It was the big central taproot which baffled them. They had hewed

easily through the great side roots, large as branches, covered with

soft brown bark; they had dug down and cut through the forest of

tender small roots below; but when they had passed the main body of

the stump and worked under it, they found that their hole around the

trunk was not large enough in diameter to enable them to reach to the

taproot and cut through it. They could only reach it feebly with the

hatchet, fraying it, but there was no chance for a free swing to sever

the tough wood. Instead of widening the hole at once, they kept

laboring at the root, working the stump back and forth, as though they

hoped to crystallize that stubborntaproot and snap it like a wire.

Still it held and defied them. They laid hold of it together and

tugged with a grunt; something tore beneath that effort, but the stump

held, and upward progress ceased.

They stopped, too tired for profanity, and gazed down the mountainside

after the manner of baffled men, who look far off from the thing that

troubles them. They could tell by the trees that it was a high

altitude. There were no cottonwoods, though the cottonwoods will

follow a stream for more than a mile above sea level. Far below them a

pale mist obscured the beautiful silver spruce which had reached their

upward limit. Around the cabin marched a scattering of the balsam fir.

They were nine thousand feet above the sea, at least. Still higher up

the sallow forest of lodgepole pines began; and above these, beyond

the timberline, rose the bald summit itself.

They were big men, framed for such a country, defying the roughness

with a roughness of their own--these stalwart sons of old Bill

Campbell. Both Harry and Joe Campbell were fully six feet tall, with

mighty bones and sinews and work-toughened muscles to justify their

stature. Behind them stood their home, a shack better suited for the

housing of cattle than of men. But such leather-skinned men as these

were more tender to their horses than to themselves. They slept and

ate in the shack, but they lived in the wind and the sun.

Although they had looked down the stern slopes to the lower Rockies,

they did not see the girl who followed the loosely winding trail. She

was partly sheltered by the firs and came out just above them. They

began moiling at the stump again, sweating, cursing, and the girl

halted her horse near by. The profanity did not distress her. She was

so accustomed to it that the words had lost all edge and point for

her; but her freckled face stirred to a smile of pleasure at the sight

of their strength, as they alternately smote at the taproot and then

strove in creaking, grunting unison to work it loose.

They remained so long oblivious of her presence that at length she

called, "Why don't you dig a bigger hole, boys?"

She laughed in delight as they jerked up their heads in astonishment.

Her laughter was young and sweet to the ear, but there was not a great

deal outside her laughter that was attractive about her.

However, Joe and Harry gaped and grinned and blushed at her in the

time-old fashion, for she lived in a country where to be a woman is

sufficient, beauty is an unnecessary luxury, soon taxed out of

existence by the life. She possessed the main essentials of social

power; she could dance unflaggingly from dark to dawn at the nearest

schoolhouse dance, chattering every minute; and she could maintain a

rugged silence from dawn to dark again, as she rode her pony home.

Harry Campbell took off his hat, not in politeness, but to scratch his

head. "Say, Jessie, where'd you drop from? Didn't see you coming

no ways."

"Maybe I come down like rain," said Jessie.

All three laughed heartily at this jest.

Jessie swung sidewise in her saddle with the lithe grace of a boy,

dropped her elbow on the high pommel, and gave advice. "You got a

pretty bad taproot under yonder. Better chop out a bigger hole, boys.

But, say, what you clearing this here land for? Ain't no good for

nothing, is it?" She looked around her. Here and there the clearing

around the shanty ate raggedly into the forest, but still the plowed

land was chopped up with a jutting of boulders.

"Sure it ain't no good for nothing," said Joe. "It's just the old

man's idea."

He jerked a grimy thumb over his shoulder to indicate the controlling

and absent power of the old man, somewhere in the woods.

"Sure makes him glum when we ain't working. If they ain't nothing

worthwhile to do he always sets us to grubbing up roots; and if we

ain't diggin' up roots, we got to get out old 'Maggie' mare and try to

plow. Plow in rocks like them! Nobody but Bull can do it."

