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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Call Of The Canyon - Chapter 5
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The Call Of The Canyon - Chapter 5 Post by :ben.g Category :Long Stories Author :Zane Grey Date :May 2012 Read :2234

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The Call Of The Canyon - Chapter 5

CHAPTER V

Later Carley leaned back in a comfortable seat, before a blazing fire
that happily sent its acrid smoke up the chimney, pondering ideas in her
mind.

There could be a relation to familiar things that was astounding in its
revelation. To get off a horse that had tortured her, to discover an
almost insatiable appetite, to rest weary, aching body before the genial
warmth of a beautiful fire--these were experiences which Carley found
to have been hitherto unknown delights. It struck her suddenly and
strangely that to know the real truth about anything in life might
require infinite experience and understanding. How could one feel
immense gratitude and relief, or the delight of satisfying acute hunger,
or the sweet comfort of rest, unless there had been circumstances of
extreme contrast? She had been compelled to suffer cruelly on horseback
in order to make her appreciate how good it was to get down on the
ground. Otherwise she never would have known. She wondered, then, how
true that principle might be in all experience. It gave strong food for
thought. There were things in the world never before dreamed of in her
philosophy.

Carley was wondering if she were narrow and dense to circumstances of
life differing from her own when a remark of Flo's gave pause to her
reflections.

"Shore the worst is yet to come." Flo had drawled.

Carley wondered if this distressing statement had to do in some way with
the rest of the trip. She stifled her curiosity. Painful knowledge of
that sort would come quickly enough.

"Flo, are you girls going to sleep here in the cabin?" inquired Glenn.

"Shore. It's cold and wet outside," replied Flo.

"Well, Felix, the Mexican herder, told me some Navajos had been bunking
here."

"Navajos? You mean Indians?" interposed Carley, with interest.

"Shore do," said Flo. "I knew that. But don't mind Glenn. He's full of
tricks, Carley. He'd give us a hunch to lie out in the wet."

Hutter burst into his hearty laugh. "Wal, I'd rather get some things
any day than a bad cold."

"Shore I've had both," replied Flo, in her easy drawl, "and I'd prefer
the cold. But for Carley's sake--"

"Pray don't consider me," said Carley. The rather crude drift of the
conversation affronted her.

"Well, my dear," put in Glenn, "it's a bad night outside. We'll all make
our beds here."

"Glenn, you shore are a nervy fellow," drawled Flo.

Long after everybody was in bed Carley lay awake in the blackness of the
cabin, sensitively fidgeting and quivering over imaginative contact with
creeping things. The fire had died out. A cold air passed through the
room. On the roof pattered gusts of rain. Carley heard a rustling of
mice. It did not seem possible that she could keep awake, yet she strove
to do so. But her pangs of body, her extreme fatigue soon yielded to
the quiet and rest of her bed, engendering a drowsiness that proved
irresistible.

Morning brought fair weather and sunshine, which helped to sustain
Carley in her effort to brave out her pains and woes. Another
disagreeable day would have forced her to humiliating defeat.
Fortunately for her, the business of the men was concerned with the
immediate neighborhood, in which they expected to stay all morning.

"Flo, after a while persuade Carley to ride with you to the top of this
first foothill," said Glenn. "It's not far, and it's worth a good deal
to see the Painted Desert from there. The day is clear and the air free
from dust."

"Shore. Leave it to me. I want to get out of camp, anyhow. That
conceited hombre, Lee Stanton, will be riding in here," answered Flo,
laconically.

The slight knowing smile on Glenn's face and the grinning disbelief
on Mr. Hutter's were facts not lost upon Carley. And when Charley, the
herder, deliberately winked at Carley, she conceived the idea that Flo,
like many women, only ran off to be pursued. In some manner Carley did
not seek to analyze, the purported advent of this Lee Stanton pleased
her. But she did admit to her consciousness that women, herself
included, were both as deep and mysterious as the sea, yet as
transparent as an inch of crystal water.

It happened that the expected newcomer rode into camp before anyone
left. Before he dismounted he made a good impression on Carley, and
as he stepped down in lazy, graceful action, a tall lithe figure, she
thought him singularly handsome. He wore black sombrero, flannel shirt,
blue jeans stuffed into high boots, and long, big-roweled spurs.

"How are you-all?" was his greeting.

