THE LAND OF PROMISE
O UTSIDE the subtle clarion of autumn's dying
glory flamed in the torches of the maples and
smoldered in the burgundy of the oaks. It
trailed a veil of rose-ash and mystery along the slopes
of the White Mountains, and inside the crumbling
school-house the children droned sleepily over their
books like prisoners in a lethargic mutiny.
Frost had brought the chestnuts rattling down in
the open woods, and foraging squirrels were scamper-
ing among the fallen leaves.
Brooding at one of the front desks, sat a boy,
slender and undersized for his thirteen years. The
ill-fitting crudity of his neatly patched clothes gave
him a certain uniformity with his fellows, yet left him
as unlike them as all things else could conspire to
make him. The long hair that hung untrimmed over
his face seemed a black emphasis for the cameo delicacy
of his features, lending them a wan note of pathos.
On his thin temples, bluish veins traced the hall-mark