The Code of the West - Zane Grey - ebook
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Georgianna Stockwell, a free-spirited young woman from the East, moves to the wilds of the Tonto Basin in Arizona and she creates a violent culture clash. She has been sent there by her parents and doctor for a change of scenery. It seems Georgianna had gotten herself lung problems due to all of her dancing and gadding about. Fortunately, her sister, Mary Stockwell is on the scene ready to take care of her younger sister and to show her how life should really be lived. But it seems Georgianna has realized something perhaps Mary has not. Men and women did not/do not stand on equal terms and this is something Zane Grey lets on that he was aware of as well by writing Georgianna’s character. Cal Thurman is the love that is set aside as Georgianna’s suitor. Mary and Enoch also come together in „Code of the West”, although without all of the bumps of Cal and Georgianna’s relationship.

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Contents

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

CHAPTER X

CHAPTER XI

CHAPTER XII

CHAPTER XIII

CHAPTER XIV

CHAPTER XV

CHAPTER XVI

CHAPTER XVII

CHAPTER I

OF the many problems that had beset Mary Stockwell during her two years of teaching school in the sparsely settled Tonto Basin of Arizona, this last one was the knottiest, the one that touched her most keenly. For it involved her little sister, Georgiana May, who was on her way to Arizona to be cured, the letter from their mother disclosed, of a slight tendency toward tuberculosis, and a very great leaning toward indiscriminate flirtation.

This day Mary was unusually tired. She had walked all the way up to the little log school-house on Tonto Creek–six miles–and back again to the Thurman ranch at Green Valley, where she boarded. Her eighteen pupils, ranging from six-year-old Mytie Thurman to sixteen-year-old Richard, had broken all records that day for insubordination. Then the hot sun of the September afternoon and the thick dust of the long dry road through brush and forest had taxed her to extreme weariness. Consequently she was not at her best to receive such a shock as her mother’s letter had given her.

“Well, there’s no help for it,” she thought wearily, taking up the letter again. “Georgiana is on her way–will arrive in Globe on the ninth. Let me see. Goodness, that’s tomorrow–Tuesday. The mail stage leaves Globe on Wednesday. She’ll get to Ryson about five o’clock. And I can’t get away. I’ll have to send someone to meet her…. Dear little golden-haired Georgie!”

Miss Stockwell seemed divided between distress at this sudden vexatious responsibility, and a reviving tender memory of her sister. What would she do with her? How would the Thurmans take this visit? Georgiana had looked very much like an angel, but she most assuredly had belied her appearance. Taking up the letter again, the perplexed schoolmistress hurried to that part which had so shocked her and scattered her wits:

…Dr. Smith says Georgie’s right lung is affected, but Dr. Jones, whom father swears by, says Georgie had just danced and gadded herself into a run-down condition. But I think Dr. Smith is right. I never could bear that man Jones. You remember Mrs. Jones–what airs she put on. Anyway, Georgie is in a bad way, besides being possessed of a variety of devils.

Daughter, you’ve been away from home going on six years, and part of the time you’ve been living in the backwoods. You’ve been better off, thank Heavens, but you’re buried alive as far as knowing what’s come over the world. Since you left we’ve had the Great War, and then after-the-war, which was worse. I’m sure I don’t know how to explain what has happened. At least I can give you some idea of Georgiana. She is now seventeen, and pretty. She knows more than you, who are twice her age. She knows more than I do. Whatever the modern girl has developed, Georgie has it. It seems to me that no one can help loving her. This is not a mother’s foolish vanity. It’s based on what I see and hear. All our friends love Georgie. And as for the boys–the young men–they are wild about her, and she does her best to keep them that way. I hate to admit it, but Georgie is an outrageous flirt.