"I didn't know Bull could do nothing," said the girl with interest.

"Aw, he's a fool, right enough," said Harry, "but he just has a sort

of head for knowing where the rocks are under the ground, and somehow

he seems to make old Maggie hoss know where they lie, too. Outside of

that he sure ain't no good. Everybody knows that."

"Kind of too bad he ain't got no brains," said the girl. "All his

strength is in his back, and none is in his head, my dad says. If he

had some part of sense he'd be a powerful good hand."

"Sure would be," agreed Harry. "But he ain't no good now. Give him an

ax maybe, and he hits one or two wallopin' licks with it and then

stands and rests on the handle and starts to dreaming like a fool.

Same way with everything. But, say, Joe, maybe he could start this

stump out of the hole."

"But I seen you both try to get the stump up," said the girl in


"Get Bull mad and he can lift a pile," Joe assured her. "Go find him,


Harry obediently shouted, "Bull! Oh, Bull!"

There was no answer.

"Most like he's reading," observed Joe. "He don't never hear nothing

then. Go look for him, Harry."

Big Harry strode to the door of the hut.

"How come he understands books?" said the girl. "I couldn't never make

nothing out of 'em."

"Me neither," agreed Joe in sympathy. "But maybe Bull don't

understand. He just likes to read because he can sit still and do it.

Never was a lazier gent than Bull."

Harry turned at the door of the shack. "Yep, reading," he announced

with disgust. He cupped his hands over his mouth and bellowed through

the doorway, "Hey!"

There was a startled grunt within, a deep, heavy voice and a thick

articulation. Presently a huge man came into the doorway and leaned

there, his figure filling it. There was nothing freakish about his

build. He was simply over-normal in bulk, from the big head to the

heavy feet. He was no more than a youth in age, but the great size and

the bewildered puckering of his forehead made him seem older. The book

was still in his hand.

"Hey," returned Harry, "we didn't call you out here to read to us.

Leave the book behind!"

Bull looked down at the book in his hand, seemed to waken from a

trance, then, with a muffled sound of apology, dropped the book

behind him.

"Come here!"

He slumped out from the house. His gait was like his body, his stride

large and loose. The lack of nervousenergy which kept his mind from a

high tension was shown again in the heavy fall of his feet and the

forward slump of his head. His hands dangled aimlessly at his sides,

as though in need of occupation. A raggedthatch of blond hair covered

his head and it was sunburned to straw color at the edges.

His costume was equally rough. He wore no belt, but one strap, from

his right hip, crossed behind his back, over the bulging muscles of

his shoulder to the front of his left hip. The trousers, which this

simple brace supported, were patched overalls, frayed to loose threads

halfway down the calf where they were met by the tops of immense

cowhide boots. As for the shirt, the sleeves were inches too short,

and the unbuttoned cuffs flapped around the burly forearms. If it had

been fastened together at the throat he would have choked. He seemed,

in a word, to be bulging out of his clothes. One expected a mighty

rending if he made a strong effort.

This bulk of a man slouched forward with steps both huge and hesitant,

pausing between them. When he saw the girl he stopped short, and his

brow puckered more than before. One felt that, coming from the shadow,

he was dazed and startled by the brilliant mountain sunshine; and the

eyes were dull and alarmed. It was a handsome face in a way, but a

little too heavy with flesh, too inert, like the rest of his body and

his muscular movements.

"She ain't going to bite you," said Harry Campbell. "Come on over here

to the stump." He whispered to the girl, "Laugh at him!"

She obeyed his command. It brought a flush to the face of Bull Hunter

and made his head bow. He shuffled to the stump and stood aimlessly

beside it.

"Get down into the hole, you fool!" ordered Joe.

He and Harry took a certain pride in ordering their cousin around. It

was like performing with a lion in the presence of a lady; it was

manipulating an elephant by power of the unaided voice. Slowly Bull

Hunter dropped his great feet into the hole and then raised his head a

little and looked wistfully to the brothers for further orders.

