The call of the canyon, p.1
Produced by Bill Brewer
THE CALL OF THE CANYON
By Zane Grey
What subtle strange message had come to her out of the West? CarleyBurch laid the letter in her lap and gazed dreamily through the window.
It was a day typical of early April in New York, rather cold and gray,with steely sunlight. Spring breathed in the air, but the women passingalong Fifty-seventh Street wore furs and wraps. She heard the distantclatter of an L train and then the hum of a motor car. A hurdy-gurdyjarred into the interval of quiet.
"Glenn has been gone over a year," she mused, "three months over ayear--and of all his strange letters this seems the strangest yet."
She lived again, for the thousandth time, the last moments she had spentwith him. It had been on New-Year's Eve, 1918. They had called uponfriends who were staying at the McAlpin, in a suite on the twenty-firstfloor overlooking Broadway. And when the last quarter hour of thateventful and tragic year began slowly to pass with the low swell ofwhistles and bells, Carley's friends had discreetly left her alone withher lover, at the open window, to watch and hear the old year out, thenew year in. Glenn Kilbourne had returned from France early that fall,shell-shocked and gassed, and otherwise incapacitated for service in thearmy--a wreck of his former sterling self and in many unaccountable waysa stranger to her. Cold, silent, haunted by something, he had made hermiserable with his aloofness. But as the bells began to ring outthe year that had been his ruin Glenn had drawn her close, tenderly,passionately, and yet strangely, too.
"Carley, look and listen!" he had whispered.
Under them stretched the great long white flare of Broadway, with itssnow-covered length glittering under a myriad of electric lights. SixthAvenue swerved away to the right, a less brilliant lane of blanchedsnow. The L trains crept along like huge fire-eyed serpents. The hum ofthe ceaseless moving line of motor cars drifted upward faintly,almost drowned in the rising clamor of the street. Broadway's gay andthoughtless crowds surged to and fro, from that height merely a thickstream of black figures, like contending columns of ants on the march.And everywhere the monstrous electric signs flared up vivid in white andred and green; and dimmed and paled, only to flash up again.
Ring out the Old! Ring in the New! Carley had poignantly felt thesadness of the one, the promise of the other. As one by one the sirenfactory whistles opened up with deep, hoarse bellow, the clamor of thestreet and the ringing of the bells were lost in a volume of continuoussound that swelled on high into a magnificent roar. It was the voice ofa city--of a nation. It was the voice of a people crying out the strifeand the agony of the year--pealing forth a prayer for the future.
Glenn had put his lips to her ear: "It's like the voice in my soul!"Never would she forget the shock of that. And how she had stoodspellbound, enveloped in the mighty volume of sound no longerdiscordant, but full of great, pregnant melody, until the white ballburst upon the tower of the Times Building, showing the bright figures1919.
The new year had not been many minutes old when Glenn Kilbourne had toldher he was going West to try to recover his health.
Carley roused out of her memories to take up the letter that had soperplexed her. It bore the postmark, Flagstaff, Arizona. She reread itwith slow pondering thoughtfulness.
It does seem my neglect in writing you is unpardonable. I used to bea pretty fair correspondent, but in that as in other things I havechanged.
One reason I have not answered sooner is because your letter was sosweet and loving that it made me feel an ungrateful and unappreciativewretch. Another is that this life I now lead does not induce writing. Iam outdoors all day, and when I get back to this cabin at night I am tootired for anything but bed.
Your imperious questions I must answer--and that must, of course, isa third reason why I have delayed my reply. First, you ask, "Don't youlove me any more as you used to?"... Frankly, I do not. I am sure myold love for you, before I went to France, was selfish, thoughtless,sentimental, and boyish. I am a man now. And my love for you isdifferent. Let me assure you that it has been about all left to me ofwhat is noble and beautiful. Whatever the changes in me for the worse,my love for you, at least, has grown better, finer, purer.
