Part 1 out of 5
Etext prepared by: Bill Brewer
Corrections by: Rick Fane
THE HERITAGE OF THE DESERT
THE SIGN OF THE SUNSET
"BUT the man's almost dead."
The words stung John Hare's fainting spirit into life. He opened his
eyes. The desert still stretched before him, the appalling thing that
had overpowered him with its deceiving purple distance. Near by stood a
sombre group of men.
"Leave him here," said one, addressing a gray-bearded giant. "He's the
fellow sent into southern Utah to spy out the cattle thieves. He's all
but dead. Dene's outlaws are after him. Don't cross Dene."
The stately answer might have come from a Scottish Covenanter or a
follower of Cromwell.
"Martin Cole, I will not go a hair's-breadth out of my way for Dene or
any other man. You forget your religion. I see my duty to God."
"Yes, August Naab, I know," replied the little man, bitterly. "You would
cast the Scriptures in my teeth, and liken this man to one who went down
from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves. But I've suffered
enough at the hands of Dene."
The formal speech, the Biblical references, recalled to the reviving Hare
that he was still in the land of the Mormons. As he lay there the
strange words of the Mormons linked the hard experience of the last few
days with the stern reality of the present.
"Martin Cole, I hold to the spirit of our fathers," replied Naab, like
one reading from the Old Testament. "They came into this desert land to
worship and multiply in peace. They conquered the desert; they prospered
with the years that brought settlers, cattle-men, sheep-herders, all
hostile to their religion and their livelihood. Nor did they ever fail
to succor the sick and unfortunate. What are our toils and perils
compared to theirs? Why should we forsake the path of duty, and turn
from mercy because of a cut-throat outlaw? I like not the sign of the
times, but I am a Mormon; I trust in God."
"August Naab, I am a Mormon too," returned Cole, "but my hands are
stained with blood. Soon yours will be if you keep your water-holes and
your cattle. Yes, I know. You're strong, stronger than any of us, far
off in your desert oasis, hemmed in by walls, cut off by canyons, guarded
by your Navajo friends. But Holderness is creeping slowly on you. He'll
ignore your water rights and drive your stock. Soon Dene will steal
cattle under your very eyes. Don't make them enemies."
"I can't pass by this helpless man," rolled out August Naab's sonorous
Suddenly, with livid face and shaking hand, Cole pointed westward.
"There! Dene and his band! See, under the red wall; see the dust, not ten
miles away. See them?"
The desert, gray in the foreground, purple in the distance, sloped to the
west. Eyes keen as those of hawks searched die waste, and followed the
red mountain rampart, which, sheer in bold height and processional in its
craggy sweep, shut out the north. Far away little puffs of dust rose
above the white sage, and creeping specks moved at a snail's pace.
"See them? Ah! then look, August Naab, look in the heavens above for my
prophecy," cried Cole, fanatically. "The red sunset--the sign of the
A broad bar of dense black shut out the April sky, except in the extreme
west, where a strip of pale blue formed background for several clouds of
striking color and shape. They alone, in all that expanse, were dyed in
the desert's sunset crimson. The largest projected from behind the dark
cloud-bank in the shape of a huge fist, and the others, small and round,
floated below. To Cole it seemed a giant hand, clutching, with
inexorable strength, a bleeding heart. His terror spread to his
companions as they stared.
Then, as light surrendered to shade, the sinister color faded; the
tracing of the closed hand softened; flush and glow paled, leaving the
sky purple, as if mirroring the desert floor. One golden shaft shot up,
to be blotted out by sudden darkening change, and the sun had set.
"That may be God's will," said August Naab. "So be it. Martin Cole,
take your men and go."
There was a word, half oath, half prayer, and then rattle of stirrups,
the creak of saddles, and clink of spurs, followed by the driving rush of
fiery horses. Cole and his men disappeared in a pall of yellow dust.
A wan smile lightened John Hare's face as he spoke weakly: "I fear your--
generous act--can't save me . . . may bring you harm. I'd rather you left
me--seeing you have women in your party."
"Don't try to talk yet," said August Naab. "You're faint. Here--drink."
He stooped to Hare, who was leaning against a sage-bush, and held a flask
to his lips. Rising, he called to his men: "Make camp, sons. We've an
hour before the outlaws come up, and if they don't go round the sand-dune
we'll have longer."
Hare's flagging senses rallied, and he forgot himself in wonder. While
the bustle went on, unhitching of wagon-teams, hobbling and feeding of
horses, unpacking of camp-supplies, Naab appeared to be lost in deep
meditation or prayer. Not once did he glance backward over the trail on
which peril was fast approaching. His gaze was fastened on a ridge to
the east where desert line, fringed by stunted cedars, met the pale-blue
sky, and for a long time he neither spoke nor stirred. At length he
turned to the camp-fire; he raked out red coals, and placed the iron pots
in position, by way of assistance to the women who were preparing the
A cool wind blew in from the desert, rustling the sage, sifting the sand,
fanning the dull coals to burning opals. Twilight failed and night fell;
one by one great stars shone out, cold and bright. From the zone of
blackness surrounding the camp burst the short bark, the hungry whine,
the long-drawn-out wail of desert wolves.
"Supper, sons," called Naab, as he replenished the fire with an armful of
Naab's sons had his stature, though not his bulk. They were wiry, rangy
men, young, yet somehow old. The desert had multiplied their years.
Hare could not have told one face from another, the bronze skin and steel
eye and hard line of each were so alike. The women, one middle-aged, the
others young, were of comely, serious aspect.
"Mescal," called the Mormon.
A slender girl slipped from one of the covered wagons; she was dark,
supple, straight as an Indian.
August Naab dropped to his knees, and, as the members of his family bowed
their heads, he extended his hands over them and over the food laid on
"Lord, we kneel in humble thanksgiving. Bless this food to our use.
Strengthen us, guide us, keep us as Thou hast in the past. Bless this
stranger within our gates. Help us to help him. Teach us Thy ways, O
Hare found himself flushing and thrilling, found himself unable to
control a painful binding in his throat. In forty-eight hours he had
learned to hate the Mormons unutterably; here, in the presence of this
austere man, he felt that hatred wrenched from his heart, and in its
place stirred something warm and living. He was glad, for if he had to
die, as he believed, either from the deed of evil men, or from this last
struggle of his wasted body, he did not want to die in bitterness. That
simple prayer recalled the home he had long since left in Connecticut,
and the time when he used to tease his sister and anger his father and
hurt his mother while grace was being said at the breakfast-table. Now
he was alone in the world, sick and dependent upon the kindness of these
strangers. But they were really friends--it was a wonderful thought.
"Mescal, wait on the stranger," said August Naab, and the girl knelt
beside him, tendering meat and drink. His nerveless fingers refused to
hold the cup, and she put it to his lips while he drank. Hot coffee
revived him; he ate and grew stronger, and readily began to talk when the
Mormon asked for his story.
"There isn't much to tell. My name is Hare. I am twenty-four. My
parents are dead. I came West because the doctors said I couldn't live
in the East. At first I got better. But my money gave out and work
became a necessity. I tramped from place to place, ending up ill in Salt
Lake City. People were kind to me there. Some one got me a job with a
big cattle company, and sent me to Marysvale, southward over the bleak
plains. It was cold; I was ill when I reached Lund. Before I even knew
what my duties were for at Lund I was to begin work--men called me a spy.
A fellow named Chance threatened me. An innkeeper led me out the back
way, gave me bread and water, and said: 'Take this road to Bane; it's
sixteen miles. If you make it some one'll give you a lift North.' I
walked all night, and all the next day. Then I wandered on till I
dropped here where you found me."
"You missed the road to Bane," said Naab. "This is the trail to White
Sage. It's a trail of sand and stone that leaves no tracks, a lucky
thing for you. Dene wasn't in Lund while you were there--else you
wouldn't be here. He hasn't seen you, and he can't be certain of your
trail. Maybe he rode to Bane, but still we may find a way--"
One of his sons whistled low, causing Naab to rise slowly, to peer into
the darkness, to listen intently.
"Here, get up," he said, extending a hand to Hare. "Pretty shaky, eh?
Can you walk? Give me a hold--there. . . . Mescal, come." The slender
girl obeyed, gliding noiselessly like a shadow. "Take his arm." Between
them they led Hare to a jumble of stones on the outer edge of the circle
"It wouldn't do to hide," continued Naab, lowering his voice to a swift
whisper, "that might be fatal. You're in sight from the camp-fire, but
indistinct. By-and-by the outlaws will get here, and if any of them
prowl around close, you and Mescal must pretend to be sweethearts.
Understand? They'll pass by Mormon love-making without a second look.
Now, lad, courage . . . Mescal, it may save his life."
Naab returned to the fire, his shadow looming in gigantic proportions on
the white canopy of a covered wagon. Fitful gusts of wind fretted the
blaze; it roared and crackled and sputtered, now illuminating the still
forms, then enveloping them in fantastic obscurity. Hare shivered, per-
haps from the cold air, perhaps from growing dread. Westward lay the
desert, an impenetrable black void; in front, the gloomy mountain wall
lifted jagged peaks close to the stars; to the right rose the ridge, the
rocks and stunted cedars of its summit standing in weird relief.
Suddenly Hare's fugitive glance descried a dark object; he watched
intently as it moved and rose from behind the summit of the ridge to make
a bold black figure silhouetted against the cold clearness of sky. He
saw it distinctly, realized it was close, and breathed hard as the
wind-swept mane and tail, the lean, wild shape and single plume resolved
themselves into the unmistakable outline of an Indian mustang and rider.
"Look!" he whispered to the girl. "See, a mounted Indian, there on the
ridge--there, he's gone--no, I see him again. But that's another. Look!
there are more." He ceased in breathless suspense and stared fearfully
at a line of mounted Indians moving in single file over the ridge to
become lost to view in the intervening blackness. A faint rattling of
gravel and the peculiar crack of unshod hoof on stone gave reality to
that shadowy train.
"Navajos," said Mescal.
"Navajos!" he echoed. "I heard of them at Lund; 'desert hawks' the men
called them, worse than Piutes. Must we not alarm the men?--You--aren't
"But they are hostile."
"Not to him." She pointed at the stalwart figure standing against the
"Ah! I remember. The man Cole spoke of friendly Navajos. They must be
close by. What does it mean?"
"I'm not sure. I think they are out there in the cedars, waiting."
"Waiting! For what?"
"Perhaps for a signal."
"Then they were expected?"