But only half his mind was with them. The other half was with the

story in the book. There Quentin Durward had been nodding at his guard

in the castle, and the evil-faced little king had just sprung out and

wrenched the weapon from the hands of the sleepy boy. Bull Hunter

could see the story clearly, very clearly. The scar on the face of Le

Balafr glistened for him; he had veritably tasted the little round

loaves of French bread that the adventurer had eaten with the


But to step out of that world of words into this keen sunlight--ah,

there was the difference! The minds which one found in the pages of a

book were understandable. But the minds of living men--how terrible

they were! One could never tell what passed behind the bright eyes of

other human beings. They mocked one. When they seemed sad they might

be about to laugh. The minds of the two brothers eluded him, mocked

him, slipped from beneath the slow grasp of his comprehension. They

whipped him with their scorn. They dodged him with their wits. They

bewildered him with their mockery.

But they were nothing compared with the laughter of the girl. It went

through him like the flash and point of Le Balafr's long sword. He

was helpless before that sound of mirth. He wanted to hold up his

hands and cower away from her and from her dancing eyes. So he stood,

ponderous, tortured, and the three pairs of clear eyes watched him and

enjoyed his torture. Better, far better, that dark castle in ancient

France, and the wicked Oliver and the yet more wicked Louis.

"Lay hold on that stump," shouted Harry.

He heard the directions through a haze. It was twice repeated before

he bowed and set his great hands upon the ragged projections, where

the side roots had been cut away. He settled his grip and waited. He

was glad because this bowed position gave him a chance to look down to

the ground and avoid their cruel eyes. How bright those eyes were,

thought Bull, and how clearly they saw all things! He never doubted

the justice behind their judgments of him; all that Bull asked from

the world was a merciful silence--to let him grub in his books now and

then, or else to tell him how to go about some simple work, such as

digging with a pick. Here one's muscles worked, and there was no

problem to disturb wits which were still gathering wool in the pages

of some old tale.

But they were shrilling new directions at him; perhaps they had been

calling to him several times.

"You blamed idiot, are you goin' to stand there all day? We didn't

give you that stump to rest on. Pull it up!"

He started with a sense of guilt and tugged up. His fingers slipped

off their separate grips, and the stump, though it groaned against the

taproot under the strain, did not come out.

"It don't seem to budge, somehow," said Bull in his big, soft,

plaintive voice. Then he waited for the laughter. There was always

laughter, no matter what he did or said, but he never grew calloused

against it. It was the one pain which ever pierced the mist of his

brain and cut him to the quick. And he was right. There was laughter

again. He stood suffering mutely under it.

The girl's face became grave. She murmured to Harry, "Ever try

praisin' to big stupid?"

"Him? Are you joshin' me, Jessie? What's he ever done to be praised


"You watch!" said the girl. Growing excited with her idea, she called,

"Say, Bull!"

He lifted his head, but not his eyes. Those eyes studied the impatient

feet of the girl's mustang; he waited for another stroke of wit that

would bring forth a fresh shower of laughter at his expense.

"Bull, you're mighty big and strong. About the biggest and strongest

man I ever seen!"

Was this a new and subtle form of mockery? He waited dully.

"I seen Harry and Joe both try to pull up that root, and they couldn't

so much as budge it. But I bet you could do it all alone, Bull! You

just try! I bet you could!"

It amazed him. He lifted his eyes at length; his face suffused with a

flush; his big, cloudy eyes were glistening with moisture.

"D'you mean that?" he asked huskily.

For this terrible, clear-eyed creature, this mocking mind, this alert,

cruel wit was actuallyspeaking words of confidence. A great, dim joy

welled up in the heart of Bull Hunter. He shook the forelock out

of his eyes.

"You just try, will you, Bull?"

"I'll try!"

