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The Man of the Desert by Hill, Grace Livingston, 1865-1947

The Man of the Desert by Hill, Grace Livingston, 1865-1947

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The Man of the Desert


Made in the United States of America
Copyright, 1914, by

New York: 158 Fifth Avenue
Chicago: 125 North Wabash Ave.
Toronto: 25 Richmond Street, W.
London: 21 Paternoster Square
Edinburgh: 100 Princes Street

The Man
The Desert
The Quest
The Trail
VII. Revelation
VIII. Renunciation
The Man of the Desert
"For Remembrance"
His Mother

180 XII. Qualifying for Service 197 XIII. The Call of the Desert 218 XIV. Home

232 XV. The Way of the Cross 253 XVI. The Letter

XVII. Dedication

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 shacks\u2014drawn thither by the sight of the great private car that the night express had left on a side track\ue000the 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[10] 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\ue001
Buzz around, buzz around\ue002\ue003"
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 were\ue004dining?\ue005it 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[11] 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
The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Man of the Desert, by Grace Livingston Hill.

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

At eleven o'clock the horses arrived, four[12] 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 son\ue006a
handsome reckless looking fellow\ue007his 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 breath[13]lessly 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

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.

The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Man of the Desert, by Grace Livingston Hill.

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