"I don't know; I only guess. We used to ride often to White Sage and
Lund; now we go seldom, and when we do there seem to be Navajos near the
camp at night, and riding the ridges by day. I believe Father Naab
"Your father's risking much for me. He's good. I wish I could show my
"I call him Father Naab, but he is not my father."
"A niece or granddaughter, then?"
"I'm no relation. Father Naab raised me in his family. My mother was a
Navajo, my father a Spaniard."
"Why!" exclaimed Hare. "When you came out of the wagon I took you for an
Indian girl. But the moment you spoke--you talk so well--no one would
"Mormons are well educated and teach the children they raise," she said,
as he paused in embarrassment.
He wanted to ask if she were a Mormon by religion, but the question
seemed curious and unnecessary. His interest was aroused; he realized
suddenly that he had found pleasure in her low voice; it was new and
strange, unlike any woman's voice he had ever heard; and he regarded her
closely. He had only time for a glance at her straight, clean-cut
profile, when she turned startled eyes on him, eyes black as the night.
And they were eyes that looked through and beyond him. She held up a
hand, slowly bent toward the wind, and whispered:
Hare heard nothing save the barking of coyotes and the breeze in the
sage. He saw, however, the men rise from round the camp-fire to face the
north, and the women climb into the wagon, and close the canvas flaps.
And he prepared himself, with what fortitude he could command for the
approach of the outlaws. He waited, straining to catch a sound. His
heart throbbed audibly, like a muffled drum, and for an endless moment his
ears seemed deadened to aught else. Then a stronger puff of wind whipped
in, banging the rhythmic beat of flying hoofs. Suspense ended. Hare
felt the easing of a weight upon him Whatever was to be his fate, it
would be soon decided. The sound grew into a clattering roar. A black
mass hurled itself over the border of opaque circle, plunged into tile
light, and halted.
August Naab deliberately threw a bundle of grease-wood upon the
camp-fire. A blaze leaped up, sending abroad a red flare. "Who comes?"
"Friends, Mormons, friends," was the answer.
"Get down--friends--and come to the fire."
Three horsemen advanced to the foreground; others, a troop of eight or
ten, remained in the shadow, a silent group.
Hare sank back against the stone. He knew the foremost of those horsemen
though he had never seen him.
"Dene," whispered Mescal, and confirmed his instinctive fear.
Hare was nervously alive to the handsome presence of the outlaw.
Glimpses that he had caught of "bad" men returned vividly as he noted the
clean-shaven face, the youthful, supple body, the cool, careless mien.
Dene's eyes glittered as he pulled off his gauntlets and beat the sand
out of them; and but for that quick fierce glance his leisurely friendly
manner would have disarmed suspicion.
"Are you the Mormon Naab?" he queried.
"August Naab, I am."
"Dry camp, eh? Hosses tired, I reckon. Shore it's a sandy trail.
Where's the rest of you fellers?"
"Cole and his men were in a hurry to make White Sage to-night. They were
travelling light; I've heavy wagons."
"Naab, I reckon you shore wouldn't tell a lie?"
"I have never lied."
"Heerd of a young feller thet was in Lund--pale chap--lunger, we'd call
him back West?"
"I heard that he had been mistaken for a spy at Lund and had fled toward
"Hadn't seen nothin' of him this side of Lund?"
"Seen any Navvies?"
The outlaw stared hard at him. Apparently he was about to speak of the
Navajos, for his quick uplift of head at Naab's blunt affirmative
suggested the impulse. But he checked himself and slowly drew on his
"Naab, I'm shore comin' to visit you some day. Never been over thet
range. Heerd you hed fine water, fine cattle. An' say, I seen thet
little Navajo girl you have, an' I wouldn't mind seein' her again."
August Naab kicked the fire into brighter blaze. "Yes fine range," he
presently replied, his gaze fixed on Dene. "Fine water, fine cattle,
fine browse. I've a fine graveyard, too; thirty graves, and not one a
woman's. Fine place for graves, the canyon country. You don't have to
dig. There's one grave the Indians never named; it's three thousand feet
"Thet must be in hell," replied Dene, with a smile, ignoring the covert
meaning. He leisurely surveyed Naab's four sons, the wagons and horses,
till his eye fell upon Hare and Mescal. With that he swung in his saddle
as if to dismount.
"I shore want a look around."
"Get down, get down," returned the Mormon. The deep voice, unwelcoming,
vibrant with an odd ring, would have struck a less suspicious man than
Dene. The outlaw wrung his leg back over the pommel, sagged in the
saddle, and appeared to be pondering the question. Plainly he was
uncertain of his ground. But his indecision was brief.
"Two-Spot, you look 'em over," he ordered.
The third horseman dismounted and went toward the wagons.
Hare, watching this scene, became conscious that his fear had intensified
with the recognition of Two-Spot as Chance, the outlaw whom he would not
soon forget. In his excitement he moved against Mescal and felt her
"Are you afraid?" he whispered.
"Yes, of Dene."
The outlaw rummaged in one of the wagons, pulled aside the canvas flaps
of the other, laughed harshly, and then with clinking spurs tramped
through the camp, kicking the beds, overturning a pile of saddles, and
making disorder generally, till he spied the couple sitting on the stone
in the shadow.
As the outlaw lurched that way, Hare, with a start of recollection, took
Mescal in his arms and leaned his head against hers. He felt one of her
hands lightly brush his shoulder and rest there, trembling.
Shuffling footsteps scraped the sand, sounded nearer and nearer, slowed
"Sparkin'! Dead to the world. Ham! Haw! Haw!"
The coarse laugh gave place to moving footsteps. The rattling clink of
stirrup and spur mingled with the restless stamp of horse. Chance had
mounted. Dene's voice drawled out: "Good-bye, Naab, I shore will see you
all some day." The heavy thuds of many hoofs evened into a roar that
diminished as it rushed away.
In unutterable relief Hare realized his deliverance. He tried to rise,
but power of movement had gone from him.
He was fainting, yet his sensations were singularly acute. Mescal's hand
dropped from his shoulder; her cheek, that had been cold against his,
grew hot; she quivered through all her slender length. Confusion claimed
his senses. Gratitude and hope flooded his soul. Something sweet and
beautiful, the touch of this desert girl, rioted in his blood; his heart
swelled in exquisite agony. Then he was whirling in darkness; and he
knew no more.
THE night was as a blank to Hare; the morning like a drifting of hazy
clouds before his eyes. He felt himself moving; and when he awakened
clearly to consciousness he lay upon a couch on the vine-covered porch of
a cottage. He saw August Naab open a garden gate to admit Martin Cole.
They met as friends; no trace of scorn marred August's greeting, and
Martin was not the same man who had shown fear on the desert. His
welcome was one of respectful regard for his superior.
"Elder, I heard you were safe in," he said, fervently. "We feared--I
know not what. I was distressed till I got the news of your arrival.
How's the young man?"
"He's very ill. But while there's life there's hope."
"Will the Bishop administer to him?"
"Gladly, if the young man's willing. Come, let's go in."
"Wait, August," said Cole. "Did you know your son Snap was in the
"My son here!" August Naab betrayed anxiety. "I left him home with work.
He shouldn't have come. Is--is he--"
"He's drinking and in an ugly mood. It seems he traded horses with Jeff
Larsen, and got the worst of the deal. There's pretty sure to be a
"He always hated Larsen."
"Small wonder. Larsen is mean; he's as bad as we've got and that's
saying a good deal. Snap has done worse things than fight with Larsen.
He's doing a worse thing now, August--he's too friendly with Dene."
"I've heard--I've heard it before. But, Martin, what can I do?"
"Do? God knows. What can any of us do? Times have changed, August.
Dene is here in White Sage, free, welcome in many homes. Some of our
neighbors, perhaps men we trust, are secret members of this rustler's
"You're right, Cole. There are Mormons who are cattle-thieves. To my
eternal shame I confess it. Under cover of night they ride with Dene,
and here in our midst they meet him in easy tolerance. Driven from
Montana he comes here to corrupt our young men. God's mercy!"
"August, some of our young men need no one to corrupt them. Dene had no
great task to win them. He rode in here with a few outlaws and now he
has a strong band. We've got to face it. We haven't any law, but he can
be killed. Some one must kill him. Yet bad as Dene is, he doesn't
threaten our living as Holderness does. Dene steals a few cattle, kills
a man here and there. Holderness reaches out and takes our springs.
Because we've no law to stop him, he steals the blood of our life--water--
water--God's gift to the desert! Some one must kill Holderness, too!"
"Martin, this lust to kill is a fearful thing. Come in, you must pray
with the Bishop."
"No, it's not prayer I need, Elder," replied Cole, stubbornly. "I'm still
a good Mormon. What I want is the stock I've lost, and my fields green
August Naab had no answer for his friend. A very old man with snow-white
hair and beard came out on the porch.
"Bishop, brother Martin is railing again," said Naab, as Cole bared his
"Martin, my son, unbosom thyself," rejoined the Bishop.
"Black doubt and no light," said Cole, despondently. "I'm of the younger
generation of Mormons, and faith is harder for me. I see signs you can't
see. I've had trials hard to bear. I was rich in cattle, sheep, and
water. These Gentiles, this rancher Holderness and this outlaw Dene,
have driven my cattle, killed my sheep, piped my water off my fields. I
don't like the present. We are no longer in the old days. Our young men
are drifting away, and the few who return come with ideas opposed to
Mormonism. Our girls and boys are growing up influenced by the Gentiles
among us. They intermarry, and that's a death-blow to our creed."
"Martin, cast out this poison from your heart. Return to your faith.
The millennium will come. Christ will reign on earth again. The ten
tribes of Israel will be restored. The Book of Mormon is the Word of
God. The creed will live. We may suffer here and die, but our spirits
will go marching on; and the City of Zion will be builded over our
Cole held up his hands in a meekness that signified hope if not faith.
August Naab bent over Hare. "I would like to have the Bishop administer
to you," he said.
"What's that?" asked Hare.
"A Mormon custom, 'the laying on of hands.' We know its efficacy in
trouble and illness. A Bishop of the Mormon Church has the gift of
tongues, of prophecy, of revelation, of healing. Let him administer to
you. It entails no obligation. Accept it as a prayer."
"I'm willing." replied the young man.
Thereupon Naab spoke a few low words to some one through the open door.
Voices ceased; soft footsteps sounded without; women crossed the
threshold, followed by tall young men and rosy-checked girls and
round-eyed children. A white-haired old woman came forward with solemn
dignity. She carried a silver bowl which she held for the Bishop as he
stood close by Hare's couch. The Bishop put his hands into the bowl,
anointing them with fragrant oil; then he placed them on the young man's
head, and offered up a brief prayer, beautiful in its simplicty and
The ceremony ended, the onlookers came forward with pleasant words on
their lips, pleasant smiles on their faces. The children filed by his
couch, bashful yet sympathetic; the women murmured, the young men grasped
his hand. Mescal flitted by with downcast eye, with shy smile, but no
"Your fever is gone," said August Naab, with his hand on Hare's cheek.