From the talk that ensued between him and the men, Carley concluded
that he must be overseer of the sheep hands. Carley knew that Hutter
and Glenn were not interested in cattle raising. And in fact they were,
especially Hutter, somewhat inimical to the dominance of the range land
by cattle barons of Flagstaff.

"When's Ryan goin' to dip?" asked Hutter.

"Today or tomorrow," replied Stanton.

"Reckon we ought to ride over," went on Hutter. "Say, Glenn, do you
reckon Miss Carley could stand a sheep-dip?"

This was spoken in a low tone, scarcely intended for Carley, but she had
keen ears and heard distinctly. Not improbably this sheep-dip was what
Flo meant as the worst to come. Carley adopted a listless posture to
hide her keen desire to hear what Glenn would reply to Hutter.

"I should say not!" whispered Glenn, fiercely.

"Cut out that talk. She'll hear you and want to go."

Whereupon Carley felt mount in her breast an intense and rebellious
determination to see a sheep-dip. She would astonish Glenn. What did
he want, anyway? Had she not withstood the torturing trot of the
hardest-gaited horse on the range? Carley realized she was going to
place considerable store upon that feat. It grew on her.

When the consultation of the men ended, Lee Stanton turned to Flo. And
Carley did not need to see the young man look twice to divine what ailed
him. He was caught in the toils of love. But seeing through Flo Hutter
was entirely another matter.

"Howdy, Lee!" she said, coolly, with her clear eyes on him. A tiny frown
knitted her brow. She did not, at the moment, entirely approve of him.

"Shore am glad to see you, Flo," he said, with rather a heavy expulsion
of breath. He wore a cheerful grin that in no wise deceived Flo, or
Carley either. The young man had a furtive expression of eye.

"Ahuh!" returned Flo.

"I was shore sorry about--about that--" he floundered, in low voice.

"About what?"

"Aw, you know, Flo."

Carley strolled out of hearing, sure of two things--that she felt rather
sorry for Stanton, and that his course of love did not augur well for
smooth running. What queer creatures were women! Carley had seen several
million coquettes, she believed; and assuredly Flo Hutter belonged to
the species.

Upon Carley's return to the cabin she found Stanton and Flo waiting for
her to accompany them on a ride up the foothill. She was so stiff and
sore that she could hardly mount into the saddle; and the first mile
of riding was something like a nightmare. She lagged behind Flo and
Stanton, who apparently forgot her in their quarrel.

The riders soon struck the base of a long incline of rocky ground that
led up to the slope of the foothill. Here rocks and gravel gave place
to black cinders out of which grew a scant bleached grass. This desert
verdure was what lent the soft gray shade to the foothill when seen from
a distance. The slope was gentle, so that the ascent did not entail any
hardship. Carley was amazed at the length of the slope, and also to
see how high over the desert she was getting. She felt lifted out of a
monotonous level. A green-gray league-long cedar forest extended down
toward Oak Creek. Behind her the magnificent bulk of the mountains
reached up into the stormy clouds, showing white slopes of snow under
the gray pall.

The hoofs of the horses sank in the cinders. A fine choking dust
assailed Carley's nostrils. Presently, when there appeared at least a
third of the ascent still to be accomplished and Flo dismounted to walk,
leading their horses. Carley had no choice but to do likewise. At first
walking was a relief. Soon, however, the soft yielding cinders began to
drag at her feet. At every step she slipped back a few inches, a very
annoying feature of climbing. When her legs seemed to grow dead Carley
paused for a little rest. The last of the ascent, over a few hundred
yards of looser cinders, taxed her remaining strength to the limit. She
grew hot and wet and out of breath. Her heart labored. An unreasonable
antipathy seemed to attend her efforts. Only her ridiculous vanity held
her to this task. She wanted to please Glenn, but not so earnestly that
she would have kept on plodding up this ghastly bare mound of cinders.
Carley did not mind being a tenderfoot, but she hated the thought of
these Westerners considering her a weakling. So she bore the pain of
raw blisters and the miserable sensation of staggering on under a leaden
weight.

Several times she noted that Flo and Stanton halted to face each other
in rather heated argument. At least Stanton's red face and forceful
gestures attested to heat on his part. Flo evidently was weary of
argument, and in answer to a sharp reproach she retorted, "Shore I
was different after he came." To which Stanton responded by a quick
passionate shrinking as if he had been stung.

