The Man of the Desert
by Grace Livingston Hill
II. THE MAN
III. THE DESERT
IV. THE QUEST
V. THE TRAIL
X. HIS MOTHER
XIII. THE CALL
OF THE DESERT
XV. THE WAY OF
XVI. THE LETTER
It was morning, high and clear as Arizona counts weather, and around
the little railroad station were gathered a crowd of curious onlookers;
seven Indians, three women from nearby shacksdrawn thither by the
sight of the great private car that the night express had left on a
side trackthe usual number of loungers, a swarm of children, besides
the station agent who had come out to watch proceedings.
All the morning the private car had been an object of deep interest
to those who lived within sight, and that was everybody on the plateau;
and many and various had been the errands and excuses to go to the
station that perchance the occupants of that car might be seen, or a
glimpse of the interior of the moving palace; but the silken curtains
had remained drawn until after nine o'clock.
Within the last half hour, however, a change had taken place in the
silent inscrutable car. The curtains had parted here and there,
revealing dim flitting faces, a table spread with a snowy cloth and
flowers in a vase, wild flowers they were, too, like those that grew
all along the track, just weeds. Strange that one who could afford a
private car cared for weeds in a glass on their dining-table, but then
perhaps they didn't know.
A fat cook with ebony skin and white linen attire had appeared on
the rear platform beating eggs, and half whistling, half singing:
Be my little baby Bumble-bee
Buzz around, buzz around
He seemed in no wise affected or embarrassed by the natives who
gradually encircled the end of the car, and the audience grew.
They could dimly see the table where the inmates of the car
weredining?it couldn't be breakfast at that hour surely. They heard
the discussion about horses going on amid laughter and merry
conversation, and they gathered that the car was to remain here for the
day at least while some of the party went off on a horseback trip. It
was nothing very unusual of course. Such things occasionally occurred
in that region, but not often enough to lose their interest. Besides,
to watch the tourists who chanced to stop in their tiny settlement was
the only way for them to learn the fashions.
Not that all the watchers stood and stared around the car. No,
indeed. They made their headquarters around the station platform from
whence they took brief and comprehensive excursions down to the freight
station and back, going always on one side of the car and returning by
way of the other. Even the station agent felt the importance of the
occasion, and stood around with all the self-consciousness of an usher
at a grand wedding, considering himself master of ceremonies.
Sure! They come from the East last night. Limited dropped 'em!
Going down to prospect some mine, I reckon. They ordered horses an' a
outfit, and Shag Bunce is goin' with 'em. He got a letter 'bout a week
ago tellin' what they wanted of him. Yes, I knowed all about it. He
brung the letter to me to cipher out fer him. You know Shag ain't no
great at readin' ef he is the best judge of a mine anywheres about.
Thus the station agent explained in low thrilling tones; and even
the Indians watched and grunted their interest.
At eleven o'clock the horses arrived, four besides Shag's, and the
rest of the outfit. The onlookers regarded Shag with the mournful
interest due to the undertaker at a funeral. Shag felt it and acted
accordingly. He gave short, gruff orders to his men; called attention
to straps and buckles that every one knew were in as perfect order as
they could be; criticized the horses and his men; and every one, even
the horses, bore it with perfect composure. They were all showing off
and felt the importance of the moment.
Presently the car door opened and Mr. Radcliffe came out on the
platform accompanied by his sona handsome reckless looking
fellowhis daughter Hazel, and Mr. Hamar, a thick-set, heavy-featured
man with dark hair, jaunty black moustache and handsome black eyes. In
the background stood an erect elderly woman in tailor-made attire and
with a severe expression, Mr. Radcliffe's elder sister who was taking
the trip with them expecting to remain in California with her son; and
behind her hovered Hazel's maid. These two were not to be of the riding
party, it appeared.
There was a pleasant stir while the horses were brought forward and
the riders were mounting. The spectators remained breathlessly
unconscious of anything save the scene being enacted before them. Their
eyes lingered with special interest on the girl of the party.
Miss Radcliffe was small and graceful, with a head set on her pretty
shoulders like a flower on its stem. Moreover she was fair, so fair
that she almost dazzled the eyes of the men and women accustomed to
brown cheeks kissed by the sun and wind of the plain. There was a
wild-rose pink in her cheeks to enhance the whiteness, which made it
but the more dazzling. She had masses of golden hair wreathed round her
dainty head in a bewilderment of waves and braids. She had great dark
eyes of blue set off by long curling lashes, and delicately pencilled
dark brows which gave the eyes a pansy softness and made you feel when
she looked at you that she meant a great deal more by the look than you
had at first suspected. They were wonderful, beautiful eyes, and the
little company of idlers at the station were promptly bewitched by
them. Moreover there was a fantastic little dimple in her right cheek
that flashed into view at the same time with the gleam of pearly teeth
when she smiled. She certainly was a picture. The station looked its
fill and rejoiced in her young beauty.
She was garbed in a dark green riding habit, the same that she wore
when she rode attended by her groom in Central Park. It made a
sensation among the onlookers, as did the little riding cap of dark
green velvet and the pretty riding gloves. She sat her pony well,
daintily, as though she had alighted briefly, but to their eyes
strangely, and not as the women out there rode. On the whole the
station saw little else but the girl; all the others were mere
accessories to the picture.
They noticed indeed that the young man, whose close cropped golden
curls, and dark lashed blue eyes were so like the girl's that he could
be none other than her brother, rode beside the older man who was
presumably the father; and that the dark, handsome stranger rode away
beside the girl. Not a man of them but resented it. Not a woman of them
but regretted it.
Then Shag Bunce, with a parting word to his small but complete
outfit that rode behind, put spurs to his horse, lifted his sombrero in
homage to the lady, and shot to the front of the line, his shaggy mane
by which came his name floating over his shoulders. Out into the
sunshine of a perfect day the riders went, and the group around the
platform stood silently and watched until they were a speck in the
distance blurring with the sunny plain and occasional ash and
I seen the missionary go by early this mornin', speculated the
station agent meditatively, deliberately, as though he only had a right
to break the silence. I wonder whar he could 'a' bin goin'. He passed
on t'other side the track er I'd 'a' ast 'im. He 'peared in a turrible
hurry. Anybody sick over towards the canyon way?
Buck's papoose heap sick! muttered an immobile Indian, and
shuffled off the platform with a stolid face. The women heaved a sigh
of disappointment and turned to go. The show was out and they must
return to the monotony of their lives. They wondered what it would be
like to ride off like that into the sunshine with cheeks like roses and
eyes that saw nothing but pleasure ahead. What would a life like that
be? Awed, speculative, they went back to their sturdy children and
their ill-kempt houses, to sit in the sun on the door-steps and muse a
Into the sunshine rode Hazel Radcliffe well content with the world,
herself, and her escort.
Milton Hamar was good company. He was keen of wit and a past-master
in the delicate art of flattery. That he was fabulously wealthy and
popular in New York society; that he was her father's friend both
socially and financially, and had been much of late in their home on
account of some vast mining enterprise in which both were interested;
and that his wife was said to be uncongenial and always interested in
other men rather than her husband, were all facts that combined to give
Hazel a pleasant, half-romantic interest in the man by her side. She
had been conscious of a sense of satisfaction and pleasant anticipation
when her father told her that he was to be of their party. His wit and
gallantry would make up for the necessity of having her Aunt Maria
along. Aunt Maria was always a damper to anything she came near. She
was the personification of propriety. She had tried to make Hazel think
she must remain in the car and rest that day instead of going off on a
wild goose chase after a mine. No lady did such things, she told her
Hazel's laugh rang out like the notes of a bird as the two rode
slowly down the trail, not hurrying, for there was plenty of time. They
could meet the others on their way back if they did not get to the mine
so soon, and the morning was lovely.
Milton Hamar could appreciate the beauties of nature now and then.
He called attention to the line of hills in the distance, and the sharp
steep peak of a mountain piercing the sunlight. Then skillfully he led
his speech around to his companion, and showed how lovelier than the
morning she was.
He had been indulging in such delicate flattery since they first
started from New York, whenever the indefatigable aunt left them alone
long enough, but this morning there was a note of something closer and
more intimate in his words; a warmth of tenderness that implied
unspeakable joy in her beauty, such as he had never dared to use
before. It flattered her pride deliciously. It was beautiful to be
young and charming and have a man say such things with a look like that
in his eyeseyes that had suffered, and appealed to her to pity. With
her young, innocent heart she did pity, and was glad she might solace
his sadness a little while.
With consummate skill the man led her to talk of himself, his hopes
in youth, his disappointments, his bitter sadness, his heart
loneliness. He suddenly asked her to call him Milton, and the girl with
rosy cheeks and dewy eyes declared shyly that she never could, it would
seem so queer, but she finally compromised after much urging on Cousin
That will do for a while, he succumbed, smiling as he looked at
her with impatient eyes. Then with growing intimacy in his tones he
laid a detaining hand upon hers that held the bridle, and the horses
both slackened their gait, though they had been far behind the rest of
the party for over an hour now.
Listen, little girl, he said, I'm going to open my heart to you.
I'm going to tell you a secret.
Hazel sat very still, half alarmed at his tone, not daring to
withdraw her hand, for she felt the occasion was momentous and she must
be ready with her sympathy as any true friend would be. Her heart
swelled with pride that it was to her he came in his trouble. Then she
looked up into the face that was bending over hers, and she saw
triumph, not trouble, in his eyes. Even then she did not understand.
What is it? she asked trustingly.
Dear child! said the man of the world impressively, I knew you
would be interested. Well, I will tell you. I have told you of my
sorrow, now I will tell you of my joy. It is this: When I return to New
York I shall be a free man. Everything is complete at last. I have been
granted a divorce from Ellen, and there remain only a few
technicalities to be attended to. Then we shall be free to go our ways
and do as we choose.
A divorce! gasped Hazel appalled. Not youdivorced!
Yes, affirmed the happy man gaily, I knew you'd be surprised.
It's almost too good to be true, isn't it, after all my trouble to get
Ellen to consent?
But sheyour wifewhere will she go? What will she do? Hazel
looked up at him with troubled eyes, half bewildered with the thought.
She did not realize that the horses had stopped and that he still
held her hand which grasped the bridle.
Oh, Ellen will be married at once, he answered flippantly. That's
the reason she's consented at last. She's going to marry Walling Stacy,
you know, and from being stubborn about it, she's quite in a hurry to
make any arrangement to fix things up now.
She's going to be married! gasped Hazel as if she had not heard of
such things often. Somehow it had never come quite so close to her list
of friendships before and it shocked her inexpressibly.
Yes, she's going to be married at once, so you see there's no need
to think of her ever again. But why don't you ask me what I am going to
Oh, yes! said Hazel recalling her lack of sympathy at once. You
startled me so. What are you going to do? You poor manwhat can you
do? Oh, I am so sorry for you! and the pansy-eyes became suffused with
No need to feel sorry for me, little one, said the exultant voice,
and he looked at her now with an expression she had never seen in his
face before. I shall be happy as I have never dreamed of before, he
said. I am going to be married too. I am going to marry some one who
loves me with all her heart, I am sure of that, though she has never
told me so. I am going to marry you, little sweetheart! He stooped
suddenly before she could take in the meaning of his words, and
flinging his free arm about her pressed his lips upon hers.
With a wild cry like some terrified creature Hazel tried to draw
herself away, and finding herself held fast her quick anger rose and
she lifted the hand which held the whip and blindly slashed the air
about her; her eyes closed, her heart swelling with horror and fear. A
great repulsion for the man whom hitherto she had regarded with deep
respect surged over her. To get away from him at once was her greatest
desire. She lashed out again with her whip, blindly, not seeing what
she struck, almost beside herself with wrath and fear.
Hamar's horse reared and plunged, almost unseating his rider, and as
he struggled to keep his seat, having necessarily released the girl
from his embrace, the second cut of the whip took him stingingly across
the eyes, causing him to cry out with the pain. The horse reared again
and sent him sprawling upon the ground, his hands to his face, his
senses one blank of pain for the moment.
Hazel, knowing only that she was free, followed an instinct of fear
and struck her own pony on the flank, causing the little beast to turn
sharply to right angles with the trail he had been following and dart
like a streak across the level plateau. Thereafter the girl had all she
could do to keep her seat.
She had been wont to enjoy a run in the Park with her groom at safe
distance behind her. She was proud of her ability to ride, and could
take fences as well as her young brother; but a run like this across an
illimitable space, on a creature of speed like the wind, goaded by fear
and knowing the limitations of his rider, was a different matter. The
swift flight took her breath away, and unnerved her. She tried to hold
on to the saddle with her shaking hands, for the bridle was already
flying loose to the breeze, but her hold seemed so slight that each
moment she expected to find herself lying huddled on the plain with the
pony far in the distance.
Her lips grew white and cold; her breath came short and painfully;
her eyes were strained with trying to look ahead at the constantly
receding horizon. Was there no end? Would they never come to a human
habitation? Would no one ever come to her rescue? How long could a pony
stand a pace like this? And how long could she hope to hold on to the
furious flying creature?
Off to the right at last she thought she saw a building. It seemed
hours they had been flying through space. In a second they were close
by it. It was a cabin, standing alone upon the great plain with
sage-brush in patches about the door and a neat rail fence around it.
She could see one window at the end, and a tiny chimney at the back.
Could it be that any one lived in such a forlorn spot?
Summoning all her strength as they neared the spot she flung her
voice out in a wild appeal while the pony hurled on, but the wind
caught the feeble effort and flung it away into the vast spaces like a
little torn worthless fragment of sound.
Tears stung their way into her wide dry eyes. The last hairpin left
its mooring and slipped down to earth. The loosened golden hair
streamed back on the wind like hands of despair wildly clutching for
help, and the jaunty green riding cap was snatched by the breeze and
hung upon a sage-bush not fifty feet from the cabin gate, but the pony
rushed on with the frightened girl still clinging to the saddle.
II. THE MAN
About noon of the same day the missionary halted his horse on the
edge of a great flat-topped mesa and looked away to the clear blue
mountains in the distance.
John Brownleigh had been in Arizona for nearly three years, yet the
wonder of the desert had not ceased to charm him, and now as he stopped
his horse to rest, his eyes sought the vast distances stretched in
every direction, and revelled in the splendour of the scene.
Those mountains at which he was gazing were more than a hundred
miles from him, and yet they stood out clear and distinct in the
wonderful air, and seemed but a short journey away.
Below him were ledges of rock in marvellous colours, yellow and
gray, crimson and green piled one upon another, with the strange light
of the noonday sun playing over them and turning their colours into a
blaze of glory. Beyond was a stretch of sand, broken here and there by
sage-brush, greasewood, or cactus rearing its prickly spines
Off to the left were pink tinted cliffs and a little farther dark
cone-like buttes. On the other hand low brown and white hills stretched
away to the wonderful petrified forest, where great tracts of fallen
tree trunks and chips lay locked in glistening stone.
To the south he could see the familiar water-hole, and farther the
entrance to the canyon, fringed with cedars and pines. The grandeur of
the scene impressed him anew.
Beautiful, beautiful! he murmured, and a grand God to have it
so! Then a shadow of sadness passed over his face, and he spoke again
aloud as had come to be his habit in this vast loneliness.
I guess it is worth it, he said, worth all the lonely days and
discouraging months and disappointments, just to be alone with a
wonderful Father like mine!
He had just come from a three days' trip in company with another
missionary whose station was a two days' journey by horseback from his
own, and whose cheery little home was presided over by a sweet-faced
woman, come recently from the East to share his fortunes. The delicious
dinner prepared for her husband and his guests, the air of comfort in
the three-roomed shack, the dainty touches that showed a woman's hand,
had filled Brownleigh with a noble envy. Not until this visit had he
realized how very much alone his life was.
He was busy of course from morning till night, and his enthusiasm
for his work was even greater than when nearly three years before he
had been sent out by the Board to minister to the needs of the Indians.
Friends he had by the score. Wherever a white man or trader lived in
the region he was always welcome; and the Indians knew and loved his
coming. He had come around this way now to visit an Indian hogan where
the shadow of death was hovering over a little Indian maiden beloved of
her father. It had been a long way around and the missionary was weary
with many days in the saddle, but he was glad he had come. The little
maid had smiled to see him, and felt that the dark valley of death
seemed more to her now like one of her own flower-lit canyons that led
out to a brighter, wider day, since she had heard the message of life
he brought her.
But as he looked afar over the long way he had come, and thought of
the bright little home where he had dined the day before, the sadness
still lingered in his face.
It would be good to have somebody like that, he said, aloud again,
somebody to expect me, and be glad,but thenthoughtfullyI
suppose there are not many girls who are willing to give up their homes
and go out to rough it as she has done. It is a hard life for a
womanfor that kind of a woman! A pause, then, And I wouldn't want
any other kind!
His eyes grew large with wistfulness. It was not often thus that the
cheery missionary stopped to think upon his own lot in life. His heart
was in his work, and he could turn his hand to anything. There was
always plenty to be done. Yet to-day for some inexplicable reason, for
the first time since he had really got into the work and outgrown his
first homesickness, he was hungry for companionship. He had seen a
light in the eyes of his fellow-missionary that spoke eloquently of the
comfort and joy he himself had missed and it struck deep into his
heart. He had stopped here on this mesa, with the vast panorama of the
desert spread before him, to have it out with himself.
The horse breathed restfully, drooping his head and closing his eyes
to make the most of the brief respite, and the man sat thinking, trying
to fill his soul with the beauty of the scene and crowd out the
longings that had pressed upon him. Suddenly he raised his head with a
quiet upward motion and said reverently:
Oh, my Christ, you knew what this loneliness was! You were lonely
too! It is the way you went, and I will walk with you! That will be
He sat for a moment with uplifted face towards the vast sky, his
fine strong features touched with a tender light, their sadness
changing into peace. Then with the old cheery brightness coming into
his face again he returned to the earth and its duties.
Billy, it's time we were getting on, he remarked to his horse
chummily. Do you see that sun in the heavens? It'll get there before
we do if we don't look out, and we're due at the fort to-night if we
can possibly make it. We had too much vacation, that's about the size
of it, and we're spoiled! We're lazy, Billy! We'll have to get down to
work. Now how about it? Can we get to that water-hole in half an hour?
Let's try for it, old fellow, and then we'll have a good drink, and a
bite to eat, and maybe ten minutes for a nap before we take the short
trail home. There's some of the corn chop left for you, Billy, so
hustle up, old boy, and get there.
Billy, with an answering snort, responded to his master's words, and
carefully picked his way over boulders and rocks down to the valley
But within a half mile of the water-hole the young man suddenly
halted his horse and sprang from the saddle, stooping in the sand
beside a tall yucca to pick up something that gleamed like fire in the
sunlight. In all that brilliant glowing landscape a bit of brightness
had caught his eye and insistently flung itself upon his notice as
worthy of investigation. There was something about the sharp light it
flung that spoke of another world than the desert. John Brownleigh
could not pass it by. It might be only a bit of broken glass from an
empty flask flung carelessly aside, but it did not look like that. He
Wondering he stooped and picked it up, a bit of bright gold on the
handle of a handsome riding whip. It was not such a whip as people in
this region carried; it was dainty, costly, elegant, a lady's riding
whip! It spoke of a world of wealth and attention to expensive details,
as far removed from this scene as possible. Brownleigh stood still in
wonder and turned the pretty trinket over in his hand. Now how did that
whip come to be lying in a bunch of sage-brush on the desert? Jewelled,
too, and that must have given the final keen point of light to the
flame which made him stop short in the sand to pick it up. It was a
single clear stone of transparent yellow, a topaz likely, he thought,
but wonderfully alive with light, set in the end of the handle, and
looking closely he saw a handsome monogram engraved on the side, and
made out the letters H. R. But that told him nothing.
With knit brows he pondered, one foot in the stirrup, the other
still upon the desert, looking at the elegant toy. Now who, who
would be so foolish as to bring a thing like that into the desert?
There were no lady riders anywhere about that he knew, save the major's
sister at the military station, and she was most plain in all her
appointments. This frivolous implement of horsemanship never belonged
to the major's sister. Tourists seldom came this way. What did it mean?
He sprang into the saddle and shading his eyes with his hand scanned
the plain, but only the warm shimmer of sun-heated earth appeared.
Nothing living could be seen. What ought he to do about it? Was there
any way he might find out the owner and restore the lost property?
Pondering thus, his eyes divided between the distance and the
glittering whip-handle, they came to the water-hole; and Brownleigh
dismounted, his thoughts still upon the little whip.
It's very strange, Billy. I can't make out a theory that suits me,
he mused aloud. If any one has been riding out this way and lost it,
will they perhaps return and look for it? Yet if I leave it where I
found it the sand might drift over it at any time. And surely, in this
sparsely settled country, I shall be able to at least hear of any
strangers who might have carried such a foolish little thing. Then,
too, if I leave it where I found it some one might steal it. Well, I
guess we'll take it with us, Billy; we'll hear of the owner somewhere
some time no doubt.
The horse answered with a snort of satisfaction as he lifted his
moist muzzle from the edge of the water and looked contentedly about.
The missionary unstrapped his saddle and flung it on the ground,
unfastening the bag of corn chop and spreading it conveniently before
his dumb companion. Then he set about gathering a few sticks from near
at hand and started a little blaze. In a few minutes the water was
bubbling cheerfully in his little folding tin cup for a cup of tea, and
a bit of bacon was frying in a diminutive skillet beside it. Corn bread
and tea and sugar came from the capacious pockets of the saddle. Billy
and his missionary made a good meal beneath the wide bright quiet of
When the corn chop was finished Billy let his long lashes droop
lower and lower, and his nose go down and down until it almost touched
the ground, dreaming of more corn chop, and happy in having his wants
supplied. But his master, stretched at full length upon the ground with
hat drawn over his eyes, could not lose himself in sleep for a second.
His thoughts were upon the jewelled whip, and by and by he reached his
hand out for it, and shoving back his hat lay watching the glinting of
lights within the precious heart of the topaz, as the sun caught and
tangled its beams in the sharp facets of the cutting. He puzzled his
mind to know how the whip came to be in the desert, and what was meant
by it. One reads life by details in that wide and lonely land. This
whip might mean something. But what?
At last he dropped his hand and sitting up with his upward glance he
Father, if there's any reason why I ought to look for the owner,
He spoke as if the One he addressed were always present in his
consciousness, and they were on terms of the closest intimacy.
He sprang up then and began putting the things together, as if the
burden of the responsibility were upon One fully able to bear it.
They were soon on their way again, Billy swinging along with the
full realization of the nearness of home.
The way now led towards hazy blue lines of mesas with crags and
ridges here and there. Across the valley, looking like a cloud-shadow,
miles distant lay a long black streak, the line of the gorge of the
canyon. Its dim presence seemed to grow on the missionary's thought as
he drew nearer. He had not been to that canyon for more than a month.
There were a few scattered Indians living with their families here and
there in corners where there was a little soil. The thought of them
drew him now. He must make out to go to them soon. If it were not that
Billy had been so far he would go up there this afternoon. But the
horse needed rest if the man did not, and there was of course no real
hurry about the matter. He would go perhaps in the morning. Meantime it
would be good to get to his own fireside once more and attend to a few
letters that should be written. He was invited to the fort that night
for dinner. There was to be some kind of a frolic, some visitors from
the East. He had said he would come if he reached home in time. He
probably would, but the idea was not attractive just now. He would
rather rest and read and go to sleep early. But then, of course he
would go. Such opportunities were none too frequent in this lonely
land, though in his present mood the gay doings at the fort did not
appeal to him strongly; besides it meant a ride of ten miles further.
However, of course he would go. He fell to musing over the whip again,
and in due time he arrived at his own home, a little one-roomed shanty
with a chimney at the back and four big windows. At the extreme end of
the fenced enclosure about the structure was a little shed for Billy,
and all about was the vast plain dotted with bushes and weeds, with its
panorama of mountain and hill, valley and gorge. It was beautiful, but
it was desolate. There were neighbours, a few, but they lived at
We ought to have a dog, Billy! Why don't we get a dog to welcome us
home? said Brownleigh, slapping the horse's neck affectionately as he
sprang from the saddle; but then a dog would go along with us,
wouldn't he, so there'd be three of us to come home instead of two, and
that wouldn't do any good. Chickens? How would that do? But the coyotes
would steal them. I guess we'll have to get along with each other, old
The horse, relieved of his saddle, gave a shake of comfort as a man
might stretch himself after a weary journey, and trotted into his shed.
Brownleigh made him comfortable and turned to go to the house.
As he walked along by the fence he caught sight of a small dark
object hanging on a sage-bush a short distance from the front of his
house. It seemed to move slightly, and he stopped and watched it a
second thinking it might be some animal caught in the bush, or in
hiding. It seemed to stir again as objects watched intently often will,
and springing over the rail fence Brownleigh went to investigate.
Nothing in that country was left to uncertainty. Men liked to know what
was about them.
As he neared the bush, however, the object took on a tangible form
and colour, and coming closer he picked it up and turned it over
clumsily in his hand. A little velvet riding cap, undoubtedly a lady's,
with the name of a famous New York costumer wrought in silk letters in
the lining. Yes, there was no question about its being a lady's cap,
for a long gleaming golden hair, with an undoubted tendency to curl,
still clung to the velvet. A sudden embarrassment filled him, as though
he had been handling too intimately another's property unawares. He
raised his eyes and shaded them with his hand to look across the
landscape, if perchance the owner might be at hand, though even as he
did so he felt a conviction that the little velvet cap belonged to the
owner of the whip which he still held in his other hand. H. R. Where
was H. R., and who could she be?
For some minutes he stood thinking it out, locating the exact spot
in his memory where he had found the whip. It had not been on any
regular trail. That was strange. He stooped to see if there were any
further evidences of passers-by, but the slight breeze had softly
covered all definite marks. He was satisfied, however, after examining
the ground about for some distance either way, that there could have
been but one horse. He was wise in the lore of the trail. By certain
little things that he saw or did not see he came to this conclusion.
Just as he was turning to go back to his cabin he came to a halt
again with an exclamation of wonder, for there close at his feet, half
hidden under a bit of sage, lay a small shell comb. He stooped and
picked it up in triumph.
I declare, I have quite a collection, he said aloud. Are there
any more? By these tokens I may be able to find her after all. And he
started with a definite purpose and searched the ground for several
rods ahead, then going back and taking a slightly different direction,
he searched again and yet again, looking back each time to get his
bearings from the direction where he had found the whip, arguing that
the horse must likely have taken a pretty straight line and gone at a
He was rewarded at last by finding two shell hairpins, and near them
a single hoof print, that, sheltered by a heavy growth of sage, had
escaped the obliteration of the wind. This he knelt and studied
carefully, taking in all the details of size and shape and direction;
then, finding no more hairpins or combs, he carefully put his booty
into his pocket and hurried back to the cabin, his brow knit in deep
Father, is this Thy leading? He paused at the door and looked up.
He opened the door and stepped within. The restfulness of the place
called to him to stay.
There was the wide fireplace with a fire laid all ready for the
touch of a match that would bring the pleasant blaze to dispel the
loneliness of the place. There was the easy chair, his one luxury, with
its leather cushions and reclining back; his slippers on the floor
close by; the little table with its well-trimmed student lamp, his
college paper and the one magazine that kept him in touch with the
world freshly arrived before he left for his recent trip, and still
unopened. How they called to him! Yet when he laid the whip upon the
magazine the slanting ray of sun that entered by the door caught the
glory of the topaz and sent it scintillating, and somehow the magazine
lost its power to hold him.
One by one he laid his trophies down beside the whip; the velvet
cap, the hairpins and the little comb, and then stood back startled
with the wonder of it and looked about his bachelor quarters.
It was a pleasant spot, far lovelier than its weather-stained
exterior would lead one to suppose. A Navajo blanket hung upon one wall
above the bed, and another enwrapped and completely covered the bed
itself, making a spot of colour in the room, and giving an air of
luxury. Two quaint rugs of Indian workmanship upon the floor, one in
front of the bed, the other before the fireplace where one's feet would
rest when sitting in the big chair, did much to hide the discrepancies
of the ugly floor. A rough set of shelves at the side of the fireplace
handy to reach from the easy chair were filled with treasures of great
minds, the books he loved well, all he could afford to bring with him,
a few commentaries, not many, an encyclopedia, a little biography, a
few classics, botany, biology, astronomy and a much worn Bible. On the
wall above was a large card catalogue of Indian words; and around the
room were some of his own pencil drawings of plants and animals.
Over in the opposite end of the room from the bed was a table
covered with white oilcloth; and on the wall behind, the cupboard which
held his dishes, and his stock of provisions. It was a pleasant spot
and well ordered, for he never liked to leave his quarters in disarray
lest some one might enter during his absence, or come back with him.
Besides, it was pleasanter so to return to it. A rough closet of goodly
proportions held his clothes, his trunk, and any other stores.
He stood and looked about it now and then let his eyes travel back
to those small feminine articles on the little table beside him. It
gave him a strange sensation. What if they belonged there? What if the
owner of them lived there, was coming in in a minute now to meet him?
How would it seem? What would she be like? For just an instant he let
himself dream, and reaching out touched the velvet of the cap, then
took it in his hand and smoothed its silken surface. A faint perfume of
another world seemed to steal from its texture, and to linger on his
hands. He drew a breath of wonder and laid it down; then with a start
he came to himself. Suppose she did belong, and were out somewhere and
he did not know where? Suppose something had happened to herthe horse
run away, thrown her somewhere perhaps,or she might have strayed away
from a camp and lost her wayor been frightened?
These might be all foolish fantasies of a weary brain, but the man
knew he could not rest until he had at least made an attempt to find
out. He sank down in the big chair for a moment to think it out and
closed his eyes, making swift plans.
Billy must have a chance to rest a little; a fagged horse could not
accomplish much if the journey were far and the need for haste. He
could not go for an hour yet. And there would be preparations to make.
He must repack the saddle-bags with feed for Billy, food for himself
and a possible stranger, restoratives, and a simple remedy or two in
case of accident. These were articles he always took with him on long
journeys. He considered taking his camping tent but that would mean the
wagon, and they could not go so rapidly with that. He must not load
Billy heavily, after the miles he had already come. But he could take a
bit of canvas strapped to the saddle, and a small blanket. Of course it
might be but a wild goose chase after allyet he could not let his
impression go unheeded.
Then there was the fort. In case he found the lady and restored her
property in time he might be able to reach the fort by evening. He must
take that into consideration also.
With alacrity he arose and went about his preparations, soon having
his small baggage in array. His own toilet came next. A bath and fresh
clothing; then, clean shaven and ready, all but his coat, he flung
himself upon his bed for ten minutes of absolute relaxation, after
which he felt himself quite fit for the expedition. Springing up he put
on coat and hat, gathered up with reverent touch the bits of things he
had found, locked his cabin and went out to Billy, a lump of sugar in
Billy, old fellow, we're under orders to march again, he said
apologetically, and Billy answered with a neigh of pleasure, submitting
to the saddle as though he were quite ready for anything required of
Now, Father, said the missionary with his upward look, show us
So, taking the direction from the hoof print in the sand, Billy and
his master sped away once more into the westering light of the desert
towards the long black shadowed entrance of the canyon.
III. THE DESERT
Hazel, as she was borne along, her lovely hair streaming in the wind
and lashing her across the face and eyes now and again, breath coming
painfully, eyes smarting, fingers aching in the vise-like hold she was
compelled to keep upon the saddle, began to wonder just how long she
could hold out. It seemed to her it was a matter of minutes only when
she must let go and be whirled into space while the tempestuous steed
sped on and left her.
