Beth Norvell eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 315 pages of information about Beth Norvell.

Old Hicks looked into the grim face fronting him so threateningly, the complete situation slowly revealing itself to his mind.

“Great Guns!” he said at last, almost apologetically.  “Yer need n’t do nothin’ like that.  Lord, no!  I like yer first rate, an’ I like the girl.  Yer bet I do, an’ I ’m damn glad that Farnham ’s knocked out.  Shore, I ‘ll help the both o’ yer.  I reckon Stutter ’d be no good as a guide ter-night, but I kin show yer the way down the ravine.  The rest is just ridin’.  Yer kin leave them hosses with the section-boss at Daggett till I come fer ’em.”



Never in the after years could Winston clearly recall the incidents of that night’s ride across the sand waste.  The haze which shrouded his brain would never wholly lift.  Except for a few detached details the surroundings of that journey remained vague, clouded, indistinct.  He remembered the great, burning desert; the stars gleaming down above them like many eyes; the ponderous, ragged edge of cloud in the west; the irregular, castellated range of hills at their back; the dull expanse of plain ever stretching away in front, with no boundary other than that southern sky.  The weird, ghostly shadows of cactus and Spanish bayonet were everywhere; strange, eerie noises were borne to them out of the void—­the distant cries of prowling wolves, the mournful sough of the night wind, the lonely hoot of some far-off owl.  Nothing greeted the roving eyes but desolation,—­a desolation utter and complete, a mere waste of tumbled sand, by daylight whitened here and there by irregular patches of alkali, but under the brooding night shadows lying brown, dull, forlorn beyond all expression, a trackless, deserted ocean of mystery, oppressive in its drear sombreness.

He rode straight south, seeking no trail, but guiding their course by the stars, his right hand firmly grasping the pony’s bit, and continually urging his own mount to faster pace.  The one thought dominating his mind was the urgent necessity for haste—­a savage determination to intercept that early train eastward.  Beyond this single idea his brain seemed in hopeless turmoil, seemed failing him.  Any delay meant danger, discovery, the placing of her very life in peril.  He could grasp that; he could plan, guide, act in every way the part of a man under its inspiration, but all else appeared chaos.  The future?—­there was no future; there never again could be.  The chasm of a thousand years had suddenly yawned between him and this woman.  It made his head reel merely to gaze down into those awful depths.  It could not be bridged; no sacrifice, no compensation might ever undo that fatal death-shot.  He did not blame her, he did not question her justification, but he understood—­together they faced the inevitable.  There was no escape, no clearing of the record.  There was nothing left him to

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Beth Norvell from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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