The Good Spirit of Laurel Ridge
In The Good Spirit of Laurel Ridge, Jesse Stuart provides a tale of the Kentucky hill country which constantly excites, amuses, and amazes. The central character of this book is Theopolis Akers, "Old Opp" to his friends, the hermit of Laurel Ridge who is recognized as one of Stuart's most colorful character creations. Hermit, squatter, steadfast believer in the world of the spirits (sperets, he calls them), "Old Opp" lives a simple life atop deserted Laurel Ridge. He spends his days tilling his small patch of corn, gathering roots and nuts, or fishing with his bow and arrow. By night he sits on his porch, chews calmus weed, and listens to the wind blowing through the horse-hair harp strung up on the cabin wall. If he wants company, there is always his hound dog to talk to or various spirits to commune with including his dead wife, Beadie.
But then the outside world invades Laurel Ridge. First Opp's daughter, Lucretia, comes from Dayton to take care of him (so she says). Next two distant cousins, in advanced stages of atom-bomb neurosis, seek sanctuary in the hills (Op has never heard of this yar adam-bumb). And finally a mysterious wild man is seen roaming the hills and hollows along the Ridge.
At first Opp is willing to share his Ridge with others, even teaching them the secrets of life in his natural paradise. But when they begin to corrupt it with their soft city ways; when a dozen foxes are found dead; and when the city folk refuse to heed his sperets and laugh at the music of his harp, then "Old Opp" grows cantankerous and wishes them gone.
Through Opp, who loves to tell stories, Jesse Stuart spins outlandish yarns of the hill country. In The Good Spirit of Laurel Ridge, Jesse Stuart presents some of his most unique and colorful material. Humorous, astonishing, and even outrageous, it is truly authentic a story with all the charm of a mountain ballad a story that only Jesse Stuart could have written.