Carley had her own reaction to this speech she could not help hearing;
and inwardly, at least, her feeling must have been similar to Stanton's.
She forgot the object of this climb and looked off to her right at the
green level without really seeing it. A vague sadness weighed upon her
soul. Was there to be a tangle of fates here, a conflict of wills, a
crossing of loves? Flo's terse confession could not be taken lightly.
Did she mean that she loved Glenn? Carley began to fear it. Only another
reason why she must persuade Glenn to go back East! But the closer
Carley came to what she divined must be an ordeal the more she dreaded
it. This raw, crude West might have confronted her with a situation
beyond her control. And as she dragged her weighted feet through the
cinders, kicking, up little puffs of black dust, she felt what she
admitted to be an unreasonable resentment toward these Westerners and
their barren, isolated, and boundless world.

"Carley," called Flo, "come--looksee, as the Indians say. Here is
Glenn's Painted Desert, and I reckon it's shore worth seeing."

To Carley's surprise, she found herself upon the knob of the foothill.
And when she looked out across a suddenly distinguishable void she
seemed struck by the immensity of something she was unable to grasp. She
dropped her bridle; she gazed slowly, as if drawn, hearing Flo's voice.

"That thin green line of cottonwoods down there is the Little Colorado
River," Flo was saying. "Reckon it's sixty miles, all down hill. The
Painted Desert begins there and also the Navajo Reservation. You see the
white strips, the red veins, the yellow bars, the black lines. They are
all desert steps leading up and up for miles. That sharp black peak
is called Wildcat. It's about a hundred miles. You see the desert
stretching away to the right, growing dim--lost in distance? We don't
know that country. But that north country we know as landmarks, anyway.
Look at that saw-tooth range. The Indians call it Echo Cliffs. At
the far end it drops off into the Colorado River. Lee's Ferry is
there--about one hundred and sixty miles. That ragged black rent is the
Grand Canyon. Looks like a thread, doesn't it? But Carley, it's some
hole, believe me. Away to the left you see the tremendous wall rising
and turning to come this way. That's the north wall of the Canyon. It
ends at the great bluff--Greenland Point. See the black fringe above the
bar of gold. That's a belt of pine trees. It's about eighty miles across
this ragged old stone washboard of a desert. ... Now turn and look
straight and strain your sight over Wildcat. See the rim purple dome.
You must look hard. I'm glad it's clear and the sun is shining. We don't
often get this view.... That purple dome is Navajo Mountain, two hundred
miles and more away!"

Carley yielded to some strange drawing power and slowly walked forward
until she stood at the extreme edge of the summit.

What was it that confounded her sight? Desert slope--down and
down--color--distance--space! The wind that blew in her face seemed
to have the openness of the whole world back of it. Cold, sweet,
dry, exhilarating, it breathed of untainted vastness. Carley's memory
pictures of the Adirondacks faded into pastorals; her vaunted images
of European scenery changed to operetta settings. She had nothing with
which to compare this illimitable space.

"Oh!--America!" was her unconscious tribute.

Stanton and Flo had come on to places beside her. The young man laughed.
"Wal, now Miss Carley, you couldn't say more. When I was in camp
trainin' for service overseas I used to remember how this looked. An' it
seemed one of the things I was goin' to fight for. Reckon I didn't the
idea of the Germans havin' my Painted Desert. I didn't get across to
fight for it, but I shore was willin'."

"You see, Carley, this is our America," said Flo, softly.

Carley had never understood the meaning of the word. The immensity of
the West seemed flung at her. What her vision beheld, so far-reaching
and boundless, was only a dot on the map.

"Does any one live--out there?" she asked, with slow sweep of hand.

"A few white traders and some Indian tribes," replied Stanton. "But you
can ride all day an' next day an' never see a livin' soul."

What was the meaning of the gratification in his voice? Did Westerners
court loneliness? Carley wrenched her gaze from the desert void to look
at her companions. Stanton's eyes were narrowed; his expression had
changed; lean and hard and still, his face resembled bronze. The
careless humor was gone, as was the heated flush of his quarrel with
Flo. The girl, too, had subtly changed, had responded to an influence
that had subdued and softened her. She was mute; her eyes held a light,
comprehensive and all-embracing; she was beautiful then. For Carley,
quick to read emotion, caught a glimpse of a strong, steadfast soul that
spiritualized the brown freckled face.

