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Desert Gold by Zane Grey

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dark and silent Indian that he had always been. This parting was
nothing to him. He had stayed to pay a debt, and now he was going

He shook hands with the men, swept a dark fleeting glance over Nell,
and rested his strange eyes upon Mercedes's beautiful and agitated
face. It must have been a moment of intense feeling for the Spanish
girl. She owed it to him that she had life and love and happiness.
She held out those speaking slender hands. But Yaqui did not touch them.
Turning away, he mounted the broncho and rode down the trail toward the river.

"He's going home," said Belding.

"Home!" whispered Ladd; and Dick knew the ranger felt the resurging
tide of memory. Home--across the cactus and lava, through solemn
lonely days, the silent, lonely nights, into the vast and red-hazed
world of desolation.

"Thorne, Mercedes, Nell, let's climb the foothill yonder and watch
him out of sight," said Dick.

They climbed while the others returned to the house. When they reached
the summit of the hill Yaqui was riding up the far bank of the river.

"He will turn to look--to wave good-by?" asked Nell.

"Dear he is an Indian," replied Gale.

From that height they watched him ride through the mesquites, up
over the river bank to enter the cactus. His mount showed dark
against the green and white, and for a long time he was plainly
in sight. The sun hung red in a golden sky. The last the watchers
saw of Yaqui was when he rode across a ridge and stood silhouetted
against the gold of desert sky--a wild, lonely, beautiful picture.
Then he was gone.

Strangely it came to Gale then that he was glad. Yaqui had returned
to his own--the great spaces, the desolation, the solitude--to the
trails he had trodden when a child, trails haunted now by ghosts
of his people, and ever by his gods. Gale realized that in the
Yaqui he had known the spirit of the desert, that this spirit had
claimed all which was wild and primitive in him.

Tears glistened in Mercedes's magnificent black eyes, and Thorne
kissed them away--kissed the fire back to them and the flame to
her cheeks.

That action recalled Gale's earlier mood, the joy of the present, and
he turned to Nell's sweet face. The desert was there, wonderful,
constructive, ennobling, beautiful, terrible, but it was not for him
as it was for the Indian. In the light of Nell's tremulous returning
smile that strange, deep, clutching shadow faded, lost its hold
forever; and he leaned close to her, whispering: "Lluvia d'oro"--
"Shower of Gold."

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