"It comes and goes suddenly," replied Hare. "I feel better now, only I'm
oppressed. I can't breathe freely. I want air, and I'm hungry."
"Mother Mary, the lad's hungry. Judith, Esther, where are your wits?
Help your mother. Mescal, wait on him, see to his comfort."
Mescal brought a little table and a pillow, and the other girls soon
followed with food and drink; then they hovered about, absorbed in caring
"They said I fell among thieves," mused Hare, when he was once more
alone. "I've fallen among saints as well." He felt that he could never
repay this August Naab. "If only I might live!" he ejaculated. How
restful was this cottage garden! The green sward was a balm to his eyes.
Flowers new to him, though of familiar springtime hue, lifted fresh faces
everywhere; fruit-trees, with branches intermingling, blended the white
and pink of blossoms. There was the soft laughter of children in the
garden. Strange birds darted among the trees. Their notes were new, but
their song was the old delicious monotone--the joy of living and love of
spring. A green-bowered irrigation ditch led by the porch and unseen
water flowed gently, with gurgle and tinkle, with music in its hurry.
Innumerable bees murmured amid the blossoms.
Hare fell asleep. Upon returning drowsily to consciousness he caught
through half-open eyes the gleam of level shafts of gold sunlight low
down in the trees; then he felt himself being carried into the house to
be laid upon a bed. Some one gently unbuttoned his shirt at the neck,
removed his shoes, and covered him with a blanket. Before he had fully
awakened he was left alone, and quiet settled over the house. A
languorous sense of ease and rest lulled him to sleep again. In another
moment, it seemed to him, he was awake; bright daylight streamed through
the window, and a morning breeze stirred the faded curtain.
The drag in his breathing which was always a forerunner of a
coughing-spell warned him now; he put on coat and shoes and went outside,
where his cough attacked him, had its sway, and left him.
"Good-morning," sang out August Naab's cheery voice. "Sixteen hours of
sleep, my lad!"
"I did sleep, didn't I? No wonder I feel well this morning. A
peculiarity of my illness is that one day I'm down, the next day up."
"With the goodness of God, my lad, we'll gradually increase the days up.
Go in to breakfast. Afterward I want to talk to you. This'll be a busy
day for me, shoeing the horses and packing supplies. I want to start for
Hare pondered over Naab's words while he ate. The suggestion in them,
implying a relation to his future, made him wonder if the good Mormon
intended to take him to his desert home. He hoped so, and warmed anew to
this friend. But he had no enthusiasm for himself; his future seemed
Naab was waiting for him on the porch, and drew him away from the cottage
down the path toward the gate
"I want you to go home with me."
"You're kind--I'm only a sort of beggar--I've no strength left to work my
way. I'll go--though it's only to die."
"I haven't the gift of revelation--yet somehow I see that you won't die
of this illness. You will come home with me. It's a beautiful place, my
Navajo oasis. The Indians call it the Garden of Eschtah. If you can get
well anywhere it'll be there."
"I'll go but I ought not. What can I do for you?
"No man can ever tell what he may do for another. The time may come--
well, John, is it settled?" He offered his huge broad hand.
"It's settled--I--" Hare faltered as he put his hand in Naab's. The
Mormon's grip straightened his frame and braced him. Strength and
simplicity flowed from the giant's toil-hardened palm. Hare swallowed
his thanks along with his emotion, and for what he had intended to say he
substituted: "No one ever called me John. I don't know the name. Call
"Very well, Jack, and now let's see. You'll need some things from the
store. Can you come with me? It's not far."
"Surely. And now what I need most is a razor to scrape the alkali and
stubble off my face."
The wide street, bordered by cottages peeping out of green and white
orchards, stretched in a straight line to the base of the ascent which
led up to the Pink Cliffs. A green square enclosed a gray church, a
school-house and public hall. Farther down the main thoroughfare were
several weather-boarded whitewashed stores. Two dusty men were riding
along, one on each side of the wildest, most vicious little horse Hare
had ever seen. It reared and bucked and kicked, trying to escape from
two lassoes. In front of the largest store were a number of mustangs all
standing free, with bridles thrown over their heads and trailing on the
ground. The loungers leaning against the railing and about the doors
were lank brown men very like Naab's sons. Some wore sheepskin "chaps,"
some blue overalls; all wore boots and spurs, wide soft hats, and in
their belts, far to the back, hung large Colt's revolvers.
"We'll buy what you need, just as if you expected to ride the ranges for
me to-morrow," said Naab. "The first thing we ask a new man is, can he
ride? Next, can he shoot?"
"I could ride before I got so weak. I've never handled a revolver, but I
can shoot a rifle. Never shot at anything except targets, and it seemed
to come natural for me to hit them."
"Good. We'll show you some targets--lions, bears, deer, cats, wolves.
There's a fine forty-four Winchester here that my friend Abe has been
trying to sell. It has a long barrel and weighs eight pounds. Our
desert riders like the light carbines that go easy on a saddle. Most of
the mustangs aren't weight-carriers. This rifle has a great range; I've
shot it, and it's just the gun for you to use on wolves and coyotes.
You'll need a Colt and a saddle, too."
"By-the-way," he went on, as they mounted the store steps, "here's the
kind of money we use in this country." He handed Hare a slip of blue
paper, a written check for a sum of money, signed, but without register
of bank or name of firm. "We don't use real money," he added. "There's
very little coin or currency in southern Utah. Most of the Gentiles
lately come in have money, and some of us Mormons have a bag or two of
gold, but scarcely any of it gets into circulation. We use these checks,
which go from man to man sometimes for six months. The roundup of a check
means sheep, cattle, horses, grain, merchandise or labor. Every man gets
his real money's value without paying out an actual cent."
"Such a system at least means honest men," said Hare, laughing his
They went into a wide door to tread a maze of narrow aisles between boxes
and barrels, stacks of canned vegetables, and piles of harness and dry
goods; they entered an open space where several men leaned on a counter.
"Hello, Abe," said Naab; "seen anything of Snap?"
"Hello, August. Yes, Snap's inside. So's Holderness. Says he rode in
off the range on purpose to see you." Abe designated an open doorway from
which issued loud voices. Hare glanced into a long narrow room full of
smoke and the fumes of rum. Through the haze he made out a crowd of men
at a rude bar. Abe went to the door and called out: "Hey, Snap, your dad
wants you. Holderness, here's August Naab."
A man staggered up the few steps leading to the store and swayed in. His
long face had a hawkish cast, and it was gray, not with age, but with the
sage-gray of the desert. His eyes were of the same hue, cold yet burning
with little fiery flecks in their depths. He appeared short of stature
because of a curvature of the spine, but straightened up he would have
been tall. He wore a blue flannel shirt, and blue overalls; round his
lean hips was a belt holding two Colt's revolvers, their heavy, dark
butts projecting outward, and he had on high boots with long, cruel
"Howdy, father?" he said.
"I'm packing to-day," returned August Naab. "We ride out to-morrow. I
need your help."
"All-l right. When I get my pinto from Larsen."
"Never mind Larsen. If he got the better of you let the matter drop."
"Jeff got my pinto for a mustang with three legs. If I hadn't been drunk
I'd never have traded. So I'm looking for Jeff."
He bit out the last words with a peculiar snap of his long teeth, a
circumstance which caused Hare instantly to associate the savage clicking
with the name he had heard given this man. August Naab looked at him with
gloomy eyes and stern shut mouth, an expression of righteous anger,
helplessness and grief combined, the look of a man to whom obstacles had
been nothing, at last confronted with crowning defeat. Hare realized that
this son was Naab's first-born, best-loved, a thorn in his side, a black
"Say, father, is that the spy you found on the trail?" Snap's pale eyes
gleamed on Hare and the little flames seemed to darken and leap.
"This is John Hare, the young man I found. But he's not a spy."
"You can't make any one believe that. He's down as a spy. Dene's spy!
His name's gone over the ranges as a counter of unbranded stock. Dene
has named him and Dene has marked him. Don't take him home, as you've
taken so many sick and hunted men before. What's the good of it? You
never made a Mormon of one of them yet. Don't take him--unless you want
another grave for your cemetery. Ha! Ha!"
Hare recoiled with a shock. Snap Naab swayed to the door, and stepped
down, all the time with his face over his shoulder, his baleful glance on
Hare; then the blue haze swallowed him,
The several loungers went out; August engaged the storekeeper in
conversation, introducing Hare and explaining their wants. They
inspected the various needs of a range-rider, selecting, in the end, not
the few suggested by Hare, but the many chosen by Naab. The last
purchase was the rifle Naab had talked about. It was a beautiful weapon,
finely polished and carved, entirely out of place among the plain
coarse-sighted and coarse-stocked guns in the rack.
"Never had a chance to sell it," said Abe. "Too long and heavy for the
riders. I'll let it go cheap, half price, and the cartridges also, two
"Taken," replied Naab, quickly, with a satisfaction which showed he liked
"August, you must be going to shoot some?" queried Abe. "Something
bigger than rabbits and coyotes. Its about time--even if you are an
Elder. We Mormons must--" he broke off, continuing in a low tone: "Here's
Hare wheeled with the interest that had gathered with the reiteration of
this man's name. A new-comer stooped to get in the door. He out-topped
even Naab in height, and was a superb blond-bearded man, striding with
the spring of a mountaineer.
"Good-day to you, Naab," he said. "Is this the young fellow you picked
"Yes. Jack Hare," rejoined Naab.
"Well, Hare, I'm Holderness. You'll recall my name. You were sent to Lund
by men interested in my ranges. I expected to see you in Lund, but
couldn't get over."
Hare met the proffered hand with his own, and as he had recoiled from
Snap Naab so now he received another shock, different indeed but
impelling in its power, instinctive of some great portent. Hare was
impressed by an indefinable subtlety, a nameless distrust, as colorless
as the clear penetrating amber lightness of the eyes that bent upon him.
"Holderness, will you right the story about Hare?" inquired Naab.
"You mean about his being a spy? Well, Naab, the truth is that was his
job. I advised against sending a man down here for that sort of work.
It won't do. These Mormons will steal each other's cattle, and they've
got to get rid of them; so they won't have a man taking account of stock,
brands, and all that. If the Mormons would stand for it the rustlers
wouldn't. I'll take Hare out to the ranch and give him work, if he
wants. But he'd do best to leave Utah."