Carley wheeled to gaze out and down into this incomprehensible abyss,
and on to the far up-flung heights, white and red and yellow, and so
on to the wonderful mystic haze of distance. The significance of Flo's
designation of miles could not be grasped by Carley. She could not
estimate distance. But she did not need that to realize her perceptions
were swallowed up by magnitude. Hitherto the power of her eyes had been
unknown. How splendid to see afar! She could see--yes--but what did she
see? Space first, annihilating space, dwarfing her preconceived images,
and then wondrous colors! What had she known of color? No wonder artists
failed adequately and truly to paint mountains, let alone the desert
space. The toiling millions of the crowded cities were ignorant of this
terrible beauty and sublimity. Would it have helped them to see? But
just to breathe that untainted air, just to see once the boundless open
of colored sand and rock--to realize what the freedom of eagles meant
would not that have helped anyone?

And with the thought there came to Carley's quickened and struggling
mind a conception of freedom. She had not yet watched eagles, but she
now gazed out into their domain. What then must be the effect of such
environment on people whom it encompassed? The idea stunned Carley.
Would such people grow in proportion to the nature with which they
were in conflict? Hereditary influence could not be comparable to such
environment in the shaping of character.

"Shore I could stand here all day," said Flo. "But it's beginning to
cloud over and this high wind is cold. So we'd better go, Carley."

"I don't know what I am, but it's not cold," replied Carley.

"Wal, Miss Carley, I reckon you'll have to come again an' again before
you get a comfortable feelin' here," said Stanton.

It surprised Carley to see that this young Westerner had hit upon
the truth. He understood her. Indeed she was uncomfortable. She was
oppressed, vaguely unhappy. But why? The thing there--the infinitude of
open sand and rock--was beautiful, wonderful, even glorious. She looked
again.

Steep black-cindered slope, with its soft gray patches of grass, sheered
down and down, and out in rolling slope to merge upon a cedar-dotted
level. Nothing moved below, but a red-tailed hawk sailed across her
vision. How still--how gray the desert floor as it reached away, losing
its black dots, and gaining bronze spots of stone! By plain and prairie
it fell away, each inch of gray in her sight magnifying into its
league-long roll. On and on, and down across dark lines that were
steppes, and at last blocked and changed by the meandering green thread
which was the verdure of a desert river. Beyond stretched the white
sand, where whirlwinds of dust sent aloft their funnel-shaped spouts;
and it led up to the horizon-wide ribs and ridges of red and walls of
yellow and mountains of black, to the dim mound of purple so ethereal
and mystic against the deep-blue cloud-curtained band of sky.

And on the moment the sun was obscured and that world of colorful flame
went out, as if a blaze had died.

Deprived of its fire, the desert seemed to retreat, to fade coldly and
gloomily, to lose its great landmarks in dim obscurity. Closer, around
to the north, the canyon country yawned with innumerable gray jaws,
ragged and hard, and the riven earth took on a different character. It
had no shadows. It grew flat and, like the sea, seemed to mirror
the vast gray cloud expanse. The sublime vanished, but the desolate
remained. No warmth--no movement--no life! Dead stone it was, cut into a
million ruts by ruthless ages. Carley felt that she was gazing down into
chaos.

At this moment, as before, a hawk had crossed her vision, so now a raven
sailed by, black as coal, uttering a hoarse croak.

"Quoth the raven--" murmured Carley, with a half-bitter laugh, as she
turned away shuddering in spite of an effort of self-control. "Maybe he
meant this wonderful and terrible West is never for such as I.... Come,
let us go."

Carley rode all that afternoon in the rear of the caravan, gradually
succumbing to the cold raw wind and the aches and pains to which she had
subjected her flesh. Nevertheless, she finished the day's journey, and,
sorely as she needed Glenn's kindly hand, she got off her horse without
aid.

Camp was made at the edge of the devastated timber zone that Carley
had found so dispiriting. A few melancholy pines were standing, and
everywhere, as far as she could see southward, were blackened fallen
trees and stumps. It was a dreary scene. The few cattle grazing on
the bleached grass appeared as melancholy as the pines. The sun shone
fitfully at sunset, and then sank, leaving the land to twilight and
shadows.

Once in a comfortable seat beside the camp fire, Carley had no further
desire to move. She was so far exhausted and weary that she could no
longer appreciate the blessing of rest. Appetite, too, failed her this
meal time. Darkness soon settled down. The wind moaned through the
pines. She was indeed glad to crawl into bed, and not even the thought
of skunks could keep her awake.