Nothing like this motion had ever come into her experience before.
She had been run away with once, but that was like a cradle to this
tornado of motion. She had been frightened before, but never like this.
The blood pounded in her head and eyes until it seemed it would burst
forth, and now and again the surging of it through her ears gave the
sensation of drowning, yet on and on she went. It was horrible to have
no bridle, and nothing to say about where she should go, no chance to
control her horse. It was like being on an express train with the
engineer dead in his cab and no way to get to the brakes. They must
stop some time and what then? Death seemed inevitable, and yet as the
mad rush continued she almost wished it might come and end the horror
of this ride.
It seemed hours before she began to realize that the horse was no
longer going at quite such a breakneck speed, or else she was growing
accustomed to the motion and getting her breath, she could not quite be
sure which. But little by little she perceived that the mad flying had
settled into a long lope. The pony evidently had no intention of
stopping and it was plain that he had some distinct place in mind to
which he was going as straight and determinedly as any human being ever
laid out a course and forged ahead in it. There was that about his
whole beastly contour that showed it was perfectly useless to try to
deter him from it or to turn him aside.
When her breath came less painfully, Hazel made a fitful little
attempt to drop a quiet word of reason into his ear.
Nice pony, nice, good pony! she soothed, but the wind caught
her voice and flung it aside as it had flung her cap a few moments
before, and the pony only laid his ears back and fled stolidly on.
She gathered her forces again.
Nice pony! Whoa, sir! she cried, a little louder than the last
time and trying to make her voice sound firm and commanding.
But the pony had no intention of whoa-ing, and though she repeated
the command many times, her voice growing each time more firm and
normal, he only showed the whites of his eyes at her and continued
doggedly on his way.
She saw it was useless; and the tears, usually with her under fine
control, came streaming down her white cheeks.
Pony, good horse, dear pony, won't you stop! she cried and
her words ended with a sob. But still the pony kept on.
The desert fled about her yet seemed to grow no shorter ahead, and
the dark line of cloud mystery, with the towering mountains beyond,
were no nearer than when she first started. It seemed much like riding
on a rocking-horse, one never got anywhere, only no rocking-horse flew
at such a speed.
Yet she realized now that the pace was much modified from what it
had been at first, and the pony's motion was not hard. If she had not
been so stiff and sore in every joint and muscle with the terrible
tension she had kept up the riding would not have been at all bad. But
she was conscious of most terrible weariness, a longing to drop down on
the sand of the desert and rest, not caring whether she ever went on
again or not. She had never felt such terrible weariness in her life.
She could hold on now with one hand, and relax the muscles of the
other a little. She tried with one hand presently to do something with
that sweeping pennant of hair that lashed her in the face so
unexpectedly now and then, but could only succeed in twisting it about
her neck and tucking the ends into the neck of her riding habit; and
from this frail binding it soon slipped free again.
She was conscious of the heat of the sun on her bare head, the
smarting of her eyes. The pain in her chest was subsiding, and she
could breathe freely again, but her heart felt tired, so tired, and she
wanted to lie down and cry. Would she never get anywhere and be helped?
How soon would her father and brother miss her and come after her?
When she dared she looked timidly behind, and then again more
lingeringly, but there was nothing to be seen but the same awful
stretch of distance with mountains of bright colour in the boundaries
everywhere; not a living thing but herself and the pony to be seen. It
was awful. Somewhere between herself and the mountains behind was the
place she had started from, but the bright sun shone steadily, hotly
down and shimmered back again from the bright earth, and nothing broke
the awful repose of the lonely space. It was as if she had suddenly
been caught up and flung out into a world where was no other living
Why did they not come after her? Surely, surely, pretty soon she
would see them coming. They would spur their horses on when they found
she had been run away with. Her father and brother would not leave her
long in this horrible plight.
Then it occurred to her that her father and brother had been for
some time out of sight ahead before she began her race. They would not
know she was gone, at once; but of course Mr. Hamar would do something.
He would not leave her helpless. The habit of years of trusting him
assured her of that. For the instant she had forgotten the cause of her
flight. Then suddenly she remembered it with sickening thought. He who
had been to her a brave fine hero, suffering daily through the
carelessness of a wife who did not understand him, had stepped down
from his pedestal and become the lowest of the low. He had dared to
kiss her! He had said he would marry herhe,a married man! Her whole
soul revolted against him again, and now she was glad she had run
awayglad the horse had taken her so farglad she had shown him how
terrible the whole thing looked to her. She was even glad that her
father and brother were far away too, for the present, until she should
adjust herself to life once more. How could she have faced them after
what happened? How could she ever live in the same world with that man
again,that fallen hero? How could she ever have thought so much of
him? She had almost worshipped him, and had been so pleased when he had
seemed to enjoy her company, and complimented her by telling her she
had whiled away a weary hour for him! And he? He had been meaning
thisall the time! He had looked at her with that thought in his
mind! Ohawful degradation!
There was something so revolting in the memory of his voice and face
as he had told her that she closed her eyes and shuddered as she
recalled it, and once more the tears went coursing down her cheeks and
she sobbed aloud, piteously, her head bowing lower and lower over the
pony's neck, her bright hair falling down about her shoulders and
beating against the animal's breast and knees as he ran, her stiffened
fingers clutching his mane to keep her balance, her whole weary little
form drooping over his neck in a growing exhaustion, her entire being
swept by alternate waves of anger, revulsion and fear.
Perhaps all this had its effect on the beast; perhaps somewhere in
his make-up there lay a spot, call it instinct or what you please, that
vibrated in response to the distress of the human creature he carried.
Perhaps the fact that she was in trouble drew his sympathy, wicked
little willful imp though he usually was. Certain it is that he began
to slacken his pace decidedly, until at last he was walking, and
finally stopped short and turned his head about with a troubled neigh
as if to ask her what was the matter.
The sudden cessation of the motion almost threw her from her seat;
and with new fear gripping her heart she clutched the pony's mane the
tighter and looked about her trembling. She was conscious more than
anything else of the vast spaces about her in every direction, of the
loneliness of the spot, and her own desolate condition. She had wanted
the horse to stop and let her get down to solid ground, and now that he
had done so and she might dismount a great horror filled her and she
dared not. But with the lessening of the need for keeping up the tense
strain of nerve and muscle, she suddenly began to feel that she could
not sit up any longer, that she must lie down, let go this awful
strain, stop this uncontrollable trembling which was quivering all over
The pony, too, seemed wondering, impatient that she did not dismount
at once. He turned his nose towards her again with a questioning snuff
and snort, and showed the wicked whites of his eyes in wild perplexity.
Then a panic seized her. What if he should start to run again? She
would surely be thrown this time, for her strength was almost gone. She
must get down and in some way gain possession of the bridle. With the
bridle she might perhaps hope to guide his movements, and make further
wild riding impossible.
Slowly, painfully, guardedly, she took her foot from the stirrup and
slipped to the ground. Her cramped feet refused to hold her weight for
the moment and she tottered and went into a little heap on the ground.
The pony, feeling his duty for the present done, sidled away from her
and began cropping the grass hungrily.
The girl sank down wearily at full length upon the ground and for a
moment it seemed to her she could never rise again. She was too weary
to lift her hand or to move the foot that was twisted under her into a
more comfortable position, too weary to even think. Then suddenly the
sound of the animal moving steadily away from her roused her to the
necessity of securing him. If he should get away in this wide
desolation she would be helpless indeed.
She gathered her flagging energy and got painfully upon her feet.
The horse was nearly a rod away, and moving slowly, steadily, as he
ate, with now and then a restless lifting of his head to look off into
the distance and take a few determined steps before he stopped for
another bite. That horse had something on his mind and was going
straight towards it. She felt that he cared little what became of her.
She must look out for herself. This was something she had never had to
do before; but the instinct came with the need.
Slowly, tremblingly, feeling her weakness, she stole towards him, a
bunch of grass in her hand she had plucked as she came, holding it
obviously as she had fed a lump of sugar or an apple to her finely
groomed mare in New York. But the grass she held was like all the grass
about him, and the pony had not been raised a pet. He tossed his nose
energetically and scornfully as she drew near and hastened on a pace or
Cautiously she came on again talking to him gently, pleadingly,
complimentarily: Nice good horsey! Pretty pony so he was! But he only
edged away again.
And so they went on for some little way until Hazel almost despaired
of catching him at all, and was becoming more and more aware of the
vastness of the universe about her, and the smallness of her own being.
At last, however, her fingers touched the bridle, she felt the
pony's quick jerk, strained every muscle to hold on, and found she had
conquered. He was in her hands. For how long was a question, for he was
strong enough to walk away and drag her by the bridle perhaps, and she
knew little about tricks of management. Moreover her muscles were so
flabby and sore with the long ride that she was ill-fitted to cope with
the wise and wicked little beast. She dreaded to get upon his back
again, and doubted if she could if she tried, but it seemed the only
way to get anywhere, or to keep company with the pony, for she could
not hope to detain him by mere physical force if he decided otherwise.
She stood beside him for a moment, looking about her over the wide
distance. Everything looked alike, and different from anything she had
ever seen before. She must certainly get on that pony's back, for her
fear of the desert became constantly greater. It was almost as if it
would snatch her away in a moment more if she stayed there longer, and
carry her into vaster realms of space where her soul would be lost in
infinitude. She had never been possessed by any such feeling before and
it frightened her unreasoningly.
Turning to the pony, she measured the space from the ground to the
queer saddle and wondered how people mounted such things without a
groom. When she had mounted that morning it had been Milton Hamar's
strong arm that swung her into the saddle, and his hand that held her
foot for the instant of her spring. The memory of it now sent a shudder
of dislike over her whole body. If she had known, he never should have
touched her! The blood mounted uncomfortably into her tired face, and
made her conscious of the heat of the day, and of a burning thirst. She
must go on and get to some water somewhere. She could not stand this
Carefully securing the bridle over her arm she reached up and took
hold of the saddle, doubtfully at first, and then desperately; tried to
reach the stirrup with one foot, failed and tried again; and then
wildly struggling, jumping, kicking, she vainly sought to climb back to
the saddle. But the pony was not accustomed to such a demonstration at
mounting and he strongly objected. Tossing his head he reared and
dashed off, almost throwing the girl to the ground and frightening her
Nevertheless the desperation of her situation gave her strength for
a fresh trial, and she struggled up again, and almost gained her seat,
when the pony began a series of circles which threw her down and made
her dizzy with trying to keep up with him.
Thus they played the desperate game for half an hour more. Twice the
girl lost the bridle and had to get it again by stealthy wiles, and
once she was almost on the point of giving up, so utterly exhausted was
But the pony was thirsty too, and he must have decided that the
quickest way to water would be to let her mount; for finally with
lifted head he stood stock still and let her struggle up his side; and
at last, well-nigh falling from sheer weariness, she sat astonished
that she had accomplished it. She was on his back, and she would never
dare to get down again, she thought, until she got somewhere to safety.
But now the animal, his courage renewed by the bite he had taken,
started snorting off at a rapid pace once more, very nearly upsetting
his rider at the start, and almost losing her the bridle once more. She
sat trembling, and gripping bridle and saddle for some time, having
enough to do to keep her seat without trying to direct her bearer, and
then she saw before her a sudden descent, steep but not very long, and
at its bottom a great puddle of dirty water. The pony paused only an
instant on the brink and then began the descent. The girl cried out
with fear, but managed to keep her seat, and the impatient animal was
soon ankle deep in the water drinking long and blissfully.
Hazel sat looking in dismay about her. The water-hole seemed to be
entirely surrounded by steep banks like that they had descended, and
there was no way out except to return. Could the horse climb up with
her on his back? And could she keep her seat? She grew cold with fear
at the thought, for all her riding experience had been on the level,
and she had become more and more conscious of her flagging strength.
Besides, the growing thirst was becoming awful. Oh, for just one
drop of that water that the pony was enjoying! Black and dirty as it
was she felt she could drink it. But it was out of her reach and she
dared not get down. Suddenly a thought came to her. She would wet her
handkerchief and moisten her lips with that. If she stooped over quite
carefully she might be able to let it down far enough to touch the
She pulled the small bit of linen from the tiny pocket of her habit
and the pony, as if to help her, waded into the water farther until her
skirt almost touched it. Now she found that by putting her arm about
the pony's neck she could dip most of her handkerchief in the water,
and dirty as it was it was most refreshing to bathe her face and hands
and wrists and moisten her lips.
But the pony when he had his fill had no mind to tarry, and with a
splash, a plunge and a wallow that gave the girl an unexpected shower
bath, he picked his way out of the hole and up the rocky side of the
descent, while she clung frightened to the saddle and wondered if she
could possibly hang on until they were up on the mesa again. The dainty
handkerchief dropped in the flight floated pitifully on the muddy
water, another bit of comfort left behind.
But when they were up and away again, what with the fright, and the
fact that they had come out of the hole on the opposite side from that
which they had entered it, the girl had lost all sense of direction,
and everywhere stretched away one vast emptiness edged with mountains
that stood out clear, cold and unfriendly.
The whole atmosphere of the earth seemed to have changed while they
were down at the drinking hole, for now the shadows were long and had
almost a menacing attitude as they crept along or leaped sideways after
the travellers. Hazel noticed with a startled glance at the sky that
the sun was low and would soon be down. And that of course where the
sun hung like a great burning opal must be the west, but that told her
nothing, for the sun had been high in the heavens when they had
started, and she had taken no note of direction. East, west, north or
south were all one to her in her happy care-free life that she had
hitherto led. She tried to puzzle it out and remember which way they
had turned from the railroad but grew more bewildered, and the
brilliant display in the west flamed alarmingly as she realized that
night was coming on and she was lost on a great desert with only a wild
tired little pony for company, hungry and thirsty and weary beyond
anything she had ever dreamed before.
They had been going down into a broad valley for some little time,
which made the night seem even nearer. Hazel would have turned her
horse back and tried to retrace her steps, but that he would not, for
try as she might, and turn him as she would he circled about and soon
was in the same course again, so that now the tired hands could only
hold the reins stiffly and submit to be carried where the pony willed.
It was quite evident he had a destination in view, and knew the way
thereto. Hazel had read of the instinct of animals. She began to hope
that he would presently bring her to a human habitation where she would
find help to get to her father once more.
But suddenly even the glory of the dying sun was lost as the horse
entered the dimness of the canyon opening, whose high walls of red
stone, rising solemnly on either hand, were serrated here and there
with long transverse lines of grasses and tree-ferns growing in the
crevices, and higher up appeared the black openings of caves mysterious
and fearsome in the twilight gloom. The way ahead loomed darkly.
Somewhere from out the memories of her childhood came a phrase from the
church-service to which she had never given conscious attention, but
which flashed vividly to mind now: Though I walk through the valley of
the shadowthe Valley of the Shadow! Surely this must be it. She
wished she could remember the rest of it. What could it have meant? She
shivered visibly, and looked about her with wild eyes.
The cottonwoods and oaks grew thickly at the base of the cliffs,
almost concealing them sometimes, and above the walls rose dark and
towering. The way was rough and slippery, filled with great boulders
and rocks, around which the pony picked his way without regard to the
branches of trees that swept her face and caught in her long hair as
they went by.
Vainly she strove to guide him back, but he turned only to whirl
again, determinedly. Somewhere in the deep gloom ahead he had a
destination and no mere girl was to deter him from reaching it as soon
as possible. It was plain to his horse-mind that his rider did not know
what she wanted, and he did, so there were no two ways about it. He
intended to go back to his old master as straight and as fast as he
could get there. This canyon was the shortest cut and through this
canyon he meant to walk whether she liked it or not.
Further and further into the gloom they penetrated, and the girl,
frenzied with fear, cried out with the wild hope that some one might be
near and come to her rescue. But the gloomy aisle of the canyon caught
up her voice and echoed it far and high, until it came back to her in a
volume of sepulchral sound that filled her with a nameless dread and
made her fear to open her lips again. It was as if she had by her cry
awakened the evil spirit who inhabited the canyon and set it searching
for the intruder. Help! Help! How the words rolled and returned upon
her trembling senses until she quaked and quivered with their echoes!
On went the pony into the deepening shadows, and each moment the
darkness shut down more impenetrably, until the girl could only close
her eyes, lower her head as much as possible to escape the
Then suddenly, from above where the distant sky gave a line of light
and a single star had appeared to pierce the dusk like a great jewel on
a lady's gown, there arose a sound; blood-curdling and hideous, high,
hollow, far-echoing, chilling her soul with horror and causing her
heart to stand still with fear. She had heard it once before, a night
or two ago, when their train had stopped in a wide desert for water or
repairs or something and the porter of the car had told her it was
coyotes. It had been distant then, and weird and interesting to think
of being so near real live wild animals. She had peered from the safety
of her berth behind the silken curtains and fancied she saw shadowy
forms steal over the plain under the moonlight. But it was a very
different thing to hear the sound now, out alone among their haunts,
with no weapon and none to protect her. The awfulness of her situation
almost took away her senses.
Still she held to the saddle, weak and trembling, expecting every
minute to be her last; and the horrid howling of the coyotes continued.
Down below the trail somewhere she could hear the soft trickling of
water with maddening distinctness now and then. Oh, if she could but
quench this terrible thirst! The pony was somewhat refreshed with his
grass and his drink of water, but the girl, whose life up to this day
had never known a want unsatisfied, was faint with hunger and burning
with thirst, and this unaccustomed demand upon her strength was fast
bringing it to its limit.
The darkness in the canyon grew deeper, and more stars clustered out
overhead; but far, so very far away! The coyotes seemed just a shadow
removed all about and above. Her senses were swimming. She could not be
sure just where they were. The horse slipped and stumbled on in the
darkness, and she forgot to try to turn him from his purpose.
By and by she grew conscious that the way was leading upward again.
They were scrambling over rough places, large rocks in the way, trees
growing close to the trail, and the pony seemed not to be able to avoid
them, or perhaps he didn't care. The howling of the coyotes was growing
clearer every minute but somehow her fear of them was deadened, as her
fear of all else. She was lying low upon the pony, clinging to his
neck, too faint to cry out, too weak to stop the tears that slowly wet
his mane. Then suddenly she was caught in the embrace of a low hanging
branch, her hair tangled about its roughness. The pony struggled to
gain his uncertain footing, the branch held her fast and the pony
scrambled on, leaving his helpless rider behind him in a little huddled
heap upon the rocky trail, swept from the saddle by the tough old
The pony stopped a moment upon a bit of shelving rock he had with
difficulty gained, and looked back with a troubled snort, but the
huddled heap in the darkness below him gave forth no sign of life, and
after another snort and a half neigh of warning the pony turned and
scrambled on, up and up till he gained the mesa above.
The late moon rose and hunted its way through the canyon till it
found the gold of her hair spread about on the rocky way, and touched
her sweet unconscious face with the light of cold beauty; the coyotes
howled on in solemn chorus, and still the little figure lay quiet and
unconscious of her situation.
IV. THE QUEST
John Brownleigh reached the water-hole at sunset, and while he
waited for his horse to drink he meditated on what he would do next. If
he intended to go to the fort for dinner he should turn at once sharply
to the right and ride hard, unless he was willing to be late. The lady
at the fort liked to have her guests on hand promptly, he knew.
The sun was down. It had left long splashes of crimson and gold in
the west, and their reflection was shimmering over the muddy water
below him so that Billy looked as if he quaffed the richest wine from a
golden cup, as he satisfied his thirst contentedly.
But as the missionary watched the painted water and tried to decide
his course, suddenly his eye caught a bit of white something floating,
half clinging to a twig at the edge of the water, a bit of thin
transparentness, with delicate lacy edge. It startled him in that
desert place much as the jewel in its golden setting in the sand had
startled him that morning.
With an exclamation of surprise he stooped over, picked up the
little wet handkerchief and held it outdainty, white and fine, and in
spite of its wet condition sending forth its violet breath to the
senses of a man who had been in the wilds of the desert for three
years. It spoke of refinement and culture and a world he had left
behind him in the East.
There was a tiny letter embroidered in the corner, but already the
light was growing too dim to read it, and though he held it up and
looked through it and felt the embroidery with his finger-tip he could
not be sure that it was either of the letters that had been engraved on
Nevertheless, the little white messenger determined his course. He
searched the edge of the water-hole for hoof prints as well as the
dying light would reveal, then mounted Billy with decision at once and
took up his quest where he had almost abandoned it. He was convinced
that a lady was out alone in the desert somewhere.
It was long past midnight when Billy and the missionary came upon
the pony, high on the mesa, grazing. The animal had evidently felt the
need for food and rest before proceeding further, and was perhaps a
little uneasy about that huddled form in the darkness he had left.
Billy and the pony were soon hobbled and left to feed together while
the missionary, all thought of his own need of rest forgotten, began a
systematic search for the missing rider. He first carefully examined
the pony and saddle. The saddle somehow reminded him of Shag Bunce, but
the pony was a stranger to him; neither could he make out the letter of
the brand in the pale moonlight. However, it might be a new animal,
just purchased and not yet brandedor there might be a thousand
explanations. The thought of Shag Bunce reminded him of the handsome
private car he had seen upon the track that morning. But even if a
party had gone out to ride how would one of them get separated? Surely
no lady would venture over the desert alone, not a stranger at any
Still in the silver and black of the shadowed night he searched on,
and not until the rosy light of dawning began to flush and grow in the
east did he come to stand at the top of the canyon where he could look
down and see the girl, her green riding habit blending darkly with the
dark forms of the trees still in shadow, the gold of her hair glinted
with the early light, and her white, white face turned upward.
He lost no time in climbing down to her side, dreading what he might
find. Was she dead? What had happened to her? It was a perilous spot
where she lay, and the dangers that might have harmed her had been
many. The sky grew pink, and tinted all the clouds with rose as he
knelt beside the still form.
A moment served to convince him that she was still alive; even in
the half darkness he could see the drawn, weary look of her face. Poor
child! Poor little girl, lost on the desert! He was glad, glad he had
come to find her.
He gathered her in his strong arms and bore her upward to the light.
Laying her in a sheltered spot he quickly brought water, bathed her
face and forced a stimulant between the white lips. He chafed her cold
little hands, blistered with the bridle, gave her more stimulant, and
was rewarded by seeing a faint colour steal into the lips and cheeks.
Finally the white lids fluttered open for a second and gave him a
glimpse of great dark eyes in which was still mirrored the horror and
fright of the night.
He gave her another draught, and hastened to prepare a more
comfortable resting place, bringing the canvas from Billy's pack, and
one or two other little articles that might make for comfort, among
them a small hot water bottle. When he had her settled on the canvas
with sweet ferns and grass underneath for a pillow and his own blanket
spread over her he set about gathering wood for a fire, and soon he had
water boiling in his tin cup, enough to fill the rubber bottle. When he
put it in her cold hands she opened her eyes again wonderingly. He
smiled reassuringly and she nestled down contentedly with the comfort
of the warmth. She was too weary to question or know aught save that
relief from a terrible horror was come at last.
The next time he came to her it was with a cup of strong beef tea
which he held to her lips and coaxed her to swallow. When it was
finished she lay back and slept again with a long drawn trembling sigh
that was almost like a sob, and the heart of the young man was shaken
to its depths over the agony through which she must have passed. Poor
child, poor little child!
He busied himself with making their temporary camp as comfortable as
possible, and looking after the needs of the horses, then coming back
to his patient he stood looking down at her as she slept, wondering
what he ought to do next.
They were a long distance from any human habitation. Whatever made
the pony take this lonely trail was a puzzle. It led to a distant
Indian settlement, and doubtless the animal was returning to his former
master, but how had it come that the rider had not turned him back?
Then he looked down at the frail girl asleep on the ground and grew
grave as he thought of the perils through which she had passed alone
and unguarded. The exquisite delicacy of her face touched him as the
vision of an angelic being might have done, and for an instant he
forgot everything in the wonder with which her beauty filled him; the
lovely outline of the profile as it rested lightly against her raised
arm, the fineness and length of her wealth of hair, like spun gold in
the glint of the sunshine that was just peering over the rim of the
mountain, the clearness of her skin, so white and different from the
women in that region, the pitiful droop of the sweet lips showing utter
exhaustion. His heart went out from him with longing to comfort her,
guard her, and bring her back to happiness. A strange, joyful
tenderness for her filled him as he looked, so that he could scarcely
draw his gaze from her face. Then all at once it came over him that she
would not like a stranger thus to stand and gaze upon her helplessness,
and with quick reverence he turned his eyes away towards the sky.
It was a peculiar morning, wonderfully beautiful. The clouds were
tinted pink almost like a sunset and lasted so for over an hour, as if
the dawn were coming gently that it might not waken her who slept.
Brownleigh, with one more glance to see if his patient was
comfortable, went softly away to gather wood, bring more water, and
make various little preparations for a breakfast later when she should
waken. In an hour he tiptoed back to see if all was going well, and
stooping laid a practiced finger on the delicate wrist to note the
flutter of her pulse. He could count it with care, feeble, as if the
heart had been under heavy strain, but still growing steadier on the
whole. She was doing well to sleep. It was better than any medicine he
Meantime, he must keep a sharp lookout for travellers. They were
quite off the trail here, and the trail was an old one anyway and
almost disused. There was little likelihood of many passers. It might
be days before any one came that way. There was no human habitation
within call, and he dared not leave his charge to go in search of help
to carry her back to civilization again. He must just wait here till
she was able to travel.
It occurred to him to wonder where she belonged and how she came to
be thus alone, and whether it was not altogether probable that a party
of searchers might be out soon with some kind of a conveyance to carry
her home. He must keep a sharp lookout and signal any passing rider.
To this end he moved away from the sleeping girl as far as he dared
leave her, and uttered a long, clear call occasionally, but no answer
He dared not use his rifle for signalling lest he run out of
ammunition which he might need before he got back with his charge.
However, he felt it wise to combine hunting with signalling, and when a
rabbit hurried across his path not far away he shot it, and the sound
echoed out in the clear morning, but no answering signal came.
After he had shot two rabbits and dressed them ready for dinner when
his guest should wake, he replenished the fire, set the rabbits to
roasting on a curious little device of his own, and lay down on the
opposite side of the fire. He was weary beyond expression himself, but
he never thought of it once. The excitement of the occasion kept him
up. He lay still marvelling at the strangeness of his position, and
wondering what would be revealed when the girl should wake. He almost
dreaded to have her do so lest she should not be as perfect as she
looked asleep. His heart was in a tumult of wonder over her, and of
thankfulness that he had found her before some terrible fate had
As he lay there resting, filled with an exalted joy, his mind
wandered to the longings of the day before, the little adobe home of
his co-labourer which he had left, its homeyness and joy; his own
loneliness and longing for companionship. Then he looked shyly towards
the tree shade where the glint of golden hair and the dark line of his
blanket were all he could see of the girl he had found in the
wilderness. What if his Father had answered his prayer and sent her to
him! What miracle of joy! A thrill of tenderness passed through him and
he pressed his hands over his closed eyes in a kind of ecstasy.
What foolishness! Dreams, of course! He tried to sober himself but
he could not keep from thinking how it would seem to have this lovely
girl enthroned in his little shack, ready to share his joys and comfort
his sorrows; to be beloved and guarded and tenderly cared for by him.
A stir of the old blanket and a softly drawn sigh brought this
delicious reverie to a close, and himself to his feet flushing cold and
hot at thought of facing her awake.
She had turned over towards him slightly, her cheeks flushed with
sleep. One hand was thrown back over her head, and the sun caught and
flashed the sparkle of jewels into his eyes, great glory-clear gems
like drops of morning dew when the sun is new upon them, and the flash
of the jewels told him once more what he had known before, that here
was a daughter of another world than his. They seemed to hurt him as he
looked, those costly gems, for they pierced to his heart and told him
they were set on a wall of separation which might rise forever between
her and himself.
Then suddenly he came to himself and was the missionary again, with
his senses all on the alert, and a keen realization that it was high
noon and his patient was waking up. He must have slept himself although
he thought he had been broad awake all the time. The hour had come for
action and he must put aside the foolish thoughts that had crowded in
when his weary brain was unable to cope with the cool facts of life. Of
course all this was stuff and nonsense that he had been dreaming. He
must do his duty by this needy one now.
Stepping softly he brought a cup of water that he had placed in the
shade to keep cool, and stood beside the girl, speaking quietly, as
though he had been her nurse for years.
Wouldn't you like a drink of water? he asked.
The girl opened her eyes and looked up at him bewildered.
Oh, yes, she said eagerly, though her voice was very weak. Oh,
yes,I'm so thirsty.I thought we never would get anywhere!
She let him lift her head, and drank eagerly, then sank back
exhausted and closed her eyes. He almost thought she was going to sleep
Wouldn't you like something to eat? he asked. Dinner is almost
ready. Do you think you can sit up to eat or would you rather lie
Dinner! she said languidly; but I thought it was night. Did I
dream it all, and how did I get here? I don't remember this place.
She looked around curiously and then closed her eyes as if the
effort were almost too much.
Oh, I feel so queer and tired, as if I never wanted to move again,
Don't move, he commanded. Wait until you've had something to eat.
I'll bring it at once.
He brought a cup of steaming hot beef extract with little broken
bits of biscuit from a small tin box in the pack, and fed it to her a
spoonful at a time.
Who are you? she asked as she swallowed the last spoonful, and
opened her eyes, which had been closed most of the time, while he fed
her, as if she were too tired to keep them open.
Oh, I'm just the missionary. Brownleigh's my name. Now don't talk
until you've had the rest of your dinner. I'll bring it in a minute. I
want to make you a cup of tea, but you see I have to wash this cup
first. The supply of dishes is limited. His genial smile and hearty
words reassured her and she smiled and submitted.
A missionary! she mused and opened her eyes furtively to watch him
as he went about his task. A missionary! She had never seen a
missionary before, to her knowledge. She had fancied them always quite
a different species, plain old maids with hair tightly drawn behind
their ears and a poke bonnet with little white lawn strings.
This was a man, young, strong, engaging, and handsome as a fine
piece of bronze. The brown flannel shirt he wore fitted easily over
well knit muscles and exactly matched the brown of the abundant wavy
hair in which the morning sun was setting glints of gold as he knelt
before the fire and deftly completed his cookery. His soft wide-brimmed
felt hat pushed far back on the head, the corduroy trousers, leather
chaps and belt with brace of pistols all fitted into the picture and
made the girl feel that she had suddenly left the earth where she had
heretofore lived and been dropped into an unknown land with a strong
kind angel to look after her.
A missionary! Then of course she needn't be afraid of him. As she
studied his face she knew that she couldn't possibly have been afraid
of that face anyway, unless, perhaps, she had ventured to disobey its
owner's orders. He had a strong, firm chin, and his lips though kindly
in their curve looked decided as though they were not to be trifled
with. On the whole if this was a missionary then she must change her
ideas of missionaries from this time forth.
She watched his light, free movements, now sitting back upon his
heels to hold the cup of boiling water over the blaze by a curiously
contrived handle, now rising and going to the saddle pack for some
needed article. There was something graceful as well as powerful about
his every motion. He gave one a sense of strength and almost infinite
resource. Then suddenly her imagination conjured there beside him the
man from whom she had fled, and in the light of this fine face the
other face darkened and weakened and she had a swift revelation of his
true character, and wondered that she had never known before. A shudder
passed over her, and a gray pallor came into her face at the memory.
She felt a great distaste for thinking or the necessity for even living
at that moment.