And now for your second question, "Are you coming home as soon as youare well again?"... Carley, I am well. I have delayed telling you thisbecause I knew you would expect me to rush back East with the telling.But--the fact is, Carley, I am not coming--just yet. I wish it werepossible for me to make you understand. For a long time I seem to havebeen frozen within. You know when I came back from France I couldn'ttalk. It's almost as bad as that now. Yet all that I was then seems tohave changed again. It is only fair to you to tell you that, as Ifeel now, I hate the city, I hate people, and particularly I hate thatdancing, drinking, lounging set you chase with. I don't want to comeEast until I am over that, you know... Suppose I never get over it?Well, Carley, you can free yourself from me by one word that I couldnever utter. I could never break our engagement. During the hell I wentthrough in the war my attachment to you saved me from moral ruin, if itdid not from perfect honor and fidelity. This is another thing I despairof making you understand. And in the chaos I've wandered through sincethe war my love for you was my only anchor. You never guessed, did you,that I lived on your letters until I got well. And now the fact that Imight get along without them is no discredit to their charm or to you.
It is all so hard to put in words, Carley. To lie down with death andget up with death was nothing. To face one's degradation was nothing.But to come home an incomprehensibly changed man--and to see my old lifeas strange as if it were the new life of another planet--to try to slipinto the old groove--well, no words of mine can tell you how utterlyimpossible it was.
My old job was not open to me, even if I had been able to work. Thegovernment that I fought for left me to starve, or to die of my maladieslike a dog, for all it cared.
I could not live on your money, Carley. My people are poor, as you know.So there was nothing for me to do but to borrow a little money from myfriends and to come West. I'm glad I had the courage to come. Whatthis West is I'll never try to tell you, because, loving the luxury andexcitement and glitter of the city as you do, you'd think I was crazy.
Getting on here, in my condition, was as hard as trench life. But now,Carley--something has come to me out of the West. That, too, I am unableto put into words. Maybe I can give you an inkling of it. I'm strongenough to chop wood all day. No man or woman passes my cabin in a month.But I am never lonely. I love these vast red canyon walls towering aboveme. And the silence is so sweet. Think of the hellish din that filled myears. Even now--sometimes, the brook here changes its babbling murmurto the roar of war. I never understood anything of the meaning of natureuntil I lived under these looming stone walls and whispering pines.
So, Carley, try to understand me, or at least be kind. You know theycame very near writing, "Gone west!" after my name, and consideringthat, this "Out West" signifies for me a very fortunate difference. Atremendous difference! For the present I'll let well enough alone.
Adios. Write soon. Love from
Carley's second reaction to the letter was a sudden upflashing desireto see her lover--to go out West and find him. Impulses with her wererather rare and inhibited, but this one made her tremble. If Glenn waswell again he must have vastly changed from the moody, stone-faced,and haunted-eyed man who had so worried and distressed her. He hadembarrassed her, too, for sometimes, in her home, meeting young menthere who had not gone into the service, he had seemed to retreat intohimself, singularly aloof, as if his world was not theirs.
Carley had the means to come and go and live as she liked. She did notremember her father, who had died when she was a child. Her mother hadleft her in the care of a sister, and before the war they had dividedtheir time between New York and Europe, the Adirondacks and Florida,Carley had gone in for Red Cross and relief work with more of sinceritythan most of her set. But she was really not used to making any decisionas definite and important as that of going out West alone. She had neverbeen farther west than Jersey City; and her conception of the West wasa hazy one of vast plains and rough mountains, squalid towns, cattleherds, and uncouth ill-clad men.
So she carried the letter to her aunt, a rather slight woman witha kindly face and shrewd eyes, and who appeared somewhat given toold-fashioned garments.
"Aunt Mary, here's a letter from Glenn," said Carley. "It's more of astumper than usual. Please read it."
"Dear me! You look upset," replied the aunt, mildly, and, adjusting herspectacles, she took the letter.
Carley waited impatiently for the perusal, conscious of inward forcescoming more and more to the aid of her impulse to go West. Her auntpaused once to murmur how glad she was that Glenn had gotten well. Thenshe read on to the close.
"Carley, that's a fine letter," she said, fervently. "Do you see throughit?"
"No, I don't," replied Carley. "That's why I asked you to read it."
"Do you still love Glenn as you used to before--"
"Why, Aunt Mary!" exclaimed Carley, in surprise.
