THESE HIGH, GREEN HILLS
Jan Karon writes “to give readers an extended family, and to applaud the extraordinary beauty of ordinary lives.” She is the author of nine Mitford novels, At Home in Mitford;
A Light in the Window; These High, Green Hills; Out to Canaan; A New Song; A Common Life; In This Mountain; Shepherds Abiding; and Light from Heaven,
all available from Penguin. She is also the author of
The Mitford Bedside Companion; Jan Karon’s Mitford Cookbook & Kitchen Reader; A Continual Feast: Words of Comfort and Celebration, Collected by Father Tim; Patches of Godlight: Father Tim’s Favorite Quotes; The Mitford Snowmen: A Christmas Story; Esther’s Gift; and The Trellis and the Seed. Her children’s books include Miss Fannie’s Hat; Jeremy: The Tale of an Honest Bunny; and Violet Comes to Stay.
Coming from Viking in fall 2007 is the first Father Tim Novel,
Home to Holly Springs.
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The Mitford Years
These High Green Hills
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario,
Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland
(a division of Penguin Books Ltd)
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Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)
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(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)
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Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England
First published in the United States of America by Viking Penguin,
a division of Penguin Books USA Inc. 1996
Published in Penguin Books 1997
Copyright © Jan Karon, 1996
All rights reserved
Illustrations by Donna Kae Nelson
Grateful acknowledgment is made for permission to reprint an excerpt from
Dietrich Bonhoeffer. English translation copyright © 1954 by Harper and Brothers. Copyright
renewed 1982 by Helen S. Doberstein.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the
author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resrmblance to actual persons, living or dead,
events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
eISBN : 978-1-101-46377-2
1. City and town life—United States—Fiction. I. Title. II. Series: Karon, Jan, date Mitford years.
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the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized
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Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
For my precious grandmother,
Fannie Belle Bush Cloer,
Mama, Redwing, The Storyteller.
With sincere thanks to:
Miss Read (Dora Saint); Rev. Rocky Ward; Marrion Ward; Dr. Greg Adams; Dr. “Bunky” Davant; Dr. Greg Hawthorne; Flyin‘ George Ronan; Jim Atkinson; Dr. John C. Wolff, Jr.; Billy Wilson; Dr. Buck Henson; Dr. Cara Roten-Henson; David Watts; Tony di Santi; Dr. Ken McKinney; Fr. James Harris; Ruth Bell Graham; Earl and Nancy Trexler; Sonny Klutz; Richard J. Foster; Dr. William Standish Reed; Jim Barber; Diane Grymes; Steve Sudderth; Bear Green; Bob Moody; Fr. Chuck Blanck; Fr. Rick Lawler; Fr. Russell Johnson; Raney MacArthur-Ratchford; Maribelle Freeland; Julie Q. Hayes, R.N. BSN, Blowing Rock Hospital; Pam Collette, R.N. BSN, Clinical Nurse Mgr., Donna Joyner, Assistant Clinical Nurse Mgr., and Pamela Thomas, R.N. BSN, of the Burn Center, North Carolina Baptist Hospitals, Inc., Winston-Salem; Dana Watkins, R.N. BSN, Sanger Clinic, Charlotte; Rev. James Stuart; Fr. Kale King; Dr. Ross Rhoads; Doug Galke; Shirlee Gaines Edwards; Bertie Beam; Nancy Olson of Quail Ridge Books; Shirley Sprinkle of The Muses; my friends at Gideon Ridge Inn; Liz Darhansoff, my gifted and indefatigable agent, and Carolyn Carlson, my visionary Viking Penguin editor and friend; Jerry Burns, the small-town newspaperman with the big heart; and the vanishing breed of old-time Gospel preachers (especially the late Vance Havner and the still-present Arndt Greer), who brought conviction to their calling and color to the language.
Last but never least, thanks to the wonderful booksellers who have enthusiastically spread the word, and to the many readers who have cheered me on, given my books to family and friends, and come to feel comfortably at home in Mitford.
Table of Contents
Through the Hedge
HE STOOD at the kitchen window and watched her coming through the hedge.
What was she lugging this time? It appeared to be a bowl and pitcher. Or was it a stack of books topped by a vase?
The rector took off his glasses, fogged them, and wiped them with his handkerchief. It was a bowl and pitcher, all right. How the little yellow house next door had contained all the stuff they’d recently muscled into the rectory was beyond him.
“For your dresser,” she said, as he held the door open.
The last thing he wanted was a bowl and pitcher on his dresser. The top of his dresser was his touchstone, his home base, his rock in a sea of change. That was where his car keys resided, his loose coins, his several crosses, his cuff links, his wallet, his checkbook, his school rin g, and a small jar of buttons with a needle and thread.
It was also where he kept the mirror in which he occasionally examined the top of his head. Was his hair still thinning, or, by some mysterious and hoped-for reversal, growing in again?
“Cynthia,” he said, going upstairs in the wake of his blond and shapely wife, “about that bowl and pitcher ...”
“The color is wonderful. Look at the blues. It will relieve all your burgundy and brown!”
He did not want his burgundy and brown relieved.
He saw it coming.
Ever since their marriage on September seventh, she had plotted to lug that blasted armoire over for the rectory guest room.
The lugging over was one thing; it was the lugging back that he dreaded. They had, for example, lugged over an oriental rug that was stored in her basement. “Ten by twelve!” she announced, declaring it perfect for the bare floor of the rectory dining room.
After wrestling the table and chairs into the hall, they had unrolled the rug and unrolled the rug—to kingdom come. It might have gone up the walls on all four sides and met at the chandelier over the table.
“This is a rug for a school gym!” he said, wiping the pouring sweat from his brow.