Then at once he was beside her with a tin plate and the cup of
steaming tea, and began to feed her, as if she had been a baby, roast
rabbit and toasted corn bread. She ate unquestioningly, and drank her
tea, finding all delicious after her long fast, and gaining new
strength with every mouthful.
How did I get here? she asked suddenly, rising to one elbow and
looking around. I don't seem to remember a place like this.
I found you hanging on a bush in the moonlight, he said gravely,
and brought you here.
Hazel lay back and reflected on this. He had brought her here. Then
he must have carried her! Well, his arms looked strong enough to lift a
heavier person than herselfbut he had brought her here!
A faint colour stole into her pale cheeks.
Thank you, she said at last. I suppose I wasn't just able to come
myself. There was a droll little pucker at the corner of her mouth.
Not exactly, he answered as he gathered up the dishes.
I remember that crazy little steed of mine began to climb straight
up the side of a terrible wall in the dark, and finally decided to wipe
me off with a tree. That is the last I can recall. I felt myself
slipping and couldn't hold on any longer. Then it all got dark and I
Where were you going? asked the young man.
Going? I wasn't going anywhere, said the girl; the pony was doing
that. He was running away, I suppose. He ran miles and hours with me
and I couldn't stop him. I lost hold on the bridle, you see, and he had
ideas about what he wanted to do. I was almost frightened to death, and
there wasn't a soul in sight all day. I never saw such an empty place
in my life. It can't be this is still Arizona, we came so far.
When did you start? the missionary questioned gravely.
Why, this morning,that iswhy, it must have been yesterday. I'm
sure I don't know when. It was Wednesday morning about eleven o'clock
that we left the car on horseback to visit a mine papa had heard about.
It seems about a year since we started.
How many were in your party? asked the young man.
Just papa and my brother, and Mr. Hamar, a friend of my father's,
answered the girl, her cheeks reddening at the memory of the name.
But was there no guide, no native with you at all? There was
anxiety in the young man's tone. He had visions of other lost people
who would have to be looked after.
Oh, yes, there was the man my father had written to, who brought
the horses, and two or three men with him, some of them Indians, I
think. His name was Bunce, Mr. Bunce. He was a queer man with a lot of
wild looking hair.
Shag Bunce, said the missionary thoughtfully. But if Shag was
along I cannot understand how you came to get so widely separated from
your party. He rides the fastest horse in this region. No pony of his
outfit, be he ever so fleet, could get far ahead of Shag Bunce. He
would have caught you within a few minutes. What happened? Was there an
He looked at her keenly, feeling sure there was some mystery behind
her wanderings that he ought to unravel for the sake of the girl and
her friends. Hazel's cheeks grew rosy.
Why, nothing really happened, she said evasively. Mr. Bunce was
ahead with my father. In fact he was out of sight when my pony started
to run. I was riding with Mr. Hamar, and as we didn't care anything
about the mine we didn't hurry. Before we realized it the others were
far ahead over a hill or something, I forget what was ahead, only they
couldn't be seen. Then weIthat iswell, I must have touched my
pony pretty hard with my whip and he wheeled and started to run. I'm
not sure but I touched Mr. Hamar's horse, too, and he was behaving
badly. I really hadn't time to see. I don't know what became of Mr.
Hamar. He isn't much of a horseman. I don't believe he had ever ridden
before. He may have had some trouble with his horse. Anyway before I
knew it I was out of sight of everything but wide empty stretches with
mountains and clouds at the end everywhere, and going on and on and not
getting any nearer to any thing.
This Mr. Hamar must have been a fool not to have given an alarm to
your friends at once if he could do nothing himself, said Brownleigh
sternly. I cannot understand how it could happen that no one found you
sooner. It was the merest chance that I came upon your whip and other
little things and so grew anxious lest some one was lost. It is very
strange that no one found you before this. Your father will have been
Hazel sat up with flaming cheeks and began to gather her hair in a
knot. A sudden realization of her position had come upon her and given
Well, you see, she stumbled, trying to explain without telling
anything, Mr. Hamar might have thought I had gone back to the car, or
he might have thought I would turn back in a few minutes. I do not
think he would have wanted to follow me just then. I wasangry with
The young missionary looked at the beautiful girl sitting upright on
the canvas he had spread for her bed, trying vainly to reduce her
bright hair to something like order, her cheeks glowing, her eyes
shining now, half with anger, half with embarrassment, and for a second
he pitied the one who had incurred her wrath. A strange unreasoning
anger towards the unknown man took possession of him, and his face grew
tender as he watched the girl.
That was no excuse for letting you go alone into the perils of the
desert, he said severely. He could not have known. It was impossible
that he could have understood or he would have risked his life to save
you from what you have been through. No man could do otherwise!
Hazel looked up, surprised at the vehemence of the words, and again
the contrast between the two men struck her forcibly.
I am afraid, she murmured looking off towards the distant
mountains thoughtfully, that he isn't much of a man.
And somehow the young missionary was relieved to hear her say so.
There was a moment's embarrassed silence and then Brownleigh began to
search in his pocket, as he saw the golden coil of hair beginning to
slip loose from its knot again.
Will these help you any? he asked handing out the comb and
hairpins he had found, a sudden awkwardness coming upon him.
Oh, my own comb! she exclaimed. And hairpins! Where did you find
them? Indeed they will help, and she seized upon them eagerly.
He turned away embarrassed, marvelling at the touch of her fingers
as she took the bits of shell from his hand. No woman's hand like that
had touched his own, even in greeting, since he bade good-bye to his
invalid mother and came out to these wilds to do his work. It thrilled
him to the very soul and he was minded of the sweet awe that had come
upon him in his own cabin as he looked upon the little articles of
woman's toilet lying upon his table as if they were at home. He could
not understand his own mood. It seemed like weakness. He turned aside
and frowned at himself for his foolish sentimentality towards a
stranger whom he had found upon the desert. He laid it to the weariness
of the long journey and the sleepless night.
I found them in the sand. They showed me the way to find you, he
said, trying vainly to speak in a commonplace tone. But somehow his
voice seemed to take on a deep significance. He looked at her shyly,
half fearing she must feel it, and then murmuring something about
looking after the horses he hurried away.
When he came back she had mastered the rebellious hair, and it lay
shining and beautiful, braided and coiled about her shapely head. She
was standing now, having shaken down and smoothed out the rumpled
riding habit, and had made herself look quite fresh and lovely in spite
of the limited toilet conveniences.
He caught his breath as he saw her. The two regarded one another
intensely for just an instant, each startlingly conscious of the
other's personality, as men and women will sometimes get a glimpse
beyond mere body and sight the soul. Each was aware of a thrilling
pleasure in the presence of the other. It was something new and
wonderful that could not be expressed nor even put into thoughts as yet
but something none the less real that flashed along their consciousness
like the song of the native bird, the scent of the violet, the breath
of the morning.
The instant of soul recognition passed and then each recovered
self-possession, but it was the woman who spoke first.
I feel very much more respectable, she laughed pleasantly. Where
is my vicious little horse? Isn't it time we were getting back?
Then a cloud of anxiety came over the brightness of the man's face.
That is what I was coming to tell you, he said in a troubled tone.
The wicked little beast has eaten off his hobble and fled. There isn't
a sight of him to be seen far or wide. He must have cleared out while
we were at dinner, for he was munching grass peaceably enough before
you woke up. It was careless of me not to make him more secure. The
hobble was an old one and worn, but the best I had. I came back to tell
you that I must ride after him at once. You won't be afraid to stay
alone for a little while, will you? My horse has had a rest. I think I
ought to be able to catch him.
V. THE TRAIL
But the look of horror in the eyes of the girl stopped him.
She gave a quick frightened glance around and then her eyes besought
him. All the terror of the night alone in the wideness returned upon
her. She heard again the howl of the coyotes, and saw the long dark
shadows in the canyon. She was white to the lips with the thought of
Oh, don't leave me alone! she said trying to speak bravely. I
don't feel as if I could stand it. There are wild beasts aroundshe
glanced furtively behind her as if even now one was slyly tracking
herit was awfulawful! Their howls! And it is so alone here!I
never was alone before!
There was that in her appealing helplessness that gave him a wild
desire to stoop and fold her in his arms and tell her he would never
leave her while she wanted him. The colour came and went in his fine
bronzed face, and his eyes grew tender with feeling.
I won't leave you, he said gently, not if you feel that way,
though there is really no danger here in daytime. The wild creatures
are very shy and only show themselves at night. But if I do not find
your horse how are you to get speedily back to your friends? It is a
long distance you have come, and you could not ride alone.
Her face grew troubled.
Couldn't I walk? she suggested. I'm a good walker. I've walked
five miles at once many a time.
We are at least forty miles from the railroad, he smiled back at
her, and the road is rough, over a mountain by the nearest way. Your
horse must have been determined indeed to take you so far in one day.
He is evidently a new purchase of Shag's and bent on returning to his
native heath. Horses do that sometimes. It is their instinct. I'll tell
you what I'll do. It may be that he has only gone down in the valley to
the water-hole. There is one not far away, I think. I'll go to the edge
of the mesa and get a view. If he is not far away you can come with me
after him. Just sit here and watch me. I'll not go out of your sight or
hearing, and I'll not be gone five minutes. You'll not be afraid?
She sat down obediently where he bade her, her eyes large with fear,
for she dreaded the loneliness of the desert more than any fear that
had ever visited her before.
I promise I'll not go beyond your sight and call, he reassured her
and with a smile turned towards his own horse, and swinging himself
into the saddle galloped rapidly away to the edge of the mesa.
She watched him riding away, her fears almost forgotten in her
admiration of him, her heart beating strangely with the memory of his
smile. The protection of it seemed to linger behind him, and quiet her
He rode straight to the east, and then more slowly turned and
skirted the horizon, riding north along the edge of the mesa. She saw
him shade his eyes with his hand and look away in all directions. At
last after a prolonged gaze straight north he wheeled his horse and
came quickly back to her.
His face was grave as he dismounted.
I've sighted him, he said, but it's no use. He has three or four
miles start, and a steep hill climbed. When he reaches the top of the
next mesa he has a straight course before him, and probably down-hill
after that. It might take me three or four hours to catch him and it's
a question if I could do it then. We'll have to dismiss him from our
arrangements and get along with Billy. Do you feel equal to riding now?
Or ought you to rest again?
Oh, I can ride, butI cannot take your horse. What will you do?
I shall do nicely, he answered smiling again; only our progress
will be slower than if we had both horses. What a pity that I had not
taken off his saddle! It would have been more comfortable for you than
this. But I was searching so anxiously for the rider that I took little
heed to the horse except to hastily hobble him. And when I found you
you needed all my attention. Now I advise you to lie down and rest
until I get packed up. It won't take me long.
She curled down obediently to rest until he was ready to fold up the
canvas on which she lay, and watched his easy movements as he put
together the few articles of the pack, and arranged the saddle for her
comfort. Then he strode over to her.
With your permission, he said and stooping picked her up lightly
in his arms and placed her on the horse.
I beg your pardon, he said, but you are not equal to the exertion
of mounting in the ordinary way. You will need every bit of strength
for the ride. You are weaker than you realize.
Her laugh rippled out faintly.
You make me feel like an insignificant baby. I didn't know what was
happening until you had me here. You must have the strength of a giant.
I never felt so little before.
You are not a heavy burden, he said smiling. Now are you quite
comfortable? If so we'll start.
Billy arched his neck and turned his head proudly to survey his new
rider, a look of friendliness on his bay face and in his kindly eye.
Oh, isn't he a beauty! exclaimed the girl reaching out a timid
hand to pat his neck. The horse bowed and almost seemed to smile.
Brownleigh noticed the gleam of a splendid jewel on the little hand.
Billy is my good friend and constant companion, said the
missionary. We've faced some long, hard days together. He is wanting
me to tell you now that he is proud to carry you back to your friends.
Billy bowed up and down and smiled again, and Hazel laughed out with
pleasure. Then her face grew sober again.
But you will have to walk, she said. I cannot take your horse and
let you walk. I won't do that. I'm going to walk with you.
And use up what strength you have so that you could not even ride?
he said pleasantly. No, I couldn't allow that, you know, and I am
pleased to walk with a companion. A missionary's life is pretty
lonesome sometimes, you know. Come, Billy, we must be starting, for we
want to make a good ten miles before we stop to rest if our guest can
stand the journey.
With stately steppings as if he knew he bore a princess Billy
started; and with long, easy strides Brownleigh walked by his side,
ever watchful of the way, and furtively observing the face of the girl,
whose strength he well knew must be extremely limited after her ride of
the day before.
Out on the top of the mesa looking off towards the great mountains
and the wide expanse of seemingly infinite shades and colourings Hazel
drew her breath in wonder at the beauty of the scene. Her companion
called her attention to this and that point of interest. The slender
dark line across the plain was mesquite. He told her how when once they
had entered it it would seem to spread out vastly as though it filled
the whole valley, and that then looking back the grassy slope below
them would seem to be an insignificant streak of yellow. He told her it
was always so in this land, that the kind of landscape through which
one was passing filled the whole view and seemed the only thing in
life. He said he supposed it was so in all our lives, that the
immediate present filled the whole view of the future until we came to
something else; and the look in his eyes made her turn from the
landscape and wonder about him and his life.
Then he stooped and pointed to a clump of soapweed, and idly broke
off a bit of another bush, handing it to her.
The Indians call it 'the weed that was not scared,' he said.
Isn't it an odd suggestive name?
It must be a brave little weed indeed to live out here all alone
under this terribly big sky. I wouldn't like it even if I were only a
weed, and she looked around and shivered with the thought of her
fearful ride alone in the night. But she tucked the little spray of
brave green into the buttonhole of her riding habit and it looked of
prouder lineage than any weed as it rested against the handsome
darkness of the rich green cloth. For an instant the missionary studied
the picture of the lovely girl on the horse and forgot that he was only
a missionary. Then with a start he came to himself. They must be
getting on, for the sun had already passed its zenith, and the way was
long before them. His eyes lingered wistfully on the gleam of her hair
where the sun touched it into burnished gold. Then he remembered.
By the way, is this yours? he asked, and brought out of his pocket
the little velvet cap.
Oh, where did you find it? she cried, settling it on her head like
a touch of velvet in a crown. I dropped it in front of a tiny little
cabin when my last hope vanished. I called and called but the wind
threw my voice back into my throat and no one came out to answer me.
It was my house, he said. I found it on a sage-bush a few feet
from my own door. Would that I had been at home to answer your call!
Your house! she exclaimed, in wonder. Oh, why, it couldn't have
been. It wasn't big enough for anybodynot anybody like youto live
in. Why, it wasn't anything more than aa shed,just a little board
Exactly; my shack! he said half apologetically, half comically.
You should see the inside. It's not so bad as it looks. I only wish I
could take you that way, but the fact is it's somewhat out of the way
to the railroad, and we must take the short cut if we want to shorten
your father's anxiety. Do you feel able to go on further now?
Oh, yes, quite, she said with sudden trouble in her face. Papa
will be very much worried, and Aunt Mariaoh, Aunt Maria will be wild
with anxiety. She will tell me that this is just what she expected from
my going out riding in this heathen land. She warned me not to go. She
said it wasn't ladylike.
As they went on gradually she told him all about her people,
describing their little idiosyncrasies; her aunt, her brother, her
father, her maid and even the fat man cook. The young man soon had the
picture of the private car with all its luxuries, and the story of the
days of travel that had been one long fairy tale of pleasure. Only the
man Hamar was not mentioned; but the missionary had not forgotten him.
Somehow he had taken a dislike to him from the first mention of his
name. He blamed him fiercely for not having come after the maiden, yet
blessed the fortune that had given himself that honour.
They were descending into the canyon now, but not by the steep trail
up which the pony had taken her the night before. However it was rough
enough and the descent, though it was into the very heart of nature's
beauty storehouse, yet frightened Hazel. She started at every steep
place, and clutched at the saddle wildly, pressing her white teeth hard
into her under lip until it grew white and tense. Her face was white
also, and a sudden faintness seemed to come upon her. Brownleigh
noticed instantly, and walking close beside the horse, guiding
carefully his every step, he put his free arm about her to steady her,
and bade her lean towards him and not be afraid.
His strength steadied her and gave her confidence; and his pleasant
voice pointing out the beauties of the way helped her to forget her
fright. He made her look up and showed her how the great ferns were
hanging over in a fringe of green at the top of the bare rocks above,
their delicate lacery standing out like green fretwork against the blue
of the sky. He pointed to a cave in the rocks far above, and told her
of the dwellers of old who had hollowed it out for a home; of the stone
axes and jars of clay, the corn mills and sandals woven of yucca that
were found there; and of other curious cave-houses in this part of the
country; giving in answer to her wondering questions much curious
information, the like of which she had never heard before.
Then when they were fairly down in the shadows of the canyon he
brought her a cooling draught of spring water in the tin cup, and
lifting her unexpectedly from the horse made her sit in a mossy spot
where sweet flowers clustered about, and rest for a few minutes, for he
knew the ride down the steep path had been terribly trying to her
Yet all his attentions to her, whether lifting her to and from the
saddle, or putting his arm about her to support her on the way, were
performed with such grace of courtesy as to remove all personality from
his touch, and she marvelled at it while she sat and rested and watched
him from the distance watering Billy at a noisy little stream that
chattered through the canyon.
He put her on the horse again and they took their way through the
coolness and beauty of the canyon winding along the edge of the little
stream, threading their way among the trees, and over boulders and
rough places until at last in the late afternoon they came out again
upon the plain.
The missionary looked anxiously at the sun. It had taken longer to
come through the canyon than he had anticipated. The day was waning. He
quickened Billy into a trot and settled into a long athletic run beside
him, while the girl's cheeks flushed with the exercise and wind, and
her admiration of her escort grew.
But aren't you very tired? she asked at last when he slowed down
and made Billy walk again. Billy, by the way, had enjoyed the race
immensely. He thought he was having a grand time with a princess on his
back and his beloved master keeping pace with him. He was confident by
this time that they were bringing the princess home to be there to
welcome them on all returns hereafter. His horse-sense had jumped to a
conclusion and approved most heartily.
Tired! answered Brownleigh and laughed; not consciously. I'm good
for several miles yet myself. I haven't had such a good time in three
years, not since I left homeand mother, he added softly, reverently.
There was a look in his eyes that made the girl long to know more.
She watched him keenly and asked:
Oh, then you have a mother!
Yes, I have a mother,a wonderful mother! He breathed the words
like a blessing. The girl looked at him in awe. She had no mother. Her
own had died before she could remember. Aunt Maria was her only idea of
Is she out here? she asked.
No, she is at home up in New Hampshire in a little quiet country
town, but she is a wonderful mother.
And have you no one else, no other family out here with you?
Hazel did not realize how anxiously she awaited the answer to that
question. Somehow she felt a jealous dislike of any one who might
belong to him, even a motherand a sudden thought of sister or wife
who might share the little shanty cabin with him made her watch his
face narrowly. But the answer was quick, with almost a shadow like deep
longing on his face:
Oh, no, I have no one. I'm all alone. And sometimes if it were not
for mother's letters it would seem a great way from home.
The girl did not know why it was so pleasant to know this, and why
her heart went out in instant sympathy for him.
O-oo! she said gently. Tell me about your mother, please!
And so he told her, as he walked beside her, of his invalid mother
whose frail body and its needs bound her to a couch in her old New
England home, helpless and carefully tended by a devoted nurse whom she
loved and who loved her. Her great spirit had risen to the sacrifice of
sending her only son out to the desert on his chosen commission.
They had been climbing a long sloping hill, and at the climax of the
story had reached the top and could look abroad again over a wide
expanse of country. It seemed to Hazel's city bred eyes as though the
kingdoms of the whole world lay spread before her awed gaze. A
brilliant sunset was spreading a great silver light behind the purple
mountains in the west, red and blue in flaming lavishness, with billows
of white clouds floating above, and over that in sharp contrast the sky
was velvet black with storm. To the south the rain was falling in a
brilliant shower like yellow gold, and to the east two more patches of
rain were rosy pink as petals of some wondrous flowers, and arching
over them a half rainbow. Turning slightly towards the north one saw
the rain falling from dark blue clouds in great streaks of white light.
Oh-oo! breathed the girl; how wonderful! I never saw anything
like that before.
But the missionary had no time for answer. He began quickly to
unstrap the canvas from behind the saddle, watching the clouds as he
We are going to get a wetting, I'm afraid, he said and looked
anxiously at his companion.
It came indeed before he was quite ready for it, but he managed to
throw the canvas over horse and lady, bidding her hold it on one side
while he, standing close under the extemporized tent, held the other
side, leaving an opening in front for air, and so they managed to keep
tolerably dry, while two storms met overhead and poured down a torrent
The girl laughed out merrily as the first great splashes struck her
face, then retreated into the shelter as she was bidden and sat quietly
watching, and wondering over it all.
Here was she, a carefully nurtured daughter of society, until now
never daring to step one inch beyond the line of conventionality,
sitting afar from all her friends and kindred on a wide desert plain,
under a bit of canvas with a strange missionary's arm about her, and
sitting as securely and contentedly, nay happily, as if she had been in
her own cushioned chair in her New York boudoir. It is true the arm was
about her for the purpose of holding down the canvas and keeping out
the rain, but there was a wonderful security and sense of strength in
it that filled her with a strange new joy and made her wish that the
elements of the universe might continue to rage in brilliant display
about her head a little longer, if thereby she might continue to feel
the strength of that fine presence near her and about her. A great
weariness was upon her and this was rest and content, so she put all
other thoughts out of her mind for the time and rested back against the
strong arm in full realization of her safety amidst the disturbance of
The missionary wore his upward look. No word passed between them as
the panorama of the storm swept by. Only God knew what was passing in
his soul, and how out of that dear nearness of the beautiful girl a
great longing was born to have her always near him, his right to ever
protect her from the storms of life.
But he was a man of marked self-control. He held even his thoughts
in obedience to a higher power, and while the wild wish of his heart
swept exquisitely over him he stood calmly, and handed it back to
heaven as though he knew it were a wandering wish, a testing of his
At the first instant of relief from necessity he took his arm away.
He did not presume a single second to hold the canvas after the wind
had subsided, and she liked him the better for it, and felt her trust
in him grow deeper as he gently shook the raindrops from their
The rain had lasted but a few minutes, and as the clouds cleared the
earth grew lighter for a space. Gently melting into the silver and
amethyst and emerald of the sky the rainbow faded and now they hurried
on, for Brownleigh wished to reach a certain spot where he hoped to
find dry shelter for the night. He saw that the excitement of travel
and the storm had sorely spent the strength of the girl, and that she
needed rest, so he urged the horse forward, and hurried along by his
But suddenly he halted the horse and looked keenly into the face of
his companion in the dying light.
You are very tired, he said. You can hardly sit up any longer.
She smiled faintly.
Her whole body was drooping with weariness and a strange sick
faintness had come upon her.
We must stop here, he said and cast about him for a suitable spot.
Well, this will do. Here is a dry place, the shelter of that big rock.
The rain was from the other direction, and the ground around here did
not even get sprinkled. That group of trees will do for a private room
for you. We'll soon have a fire and some supper and then you'll feel
With that he stripped off his coat and, spreading it upon the ground
in the dry shelter of a great rock, lifted the drooping girl from the
saddle and laid her gently on the coat.
She closed her eyes wearily and sank back. In truth she was nearer
to fainting than she had ever been in her life, and the young man
hastened to administer a restorative which brought the colour back to
her pale cheeks.
It is nothing, she murmured, opening her eyes and trying to smile.
I was just tired, and my back ached with so much riding.
Don't talk! he said gently. I'll give you something to hearten
you up in a minute.
He quickly gathered sticks and soon had a blazing fire not far from
where she lay, and the glow of it played over her face and her golden
hair, while he prepared a second cup of beef extract, and blessed the
fortune that had made him fill his canteen with water at the spring in
the canyon, for water might not be very near, and he felt that to have
to move the girl further along that night would be a disaster. He could
see that she was about used up. But while he was making preparations
for supper, Billy, who was hobbled but entirely able to edge about
slowly, had discovered a water-hole for himself, and settled that
difficulty. Brownleigh drew a sigh of relief, and smiled happily as he
saw his patient revive under the influence of the hot drink and a few
I'm quite able to go on a little further, she said, sitting up
with an effort, if you think we should go further to-night. I really
don't feel bad at all any more.
He smiled with relief.
I'm so glad, he said; I was afraid I had made you travel too far.
No, we'll not go further till daylight, I think. This is as good a
place to camp as any, and water not far away. You will find your
boudoir just inside that group of trees, and in half an hour or so the
canvas will be quite dry for your bed. I've got it spread out, you see,
close to the fire on the other side there. And it wasn't wet through.
The blanket was sheltered. It will be warm and dry. I think we can make
you comfortable. Have you ever slept out under the stars beforethat
is, of course, with the exception of last night? I don't suppose you
really enjoyed that experience.
Hazel shuddered at the thought.
I don't remember much, only awful darkness and howling. Will those
creatures come this way, do you think? I feel as if I should die with
fright if I have to hear them again.
You may hear them in the distance, but not nearby, he answered
reassuringly; they do not like the fire. They will not come near nor
disturb you. Besides, I shall be close at hand all night. I am used to
listening and waking in the night. I shall keep a bright fire blazing.
But youyouwhat will you do? You are planning to give me the
canvas and the blanket, and stay awake yourself keeping watch. You have
walked all day while I have ridden, and you have been nurse and cook as
well, while I have been good for nothing. And now you want me to rest
comfortably all night while you sit up.
There was a ring in the young man's voice as he answered her that
thrilled her to the heart.
I shall be all right, he said, and his voice was positively
joyous, and I shall have the greatest night of my life taking care of
you. I count it a privilege. Many a night have I slept alone under the
stars with no one to guard, and felt the loneliness. Now I shall always
have this to remember. Besides, I shall not sit up. I am used to
throwing myself down anywhere. My clothing is warm, and my saddle is
used to acting as a pillow. I shall sleep and rest, and yet be always
on the alert to keep up the fire and hear any sound that comes near.
He talked as though he were recounting the plan of some delightful
recreation, and the girl lay and watched his handsome face in the play
of the firelight and rejoiced in it. Somehow there was something very
sweet in companionship alone in the vast silence with this stranger
friend. She found herself glad of the wideness of the desert and the
stillness of the night that shut out the world and made their most
unusual relationship possible for a little while. A great longing
possessed her to know more and understand better the fine personality
of this man who was a man among men, she was convinced.
Suddenly as he came and sat down by the fire not far from her after
attending to the few supper dishes, she burst forth with a question:
Why did you do it?
He turned to her eyes that were filled with a deep content and
asked, Do what?
Come here! Be a missionary! Why did you do it? You are fitted for
better things. You could fill a large city church, oreven do other
things in the world. Why did you do it?
The firelight flickered on his face and showed his features fine and
strong in an expression of deep feeling that gave it an exalted look.
There seemed a light in his eyes that was more than firelight as he
raised them upward in a swift glance and said quietly, as though it
were the simplest matter in the universe:
Because my Father called me to this work. AndI doubt if there can
be any better. Listen!
And then he told her of his work while the fire burned cheerfully,
and the dusk grew deeper, till the moon showed clear her silver orb
riding high in starry heavens.
The mournful voice of the coyotes echoed distantly, but the girl was
not frightened, for her thoughts were held by the story of the strange
childlike race for whom this man among men was giving his life.
He told her of the Indian hogans, little round huts built of logs on
end, and slanting to a common centre thatched with turf and straw, an
opening for a door and another in the top to let out the smoke of the
fire, a dirt floor, no furniture but a few blankets, sheepskins, and
some tin dishes. He carried her in imagination to one such hogan where
lay the little dying Indian maiden and made the picture of their barren
lives so vivid that tears stood in her eyes as she listened. He told of
the medicine-men, the ignorance and superstition, the snake dances and
heathen rites; the wild, poetic, conservative man of the desert with
his distrust, his great loving heart, his broken hopes and blind
aspirations; until Hazel began to see that he really loved them, that
he had seen the possibility of greatness in them, and longed to help
He told her of the Sabbath just past, when in company with his
distant neighbour missionary he had gone on an evangelistic tour among
the tribes far away from the mission station. He pictured the Indians
sitting on rocks and stones amid the long shadows of the cedar trees,
just before the sundown, listening to a sermon. He had reminded them of
their Indian god Begochiddi and of Nilhchii whom the Indians believe to
have made all things, the same whom white men call God; and showed them
a book called the Bible which told the story of God, and of Jesus His
Son who came to save men from their sin. Not one of the Indians had
ever heard the name of Jesus before, nor knew anything of the great
story of salvation.
Hazel found herself wondering why it made so very much difference
whether these poor ignorant creatures knew all this or not, and yet she
saw from the face of the man before her that it did matter, infinitely.
To him it mattered more than anything else. A passing wish that she
were an Indian to thus hold his interest flashed through her mind, but
he was speaking yet of his work, and his rapt look filled her with awe.
She was overwhelmed with the greatness and the fineness of the man
before her. Sitting there in the fitful firelight, with its ruddy glow
upon his face, his hat off and the moon laying a silver crown upon his
head, he seemed half angel, half god. She had never before been so
filled with the joy of beholding another soul. She had no room for
thoughts of anything else.
Then suddenly he remembered that it was late.
I have kept you awake far too long, he said penitently, looking at
her with a smile that seemed all tenderness. We ought to get on our
way as soon as it is light, and I have made you listen to me when you
ought to have been sleeping. But I always like to have a word with my
Father before retiring. Shall we have our worship together?
Hazel, overcome by wonder and embarrassment, assented and lay still
in her sheltered spot watching him as he drew a small leather book from
his breast pocket and opened to the place marked by a tiny silken cord.
Then stirring up the fire to brightness he began to read and the
majestic words of the ninety-first psalm came to her unaccustomed ears
as a charmed page.
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide
under the shadow of the Almighty.
He shall cover thee with His feathers and under His wings shalt
thou trust. The words were uttered with a ringing tone of trust. The
listener knew little of birds and their ways, but the phrasing reminded
her of the way she had been sheltered from the storm a little while
before and her heart thrilled anew with the thought of it.
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night!
Ah! Terror by night! She knew what that meant. That awful night of
darkness, steep riding, howling beasts and black oblivion! She
shuddered involuntarily at the remembrance. Not afraid! What confidence
the voice had as it rang on, and all at once she knew that this night
was free from terror for her because of the man whose confidence was in
He shall give His angels charge over thee, and looking at him she
half expected to see flitting wings in the moonlit background. How
strong and true the face! How tender the lines about the mouth! What a
glow of inner quietness and power in the eyes as he raised them now and
again to her face across the firelight! What a thing it would be to
have a friend like that always to guard one! Her eyes glowed softly at
the thought and once again there flashed across her mind the contrast
between this man and the one from whom she had fled in horror the day
The reading ended, he replaced the little marker, and dropping upon
one knee on the desert with his face lifted to the sky and all the
radiance of the moon flooding over him he spoke to God as a man speaks
with his friend, face to face.
Hazel lay with open, wondering eyes and watched him, awe growing
within her. The sense of an unseen Presence close at hand was so strong
that once she lifted half frightened eyes to the wide clear sky. The
light on the face of the missionary seemed like glory from another
She felt herself enfolded and upborne into the Presence of the
infinite by his words, and he did not forget to commend her loved ones
to the care of the Almighty. A great peace came upon her as she
listened to the simple, earnest words and a sense of security such as
she had never known before.