"Excuse me, Carley, if I'm blunt. But the fact is young women of moderntimes are very different from my kind when I was a girl. You haven'tacted as though you pined for Glenn. You gad around almost the same asever."
"What's a girl to do?" protested Carley.
"You are twenty-six years old, Carley," retorted Aunt Mary.
"Suppose I am. I'm as young--as I ever was."
"Well, let's not argue about modern girls and modern times. We never getanywhere," returned her aunt, kindly. "But I can tell you something ofwhat Glenn Kilbourne means in that letter--if you want to hear it."
"The war did something horrible to Glenn aside from wrecking his health.Shell-shock, they said! I don't understand that. Out of his mind, theysaid! But that never was true. Glenn was as sane as I am, and, my dear,that's pretty sane, I'll have you remember. But he must have sufferedsome terrible blight to his spirit--some blunting of his soul. Formonths after he returned he walked as one in a trance. Then came achange. He grew restless. Perhaps that change was for the better. Atleast it showed he'd roused. Glenn saw you and your friends and thelife you lead, and all the present, with eyes from which the scales haddropped. He saw what was wrong. He never said so to me, but I knew it.It wasn't only to get well that he went West. It was to get away....And, Carley Burch, if your happiness depends on him you had better be upand doing--or you'll lose him!"
"Aunt Mary!" gasped Carley.
"I mean it. That letter shows how near he came to the Valley of theShadow--and how he has become a man.... If I were you I'd go out West.Surely there must be a place where it would be all right for you tostay."
"Oh, yes," replied Carley, eagerly. "Glenn wrote me there was a lodgewhere people went in nice weather--right down in the canyon not farfrom his place. Then, of course, the town--Flagstaff--isn't far.... AuntMary, I think I'll go."
"I would. You're certainly wasting your time here."
"But I could only go for a visit," rejoined Carley, thoughtfully. "Amonth, perhaps six weeks, if I could stand it."
"Seems to me if you can stand New York you could stand that place," saidAunt Mary, dryly.
"The idea of staying away from New York any length of time--why, Icouldn't do it I... But I can stay out there long enough to bring Glennback with me."
"That may take you longer than you think," replied her aunt, with agleam in her shrewd eyes. "If you want my advice you will surpriseGlenn. Don't write him--don't give him a chance to--well to suggestcourteously that you'd better not come just yet. I don't like his words'just yet.'"
"Auntie, you're--rather--more than blunt," said Carley, divided betweenresentment and amaze. "Glenn would be simply wild to have me come."
"Maybe he would. Has he ever asked you?"
"No-o--come to think of it, he hasn't," replied Carley, reluctantly."Aunt Mary, you hurt my feelings."
"Well, child, I'm glad to learn your feelings are hurt," returned theaunt. "I'm sure, Carley, that underneath all this--this blase ultrasomething you've acquired, there's a real heart. Only you must hurry andlisten to it--or--"
"Or what?" queried Carley.
Aunt Mary shook her gray head sagely. "Never mind what. Carley, I'd likeyour idea of the most significant thing in Glenn's letter."
"Why, his love for me, of course!" replied Carley.
"Naturally you think that. But I don't. What struck me most were hiswords, 'out of the West.' Carley, you'd do well to ponder over them."
"I will," rejoined Carley, positively. "I'll do more. I'll go out to hiswonderful West and see what he meant by them."
Carley Burch possessed in full degree the prevailing modern craze forspeed. She loved a motor-car ride at sixty miles an hour along a smooth,straight road, or, better, on the level seashore of Ormond, where onmoonlight nights the white blanched sand seemed to flash toward her.Therefore quite to her taste was the Twentieth Century Limited which washurtling her on the way to Chicago. The unceasingly smooth and evenrush of the train satisfied something in her. An old lady sitting in anadjoining seat with a companion amused Carley by the remark: "I wish wedidn't go so fast. People nowadays haven't time to draw a comfortablebreath. Suppose we should run off the track!"