"Thank you, no," replied Hare, decidedly.
"He's going with me," said August Naab.
Holderness accepted this with an almost imperceptible nod, and he swept
Hare with eyes that searched and probed for latent possibilities. It was
the keen intelligence of a man who knew what development meant on the
desert; not in any sense an interest in the young man at present. Then
he turned his back.
Hare, feeling that Holderness wished to talk with Naab, walked to the
counter, and began assorting his purchases, but he could not help hearing
what was said.
"Lungs bad?" queried Holderness.
"One of them," replied Naab.
'He's all in. Better send him out of the country. He's got the name of
Dene's spy and he'll never get another on this desert. Dene will kill
him. This isn't good judgment, Naab, to take him with you. Even your
friends don't like it, and it means trouble for you."
"We've settled it," said Naab, coldly.
"Well, remember, I've warned you. I've tried to be friendly with you,
Naab, but you won't have it. Anyway, I've wanted to see you lately to
find out how we stand."
"What do you mean?"
"How we stand on several things--to begin with, there Mescal."
"You asked me several times for Mescal, and I said no."
"But I never said I'd marry her. Now I want her, and I will marry her."
"No," rejoined Naab, adding brevity to his coldness.
"Why not?" demanded Holderness. "Oh, well, I can't take that as an
insult. I know there's not enough money in Utah to get a girl away from
a Mormon. . . . About the offer for the water-rights--how do we stand?
I'll give you ten thousand dollars for the rights to Seeping Springs and
"Ten thousand!" ejaculated Naab. "Holderness, I wouldn't take a hundred
thousand. You might as well ask to buy my home, my stock, my range,
twenty years of toil, for ten thousand dollars!"
"You refuse? All right. I think I've made you a fair proposition," said
Holderness, in a smooth, quick tone. "The land is owned by the
Government, and though your ranges are across the Arizona line they
really figure as Utah land. My company's spending big money, and the
Government won't let you have a monopoly. No one man can control the
water-supply of a hundred miles of range. Times are changing. You want
to see that. You ought to protect yourself before it's too late."
"Holderness, this is a desert. No men save Mormons could ever have made
it habitable. The Government scarcely knows of its existence. It'll be
fifty years before man can come in here to take our water."
"Why can't he? The water doesn't belong to any one. Why can't he?"
"Because of the unwritten law of the desert. No Mormon would refuse you
or your horse a drink, or even a reasonable supply for your stock. But
you can't come in here and take our water for your own use, to supplant
us, to parch our stock. Why, even an Indian respects desert law!"
"Bah! I'm not a Mormon or an Indian. I'm a cattleman. It's plain
business with me. Once more I make you the offer."
Naab scorned to reply. The men faced each other for a silent moment,
their glances scintillating. Then Holderness whirled on his heel,
jostling into Hare.
"Get out of my way," said the rancher, in the disgust of intense
irritation. He swung his arm, and his open hand sent Hare reeling
against the counter.
"Jack," said Naab, breathing hard, "Holderness showed his real self
to-day. I always knew it, yet I gave him the benefit of the doubt. . . .
For him to strike you! I've not the gift of revelation, but I see--let us
On the return to the Bishop's cottage Naab did not speak once; the
transformation which had begun with the appearance of his drunken son had
reached a climax of gloomy silence after the clash with Holderness. Naab
went directly to the Bishop, and presently the quavering voice of the old
minister rose in prayer.
Hare dropped wearily into the chair on the porch; and presently fell into
a doze, from which he awakened with a start. Naab's sons, with Martin
Cole and several other men, were standing in the yard. Naab himself was
gently crowding the women into the house. When he got them all inside he
closed the door and turned to Cole.
"Was it a fair fight?"
"Yes, an even break. They met in front of Abe's. I saw the meeting.
Neither was surprised. They stood for a moment watching each other.
Then they drew--only Snap was quicker. Larsen's gun went off as he fell.
That trick you taught Snap saved his life again. Larsen was no slouch on
"Where's Snap now?"
"Gone after his pinto. He was sober. Said he'd pack at once. Larsen's
friends are ugly. Snap said to tell you to hurry out of the village with
young Hare, if you want to take him at all. Dene has ridden in; he
swears you won't take Hare away."
"We're all packed and ready to hitch up," returned Naab. "We could start
at once, only until dark I'd rather take chances here than out on the
"Snap said Dene would ride right into the Bishop's after Hare."
"No. He wouldn't dare."
"Father!" Dave Naab spoke sharply from where he stood high on a grassy
bank. "Here's Dene now, riding up with Culver, and some man I don't
know. They're coming in. Dene's jumped the fence! Look out!"
A clatter of hoofs and rattling of gravel preceded the appearance of a
black horse in the garden path. His rider bent low to dodge the vines of
the arbor, and reined in before the porch to slip out of the saddle with
the agility of an Indian. It was Dene, dark, smiling, nonchalant.
"What do you seek in the house of a Bishop?" challenged August Naab,
planting his broad bulk square before Hare.
"What do you seek in the house of a Bishop?" repeated Naab.
"I shore want to see the young feller you lied to me about," returned
Dene, his smile slowly fading.
"No speech could be a lie to an outlaw."
"I want him, you Mormon preacher!"
"You can't have him."
"I'll shore get him."
In one great stride Naab confronted and towered over Dene.
The rustler's gaze shifted warily from Naab to the quiet Mormons and back
again. Then his right hand quivered and shot downward. Naab's act was
even quicker. A Colt gleamed and whirled to the grass, and the outlaw
cried as his arm cracked in the Mormon's grasp
Dave Naab leaped off the bank directly in front of Dene's approaching
companions, and faced them, alert and silent, his hand on his hip.
August Naab swung the outlaw against the porch-post and held him there
with brawny arm.
"Whelp of an evil breed!" he thundered, shaking his gray head. "Do you
think we fear you and your gunsharp tricks? Look! See this!" He released
Dene and stepped back with his hand before him. Suddenly it moved,
quicker than sight, and a Colt revolver lay in his outstretched palm. He
dropped it back into the holster. "Let that teach you never to draw on me
again." He doubled his huge fist and shoved it before Dene's eyes. "One
blow would crack your skull like an egg-shell. Why don't I deal it?
Because, you mindless hell-hound, because there s a higher law than
man's--God's law--Thou shalt not kill! Understand that if you can. Leave
me and mine alone from this day. Now go!"
He pushed Dene down the path into the arms of his companions.
"Out with you!" said Dave Naab. "Hurry! Get your horse. Hurry! I'm not
so particular about God as Dad is!"
THE TRAIL OF THE RED WALL
AFTER the departure of Dene and his comrades Naab decided to leave White
Sage at nightfall. Martin Cole and the Bishop's sons tried to persuade
him to remain, urging that the trouble sure to come could be more safely
met in the village. Naab, however, was obdurate, unreasonably so, Cole
said, unless there were some good reason why he wished to strike the
trail in the night. When twilight closed in Naab had his teams ready and
the women shut in the canvas-covered wagons. Hare was to ride in an open
wagon, one that Naab had left at White Sage to be loaded with grain.
When it grew so dark that objects were scarcely discernible a man vaulted
the cottage fence.
"Dave, where are the boys?" asked Naab.
"Not so loud! The boys are coming," replied Dave in a whisper. "Dene is
wild. I guess you snapped a bone in his arm. He swears he'll kill us
all. But Chance and the rest of the gang won't be in till late. We've
time to reach the Coconina Trail, if we hustle."
"Any news of Snap?"
"He rode out before sundown."
Three more forms emerged from the gloom.
"All right, boys. Go ahead, Dave, you lead."
Dave and George Naab mounted their mustangs and rode through the gate;
the first wagon rolled after them, its white dome gradually dissolving in
the darkness; the second one started; then August Naab stepped to his
seat on the third with a low cluck to the team. Hare shut the gate and
climbed over the tail-board of the wagon.
A slight swish of weeds and grasses brushing the wheels was all the sound
made in the cautious advance. A bare field lay to the left; to the right
low roofs and sharp chimneys showed among the trees; here and there
lights twinkled. No one hailed; not a dog barked.
Presently the leaders turned into a road where the iron hoofs and wheels
cracked and crunched the stones.
Hare thought he saw something in the deep shade of a line of
poplar-trees; he peered closer, and made out a motionless horse and
rider, just a shade blacker than the deepest gloom. The next instant
they vanished, and the rapid clatter of hoofs down the road told Hare his
eyes had not deceived him.
"Getup," growled Naab to his horses. "Jack, did you see that fellow?"
"Yes. What was he doing there?"
"Watching the road. He's one of Dene's scouts."
One of Naab's sons came trotting back. "Think that was Larsen's pal. He
was laying in wait for Snap."
"I thought he was a scout for Dene," replied August.
"Maybe he's that too."
"Likely enough. Hurry along and keep the gray team going lively.
They've had a week's rest."
Hare watched the glimmering lights of the village vanish one by one, like
Jack-o'-lanterns. The horses kept a steady, even trot on into the huge
windy hall of the desert night. Fleecy clouds veiled the stars, yet
transmitted a wan glow. A chill crept over Hare. As he crawled under
the blankets Naab had spread for him his hand came into contact with a
polished metal surface cold as ice. It was his rifle. Naab had placed
it under the blankets. Fingering the rifle Hare found the spring opening
on the right side of the breech, and, pressing it down, he felt the round
head of a cartridge. Naab had loaded the weapon, he had placed it where
Hare's hand must find it, yet he had not spoken of it. Hare did not stop
to reason with his first impulse. Without a word, with silent
insistence, disregarding his shattered health, August Naab had given him
a man's part to play. The full meaning lifted Hare out of his
self-abasement; once more he felt himself a man.
Hare soon yielded to the warmth of the blankets; a drowsiness that he
endeavored in vain to throw off smothered his thoughts; sleep glued his
eyelids tight. They opened again some hours later. For a moment he
could not realize where he was; then the whip of the cold wind across his
face, the woolly feel and smell of the blankets, and finally the steady
trot of horses and the clink of a chain swinging somewhere under him,
recalled the actually of the night ride. He wondered how many miles had
been covered, how the drivers knew the direction and kept the horses in
the trail, and whether the outlaws were in pursuit. When Naab stopped
the team and, climbing down, walked back some rods to listen, Hare felt
sure that Dene was coming. He listened, too, but the movements of the
horses and the rattle of their harness were all the sounds he could hear.
