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Janice Holt Giles
With a Foreword by Wade Hall
Copyright Date: 1975
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    The last book Giles published before her death in 1979,Wellspringhas been out of print for years.

    The nineteen selections bring together Giles's fiction, nonfiction, autobiography, and fictionalized autobiography to reveal a behind-the-scenes look at her life, her family, her love for her adopted state of Kentucky and its people, her politics, her favorite authors, her thoughts on writing, and her views of her own work.Wellspringis available again for old and new readers of Janice Holt Giles.

    Janice Holt Giles(1905-1979), author of nineteen books, lived and wrote near Knifley, Kentucky, for thirty-four years. Her biography is told inJanice Holt Giles: A Writer's Life.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5762-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
    Wade Hall

    Anyone who has even a cursory knowledge of Janice Holt Giles’s twenty-five books, including the posthumously publishedAct of Contrition,is aware of her versatility and broad vision. Her work ranges from historical fiction, in which she chronicles the opening of the early West on the Kentucky frontier as well as expansion into the Indian Territory and the Far West, to contemporary fiction and autobiographical works set in her husband’s ridge country of Adair County, Kentucky.

    The nineteen selections that make upWellspring,which was originally published in 1975, are a microcosm of her vast world. It would be the...

    (pp. 3-10)

    The difference between good writing and mediocre writing is frequently a matter of rhythm and euphony. Often, indeed, rhythm is what makes a writer’s style, and always it is what gives him pace. There are many kinds of rhythm in writing. One of the most important is simply the melody of words and their proper balance in a sentence.

    Words can give you sound effects that heighten the meaning of your sentences simply by the way they sound. The English alphabet is very versatile. Take the letter s for instance. Its sound can be used to denote evil, hatred, disgust,...

  5. KINTA

      (pp. 13-25)

      His full name was Stonewall Jackson Breclcinridge. Inevitably he was called Stoney. He lived in Beaver Creek, population three hundred and fifty, in the Indian Territory, which was not yet Oklahoma. His father, whom everyone called “Professor,” was principal of the school. His mother was a musician and an artist. He was an only child. He was six years old.

      With frowning concentration he was trying to master the art of riding, pushing and guiding his new red wagon all at the same time. One knee was doubled into the bed of the wagon. The other leg pushed. One hand...

      (pp. 26-36)

      Mama always said that Papa just swept her off her feet. “Like that,” she used to say, making a swift motion with her hand. “He just wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

      Mary and I had visions of Papa, young Lochinvar come out of the West, sweeping Mama off her feet, literally scooping her up and running away with her. It wasn’t at all difficult to think of Papa as a dashing young cavalier. He was still a tall, slender, very winsome man. We thought he must have been almost beautiful, when he was younger and had more hair.


    • THE GIFT
      (pp. 37-50)

      Nearly every day she went out to the big gate and waited for him to come swinging home across the prairie. She climbed to the post and sat there patiently, her hands folded in her lap.

      She was a round, apple-cheeked little girl, not very tall for eight. But when she waited for Jeff to come home, she felt slender and tall and fair like a princess. She waited like a princess, quietly and decorously, in her tower atop the gatepost.

      If he had been to the lower range, he would come into sight on the rim of the prairie...


      (pp. 53-68)

      Old Mr. Forbes stood just inside the great door and beamed happily on the members of the congregation as they entered the church. He had stood exactly there on practically every Sunday for fifty years, and he always beamed. Today was special, though, and the beam, if possible, was a little beamier than usual. He was delighted that it was such a fine day and that so many of the congregation had come to hear the new preacher’s first sermon.

      The people of New Hope were fond of saying that old Mr. Forbes looked just like Winston Churchill, and he...

      (pp. 69-72)

      “Heaven must be a Kentucky sort of place.” Legend has put the words in the mouth of that trapping man, Daniel Boone. Let it stand.

      But Kentucky was a fable. It was the land we hadn't come to yet — that far place of dreams where meadows were fair, forests were noble, streams were overflowing. It was always the land beyond — over another mountain, across another rolling river. It was the land God made just right and put in exactly the right place.

      It was the Bluegrass and the Cumberland, theBelle Riviereand the Chenoa. It was the wide Missouri...

      (pp. 73-92)

      “Pa says there’s not room for e’er other thing. I don’t know if we can get your feather bolster loaded on.”

      “The feather bolster will not take such a heap of room, James. Make a place for it.”

      Rebecca Boone knew it was not Daniel who had objected to the feather bolster. James had been strung as tight as a fiddle string since the day his father had named his intention of taking them to Kentucky, and now that the time had come to leave he couldn't hide his pleasure to be going at last, or his impatience at the...

      (pp. 93-108)

      John F. Kennedy turned the spotlight of national attention upon Appalachia in the 1960 presidential campaign. For fifty years before it had been a provocative subject for study but since 1960 the region has been surveyed, studied, researched, measured, charted, polled, tabulated, photographed and televised intensely and almost continuously.

      The cause of all this study, the Appalachian, is always found to be irritating, frustrating, stubborn, inflexible and povertystricken almost beyond hope. After all the measuring, charting and surveying, he is still the cause of uneasy bafflement. He still remains almost totally incomprehensible to the average American mind.

