

XVII. AN AWKWARD SITUATION

XVIII. BETTY JO FACES HERSELF

XIX. JUDY'S CONFESSION

XX. BRIAN AND BETTY JO KEEP HOUSE

XXI. THE WOMAN AT THE WINDOW

XXII. AT THE EMPIRE CONSOLIDATED SAVINGS BANK

XXIII. IN THE ELBOW ROCK RAPIDS

XXIV. JUDY'S RETURN

XXV. THE RIVER

ILLUSTRATIONS

BETTY JO

"LOOK, JUDY! LOOK!

AUNTIE SUE SAID, SOFTLY, "SHE DID NOT UNDERSTAND, BRIAN"

* * * SHE MADE THE LITTLE BOOK OF PAINFUL MEMORIES A BOOK OF JOYOUS PROMISE

THE RE-CREATION OF BRIAN KENT

CHAPTER I.

A REMARKABLE WOMAN.

I remember as well as though it were yesterday the first time I met Auntie Sue.

It happened during my first roaming visit to the Ozarks, when I had wandered by chance, one day, into the Elbow Rock neighborhood. Twenty years it was, at least, before the time of this story. She was standing in the door of her little schoolhouse, the ruins of which you may still see, halfway up the long hill from the log house by the river, where the most of this story was lived.

It was that season of the year when the gold and brown of our Ozark Hills is overlaid with a filmy veil of delicate blue haze and the world is hushed with the solemn sweetness of the passing of the summer. And as the old gentlewoman stood there in the open door of that rustic temple of learning, with the deep-shadowed, wooded hillside in the background, and, in front, the rude clearing with its crooked rail fence along which the scarlet sumac flamed, I thought,--as I still think, after all these years,--that I had never before seen such a woman.

Fifty years had gone into the making of that sterling character which was builded upon a foundation of many generations of noble ancestors. Without home or children of her own, the life strength of her splendid womanhood had been given to the teaching of boys and girls. An old-maid schoolteacher? Yes,--if you will. But, as I saw her standing there that day,--tall and slender, dressed in a simple gown that was fitting to her work,--there was a queenly dignity, a stately sweetness, in her bearing that made me feel, somehow, as if I had come unexpectedly into the presence of royalty. Not the royalty of caste and court and station with their glittering pretenses of superiority and their superficial claims to distinction,--I do not mean that; I mean that true royalty which needs no caste or court or station but makes itself felt because it IS.

She did not notice me at first, for the noise of the children at play in the yard covered the sound of my approach, and she was looking far, far away, over the river which lay below at the foot of the hill; over the forest-clad mountains in the glory of their brown and gold; over the vast sweep of the tree-crowned Ozark ridges that receded wave after wave into the blue haze until, in the vastness of the distant sky, they were lost. And something made me know that, in the moment's respite from her task, the woman was looking even beyond the sky itself.

Her profile, clean-chiselled, but daintily formed, was beautiful in its gentle strength. Her hair was soft and silvery like the gray mist of the river in the morning. Then she turned to greet me, and I saw her eyes. Boy that I was then, and not given overmuch to serious thought, I knew that the high, unwavering purpose, the loving sympathy, and tender understanding that shone in the calm depth of those eyes could belong only to one who habitually looks unafraid beyond all earthly scenes. Only those who have learned thus to look beyond the material horizon of our little day have that beautiful inner light which shone in the eyes of Auntie Sue-- the teacher of a backwoods school.

Auntie Sue had come to the Elbow Rock neighborhood the summer preceding that fall when I first met her. She had grown too old, she said, with her delightful little laugh, to be of much use in the larger schools of the more thickly populated sections of the country. But she was still far too young, she stoutly maintained, to be altogether useless.

Tom Warden, who lived just over the ridge from the schoolhouse, and who was blessed with the largest wife, the largest family, and the most pretentious farm in the county, had kinsfolk somewhere in Illinois. Through these relatives of the Ozark farmer Miss Susan


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