“They won’t buy them,” she added with a sudden flare of temper. “This country up here is fifty years behind the times. It doesn’t want to be modern.”
Over a boulder bed, by rock fissures, they came at last to a sword gash in the top of the world. It cleft a passage through the range to another gorge, at the foot of which lay a mountain park dotted with ranch buildings. On every side the valley was hemmed in by giant peaks.
“Huerfano Park?” he asked.
“You live here?”
“Yes.” She pointed to a group of buildings to the left. “That is my father’s place. They call it the ‘Horse Ranch.’”
He turned startled eyes upon her. “Then you are—?”
“Beulah Rutherford, the daughter of Hal Rutherford.”
She was the first to break the silence after her announcement.
“What’s the matter? You look as if you had seen a ghost.”
He had. The ghost of a dreadful day had leaped at him out of the past. Men on murder bent were riding down the street toward their victim. At the head of that company rode her father; the one they were about to kill was his. A wave of sickness shuddered through him.
“It—it’s my heart,” he answered in a smothered voice. “Sometimes it acts queer. I’ll be all right in a minute.”
The young woman drew the horse to a halt and looked down at him. Her eyes, for the first time since they had met, registered concern.
“The altitude, probably. We’re over nine thousand feet high. You’re not used to walking in the clouds. We’ll rest here.”
She swung from the saddle and trailed the reins.
“Sit down,” the girl ordered after she had seated herself tailor-fashion on the moss.
Reluctantly he did as he was told. He clenched his teeth in a cold rage at himself. Unless he conquered that habit of flying into panic at every crisis, he was lost.
Beulah leaned forward and plucked an anemone blossom from a rock cranny. “Isn’t it wonderful how brave they are? You wouldn’t think they would have courage to grow up so fine and delicate among the rocks without any soil to feed them.”
Often, in the days that followed, he thought of what she had said about the anemones and applied it to herself. She, too, had grown up among the rocks spiritually. He could see the effect of the barren soil in her suspicious and unfriendly attitude toward life. There was in her manner a resentment at fate, a bitterness that no girl of her years should have felt. In her wary eyes he read distrust of him. Was it because she was the product of heredity and environment? Her people had outlawed themselves from society. They had lived with their hands against the world of settled order. She could not escape the law that their turbulent sins must be visited upon her.