After the brief prayer he turned to her with a smile and a few words
of assurance about the night. There was her dressing-room behind those
trees, and she need not be afraid; he would not be far away. He would
keep the fire bright all night so that she would not be annoyed by the
near howling of the coyotes. Then he moved away to gather more wood,
and she heard him singing, softly at first, and then gathering volume
as he got further away, his rich tenor voice ringing clear upon the
night in an old hymn. The words floated back distinctly to her
My God, is any hour so sweet
From flush of dawn to evening star,
As that which calls me to Thy feet,
The hour of prayer?
Then is my strength by Thee renewed;
Then are my sins by Thee forgiven;
Then dost Thou cheer my solitude
With hopes of heaven.
No words can tell what sweet relief
There for my every want I find;
What strength for warfare, balm for grief,
What peace of mind!
She lay down for the night marvelling still over the man. He was
singing those words as if he meant every one, and she knew that he
possessed something that made him different from other men. What was
it? It seemed to her that he was the one man of all the earth, and how
was it that she had found him away out here alone in the desert?
The great stars burned sharply in the heavens over her, the white
radiance of the moon lay all about her, the firelight played at her
feet. Far away she could hear the howling of the coyotes, but she was
She could see the broad shoulders of the man as he stooped over on
the other side of the fire to throw on more wood. Presently she knew he
had thrown himself down with his head on the saddle, but she could hear
him still humming softly something that sounded like a lullaby. When
the firelight flared up it showed his fine profile.
Not far away she could hear Billy cropping the grass, and throughout
the vast open universe there seemed to brood a great and peaceful
silence. She was very tired and her eyelids drooped shut. The last
thing she remembered was a line he had read from the little book, He
shall give His angels charge and she wondered if they were
somewhere about now.
That was all until she awoke suddenly with the consciousness that
she was alone, and that in the near distance a conversation in a low
tone was being carried on.
The moon was gone, and the luminous silver atmosphere was turned
into a clear dark blue, with shadows of the blackness of velvet; but
the stars burned redder now, and nearer to the earth.
The fire still flickered brightly, with a glow the moon had paled
before she went to sleep, but there was no protecting figure on the
other side of the flames, and the angels seemed all to have forgotten.
Off at a little distance, where a group of sage-brush made dense
darkness, she heard the talking. One speaking in low tones, now
pleading, now explaining, deeply earnest, with a mingling of anxiety
and trouble. She could not hear any words. She seemed to know the voice
was low that she might not hear; yet it filled her with a great fear.
What had happened? Had some one come to harm them, and was he pleading
for her life? Strange to say it never entered her head to doubt his
loyalty, stranger though he was. Her only feeling was that he might
have been overpowered in his sleep, and be even now in need of help
himself. What could she do?
After the first instant of frozen horror she was on the alert. He
had saved her, she must help him. She could not hear any other voice
than his. Probably the enemy spoke in whispers, but she knew that she
must go at once and find out what was the matter. The distance from her
pleasant couch beside the fire was but a few steps, yet it seemed to
her frightened heart and trembling limbs, as she crept softly over
towards the sage-brush, that it was miles.
At last she was close to the bush, could part it with her cold hand
and look into the little shelter.
There was a faint light in the east beyond the mountains that showed
the coming dawn, and silhouetted against this she saw the figure of her
rescuer, dropped upon one knee, his elbow on the other and his face
bowed in his hand. She could hear his words distinctly now, but there
was no man else present, though she searched the darkness carefully.
I found her lost out here in the wilderness, he was saying in low,
earnest tones, so beautiful, so dear! But I know she cannot be for me.
Her life has been all luxury and I would not be a man to ask her to
share the desert! I know too that she is not fitted for the work. I
know it would be all wrong, and I must not wish it, but I love her,
though I may not tell her so! I must be resolute and strong, and not
show her what I feel. I must face my Gethsemane, for this girl is as
dear to me as my own soul! God bless and guard her, for I may not.
The girl had stood rooted to the spot unable to move as the low
voice went on with its revelation, but when the plea for a blessing
upon her came with all the mighty longing of a soul who loved
absorbingly, it was as if she were unable to bear it, and she turned
and fled silently back to her couch, creeping under the canvas,
thrilled, frightened, shamed and glad all in one. She closed her eyes
and the swift tears of joy came. He loved her! He loved her! How the
thought thrilled her. How her own heart leaped up to meet his love. The
fact of it was all she could contain for the time and it filled her
with an ecstasy such as she had never known before. She opened her eyes
to the stars and they shone back a great radiance of joy to her. The
quiet darkness of the vast earth all about her seemed suddenly to have
become the sweetest spot she had known. She had never thought there
could be joy like this.
Gradually she quieted the wild throbbing of her heart and tried to
set her thoughts in order. Perhaps she was taking too much for granted.
Perhaps he was talking of another girl, some one he had met the day
before. But yet it seemed as if there could be no doubt. There would
not be two girls lost out in that desert. There could notand her
heart told her that he loved her. Could she trust her heart? Oh, the
dearness of it if it were true!
Her face was burning too, with the sweet shame of having heard what
was not meant for her ears.
Then came the flash of pain in the joy. He did not intend to tell
her. He meant to hide his loveand for her sake! And he was great
enough to do so. The man who could sacrifice the things that other men
hold dear to come out to the wilderness for the sake of a forgotten,
half-savage people, could sacrifice anything for what he considered
right. This fact loomed like a wall of adamant across the lovely way
that joy had revealed to her. Her heart fell with the thought that he
was not to speak of this to her,and she knew that more than for
anything else in life, more than anything she had ever known, she
longed to hear him speak those words to her. A half resentment filled
her that he had told his secret to Anotherwhat concerned herand
would not let her know.
The heart searching went on, and now she came to the thorn-fact of
the whole revelation. There had been another reason besides care for
herself why he could not tell her of his love,why he could not ask
her to share his life. She had not been accounted worthy. He had put it
in pleasant words and said she was unfitted, but he might as well have
made it plain and said how useless she would be in his life.
The tears came now, tears of mortification, for Hazel Radcliffe had
never before in all her petted life been accounted unworthy for any
position. It was not that she considered at all the possibility of
accepting the position that was not to be offered her. Her startled
mind had not even reached so far; but her pride was hurt to think that
any one should think her unworthy.
Then over the whole tumultuous state of mind would come the memory
of his voice throbbing with feeling as he said, She is dear to me as
my own soul, and the joy of it would sweep everything else away.
There was no more sleep to be had for her.
The stars grew pale, and the rose dawn grew in the east. She
presently heard her companion return and replenish the fire, stirring
about softly among the dishes, and move away again, but she had turned
her head away that he might not see her face, and he evidently thought
her still sleeping.
So she lay and tried to reason things out; tried to scold herself
for thinking his words applied to her; tried to recall her city life
and friends, and how utterly alien this man and his work would be to
them; tried to think of the new day when she would probably reach her
friends again and this new friend would be lost sight of; felt a sharp
twinge of pain at the thought; wondered if she could meet Milton Hamar
and what they would say to one another, and if any sort of comfortable
relations could ever be established between them again; and knew they
could not. Once again the great horror rolled over her at thought of
his kiss. Then came the startling thought that he had used almost the
same words to her that this man of the desert had used about her, and
yet how infinitely different! How tender and deep and true, and pure
and high his face in contrast to the look she had seen upon that
handsome, evil face bent over her! She covered her eyes and shuddered
again, and entertained a fleeting wish that she might stay forever here
and not return to his hated presence.
Then back like a flood-tide of sunshine would come the thought of
the missionary and his love for her, and everything else would be
obliterated in the rapture it brought.
And thus on rosy wings the morning dawned, a clean, straight
Hazel could hear the missionary stepping softly here and there
preparing breakfast, and knew he felt it time to be on the move. She
must bestir herself and speak, but her cheeks grew pink over the
thought of it. She kept waiting and trying to think how to say
good-morning without a look of guilty knowledge in her eyes. Presently
she heard him call to Billy and move away in the direction where the
horse was eating his breakfast. Then snatching her opportunity she
slipped from under the canvas into her green boudoir.
But even here she found evidences of her wise guide's care, for
standing in front of the largest cedar were two tin cups of clear water
and beside them a small pocket soap-case and a clean folded
handkerchief, fine and white. He had done his best to supply her with
Her heart leaped up again at his thoughtfulness. She dashed the
water into her glowing face, and buried it in the clean folds of the
handkerchiefhis handkerchief. How wonderful that it should be so! How
had a mere commonplace bit of linen become so invested with the
currents of life as to give such joyful refreshment with a touch? The
wonder of it all was like a miracle. She had not known anything in life
could be like that.
The great red cliff across the valley was touched with the morning
sun when she emerged from her green shelter, shyly conscious of the
secret that lay unrevealed between them.
Their little camp was still in the shadow. The last star had
disappeared as if a hand had turned the lights low with a flash and
revealed the morning.
She stood for an instant in the parting of the cedars, a hand on
each side holding back the boughs, looking forth from her retreat; and
the man advancing saw her and waited with bared head to do her
reverence, a great light of love in his eyes which he knew not was
visible, but which blinded the eyes of the watching girl, and made her
cheeks grow rosier.
The very air about them seemed charged with an electrical current.
The little commonplaces which they spoke sank deep into the heart of
each and lingered to bless the future. The glances of their eyes had
many meetings and lingered shyly on more intimate ground than the day
before, yet each had grown more silent. The tenderness of his voice was
like a benediction as he greeted her.
He seated her on the canvas he had arranged freshly beside a bit of
green grass, and prepared to serve her like a queen. Indeed she wore a
queenly bearing, small and slender though she was, her golden hair
shining in the morning, and her eyes bright as the stars that had just
been paled by day.
There were fried rabbits cooking in the tiny saucepan and corn bread
was toasting before the fire on two sharp sticks. She found to her
surprise that she was hungry, and that the breakfast he had prepared
seemed a most delicious feast.
She grew secure in her consciousness that he did not know she had
guessed his secret, and let the joy of it all flow over her and envelop
her. Her laugh rang out musically over the plain, and he watched her
hungrily, delightedly, enjoying every minute of the companionship with
a kind of double joy because of the barren days that he was sure were
Finally he broke away from the pleasant lingering with an
exclamation, for the sun was hastening upward and it was time they were
on their way. Hastily he packed away the things, she trying in her
bungling unaccustomedness to help and only giving sweet hindrance, with
the little white hands that thrilled him so wonderfully as they came
near with a plate or a cup, or a bit of corn bread that had been left
He put her on the horse and they started on their way. Yet not once
in all the pleasant contact had he betrayed his secret, and Hazel began
to feel the burden of what she had found out weighing guiltily upon her
like a thing stolen which she would gladly replace but dared not.
Sometimes, as they rode along, he quietly talking as the day before,
pointing out some object of interest, or telling her some remarkable
story of his experiences, she would wonder if she had not been entirely
mistaken; heard wrong, maybe, or made more of the words than she should
have done. She grew to feel that he could not have meant her at all.
And then turning suddenly she would find his eyes upon her with a light
in them so tender, so yearning, that she would droop her own in
confusion and feel her heart beating wildly with the pleasure and the
pain of it.
About noon they came to a rain-water hole near which were three
Indian hogans. Brownleigh explained that he had come this way, a little
out of the shortest trail, hoping to get another horse so that they
might travel faster and reach the railroad before sundown.
The girl's heart went suddenly heavy as he left her sitting on Billy
under a cottonwood tree while he went forward to find out if any one
was at home and whether they had a horse to spare. Of course she wanted
to find her friends and relieve their anxiety as soon as possible, but
there was something in the voice of the young missionary as he spoke of
hastening onward that seemed to build a wall between them. The pleasant
intercourse of the morning seemed drawing so quickly to a close: the
wonderful sympathy and interest between them pushed with a violent hand
out of her reach. She felt a choking sensation in her throat as if she
would like to put her head down on Billy's rough neck-locks and sob.
She tried to reason with herself. It was but a little over
twenty-four hours since she first looked upon this stranger, and yet
her heart was bound to him in such a way that she was dreading their
separation. How could it be? Such things were not real. People always
laughed at sudden love affairs as if they were impossible, but her
heart told her that it was not merely hours by which they numbered
their acquaintance. The soul of this man had been revealed to her in
that brief space of time as another's might not have been in years. She
dreaded the ending of this companionship. It would be the end, of
course. He had said it, and she knew his words were true. His world was
not her world, more the pity! He would never give up his world, and he
had said she was unfitted for his. It was all too truethis world of
rough, uncouth strangers, and wild emptiness of beauty. But how she
longed to have this day with him beside her prolonged indefinitely!
The vision would fade of course when she got back into the world
again, and things would assume their normal proportions very likely.
But just now she admitted to herself that she did not want to get back.
She would be entirely content if she might wander thus with him in the
desert for the rest of her natural life.
He came back to her presently accompanied by an Indian boy carrying
an iron pot and some fresh mutton. Hazel watched them as they built a
fire, arranged the pot full of water to boil, and placed the meat to
roast. The missionary was making corn cake which presently was baking
in the ashes, and giving forth a savoury odour.
An Indian squaw appeared in the doorway of one of the hogans, her
baby strapped to her back, and watched her with great round wondering
eyes. Hazel smiled at the little papoose, and it soon dimpled into an
answering smile. Then she discovered that the missionary was watching
them both, his heart in his eyes, a strange wonderful joy in his face,
and her heart-beats quickened. She was pleasing him! It was then as she
smiled back at the child of the forest that she discovered an interest
of her own in these neglected people of his. She could not know that
the little dark-skinned baby whom she had noticed would from this time
forth become the special tender object of care from the missionary,
just because she had noticed it.
They had a merry meal, though not so intimate as the others had
been; for a group of Indian women and children huddled outside the
nearest hogan watching their every move with wide staring eyes, and
stolid but interested countenances; and the little boy hovered not far
away to bring anything they might need. It was all pleasant but Hazel
felt impatient of the interruption when their time together was now so
short. She was glad when, mounted on Billy again, and her companion on
a rough little Indian pony with wicked eyes, they rode away together
into the sunshine of the afternoon.
But now it seemed but a breathless space before they would come into
the presence of people, for the two horses made rapid time, and the
distances flew past them mile by mile, the girl feeling each moment
more shy and embarrassed, and conscious of the words she had overheard
in the early morning.
It seemed to her a burden she could not carry away unknown upon her
soul and yet how could she let him know?
They had entered a strip of silvery sand, about two miles wide, and
rode almost in silence, for a singular shyness had settled upon them.
The girl was conscious of his eyes upon her with a kind of tender
yearning as if he would impress the image on his mind for the time when
she would be with him no more. Each had a curious sense of
understanding the other's thoughts, and needing no words. But as they
neared a great rustling stretch of corn he looked at her keenly again
You are very tired, I'm sure. It was not a question but she lifted
her eyes to deny it, and a flood-tide of sweet colour swept over the
cheeks. I knew it, he said, searching her raised eyes. We must stop
and rest after we have passed through this corn. There is a spot under
some trees where you will be sheltered from the sun. This corn lasts
only a mile or so more, and after you have rested we will have only a
short distance to gohe caught his breath as though the words hurt
himour journey is almost over! They rode in silence through the
corn, but when it was passed and they were seated beneath the trees the
girl lifted her eyes to him filled with unspeakable things.
I haven't known how to thank you, she said earnestly, the tears
almost in evidence.
Don't, please! he said gently. It has been good to me to be with
you. How good you never can know. He paused and then looked keenly at
Did you rest well last night, your first night under the stars? Did
you hear the coyotes, or feel at all afraid?
Her colour fled, and she dropped her glance to Billy's neck, while
her heart throbbed painfully.
He saw how disturbed she was.
You were afraid, he charged gently. Why didn't you call? I was
close at hand all the time. What frightened you?
Oh, it was nothing! she said evasively. It was only for a
Tell me, please! his voice compelled her.
It was just for a minute, she said again, speaking rapidly and
trying to hide her embarrassment. I woke and thought I heard talking
and you were not in sight; but it was not long before you came back
with an armful of wood, and I saw it was almost morning.
Her cheeks were rosy, as she lifted her clear eyes to meet his
searching gaze and tried to face him steadily, but he looked into the
very depths of her soul and saw the truth. She felt her courage going
from her, and tried to turn her gaze carelessly away, but could not.
At last he said in a low voice full of feeling:
You heard me?
Her eyes, which he had held with his look, wavered, faltered, and
drooped. I was afraid, he said as her silence confirmed his
conviction. I heard some one stirring. I looked and thought I saw you
going back to your couch. There was grave self-reproach in his tone,
but no reproach for her. Nevertheless her heart burned with shame and
her eyes filled with tears. She hid her glowing face in her hands and
I am so sorry. I did not mean to be listening. I thought from the
tone of your voice you were in trouble. I was afraid some one had
attacked you, and perhaps I could do something to help
You poor child! he said deeply moved. How unpardonable of me to
frighten you. It is my habit of talking aloud when I am alone. The
great loneliness out here has cultivated it. I did not realize that I
might disturb you. What must you think of me? What can you
Think! she burst forth softly. I think you are all wrong to try
to keep a thing like that to yourself!
And then the full meaning of what she had said broke upon her, and
her face crimsoned with embarrassment.
But he was looking at her with an eager light in his eyes.
What do you mean? he asked. Won't you please explain?
Hazel was sitting now with her face entirely turned away, and the
soft hair blowing concealingly about her burning cheeks. She felt as if
she must get up and run away into the desert and end this terrible
conversation. She was getting in deeper and deeper every minute.
Please! said the gentle, firm voice.
Why, Ithinkaawomanhas a rightto knowa thing like
that! she faltered desperately.
Why? asked the voice again after a pause.
Becausesheshemight not evershe might not ever know there
was such a love for a woman in the world! she stammered, still with
her head turned quite away from him. She felt that she could never turn
around and face this wonderful man of the desert again. She wished the
ground would open and show her some comfortable way of escape.
The pause this time was long, so long that it frightened her, but
she dared not turn and look at him. If she had done so she would have
seen that he was sitting with bowed head for some time, in deep
meditation, and that at last he lifted his glance to the sky again as
if to ask a swift permission. Then he spoke.
A man has no right to tell a woman he loves her when he cannot ask
her to marry him.
That, said the girl, her throat throbbing painfully, that
has nothing to do with it. Iwasnot talking aboutmarrying! But I
think she has a right to know. It wouldmake a difference all her
life! Her throat was dry and throbbing. The words seemed to stick as
she tried to utter them, yet they would be said. She longed to hide her
burning face in some cool shelter and get away from this terrible talk,
but she could only sit rigidly quiet, her fingers fastened tensely in
the coarse grass at her side.
There was a longer silence now, and still she dared not look at the
A great eagle appeared in the heaven above and sailed swiftly and
strongly towards a mountain peak. Hazel had a sense of her own
smallness, and of the fact that her words had made an exquisite anguish
for the soul of her companion, yet she could not think of anything to
say that would better matters. At last he spoke, and his voice was like
one performing a sad and sacred rite for one tenderly beloved:
And now that you know I love you can it possibly make any
difference to you?
Hazel tried three times to answer, but every time her trembling lips
would frame no words. Then suddenly her face went into her hands and
the tears came. She felt as if a benediction had been laid upon her
head, and the glory of it was greater than she could bear.
The man watched her, his arms longing to enfold her and soothe her
agitation, but he would not. His heart was on fire with the sweetness
and the pain of the present moment, yet he could not take advantage of
their situation upon the lonely plain, and desecrate the beauty of the
trust she had put upon him.
Then her strength came again, and she raised her head and looked
into his waiting eyes with a trembling, shy glance, yet true and
It will make a differenceto me! she said. I shall never feel
quite the same towards life again because I know there is such a
wonderful man in the world.
She had fine control of her voice now, and was holding back the
tears. Her manner of the world was coming to her aid. He must not see
how much this was to her, how very much. She put out a little cold hand
and laid it timidly in his big brown one, and he held it a moment and
looked down at it in great tenderness, closed his fingers over it in a
strong clasp, then laid it gently back in her lap as though it were too
precious to keep. Her heart thrilled and thrilled again at his touch.
Thank you, he said simply, a great withdrawing in his tone. But I
cannot see how you can think well of me. I am an utter stranger to you.
I have no right to talk of such things to you.
You did not tell me, answered Hazel. You toldGod. Her voice
was slow and low with awe. I only overheard. It was my faultbutI
am notsorry. It was a greatthing to hear!
He watched her shy dignity as she talked, her face drooping and half
turned away. She was exquisitely beautiful in her confusion. His whole
spirit yearned towards hers.
I feel like a monster, he said suddenly. You know I love you, but
you do not understand how, in this short time even, you have filled my
life, my whole being. And yet I may not ever try or hope to win your
love in return. It must seem strange to you
I think I understand, she said in a low voice; you spoke of all
that in the nightyou know. It seemed as if she shrank from hearing
Will you let me explain it thoroughly to you?
Ifyou think best. She turned her face away and watched the
eagle, now a mere speck in the distance.
You see it is this way. I am not free to do as I might wishas
other men are free. I have consecrated my life to the service of God in
this place. I knowI knew when I came herethat it was no place to
bring a woman. There are few who could stand the life. It is filled
with privations and hardships. They are inevitable. You are used to
tender care and luxury. No man could ask a sacrifice like that of a
woman he loved. He would not be a man if he did. It is not like
marrying a girl who has felt the call herself, and loves to give her
life to the work. That would be a different matter. But a man has no
right to expect it of a woman he paused to find the right words
and Hazel in a small still voice of dignity reminded him:
You are forgetting one of the reasons.
Forgetting? he turned towards her wonderingly and their eyes met
for just an instant, then hers were turned away again.
Yes, she went on inscrutably. You thought Iwas notfit!
She was pulling up bits of green from the ground beside her. She
felt a frightened flutter in her throat. It was the point of the thorn
that had remained in her heart. It was not in nature for her not to
speak of it, yet when it was spoken she felt how it might be
But the missionary made answer in a kind of cry like some hurt
Not fit! Oh, my dear! You do not understand
There was that in his tone that extracted the last bit of rankling
thorn from Hazel's heart and brought the quick blood to her cheeks
With a light laugh that echoed with relief and a deep new joy which
she dared not face as yet, she sprang to her feet.
Oh, yes, I understand, she said gaily, and it's all true. I'm not
a bit fit for a missionary. But oughtn't we to be moving on? I'm quite
With a face that was grave to sadness he acquiesced, fastening the
canvas in place on the saddle, and putting her on her horse with swift,
silent movements. Then as she gathered up the reins he lingered for an
instant and taking the hem of her gown in his fingers he stooped and
touched his lips lightly, reverently to the cloth.
There was something so humble, so pathetic, so self-forgetful in the
homage that the tears sprang to the girl's eyes and she longed to put
her arms about his neck and draw his face close to hers and tell him
how her heart was throbbing in sympathy.
But he had not even asked for her love, and there must be silence
between them. He had shown that it was the only way. Her own reserve
closed her lips and commanded that she show no sign.
And now they rode on silently for the most part, the horses' hoofs
beating rapidly in unison. Now and then a rabbit scuttled on ahead of
them or a horned toad hopped out of their path. Short brown lizards
palpitated on bits of wood along the way; now and then a bright green
one showed itself and disappeared. Once they came upon a village of
prairie dogs and paused to watch their antics for a moment. It was then
as they turned away that she noticed the bit of green he had stuck in
his buttonhole and recognized it for the same that she had played with
as they talked by the wayside. Her eyes charged him with having picked
it up afterwards and his eyes replied with the truth, but they said no
words about it. They did not need words.
It was not until they reached the top of a sloping hill, and
suddenly came upon the view of the valley with its winding track
gleaming in the late afternoon sun, the little wooden station and few
cabins dotted here and there, that she suddenly realized that their
journey together was at an end, for this was the place from which she
had started two days before.
He had no need to tell her. She saw the smug red gleam of their own
private car standing on the track not far away. She was brought face to
face with the fact that her friends were down there in the valley and
all the stiff conventionalities of her life stood ready to build a wall
between this man and herself. They would sweep him out of her life as
if she had never met him, never been found and saved by him, and carry
her away to their tiresome round of parties and pleasure excursions
She lifted her eyes with a frightened, almost pleading glance as if
for a moment she would ask him to turn with her back to the desert
again. She found his eyes upon her in a long deep gaze of farewell, as
one looks upon the face of a beloved soon to be parted from earth. She
could not bear the blinding of the love she saw there, and her own
heart leaped up anew to meet it in answering love.
But it was only this one flash of a glance they had, when they were
aware of voices and the sound of horses' hoofs, and almost instantly
around the clump of sage-brush below the trail there swept into sight
three horsemen, Shag Bunce, an Indian, and Hazel's brother. They were
talking excitedly, and evidently starting out on a new search.
The missionary with quick presence of mind started the horses on,
shouting out a greeting, and was answered with instant cheers from the
approaching party, followed by shots from Shag Bunce in signal that the
lost was found; shots which immediately seemed to echo from the valley
and swell into shouting and rejoicing.
Then all was confusion at once.
The handsome, reckless brother with gold hair like Hazel's embraced
her, talking loud and eagerly; showing how he had done this and that to
find her; blaming the country, the horses, the guides, the roads; and
paying little heed to the missionary who instantly dropped behind to
give him his place. It seemed but a second more before they were
surrounded with eager people all talking at once, and Hazel, distressed
that her brother gave so little attention to the man who had saved her,
sought thrice to make some sort of an introduction, but the brother was
too much taken up with excitement, and with scolding his sister for
having gotten herself lost, to take it in.
Then out came the father, who, it appeared, had been up two nights
on the search, and had been taking a brief nap. His face was pale and
haggard. Brownleigh liked the look of his eyes as he caught sight of
his daughter, and his face lighted as he saw her spring into his arms,
crying: Daddy! Daddy! I'm so sorry I frightened you!
Behind him, tall and disapproving, with an I-told-you-so in her eye,
stood Aunt Maria.
Headstrong girl, she murmured severely. You have given us all two
terrible days! and she pecked Hazel's cheek stiffly. But no one heard
her in the excitement.
Behind Aunt Maria Hazel's maid wrung her hands and wept in a kind of
hysterical joy over her mistress' return, and back of her in the gloom
of the car vestibule loomed the dark countenance of Hamar with an
angry, red mark across one cheek. He did not look particularly anxious
to be there. The missionary turned from his evil face with repulsion.
In the confusion and delight over the return of the lost one the man
of the desert prepared to slip away, but just as he was about to mount
his pony Hazel turned and saw him.
Daddy, come over here and speak to the man who found me and brought
me safely back again, she said, dragging her father eagerly across the
platform to where the missionary stood.
The father came readily enough and Hazel talked rapidly, her eyes
shining, her cheeks like twin roses, telling in a breath of the horrors
and darkness and rescue, and the thoughtfulness of her
Mr. Radcliffe came forward with outstretched hand to greet him, and
the missionary took off his hat and stood with easy grace to shake
hands. He was not conscious then of the fire of eyes upon him, cold
society stares from Aunt Maria, Hamar and young Radcliffe, as if to
say, How dared he presume to expect recognition for doing what was a
simple duty! He noted only the genuine heartiness in the face of the
father as he thanked him for what he had done. Then, like the practical
man of the world that he was, Mr. Radcliffe reached his hand into his
pocket and drew out his check book remarking, as if it were a matter of
course, that he wished to reward his daughter's rescuer handsomely, and
inquiring his name as he pulled off the cap from his fountain pen.
Brownleigh stood back stiffly with a heightened colour, and an
almost haughty look upon his face.
Thank you, he said coldly, I could not think of taking anything
for a mere act of humanity. It was a pleasure to be able to serve your
daughter, and he swung himself easily into the saddle.
But Mr. Radcliffe was unaccustomed to such independence in those who
served him and he began to bluster. Hazel, however, her cheeks fairly
blazing, her eyes filled with mortification, put a hand upon her
Daddy, you don't understand, she said earnestly; my new friend is
a clergymanhe is a missionary, daddy!
Nonsense, daughter! You don't understand these matters. Just wait
until I am through. I cannot let a deed like this go unrewarded. A
missionary, did you say? Then if you won't take anything for yourself
take it for your church; it's all the same in the end, and he gave a
knowing wink towards the missionary whose anger was rising rapidly, and
who was having much ado to keep a meek and quiet spirit.
Thank you! he said again coldly, not for any such service.
But I mean it! grumbled the elder man much annoyed. I want to
donate something to a cause that employs a man like you. It is a good
to the country at large to have such men patrolling the deserts. I
never thought there was much excuse for Home Missions, but after this I
shall give it my hearty approval. It makes the country safer for
tourists. Come, tell me your name and I'll write out a check. I'm in
Send any contribution you wish to make to the general fund, said
Brownleigh with dignity, mentioning the address of the New York Board
under whose auspices he was sent out, but don't mention me, please.
Then he lifted his hat once more and would have ridden away but for the
distress in Hazel's eyes.
Just then the brother created a digression by rushing up to his
father. Dad, Aunt Maria wants to know if we can't go on, with this
train. It's in sight now, and she is nearly crazy to get on the move.
There's nothing to hinder our being hitched on, is there? The agent has
the order. Do, dad, let's get out of this. I'm sick of it, and Aunt
Maria is unbearable!
Yes, certainly, certainly, Arthur, speak to the agent. We'll go on
at once. Excuse me, Mr.Ah, what did you say was the name? I'm sorry
you feel that way about it; though it's very commendable, very
commendable, I'm sure. I'll send to New York at once. Fifth Avenue, did
you say? I'll speak a good word for you. Excuse me, the agent is
beckoning me. Well, good-bye, and thank you again! Daughter, you better
get right into the car. The train is almost here, and they may have no
time to spare, and Mr. Radcliffe hastened up the platform after his
son and the agent.
IX. FOR REMEMBRANCE
Hazel turned her troubled eyes to the face of the man pleadingly.
My father does not understand, she said apologetically. He is very
grateful and he is used to thinking that money can always show
Brownleigh was off his horse beside her, his hat off, before she had
Don't, I beg of you, think of it again, he pleaded, his eyes
devouring her face. It is all right. I quite understand. And you
understand too, I am sure.
Yes, I understand, she said, lifting her eyes full of the love she
had not dared to let him see. She was fidgetting with her rings as she
spoke and looked back anxiously at the onrushing train. Her brother,
hurrying down the platform to their car, called to her to hasten as he
passed her, and she knew she would be allowed but a moment more. She
caught her breath and looked at the tall missionary wistfully.
You will let me leave something of my own with you, just for
remembrance? she asked eagerly.
His eyes grew tender and misty.
Of course, he said, his voice suddenly husky, though I shall need
nothing to remember you by. I can never forget you. The memory of that
look of his eyes was meat and drink to her soul during many days that
followed, but she met it now steadily, not even flushing at her open
recognition of his love.
This is mine, she said. My father bought it for me when I was
sixteen. I have worn it ever since. He will never care. She slipped a
ring from her finger and dropped it in his palm.
Hurry up there, sister! called young Radcliffe once more from the
car window, and looking up, Brownleigh saw the evil face of Hamar
peering from another window.
Hazel turned, struggling to keep back the rising tears. I must go,
Brownleigh flung the reins of the pony to a young Indian who stood
near and turning walked beside her, conscious the while of the frowning
faces watching them from the car windows.
And I have nothing to give you, he said to her in a low tone,
deeply moved at what she had done.
Will you let me have the little book? she asked shyly.
His eyes lit with a kind of glory as he felt in his pocket for his
It is the best thing I own, he said. May it bring you the same
joy and comfort it has often brought to me. And he put the little book
in her hand.