Carley had no fear of express trains, or motor cars, or transatlanticliners; in fact, she prided herself in not being afraid of anything.But she wondered if this was not the false courage of association witha crowd. Before this enterprise at hand she could not remember anythingshe had undertaken alone. Her thrills seemed to be in abeyance to theend of her journey. That night her sleep was permeated with the steadylow whirring of the wheels. Once, roused by a jerk, she lay awake inthe darkness while the thought came to her that she and all her fellowpassengers were really at the mercy of the engineer. Who was he, anddid he stand at his throttle keen and vigilant, thinking of thelives intrusted to him? Such thoughts vaguely annoyed Carley, and shedismissed them.
A long half-day wait in Chicago was a tedious preliminary to the secondpart of her journey. But at last she found herself aboard the CaliforniaLimited, and went to bed with a relief quite a stranger to her. Theglare of the sun under the curtain awakened her. Propped up on herpillows, she looked out at apparently endless green fields or pastures,dotted now and then with little farmhouses and tree-skirted villages.This country, she thought, must be the prairie land she remembered laywest of the Mississippi.
Later, in the dining car, the steward smilingly answered her question:"This is Kansas, and those green fields out there are the wheat thatfeeds the nation."
Carley was not impressed. The color of the short wheat appeared soft andrich, and the boundless fields stretched away monotonously. She hadnot known there was so much flat land in the world, and she imagined itmight be a fine country for automobile roads. When she got back to herseat she drew the blinds down and read her magazines. Then tiring ofthat, she went back to the observation car. Carley was accustomed toattracting attention, and did not resent it, unless she was annoyed.The train evidently had a full complement of passengers, who, as far asCarley could see, were people not of her station in life. The glare fromthe many windows, and the rather crass interest of several men, droveher back to her own section. There she discovered that some one haddrawn up her window shades. Carley promp
Such remarks amused Carley, and later she took advantage of anopportunity to notice her neighbors. They appeared a rather quaintold couple, reminding her of the natives of country towns in theAdirondacks. She was not amused, however, when another of her womanneighbors, speaking low, referred to her as a "lunger." Carleyappreciated the fact that she was pale, but she assured herself thatthere ended any possible resemblance she might have to a consumptive.And she was somewhat pleased to hear this woman's male companionforcibly voice her own convictions. In fact, he was nothing if notadmiring.
Kansas was interminably long to Carley, and she went to sleep beforeriding out of it. Next morning she found herself looking out at therough gray and black land of New Mexico. She searched the horizon formountains, but there did not appear to be any. She received a vague,slow-dawning impression that was hard to define. She did not like thecountry, though that was not the impression which eluded her. Bare grayflats, low scrub-fringed hills, bleak cliffs, jumble after jumbleof rocks, and occasionally a long vista down a valley, somehowcompelling--these passed before her gaze until she tired of them. Wherewas the West Glenn had written about? One thing seemed sure, and it wasthat every mile of this crude country brought her nearer to him. Thisrecurring thought gave Carley all the pleasure she had felt so far inthis endless ride. It struck her that England or France could be droppeddown into New Mexico and scarcely noticed.
By and by the sun grew hot, the train wound slowly and creakinglyupgrade, the car became full of dust, all of which was disagreeable toCarley. She dozed on her pillow for hours, until she was stirred by apassenger crying out, delightedly: "Look! Indians!"
Carley looked, not without interest. As a child she had read aboutIndians, and memory returned images both colorful and romantic. Fromthe car window she espied dusty flat barrens, low squat mud houses,and queer-looking little people, children naked or extremely raggedand dirty, women in loose garments with flares of red, and men in whiteman's garb, slovenly and motley. All these strange individuals staredapathetically as the train slowly passed.
"Indians," muttered Carley, incredulously. "Well, if they are the noblered people, my illusions are dispelled." She did not look out of thewindow again, not even when the brakeman called out the remarkable nameof Albuquerque.