Naab returned to his seat; the team started, now no longer in a trot;
they were climbing. After that Hare fell into a slumber in which he
could hear the slow grating whirr of wheels, and when it ceased he awoke
to raise himself and turn his ear to the back trail. By-and-by he
discovered that the black night had changed to gray; dawn was not far
distant; he dozed and awakened to clear light. A rose-red horizon lay
far below and to the eastward; the intervening descent was like a rolling
sea with league-long swells.
"Glad you slept some," was Naab's greeting. "No sign of Dene yet. If we
can get over the divide we're safe. That's Coconina there, Fire Mountain
in Navajo meaning. It's a plateau low and narrow at this end, but it
runs far to the east and rises nine thousand feet. It forms a hundred
miles of the north rim of the Grand Canyon. We're across the Arizona
Hare followed the sweep of the ridge that rose to the eastward, but to
his inexperienced eyes its appearance carried no sense of its noble
"Don't form any ideas of distance and size yet a while," said Naab,
reading Hare's expression. "They'd only have to be made over as soon as
you learn what light and air are in this country. It looks only half a
mile to the top of the divide; well, if we make it by midday we're lucky.
There, see a black spot over this way, far under the red wall? Look
sharp. Good I That's Holderness's ranch. It's thirty miles from here.
Nine Mile Valley heads in there. Once it belonged to Martin Cole.
Holderness stole it. And he's begun to range over the divide."
The sun rose and warmed the chill air. Hare began to notice the
increased height and abundance of the sagebrush, which was darker in
color. The first cedar-tree, stunted in growth, dead at the top, was the
half-way mark up the ascent, so Naab said; it was also the forerunner of
other cedars which increased in number toward the summit. At length
Hare, tired of looking upward at the creeping white wagons, closed his
eyes. The wheels crunched on the stones; the horses heaved and labored;
Naab's "Getup" was the only spoken sound; the sun beamed down warm, then
hot; and the hours passed. Some unusual noise roused Hare out of his
lethargy. The wagon was at a standstill. Naab stood on the seat with
outstretched arm. George and Dave were close by their mustangs, and Snap
Naab, mounted on a cream-colored pinto, reined him under August's arm,
and faced the valley below.
"Maybe you'll make them out," said August. "I can't, and I've watched
those dust-clouds for hours. George can't decide, either."
Hare, looking at Snap, was attracted by the eyes from which his father
and brothers expected so much. If ever a human being had the eyes of a
hawk Snap Naab had them. The little brown flecks danced in clear pale
yellow. Evidently Snap had not located the perplexing dust-clouds, for
his glance drifted. Suddenly the remarkable vibration of his pupils
ceased, and his glance grew fixed, steely, certain.
"That's a bunch of wild mustangs," he said.
Hare gazed till his eyes hurt, but could see neither clouds of dust nor
moving objects. No more was said. The sons wheeled their mustangs and
rode to the fore; August Naab reseated himself and took up the reins; the
But it proceeded leisurely, with more frequent rests. At the end of an
hour the horses toiled over the last rise to the summit and entered a
level forest of cedars; in another hour they were descending gradually.
"Here we are at the tanks," said Naab.
Hare saw that they had come up with the other wagons. George Naab was
leading a team down a rocky declivity to a pool of yellow water. The
other boys were unharnessing and unsaddling.
"About three," said Naab, looking at the sun. "We're in good time.
Jack, get out and stretch yourself. We camp here. There's the Coconina
Trail where the Navajos go in after deer."
It was not a pretty spot, this little rock-strewn glade where the white
hard trail forked with the road. The yellow water with its green scum
made Hare sick. The horses drank with loud gulps. Naab and his sons
drank of it. The women filled a pail and portioned it out in basins and
washed their faces and hands with evident pleasure. Dave Naab whistled
as he wielded an axe vigorously on a cedar. It came home to Hare that
the tension of the past night and morning had relaxed. Whether to
attribute that fact to the distance from White Sage or to the arrival at
the water-hole he could not determine. But the certainty was shown in
August's cheerful talk to the horses as he slipped bags of grain over
their noses, and in the subdued laughter of the women. Hare sent up an
unspoken thanksgiving that these good Mormons had apparently escaped from
the dangers incurred for his sake. He sat with his back to a cedar and
watched the kindling of fires, the deft manipulating of biscuit dough in
a basin, and the steaming of pots. The generous meal was spread on a
canvas cloth, around which men and women sat cross-legged, after the
fashion of Indians. Hare found it hard to adapt his long legs to the
posture, and he wondered how these men, whose legs were longer than his,
could sit so easily. It was the crown of a cheerful dinner after hours
of anxiety and abstinence to have Snap Naab speak civilly to him, and to
see him bow his head meekly as his father asked the blessing. Snap ate
as though he had utterly forgotten that he had recently killed a man; to
hear the others talk to him one would suppose that they had forgotten it
All had finished eating, except Snap and Dave Naab, when one of the
mustangs neighed shrilly. Hare would not have noticed it but for looks
exchanged among the men The glances were explained a few minutes later
when a pattering of hoofs came from the cedar forest, and a stream of
mounted Indians poured into the glade.
The ugly glade became a place of color and action. The Navajos rode
wiry, wild-looking mustangs and drove ponies and burros carrying packs,
most of which consisted of deer-hides. Each Indian dismounted, and
unstrapping the blanket which had served as a saddle headed his mustang
for the water-hole and gave him a slap. Then the hides and packs were
slipped from the pack-train, and soon the pool became a kicking,
splashing melee. Every cedar-tree circling the glade and every branch
served as a peg for deer meat. Some of it was in the haunch, the bulk in
dark dried strips. The Indians laid their weapons aside. Every sagebush
and low stone held a blanket. A few of these blankets were of solid
color, most of them had bars of white and gray and red, the last color
predominating. The mustangs and burros filed out among the cedars,
nipping at the sage and the scattered tufts of spare grass. A group of
fires, sending up curling columns of blue smoke, and surrounded by a
circle of lean, half-naked, bronze-skinned Indians, cooking and eating,
completed a picture which afforded Hare the satisfying fulfilment of
boyish dreams. What a contrast to the memory of a camp-site on the
Connecticut shore, with boy friends telling tales in the glow of the
fire, and the wash of the waves on the beach!
The sun sank low in the west, sending gleams through the gnarled branches
of the cedars, and turning the green into gold. At precisely the moment
of sunset, the Mormon women broke into soft song which had the element of
prayer; and the lips of the men moved in silent harmony. Dave Naab, the
only one who smoked, removed his pipe for the moment's grace to dying
This simple ceremony over, one of the boys put wood on the fire, and Snap
took a jews'-harp out of his pocket and began to extract doleful discords
from it, for which George kicked at him in disgust, finally causing him
to leave the circle and repair to the cedars, where he twanged with
"Jack," said August Naab, "our friends the Navajo chiefs, Scarbreast and
Eschtah, are coming to visit us. Take no notice of them at first.
They've great dignity, and if you entered their hogans they'd sit for
some moments before appearing to see you. Scarbreast is a war-chief.
Eschtah is the wise old chief of all the Navajos on the Painted Desert.
It may interest you to know he is Mescal's grandfather. Some day I'll
tell you the story."
Hare tried very hard to appear unconscious when two tall Indians stalked
into the circle of Mormons; he set his eyes on the white heart of the
camp-fire and waited. For several minutes no one spoke or even moved.
The Indians remained standing for a time; then seated themselves.
Presently August Naab greeted them in the Navajo language. This was a
signal for Hare to use his eyes and ears. Another interval of silence
followed before they began to talk. Hare could see only their blanketed
shoulders and black heads.
"Jack, come round here," said Naab at length. "I've been telling them
about you. These Indians do not like the whites, except my own family.
I hope you'll make friends with them."
"How do?" said the chief whom Naab had called Eschtah, a stately,
keen-eyed warrior, despite his age.
The next Navajo greeted him with a guttural word. This was a warrior
whose name might well have been Scarface, for the signs of conflict were
there. It was a face like a bronze mask, cast in the one expression of
untamed desert fierceness.
Hare bowed to each and felt himself searched by burning eyes, which were
doubtful, yet not unfriendly.
"Shake," finally said Eschtah, offering his hand.
"Ugh!" exclaimed Scarbreast, extending a bare silver-braceleted arm.
This sign of friendship pleased Naab. He wished to enlist the sympathies
of the Navajo chieftains in the young man's behalf. In his ensuing
speech, which was plentifully emphasized with gestures, he lapsed often
into English, saying "weak--no strong" when he placed his hand on Hare's
legs, and "bad" when he touched the young man's chest, concluding with
the words "sick--sick."
Scarbreast regarded Hare with great earnestness, and when Naab had
finished he said: "Chineago--ping!" and rubbed his hand over his stomach.
"He says you need meat--lots of deer-meat," translated Naab.
"Sick," repeated Eschtah, whose English was intelligible. He appeared to
be casting about in his mind for additional words to express his knowledge
of the white man's tongue, and, failing, continued in Navajo: "Tohodena--
Hare was nonplussed at the roar of laughter from the Mormons. August
shook like a mountain in an earthquake.
"Eschtah says, 'you hurry, get many squaws--many wives.'"
Other Indians, russet-skinned warriors, with black hair held close by
bands round their foreheads, joined the circle, and sitting before the
fire clasped their knees and talked. Hare listened awhile, and then,
being fatigued, he sought the cedar-tree where he had left his blankets.
The dry mat of needles made an odorous bed. He placed a sack of grain
for a pillow, and doubling up one blanket to lie upon, he pulled the
others over him. Then he watched and listened. The cedar-wood burned
with a clear flame, and occasionally snapped out a red spark. The voices
of the Navajos, scarcely audible, sounded "toa's" and "taa's"--syllables
he soon learned were characteristic and dominant--in low, deep murmurs.
It reminded Hare of something that before had been pleasant to his ear.
Then it came to mind: a remembrance of Mescal's sweet voice, and that
recalled the kinship between her and the Navajo chieftain. He looked
about, endeavoring to find her in the ring of light, for he felt in her a
fascination akin to the charm of this twilight hour. Dusky forms passed
to and fro under the trees; the tinkle of bells on hobbled mustangs rang
from the forest; coyotes had begun their night quest with wild howls; the
camp-fire burned red, and shadows flickered on the blanketed Indians; the
wind now moaned, now lulled in the cedars.
Hare lay back in his blankets and saw lustrous stars through the network
of branches. With their light in his face and the cold wind waving his
hair on his brow he thought of the strangeness of it all, of its
remoteness from anything ever known to him before, of its inexpressible
wildness. And a rush of emotion he failed wholly to stifle proved to him
that he could have loved this life if--if he had not of late come to
believe that he had not long to live. Still Naab's influence exorcised
even that one sad thought; and he flung it from him in resentment.