The train backed crashing up and jarred into the private car with a
snarling, grating sound. Brownleigh put Hazel on the steps and helped
her up. Her father was hurrying towards them and some train hands were
making a great fuss shouting directions. There was just an instant for
a hand-clasp, and then he stepped back to the platform, and her father
swung himself on, as the train moved off. She stood on the top step of
the car, her eyes upon his face, and his upon hers, his hat lifted in
homage, and renunciation upon his brow as though it were a crown.
It was the voice of her Aunt Maria that recalled her to herself,
while the little station with its primitive setting, its straggling
onlookers and its one great man, slipped past and was blurred into the
landscape by the tears which she could not keep back.
Hazel! For pity's sake! Don't stand mooning and gazing at that rude
creature any longer. We'll have you falling off the train and being
dramatically rescued again for the delectation of the natives. I'm sure
you've made disturbance enough for one trip, and you'd better come in
and try to make amends to poor Mr. Hamar for what you have made him
suffer with your foolish persistence in going off on a wild western
pony that ran away. You haven't spoken to Mr. Hamar yet. Perhaps you
don't know that he risked his life for you trying to catch your horse
and was thrown and kicked in the face by his own wretched little beast,
and left lying unconscious for hours on the desert, until an Indian
came along and picked him up and helped him back to the station. (As a
matter of fact Milton Hamar had planned and enacted this touching drama
with the help of a passing Indian, when he found that Hazel was gone,
leaving an ugly whip mark on his cheek which must be explained to the
family.) He may bear that dreadful scar for life! He will think you an
ungrateful girl if you don't go at once and make your apologies.
For answer Hazel, surreptitiously brushing away the tears, swept
past her aunt and locked herself into her own little private stateroom.
She rushed eagerly to the window which was partly open, guarded with
a screen, and pressed her face against the upper part of the glass. The
train had described a curve across the prairie, and the station was
still visible, though far away. She was sure she could see the tall
figure of her lover standing with hat in hand watching her as she
passed from his sight.
With quick impulse she caught up a long white crepe scarf that lay
on her berth, and snatching the screen from the window fluttered the
scarf out to the wind. Almost instantly a flutter of white came from
the figure on the platform, and her heart quickened with joy. They had
sent a message from heart to heart across the wide space of the plains,
and the wireless telegraphy of hearts was established. Great tears
rushed to blot the last flutter of white from the receding landscape,
and then a hill loomed brilliant and shifting, and in a moment more
shut out the sight of station and dim group and Hazel knew that she was
back in the world of commonplace things once more, with only a memory
for her company, amid a background of unsympathetic relatives.
She made her toilet in a leisurely way, for she dreaded to have to
talk as she knew she would, and dreaded still more to meet Hamar. But
she knew she must go and tell her father of her experiences, and
presently she came out to them fresh and beautiful, with eyes but the
brighter for her tears, and a soft wild-rose flush on her wind-browned
cheeks that made her beauty all the sweeter.
They clamoured at once, of course, for all the details of her
experience, and began by rehearsing once more how hard Mr. Hamar had
tried to save her from her terrible plight, risking his life to stop
her horse. Hazel said nothing to this, but one steady clear look at the
disfigured face of the man who had made them believe all this was the
only recognition she gave of his would-be heroism. In that look she
managed to show her utter disbelief and contempt, though her Aunt Maria
and perhaps even her father and brother thought her gratitude too deep
for utterance before them all.
The girl passed over the matter of the runaway with a brief word,
saying that the pony had made up his mind to run, and she had lost the
bridle, which of course explained her inability to control him. She
made light of her ride, however, before her aunt, and told the whole
story most briefly until she came to the canyon and the howl of the
coyotes. She was most warm in praise of her rescuer, though here too
she used few words and avoided any description of the ride back, merely
saying that the missionary had shown himself a gentleman in every
particular, and had given her every care and attention that her own
family could have done under the circumstances, making the way pleasant
with stories of the country and the people. She said that he was a man
of unusual culture and refinement, she thought, and yet most earnestly
devoted to his work, and then she abruptly changed the subject by
asking about certain plans for their further trip and seeming to have
no further interest in what had befallen her; but all the while she was
conscious of the piercing glance and frowning visage of Milton Hamar
watching her, and she knew that as soon as opportunity offered itself
he would continue the hateful interview begun on the plain. She decided
mentally that she would avoid any such interview if possible, and to
that end excused herself immediately after lunch had been served,
saying she needed a good sleep to make up for the long ride she had
But it was not to sleep that she gave herself when she was at last
able to take refuge in her little apartment again. She looked out at
the passing landscape, beautiful with varied scenery, all blurred with
tears as she thought of how she had but a little while before been out
in its wide free distance with one who loved her. How that thought
thrilled and thrilled her, and brought her a fresh joy each time it
repeated itself! She wondered over the miracle of it. She never had
dreamed that love was like this. She scarce believed it now. She was
excited, stirred to the depths by her unusual experience, put beyond
the normal by the strangeness of the surroundings that had brought this
man into her acquaintance; so said common sense, and warned her that
to-morrow, or the next day, or at most next week, the thrill would all
be gone and she would think of the stranger missionary as one curious
detail of her Western trip. But her heart resented this, and down, deep
down, something else told her this strange new joy would not vanish,
that it would live throughout her life, and that whatever in the years
came to her, she would always know underneath all that this had been
the real thing, the highest fullness of a perfect love for her.
As the miles lengthened and her thoughts grew sad with the distance,
she drew from its hiding place the little book he had given her at
parting. She had slipped it into the breast pocket of her riding habit
as she received it, for she shrank from having her aunt's keen eyes
detect it and question her. She had been too much engrossed with the
thought of separation to remember it till now.
She touched it tenderly, shyly, as though it were a part of himself;
the limp, worn covers, the look of constant use, all made it
inexpressibly dear. She had not known before that an inanimate object,
not beautiful in itself, could bring such tender love.
Opening to the flyleaf, there in clear, bold writing was his name,
John Chadwick Brownleigh, and for the first time she realized that
there had passed between them no word of her name. Strange that they
two should have come so close as to need no names one with the other.
But her heart leaped up with joy that she knew his name, and her eyes
dwelt yearningly upon the written characters. John! How well the name
fitted him. It seemed that she would have known it was his even if she
had not seen it written first in one of his possessions. Then she fell
to meditating whether he would have any way of discovering her name.
Perhaps her father had given it to him, or the station agent might have
known to whom their car belonged. Of course he would when he received
the orders,or did they give orders about cars only by numbers? She
wished she dared ask some one. Perhaps she could find out in some way
how those orders were written. And yet all the time she had an
instinctive feeling that had he known her name a thousand times he
would not have communicated with her. She knew by that exalted look of
renunciation upon his face that no longing whatsoever could make him
overstep the bounds which he had laid down between her soul and his.
With a sigh she opened the little book, and it fell apart of itself
to the place where he had read the night before, the page still marked
by the little silk cord he had placed so carefully. She could see him
now with the firelight flickering on his face, and the moonlight
silvering his head, that strong tender look upon his face. How
wonderful he had been!
She read the psalm over now herself, the first time in her life she
had ever consciously given herself to reading the Bible. But there was
a charm about the words that gave them new meaning, the charm of his
voice as she heard them in memory and watched again his face change and
stir at the words as he read.
The day waned and the train flew on, but the landscape had lost its
attraction now for the girl. She pleaded weariness and remained apart
from the rest, dreaming over her wonderful experience, and thinking new
deep thoughts of wonder, regret, sadness, joy, and when night fell and
the great moon rose lighting the world again, she knelt beside her car
window, looking long into the wide clear sky, the sky that covered him
and herself; the moon that looked down upon them both. Then switching
on the electric light over her berth she read the psalm once more, and
fell asleep with her cheek upon the little book and in her heart a
prayer for him.
John Brownleigh, standing upon the station platform, watching the
train disappear behind the foot-hills, experienced, for the first time
since his coming to Arizona, a feeling of the utmost desolation. Lonely
he had been, and homesick, sometimes, but always with a sense that he
was master of it all, and that with the delight of his work it would
pass and leave him free and glad in the power wherewith his God had
called him to the service. But now he felt that with this train the
light of life was going from him, and all the glory of Arizona and the
world in which he had loved to be was darkened on her account. For a
moment or two his soul cried out that it could not be, that he must
mount some winged steed and speed after her whom his heart had
enthroned. Then the wall of the inevitable appeared before his eager
eyes, and Reason crowded close to bring him to his senses. He turned
away to hide the emotion in his face. The stolid Indian boy, who had
been holding both horses, received his customary smile and pleasant
word, but the missionary gave them more by habit than thought this
time. His soul had entered its Gethsemane, and his spirit was bowed
As soon as he could get away from the people about the station who
had their little griefs and joys and perplexities to tell him, he
mounted Billy, and leading the borrowed pony rode away into the desert,
retracing the way they had come together but a short time before.
Billy was tired and walked slowly, drooping his head, and his master
was sad at heart, so there was no cheerful converse between them as
they travelled along.
It was not far they went, only back to the edge of the corn, where
they had made their last stop of the journey together a few short hours
before, and here the missionary halted and gave the beasts their
freedom for a respite and refreshment. He himself felt too weary of
soul to go further.
He took out the ring, the little ring that was too small to go more
than half-way on his smallest finger, the ring she had taken warm and
flashing from her white hand and laid within his palm!
The sun low down in the west stole into the heart of the jewel and
sent its glory in a million multicoloured facets, piercing his soul
with the pain and the joy of his love. He cast himself down upon the
grass where she had sat, where, with his eyes closed and his lips upon
the jewel she had worn, he met his enemy and fought his battle out.
Wearied at last with the contest, he slept. The sun went down, the
moon made itself manifest once more, and when the night went coursing
down its way of silver, two jewels softly gleamed in its radiance, the
one upon his finger where he had pressed her ring, the other from the
grass beside him. With a curious wonder he put forth his hand to the
second and found it was the topaz set in the handle of her whip which
she had dropped and forgotten when they sat together and talked by the
way. He seized it eagerly now, and gathered it to him. It seemed almost
a message of comfort from her he loved. It was something tangible,
this, and the ring, to show him he had not dreamed her coming; she had
been real, and she had wanted him to tell her of his love, had said it
would make a difference all the rest of her life.
He remembered that somewhere he had read or heard a great man say
that to be worthy of a great love one must be able to do without it.
Here now, then, he would prove his love by doing without. He stood with
uplifted face, transfigured in the light of the brilliant night, with
the look of exalted self-surrender, but only his heart communed that
night, for there were no words on his dumb lips to express the fullness
of his abnegation.
Then forth upon his way he went, his battle fought, the stronger for
it, to be a staff for other men to lean upon.
X. HIS MOTHER
Deserts and mountains remain, duties crowd and press, hearts ache
but the world rushes on. The weeks that followed showed these two that
a great love is eternal.
Brownleigh did not try to put the thought of it out of his life, but
rather let it glorify the common round. Day after day passed and he
went from post to post, from hogan to mesa, and back to his shanty
again, always with the thought of her companionship, and found it
sweet. Never had he been less cheery when he met his friends, though
there was a quiet dignity, a tender reserve behind it all that a few
discerning ones perceived. They said at the Fort that he was losing
flesh, but if so, he was gaining muscle. His lean brown arms were never
stronger, and his fine strong face was never sad when any one was by.
It was only in the night-time alone upon the moonlit desert, or in his
little quiet dwelling place when he talked with his Father, and told
all the loneliness and heartache. His people found him more
sympathetic, more painstaking, more tireless than ever before, and the
work prospered under his hand.
The girl in the city deliberately set herself to forget.
The first few days after she left him had been a season of ecstatic
joy mingled with deep depression, as she alternately meditated upon the
fact of a great love, or faced its impossibility.
She had scorched Milton Hamar with her glance of aversion, and
avoided him constantly even in the face of protest from her family,
until he had made excuse and left the party at Pasadena. There, too,
Aunt Maria had relieved them of her annoying interference, and the
return trip taken by the southern route had been an unmolested time for
meditation for the girl. She became daily more and more dissatisfied
with herself and her useless, ornamental life. Some days she read the
little book, and other days she shut it away and tried to get back to
her former life, telling herself it was useless to attempt to change
herself. She had found that the little book gave her a deep unrest and
a sense that life held graver, sweeter things than just living to
please one's self. She began to long for home, and the summer round of
gaieties, with which to fill the emptiness of her heart.
As the summer advanced there was almost a recklessness sometimes
about the way she planned to have a good time every minute; yet in the
quiet of her own room there would always come back the yearning that
had been awakened in the desert and would not be silenced.
Sometimes when the memory of that great deep love she had heard
expressed for herself came over her, the bitter tears would come to her
eyes and one thought would throb through her consciousness: Not
worthy! Not worthy! He had not thought her fit to be his wife. Her
father and her world would think it quite otherwise. They would count
him unworthy to mate with her, an heiress, the pet of society; he a man
who had given up his life for a whim, a fad, a fanatical fancy! But she
knew it was not so. She knew him to be a man of all men. She knew it
was true that she was not such a woman as a man like that could fitly
wed, and the thought galled her constantly.
She tried to accustom herself to think of him as a pleasant
experience, a friend who might have been if circumstances with them
both had been different; she tried to tell herself that it was a
passing fancy with them which both would forget; and she tried with all
her heart to forget, even locking away the precious little book and
trying to forget it too.
And then, one day in late summer, she went with a motoring party
through New England; as frolicsome and giddy a party as could be found
among New York society transferred for the summer to the world of
Nature. There was to be a dance or a house party or something of the
sort at the end of the drive. Hazel scarcely knew, and cared less. She
was becoming utterly weary of her butterfly life.
The day was hot and dusty, Indian summer intensified. They had got
out of their way through a mistake of the chauffeur, and suddenly just
on the edge of a tiny quaint little village the car broke down and
refused to go on without a lengthy siege of coaxing and petting.
The members of the party, powdered with dust and in no very pleasant
frame of mind from the delay, took refuge at the village inn, an
old-time hostelry close to the roadside, with wide, brick-paved,
white-pillared piazza across the front, and a mysterious hedged garden
at the side. There were many plain wooden rockers neatly adorned with
white crash on the piazza, and one or two late summer boarders
loitering about with knitting work or book. The landlord brought cool
tinkling glasses of water and rich milk from the spring-house, and they
dropped into the chairs to wait while the men of the party gave
assistance to the chauffeur in patching up the car.
Hazel sank wearily into her chair and sipped the milk unhungrily.
She wished she had not come; wished the day were over, and that she
might have planned something more interesting; wished she had chosen
different people to be of her party; and idly watched a white hen with
yellow kid boots and a coral comb in her nicely groomed hair picking
daintily about the green under the oak trees that shaded the street.
She listened to the drone of the bees in the garden near by, the
distant whetting of a scythe, the monotonous whang of a steam thresher
not far away, the happy voices of children, and thought how empty a
life in this village would be; almost as dreary and uninteresting as
living in a desertand then suddenly she caught a name and the pink
flew into her cheeks and memory set her heart athrob.
It was the landlord talking to a lingering summer boarder, a quiet,
gray-haired woman who sat reading at the end of the piazza.
Well, Miss Norton, so you're goin' to leave us next week. Sorry to
hear it. Don't seem nat'ral 'thout you clear through October. Ca'c'late
you're comin' back to Granville in the spring?
Granville! Granville! Where had she heard of Granville? Ah! She knew
instantly. It was his old home! His mother lived there! But then of
course it might have been another Granville. She wasn't even sure what
state they were in now, New Hampshire or Vermont. They had been
wavering about on the state line several times that day, and she never
paid attention to geography.
Then the landlord raised his voice again.
He was gazing across the road where a white colonial house,
white-fenced with pickets like clean sugar frosting, nestled in the
luscious grass, green and clean and fresh, and seeming utterly apart
from the soil and dust of the road, as if nothing wearisome could ever
enter there. Brightly there bloomed a border of late flowers, double
asters, zinnias, peonies, with a flame of scarlet poppies breaking into
the smoke-like blue of larkspurs and bachelor buttons, as it neared the
house. Hazel had not noticed it until now and she almost cried out with
pleasure over the splendour of colour.
Wal, said the landlord chinking some loose coins in his capacious
pockets, I reckon Mis' Brownleigh'll miss yeh 'bout as much as enny of
us. She lots on your comin' over to read to her. I've heerd her say as
how Amelia Ellen is a good nurse, but she never was much on the
readin', an' Amelia Ellen knows it too. Mis' Brownleigh she'll be
powerful lonesome fer yeh when yeh go. It's not so lively fur her tied
to her bed er her chair, even ef John does write to her reg'lur twicet
And now Hazel noticed that on the covered veranda in front of the
wing of the house across the way there sat an old lady on a reclining
wheeled chair, and that another woman in a plain blue gown hovered near
waiting upon her. A luxuriant woodbine partly hid the chair, and the
distance was too great to see the face of the woman, but Hazel grew
weak with wonder and pleasure. She sat quite still trying to gather her
forces while the summer boarder expressed earnest regret at having to
leave her chosen summer abiding place so much earlier than usual. At
last her friends began to rally Hazel on her silence. She turned away
annoyed, and answered them crossly, following the landlord into the
house and questioning him eagerly. She had suddenly arrived at the
conclusion that she must see Mrs. Brownleigh and know if she looked
like her son, and if she was the kind of mother one would expect such a
son to have. She felt that in the sight might lie her emancipation from
the bewitchment that had bound her in its toils since her Western trip.
She also secretly hoped it might justify her dearest dreams of what his
mother was like.
Do you suppose that lady across the street would mind if I went
over to look at her beautiful flowers? she burst in upon the
astonished landlord as he tipped his chair back with his feet on
another and prepared to browse over yesterday's paper for the third
time that day.
He brought his chair down on its four legs with a thump and drew his
hat further over his forehead.
Not a bit, not a bit, young lady. She's proud to show off her
flowers. They're one of the sights of Granville. Mis' Brownleigh loves
to have comp'ny. Jest go right over an' tell her I sent you. She'll
tell you all about 'em, an' like ez not she'll give you a bokay to take
'long. She's real generous with 'em.
He tottered out to the door after her on his stiff rheumatic legs,
and suggested that the other young ladies might like to go along, but
they one and all declined, to Hazel's intense relief, and called their
ridicule after her as she picked her way across the dusty road and
opened the white gate into the peaceful scene beyond.
When she drew close to the side piazza she saw one of the most
beautiful faces she had ever looked upon. The features were delicate
and exquisitely modelled, aged by years and much suffering, yet lovely
with a peace that had permitted no fretting. An abundance of waving
silken hair white as driven snow was piled high upon her head against
the snowy pillow, and soft brown eyes made the girl's heart throb
quickly with their likeness to those other eyes that had once looked
She was dressed in a simple little muslin gown of white and gray
with white cloud-like finish at throat and wrists, and across the
helpless limbs was flung a light afghan of pink and gray wool. She made
a sweet picture as she lay and watched her approaching guest with a
smile of interest and welcome.
The landlord said you would not mind if I came over to see your
flowers, Hazel said with a shy, half-frightened catch in her voice.
Now that she was here she was almost sorry she had come. It might not
be his mother at all, and what could she say anyway? Yet her first
glimpse told her that this was a mother to be proud of. The most
beautiful mother in the world he had called her, and surely this woman
could be none other than the one who had mothered such a son. Her
highest ideals of motherhood seemed realized as she gazed upon the
peaceful face of the invalid.
And then the voice! For the woman was speaking now, holding out a
lily-white hand to her and bidding her be seated in the Chinese willow
chair that stood close by the wheeled one; a great green silk cushion
at the back, and a large palm leaf fan on the table beside it.
I am so pleased that you came over, Mrs. Brownleigh was saying. I
have been wondering if some one wouldn't come to me. I keep my flowers
partly to attract my friends, for I can stand a great deal of company
since I'm all alone. You came in the big motor car that broke down,
didn't you? I've been watching the pretty girls over there, in their
gay ribbons and veils. They look like human flowers. Rest here and tell
me where you have come from and where you are going, while Amelia Ellen
picks you some flowers to take along. Afterwards you shall go among
them and see if there are any you like that she has missed. Amelia
Ellen! Get your basket and scissors and pick a great many flowers for
this young lady. It is getting late and they have not much longer to
blossom. There are three white buds on the rose-bush. Pick them all. I
think they fit your face, my dear. Now take off your hat and let me see
your pretty hair without its covering. I want to get your picture fixed
in my heart so I can look at you after you are gone.
And so quite simply they fell into easy talk about each other, the
day, the village, and the flowers.
You see the little white church down the street? My husband was its
pastor for twenty years. I came to this house a bride, and our boy was
born here. Afterwards, when his father was taken away, I stayed right
here with the people who loved him. The boy was in college then,
getting ready to take up his father's work. I've stayed here ever
since. I love the people and they love me, and I couldn't very well be
moved, you know. My boy is out in Arizona, a home missionary! She said
it as Abraham Lincoln's mother might have said: My boy is president of
the United States! Her face wore a kind of glory that bore a startling
resemblance to the man of the desert. Hazel marvelled greatly, and
understood what had made the son so great.
I don't see how he could go and leave you alone! she broke forth
almost bitterly. I should think his duty was here with his mother!
Yes, I know, the mother smiled; they do say that, some of them,
but it's because they don't understand. You see we gave John to God
when he was born, and it was our hope from the first that he would
choose to be a minister and a missionary. Of course John thought at
first after his father went away that he could not leave me, but I made
him see that I would be happier so. He wanted me to go with him, but I
knew I should only be a hindrance to the work, and it came to me that
my part in the work was to stay at home and let him go. It was all I
had left to do after I became an invalid. And I'm very comfortable.
Amelia Ellen takes care of me like a baby, and there are plenty of
friends. My boy writes me beautiful letters twice a week, and we have
such nice talks about the work. He's very like his father, and growing
more so every day. Perhaps, she faltered and fumbled under the pink
and silver lap robe, perhaps you'd like to read a bit of one of his
letters. I have it here. It came yesterday and I've only read it twice.
I don't let myself read them too often because they have to last three
days apiece at least. Perhaps you'd read it aloud to me. I like to hear
John's words aloud sometimes and Amelia Ellen has never spent much time
reading. She is peculiar in her pronunciation. Do you mind reading it
She held a letter forth, written in a strong free hand, the same
that had signed the name John Chadwick Brownleigh in the little book.
Hazel's heart throbbed eagerly and her hand trembled as she reached it
shyly towards the letter. What a miracle was this! that his very letter
was being put into her hand, her whom he lovedto read! Was it
possible? Could there be a mistake? No, surely not. There could not be
two John Brownleighs, both missionaries to Arizona.
Dear little Mother o' Mine: it began, and plunged at once into the
breezy life of the Western country. He had been to a cattle round-up
the week before and he described it minutely in terse and vivid
language, with many a flash of wit, or graver touch of wisdom, and here
and there a boyish expression that showed him young at heart, and
devoted to his mother. He told of a visit he had paid to the Hopi
Indians, their strange villages, each like a gigantic house with many
rooms, called a pueblo, built on the edges of lofty crags or mesas and
looking like huge castles five or six hundred feet above the desert
floor. He told of Walpi, a village out on the end of a great
promontory, its only access a narrow neck of land less than a rod wide,
with one little path worn more than a foot deep in the solid rock by
the feet of ten generations passing over it, where now live about two
hundred and thirty people in one building. There were seven of these
villages built on three mesas that reach out from the northern desert
like three great fingers, Oraibi, the largest, having over a thousand
people. He explained that Spanish explorers found these Hopis in 1540,
long before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, and called the
country Tusayan. Then he went on to describe a remarkable meeting that
had been held in which the Indians had manifested deep interest in
spiritual things, and had asked many curious questions about life,
death and the hereafter.
You see, dear, said the mother, her eyes shining eagerly, you see
how much they need him, and I'm glad I can give him. It makes me have a
part in the work.
Hazel turned back to the letter and went on reading to hide the
tears that were gathering in her own eyes as she looked upon the
exalted face of the mother.
There was a detailed account of a conference of missionaries, to
attend which the rider had ridden ninety miles on horseback; and at the
close there was an exquisite description of the spot where they had
camped the last night of their ride. She knew it from the first word
almost, and her heart beat so wildly she could hardly keep her voice
steady to read:
I stopped over night on the way home at a place I dearly love.
There is a great rock, shelving and overhanging, for shelter from any
passing storm, and quite near a charming green boudoir of cedars on
three sides, and rock on the fourth. An abundant water-hole makes
camping easy for me and Billy, and the stars overhead are good tapers.
Here I build my fire and boil the kettle, read my portion and lie down
to watch the heavens. Mother, I wish you knew how near to God one feels
out in the desert with the stars. Last night about three o'clock I woke
to replenish my fire and watch a while a great comet, the finest one
for many years. I would tell you about it but I've already made this
letter too long, and it's time Billy and I were on our way again. I
love this spot beside the big rock and often come back to it on my
journeys; perhaps because here I once camped with a dear friend and we
had pleasant converse together around our brushwood fire. It makes the
desert seem less lonely because I can sometimes fancy my friend still
reclining over on the other side of the fire in the light that plays
against the great rock. Well, little mother o' mine, I must close.
Cheer up, for it has been intimated to me that I may be sent East to
General Assembly in the spring, and then for three whole weeks with
you! That will be when the wild strawberries are out, and I shall carry
you in my arms and spread a couch for you on the strawberry hill behind
the house, and you shall pick some again with your own hands.
With a sudden catch in her throat like a sob the reading came to an
end and Hazel, her eyes bright with tears, handed the letter reverently
back to the mother whose face was bright with smiles.
Isn't he a boy worth giving? she asked as she folded the letter
and slipped it back under the pink and gray cover.
He is a great gift, said Hazel in a low voice.
She was almost glad that Amelia Ellen came up with an armful of
flowers just then and she might bury her face in their freshness and
hide the tears that would not be stayed, and then before she had half
admired their beauty there was a loud Honk-honk! from the road,
followed by a more impatient one, and Hazel was made aware that she was
being waited for.
I'm sorry you must go, dear, said the gentle woman. I haven't
seen so beautiful a girl in years, and I'm sure you have a lovely
heart, too. I wish you could visit me again.
I will come again some time if you will let me! said the girl
impulsively, and then stooped and kissed the soft rose-leaf cheek, and
fled down the path trying to get control of her emotion before meeting
Hazel was quiet all the rest of the way, and was rallied much upon
her solemnity. She pleaded a headache and closed her eyes, while each
heart-throb carried her back over the months and brought her again to
the little camp under the rock beneath the stars.
He remembered still! He cared! This was what her glad thoughts
sang as the car whirled on, and her gay companions forgot her and
chattered of their frivolities.
How wonderful that I should find his mother! she said again and
again to herself. Yet it was not so wonderful. He had told her the name
of the town, and she might have come here any time of her own accord.
But it was strange and beautiful that the accident had brought her
straight to the door of the house where he had been born and brought
up! What a beautiful, happy boyhood he must have had with a mother like
that! Hazel found herself thinking wistfully, out of the emptiness of
her own motherless girlhood. Yes, she would go back and see the sweet
mother some day; and she fell to planning how it could be.
Milton Hamar had not troubled Hazel all summer. From time to time
her father mentioned him as being connected with business enterprises,
and it was openly spoken of now that a divorce had been granted him,
and his former wife was soon to marry again. All this, however, was
most distasteful to the girl to whom the slightest word about the man
served to bring up the hateful scene of the desert.
But early in the fall he appeared among them again, assuming his old
friendly attitude towards the whole family, dropping in to lunch or
dinner whenever it suited his fancy. He seemed to choose to forget what
had passed between Hazel and himself, to act as though it had not been,
and resumed his former playful attitude of extreme interest in the girl
of whom he had always been fond. Hazel, however, found a certain air of
proprietorship in his gaze, a too-open expression of his admiration
which was offensive. She could not forget, try as hard as she might for
her father's sake to forgive. She shrank away from the man's company,
avoided him whenever possible, and at last when he seemed to be almost
omnipresent, and growing every day more insistent in his attentions,
she cast about her for some absorbing interest which would take her out
of his sphere.
Then a strange fancy took her in its possession.
It was in the middle of the night when it came to her, where she had
been turning her luxurious pillow for two hours trying in vain to tempt
a drowsiness that would not come, and she arose at once and wrote a
brief and businesslike letter to the landlord of the little New
Hampshire inn where she had been delayed for a couple of hours in the
fall. In the morning, true to her impulsive nature, she besieged her
father until he gave his permission for her to take her maid and a
quiet elderly cousin of his and go away for a complete rest before the
society season began.
It was a strange whim for his butterfly daughter to take but the
busy man saw no harm in it, and was fully convinced that it was merely
her way of punishing some over ardent follower for a few days; and
feeling sure she would soon return, he let her go. She had had her way
all her life, and why should he cross her in so simple a matter as a
few days' rest in a country inn with a respectable chaperone?
The letter to the landlord was outtravelled by a telegram whose
answer sent Hazel on her way the next morning, thankful that she had
been able to get away during a temporary absence of Milton Hamar, and
that her father had promised not to let any of her friends know of her
whereabouts. His eye had twinkled as he made the promise. He was quite
sure which of her many admirers was being punished, but he did not tell
her so. He intended to be most judicious with all her young men
friends. He so confided his intentions to Milton Hamar that evening,
having no thought that Hazel would mind their old friend's knowing.
Two days later Hazel, after establishing her little party
comfortably in the best rooms the New Hampshire inn afforded, putting a
large box of new novels at their disposal, and another of sweets, and
sending orders for new magazines to be forwarded, went over to call on
the sweet old lady towards whom her heart had been turning eagerly,
with a longing that would not be put away, ever since that first
accidental, or providential, meeting.
When she came back, through the first early snow-storm, with her
cheeks like winter roses and her furry hat all feathered with great
white flakes, she found Milton Hamar seated in front of the open fire
in the office making the air heavy with his best tobacco, and frowning
impatiently through the small-paned windows.
The bright look faded instantly from her face and the peace which
she had almost caught from the woman across the way. Her eyes flashed
indignantly, and her whole small frame stiffened for the combat that
she knew must come now. There was no mistaking her look. Milton Hamar
knew at once that he was not welcome. She stood for an instant with the
door wide open, blowing a great gust of biting air across the wide room
and into his face. A cloud of smoke sprang out from the fireplace to
meet it and the two came together in front of the man, and made a
visible wall for a second between him and the girl.
He sprang to his feet, cigar in hand, and an angry exclamation upon
his lips. The office, fortunately, was without other occupant.
Why in the name of all that's unholy did you lead me a race away
off to this forsaken little hole in midwinter, Hazel? he cried.
Hazel drew herself to her full height and with the dignity that well
became her, answered him:
Really, Mr. Hamar, what right have you to speak to me in that way?
And what right had you to follow me?
The right of the man who is going to marry you! he answered
fiercely; and I think it's about time this nonsense stopped. It's
nothing but coquettish foolishness, your coming here. I hate coquettish
fools. I didn't think you had it in you to coquet, but it seems all
women are alike.
Mr. Hamar, you are forgetting yourself, said the girl quietly,
turning to shut the door that she might gain time to get control of her
shaken nerves. She had a swift vision of what it would be if she were
married to a man like that. No wonder his wife was entirely willing to
give him a divorce. But she shuddered as she turned back and faced him
Well, what did you come here for? he asked in a less fierce tone.
I came because I wanted to be quiet, Hazel said trying to steady
her voice, andI will tell you the whole truth. I came because I
wanted to get away fromyou! I have not liked the way you acted
towards me sincethat dayin Arizona.