Morning disclosed the fact that gray clouds had been blown away. The
sun shone bright upon a white-frosted land. The air was still. Carley
labored at her task of rising, and brushing her hair, and pulling on
her boots; and it appeared her former sufferings were as naught compared
with the pangs of this morning. How she hated the cold, the bleak,
denuded forest land, the emptiness, the roughness, the crudeness! If
this sort of feeling grew any worse she thought she would hate Glenn.
Yet she was nonetheless set upon going on, and seeing the sheep-dip, and
riding that fiendish mustang until the trip was ended.

Getting in the saddle and on the way this morning was an ordeal that
made Carley actually sick. Glenn and Flo both saw how it was with
her, and they left her to herself. Carley was grateful for this
understanding. It seemed to proclaim their respect. She found further
matter for satisfaction in the astonishing circumstance that after
the first dreadful quarter of an hour in the saddle she began to feel
easier. And at the end of several hours of riding she was not suffering
any particular pain, though she was weaker.

At length the cut-over land ended in a forest of straggling pines,
through which the road wound southward, and eventually down into a wide
shallow canyon. Through the trees Carley saw a stream of water, open
fields of green, log fences and cabins, and blue smoke. She heard the
chug of a gasoline engine and the baa-baa of sheep. Glenn waited for
her to catch up with him, and he said: "Carley, this is one of Hutter's
sheep camps. It's not a--a very pleasant place. You won't care to see
the sheep-dip. So I'm suggesting you wait here--"

"Nothing doing, Glenn," she interrupted. "I'm going to see what there is
to see."

"But, dear--the men--the way they handle sheep--they'll--really it's no
sight for you," he floundered.

"Why not?" she inquired, eying him.

"Because, Carley--you know how you hate the--the seamy side of things.
And the stench--why, it'll make you sick!"

"Glenn, be on the level," she said. "Suppose it does. Wouldn't you think
more of me if I could stand it?"

"Why, yes," he replied, reluctantly, smiling at her, "I would. But I
wanted to spare you. This trip has been hard. I'm sure proud of you.
And, Carley--you can overdo it. Spunk is not everything. You simply
couldn't stand this."

"Glenn, how little you know a woman!" she exclaimed. "Come along and
show me your old sheep-dip."

They rode out of the woods into an open valley that might have been
picturesque if it had not been despoiled by the work of man. A log fence
ran along the edge of open ground and a mud dam held back a pool of
stagnant water, slimy and green. As Carley rode on the baa-baa of sheep
became so loud that she could scarcely hear Glenn talking.

Several log cabins, rough hewn and gray with age, stood down inside the
inclosure; and beyond there were large corrals. From the other side of
these corrals came sounds of rough voices of men, a trampling of hoofs,
heavy splashes, the beat of an engine, and the incessant baaing of the
sheep.

At this point the members of Hutter's party dismounted and tied their
horses to the top log of the fence. When Carley essayed to get off Glenn
tried to stop her, saying she could see well enough from there. But
Carley got down and followed Flo. She heard Hutter call to Glenn: "Say,
Ryan is short of men. We'll lend a hand for a couple of hours."

Presently Carley reached Flo's side and the first corral that contained
sheep. They formed a compact woolly mass, rather white in color, with a
tinge of pink. When Flo climbed up on the fence the flock plunged as
one animal and with a trampling roar ran to the far side of the corral.
Several old rams with wide curling horns faced around; and some of
the ewes climbed up on the densely packed mass. Carley rather enjoyed
watching them. She surely could not see anything amiss in this sight.

The next corral held a like number of sheep, and also several Mexicans
who were evidently driving them into a narrow lane that led farther
down. Carley saw the heads of men above other corral fences, and there
was also a thick yellowish smoke rising from somewhere.

"Carley, are you game to see the dip?" asked Flo, with good nature that
yet had a touch of taunt in it.

"That's my middle name," retorted Carley, flippantly.

Both Glenn and this girl seemed to be bent upon bringing out Carley's
worst side, and they were succeeding. Flo laughed. The ready slang
pleased her.

She led Carley along that log fence, through a huge open gate, and
across a wide pen to another fence, which she scaled. Carley followed
her, not particularly overanxious to look ahead. Some thick odor had
begun to reach Carley's delicate nostrils. Flo led down a short lane and
climbed another fence, and sat astride the top log. Carley hurried along
to clamber up to her side, but stood erect with her feet on the second
log of the fence.

