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<Html><title>Trouble an' Heartache</title> <body bgcolor="#FFFFFF"><center><H1>PART ONE: FREEDOM</h1></center><TT> <P> Lundy stepped away from his workbench and surveyed the cavern. It was ready. Everything was in its place. Several sawhorses were stacked in the corner; his tools were neatly arranged on the workbench; numerous pieces of lumber rested on the shelves that used to store liquor. The young man nodded his head in satisfaction. His father was coming home today, and Lundy wanted everything to be perfect.

<P><center>******</center><P> Bird's-Eye lay on his bunk, watching the early morning sun stream through the small window of the cell he shared with his blockading associates, Jake and Bart. He was looking forward to tomorrow, when he would awaken to sunlight through a window that left no shadow of iron bars on the floor. It was time to go home! Today he was going to be free! The thought made the convicted and reformed blockader grin.<P> And he wasn't just returning to an empty cabin; his boy was waiting for him. Lundy! Bird's-Eye could hardly believe what a fortunate turn his life had taken since that miserable day when he shot Creed Allen. He had to almost kill a young boy to realize the need of his soul. Sure he'd just spent the last six months in jail, but no one could imprison his mind, or his spirit. The purpose of life was not to sustain his physical being; it was to know and love the God who had created him and who loved him, even in the depths of his sinfulness. Bird's-Eye now knew that he could endure any circumstances, any hardship, because his Heavenly Father was with him. With that attitude, he was able to see prison as an opportunity to purge himself of the desire for moonshine and immerse himself in the Word of God. The mountain man had done those two things, and now was anxiously awaiting the familiar footsteps of Herbert MacDonald, the guard who would set him free.<P> "You up, Bird's-Eye?" Bart pulled on the blanket of the bunk above him.<P> "Aye. Ye reckon yore ready to go home, Bart?" Bird's-Eye responded.<P> "Guess so," came the muffled reply. "Don't rightly know what I'm a-gonna be doin', though. Figger it mought be time t' look fer a job in the city. I shore don't aim t' do ony more blockadin'. Six months in jail...... Law! Hit's a mighty long time."<P> The two men heard a cynical snort from the bed on the opposite wall. "You fellers air somethin' else," the lump under the covers growled. "Talkin' all high an' mighty. Like yore too good to run a little corn squeezin's down the moun-tain." Jake threw the blanket off and sat up. "I say ye'll both be back t' stillin' ‘fore the leaves fall off'n the trees," he challenged.<P> "Ye're wrong, Jake." Bird's-Eye looked his cell mate in the eye. "I'm a diff'rent man than I was. I got m' boy back. And I ain't a-gonna loose ‘im agin." He shook his head earnestly. "Liqour don't bring nothin' but trouble an' heartache. An' I done already had enough o' both o' them things."<P><center>******</center><P> For several minutes, Bird's-Eye stood in the front yard of the Lyleton jail with his eyes closed as he let the warm August sun touch his face. He took a deep breath, letting the fresh air of freedom fill his lungs. Then with a smile that spread from ear to ear, the highlander gripped the old leather book in his hands and headed toward the range of mountains that was his home.