The man's fierce brows drew together, but a kind of mask of apology
overspread his features. He perceived that he had gone too far with the
girl whom he had thought scarcely more than a child. He had thought he
could mould her like wax, and that his scorn would instantly wither her
wiles. He watched her steadily for a full minute; the girl, though
trembling in every nerve, sending back a steady, haughty gaze.
Do you mean that? he said at last.
I do! Her voice was quiet, but she was on the verge of tears.
Well, perhaps we'd better talk it over. I see I've taken too much
for granted. I thought you'd understood for a year or more what was
going onwhat I was doing it for.
You thought I understood! You thought I would be willing to be a
party to such an awful thing as you have done! Hazel's eyes were
flashing fire now. The tears were scorched away.
Sit down! We'll talk it over, said the man moving a great summer
chair nearer to his own. His eyes were on her face approvingly and he
was thinking what a beautiful picture she made in her anger.
Never! said the girl quickly. It is not a thing I could talk
over. I do not wish to speak of it again. I wish you to leave this
place at once, and she turned with a quick movement and fled up the
quaint old staircase.
She stayed in her room until he left, utterly refusing to see him,
refusing to answer the long letters he wrote and sent up to her; and
finally, after another day, he went away. But he wrote to her several
times, and came again twice, each time endeavouring to surprise her
into talking with him. The girl grew to watch nervously every approach
of the daily stage which brought stray travellers from the station four
miles distant, and was actually glad when a heavy snow-storm shut them
in and made it unlikely that her unwelcome visitor would venture again
into the country.
The last time he came Hazel saw him descending from the coach, and
without a word to any one, although it was almost supper time, and the
early winter twilight was upon them, she seized her fur cloak and
slipped down the back stairs, out through the shadows, across the road,
where she surprised good Amelia Ellen by flinging her arms about her
neck and bursting into tears right in the dark front hall, for the gust
of wintry wind from the open door blew the candle out, and Amelia Ellen
stood astonished and bewildered for a moment in the blast of the north
wind with the soft arms of the excited girl in her furry wrappings
clinging about her unaccustomed shoulders.
Amelia Ellen had never had many beautiful things in her life, the
care of her Dresden-china mistress, and her brilliant garden of
flowers, having been the crowning of her life hitherto. This beautiful
city girl with her exquisite garments and her face like a flower, flung
upon her in sudden appeal, drew out all the latent love and pity and
sympathy of which Amelia Ellen had a larger store than most, hidden
under a simple and severe exterior.
Fer the land's sake! Whatever ails you! she exclaimed when she
could speak for astonishment, and to her own surprise her arm enclosed
the sobbing girl in a warm embrace while with the other hand she
reached to close the door. Come right in to my kitchen and set in the
big chair by the cat and let me give you a cup o' tea. Then you can
tell Mis' Brownleigh what's troublin' you. She'll know how to talk to
you. I'll git you some tea right away.
She drew the shrinking girl into the kitchen and ousting the cat
from a patchwork rocker pushed her gently into it. It was
characteristic of Amelia Ellen that she had no thought of ministering
to her spiritual needs herself, but knew her place was to bring
She spoke no word save to the cat, admonishing him to mend his
manners and keep out from under foot, while she hurried to the tea
canister, the bread box, the sugar bowl, and the china closet. Soon a
cup of fragrant tea was set before the unexpected guest, and a bit of
delicate toast browning over the coals, to be buttered and eaten crisp
with the tea; and the cat nestled comfortably at Hazel's feet while she
drank the tea and wiped away the tears.
You'll think I'm a big baby, Amelia Ellen! cried Hazel trying to
smile shamedly, but I'm just so tired of the way things go. You see
somebody I don't a bit like has come up from New York on the evening
coach, and I've run away for a little while. I don't know what made me
cry. I never cry at home, but when I got safely over here a big lump
came in my throat and you looked so nice and kind that I couldn't keep
the tears back.
From that instant Amelia Ellen, toasting fork in hand, watching the
sweet blue eyes and the tear-stained face that resembled a drenched
pink bud after a storm, loved Hazel Radcliffe. Come weal, come woe,
Amelia Ellen was from henceforth her staunch admirer and defendant.
Never you mind, honey, you just eat your tea an' run in to Mis'
Brownleigh, an' I'll get my hood an' run over to tell your folks you've
come to stay all night over here. Then you'll have a cozy evenin'
readin' while I sew, an' you can sleep late come mornin', and go back
when you're ready. Nobody can't touch you over here. I'm not lettin' in
people by night 'thout I know 'em, and she winked knowingly at the
girl by way of encouragement. Well she knew who the unwelcome stranger
from New York was. She had keen eyes, and had watched the coach from
her well-curtained kitchen window as it came in.
That night Hazel told her invalid friend all about Milton Hamar, and
slept in the pleasant bed that Amelia Ellen had prepared for her, with
sheets of fragrant linen redolent of sweet clover. Her heart was
lighter for the simple, kindly advice and the gentle love that had been
showered upon her. She wondered, as she lay half dozing in the morning
with the faint odour of coffee and muffins penetrating the atmosphere,
why it was that she could love this beautiful mother of her hero so
much more tenderly than she had ever loved any other woman. Was it
because she had never known her own mother and had longed for one all
her life, or was it just because she was his dear mother? She
gave up trying to answer the question and went smiling down to
breakfast, and then across the road to face her unwelcome lover, strong
in the courage that friendly counsel had given her.
Milton Hamar left before dinner, having been convinced at last of
the uselessness of his visit. He hired a man with a horse and cutter to
drive him across country to catch the New York evening express, and
Hazel drew a breath of relief and began to find new pleasure in life.
Her father was off on a business trip for some weeks; her brother had
gone abroad for the winter with a party of college friends. There was
no real reason why she should return to New York for some time, and she
decided to stay and learn of this saintly woman how to look wisely on
the things of life. To her own heart she openly acknowledged that there
was a deep pleasure in being near one who talked of the man she loved.
So the winter settled down to business, and Hazel spent happy days
with her new friends, for Amelia Ellen had become a true friend in the
best sense of the word.
The maid had found the country winter too lonely and Hazel had found
her useless and sent her back to town. She was learning by association
with Amelia Ellen to do a few things for herself. The elderly cousin,
whose years had been a long strain of scrimping to present a
respectable exterior, was only too happy to have leisure and quiet to
read and embroider to her heart's content. So Hazel was free to spend
much time with Mrs. Brownleigh.
They read together, at least Hazel did the reading, for the older
eyes were growing dim, and had to be guarded to prevent the terrible
headaches which came at the slightest provocation and made the days a
blank of suffering for the lovely soul where patience was having its
The world of literature opened through a new door to the eager young
mind now. Books of which she had never heard were at her hand. New
thoughts and feelings were stirred by them. A few friends who knew Mrs.
Brownleigh through their summer visits, and others who had known her
husband, kept her well supplied with the latest and always the best of
everythinghistory, biography, essays and fiction. But there were also
books of a deep spiritual character, and magazines that showed a new
world, the religious world, to the girl. She read with zest all of
them, and enjoyed deeply the pleasant converse concerning each. Her
eyes were being opened to new ways of living. She was beginning to know
that there was an existence more satisfying than just to go from one
round of amusement to another. And always, more than in any other thing
she read, she took a most unusual interest in home missionary
literature. It was not because it was so new and strange and like a
fairy tale, nor because she knew her friend enjoyed hearing all this
news so much, but because it held for her the story of the man she now
knew she loved, and who had said he loved her. She wanted to put
herself into touch with surroundings like his, to understand better
what he had to endure, and why he had not dared to ask her to share his
life, his hardshipmost of all why he had not thought her worthy to
suffer with him.
When she grew tired of reading she would go out into the kitchen and
help Amelia Ellen. It was her own whim that she should learn how to
make some of the good things to eat for which Amelia Ellen was famous.
So while her society friends at home went from one gay scene to
another, dancing and frivolling through the night and sleeping away the
morning, Hazel bared her round white arms, enveloped herself in a clean
blue-checked apron, and learned to make bread and pies and gingerbread
and puddings and doughnuts and fruit-cake, how to cook meats and
vegetables and make delicious broths from odds and ends, and to concoct
the most delectable desserts that would tempt the frailest appetite.
Real old country things they wereno fancy salads and whips and froths
that society has hunted out to tempt its waning taste till everything
has palled. She wrote to one of her old friends, who demanded to know
what she was doing so long up there in the country in the height of the
season, that she was taking a course in Domestic Science and happily
recounted her menu of accomplishments. Secretly her heart rejoiced that
she was become less and less unworthy of the love of the man in whose
home and at whose mother's side she was learning sweet lessons.
There came letters, of course, from the far-away missionary. Hazel
stayed later in the kitchen the morning of their arrival, conscious of
a kind of extra presence in his mother's room when his letters arrived.
She knew the mother liked to be alone with her son's letters, and that
she saved her eyes from other reading for them alone. Always the older
face wore a kind of glorified look when the girl entered after she had
been reading her letter. The letter itself would be hidden away out of
sight in the bosom of her soft gray gown, to be read again and again
when she was alone, but seldom was it brought out in the presence of
the visitor, much as the mother was growing to love this girl.
Frequently there were bits of news.
My son says he is very glad I am having such delightful company
this winter, and he wants me to thank you from him for reading to me,
she said once, patting Hazel's hand as she tucked the wool robe about
her friend's helpless form. And again:
My son is starting to build a church. He is very happy about it.
They have heretofore held worship in a schoolhouse. He has collected a
good deal of the money himself, and he will help to put up the building
with his own hands. He is going to send me a photograph when it is up.
I would like to be present when it is dedicated. It makes me very proud
to have my son doing that.
The next letter brought a photograph, a small snapshot of the
canyon, tiny, but clear and distinct. Hazel's hand trembled when the
mother gave it to her to look at, for she knew the very spot. She
fancied it was quite near the place where they had paused for water.
She could feel again the cool breath of the canyon, the damp smell of
the earth and ferns, and hear the call of the wild bird.
Then one day there came a missionary magazine with a short article
on the work of Arizona and a picture of the missionary mounted on
Billy, just ready to start from his little shack on a missionary tour.
Hazel, turning the leaves, came upon the picture and held her breath
with astonishment and delight; then rapidly glanced over the article,
her heart beating wildly as though she had heard his voice suddenly
calling to her out of the distances that separated them. She had a
beautiful time surprising the proud mother with the picture and reading
the article. From that morning they seemed to have a tenderer tie
between them, and once, just before Hazel was leaving for the night,
the mother reached out a detaining hand and laid it on the girl's arm.
I wish my boy and you were acquainted, dear, she said wistfully. And
Hazel, the rich colour flooding her face at once, replied hesitatingly:
Oh, whyIfeelalmostasthoughwe were! Then she
kissed her friend on the soft cheek and hurried back to the inn.
It was that night that the telegram came to say that her father had
been seriously injured in a railway accident and would be brought home
at once. She had no time to think of anything then but to hurry her
belongings together and hasten to New York.
XII. QUALIFYING FOR SERVICE
During the six weeks' lingering suffering that followed the accident
Hazel was never far from her father's bedside. It seemed as though a
new bond of understanding had come between them.
He was very low and there was little hope from the beginning. As he
grew weaker he seemed never to want his daughter out of sight, and once
when he woke suddenly to find her close beside him, a smile of relief
spread over his face, and he told her in brief words that he had
dreamed she was lost again in Arizona, and that he had been searching
for her with the wild beasts howling all about and wicked men prowling
in dark caves. He told her how during that awful time of her
disappearance he had been haunted by her face as she was a tiny baby
after her mother died, and it seemed to him he should go mad if he
could not find her at once.
Then to soothe him she told him of the missionary, and how gently he
had cared for her; told him of all the pleasant little details of the
way, though not, of course, of his love for her nor hers for him.
Perhaps the father, with eyes keen from their nearness to the other
world, discerned something of her interest as she talked, for once he
sighed and said, in reference to the life of sacrifice the missionary
was leading: Well, I don't know but such things are more worth while
And then with sudden impulse she told him of her finding his mother,
and why she had wanted to go to the country in the middle of the
society season, because she wanted to know more of the peaceful life
this woman lived.
Perhaps you will meet him again. Who knows? said the father,
looking wistfully at his lovely daughter, and then he turned his head
away and sighed again.
As the confidence grew between them she told him one day of Milton
Hamar's unwelcome proposal, and the indignation of the father knew no
It was after that she ventured to read to him from the little book,
and to tell of the worship held out under the stars in the desert. It
came to be a habit between them, as the days grew less, that she should
read the little book, and afterwards he would always lie still as if he
It was on the words of the precious psalm that he closed his eyes
for the last time in this world, and it was the psalm that brought
comfort to the daughter's heart when she came back to the empty house
after the funeral.
Her brother was there, it is true, but he was afraid of death, and
wanted to get back to his world again, back to the European trip where
he had left his friends, and especially a gay young countess who had
smiled upon him. He was impatient of death and sorrow. Hazel saw that
he could not comprehend her loneliness, so she bade him go as soon as
decency would allow, and he was not long in obeying her. He had had his
own way all his life, and even death was not to deny him.
The work of the trained nurses who had cared for her father
interested Hazel deeply. She had talked with them about their life and
preparation for it, and when she could no longer stand the great empty
house with only Aunt Maria for company, who had come back just before
Mr. Radcliffe's death, she determined to become a nurse herself.
There was much ado over her decision among her acquaintances, and
Aunt Maria thought it was not quite respectable for her to do so
eccentric a thing and so soon after her father's death. She would have
preferred to have had her run down to Lakewood for a few weeks and then
follow her brother across the water for a year or two of travel; but
Hazel was quite determined, and before January was over she was
established in the hospital, through the influence of their family
physician, and undergoing her first initiation.
It was not easy thus to give up her life of doing exactly as she
pleased when she pleased, and become a servant under orders. Her back
often ached, and her eyes grew heavy with the watching and the
ministering, and she would be almost ready to give over. Then the
thought of the man of the desert gave her new courage and strength. It
came to her that she was partaking with him in the great work of the
kingdom, and with this thought she would rise and go about the strange
new work again, until her interest in the individuals to whom she
ministered grew deep, and she understood in a measure the reason for
the glory in the face of the missionary as he spoke in the starlight
about his work.
Often her heart went out wistfully towards her invalid friend in New
Hampshire, and she would rest herself by writing a long letter, and
would cherish the delicately written answers. Now and again there would
be some slight reference to my son in these letters. As the spring
came on they were more frequent, for May would bring the General
Assembly, and the son was to be one of the speakers. How her heart
throbbed when she read that this was certain now. A few days later when
she happened to read in the daily paper some item about Assembly plans
and discovered for the first time that it was to meet in New York, she
found herself in a flutter of joy. Would it be possible for her to hear
him speak? That was the great question that kept coming and going in
her mind. Could she arrange it so that she would be sure to be off duty
when his time came to speak? How could she find out about it all?
Thereafter her interest in the church news of the daily papers became
Then spring came on with its languid air and the hard round of work,
with often a call to watch when overcome with weariness, or to do some
unaccustomed task that tried her undisciplined soul. But the papers
were full of the coming Assembly, and at last the program and his name!
She laid her plans most carefully, but the case she had been put
upon that week was very low, dying, and the woman had taken a fancy to
her and begged her to stay by her till the end. It was a part of the
new Hazel that she stayed, though her heart rose up in protest and
tears of disappointment would keep coming to her eyes. The head nurse
marked them with disapproval and told the house doctor that Radcliffe
would never make much of a nurse; she had no control over her emotions.
Death came, almost too late, and set her free for the afternoon, but
it was but half an hour to the time set for his speech, she was three
miles from the place of meeting and still in her uniform. It was almost
foolish to try. Nevertheless she hurried to her room and slipped into a
plain little street suit, the thing that would go on quickest, and was
It seemed as though every cab and car and mode of transit had
conspired to hinder her, and five minutes before the time set for the
next speech she hurried breathless into the dim hallway of a great
crowded church, and pressed up the stairs to the gallery, through the
silent leather doors that could scarcely swing open for the crowd
inside them, and heard at lasthis voice!
She was away up at the top of the gallery. Men and women were
standing close all about her. She could not catch even a glimpse of the
platform with its array of noble men whose consecration and power and
intellects had made them great religious leaders. She could not see the
young commanding figure standing at the edge of the platform, nor catch
the flash of his brown eyes as he held the audience in his power while
he told the simple story of his Western work; but she could hear the
voice, and it went straight to her lonely, sorrowful heart. Straightway
the church with its mass of packed humanity, its arched and carven
ceiling, its magnificent stained-glass windows, its wonderful organ and
costly fittings, faded from her sight, and overhead there arched a dome
of dark blue pierced with stars, and mountains in the distance with a
canyon opening, and a flickering fire. She heard the voice speak from
its natural setting, though her eyes were closed and full of tears.
He finished his story amid a breathless silence on the part of his
audience, and then with scarcely a break in his voice spoke to God in
one of his uplifting prayers. The girl, trembling, almost sobbing, felt
herself included in the prayer, felt again the protection of an unseen
Presence, felt the benediction in his voice as he said, Amen, and
echoed its utmost meaning in her soul.
The audience was still hushed as the speaker turned to go to his
seat at the back of the platform. A storm of applause had been made
impossible by that prayer, for heaven opened with the words and God
looked down and had to do with each soul present. But the applause
burst forth after all in a moment, for the speaker had whispered a few
words to the moderator and was hurrying from the platform. There were
cries of, Don't go! Tell us more! Keep on till six o'clock! Hazel
could not see a thing though she stretched her neck and stood upon the
tips of her toes, but she clasped her hands tightly together when the
applause came, and her heart echoed every sound.
The clamour ceased a moment as the moderator raised his hand, and
explained that the brother to whom they had all been listening with
such pleasure would be glad to speak to them longer, but that he was
hastening away to take the train to see his invalid mother who had been
waiting for two long years for her boy. A pause, a great sigh of
sympathy and disappointment, and then the applause burst forth again,
and continued till the young missionary had left the church.
Hazel, in bitter disappointment, turned and slipped out. She had not
caught a glimpse of his beloved face. She exulted that she had heard
the honour given him, been a part of those who rejoiced in his power
and consecration, but she could not have him go without having at least
one look at him.
She hurried blindly down the stairs, out to the street, and saw a
carriage standing before the door. The carriage door had just been
closed, but as she gazed he turned and looked out for an instant,
lifting his hat in farewell to a group of ministers who stood on the
church steps. Then the carriage whirled him away and the world grew
She had been behind the men on the steps, just within the shadow of
the dim doorway. He had not seen her, and of course would not have
recognized her if he had; yet now she realized that she had
hopedohwhat had she not hoped from meeting him here!
But he was gone, and it might be years before he came East again. He
had utterly put her from his life. He would not think of her again if
he did come! Oh, the loneliness of a world like this! Why, oh why, had
she ever gone to the desert to learn the emptiness of her life, when
there was no other for her anywhere!
The days that followed were very sad and hard. The only thought that
helped now was that she too had tried to give her life for something
worth while as he had done, and perhaps it might be accepted. But there
was a deep unrest in her soul now, a something that she knew she had
not got that she longed inexpressibly to have. She had learned to cook
and to nurse. She was not nearly so useless as when she rode all
care-free upon the desert. She had overcome much of her unworthiness.
But there was still one great obstacle which unfitted her for
companionship and partnership with the man of the desert. She had not
the something in her heart and life that was the source and centre of
self-sacrifice. She was still unworthy.
There was a long letter about the first of June from her friend in
New Hampshire, more shakily written, she fancied, than those that had
come before, and then there came an interval without any reply to hers.
She had little time, however, to worry about it, for the weather was
unusually warm and the hospital was full. Her strength was taxed to its
utmost to fill her round of daily duties. Aunt Maria scolded and
insisted on a vacation, and finally in high dudgeon betook herself to
Europe for the summer. The few friends with whom Hazel kept up any
intercourse hurried away to mountains or sea, and the summer settled
down to business.
And now in the hot, hot nights when she lay upon her small bed, too
weary almost to sleep, she would fancy she heard again that voice as he
spoke in the church, or longer ago in the desert; and sometimes she
could think she felt the breeze of the desert night upon her hot
The head nurse and the house doctor decided Radcliffe needed a
change and suggested a few days at the shore with a convalescing
patient, but Hazel's heart turned from the thought, and she insisted
upon sticking to her post. She clung to the thought that she could at
least be faithful. It was what he would do, and in so much she would be
like him, and worthy of his love.
It was the last thought in her mind before she fainted on the broad
marble staircase with a tiny baby in her arms, and fell to the bottom.
The baby was uninjured, but it took a long time to bring the nurse back
to consciousness, and still longer to put heart into her again.
She isn't fit for the work! she heard the biting tongue of the
head nurse declare. She's too frail and pretty andemotional. She
feels everybody's troubles. Now I never let a case worry me in the
least! And the house doctor eyed her knowingly and said in his heart:
Any one would know that.
But Hazel, listening, was more disheartened than ever. Then here,
too, she was failing and was adjudged unworthy!
The next morning there came a brief, blunt note from Amelia Ellen:
Dear Mis Raclift Ef yore a trainurse why don't yo cum an' take car o'
my Mis Brownleigh She aint long fer heer an she's wearyin to see yo She
as gotta hev one, a trainurse I mean Yors respectfooly Amelia Ellen
After an interview with the house doctor and another with her old
family physician, Hazel packed up her uniforms and departed for New
It was the evening of her arrival, after the gentle invalid had been
prepared for sleep and left in the quiet and dark, that Amelia Ellen
told the story:
She ain't ben the same since John went back. Seems like she sort o'
sensed thet he wouldn't come again while she was livin'. She tole me
the next day a lot of things she wanted done after she was gone, and
she's ben gettin' ready to leave this earth ever since. Not that she's
gloomy, oh, my senses no! She's jes' as interested as can be in her
flowers, and in folks, an' the church, but she don't want to try to do
so many things, and she has them weak, fainty spells oftener, an' more
pain in her heart. She sits fer long hours with jest her Bible open
now, but land, she don't need to read it! She knows it most by
heartthat is the livin' parts, you know. She don't seem to care 'tall
fer them magazine articles now any more. I wish t' the land they'd be
anuther Gen'l 'Sembly! Thet was the greatest thing fer her. She jest
acted like she was tendin' every blessed one o' them meetin's. Why, she
couldn't wait fer me t' git done my breakfast dishes. She'd want me t'
fix her up fer the day, an' then set down an' read their doin's. 'We
kin let things go, you know, 'Meelia Ellen,' she'd say with her sweet
little smile, 'just while the meetin's last. Then when it's over
they'll be time 'nough fer workan' rest too, 'Meelia Ellen,' says
she. Well, seems like she was just 'tendin' those meetin's herself,
same es if she was there. She'd take her nap like it was a pill, er
somethin', and then be wide awake an' ready fer her afternoon
freshenin', an' then she'd watch fer the stage to bring the evenin'
paper. John, he hed a whole cartload o' papers sent, an' the day he
spoke they was so many I jes' couldn't get my bread set. I hed to borry
a loaf off the inn. First time that's ever happened to me either. I
jest hed to set an' read till my back ached, and my eyes swum. I never
read so much in my whole borned days t' oncet; an' I've done a good bit
o' readin' in my time, too, what with nursin' her an' bein' companion
to a perfessor's invaleed daughter one summer.
Wal, seems like she jest went on an' on, gettin' workeder-up an'
workeder-up, till the 'Sembly closed, an' he come; and she was clear to
the top o' the heap all them three weeks whilst he was here. Why, I
never seen her so bright since when I was a little girl an' went to her
Sunday-school class, an' she wore a poke bonnet trimmed with
lute-string ribbon an' a rose inside. Talk 'bout rosesthey wasn't one
in the garden as bright an' pink as her two cheeks, an' her eyes shone
jest fer all the world like his. I was terrible troubled lest she'd
break down, but she didn't. She got brighter an' brighter. Let him take
her out ridin', an' let him carry her into the orchard an' lay her down
under the apple boughs where she could reach a wild strawberry herself.
Why, she hedn't ben off'n the porch sence he went away two years ago.
But every day he stayed she got brighter. The last day 'fore he left
she seemed like she wasn't sick at all. She wanted to get up early, an'
she wouldn't take no nap, 'cause she said she couldn't waste a minute
of the last day. Well, she actu'lly got on her feet oncet an' made him
walk her crost the porch. She hedn't ben on her feet fer more'n a
minute fer ten months, an' 'twas more'n she could stan'. She was jest
as bright an' happy all thet day, an' when he went 'way she waved her
hand as happy like an' smiled an' said she was glad to be able to send
him back to his work. But she never said a word about his comin' back.
He kep' sayin' he would come back next spring, but she only smiled, an'
tole him he might not be able to leave his work, an' 'twas all right.
She wanted him to be faithful.
Well, he went, an' the coach hedn't no more'n got down the hill an'
up again an' out o' sight behind the bridge 'fore she calls to me an'
she says, ''Meelia Ellen, I believe I'm tired with all the goin's on
there's been, an' if you don't mind I think I'll take a nap.' So I
helps her into her room and fixes her into her night things an' thur
she's laid ever since, an' it's six whole weeks ef it's a day. Every
mornin' fer a spell I'd go in an' say, 'Ain't you ready fer me to fix
you fer the day, Mis' Brownleigh?' An' she'd jest smile an' say, 'Well,
I b'leeve not just now, 'Meelia Ellen. I think I'll just rest to-day
yet. Maybe I'll feel stronger to-morrow'; but to-morrow never comes,
an' it's my thinkin' she'll never git up agin.
The tears were streaming down the good woman's cheeks now and
Hazel's eyes were bright with tears too. She had noticed the
transparency of the delicate flesh, the frailness of the wrinkled
hands. The woman's words brought conviction to her heart also.
What does the doctor say? she asked, catching at a hope.
Well, he ain't much fer talk, said Amelia Ellen lifting her
tear-stained face from her gingham apron where it had been bowed. It
seems like them two hev just got a secret between 'em thet they won't
say nothin' 'bout it. Seems like he understands, and knows she don't
want folks to talk about it nor worry 'bout her.
But her son faltered Hazel. He ought to be told!
Yes, but 'tain't no use; she won't let yeh. I ast her oncet didn't
she want me to write him to come an' make her a little visit just to
chirk her up, and she shook her head and looked real frightened, and
she says: ''Meelia Ellen, don't you never go to sendin' fer him 'thout
lettin' me know. I should not like it 'tall. He's out there
doin' his work, an' I'm happier havin' him at it. A missionary can't
take time traipsin' round the country every time a relative gets a
little down. I'm jest perfectly all right, 'Meelia Ellen, only I went
pretty hard durin' 'Sembly week, and when John was here, an' I'm
restin' up fer a while. If I want John sent fer I'll tell you, but
don't you go to doin' it 'fore!' An' I really b'leeve she'd be mad
at me if I did. She lots a good deal on givin' her son, an' it would
sort o' spoil her sakkerfize, I s'pose, to hev him come back every time
she hungers fer him. I b'leeve in my heart she's plannin' to slip away
quiet and not bother him to say good-bye. It jest looks thet way to
But the next few days the invalid brightened perceptibly, and Hazel
began to be reassured. Sweet converse they had together, and the girl
heard the long pleasant story of the son's visit home as the mother
dwelt lovingly upon each detail, telling it over and over, until the
listener felt that every spot within sight of the invalid's window was
fragrant with his memory. She enjoyed the tale as much as the teller,
and knew just how to give the answer that one loving woman wants from
another loving woman when they speak of the beloved.
Then when the story all was told over and over and there was nothing
more to tell except the pleasant recalling of a funny speech, or some
tender happening, Hazel began to ask deeper questions about the things
of life and eternity; and step by step the older woman led her in the
path she had led her son through all the years of his childhood.
During this time she seemed to grow stronger again. There were days
when she sat up for a little while, and let them put the meals on a
tiny swinging table by her chair; and she took a deep interest in
leading the girl to a heavenly knowledge. Every day she asked for her
writing materials and wrote for a little while; yet Hazel noticed that
she did not send all that she had written in the envelope of the weekly
letters, but laid it away carefully in her writing portfolio as if it
were something yet unfinished.
And one evening in late September, when the last rays of the sunset
were lying across the foot of the wheeled chair, and Amelia Ellen was
building a bit of a fire in the fireplace because it seemed chilly, the
mother called Hazel to her and handed her a letter sealed and addressed
to her son.
Dear, she said gently, I want you to take this letter and put it
away carefully and keep it until I am gone, and then I want you to
promise that, if possible for you to do it, you will give it to my son
with your own hands.
Hazel took the letter reverently, her heart filled with awe and
sorrow and stooped anxiously over her friend. Oh, whyshe
criedwhat is the matter? Do you feel worse to-night? You have seemed
so bright all day.
Not a bit, said the invalid cheerily. But I have been writing
this for a long timea sort of good-bye to my boyand there is nobody
in the world I would like to have give it to him as well as you. Will
it trouble you to promise me, my dear?
Hazel with kisses and tears protested that she would be glad to
fulfill the mission, but begged that she might be allowed to send for
the beloved son at once, for a sight of his face, she knew, would be
good to his mother.
At last her fears were allayed, though she was by no means sure that
the son ought not to be sent for, and when the invalid was happily gone
to sleep, Hazel went to her room and tried to think how she might write
a letter that would not alarm the young man, while yet it would bring
him to his mother's side. She planned how she would go away herself for
a few days, so that he need not find her here. She wrote several stiff
little notes but none of them satisfied her. Her heart longed to write:
Oh, my dear! Come quickly, for your beloved mother needs you. Come,
for my heart is crying out for the sight of you! Come at once! But
finally before she slept she sealed and addressed a dignified letter
from Miss Radcliffe, his mother's trained nurse, suggesting that he
make at least a brief visit at this time as she must be away for a few
days, and she felt that his presence would be a wise thing. His mother
did not seem so well as when he was with her. Then she lay down
comforted to sleep. But the letter was never sent.
In the early dawn of the morning, when the faithful Amelia Ellen
slipped from her couch in the alcove just off the invalid's room, and
went to touch a match to the carefully laid fire in the fireplace, she
passed the bed and, as had been her custom for years, glanced to see if
all was well with her patient; at once she knew that the sweet spirit
of the mother had fled.
With her face slightly turned away, a smile of good-night upon her
lips, and the peace of God upon her brow, the mother had entered into
XIII. THE CALL OF THE DESERT
Hazel, with her eyes blinded with tears and her heart swelling with
the loss of the woman upon whose motherliness she had come to feel a
claim, burned the letter she had written the night before, and sent a
carefully worded telegram, her heart yearning with sympathy towards the
Your dear mother has gone home, quietly, in her sleep. She did not
seem any worse than usual, and her last words were of you. Let us know
at once what plans we shall make. Nurse Radcliffe. That was the
telegram she sent.
Poor Amelia Ellen was all broken up. Her practical common sense for
once had fled her. She would do nothing but weep and moan for the
beloved invalid whom she had served so long and faithfully. It fell to
Hazel to make all decisions, though the neighbours and old friends were
most kind with offers of help. Hazel waited anxiously for an answer to
the telegram, but night fell and no answer had come. There had been a
storm and something was wrong with the wires. The next morning,
however, she sent another telegram, and about noon still a third, with
as yet no response. She thought perhaps he had not waited to telegraph
but had started immediately, and might be with them in a few hours. She
watched the evening stage, but he did not come; then realized how her
heart was in a flutter, and wondered how she would have had strength to
meet him had he come. There was the letter from his mother, and her
promise. She had that excuse for her presenceof course she could not
have left under the circumstances. Yet she shrank from the meeting, for
it seemed somehow a breach of etiquette that she should be the one to
break the separation that he had chosen should be between them.