Then a horrible stench struck Carley almost like a blow in the face, and
before her confused sight there appeared to be drifting smoke and active
men and running sheep, all against a background of mud. But at first it
was the odor that caused Carley to close her eyes and press her knees
hard against the upper log to keep from reeling. Never in her life had
such a sickening nausea assailed her. It appeared to attack her whole
body. The forerunning qualm of seasickness was as nothing to this.
Carley gave a gasp, pinched her nose between her fingers so she could
not smell, and opened her eyes.

Directly beneath her was a small pen open at one end into which sheep
were being driven from the larger corral. The drivers were yelling. The
sheep in the rear plunged into those ahead of them, forcing them on. Two
men worked in this small pen. One was a brawny giant in undershirt and
overalls that appeared filthy. He held a cloth in his hand and strode
toward the nearest sheep. Folding the cloth round the neck of the sheep,
he dragged it forward, with an ease which showed great strength, and
threw it into a pit that yawned at the side. Souse went the sheep into
a murky, muddy pool and disappeared. But suddenly its head came up and
then its shoulders. And it began half to walk and half swim down what
appeared to be a narrow boxlike ditch that contained other floundering
sheep. Then Carley saw men on each side of this ditch bending over with
poles that had crooks at the end, and their work was to press and pull
the sheep along to the end of the ditch, and drive them up a boarded
incline into another corral where many other sheep huddled, now a dirty
muddy color like the liquid into which they had been emersed. Souse!
Splash! In went sheep after sheep. Occasionally one did not go under.
And then a man would press it under with the crook and quickly lift its
head. The work went on with precision and speed, in spite of the yells
and trampling and baa-baas, and the incessant action that gave an effect
of confusion.

Carley saw a pipe leading from a huge boiler to the ditch. The dark
fluid was running out of it. From a rusty old engine with big smokestack
poured the strangling smoke. A man broke open a sack of yellow powder
and dumped it into the ditch. Then he poured an acid-like liquid after
it.

"Sulphur and nicotine," yelled Flo up at Carley. "The dip's poison. If
a sheep opens his mouth he's usually a goner. But sometimes they save
one."

Carley wanted to tear herself away from this disgusting spectacle. But
it held her by some fascination. She saw Glenn and Hutter fall in line
with the other men, and work like beavers. These two pacemakers in the
small pen kept the sheep coming so fast that every worker below had a
task cut out for him. Suddenly Flo squealed and pointed.

"There! that sheep didn't come up," she cried. "Shore he opened his
mouth."

Then Carley saw Glenn energetically plunge his hooked pole in and out
and around until he had located the submerged sheep. He lifted its
head above the dip. The sheep showed no sign of life. Down on his knees
dropped Glenn, to reach the sheep with strong brown hands, and to haul
it up on the ground, where it flopped inert. Glenn pummeled it and
pressed it, and worked on it much as Carley had seen a life-guard work
over a half-drowned man. But the sheep did not respond to Glenn's active
administrations.

"No use, Glenn," yelled Hutter, hoarsely. "That one's a goner."

Carley did not fail to note the state of Glenn's hands and arms and
overalls when he returned to the ditch work. Then back and forth
Carley's gaze went from one end to the other of that scene. And suddenly
it was arrested and held by the huge fellow who handled the sheep so
brutally. Every time he dragged one and threw it into the pit he yelled:
"Ho! Ho!" Carley was impelled to look at his face, and she was amazed to
meet the rawest and boldest stare from evil eyes that had ever been her
misfortune to incite. She felt herself stiffen with a shock that was
unfamiliar. This man was scarcely many years older than Glenn, yet he
had grizzled hair, a seamed and scarred visage, coarse, thick lips, and
beetling brows, from under which peered gleaming light eyes. At every
turn he flashed them upon Carley's face, her neck, the swell of her
bosom. It was instinct that caused her hastily to close her riding coat.
She felt as if her flesh had been burned. Like a snake he fascinated
her. The intelligence in his bold gaze made the beastliness of it all
the harder to endure, all the stronger to arouse.

"Come, Carley, let's rustle out of this stinkin' mess," cried Flo.

Indeed, Carley needed Flo's assistance in clambering down out of the
choking smoke and horrid odor.