<P><center>******</center><P> Zady Spencer stirred the mixture bubbling in the large pot over the fire. She walked to the table and nervously rearranged the bowls and spoons she had placed there just moments ago. The teenage girl opened the door of the pot-bellied stove and sniffed the mouth-watering scent of baking cornbread. Today was a special day for Lundy, and she wanted to do her part to make it go smoothly.<P> "Shore smells good, Zady." the brown-haired girl jumped as she heard the voice behind her. Lundy had entered the room so quietly, she had not heard his footsteps. "Reckon this ole cabin ain't had cookin' like your'n in it since heck was a pup." Zady smiled appreciatively at her beau. Lundy's heart skipped a beat as those big, brown eyes swallowed him up. He laughed nervously. "Wisht Paw'd hoof it on up hare. I'm hongry as a she ba'ar come spring-time."<P> "If'n you be-have, I reckon it won't hurt fer ye to have a smidgeon o' cornbread when it's done," Zady teased.<P> "Oh, I'll be good," the young man promised. He added, "whilst we're a-waitin' why don't we go traipsin'? Thar's somethin' I'm a-wantin' toshow ye."<P> "Waal," Zady opened the oven door and eyed the cornbread carefully. "Cornbread won't be done fer a while. ‘Spose we could go fer a spell." The young couple exited the cabin and walked toward the creek. Lundy glanced furtively at the girl walking beside him. His heart ached with the desire to take her small hand in his, but he didn't want to appear too forward. He planned to court Zady and make her his wife, and he wasn't about to take any action that might scare her away. <P> Zady was unaware of the struggle taking place in the silent man next to her. She wondered why he was so quiet. Had she done something to displease him? She cleared her throat cautiously. "Reckon th' leaves'll be turnin' afore too long." "Hm?" Lundy asked distractedly. <P> "I said, reckon th' leaves'll be turnin' afore too long," she repeated loudly. "I do somethin' wrong, Lundy?" she asked with a wrinkle in herbrow.<P> Surprised, Lundy stopped walking and turned to face his sweetheart. "Wrong? You ain't done onything wrong. Everwhat makes ye think so?"<P> Zady sighed with relief. "Waal. Ye're awful quiet-like....... You still like me don't ye?"<P> "‘Course I do!" he exclaimed. If only he could express the intensity of his feelings for her! He reached for her hand, but then restrained himself. His hand dropped quickly to his side. "I ain't never knowed a girl like ye, Zady. I like you better'n onything. When I get quiet-like, hits ‘cause....... hits ‘cause....... I jest cain't believe ye're here....... with me." He dug his toe into the dirt and studied the ground. "Hits what I was hopin' for all that time I was in Knox-ville."<P> "You mean ye wore thinkin' on me whilst ye was gone?" she asked.<P> "Aye. Hardly could think of onything else." He laughed and held up both of his hands. "I'm a lucky feller that I still got all my fingers! Onct ‘r twice I coulda sawed my thumb clean off, thinkin' about you, ‘stead of m' work."<P> Zady giggled. She felt special indeed. Lundy liked her so much that he couldn't help thinking about her! All that time, she'd been pining over her mysterious stranger, and it was Lundy! She was amazed that they were walking together right now. <P> The two teenagers crossed the creek and hiked up a steep hill. Lundy reached the top, then turned toward Zady. She was struggling to climb the ridge. The young man swallowed, then held out his sweaty palm to her. Gratefully she took it, and he pulled her to summit. He squeezed her hand gently, then reluctantly released it.<P> The pair drank in the awesome view. Below them, Deer Valley was lush and green; a patch of brilliant golden wild flowers beckoned them. In the distance, range upon range of mountains folded behind one another. <P> "You like this spot, Zady?" Lundy whispered.<P> Zady pulled her eyes away from the amazing vista. Lundy was looking at her as though she were as beautiful as the mountains they surveyed. "Hits beauteous," she breathed.<P> "Reckon I mought build me a cabin here one day," Lundy began matter-of-factly. "Be a right-good spot for the car-pentry bizness..... not fur from the mill; thar's a good sarvice road yan..... Think a gal'd have a hankerin' t' live in a cabin on this-here spot?"<P> Zady's face blushed a deep pink. "Guess most gal-women'd be right proud t' keep house here, with a lookout over this-away......." her hand swept out over the magnificent landscape. She nodded. "It'd be right nice, I reckon."<P> Lundy turned to face the young woman. Cautiously he took her hand in his. He stepped closer to her. He could smell the faint scent of lavender in her hair. The young woman with the fathomless brown eyes looked up at him with...... with what? Longing? Trust? Love? All three. Lundy licked his lips and swallowed. His heart was pounding in his ears. She looked like she wanted him to kiss her, he thought. Irresistibly, he found himself drawn toward her. He closed his eyes and tentatively touched his lips to hers. In wide-eyed surprise, the teenagers looked at each other.<P> Zady's voice quivered as she said, "We'd best be a-lookin' in on the cornbread, yonder." She turned and scurried down the hill.<P> Lundy noticed her pink ears as he watched her disappear. The exhilaration he felt from his first kiss faded abruptly. "Consarned fool!" he chided himself as he dejectedly followed the path that Zady had taken. "Let yore guard down fer one minit, an' ye done scairt ‘er away." He kicked a small rock on the path. "Ain't no need to build no cabin now, you sorry wretch." He put his hands to his head in agony. "Oh, Law! What've I done?" </TT><p>Go to: <a href="./trouble2.html">Chapter Four</a> | < a href="./archive.html">Main Archive page</a></body></html>