The canyon widened ahead into a great, ragged, iron-hued amphitheater, and from there apparently turned abruptly at right angles. Sunset rimmed the walls. Shefford wondered dully when the India would halt to camp. And he dragged himself onward with eyes down on the rough ground.
When he raised them again the Indian stood on a point of slope with folded arms, gazing down where the canyon veered. Something in Nas Ta Bega’s pose quickened Shefford’s pulse and then his steps. He reached the Indian and the point where he, too, could see beyond that vast jutting wall that had obstructed his view.
A mile beyond all was bright with the colors of sunset, and spanning the canyon in the graceful shape arid beautiful hues of a rainbow was a magnificent stone bridge.
“Nonnezoshe!” exclaimed the Navajo, with a deep and sonorous roll in his voice.
The rainbow bridge was the one great natural phenomenon, the one grand spectacle, which Shefford had ever seen that did not at first give vague disappointment, a confounding of reality, a disenchantment of contrast with what the mind had conceived.
But this thing was glorious. It silenced him, yet did not awe or stun. His body and brain, weary and dull from the toil of travel, received a singular and revivifying freshness. He had a strange, mystic perception of this rosy-hued stupendous arch of stone, as if in a former life it had been a goal he could not reach. This wonder of nature, though all-satisfying, all-fulfilling to his artist’s soul, could not be a resting-place for him, a destination where something awaited him, a height he must scale to find peace, the end of his strife. But it seemed all these. He could not understand his perception or his emotion. Still, here at last, apparently, was the rainbow of his boyish dreams and of his manhood—a rainbow magnified even beyond those dreams, no longer transparent and ethereal, but solidified, a thing of ages, sweeping up majestically from the red walls, its iris-hued arch against the blue sky.
Nas Ta Bega led on down the ledge and Shefford plodded thoughtfully after him. The others followed. A jutting corner of wall again hid the canyon. The Indian was working round to circle the huge amphitheater. It was slow, irritating, strenuous toil, for the way was on a steep slant, rough and loose and dragging. The rocks were as hard and jagged as lava. And the cactus further hindered progress. When at last the long half-circle had been accomplished the golden and rosy lights had faded.