He bowed. Again his thick fingers sought for a grip, found places,

worked down through the soft dirt and the pulpy bark to solid wood,

and then he began to lift. It was a gradual process. His knees gave,

sagging under the strain from the arms. Then the back began to grow

rigid, and the legs in turn grew stiff, as every muscle fell into

play. The shoulders pushed forward and down. The forearms, revealed by

the short sleeves, showed a bewildering tangle of corded muscle, and,

at the wrists, the tendons sprang out as distinct and white as the new

strings of a violin.

The three spectators were undergoing a change. The suppressed grins of

the two brothers faded. They glanced at the girl to see if she were

not laughing at the results of her words to big Bull, but the girl was

staring. She had set that mighty power to work, and she was amazed by

the thing she saw. And they, looking back at Bull, were amazed in

turn. They had seen him lift great logs, wrench boulders from the

earth. But always it had been a proverb within the Campbell family

that Bull would make only one attempt and, failing in the first

effort, would try no more. They had never seen the mysterious

resources of his strength called upon.

Now they watched first the settling and then the expansion of the body

  • enable [i´neibəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.使能够;赋予权力   (初中英语单词)
  • working [´wə:kiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.工人的;劳动的   (初中英语单词)
  • upward [´ʌpwəd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.&ad.向上(的);以上   (初中英语单词)
  • stream [stri:m] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.河 vi.流出;飘扬   (初中英语单词)
  • partly [´pɑ:tli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.部分地;不完全地   (初中英语单词)
  • distress [di´stres] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.痛苦 vt.使苦恼   (初中英语单词)
  • laughter [´lɑ:ftə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.笑,笑声   (初中英语单词)
  • attractive [ə´træktiv] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有吸引力;诱人的   (初中英语单词)
  • luxury [´lʌkʃəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.奢侈(品);享受   (初中英语单词)
  • maintain [mein´tein] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.维持;保持;继续   (初中英语单词)
  • scratch [skrætʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.&n.抓,搔;抓伤   (初中英语单词)
  • saddle [´sædl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.鞍子 v.装鞍(于)   (初中英语单词)
  • absent [´æbsənt, əb´sent] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不在的 vt.使缺席   (初中英语单词)
  • knowing [´nəuiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.会意的,心照不宣的   (初中英语单词)
  • sympathy [´simpəθi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.同情,怜悯   (初中英语单词)
  • disgust [dis´gʌst] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.厌恶 vt.令(人)作呕   (初中英语单词)
  • doorway [´dɔ:wei] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.门口   (初中英语单词)
  • presently [´prezəntli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.不久;目前   (初中英语单词)
  • forehead [´fɔrid] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.额,前部   (初中英语单词)
  • nervous [´nə:vəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.神经的;神经过敏的   (初中英语单词)
  • energy [´enədʒi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.活力,精力;能力   (初中英语单词)
  • occupation [,ɔkju´peiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.职业的;军事占领的   (初中英语单词)
  • costume [´kɔstju:m] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.服装(试样);女装   (初中英语单词)
  • equally [´i:kwəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.相等地;平等地   (初中英语单词)
  • trousers [´trauzəz] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.裤子,长裤   (初中英语单词)
  • throat [θrəut] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.咽喉;嗓子;出入口   (初中英语单词)
  • brilliant [´briliənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.灿烂的;杰出的   (初中英语单词)
  • sunshine [´sʌnʃain] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.日光,阳光   (初中英语单词)
  • elephant [´elifənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.象   (初中英语单词)
  • weapon [´wepən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.武器;斗争手段   (初中英语单词)
  • helpless [´helpləs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.无助的,无依靠的   (初中英语单词)
  • torture [´tɔ:tʃə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vt.折磨;痛苦;拷问   (初中英语单词)
  • wicked [´wikid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.邪恶的;不道德的   (初中英语单词)
  • disturb [di´stə:b] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.扰乱;使不安;打乱   (初中英语单词)