Sleep did not come so readily; he was not very well this night; the flush
of fever was on his cheek, and the heat of feverish blood burned his
body. He raised himself and, resolutely seeking for distraction, once
more stared at the camp-fire. Some time must have passed during his
dreaming, for only three persons were in sight. Naab's broad back was
bowed and his head nodded. Across the fire in its ruddy flicker sat
Eschtah beside a slight, dark figure. At second glance Hare recognized
Mescal. Surprise claimed him, not more for her presence there than for
the white band binding her smooth black tresses. She had not worn such
an ornament before. That slender band lent her the one touch which made
her a Navajo. Was it worn in respect to her aged grandfather? What did
this mean for a girl reared with Christian teaching? Was it desert
blood? Hare had no answers for these questions. They only increased the
mystery and romance. He fell asleep with the picture in his mind of
Eschtah and Mescal, sitting in the glow of the fire, and of August Naab,
"Jack, Jack, wake up." The words broke dully into his slumbers; wearily
he opened his eyes. August Naab bent over him, shaking him gently.
"Not so well this morning, eh? Here's a cup of coffee. We're all packed
and starting. Drink now, and climb aboard. We expect to make Seeping
Hare rose presently and, laboring into the wagon, lay down on the sacks.
He had one of his blind, sickening headaches. The familiar lumbering of
wheels began, and the clanking of the wagon-chain. Despite jar and jolt
he dozed at times, awakening to the scrape of the wheel on the leathern
brake. After a while the rapid descent of the wagon changed to a roll,
without the irritating rattle. He saw a narrow valley; on one side the
green, slow-swelling cedar slope of the mountain; on the other the
perpendicular red wall, with its pinnacles like spears against the sky.
All day this backward outlook was the same, except that each time he
opened aching eyes the valley had lengthened, the red wall and green
slope had come closer together in the distance. By and by there came a
halt, the din of stamping horses and sharp commands, the bustle and
confusion of camp. Naab spoke kindly to him, but he refused any food,
lay still and went to sleep.
Daylight brought him the relief of a clear head and cooled blood. The
camp had been pitched close under the red wall. A lichen-covered cliff,
wet with dripping water, overhung a round pool. A ditch led the water
down the ridge to a pond. Cattle stood up to their knees drinking;
others lay on the yellow clay, which was packed as hard as stone; still
others were climbing the ridge and passing down on both sides.
"You look as if you enjoyed that water," remarked Naab, when Hare
presented himself at the fire. "Well, it's good, only a little salty.
Seeping Springs this is, and it's mine. This ridge we call The Saddle;
you see it dips between wall and mountain and separates two valleys.
This valley we go through to-day is where my cattle range. At the other
end is Silver Cup Spring, also mine. Keep your eyes open now, my lad."
How different was the beginning of this day! The sky was as blue as the
sea; the valley snuggled deep in the embrace of wall and mountain. Hare
took a place on the seat beside Naab and faced the descent. The line of
Navajos, a graceful straggling curve of color on the trail, led the way
for the white-domed wagons.
Naab pointed to a little calf lying half hidden under a bunch of sage.
"That's what I hate to see. There's a calf, just born; its mother has
gone in for water. Wolves and lions range this valley. We lose hundreds
of calves that way."
As far as Hare could see red and white and black cattle speckled the
"If not overstocked, this range is the best in Utah," said Naab. "I say
Utah, but it's really Arizona. The Grand Canyon seems to us Mormons to
mark the line. There's enough browse here to feed a hundred thousand
cattle. But water's the thing. In some seasons the springs go almost
dry, though Silver Cup holds her own well enough for my cattle."
Hare marked the tufts of grass lying far apart on the yellow earth;
evidently there was sustenance enough in every two feet of ground to
support only one tuft.
"What's that?" he asked, noting a rolling cloud of dust with black
"Wild mustangs," replied Naab. "There are perhaps five thousand on the
mountain, and they are getting to be a nuisance. They're almost as bad
as sheep on the browse; and I should tell you that if sheep pass over a
range once the cattle will starve. The mustangs are getting too
plentiful. There are also several bands of wild horses."
"What's the difference between wild horses and mustangs?"
"I haven't figured that out yet. Some say the Spaniards left horses in
here three hundred years ago. Wild? They are wilder than any naturally
wild animal that ever ran on four legs. Wait till you get a look at
Silvermane or Whitefoot."
"What are they?"
"Wild stallions. Silvermane is an iron gray, with a silver mane, the
most beautiful horse I ever saw. Whitefoot's an old black shaggy demon,
with one white foot. Both stallions ought to be killed. They fight my
horses and lead off the mares. I had a chance to shoot Silvermane on the
way over this trip, but he looked so splendid that I just laid down my
"Can they run?" asked Hare eagerly, with the eyes of a man who loved a
"Run? Whew! Just you wait till you see Silvermane cover ground! He can
look over his shoulder at you and beat any horse in this country. The
Navajos have given up catching him as a bad job. Why--here! Jack! quick,
get out your rifle--coyotes!"
Naab pulled on the reins, and pointed to one side. Hare discerned three
grayish sharp-nosed beasts sneaking off in the sage, and he reached back
for the rifle. Naab whistled, stopping the coyotes; then Hare shot. The
ball cut a wisp of dust above and beyond them. They loped away into the
"How that rifle spangs!" exclaimed Naab. "It's good to hear it. Jack,
you shot high. That's the trouble with men who have never shot at game.
They can't hold low enough. Aim low, lower than you want. Ha! There's
another--this side--hold ahead of him and low, quick!--too high again."
It was in this way that August and Hare fell far behind the other wagons.
The nearer Naab got to his home the more genial he became. When he was
not answering Hare's queries he was giving information of his own accord,
telling about the cattle and the range, the mustangs, the Navajos, and
the desert. Naab liked to talk; he had said he had not the gift of
revelation, but he certainly had the gift of tongues.
The sun was in the west when they began to climb a ridge. A short
ascent, and a long turn to the right brought them under a bold spur of
the mountain which shut out the northwest. Camp had been pitched in a
grove of trees of a species new to Hare. From under a bowlder gushed the
sparkling spring, a grateful sight and sound to desert travellers. In a
niche of the rock hung a silver cup.
"Jack, no man knows how old this cup is, or anything about it. We named
the spring after it--Silver Cup. The strange thing is that the cup has
never been lost nor stolen. But--could any desert man, or outlaw, or
Indian, take it away, after drinking here?"
The cup was nicked and battered, bright on the sides, moss-green on the
bottom. When Hare drank from it he understood.
That evening there was rude merriment around the campfire. Snap Naab
buzzed on his jews'-harp and sang. He stirred some of the younger braves
to dancing, and they stamped and swung their arms, singing, "hoya-heeya-
howya," as they moved in and out of the firelight.
Several of the braves showed great interest in Snap's jews'-harp and
repeatedly asked him for it. Finally the Mormon grudgingly lent it to a
curious Indian, who in trying to play it went through such awkward
motions and made such queer sounds that his companions set upon him and
fought for possession of the instrument. Then Snap, becoming solicitous
for its welfare, jumped into the fray. They tussled for it amid the
clamor of a delighted circle. Snap, passing from jest to earnest, grew
so strenuous in his efforts to regain the harp that he tossed the Navajos
about like shuttle-cocks. He got the harp and, concealing it, sought to
break away. But the braves laid hold upon him, threw him to the ground,
and calmly sat astride him while they went through his pockets. August
Naab roared his merriment and Hare laughed till he cried. The incident
was as surprising to him as it was amusing. These serious Mormons and
silent Navajos were capable of mirth.
Hare would have stayed up as late as any of them, but August's saying to
him, "Get to bed: to-morrow will be bad!" sent him off to his blankets,
where he was soon fast asleep. Morning found him well, hungry, eager to
know what the day would bring.
"Wait," said August, soberly.
They rode out of the gray pocket in the ridge and began to climb. Hare
had not noticed the rise till they were started, and then, as the horses
climbed steadily he grew impatient at the monotonous ascent. There was
nothing to see; frequently it seemed that they were soon to reach the
summit, but still it rose above them. Hare went back to his comfortable
place on the sacks.
"Now, Jack," said August.
Hare gasped. He saw a red world. His eyes seemed bathed in blood. Red
scaly ground, bare of vegetation, sloped down, down, far down to a vast
irregular rent in the earth, which zigzagged through the plain beneath.
To the right it bent its crooked way under the brow of a black-timbered
plateau; to the left it straightened its angles to find a V-shaped vent
in the wall, now uplifted to a mountain range. Beyond this earth-riven
line lay something vast and illimitable, a far-reaching vision of white
wastes, of purple plains, of low mesas lost in distance. It was the
shimmering dust-veiled desert.
"Here we come to the real thing," explained Naab. "This is Windy Slope;
that black line is the Grand Canyon of Arizona; on the other side is the
Painted Desert where the Navajos live; Coconina Mountain shows his flat
head there to the right, and the wall on our left rises to the Vermillion
Cliffs. Now, look while you can, for presently you'll not be able to
"Wind, sand, dust, gravel, pebbles--watch out for your eyes!"
Naab had not ceased speaking when Hare saw that the train of Indians
trailing down the slope was enveloped in red clouds. Then the white
wagons disappeared. Soon he was struck in the back by a gust which
justified Naab's warning. It swept by; the air grew clear again; once
more he could see. But presently a puff, taking him unawares, filled his
eyes with dust difficult of removal. Whereupon he turned his back to the
The afternoon grew apace; the sun glistened on the white patches of
Coconina Mountain; it set; and the wind died.
"Five miles of red sand," said Naab. "Here's what kills the horses.
There was no trail. All before was red sand, hollows, slopes, levels,
dunes, in which the horses sank above their fetlocks. The wheels
ploughed deep, and little red streams trailed down from the tires. Naab
trudged on foot with the reins in his hands. Hare essayed to walk also,
soon tired, and floundered behind till Naab ordered him to ride again.
Twilight came with the horses still toiling.
"There! thankful I am when we get off that strip! But, Jack, that
trailless waste prevents a night raid on my home. Even the Navajos shun
it after dark. We'll be home soon. There's my sign. See? Night or
day we call it the Blue Star."
High in the black cliff a star-shaped, wind-worn hole let the blue sky
There was cheer in Naab's "Getup," now, and the horses quickened with it.
Their iron-shod hoofs struck fire from the rosy road. "Easy, easy--
soho!" cried Naab to his steeds. In the pitchy blackness under the
shelving cliff they picked their way cautiously, and turned a corner.