Next day Carley's languid attention quickened to the name of Arizona,and to the frowning red walls of rock, and to the vast rolling stretchesof cedar-dotted land. Nevertheless, it affronted her. This was nocountry for people to live in, and so far as she could see it was indeeduninhabited. Her sensations were not, however, limited to sight. Shebecame aware of unfamiliar disturbing little shocks or vibrations inher ear drums, and after that a disagreeable bleeding of the nose. Theporter told her this was owing to the altitude. Thus, one thing andanother kept Carley most of the time away from the window, so that shereally saw very little of the country. From what she had seen she drewthe conviction that she had not missed much. At sunset she deliberatelygazed out to discover what an Arizona sunset was like just a pale yellowflare! She had seen better than that above the Palisades. Not untilreaching Winslow did she realize how near she was to her journey's endand that she would arrive at Flagstaff after dark. She grew conscious ofnervousness. Suppose Flagstaff were like these other queer little towns!
Not only once, but several times before the train slowed down for herdestination did Carley wish she had sent Glenn word to meet her. Andwhen, presently, she found herself standing out in the dark, cold, windynight before a dim-lit railroad station she more than regretted herdecision to surprise Glenn. But that was too late and she must make thebest of her poor judgment.
Men were passing to and fro on the platform, some of whom appeared tobe very dark of skin and eye, and were probably Mexicans. At length anexpressman approached Carley, soliciting patronage. He took her bagsand, depositing them in a wagon, he pointed up the wide street:"One block up an' turn. Hotel Wetherford." Then he drove off. Carleyfollowed, carrying her small satchel. A cold wind, driving the dust,stung her face as she crossed the street to a high sidewalk thatextended along the block. There were lights in the stores and on thecorners, yet she seemed impressed by a dark, cold, windy bigness. Manypeople, mostly men, were passing up and down, and there were motor carseverywhere. No one paid any attention to her. Gaining the corner ofthe block, she turned, and was relieved to see the hotel sign. As sheentered the lobby a clicking of pool balls and the discordant rasp of aphonograph assailed her ears. The expressman set down her bags and leftCarley standing there. The clerk or proprietor was talking from behindhis desk to several men, and there were loungers in the lobby. The airwas thick with tobacco smoke. No one paid any attention to Carley untilat length she stepped up to the desk and interrupted the conversationthere.
"Is this a hotel?" she queried, brusquely.
The shirt-sleeved individual leisurely turned and replied, "Yes, ma'am."
And Carley said: "No one would recognize it by the courtesy shown. Ihave been standing here waiting to register."
With the same leisurely case and a cool, laconic stare the clerk turnedthe book toward her. "Reckon people round here ask for what they want."
Carley made no further comment. She assuredly recognized that what shehad been accustomed to could not be expected out here. What she mostwished to do at the moment was to get close to the big open grate wherea cheery red-and-gold fire cracked. It was necessary, however, to followthe clerk. He assigned her to a small drab room which contained a bed,a bureau, and a stationary washstand with one spigot. There was also achair. While Carley removed her coat and hat the clerk went downstairsfor the rest of her luggage. Upon his return Carley learned that a stageleft the hotel for Oak Creek Canyon at nine o'clock next morning. Andthis cheered her so much that she faced the strange sense of lonelinessand discomfort with something of fortitude. There was no heat in theroom, and no hot water. When Carley squeezed the spigot handle thereburst forth a torrent of water that spouted up out of the washbasin todeluge her. It was colder than any ice water she had ever felt. It waspiercingly cold. Hard upon the surprise and shock Carley suffered aflash of temper. But then the humor of it struck her and she had tolaugh.
"Serves you right--you spoiled doll of luxury!" she mocked. "This is outWest. Shiver and wait on yourself!"
Never before had she undressed so swiftly nor felt grateful for thickwoollen blankets on a hard bed. Gradually she grew warm. The blackness,too, seemed rather comforting.
"I'm only twenty miles from Glenn," she whispered. "How strange! Iwonder will he be glad." She felt a sweet, glowing assurance of that.Sleep did not come readily. Excitement had laid hold of her nerves, andfor a long time she lay awake. After a while the chug of motor cars, theclick of pool balls, the murmur of low voices all ceased. Then she hearda sound of wind outside, an intermittent, low moaning, new to her ears,and somehow pleasant. Another sound greeted her--the musical clangingof a clock that struck the quarters of the hour. Some time late sleepclaimed her.
Upon awakening she found she had overslept, necessitating haste upon herpart. As to that, the temperature of the room did not admit of leisurelydressing. She had no adequate name for the feeling of the water. Andher fingers grew so numb that she made what she considered a disgracefulmatter of her attire.