"Adios, pretty eyes," called the big man from the pen.

"Well," ejaculated Flo, when they got out, "I'll bet I call Glenn good
and hard for letting you go down there."

"It was--my--fault," panted Carley. "I said I'd stand it."

"Oh, you're game, all right. I didn't mean the dip.... That
sheep-slinger is Haze Ruff, the toughest hombre on this range. Shore,
now, wouldn't I like to take a shot at him?... I'm going to tell dad and
Glenn."

"Please don't," returned Carley, appealingly.

"I shore am. Dad needs hands these days. That's why he's lenient. But
Glenn will cowhide Ruff and I want to see him do it."

In Flo Hutter then Carley saw another and a different spirit of the
West, a violence unrestrained and fierce that showed in the girl's even
voice and in the piercing light of her eyes.

They went back to the horses, got their lunches from the saddlebags,
and, finding comfortable seats in a sunny, protected place, they ate
and talked. Carley had to force herself to swallow. It seemed that the
horrid odor of dip and sheep had permeated everything. Glenn had known
her better than she had known herself, and he had wished to spare her an
unnecessary and disgusting experience. Yet so stubborn was Carley that
she did not regret going through with it.

"Carley, I don't mind telling you that you've stuck it out better than
any tenderfoot we ever had here," said Flo.

"Thank you. That from a Western girl is a compliment I'll not soon
forget," replied Carley.

"I shore mean it. We've had rotten weather. And to end the little trip
at this sheep-dip hole! Why, Glenn certainly wanted you to stack up
against the real thing!"

"Flo, he did not want me to come on the trip, and especially here,"
protested Carley.

"Shore I know. But he let you."

"Neither Glenn nor any other man could prevent me from doing what I
wanted to do."

"Well, if you'll excuse me," drawled Flo, "I'll differ with you. I
reckon Glenn Kilbourne is not the man you knew before the war."

"No, he is not. But that does not alter the case."

"Carley, we're not well acquainted," went on Flo, more carefully feeling
her way, "and I'm not your kind. I don't know your Eastern ways. But I
know what the West does to a man. The war ruined your friend--both his
body and mind.... How sorry mother and I were for Glenn, those days
when it looked he'd sure 'go west,' for good!... Did you know he'd been
gassed and that he had five hemorrhages?"

"Oh! I knew his lungs had been weakened by gas. But he never told me
about having hemorrhages."

"Well, he shore had them. The last one I'll never forget. Every time
he'd cough it would fetch the blood. I could tell!... Oh, it was awful.
I begged him not to cough. He smiled--like a ghost smiling--and he
whispered, 'I'll quit.'... And he did. The doctor came from Flagstaff
and packed him in ice. Glenn sat propped up all night and never moved a
muscle. Never coughed again! And the bleeding stopped. After that we
put him out on the porch where he could breathe fresh air all the time.
There's something wonderfully healing in Arizona air. It's from the dry
desert and here it's full of cedar and pine. Anyway Glenn got well. And
I think the West has cured his mind, too."

"Of what?" queried Carley, in an intense curiosity she could scarcely
hide.

"Oh, God only knows!" exclaimed Flo, throwing up her gloved hands. "I
never could understand. But I hated what the war did to him."

Carley leaned back against the log, quite spent. Flo was unwittingly
torturing her. Carley wanted passionately to give in to jealousy of this
Western girl, but she could not do it. Flo Hutter deserved better than
that. And Carley's baser nature seemed in conflict with all that was
noble in her. The victory did not yet go to either side. This was a bad
hour for Carley. Her strength had about played out, and her spirit was
at low ebb.

"Carley, you're all in," declared Flo. "You needn't deny it. I'm shore
you've made good with me as a tenderfoot who stayed the limit. But
there's no sense in your killing yourself, nor in me letting you. So I'm
going to tell dad we want to go home."

She left Carley there. The word home had struck strangely into Carley's
mind and remained there. Suddenly she realized what it was to be
homesick. The comfort, the ease, the luxury, the rest, the sweetness,
the pleasure, the cleanliness, the gratification to eye and ear--to all
the senses--how these thoughts came to haunt her! All of Carley's will
power had been needed to sustain her on this trip to keep her from
miserably failing. She had not failed. But contact with the West had
affronted, disgusted, shocked, and alienated her. In that moment she
could not be fair minded; she knew it; she did not care.

