A Waif of the Plains eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 135 pages of information about A Waif of the Plains.
fancy that if he could deliver her asleep and undemonstrative of fear and suffering, he would be less blameful, and she less mindful of her trouble.  If it did not come—­but he would not think of that yet!  If she was thirsty meantime—­well, it might rain, and there was always the dew which they used to brush off the morning grass; he would take off his shirt and catch it in that, like a shipwrecked mariner.  It would be funny, and make her laugh.  For himself he would not laugh; he felt he was getting very old and grown up in this loneliness.

It was getting darker—­they should be looking into the wagons now.  A new doubt began to assail him.  Ought he not, now that he was rested, make the most of the remaining moments of daylight, and before the glow faded from the west, when he would no longer have any bearings to guide him?  But there was always the risk of waking her!—­to what?  The fear of being confronted again with her fear and of being unable to pacify her, at last decided him to remain.  But he crept softly through the grass, and in the dust of the track traced the four points of the compass, as he could still determine them by the sunset light, with a large printed W to indicate the west!  This boyish contrivance particularly pleased him.  If he had only had a pole, a stick, or even a twig, on which to tie his handkerchief and erect it above the clump of mesquite as a signal to the searchers in case they should be overcome by fatigue or sleep, he would have been happy.  But the plain was barren of brush or timber; he did not dream that this omission and the very unobtrusiveness of his hiding-place would be his salvation from a greater danger.

With the coming darkness the wind arose and swept the plain with a long-drawn sigh.  This increased to a murmur, till presently the whole expanse—­before sunk in awful silence—­seemed to awake with vague complaints, incessant sounds, and low moanings.  At times he thought he heard the halloaing of distant voices, at times it seemed as a whisper in his own ear.  In the silence that followed each blast he fancied he could detect the creaking of the wagon, the dull thud of the oxen’s hoofs, or broken fragments of speech, blown and scattered even as he strained his ears to listen by the next gust.  This tension of the ear began to confuse his brain, as his eyes had been previously dazzled by the sunlight, and a strange torpor began to steal over his faculties.  Once or twice his head dropped.

He awoke with a start.  A moving figure had suddenly uplifted itself between him and the horizon!  It was not twenty yards away, so clearly outlined against the still luminous sky that it seemed even nearer.  A human figure, but so disheveled, so fantastic, and yet so mean and puerile in its extravagance, that it seemed the outcome of a childish dream.  It was a mounted figure, but so ludicrously disproportionate to the pony it bestrode, whose slim legs were stiffly buried in the dust in a breathless halt, that it might

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A Waif of the Plains from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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