Lights twinkled in Hare's sight, a fresh breeze, coming from water,
dampened his cheek, and a hollow rumble, a long roll as of distant
thunder, filled his ears.
"What's that?" he asked.
"That, my lad, is what I always love to hear. It means I'm home. It's
the roar of the Colorado as she takes her first plunge into the Canyon."
AUGUST NAAB'S oasis was an oval valley, level as a floor, green with leaf
and white with blossom, enclosed by a circle of colossal cliffs of vivid
vermilion hue. At its western curve the Colorado River split the red
walls from north to south. When the wind was west a sullen roar, remote
as of some far-off driving mill, filled the valley; when it was east a
dreamy hollow hum, a somnolent song, murmured through the cottonwoods;
when no wind stirred, silence reigned, a silence not of serene plain or
mountain fastness, but shut in, compressed, strange, and breathless.
Safe from the storms of the elements as well as of the world was this
Garden of Eschtah.
Naab had put Hare to bed on the unroofed porch of a log house, but routed
him out early, and when Hare lifted the blankets a shower of
cotton-blossoms drifted away like snow. A grove of gray-barked trees
spread green canopy overhead, and through the intricate web shone crimson
walls, soaring with resistless onsweep up and up to shut out all but a
blue lake of sky.
"I want you to see the Navajos cross the river," said Naab.
Hare accompanied him out through the grove to a road that flanked the
first rise of the red wall; they followed this for half a mile, and
turning a corner came into an unobstructed view. A roar of rushing
waters had prepared Hare, but the river that he saw appalled him. It was
red and swift; it slid onward like an enormous slippery snake; its
constricted head raised a crest of leaping waves, and disappeared in a
dark chasm, whence came a bellow and boom.
"That opening where she jumps off is the head of the Grand Canyon," said
Naab. "It's five hundred feet deep there, and thirty miles below it's
five thousand. Oh, once in, she tears in a hurry! Come, we turn up the
Hare could find no speech, and he felt immeasurably small. All that he
had seen in reaching this isolated spot was dwarfed in comparison. This
"Crossing of the Fathers," as Naab called it, was the gateway of the
desert. This roar of turbulent waters was the sinister monotone of the
mighty desert symphony of great depths, great heights, great reaches.
On a sandy strip of bank the Navajos had halted. This was as far as they
could go, for above the wall jutted out into the river. From here the
head of the Canyon was not visible, and the roar of the rapids was
accordingly lessened in volume. But even in this smooth water the river
spoke a warning.
"The Navajos go in here and swim their mustangs across to that sand bar,"
explained Naab. "The current helps when she's high, and there's a
three-foot raise on now."
"I can't believe it possible. What danger they must run--those little
mustangs!" exclaimed Hare.
"Danger? Yes, I suppose so," replied Naab, as if it were a new idea.
"My lad, the Mormons crossed here by the hundreds. Many were drowned.
This trail and crossing were unknown except to Indians before the Mormon
The mustangs had to be driven into the water. Scarbreast led, and his
mustang, after many kicks and reluctant steps, went over his depth,
wetting the stalwart chief to the waist. Bare-legged Indians waded in
and urged their pack-ponies. Shouts, shrill cries, blows mingled with
snorts and splashes.
Dave and George Naab in flat boats rowed slowly on the down-stream side
of the Indians. Presently all the mustangs and ponies were in, the
procession widening out in a triangle from Scarbreast, the leader. The
pack-ponies appeared to swim better than the mounted mustangs, or else
the packs of deer-pelts made them more buoyant. When one-third way
across the head of the swimming train met the current, and the line of
progress broke. Mustang after mustang swept down with a rapidity which
showed the power of the current. Yet they swam steadily with flanks
shining, tails sometimes afloat, sometimes under, noses up, and riders
holding weapons aloft. But the pack-ponies labored when the current
struck them, and whirling about, they held back the Indians who were
leading them, and blocked those behind. The orderly procession of the
start became a broken line, and then a rout. Here and there a Navajo
slipped into the water and swam, leading his mustang; others pulled on
pack-ponies and beat their mounts; strong-swimming mustangs forged ahead;
weak ones hung back, and all obeyed the downward will of the current.
While Hare feared for the lives of some of the Navajos, and pitied the
laden ponies, he could not but revel in the scene, in its vivid action
and varying color, in the cries and shrill whoops of the Indians, and the
snorts of the frightened mustangs, in Naab's hoarse yells to his sons,
and the ever-present menacing roar from around the bend. The wildness of
it all, the necessity of peril and calm acceptance of it, stirred within
Hare the call, the awakening, the spirit of the desert.
August Naab's stentorian voice rolled out over the river. "Ho! Dave--the
yellow pinto--pull him loose--George, back this way--there's a pack
slipping--down now, downstream, turn that straggler in--Dave, in that
tangle--quick! There's a boy drowning-- his foot's caught-- he's been
kicked-- Hurry! Hurry!-- pull him in the boat-- There's a pony under--
Too late, George, let that one go-- let him go, I tell you!"
So the crossing of the Navajos proceeded, never an instant free from
danger in that churning current. The mustangs and ponies floundered
somewhat on the sand-bar and then parted the willows and appeared on a
trail skirting the red wall. Dave Naab moored his boat on that side of
the river, and returned with George.
"We'll look over my farm," said August, as they retraced their steps. He
led Hare through fields of alfalfa, in all stages of growth, explaining
that it yielded six crops a year. Into one ten-acre lot pigs and cows
had been turned to feed at will. Everywhere the ground was soggy; little
streams of water trickled down ditches. Next to the fields was an
orchard, where cherries were ripe, apricots already large, plum-trees
shedding their blossoms, and apple-trees just opening into bloom. Naab
explained that the products of his oasis were abnormal; the ground was
exceedingly rich and could be kept always wet; the reflection of the sun
from the walls robbed even winter of any rigor, and the spring, summer,
and autumn were tropical. He pointed to grape-vines as large as a man's
thigh and told of bunches of grapes four feet long; he showed sprouting
plants on which watermelons and pumpkins would grow so large that one man
could not lift them; he told of one pumpkin that held a record of taking
two men to roll it.
"I can raise any kind of fruit in such abundance that it can't be used.
My garden is prodigal. But we get little benefit, except for our own
use, for we cannot transport things across the desert."
The water which was the prime factor in all this richness came from a
small stream which Naab, by making a dam and tunnelling a corner of
cliff, had diverted from its natural course into his oasis.
Between the fence and the red wall there was a wide bare plain which
stretched to the house. At its farthest end was a green enclosure, which
Hare recognized as the cemetery mentioned by Snap. Hare counted thirty
graves, a few with crude monuments of stone, the others marked by wooden
"I've the reputation of doctoring the women, and letting the men die,"
said Naab, with a smile." I hardly think it's fair. But the fact is no
women are buried here. Some graves are of men I fished out of the river;
others of those who drifted here, and who were killed or died keeping
their secrets. I've numbered those unknown graves and have kept a
description of the men, so, if the chance ever comes, I may tell some one
where a father or brother lies buried. Five sons of mine, not one of
whom died a natural death, found graves here--God rest them! Here's the
grave of Mescal's father, a Spaniard. He was an adventurer. I helped
him over in Nevada when he was ill; he came here with me, got well, and
lived nine years, and he died without speaking one word of himself or
telling his name."
"What strange ends men come to!" mused Hare. Well, a grave was a grave,
wherever it lay. He wondered if he would come to rest in that quiet
nook, with its steady light, its simple dignity of bare plain graves
fitting the brevity of life, the littleness of man.
"We break wild mustangs along this stretch," said Naab, drawing Hare
away. "It's a fine run. Wait till you see Mescal on Black Bolly tearing
up the dust! She's a Navajo for riding."
Three huge corrals filled a wide curved space in the wall. In one corral
were the teams that had hauled the wagons from White Sage; in another
upward of thirty burros, drooping, lazy little fellows half asleep; in
the third a dozen or more mustangs and some horses which delighted Hare.
Snap Naab's cream pinto, a bay, and a giant horse of mottled white
attracted him most.
"Our best stock is out on the range," said Naab. "The white is Charger,
my saddle-horse. When he was a yearling he got away and ran wild for
three years. But we caught him. He's a weight-carrier and he can run
some. You're fond of a horse--I can see that."
"Yes," returned Hare, "but I--I'll never ride again." He said it
brightly, smiling the while; still the look in his eyes belied the
"I've not the gift of revelation, yet I seem to see you on a big gray
horse with a shining mane." Naab appeared to be gazing far away.
The cottonwood grove, at the western curve of the oasis, shaded the five
log huts where August's grown sons lived with their wives, and his own
cabin, which was of considerable dimensions. It had a covered porch on
one side, an open one on the other, a shingle roof, and was a roomy and
Naab was pointing out the school-house when he was interrupted by
childish laughter, shrieks of glee, and the rush of little feet.
"It's recess-time," he said.
A frantic crowd of tousled-headed little ones were running from the log
school-house to form a circle under the trees. There were fourteen of
them, from four years of age up to ten or twelve. Such sturdy, glad-eyed
children Hare had never seen. In a few moments, as though their happy
screams were signals, the shady circle was filled with hounds, and a
string of puppies stepping on their long ears, and ruffling
turkey-gobblers, that gobbled and gobbled, and guinea-hens with their
shrill cries, and cackling chickens, and a lame wild goose that hobbled
along alone. Then there were shiny peafowls screeching clarion calls
from the trees overhead, and flocks of singing blackbirds, and pigeons
hovering over and alighting upon the house. Last to approach were a
woolly sheep that added his baa-baa to the din, and a bald-faced burro
that walked in his sleep. These two became the centre of clamor. After
many tumbles four chubby youngsters mounted the burro; and the others,
with loud acclaim, shouting, "Noddle, Noddle, getup! getup!" endeavored
to make him go. But Noddle nodded and refused to awaken or budge. Then
an ambitious urchin of six fastened his hands in the fur of the sheep and
essayed to climb to his back. Willing hands assisted him. "Ride him,
Billy, ride him. Getup, Navvy, getup!"
Navvy evidently had never been ridden, for he began a fair imitation of a
bucking bronco. Billy held on, but the smile vanished and he corners of
his mouth drew down
"Hang on, Billy, hang on," cried August Naab, in delight. Billy hung on
a moment longer, and then Navvy, bewildered by the pestering crowd about
him, launched out and, butting into Noddle, spilled the four youngsters
and Billy also into a wriggling heap.