Carley gazed around her. Only one of the cabins was in sight from this
position. Evidently it was a home for some of these men. On one side the
peaked rough roof had been built out beyond the wall, evidently to serve
as a kind of porch. On that wall hung the motliest assortment of things
Carley had ever seen--utensils, sheep and cow hides, saddles, harness,
leather clothes, ropes, old sombreros, shovels, stove pipe, and many
other articles for which she could find no name. The most striking
characteristic manifest in this collection was that of service. How
they had been used! They had enabled people to live under primitive
conditions. Somehow this fact inhibited Carley's sense of repulsion at
their rude and uncouth appearance. Had any of her forefathers ever been
pioneers? Carley did not know, but the thought was disturbing. It was
thought-provoking. Many times at home, when she was dressing for dinner,
she had gazed into the mirror at the graceful lines of her throat and
arms, at the proud poise of her head, at the alabaster whiteness of her
skin, and wonderingly she had asked of her image: "Can it be possible
that I am a descendant of cavemen?" She had never been able to realize
it, yet she knew it was true. Perhaps somewhere not far back along her
line there had been a great-great-grandmother who had lived some kind of
a primitive life, using such implements and necessaries as hung on this
cabin wall, and thereby helped some man to conquer the wilderness, to
live in it, and reproduce his kind. Like flashes Glenn's words came back
to Carley--"Work and children!"

Some interpretation of his meaning and how it related to this hour held
aloof from Carley. If she would ever be big enough to understand it and
broad enough to accept it the time was far distant. Just now she was
sore and sick physically, and therefore certainly not in a receptive
state of mind. Yet how could she have keener impressions than these she
was receiving? It was all a problem. She grew tired of thinking. But
even then her mind pondered on, a stream of consciousness over which she
had no control. This dreary woods was deserted. No birds, no squirrels,
no creatures such as fancy anticipated! In another direction, across the
canyon, she saw cattle, gaunt, ragged, lumbering, and stolid. And on the
moment the scent of sheep came on the breeze. Time seemed to stand still
here, and what Carley wanted most was for the hours and days to fly, so
that she would be home again.

At last Flo returned with the men. One quick glance at Glenn convinced
Carley that Flo had not yet told him about the sheep dipper, Haze Ruff.

"Carley, you're a real sport," declared Glenn, with the rare smile she
loved. "It's a dreadful mess. And to think you stood it!... Why, old
Fifth Avenue, if you needed to make another hit with me you've done it!"

His warmth amazed and pleased Carley. She could not quite understand
why it would have made any difference to him whether she had stood the
ordeal or not. But then every day she seemed to drift a little farther
from a real understanding of her lover. His praise gladdened her, and
fortified her to face the rest of this ride back to Oak Creek.

Four hours later, in a twilight so shadowy that no one saw her distress,
Carley half slipped and half fell from her horse and managed somehow to
mount the steps and enter the bright living room. A cheerful red fire
blazed on the hearth; Glenn's hound, Moze, trembled eagerly at sight of
her and looked up with humble dark eyes; the white-clothed dinner table
steamed with savory dishes. Flo stood before the blaze, warming her
hands. Lee Stanton leaned against the mantel, with eyes on her, and
every line of his lean, hard face expressed his devotion to her.
Hutter was taking his seat at the head of the table. "Come an' get
it--you-all," he called, heartily. Mrs. Hutter's face beamed with the
spirit of that home. And lastly, Carley saw Glenn waiting for her,
watching her come, true in this very moment to his stern hope for her
and pride in her, as she dragged her weary, spent body toward him and
the bright fire.

By these signs, or the effect of them, Carley vaguely realized that she
was incalculably changing, that this Carley Burch had become a vastly
bigger person in the sight of her friends, and strangely in her own a
lesser creature.

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CHAPTER IVTwo warm sunny days in early May inclined Mr. Hutter to the opinion thatpleasant spring weather was at hand and that it would be a propitioustime to climb up on the desert to look after his sheep interests. Glenn,of course, would accompany him."Carley and I will go too," asserted Flo."Reckon that'll be good," said Hutter, with approving nod.His wife also agreed that it would be fine for Carley to see thebeautiful desert country round Sunset Peak. But Glenn looked dubious."Carley, it'll be rather hard," he said. "You're soft, and riding andlying out will stove you up. You ought to break
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