  • suffering [´sʌfəriŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.痛苦;灾害   (初中英语单词)
  • shower [´ʃauə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.展出者;阵雨;淋浴   (初中英语单词)
  • actually [´æktʃuəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.事实上;实际上   (初中英语单词)
  • hunter [´hʌntə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.猎人;猎狗;猎马   (初中英语单词)
  • muscle [´mʌsəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.肌肉;体力;力量   (初中英语单词)
  • sprang [spræŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  spring 的过去式   (初中英语单词)
  • distinct [di´stiŋkt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.清楚的;独特的   (初中英语单词)
  • diameter [dai´æmitə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.直径   (高中英语单词)
  • stubborn [´stʌbən] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.顽固的;坚持的   (高中英语单词)
  • spruce [spru:s] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.云杉木 a.&v.整洁   (高中英语单词)
  • summit [´sʌmit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.顶(点);绝顶   (高中英语单词)
  • heartily [´hɑ:tili] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.衷心地;亲切地   (高中英语单词)
  • strode [strəud] 移动到这儿单词发声  stride的过去式   (高中英语单词)
  • ragged [´rægid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.衣服破烂的   (高中英语单词)
  • muscular [´mʌskjulə] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.肌肉的;强有力的   (高中英语单词)
  • sprung [sprʌŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  spring的过去分词   (高中英语单词)
  • sleepy [´sli:pi] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.困的,想睡的   (高中英语单词)
  • comprehension [,kɔmpri´henʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.理解;领悟   (高中英语单词)
  • repeated [ri´pi:tid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.反复的;重复的   (高中英语单词)
  • strain [strein] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.拉紧 vi.拖 n.张力   (高中英语单词)
  • studied [´stʌdid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.故意的;有计划的   (高中英语单词)
  • mighty [´maiti] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.强有力的 ad.很   (高中英语单词)
  • gradual [´grædʒuəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.逐渐的   (高中英语单词)
  • tangle [´tæŋgəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vt.(使)缠结;纠纷   (高中英语单词)
  • expansion [ik´spænʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.扩大;膨胀;发展   (高中英语单词)
  • feebly [´fi:bli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.虚弱地;贫乏地   (英语四级单词)
  • loosely [´lu:sli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.松散地   (英语四级单词)
  • freckled [´frekld] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有雀斑的,有斑点的   (英语四级单词)
  • alternately [ɔ:l´tə:nitli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.交替地,轮流地   (英语四级单词)
  • clearing [´kliəriŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(森林中的)空旷地   (英语四级单词)
  • apology [ə´pɔlədʒi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.道歉(的话);辩解   (英语四级单词)
  • tension [´tenʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.紧张;压力;拉力   (英语四级单词)
  • thatch [θætʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.茅草屋顶   (英语四级单词)
  • overalls [´əuvərɔ:lz] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.工装裤;工作裤   (英语四级单词)
  • adventurer [əd´ventʃərə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.冒险者   (英语四级单词)
  • gathering [´gæðəriŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.集会,聚集   (英语四级单词)
  • wrench [rentʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vt.拧;急拉;猛推   (英语四级单词)
  • proverb [´prɔvə:b] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.谚语;格言   (英语四级单词)
  • taproot [´tæp,ru:t] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.直根,主根   (英语六级单词)
  • crystallize [´kristəlaiz] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.(使)结晶,具体化   (英语六级单词)
  • unison [´ju:nisən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.协调,一致;齐唱   (英语六级单词)
  • politeness [pə´laitnis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.礼貌;文雅;温和   (英语六级单词)
  • assured [ə´ʃuəd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.确实的 n.被保险人   (英语六级单词)
  • wistfully [´wistfuli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.渴望地;不满足地   (英语六级单词)
  • merciful [´mə:sifəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.仁慈的;宽大的   (英语六级单词)
  • mockery [´mɔkəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.嘲笑;笑柄   (英语六级单词)
  • speaking [´spi:kiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.说话 a.发言的   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 18:41:08
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