However, he did not come, and the third morning, when it became
imperative that something definite should be known, a telegram to the
station agent in Arizona brought answer that the missionary was away on
a long trip among some tribes of Indians; that his exact whereabouts
was not known, but messengers had been sent after him, and word would
be sent as soon as possible. The minister and the old neighbours
advised with Amelia Ellen and Hazel, and made simple plans for the
funeral, yet hoped and delayed as long as possible, and when at last
after repeated telegrams there still came the answer, Messenger not
yet returned, they bore the worn-out body of the woman to a quiet
resting place beside her beloved husband in the churchyard on the
hillside where the soft maples scattered bright covering over the new
mound, and the sky arched high with a kind of triumphant reminder of
where the spirit was gone.
Hazel tried to have every detail just as she thought he would have
liked it. The neighbours brought of their homely flowers in great
quantities, and some city friends who had been old summer boarders sent
hot-house roses. The minister conducted the beautiful service of faith,
and the village children sang about the casket of their old friend, who
had always loved every one of them, their hands full of the late
flowers from her own garden, bright scarlet and blue and gold, as
though it were a joyous occasion. Indeed, Hazel had the impression,
even as she moved in the hush of the presence of death, that she was
helping at some solemn festivity of deep joy instead of a funeralso
glorious had been the hope of the one who was gone, so triumphant her
faith in her Saviour.
After the funeral was over Hazel sat down and wrote a letter telling
about it all, filling it with sympathy, trying to show their effort to
have things as he would have liked them, and expressing deep sorrow
that they had been compelled to go on with the service without him.
That night there came a message from the Arizona station agent. The
missionary had been found in a distant Indian hogan with a dislocated
ankle. He sent word that they must not wait for him; that he would get
there in time, if possible. A later message the next day said he was
still unable to travel, but would get to the railroad as soon as
possible. Then came an interval of several days without any word from
Hazel went about with Amelia Ellen, putting the house in order,
hearing the beautiful plaint of the loving-hearted, mourning servant as
she told little incidents of her mistress. Here was the chair she sat
in the last time she went up-stairs to oversee the spring regulating,
and that was Mr. John's little baby dress in which he was christened.
His mother smoothed it out and told her the story of his baby
loveliness one day. She had laid it away herself in the box with the
blue shoes and the crocheted cap. It was the last time she ever came
There was the gray silk dress she wore to weddings and dinner
parties before her husband died, and beneath it in the trunk was the
white embroidered muslin that was her wedding gown. Yellow with age it
was, and delicate as a spider's web, with frostwork of yellowed
broidery strewn quaintly on its ancient form, and a touch of real lace.
Hazel laid a reverent hand on the fine old fabric, and felt, as she
looked through the treasures of the old trunk, that an inner sanctuary
of sweetness had been opened for her glimpsing.
At last a letter came from the West.
It was addressed to Miss Radcliffe, Nurse, in Brownleigh's firm,
clear hand, and began: Dear madam. Hazel's hand trembled as she
opened it, and the dear madam brought the tears to her eyes; but
then, of course, he did not know.
He thanked her, with all the kindliness and courtliness of his
mother's son, for her attendance on his dear mother, and told her of
many pleasant things his mother had written of her ministrations. He
spoke briefly of his being laid up lamed in the Indian reservation and
his deep grief that he had been unable to come East to be beside his
mother during her last hours, but went on to say that it had been his
mother's wish, many times expressed, that he should not leave his post
to come to her, and that there need be no sadness of farewell when
she embarked, and that though it was hard for him he knew it was a
fulfillment of his mother's desires. And now that she was gone, and the
last look upon her dear face was impossible, he had decided that he
could not bear it just yet to come home and see all the dear familiar
places with her face gone. He would wait a little while, until he had
grown used to the thought of her in heaven, and then it would not be so
hard. Perhaps he would not come home until next spring, unless
something called him; he could not tell. And in any case, his injured
ankle prevented him making the journey at present, no matter how much
he may desire to do so. Miss Radcliffe's letter had told him that
everything had been done just as he would have had it done. There was
nothing further to make it a necessity that he should come. He had
written to his mother's lawyer to arrange his mother's few business
affairs, and it only remained for him to express his deep gratitude
towards those who had stood by his dear mother when it had been made
impossible for him to do so. He closed with a request that the nurse
would give him her permanent address that he might be sure to find her
when he found it possible to come East again, as he would enjoy
thanking her face to face for what she had been to his mother.
That was all.
Hazel felt a blank dizziness settle down over her as she finished
the letter. It put him miles away from her again, with years perhaps
before another sight of him. She suddenly seemed fearfully alone in a
world that no longer interested her. Where should she go; what to do
with her life now? Back to the hard grind of the hospital with nobody
to care, and the heartrending scenes and tragedies that were daily
enacted? Somehow her strength seemed to go from her at the thought.
Here, too, she had failed. She was not fit for the life, and the
hospital people had discovered it and sent her away to nurse her friend
and try to get well. They had been kind and talked about when she
should return to them, but she knew in her heart they felt her unfit
and did not want her back.
Should she go back to her home, summon her brother and aunt, and
plunge into society again? The very idea sickened her. Never again
would she care for that life, she was certain. As she searched her
heart to see what it was she really craved, if anything in the whole
wide world, she found her only interest was in the mission field of
Arizona, and now that her dear friend was gone she was cut off from
knowing anything much about that.
She gathered herself together after a while and told Amelia Ellen of
the decision of Mr. Brownleigh, and together they planned how the house
should be closed, and everything put in order to await its master's
will to return. But that night Hazel could not sleep, for suddenly, in
the midst of her sad reflections, came the thought of the letter that
was left in her trust.
It had been forgotten during the strenuous days that had followed
the death of its writer. Hazel had thought of it only once, and that on
the first morning, with a kind of comforting reflection that it would
help the son to bear his sorrow, and she was glad that it was her
privilege to put it into his hand. Then the perplexities of the
occasion had driven it from her thoughts. Now it came back like a swift
light in a dark place. There was yet the letter which she must give
him. It was a precious bond that would hold him to her for a little
while longer. But how should she give it to him?
Should she send it by mail? No, for that would not be fulfilling the
letter of her promise. She knew the mother wished her to give it to him
herself. Well, then, should she write and summon him to his old home at
once, tell him of the letter and yet refuse to send it to him? How
strange that would seem! How could she explain it to him? His mother's
whim might be sacred to himwould be, of coursebut he would think it
strange that a young woman should make so much of it as not to trust
the letter to the mail now that the circumstances made it impossible
for him to come on at once.
Neither would it do for her to keep the letter until such a time as
he should see fit to return to the East and look her up. It might be
The puzzling question kept whirling itself about in her mind for
hours until at last she formulated a plan which seemed to solve the
The plan was this. She would coax Amelia Ellen to take a trip to
California with her, and on the way they would stop in Arizona and give
the letter into the hands of the young man. By that time no doubt his
injured ankle would be sufficiently strong to allow his return from the
journey to the Indian reservation. She would say that she was going
West and, as she had promised his mother she would put the letter into
his hands, she had taken this opportunity to stop off and keep her
promise. The trip would be a good thing for Amelia Ellen too, and take
her mind off her loneliness for the mistress who was gone.
Eagerly she broached the subject to Amelia Ellen the next morning,
and was met with a blank face of dismay.
I couldn't noways you'd fix it, my dearie, she said sadly shaking
her head. I'd like nuthin' better'n to see them big trees out in
Californy I've been hearin' 'bout all my life; an' summer an' winter
with snow on the mountains what some of the boarders 't the inn tells
'bout; but I can't bring it 'bout. You see it's this way. Peter Burley
'n' I ben promused fer nigh on to twelve year now, an' when he ast me I
said no, I couldn't leave Mis' Brownleigh long's she needed me; an' he
sez will I marry him the week after she dies, an' I sez I didn't like
no sech dismal way o' puttin' it; an' he sez well, then, will I marry
him the week after she don't need me no more; an' I sez yes, I will,
an' now I gotta keep my promus! I can't go back on my faithful word.
I'd like real well to see them big trees, but I gotta keep my promus!
You see he's waited long 'nough, an' he's ben real patient. Not always
he cud get to see me every week, an' he might 'a' tuk Delmira that
cooked to the inn five year ago. She'd 'a' had him in a minnit, an' she
done her best to git him, but he stayed faithful, an' he sez, sez he,
''Meelia El'n, ef you're meanin' to keep your word, I'll wait ef it's a
lifetime, but I hope you won't make it any longer'n you need;' an' the
night he said that I promused him agin I'd be hisn soon ez ever I was
free to do's I pleased. I'd like to see them big trees, but I can't do
it. I jes' can't do it.
Now Hazel was not a young woman who was easily balked in her plans
when once they were made. She was convinced that the only thing to do
was to take this trip and that Amelia Ellen was the only person in the
world she wanted for a companion; therefore she made immediate
acquaintance with Peter Burley, a heavy-browed, thoughtful, stolid man,
who looked his character of patient lover, every inch of him, blue
overalls and all. Hazel's heart almost misgave her as she unfolded her
plan to his astonished ears, and saw the look of blank dismay that
overspread his face. However, he had not waited all these years to
refuse his sweetheart anything in reason now. He drew a deep sigh,
inquired how long the trip as planned would take, allowed he could
wait another month ef that would suit, and turned patiently to his
barn-yard to think his weary thoughts, and set his hopes a little
further ahead. Then Hazel's heart misgave her. She called after him and
suggested that perhaps he might like to have the marriage first and go
with them, taking the excursion as a wedding trip. She would gladly pay
all expenses if he would. But the man shook his head.
I couldn't leave the stock fer that long, ennyhow you fix it. Thur
ain't no one would know to take my place. Besides, I never was fer
takin' journeys; but 'Meelia Ellen, she's allus ben of a sprightlier
disposition, an' ef she hez a hankerin' after Californy, I 'spect
she'll be kinder more contented like ef she sees 'em first an' then
settles down in Granville. She better go while she's got the chancet.
Amelia Ellen succumbed, albeit with tears. Hazel could not tell
whether she was more glad or sad at the prospect before her. Whiles
Amelia Ellen wept and bemoaned the fate of poor Burley, and whiles she
questioned whether there really were any big trees like what you saw in
the geographies with riding parties sitting contentedly in tunnels
through their trunks. But at last she consented to go, and with many an
injunction from the admiring and envious neighbours who came to see
them off, Amelia Ellen bade a sobbing good-bye to her solemn lover in
the gray dawn of an October morning, climbed into the stage beside
Hazel, and they drove away into the mystery of the great world. As she
looked back at her Peter, standing patient, stooped and gray in the
familiar village street, looking after his departing sweetheart who was
going out sightseeing into the world, Amelia Ellen would almost have
jumped out over the wheel and run back if it had not been for what the
neighbours would say, for her heart was Burley's; and now that the big
trees were actually pulling harder than Burley, and she had decided to
go and see them, Burley began by his very acquiescence to pull harder
than the big trees. It was a very teary Amelia Ellen who climbed into
the train a few hours later, looking back dismally, hopelessly, towards
the old stage they had just left, and wondering after all if she ever
would get back to Granville safe and alive again. Strange fears visited
her of dangers that might come to Burley during her absence, which if
they did she would never forgive herself for having left him; strange
horrors of the way of things that might hinder her return; and she
began to regard her hitherto beloved travelling companion with almost
suspicion, as if she were a conspirator against her welfare.
However, as the miles grew and the wonders of the way multiplied,
Amelia Ellen began to sit up and take notice, and to have a sort of
excited exultance that she had come; for were they not nearing the
great famed West now, and would it not soon be time to see the big
trees and turn back home again? She was almost glad she had come. She
would be wholly glad she had done so when she had got back safely home
And so one evening about sunset they arrived at the little station
in Arizona which over a year ago Hazel had left in her father's private
Amelia Ellen, stiff from the unaccustomed travel, powdered with the
dust of the desert, wearied with the excitement of travel and lack of
sleep amid her strange surroundings, stepped down upon the wooden
platform and surveyed the magnificent distance between herself and
anywhere; observed the vast emptiness, with awful purpling mountains
and limitless stretches of vari-coloured ground arched by a dome of
sky, higher and wider and more dazzling than her stern New Hampshire
soul had ever conceived, and turned panic-stricken back to the train
which was already moving away from the little station. Her first
sensation had been one of relief at feeling solid ground under her feet
once more, for this was the first trip into the world Amelia Ellen had
ever made, and the cars bewildered her. Her second impulse was to get
back into that train as fast as her feet could carry her and get this
awful journey done so that she might earn the right to return to her
quiet home and her faithful lover.
But the train was well under way. She looked after it half in envy.
It could go on with its work and not have to stop in this wild waste.
She gazed about again with the frightened look a child deserted
gives before it puckers its lips and screams.
Hazel was talking composedly with the rough-looking man on the
platform, who wore a wide felt hat and a pistol in his belt. He didn't
look even respectable to Amelia Ellen's provincial eyes. And behind
him, horror of horrors! loomed a real live Indian, long hair, high
cheek bones, blanket and all, just as she had seen them in the
geography! Her blood ran cold! Why, oh why, had she ever been left to
do this daring thingto leave civilization and come away from her good
man and the quiet home awaiting her to certain death in the desert. All
the stories of horrid scalpings she had ever heard appeared before her
excited vision. With a gasp she turned again to the departing train,
which had become a mere speck on the desert, and even as she looked
vanished around a curve and was lost in the dim foot-hills of a
Poor Amelia Ellen! Her head reeled and her heart sank. The vast
prairie engulfed her, as it were, and she stood trembling and staring
in dazed expectancy of an attack from earth or air or sky. The very sky
and ground seemed tottering together and threatening to extinguish her,
and she closed her eyes, caught her breath and prayed for Peter. It had
been her habit always in any emergency to pray for Peter Burley.
It was no better when they took her to the eating-house across the
track. She picked her way among the evil-looking men, and surveyed the
long dining table with its burden of coarse food and its board seats
with disdain, declined to take off her hat when she reached the room to
which the slatternly woman showed them because she said there was no
place to lay it down that was fit; scorned the simple bed, refused to
wash her hands at the basin furnished for all, and made herself more
disagreeable than Hazel had dreamed her gentle, serviceable Amelia
Ellen ever could have been. No supper would she eat, nor would she
remain long at the table after the men began to file in, with curious
eyes towards the strangers.
She stalked to the rough, unroofed porch in the front and stared off
at the dark vastness, afraid of the wild strangeness, afraid of the
looming mountains, afraid of the multitude of stars. She said it was
ridiculous to have so many stars. It wasn't natural. It was irreverent.
It was like looking too close into heaven when you weren't intended to.
And then a blood-curdling sound arose! It made her very hair stand
on end. She turned with wild eyes and grasped Hazel's arm, but she was
too frightened to utter a sound. Hazel had just come out to sit with
her. The men out of deference to the strangers had withdrawn from their
customary smoking place on the porch to the back of the wood-pile
behind the house. They were alonethe two womenout there in the
dark, with that awful, awful sound!
Amelia Ellen's white lips framed the words Indians? War-whoop?
but her throat refused her sound and her breath came short.
Coyotes! laughed Hazel, secure in her wide experience, with almost
a joyous ring to her voice. The sound of those distant beasts assured
her that she was in the land of her beloved at last and her soul
Coyoh but Amelia Ellen's voice was lost in the recesses of
her skimpy pillow whither she had fled to bury her startled ears. She
had heard of coyotes, but she had never imagined to hear one outside of
a zoölogical garden, of which she had read and always hoped one day to
visit. There she lay on her hard little bed and quaked until Hazel,
laughing still, came to find her; but all she could get from the poor
soul was a pitiful plaint about Burley. And what would he say if I was
to be et with one of them creatures? He'd never forgive me, never,
never s'long 's I lived! I hadn't ough' to 'a' come. I hadn't ough' to
Nothing Hazel could say would allay her fears. She listened with
horror as the girl attempted to show how harmless the beasts were by
telling of her own night ride up the canyon, and how nothing harmed
her. Amelia Ellen merely looked at her with frozen glance made fiercer
by the flickering candle flare, and answered dully: An' you knew 'bout
'em all 'long, an' yet you brung me! It ain't what I thought you'd do!
Burley, he'll never fergive me s'long 's I live ef I get et up. It
ain't ez if I was all alone in the world, you know. I got him to think
of an' I can't afford to run no resks of bein' et, ef you can.
Not a wink of sleep did she get that night and when the morning
dawned and to the horrors of the night were added a telegram from a
neighbour of Burley's saying that Burley had fallen from the haymow and
broken his leg, but he sent his respects and hoped they'd have a good
journey, Amelia Ellen grew uncontrollable. She declared she would not
stay in that awful country another minute. That she would take the
first train backback to her beloved New Hampshire which she never
again would leave so long as her life was spared, unless Burley went
along. She would not even wait until Hazel had delivered her message.
How could two lone women deliver a message in a land like that? Never,
never would she ride, drive or walk, no, nor even set foot on the
sand of the desert. She would sit by the track until a train came along
and she would not even look further than she need. The frenzy of fear
which sometimes possesses simple people at sight of a great body of
water, or a roaring torrent pouring over a precipice, had taken
possession of her at sight of the desert. It filled her soul with its
immensity, and poor Amelia Ellen had a great desire to sit down on the
wooden platform and grasp firm hold of something until a train came to
rescue her from this awful emptiness which had tried to swallow her up.
Poor Peter, with his broken leg, was her weird cry! One would think
she had broken it with the wheels of the car in which she had travelled
away from him by the way she took on about it and blamed herself. The
tragedy of a broken vow and its consequences was the subject of her
discourse. Hazel laughed, then argued, and finally cried and besought;
but nothing could avail. Go she would, and that speedily, back to her
When it became evident that arguments and tears were of no use and
that Amelia Ellen was determined to go home with or without her, Hazel
withdrew to the front porch and took counsel with the desert in its
morning brightness, with the purple luring mountains, and the smiling
sky. Go back on the train that would stop at the station in half an
hour, with the desert there, and the wonderful land, and its strange,
wistful people, and not even see a glimpse of him she loved? Go back
with the letter still in her possession and her message still ungiven?
Never! Surely she was not afraid to stay long enough to send for him.
The woman who had fed them and sheltered them for the night would be
her protector. She would stay. There must be some woman of refinement
and culture somewhere near by to whom she could go for a few days until
her errand was performed; and what was her training in the hospital
worth if it did not give her some independence? Out here in the wild
free West women had to protect themselves. She could surely stay in the
uncomfortable quarters where she was for another day until she could
get word to the missionary. Then she could decide whether to proceed on
her journey alone to California, or to go back home. There was really
no reason why she should not travel alone if she chose; plenty of young
women did and, anyway, the emergency was not of her choosing. Amelia
Ellen would make herself sick fretting over her Burley, that was plain,
if she were detained even a few hours. Hazel came back to the nearly
demented Amelia Ellen with her chin tilted firmly and a straight little
set of her sweet lips which betokened stubbornness. The train came in a
brief space of time, and, weeping but firm, Amelia Ellen boarded it,
dismayed at the thought of leaving her dear young lady, yet stubbornly
determined to go. Hazel gave her the ticket and plenty of money,
charged the conductor to look after her, waved a brave farewell and
turned back to the desert alone.
A brief conference with the woman who had entertained them, who was
also the wife of the station agent, brought out the fact that the
missionary was not yet returned from his journey, but a message
received from him a few days before spoke of his probable return on the
morrow or the day after. The woman advised that the lady go to the fort
where visitors were always welcomed and where there were luxuries more
fitted to the stranger's habit. She eyed the dainty apparel of her
guest enviously as she spoke, and Hazel, keenly alive to the meaning of
her look, realized that the woman, like the missionary, had judged her
unfit for life in the desert. She was half determined to stay where she
was until the missionary's return, and show that she could adapt
herself to any surroundings, but she saw that the woman was anxious to
have her gone. It probably put her out to have a guest of another world
than her own.
The woman told her that a trusty Indian messenger was here from the
fort and was riding back soon. If the lady cared she could get a horse
and go under his escort. She opened her eyes in wonder when Hazel asked
if there was to be a woman in the party, and whether she could not
leave her work for a little while and ride over with them if she would
pay her well for the service.
Oh, you needn't bring none o' them fine lady airs out here! she
declared rudely. We-all ain't got time fer no sech foolery. You
needn't be afraid to go back with Joe. He takes care of the women at
the fort. He'll look after you fine. You'll mebbe kin hire a horse to
ride, an' strop yer baggage on. Yer trunk ye kin leave here.
Hazel, half frightened at the position she had allowed herself to be
placed in, considered the woman's words, and when she had looked upon
the Indian's stolid countenance decided to accept his escort. He was an
old man with furrowed face and sad eyes that looked as if they could
tell great secrets, but there was that in his face that made her trust
him, she knew not why.
An hour later, her most necessary baggage strapped to the back of
the saddle on a wicked-looking little pony, Hazel, with a sense of deep
excitement, mounted and rode away behind the solemn, silent Indian. She
was going to the fort to ask shelter, until her errand was
accomplished, of the only women in that region who would be likely to
take her in. She had a feeling that the thing she was doing was a most
wild and unconventional proceeding and would come under the grave
condemnation of her aunt, and all her New York friends. She was most
thankful that they were far away and could not interfere, for somehow
she felt that she must do it anyway. She must put that letter, with her
own hands, into the possession of its owner.
It was a most glorious morning. The earth and the heavens seemed
newly made for the day. Hazel felt a gladness in her soul that would
not down, even when she thought of poor Amelia Ellen crouched in her
corner of the sleeper, miserable at her desertion, yet determined to
go. She thought of the dear mother, and wondered if 'twere given to her
to know now how she was trying to fulfill her last wish. It was
pleasant to think she knew and was glad, and Hazel felt as though her
presence were near and protecting her.
The silent Indian made few remarks. He rode ahead always with a
grave, thoughtful expression, like a student whose thoughts are not to
be disturbed. He nodded gravely in answer to the questions Hazel asked
him whenever they stopped to water the horses, but he volunteered no
information beyond calling her attention to a lame foot her pony was
Several times Joe got down and examined the pony's foot, and shook
his head, with a grunt of worried disapproval. Presently as the miles
went by Hazel began to notice the pony's lameness herself, and became
alarmed lest he would break down altogether in the midst of the desert.
Then what would the Indian do? Certainly not give her his horse and
foot it, as the missionary had done. She could not expect that every
man in this desert was like the one who had cared for her before. What
a foolish girl she had been to get herself into this fix! And now there
was no father to send out search parties for her, and no missionary at
home to find her!
The dust, the growing heat of the day, and the anxiety began to wear
upon her. She was tired and hungry, and when at noon the Indian
dismounted beside a water-hole where the water tasted of sheep who had
passed through but a short time before, and handed her a package of
corn bread and cold bacon, while he withdrew to the company of the
horses for his own siesta, she was feign to put her head down on the
coarse grass and weep for her folly in coming out to this wild country
alone, or at least in being so headstrong as to stay when Amelia Ellen
deserted her. Then the thought suddenly occurred to her: how would
Amelia Ellen have figured in this morning's journey on horseback; and
instead of weeping she fell to laughing almost hysterically.
She munched the corn breadthe bacon she could not eatand
wondered if the woman at the stopping-place had realized what an
impossible lunch she had provided for her guest. However, here was one
of the tests. She was not worth much if a little thing like coarse food
annoyed her so much. She drank some of the bitter water, and bravely
ate a second piece of corn bread and tried to hope her pony would be
all right after his rest. But it was evident after they had gone a mile
or two further that the pony was growing worse. He lagged, and limped,
and stopped, and it seemed almost cruel to urge him further, yet what
could be done? The Indian rode behind now, watching him and speaking in
low grunts to him occasionally, and finally they came in sight of a
speck of a building in the distance. Then the Indian spoke. Pointing
towards the distant building, which seemed too tiny for human
habitation, he said: Aneshodi hogan. Him friend me. Lady stay. Me come
back good horse. Pony no go more. He bad!
Dismay filled the heart of the lady. She gathered that her guide
wished to leave her by the way while he went on for another horse, and
maybe he would return and maybe not. Meantime, what kind of a place was
he leaving her in? Would there be a woman there? Even if she were an
Indian woman that would not be so bad. Aneshodi sounded as if it
might be a woman's name.
Is this Aneshodi a woman? she questioned.
The Indian shook his head and grunted. Na, na. Aneshodi, Aneshodi.
Him friend me. Him good friend. No woman! (In scorn.)
Is there no woman in the house? she asked anxiously.
Na! Him heap good man. Good hogan. Lady stay. Rest.
Suddenly her pony stumbled and nearly fell. She saw that she could
not depend on him for long now.
Couldn't I walk with you? she asked, her eyes pleading. I would
rather walk than stay. Is it far?
The Indian shook his head vigorously.
Lady no walk. Many suns lady walk. Great mile. Lady stay. Me ride
fast. Back sundown, and he pointed to the sun which was even now
beginning its downward course.
Hazel saw there was nothing for it but to do as the Indian said, and
indeed his words seemed reasonable, but she was very much frightened.
What kind of a place was this in which she was to stay? As they neared
it there appeared to be nothing but a little weather-beaten shanty,
with a curiously familiar look, as if she had passed that way before. A
few chickens were picking about the yard, and a vine grew over the
door, but there was no sign of human being about and the desert
stretched wide and barren on every side. Her old fear of its vastness
returned, and she began to have a fellow feeling with Amelia Ellen. She
saw now that she ought to have gone with Amelia Ellen back to
civilization and found somebody who would have come with her on her
errand. But then the letter would have been longer delayed!
The thought of the letter kept up her courage, and she descended
dubiously from her pony's back, and followed the Indian to the door of
the shanty. The vine growing luxuriantly over window and casement and
door frame reassured her somewhat, she could not tell just why. Perhaps
somebody with a sense of beauty lived in the ugly little building, and
a man with a sense of beauty could not be wholly bad. But how was she
to stay alone in a man's house where no woman lived? Perhaps the man
would have a horse to lend or sell them. She would offer any sum he
wanted if she only could get to a safe place.
But the Indian did not knock at the door as she had expected he
would do. Instead he stooped to the lower step, and putting his hand
into a small opening in the woodwork of the step, fumbled there a
minute and presently brought out a key which he fitted into the lock
and threw the door wide open to her astonished gaze.
Him friend me! explained the Indian again.
He walked into the room with the manner of a partial proprietor of
the place, looked about, stooped down to the fireplace where a fire was
neatly laid, and set it blazing up cheerfully; took the water bucket
and filled it, and putting some water into the kettle swung it over the
blaze to heat, then turning, he spoke again:
Lady stay. Me come backsoon. Sun no go down. Me come back; good
horse get lady.
But where is the owner of this house? What will he think of my
being here when he comes back? said Hazel, more frightened than ever
at the prospect of being left. She had not expected to stay entirely
alone. She had counted on finding some one in the house.
Aneshodi way off. Not come back onetwoday mebbe! He know me. He
me friend. Lady stay! All right!
Hazel, her eyes large with fear, watched her protector mount and
ride away. Almost she called after him that he must not leave her; then
she remembered that this was a part of a woman's life in Arizona, and
she was being tried. It was just such things as this the missionary had
meant when he said she was unfit for life out here. She would stay and
bear the loneliness and fright. She would prove, at least to herself,
that she had the courage of any missionary. She would not bear the
ignominy of weakness and failure. It would be a shame to her all her
life to know she had failed in this trying time.
She watched the Indian riding rapidly away as if he were in hot
haste. Once the suspicion crossed her mind that perhaps he had lamed
her horse on purpose, and left her here just to get rid of her. Perhaps
this was the home of some dreadful person who would return soon and do
She turned quickly, with alarm in her heart, to see what manner of
place she was in, for she had been too excited at first over the
prospect of being left to notice it much, save to be surprised that
there were chairs, a fireplace, and a look of comparative comfort. Now
she looked about to find out if possible just what sort of a person the
owner might be, and glancing at the table near the fireplace the first
object her eye fell upon was an open book, and the words that caught
her vision were: He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty!
With a start she turned the book over and found it was a Bible,
bound in plain, strong covers, with large, clear print, and it lay open
as if the owner had been reading it but a short time before and had
been called suddenly away.
With a sigh of relief she sank down in the big chair by the fire and
let the excited tears have their way. Somehow her fear all vanished
with that sentence. The owner of the house could not be very bad when
he kept his Bible about and open to that psalm, her psalm, her
missionary's psalm! And there was assurance in the very words
themselves, as if they had been sent to remind her of her new trust in
an Unseen Power. If she was making the Most High her dwelling place
continually, surely she was under His protection continually, and had
no need to be afraid anywhere, for she was abiding in Him. The thought
gave her a strange new sense of sweetness and safety.
After a moment she sat up wiping away the tears and began to look
around. Perhaps this was the home of some friend of her missionary. She
felt comforted about staying here now. She lifted her eyes to the wall
above the mantel and lo, there smiled the face of her dear friend, the
mother, who had just gone home to heaven, and beneath itas if that
were not enough to bring a throb of understanding and joy to her
heartbeneath it hung her own little jewelled riding whip which she
had left on the desert a year ago and forgotten.
Suddenly, with a cry of joy, she rose and clasped her hands over her
heart, relief and happiness in every line of her face.
It is his home! I have come to his own house! she cried and looked
about her with the joy of discovery. This then was where he
livedthere were his books, here his chair where he sat and rested or
studiedhis hands had left the Bible open at her psalm, his psalm
their psalm! There was his couch over behind the screen, and at the
other end the tiny table and the dishes in the closet! Everything was
in place, and careful neatness reigned, albeit an air of manlike
uncertainty about some things.
She went from one end to the other of the big room and back again,
studying every detail, revelling in the thought that now, whatever came
to her, she might take back with her a picture of himself in his own
quiet room when his work was laid aside for a little, and when, if ever
he had time and allowed himself, he perhaps thought of her.
Time flew on winged feet. With the dear face of her old friend
smiling down upon her and that psalm open beside her on the table, she
never thought of fear. And presently she remembered she was hungry, and
went foraging in the cupboard for something to eat. She found plenty of
supplies, and after she had satisfied her hunger sat down in the great
chair by the fire and looked about her in contentment. With the peace
of the room, his room, upon her, and the sweet old face from the
picture looking down in benediction as if in welcome, she felt happier
than since her father had died.
The quiet of the desert afternoon brooded outside, the fire burned
softly lower and lower at her side, the sun bent down to the west, and
long rays stole through the window and across at her feet, but the
golden head was drooping and the long-lashed eyes were closed. She was
asleep in his chair, and the dying firelight played over her face.
Then, quietly, without any warning, the door opened and a man walked
into the room!
XV. THE WAY OF THE CROSS
The missionary had been a far journey to an isolated tribe of
Indians outside his own reservation. It was his first visit to them
since the journey he had taken with his colleague, and of which he had
told Hazel during their companionship in the desert. He had thought to
go sooner, but matters in his own extended parish, and his trip East,
had united to prevent him.
They had lain upon his heart, these lonely, isolated people of
another age, living amid the past in their ancient houses high up on
the cliffs; a little handful of lonely, primitive children, existing
afar; knowing nothing of God and little of man; with their strange,
simple ways, and their weird appearance. They had come to him in
visions as he prayed, and always with a weight upon his soul as of a
He had taken his first opportunity after his return from the East to
go to them; but it had not been as soon as he had hoped. Matters in
connection with the new church had demanded his attention, and then
when they were arranged satisfactorily one of his flock was smitten
with a lingering illness, and so hung upon his friendship and
companionship that he could not with a clear conscience go far away.