This recess-time completed Hare's introduction to the Naabs. There were
Mother Mary, and Judith and Esther, whom he knew, and Mother Ruth and her
two daughters very like their sisters. Mother Ruth, August's second
wife, was younger than Mother Mary, more comely of face, and more sad and
serious of expression. The wives of the five sons, except Snap Naab's
frail bride, were stalwart women, fit to make homes and rear children.
"Now, Jack, things are moving all right," said August. "For the present
you must eat and rest. Walk some, but don't tire yourself. We'll
practice shooting a little every day; that's one thing I'll spare time
for. I've a trick with a gun to teach you. And if you feel able, take a
burro and ride. Anyway, make yourself at home."
Hare found eating and resting to be matters of profound enjoyment.
Before he had fallen in with these good people it had been a year since
he had sat down to a full meal; longer still since he had eaten whole
some food. And now he had come to a "land overflowing with milk and
honey," as Mother Ruth smilingly said. He could not choose between roast
beef and chicken, and so he waived the question by taking both; and what
with the biscuits and butter, apple-sauce and blackberry jam, cherry pie
and milk like cream, there was danger of making himself ill. He told his
friends that he simply could not help it, which shameless confession
brought a hearty laugh from August and beaming smiles from his
For several days Hare was remarkably well, for an invalid. He won golden
praise from August at the rifle practice, and he began to take lessons in
the quick drawing and rapid firing of a Colt revolver. Naab was
wonderfully proficient in the use of both firearms; and his skill in
drawing the smaller weapon, in which his movement was quicker than the
eye, astonished Hare. "My lad," said August, "it doesn't follow because
I'm a Christian that I don't know how to handle a gun. Besides, I like
In these few days Hare learned what conquering the desert made of a man.
August Naab was close to threescore years; his chest was wide as a door,
his arm like the branch of an oak. He was a blacksmith, a mechanic, a
carpenter, a cooper, a potter. At his forge and in his shop, everywhere,
were crude tools, wagons, farming implements, sets of buckskin harness,
odds and ends of nameless things, eloquent and pregnant proof of the fact
that necessity is the mother of invention. He was a mason; the levee
that buffeted back the rage of the Colorado in flood, the wall that
turned the creek, the irrigation tunnel, the zigzag trail cut on the face
of the cliff--all these attested his eye for line, his judgment of
distance, his strength in toil. He was a farmer, a cattle man, a grafter
of fruit-trees, a breeder of horses, a herder of sheep, a preacher, a
physician. Best and strangest of all in this wonderful man was the
instinct and the heart to heal. "I don't combat the doctrine of the
Mormon church," he said, "but I administer a little medicine with my
healing. I learned that from the Navajos." The children ran to him with
bruised heads, and cut fingers, and stubbed toes; and his blacksmith's
hands were as gentle as a woman's. A mustang with a lame leg claimed his
serious attention; a sick sheep gave him an anxious look; a steer with a
gored skin sent him running for a bucket of salve. He could not pass by
a crippled quail. The farm was overrun by Navajo sheep which he had
found strayed and lost on the desert. Anything hurt or helpless had in
August Naab a friend. Hare found himself looking up to a great and
luminous figure, and he loved this man.
As the days passed Hare learned many other things. For a while illness
confined him to his bed on the porch. At night he lay listening to the
roar of the river, and watching the stars. Twice he heard a distant
crash and rumble, heavy as thunder, and he knew that somewhere along the
cliffs avalanches were slipping. By day he watched the cotton snow down
upon him, and listened to the many birds, and waited for the merry show
at recess-time. After a short time the children grew less shy and came
readily to him. They were the most wholesome children he had ever
known. Hare wondered about it, and decided it was not so much Mormon
teaching as isolation from the world. These children had never been out
of their cliff-walled home, and civilization was for them as if it were
not. He told them stories, and after school hours they would race to him
and climb on his bed, and beg for more.
He exhausted his supply of fairy-stories and animal stories; and had
begun to tell about the places and cities which he had visited when the
eager-eyed children were peremptorily called within by Mother Mary. This
pained him and he was at a loss to understand it. Enlightenment came,
however, in the way of an argument between Naab and Mother Mary which he
overheard. The elder wife said that the stranger was welcome to the
children, but she insisted that they hear nothing of the outside world,
and that they be kept to the teachings of the Mormon geography--which
made all the world outside Utah an untrodden wilderness. August Naab did
not hold to the letter of the Mormon law; he argued that if the children
could not be raised as Mormons with a full knowledge of the world, they
would only be lost in the end to the Church.
Other developments surprised Hare. The house of this good Mormon was
divided against itself. Precedence was given to the first and elder
wife--Mother Mary; Mother Ruth's life was not without pain. The men were
out on the ranges all day, usually two or more of them for several days
at a time, and this left the women alone. One daughter taught the
school, the other daughters did all the chores about the house, from
feeding the stock to chopping wood. The work was hard, and the girls
would rather have been in White Sage or Lund. They disliked Mescal, and
said things inspired by jealousy. Snap Naab's wife was vindictive, and
called Mescal "that Indian!"
It struck him on hearing this gossip that he had missed Mescal. What had
become of her? Curiosity prompting him, he asked little Billy about her.
"Mescal's with the sheep," piped Billy.
That she was a shepherdess pleased Hare, and he thought of her as free on
the open range, with the wind blowing her hair.
One day when Hare felt stronger he took his walk round the farm with new
zest. Upon his return to the house he saw Snap's cream pinto in the
yard, and Dave's mustang cropping the grass near by. A dusty pack lay on
the ground. Hare walked down the avenue of cottonwoods and was about to
turn the corner of the old forge when he stopped short.
"Now mind you, I'll take a bead on this white-faced spy if you send him
It was Snap Naab's voice, and his speech concluded with the click of
teeth characteristic of him in anger.
"Stand there!" August Naab exclaimed in wrath. "Listen. You have been
drinking again or you wouldn't talk of killing a man. I warned you. I
won't do this thing you ask of me till I have your promise. Why won't
you leave the bottle alone?"
"I'll promise," came the sullen reply.
"Very well. Then pack and go across to Bitter Seeps."
"That job'll take all summer," growled Snap.
"So much the better. When you come home I'll keep my promise."
Hare moved away silently; the shock of Snap's first words had kept him
fast in his tracks long enough to hear the conversation. Why did Snap
threaten him? Where was August Naab going to send him? Hare had no
means of coming to an understanding of either question. He was disturbed
in mind and resolved to keep out of Snap's way. He went to the orchard,
but his stay of an hour availed nothing, for on his return, after
threading the maze of cottonwoods, he came face to face with the man he
wanted to avoid.
Snap Naab, at the moment of meeting, had a black bottle tipped high above
With a curse he threw the bottle at Hare, missing him narrowly. He was
drunk. His eyes were bloodshot.
"If you tell father you saw me drinking I'll kill you!" he hissed, and
rattling his Colt in its holster, he walked away.
Hare walked back to his bed, where he lay for a long time with his whole
inner being in a state of strife. It gradually wore off as he strove for
calm. The playground was deserted; no one had seen Snap's action, and
for that he was glad. Then his attention was diverted by a clatter of
ringing hoofs on the road; a mustang and a cloud of dust were
"Mescal and Black Bolly!" he exclaimed, and sat up quickly. The mustang
turned in the gate, slid to a stop, and stood quivering, restive, tossing
its thoroughbred head, black as a coal, with freedom and fire in every
line. Mescal leaped off lightly. A gray form flashed in at the gate,
fell at her feet and rose to leap about her. It was a splendid dog, huge
in frame, almost white, wild as the mustang.
This was the Mescal whom he remembered, yet somehow different. The
sombre homespun garments had given place to fringed and beaded buckskin.
"I've come for you," she said.
"For me?" he asked, wonderingly, as she approached with the bridle of the
black over her arm.
"Down, Wolf!" she cried to the leaping dog. "Yes. Didn't you know?
Father Naab says you're to help me tend the sheep. Are you better? I
hope so-- You're quite pale."
"I--I'm not so well," said Hare.
He looked up at her, at the black sweep of her hair under the white band,
at her eyes, like jet; and suddenly realized, with a gladness new and
strange to him, that he liked to look at her, that she was beautiful.
BLACK SAGE AND JUNIPER
AUGUST NAAB appeared on the path leading from his fields.
"Mescal, here you are," he greeted. "How about the sheep?"
"Piute's driving them down to the lower range. There are a thousand
coyotes hanging about the flock."
"That's bad," rejoined August." Jack, there's evidently some real
shooting in store for you. We'll pack to-day and get an early start
to-morrow. I'll put you on Noddle; he's slow, but the easiest climber I
ever owned. He's like riding . . . What's the matter with you? What's
happened to make you angry?"
One of his long strides spanned the distance between them.
"Oh, nothing," said Hare, flushing.
"Lad, I know of few circumstances that justify a lie. You've met Snap."
Hare might still have tried to dissimulate; but one glance at August's
stern face showed the uselessness of it. He kept silent.
"Drink makes my son unnatural," said Naab. He breathed heavily as one in
conflict with wrath. "We'll not wait till to-morrow to go up on the
plateau; we'll go at once."
Then quick surprise awakened for Hare in the meaning in Mescal's eyes; he
caught only a fleeting glimpse, a dark flash, and it left him with a glow
of an emotion half pleasure, half pain.
"Mescal," went on August, "go into the house, and keep out of Snap's way.
Jack, watch me pack. You need to learn these things. I could put all
this outfit on two burros, but the trail is narrow, and a wide pack might
bump a burro off. Let's see, I've got all your stuff but the saddle;
that we'll leave till we get a horse for you. Well, all's ready."
Mescal came at his call and, mounting Black Bolly, rode out toward the
cliff wall, with Wolf trotting before her. Hare bestrode Noddle.
August, waving good-bye to his women-folk, started the train of burros
How they would be able to climb the face of that steep cliff puzzled
Hare. Upon nearer view he discovered the yard-wide trail curving upward
in cork-screw fashion round a projecting corner of cliff. The stone was
a soft red shale, and the trail had been cut in it at a steep angle. It
was so steep that the burros appeared to be climbing straight up. Noddle
pattered into it, dropped his head and his long ears and slackened his
pace to patient plodding. August walked in the rear.
The first thing that struck Hare was the way the burros in front of him
stopped at the curves in the trail, and turned in a space so small that
their four feet were close together; yet as they swung their packs they
scarcely scraped the wall. At every turn they were higher than he was,
going in the opposite direction, yet he could reach out and touch them.
He glanced up to see Mescal right above him, leaning forward with her
brown hands clasping the pommel. Then he looked out and down; already
the green cluster of cottonwoods lay far below. After that sensations
pressed upon him. Round and round, up and up, steadily, surely, the