Downstairs in the lobby another cheerful red fire burned in the grate.How perfectly satisfying was an open fireplace! She thrust her numbhands almost into the blaze, and simply shook with the tingling painthat slowly warmed out of them. The lobby was deserted. A sign directedher to a dining room in the basement, where of the ham and eggs andstrong coffee she managed to partake a little. Then she went upstairsinto the lob
A cold, piercing air seemed to blow right through her. Walking to thenear corner, she paused to look around. Down the main street flowed aleisurely stream of pedestrians, horses, cars, extending between twoblocks of low buildings. Across from where she stood lay a vacant lot,beyond which began a line of neat, oddly constructed houses, evidentlyresidences of the town. And then lifting her gaze, instinctively drawnby something obstructing the sky line, she was suddenly struck withsurprise and delight.
"Oh! how perfectly splendid!" she burst out.
Two magnificent mountains loomed right over her, sloping up withmajestic sweep of green and black timber, to a ragged tree-fringed snowarea that swept up cleaner and whiter, at last to lift pure glisteningpeaks, noble and sharp, and sunrise-flushed against the blue.
Carley had climbed Mont Blanc and she had seen the Matterhorn, but theyhad never struck such amaze and admiration from her as these twin peaksof her native land.
"What mountains are those?" she asked a passer-by.
"San Francisco Peaks, ma'am," replied the man.
"Why, they can't be over a mile away!" she said.
"Eighteen miles, ma'am," he returned, with a grin. "Shore this Arizonieair is deceivin'."
"How strange," murmured Carley. "It's not that way in the Adirondacks."
She was still gazing upward when a man approached her and said the stagefor Oak Creek Canyon would soon be ready to start, and he wanted to knowif her baggage was ready. Carley hurried back to her room to pack.
She had expected the stage would be a motor bus, or at least a largetouring car, but it turned out to be a two-seated vehicle drawn bya team of ragged horses. The driver was a little wizen-faced man ofdoubtful years, and he did not appear obviously susceptible to theimportance of his passenger. There was considerable freight to behauled, besides Carley's luggage, but evidently she was the onlypassenger.
"Reckon it's goin' to be a bad day," said the driver. "These April dayshigh up on the desert are windy an' cold. Mebbe it'll snow, too. Themclouds hangin' around the peaks ain't very promisin'. Now, miss, haven'tyou a heavier coat or somethin'?"
"No, I have not," replied Carley. "I'll have to stand it. Did you saythis was desert?"
"I shore did. Wal, there's a hoss blanket under the seat, an' you canhave that," he replied, and, climbing to the seat in front of Carley, hetook up the reins and started the horses off at a trot.
At the first turning Carley became specifically acquainted with thedriver's meaning of a bad day. A gust of wind, raw and penetrating,laden with dust and stinging sand, swept full in her face. It came sosuddenly that she was scarcely quick enough to close her eyes. It tookconsiderable clumsy effort on her part with a handkerchief, aided byrelieving tears, to clear her sight again. Thus uncomfortably Carleyfound herself launched on the last lap of her journey.
All before her and alongside lay the squalid environs of the town.Looked back at, with the peaks rising behind, it was not unpicturesque.But the hard road with its sheets of flying dust, the bleak railroadyards, the round pens she took for cattle corrals, and the sordid debrislittering the approach to a huge sawmill,--these were offensive inCarley's sight. From a tall dome-like stack rose a yellowish smoke thatspread overhead, adding to the lowering aspect of the sky. Beyondthe sawmill extended the open country sloping somewhat roughly, andevidently once a forest, but now a hideous bare slash, with ghastlyburned stems of trees still standing, and myriads of stumps attesting todenudation.
The bleak road wound away to the southwest, and from this direction camethe gusty wind. It did not blow regularly so that Carley could be on herguard. It lulled now and then, permitting her to look about, and thensuddenly again whipping dust into her face. The smell of the dust was asunpleasant as the sting. It made her nostrils smart. It was penetrating,and a little more of it would have been suffocating. And as a leadengray bank of broken clouds rolled up the wind grew stronger and the aircolder. Chilled before, Carley now became thoroughly cold.