But at last all hindrances subsided and he went forth on his mission.
The Indians had received him gladly, noting his approach from afar
and coming down the steep way to meet him, putting their rude best at
his disposal, and opening their hearts to him. No white man had visited
them since his last coming with his friend, save a trader who had lost
his way, and who knew little about the God of whom the missionary had
spoken, or the Book of Heaven; at least he had not seemed to
understand. Of these things he was as ignorant, perhaps, as they.
The missionary entered into the strange family life of the tribe who
inhabited the vast, many-roomed palace of rock carved high at the top
of the cliff. He laughed with them, ate with them, slept with them, and
in every way gained their full confidence. He played with their little
children, teaching them many new games and amusing tricks, and praising
the quick wits of the little ones; while their elders stood about, the
stolid look of their dusky faces relaxed into smiles of deep interest
And then at night he told them of the God who set the stars above
them; who made the earth and them, and loved them; and of Jesus, His
only Son, who came to die for them and who would not only be their
Saviour, but their loving companion by day and by night; unseen, but
always at hand, caring for each one of His children individually,
knowing their joys and their sorrows. Gradually he made them understand
that he was the servantthe messengerof this Christ, and had come
there for the express purpose of helping them to know their unseen
Friend. Around the camp-fire, under the starry dome, or on the sunny
plain, whenever he taught them they listened, their faces losing the
wild, half-animal look of the uncivilized, and taking on the hidden
longing that all mortals have in common. He saw the humanity in them
looking wistfully through their great eyes, and gave himself to teach
Sometimes as he talked he would lift his face to the sky, and close
his eyes; and they would listen with awe as he spoke to his Father in
heaven. They watched him at first and looked up as if they half
expected to see the Unseen World open before their wondering gaze; but
gradually the spirit of devotion claimed them, and they closed their
eyes with him, and who shall say if the savage prayers within their
breasts were not more acceptable to the Father than many a wordy
petition put up in the temples of civilization?
Seven days and nights he abode with them, and they fain would have
claimed him for their own, and begged him to give up all other places
and live there always. They would give him of their best. He would not
need to work, for they would give him his portion, and make him a home
as he should direct them. In short, they would enshrine him in their
hearts as a kind of under-god, representing to their childish minds the
true and Only One, the knowledge of whom he had brought to them.
But he told them of his work, of why he must go back to it, and
sadly they prepared to bid him good-bye with many an invitation for
return. In going down the cliff, where he had gone with them many a
time before, he turned to wave another farewell to a little child who
had been his special pet, and turning, slipped, and wrenched his ankle
so badly that he could not move on.
They carried him up to their home again, half sorrowful, but wholly
triumphant. He was theirs for a little longer; and there were more
stories he could tell. The Book of Heaven was a large one, and they
wanted to hear it all. They spread his couch of their best, and wearied
themselves to supply his necessity with all that their ignorance
imagined he needed, and then they sat at his feet and listened. The
sprain was a troublesome one and painful, and it yielded to treatment
but slowly; meanwhile the messenger arrived with the telegram from the
They gathered about it, that sheet of yellow paper with its
mysterious scratches upon it, which told such volumes to their friend,
but gave no semblance to sign language of anything in heaven above or
earth beneath. They looked with awe upon their friend as they saw the
anguish in his countenance. His mother was dead! This man who had loved
her, and had left her to bring them news of salvation, was suffering.
It was one more bond between them, one more tie of common humanity. And
yet he could look up and smile, and still speak to the invisible
Father! They saw his face as it were the face of an angel with the
light of the comfort of Christ upon it; and when he read to them and
tried to make them understand the majestic words: O death, where is
thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? they sat and looked afar
off, and thought of the ones that they had lost. This man said they
would all live again. His mother would live; the chief they had lost
last year, the bravest and youngest chief of all their tribe, he would
live too; their little children would live; all they had lost would
So, when he would most have wished to be alone with his God and his
sorrow, he must needs lay aside his own bitter grief, and bring these
childish people consolation for their griefs, and in doing so the
comfort came to him also. For somehow, looking into their longing
faces, and seeing their utter need, and how eagerly they hung upon his
words, he came to feel the presence of the Comforter standing by his
side in the dark cave shadows, whispering to his heart sweet words that
he long had known but had not fully comprehended because his need for
them had never come before. Somehow time and things of earth receded,
and only heaven and immortal souls mattered. He was lifted above his
own loss and into the joy of the inheritance of the servant of the
But the time had come, all too soon for his hosts, when he was able
to go on his way; and most anxious he was to be started, longing for
further news of the dear one who was gone from him. They followed him
in sorrowful procession far into the plain to see him on his way, and
then returned to their mesa and their cliff home to talk of it all and
Alone upon the desert at last, the three great mesas like fingers of
a giant hand stretching cloudily behind him; the purpling mountains in
the distance; the sunlight shining vividly down over all the bright
sands; the full sense of his loss came at last upon him, and his spirit
was bowed with the weight of it. The vision of the Mount was passed,
and the valley of the shadow of life was upon him. It came to him what
it would be to have no more of his mother's letters to cheer his
loneliness; no thought of her at home thinking of him; no looking
forward to another home-coming.
As he rode he saw none of the changing landscape by the way, but
only the Granville orchard with its showering pink and white, and his
mother lying happily beside him on the strawberry bank picking the
sweet vivid berries, and smiling back to him as if she had been a girl.
He was glad, glad he had that memory of her. And she had seemed so
well, so very well. He had been thinking that perhaps when there was
hope of building a little addition to his shack and making a possible
place of comfort for her, that he might venture to propose that she
come out to him and stay. It was a wish that had been growing, growing
in his lonely heart since that visit home when it seemed as if he could
not tear himself away from her and go back; and yet knew that he could
not staywould not want to stay, because of his beloved work. And now
it was over forever, his dream! She would never come to cheer his home,
and he would always have to live a lonely lifefor he knew in his
heart there was only one girl in the whole world he would want to ask
to come, and her he might not, must not ask.
As endless and as desolate as his desert his future lay stretched
out before his mind. For the time his beloved work and the joy of
service was sunk out of sight, and he saw only himself, alone, forsaken
of all love, walking his sorrowful way apart; and there surged over him
a great and deadly weakness as of a spirit in despair.
In this mind he lay down to rest in the shadow of a great rock about
the noon hour, too weary in spirit and exhausted in body to go further
without a sleep. The faithful Billy dozed and munched his portion not
far away; and high overhead a great eagle soared high and far, adding
to the wide desolateness of the scene. Here he was alone at last for
the first time with his grief, and for a while it had its way, and he
faced it; entering into his Gethsemane with bowed spirit and seeing
nothing but blackness all about him. It was so, worn with the anguish
of his spirit, that he fell asleep.
While he slept there came to him peace; a dream of his mother,
smiling, well, and walking with a light free step as he remembered her
when he was a little boy; and by her side the girl he loved. How
strange, and wonderful, that these two should come to him and bring him
rest! And then, as he lay still dreaming, they smiled at him and passed
on, hand in hand, the girl turning and waving her hand as if she meant
to return; and presently they passed beyond his sight. Then One stood
by him, somewhere within the shelter of the rock under which he lay,
and spoke; and the Voice thrilled his soul as it had never been
thrilled in life before:
Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end
The Peace of that Invisible Presence descended upon him in full
measure, and when he awoke he found himself repeating: The peace which
passeth understanding! and realizing that for the first time he knew
what the words meant.
Some time he lay quietly like a child who had been comforted and
cared for, wondering at the burden which had been lifted, glorying in
the peace that had come in its place; rejoicing in the Presence that he
felt would be with him always, and make it possible for him to bear the
At last he turned his head to see if Billy were far away, and was
startled to see the shadow of the rock, under which he lay, spread out
upon the sand before him, the semblance of a perfect mighty cross. For
so the jutting uneven arms of the rock and the position of the sun
arranged the shadows before him. The shadow of a great rock in a weary
land. The words came to his memory, and it seemed to be his mother's
voice repeating them as she used to do on Sabbath evenings when they
sat together in the twilight before his bedtime. A weary land! It
was a weary land now, and his soul had been parched with the heat
and loneliness. He had needed the rock as he had never needed it
before, and the Rock, Christ Jesus, had become a rest and a peace to
his soul. But there it lay spread out upon the sand beside him, and it
was the way of the cross; the Christ way was always the way of the
cross. But what was the song they sang at that great meeting he
attended in New York? The way of the cross leads home. Ah, that was
it. Some day it would lead him home, but now it was the way of the
cross and he must take it with courage, and always with that unseen but
close Companion who had promised to be with him even to the end of the
Well, he would rise up at once, strong in that blessed
companionship. Cheerfully he made his preparations for starting, and
now he turned Billy's head a trifle to the south, for he decided to
stop over night with his colleague.
When his grief and loneliness were fresh upon him it had seemed that
he could not bear this visit. But since peace had come to his soul he
changed his course to take in the other mission, which was really on
his way, only that he had purposely avoided it.
They made him welcome, those two who had made a little bit of
earthly paradise out of their desert shack; and they compelled him to
stay with them and rest three days, for he was more worn with the
journey and his recent pain and sorrow than he realized. They comforted
him with their loving sympathy and gladdened his soul with the sight of
their own joy, albeit it gave him a feeling of being set apart from
them. He started in the early dawn of the day when the morning star was
yet visible, and as he rode through the beryl air of the dawning hour
he was uplifted from his sadness by a sense of the near presence of
He took his way slowly, purposely turning aside three times from the
trail to call at the hogans of some of his parishioners; for he dreaded
the home-coming as one dreads a blow that is inevitable. His mother's
picture awaited him in his own room, smiling down upon his possessions
with that dear look upon her face, and to look at it for the first time
knowing that she was gone from earth forever was an experience from
which he shrank inexpressibly. Thus he gave himself more time, knowing
that it was better to go calmly, turning his mind back to his work, and
doing what she would have liked him to do.
He camped that night under the sheltered ledge where he and Hazel
had been, and as he lay down to sleep he repeated the psalm they had
read together that night, and felt a sense of the comfort of abiding
under the shadow of the Almighty.
In visions of the night he saw the girl's face once more, and she
smiled upon him with that glad welcoming look, as though she had come
to be with him always. She did not say anything in the dream, but just
put out her hands to him with a motion of surrender.
The vision faded as he opened his eyes, yet so real had it been that
it remained with him and thrilled him with the wonder of her look all
day. He began to ponder whether he had been right in persistently
putting her out of his life as he had done. Bits of her own sentences
came to him with new meaning and he wondered after all if he had not
been a fool. Perhaps he might have won her. Perhaps God had really sent
her to him to be his life companion, and he had been too blind to
He put the idea from him many times with a sigh as he mended the
fire and prepared his simple meal, yet always her face lingered sweetly
in his thoughts, like balm upon his saddened spirit.
Billy was headed towards home that morning, and seemed eager to get
on. He had not understood his master these sad days. Something had come
over his spirits. The little horse neighed cheerfully and started on
his way with willing gait. However lonely the master might be, home was
good, with one's own stall and manger; and who might tell but some
presentiment told Billy that the princess was awaiting them?
The missionary endeavoured to keep his thoughts upon his work and
plans for the immediate future, but try as he would the face of the
girl kept smiling in between; and all the beauties of the way combined
to bring back the ride he had taken with her; until finally he let his
fancy dwell upon her with pleasant thoughts of how it would be if she
were his, and waiting for him at the end of his journey; or better
still, riding beside him at this moment, bearing him sweet converse on
The little shack stood silent, familiar, in the setting sunlight, as
he rode up to the door, and gravely arranged for Billy's comfort, then
with his upward look for comfort he went towards his lonely home and
opening the door stood wondering upon the threshold!
XVI. THE LETTER
It was only an instant before she opened her eyes, for that
subconscious state, that warns even in sleep of things that are going
on outside the world of slumber, told her there was another soul
She awakened suddenly and looked up at him, the rosiness of sleep
upon her cheeks and the dewiness of it upon her eyelids. She looked
most adorable with the long red slant of sunset from the open door at
her feet and the wonder of his coming in her face. Their eyes met, and
told the story, before brain had time to give warning of danger and
need of self-control.
Oh, my darling! the man said and took a step towards her, his arms
outstretched as if he would clasp her, yet daring hardly to believe
that it was really herself in the flesh.
My darling! Have you really come to me? He breathed the question
as though its answer meant life or death to him.
She arose and stood before him, trembling with joy, abashed now that
she was in his presence, in his home, unbidden. Her tongue seemed tied.
She had no word with which to explain. But because he saw the love in
her eyes and because his own need of her was great, he became bolder,
and coming closer he began to tell her earnestly how he had longed and
prayed that God would make a way for him to find her again; how he had
fancied her here in this room, his own dear companionhis wife!
He breathed the word tenderly, reverently and she felt the blessing
and the wonder of the love of this great simple-hearted man.
Then because he saw his answer in her eyes, he came near and took
her reverently in his arms, laid his lips upon hers, and thus they
stood for a moment together, knowing that after all the sorrow, the
longing, the separation, each had come into his own.
It was some time before Hazel could get opportunity to explain how
she came all unknowingly to be in his house, and even then he could not
understand what joyful circumstance had set her face fortward and
dropped her at his door. So she had to go back to the letter, the
letter which was the cause of it all, and yet for the moment had been
forgotten. She brought it forth now, and his face, all tender with the
joy of her presence, grew almost glorified when he knew that it was she
who had been his mother's tender nurse and beloved friend through the
last days of her life.
With clasped hands they talked together of his mother. Hazel told
him all: how she had come upon her that summer's day, and her heart had
yearned to know her for his sake; and how she had gone back again, and
yet again; all the story of her own struggles for a better life. When
she told of her cooking lessons he kissed the little white hands he
held, and when she spoke of her hospital work he touched his lips to
eyes and brow in reverent worshipfulness.
And you did all that because? he asked and looked deep into
her eyes, demanding hungrily his answer.
Because I wanted to be worthy of your love! she breathed softly,
her eyes down-drooped, her face rosy with her confession.
Oh, my darling! he said, and clasped her close once more. Almost
the letter itself was forgotten, until it slipped softly to the floor
and called attention to itself. There was really after all no need for
the letter. It had done its intended work without being read. But they
read it together, his arm about her shoulders, and their heads close,
each feeling the need of the comforting love of the other because of
the bereavement each had suffered.
And thus they read:
MY DEAR SON:
I am writing this letter in what I believe to be
the last few days of my life. Long ago I made our
dear doctor tell me just what would be the signs
that preceded the probable culmination of my
disease. He knew I would be happier so, for I had
some things I wished to accomplish before I went
away. I did not tell you, dear son, because I knew
it could but distress you and turn your thoughts
away from the work to which you belong. I knew
when you came home to me for that dear last visit
that I had only a little while longer left here,
and I need not tell you what those blessed days of
your stay were to me. You know without my telling.
You perhaps will blame yourself that you did not
see how near the end it was and stay beside me;
but John, beloved, I would not have been happy to
have had it so. It would have brought before you
with intensity the parting side of death, and this
I wished to avoid. I want you to think of me as
gone to be with Jesus and with your dear father.
Besides, I wanted the pleasure of giving you back
again to your work before I went away.
It was because I knew the end was near that I
dared do a lot of things that I would have been
careful about otherwise. It was in the strength of
the happiness of your presence that I forced
myself to walk again that you might remember your
mother once more on her feet. Remember now when
you are reading this I shall be walking the golden
streets with as strong and free a gait as you walk
your desert, dear. So don't regret anything of the
good time we had, nor wish you had stayed longer.
It was perfect, and the good times are not over
for us. We shall have them again on the other side
some day when there are no more partings forever.
But there is just one thing that has troubled me
ever since you first went away, and that is that
you are alone. God knew it was not good for man to
be alone, and He has a helpmeet for my boy
somewhere in the world, I am sure. I would be glad
if I might go knowing that you had found her and
that she loved you as I loved your father when I
married him. I have never talked much about these
things to you because I do not think mothers
should try to influence their children to marry
until God sends the right one, and then it is not
the mother who should be the judge, of course. But
once I spoke to you in a letter. You remember? It
was after I had met a sweet girl whose life seemed
so fitted to belong to yours. You opened your
heart to me then and told me you had found the one
you loved and would never love anotherbut she
was not for you. My heart ached for you, laddie,
and I prayed much for you then, for it was a sore
trial to come to my boy away out there alone with
his trouble. I had much ado not to hate that girl
to whom you had given your love, and not to fancy
her a most disagreeable creature with airs, and no
sense, not to recognize the man in my son, and not
to know his beautiful soul and the worth of his
love. But then I thought perhaps she couldn't help
it, poor child, that she didn't know enough to
appreciate you; and likely it was God's good
leading that kept you from her. But I have kept
hoping that some time He would bring you to love
another who was more worthy than she could have
Dear, you have never said anything more about
that girl, and I hope you have forgotten her,
though sometimes when you were at home I noticed
that deep, far-away look in your eyes, and a
sadness about your lips that made me tremble lest
her memory was just as bright as ever. I have
wanted you to know the sweet girl Hazel Radcliffe
who has been my dear friend and almost
daughterfor no daughter could have been dearer
than she has been to me, and I believe she loves
me too as I love her. If you had been nearer I
would have tried to bring you two together, at
least for once, that you might judge for
yourselves; but I found out that she was shy as a
bird about meeting any onethough she has hosts
of young men friends in her New York homeand
that she would have run away if you had come.
Besides, I could not have given you any reason but
the truth for sending for you, and I knew God
would bring you two together if it was His will.
But I could not go happy from this earth without
doing something towards helping you just to see
her once, and so I have asked her to give you this
letter with her own hand, if possible, and she has
promised to do so. You will come home when I am
gone and she will have to see you, and when you
look on her sweet face if you do not feel as your
mother does about her, it is all right, dear son;
only I wanted you just to see her once because I
love her so much, and because I love you. If you
could forget the other and love this one it seems
as though I should be glad even in heaven, but if
you do not feel that way when you see her, John,
don't mind my writing this letter, for it pleased
me much to play this little trick upon you before
I left; and the dear girl must never knowunless
indeed you love herand then I do not carefor I
know she will forgive me for writing this silly
letter, and love me just the same.
Dear boy, just as we never liked to say good-bye
when you went away to college, but only 'Au
revoir,' so there won't be any good-bye now, only
I love you.
Hazel was weeping softly when they finished the letter, and there
were tears in the eyes of the son, though they were glorified by the
smile that shone upon the girl as he folded the letter and said:
Wasn't that a mother for a fellow to have? And could I do anything
else than give myself when she gave all she had? And to think she
picked out the very one for me that I loved of all the world, and sent
her out to me because I was too set in my way to come back after her.
It is just as if my mother sent you down as a gift from heaven to me,
dear! and their lips met once more in deep love and understanding.
The sun was almost setting now, and suddenly the two became aware
that night was coming on. The Indian would be returning and they must
plan what to do.
Brownleigh rose and went to the door to see if the Indian were in
sight. He was thinking hard and fast. Then he came back and stood
before the girl.
Dear! he said, and the tone of his voice brought the quick colour
to her cheeks; it was so wonderful, so disconcerting to be looked at
and spoken to in that way. She caught her breath and wondered if it
were not a dream after all. Dear, another of those deep, searching
looks, this is a big, primitive country and we do things in a most
summary way out here sometimes. You must tell me if I go too fast; but
couldwould youdo you think you love me enough to marry me at
Oh! she breathed, lifting her happy eyes. It would be beautiful
to never have to leave you againbutyou hardly know me. I am not
fitted, you know. You are a great, wonderful missionary, and II am
only a foolish girl who has fallen in love with you and can't ever be
happy again without you.
She buried her face in the arm of the chair and cried happy, shamed
tears, and he gathered her up in his arms and comforted her, his face
shining with a glorified expression.
Dear, he said when he could speak again, dear, don't you know
that is all I want? And don't ever talk that way again about me. I am
no saint, as you'll very well find out, but I'll promise to love and
cherish you as long as we both shall live. Will you marry me to-night?
There was a silence in the little room broken only by the low
crackling of the dying fire.
She lifted shy glad eyes to his, and then came and laid her two
hands in his.
If you are quite sure you want me, she breathed softly.
The rapture of his face and the tenderness of his arms assured her
on that point.
There is just one great regret I have, said the young man, lifting
his eyes towards his mother's picture. If she only could have known it
was you that I loved. Why didn't I tell her your name? But thenWhy,
my dear, I didn't know your name. Do you realize that? I haven't known
your name until now.
I certainly did realize it, said Hazel with rosy cheeks. It used
to hurt dreadfully sometimes to think that even if you wanted to find
me you wouldn't know how to go about it.
You dear! Did you care so much? His voice was deep and tender and
his eyes were upon her.
So much! she breathed softly.
But the splash of red light on the floor at their feet warned them
of the lateness of the hour and they turned to the immediate business
of the moment.
It is wonderful that things are just as they are to-night, said
Brownleigh in his full, joyous tones. It certainly seems providential.
Bishop Vail, my father's old college chum, has been travelling through
the West on missionary work for his church, and he is now at the
stopping place where you spent last night. He leaves on the midnight
train to-night, but we can get there long before that time, and he will
marry us. There is no one I would rather have had, though the choice
should have been yours. Are you going to mind very much being married
in this brief and primitive manner?
If I minded those things I should not be worthy of your love, said
Hazel softly. No, I don't mind in the least. Only I've really nothing
along to get married innothing suitable for a wedding gown. You won't
be able to remember me in bridal attireand there won't be even Amelia
Ellen for bridesmaid. She smiled at him mischievously.
You darling! he said laying his lips upon hers again. You need no
bridal attire to make you the sweetest bride that ever came to Arizona,
and I shall always remember you as you are now, as the most beautiful
sight my eyes ever saw. If there was time to get word to some of my
colleagues off at their stations we should have a wedding reception
that would outrival your New York affairs so far as enthusiasm and
genuine hearty good will is concerned, but they are all from forty to a
hundred miles away from here and it will be impossible. Are you sure
you are not too tired to ride back to the stopping place to-night? He
looked at her anxiously. We will hitch Billy to the wagon, and the
seat has good springs. I will put in plenty of cushions and you can
rest on the way, and we will not attempt to come back to-night. It
would be too much for you.
She began to protest but he went on:
No, dear, I don't mean we'll stay in that little hole where you
spent last night. That would be awful! But what would you say to
camping in the same spot where we had our last talk? I have been there
many times since and often spend the night there because of its sweet
association with you. It is not far, you know, from the railroada
matter of a few minutes' rideand there is good water. We can carry my
little tent and trappings, and then take as much of a wedding trip
afterwards as you feel you have strength for before we return, though
we shall have the rest of our lives to make one dear long wedding trip
of, I hope. Will that plan suit you?
Oh, it will be beautiful, said Hazel with shining eyes.
Very well, then. I will get everything ready for our start and you
must rest until I call you. With that he stooped and before she
realized what he was doing gently lifted her from her feet and laid her
down upon his couch over in the corner, spreading a many-coloured
Indian blanket over her. Then he deftly stirred up the fire, filled up
the kettle, swung it back over the blaze, and with a smile went out to
prepare Billy and the wagon.
Hazel lay there looking about her new home with happy eyes, noting
each little touch of refinement and beauty that showed the character of
the man who had lived his life alone there for three long years, and
wondering if it were really herself, the lonely little struggling nurse
with the bitter ache in her heart, who was feeling so happy here
to-dayHazel Radcliffe, the former New York society girl, rejoicing
ecstatically because she was going to marry a poor home missionary and
live in a shanty! How her friends would laugh and sneer, and how Aunt
Maria would lift her hands in horror and say the family was disgraced!
But it did not matter about Aunt Maria. Poor Aunt Maria! She had never
approved of anything that Hazel wanted to do all her life. As for her
brotherand here her face took on a shade of sadnessher brother was
of another world than hers and always had been. People said he was like
his dead mother. Perhaps the grand man of the desert could help her
brother to better things. Perhaps he would come out here to visit them
and catch a vision of another kind of life and take a longing for it as
she had done. He could not fail at least to see the greatness of the
man she had chosen.
There was great comfort to her in this hour to remember that her
father had been interested in her missionary, and had expressed a hope
that she might meet him again some day. She thought her father would
have been pleased at the choice she had made, for he had surely seen
the vision of what was really worth while in life before he died.
Suddenly her eyes turned to the little square table over by the
cupboard. What if she should set it?
She sprang up and suited the action to the thought.
Almost as a child might handle her first pewter set Hazel took the
dishes from the shelves and arranged them on the table. They were
pretty china dishes, with a fine old sprigged pattern of delicate
flowers. She recognized them as belonging to his mother's set, and
handled them reverently. It almost seemed as if that mother's presence
was with her in the room as she prepared the table for her first meal
with the beloved son.
She found a large white towel in the cupboard drawer that she spread
on the rough little table, and set the delicate dishes upon it: two
plates, two cups and saucers, knives and forkstwo of everything! How
it thrilled her to think that in a little while she would belong here
in this dear house, a part of it, and that they two would have a right
to sit together at this table through the years. There might come
hardships and disappointmentsof course there would. She was no fool!
Life was full of disappointments for everybody, as well as of beautiful
surprises! But come what would she knew by the thrill in her heart that
she would never be sorry for this day in which she had promised to
become the wife of the man of the desert, and she would always cherish
the memory of this her first setting of the little table, and let it
make all future settings of that table a holy ordinance.
She found a can of soup in the cupboard, and made it hot in a small
saucepan on the fire, and set forth on the table crackers and cheese, a
glass of jelly, a small bottle of stuffed olives and some little cakes
she had brought with her in her suit-case. She had thought she might
need something of the sort when she landed in Arizona, for there was no
telling but she might have to ride across the desert to find her
missionary; and sure enough that had been the case.
It looked very cozy when Brownleigh came in to say that the wagon
was ready and he thought he saw the Indian in the dusk coming across
the plain, but he stopped short without speech, for here before him was
the picture which his mind and heart had painted for him many a time:
this girl, the one girl in all the earth for him, kneeling beside his
hearth and dishing up the steaming soup into the hot dishes, the
firelight playing on her sweet face and golden hair, and every line and
motion of her graceful body calling for his adoration! So he stood for
one long minute and feasted his hungry eyes upon the sight, until she
turned and saw his heart in his eyes, and her own face grew rosy with
the joy and the meaning of it all.
And so they sat down to their first meal in the little house
together, and then having sent the Indian back to the fort with a
message, they took their way forth in the starlight together to begin
their wedding journey.
Billy made good time in spite of the fact that he had been out all
day on parishional work, but he knew who he was hauling, and seemed to
take deep satisfaction in having Hazel back again, for now and again he
would turn back towards the wagon when they stopped for water and
They reached the stopping place about nine o'clock, and the news
that the missionary was going to be married spread like wildfire among
the men and out to the neighbouring shacks. In no time a small crowd
had collected about the place, peering out of the starlit darkness.
Hazel retired to the forlorn little chamber where she had spent the
night before and rummaged in her trunk for bridal apparel. In a few
minutes she emerged into the long dining-room where the table had been
hastily cleared and moved aside, and upon which the boarders were now
seated in long rows, watching the proceedings curiously.
She was dressed in a simple white muslin, touched here and there
with exquisite hand embroidery and tiny cobwebby edges of real lace.
The missionary caught his breath as he saw her come out to him, and the
rough faces of the men softened as they watched her.
The white-haired bishop arose to meet her and welcomed her in a
fatherly way he had, and the woman who kept the stopping place came
following in Hazel's wake, hastily wiping her hands on her apron, and
casting it behind her as she entered. She had been preparing an
impromptu supper out of any materials that happened to be at hand, but
she could not miss the ceremony if the coffee did burn. Weddings did
not come her way every day.
In the doorway, his stolid face shining in the glare of many
candles, stood the Indian from the fort. He had followed silently
behind the couple to witness the proceedings, well knowing he would be
forgiven by his mistress at the fort when he told his news. The
missionary was well belovedand the missionary was going to be
What would the four hundred of her own select New York circle have
said could they have seen Hazel Radcliffe standing serene, in her
simple gown, with her undecked golden hair, in the midst of that motley
company of men, with only three curious slatternly women in the
background to keep her company, giving herself away to a man who had
dedicated his life to work in the desert? But Hazel's happy heart was
serenely unconscious of the incongruity of her surroundings, and she
answered with a clear ring to her voice as the bishop asked her the
questions: I will. She was coming gladly to her new home.
It was her own ring, the ring she had given him, that John
Brownleigh put upon her hand in token of his loyalty and love for her,
the ring that for a whole year had lain next his own heart and
comforted its loneliness because she had given it, and now he gave it
back because she had given him herself.
Graciously she placed her small white hand in the rough awkward ones
of the men who came to offer her congratulations, half stumbling over
their own feet in their awe and wonder at her beauty. It was to them as
if an angel from heaven had suddenly dropped down and condescended to
walk their daily path in sight of them all.
Cheerfully she swallowed the stale cake and muddy coffee that the
slatternly landlady produced, and afterwards, as she was being helped
to get back into her riding dress, bestowed upon her a little lilac
wool frock from her trunk that the woman admired greatly. From that
moment the landlady of the stopping place was a new creature. Missions
and missionaries had been nothing to her through the years, but she
believed in them forever after, and donned her new lilac gown in token
of her faith in Christianity. Thus Hazel won her first convert, who
afterwards proved her fidelity in time of great trial, and showed that
even a lilac gown may be an instrument of good.
Out into the starlight together again they rode, with the blessing
of the bishop upon them, and the cheers of the men still sounding in
I wish mother could have known, said the bridegroom as he drew his
bride close within his arm and looked down upon her nestling by his
Oh, I think she does! said Hazel as she dropped a thankful, weary
head against his shoulder. Then the missionary stooped and gave his
wife a long, tender kiss, and raising his head and lifting his eyes to
the starlit sky he said reverently:
Oh, my Father, I thank Thee for this wonderful gift. Make me worthy
of her. Help her never to regret that she has come to me.
Hazel crept her hand into his free one, and laid her lips upon his
fingers, and prayed all quietly by herself for gladness. So they rode
out to their camp beneath God's sky.
Three days later an Indian on the way to the fort turned aside with
a message for Hazela telegram. It read:
Arrived safe. Married Burley to once so I could
see to him. Do come home right away. Burley says
come and live with us. Answer right away. I can't
enjoy my new home worrying about you.
AMELIA ELLEN STOUT BURLEY.
With laughter and tears Hazel read the telegram whose price must
have cost the frugal New England conscience a twinge, and after a
moment's thought wrote an answer to send back by the messenger.
DEAR AMELIA ELLEN: Love and congratulations for
you both. I was married to John Brownleigh the
night you left. Come out and see us when your
husband gets well, and perhaps we'll visit you
when we come East. I am very happy.
HAZEL RADCLIFFE BROWNLEIGH.
When good Amelia Ellen read that telegram she wiped her spectacles a
second time and read it over to see that she had made no mistake, and
then she set her toil-worn hands upon her hips and surveyed the prone
but happy Burley in dazed astonishment, ejaculating:
Fer the land sake! Now did you ever? Fer the land! Was that what
she was up to all the time? I thought she was wonderful set to go, and
wonderful set to stay, but I never sensed what was up. Ef I'd 'a'
knowed, I suppose I'd 'a' stayed another day. Why didn't she tell me, I
wonder! Well, fer the land sake!
And Burley murmured contentedly:
Wal, I'm mighty glad you never knowed, Amelia Ellen!