      In this plethora...

      (pp. 109-122)

      The boy held his dog to heel while the butterfly, speared by a shaft of sunlight through the woods that bordered the river, teetered over a trumpet flower. “Hit’s goin’ to light,” he whispered to the dog. “Hit’s goin’ to light an’ then we kin see its wings.”

      The butterfly hovered uncertainly, warmed by the sun, beating its wings ecstatically in the drenching sweetness that poured from the flower. This flower, or that. It was undecided. This deep, unpierced bell of bloom, or that dark, amber tear of honey. Rapturously it circled and dipped over the vine, tipping a wing...

      (pp. 123-133)

      “Trouble with you, Jed,” says Grampa Clark, propping his foot on the lowest fence rail and laying a puddle of tobacco juice in the dust of the road, “trouble with you is yer too pa’tickler. Ary woman’ better’n none at all. If she kin bake a biscuit she’ll do to tie to. Yer too choosey, an’ a man yore age cain’t be so picky. You jist got to tetch ’n take.”

      Jedediah hitched at his overalls and, taking careful aim, laid another puddle of tobacco juice right alongside of Grampa Clark’s. “Well do I know it,” he says, “but I...

    • DEAR SIR
      (pp. 134-148)

      This leaves me fine and hoping you are the same.

      Well, no, it doesn’t to say leave me real fine, for I’ve got an awful cold and am afraid I’m coming down with the virus. But then I always say you’ve got to expect a few sniffles in the wintertime. I just rub my chest good with goosegrease and turpentine and hope for the best. Depends on the way you look at it whether what I get is what I hope for. But it’s as good a remedy as anything else. Goosegrease and turpentine.

      I got a letter from your...


      (pp. 151-168)

      Into the silence of the sunny morning, into the peace of the petunia bed, bedlam suddenly broke. From the orchard there came the variously pitched yells, screams, shrieks and whoops of several children, the deep ragged howling of a dog and the earsplitting, yowling squalls of an enraged cat.

      Miss Em’s reflexes were good. They caused her to yank so vigorously at the weed she was pulling that it was suddenly uprooted and she was sent reeling back into the thorny embrace of the rambler rose. “Drat!” she said vehemently. Then, plucking herself loose from the rose’s prickly clutches, she...

      (pp. 169-186)

      Himmie, they called him.

      There were three of the boys, two with silvery blond hair and bright blue eyes, and the youngest an oak-leaf brown with soft, chocolatey eyes. They usually stood in a stair-step line. “Because,” they said, “that’s the way we were bom.”

      Inevitably, they were asked, “Who is Himmie?”

      Inevitably, they answered, “Himmie is our favoritest grandfather in the whole, wide world.”

      “That,” their grandmother said, “is the most inclusive statement I ever heard. One gets the idea there are thousands of grandfathers scattered from here to China to choose from, and Henry has been handpicked from...

      (pp. 187-199)

      It may have been because we already owned a log fishing camp, or it may have been because in the last three novels I had written the people had built log cabins and, like drugs, we were addicted to them.

      Whatever the reason, when we went crazy with spring fever in 1957 and decided to build a home in the country, we perpetrated the further folly of building it of logs.

      We thought for once we were being logical. The history of our married years has been one of valiant but futile efforts to overcome a native tendency in each...

      (pp. 200-204)

      There is a tendency among the falsehearted to look down their noses at this kind of music. My husband, my friend Pansy Phillips and I had an experience straight out of a Lichty cartoon once in one of the smaller cities of Kentucky.

      For years Henry and I have crusaded for the Library Extension Division and its network of bookmobiles and regional libraries. A new library was in the process of being born in this small city and I agreed to speak in its behalf. Mrs. Phillips and Henry were invited to be present.

      The city put the big pot...

      (pp. 205-227)

      When married people decide to go wading in political waters, it would be well if they made certain their partners are willing to advise and consent. We learned this the hard way.

      When it was my time, I had perhaps a 25 percent grudging consent from my husband. When it was his, he had none from me. And each of us consistently refused to advise or consent!

      Henry and I had never done more than vote until that fall of i960 when John Fitzgerald Kennedy became the Democratic candidate for the presidency. We had lived here in the county, first...

      (pp. 228-240)

      “No, ma’am, I’ve not ever steamboated on any other river. I was bom on the Green, raised on the Green, and it’s the only river I ever wanted to steamboat on. The Green’s enough river for any man. I spent forty years on the Green and I could run you the river as good today as I ever did though it’s been thirty years since I quit.

      “No, ma’am, I didn’t quit because of my age. I could take a fleet of barges downriver today as good as I ever did, though I misdoubt [with a twinkle] I could run...

      (pp. 241-261)

      It WAS five-thirty in the morning. In late September in Kentucky it is barely daylight at that hour.

      It was cold and raw and a sluggish fog lay thickly over the river. My artist friend, Pansy Phillips, and I sat on rocks on the bank of the Barren River at Bowling Green and huddled into our coats and felt the fog on our faces and tasted it on our tongues. In the half-light we looked like sleepy ghosts to each other.

      We had been deposited a few minutes earlier by a skeptical taxi driver. "I haven't seen a boat on...

  8. L’ENVOI
    (pp. 262-264)