"A Castle in the Air," is the third installment in our occasional feature of publishing stories that, by virtue of their age, find themselves in the public domain. Agatha E. Boyd, a junior at Roanoke High School, published the short story in the 1910 yearbook "Acorns of Roanoke." Boyd's tale, which includes several intriguing asides, recounts the fantasies of a bizarre and misunderstood woman in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the early 20th century. Boyd would go on to become Agatha Adams (1893-1950), a writer and librarian at the University of North Carolina. She was also the mother of Alice Adams, a celebrated short story writer and novelist, whose 1999 New York Times obituary described her mother as "a frustrated writer full of unfulfilled literary aspirations."
It was a hot July day in the mountains of Virginia. The earth swam in a faint blue haze of heat that rose from river and cliff. Old Purgatory Mountain reared its giant head against the intense blue sky, and seemed with an inviting suggestion of cool woodland shades and mossy forest brooks to belie its fiery name. Across the river lay the village, its few houses and one church spire clustered lovingly about the oak-shaded hill on which sat the Carter mansion, a splendid relic of Colonial days. On a rounded knoll at the foot of the mountain, where the tall pines made a mournful sound day and night, lay the little cemetery, with its white slabs glistening in the late afternoon sun. Just between the mountain and the cemetery was a small hill, capped by a drab-colored hut which seemed singularly isolated from its surroundings. The mountain sent no fatherly protection around it, but rather hung aloof and showed only his stern cliff-face. The river swung in his course as if to avoid it, and the cemetery, full of half sad, half tender memories was the only thing which seemed to draw near the hut. But the view from the hill was particularly fine, for not only was there the pleasant outlook towards the white little town in its cluster of trees, and the fair waving fields of grain, but also the wider vision of the endless chains of lofty mountains, with their dreamful suggestion of other lands beyond.