There appeared to be no end to the devastated forest land, and thefarther she rode the more barren and sordid grew the landscape. Carleyforgot about the impressive mountains behind her. And as the ride woreinto hours, such was her discomfort and disillusion that she forgotabout Glenn Kilbourne. She did not reach the point of regretting heradventure, but she grew mightily unhappy. Now and then she espieddilapidated log cabins and surroundings even more squalid than theruined forest. What wretched abodes! Could it be possible that peoplehad lived in them? She imagined men had but hardly women and children.Somewhere she had forgotten an idea that women and children wereextremely scarce in the West.
Straggling bits of forest--yellow pines, the driver called thetrees--began to encroach upon the burned-over and arid barren land. ToCarley these groves, by reason of contrast and proof of what once was,only rendered the landscape more forlorn and dreary. Why had these milesand miles of forest been cut? By money grubbers, she supposed, the sameas were devastating the Adirondacks. Presently, when the driver had tohalt to repair or adjust something wrong with the harness, Carley wasgrateful for a respite from cold inaction. She got out and walked. Sleetbegan to fall, and when she resumed her seat in the vehicle she askedthe driver for the blanket to cover her. The smell of this horse blanketwas less endurable than the cold. Carley huddled down into a state ofapathetic misery. Already she had enough of the West.
But the sleet storm passed, the clouds broke, the sun shone through,greatly mitigating her discomfort. By and by the road led into a sectionof real forest, unspoiled in any degree. Carley saw large gray squirrelswith tufted ears and white bushy tails. Presently the driver pointedout a flock of huge birds, which Carley, on second glance, recognizedas turkeys, only these were sleek and glossy, with flecks of bronze andblack and white, quite different from turkeys back East. "There must bea farm near," said Carley, gazing about.
"No, ma'am. Them's wild turkeys," replied the driver, "an' shore thebest eatin' you ever had in your life."
A little while afterwards, as they were emerging from the woodlandinto more denuded country, he pointed out to Carley a herd of graywhite-rumped animals that she took to be sheep.
"An' them's antelope," he said. "Once this desert was overrun byantelope. Then they nearly disappeared. An' now they're increasin'again."
More barren country, more bad weather, and especially an exceedinglyrough road reduced Carley to her former state of dejection. The joltingover roots and rocks and ruts was worse than uncomfortable. She had tohold on to the seat to keep from being thrown out. The horses did notappreciably change their gait for rough sections of the road. Then amore severe jolt brought Carley's knee in violent contact with an ironbolt on the forward seat, and it hurt her so acutely that she had tobite her lips to keep from screaming. A smoother stretch of road did notcome any too soon for her.
It led into forest again. And Carley soon became aware that they had atlast left the cut and burned-over district of timberland behind. A coldwind moaned through the treetops and set the drops of water patteringdown upon her. It lashed her wet face. Carley closed her eyes and saggedin her seat, mostly oblivious to the passing scenery. "The girls willnever believe this of me," she soliloquized. And indeed she was amazedat herself. Then thought of Glenn strengthened her. It did not reallymatter what she suffered on the way to him. Only she was disgusted ather lack of stamina, and her appalling sensitiveness to discomfort.
"Wal, hyar's Oak Creek Canyon," called the driver.
Carley, rousing out of her weary preoccupation, opened her eyes to seethat the driver had halted at a turn of the road, where apparently itdescended a fearful declivity.
The very forest-fringed earth seemed to have opened into a deep abyss,ribbed by red rock walls and choked by steep mats of green timber. Thechasm was a V-shaped split and so deep that looking downward sent atonce a chill and a shudder over Carley. At that point it appeared narrowand ended in a box. In the other direction, it widened and deepened,and stretched farther on
"Don't be scart, ma'am," spoke up the driver. "It's safe if you'recareful. An' I've druv this manys the time."
Carley's heartbeats thumped at her side, rather denying her tauntedassurance of fearlessness. Then the rickety vehicle started down at anangle that forced her to cling to her seat.
The Call of the Canyon by Zane Grey / Western have rating 3 out of 5 / Based on15 votes