But to come to the point–Georgiana absolutely will have her own way. All these modern girls are alike in this respect. They say we parents are “out of date,” “we do not understand.”–Perhaps they are right. Father thinks Georgie has not been held back by any restraint or anything we have tried to teach her. But worried and sick and frightened as I am about Georgie, I can’t believe she is really bad. I realize, though, that this may be merely a mother’s faith or blindness or vanity.

Georgiana has graduated from high school. We want her to work. But she will never work in Erie, and perhaps any hard application now–if Georgie could perform such a miracle–might be worse for her health.

Friends of ours, the Wayburns, are motoring to California, and offered to take Georgie West with them. You may be sure we grasped desperately and hopefully at the idea of sending her. That thrilled her. We are not so well off as formerly. But we made sacrifices and got Georgie all she wanted, and we will arrange to pay her board indefinitely out there. Maybe the West you tell so wonderfully about will cure her and be her salvation. Most assuredly her coming will be a trial for you. But, daughter, we beg of you–accept it, and do your best–for Georgie’s sake.

The second perusal of that amazing letter left Miss Stockwell saddened and thoughtful, but free of her former perplexity and worry. Her mother had done her best. If Georgiana could stand the rugged, virile, wild Tonto Basin, she would not only regain her health, but she would grow away from the falseness and over-sophistication that followed the war. Buried in the wilderness as Miss Stockwell had been, nevertheless she had kept up an active interest in the outside world. And all that periodicals could supply of information concerning news and progress of the times she had assimilated. Not improbably, she understood better that precocious new American type–the modern girl–than did her mother. She welcomed the coming of her sister. It might be difficult for her, but that did not matter. It could not help but be good for Georgiana.

Then suddenly she was confronted with another aspect of the case–the effect Georgiana would have on this environment, on the Thurmans, and all these good simple primitive people who must come in contact with her sister. She had grown fond of the Tonto and its rugged simplicity. She had long been conscious of how she was helping the children, and through them their parents. Was there not a deeper and more personal reason why she had become content with life there? A warmth tingled in her cheeks as she shirked the query. But in regard to Georgiana–there was bound to be an upheaval at Green Valley. Georgiana might pursue the audacious tenor of her frivolous life back there in Erie, but she could not do it in Arizona. Miss Stockwell vaguely realized how impossible it would be, though she could not then tell just why.

But the thought brought home to her a true appreciation of the boys and young men with whom she had become acquainted. The sons of the three Thurman families she knew especially well, for she had lived a year in their homes. Young men all, mostly in their early twenties, they were; though Enoch Thurman was over thirty, and Serge, his cousin, was a few years younger. All of them were hard riders of the high bare ranges of the Tonto. Only one of them had a wife. And sweethearts were so scarce that the boys were always fighting over one. They drove cattle in all seasons, helping one another, hewed timber, tilled and harvested fields of corn and sorghum, hunted the bears and lions that preyed on their stock. And the money they earned, which was not much, they gave to their mother. Seldom did any of them ride farther from their homesteads than Ryson. The lure of city life had not penetrated here. Several of the Thurmans had been in the training-camps during the war, and one of them, Boyd Thurman, the best rider, roper, axman, and hunter of the lot, had seen service in France. He had returned uninjured, and seemingly unchanged by all he had gone through. That fact, more than any Miss Stockwell could name, marked the individuality of the Thurmans and the character of the Tonto. Old Henry Thurman was wont to brag: “Nary a black mark ag’in’ Boyd–in camp or war!”

During her years of teaching in the Tonto, Miss Stockwell had never seen a Thurman, or any of their relatives, under the influence of liquor. They did not lie. If they made a promise it would be kept. Clean, fine, virile, manly young giants they all seemed to her. They smoked cigarettes, of their own making, and they would fight at the drop of a sombrero. They were cool, easy, tranquil, contented young backwoodsmen, strong and resourceful in the open, full of a latent fire and reserve force seldom called upon. They loved jokes, tricks, and dances. Among these hardy and daring young mountaineers a girl of Georgiana’s kind would be like a firebrand in the grass of the prairie.

The sharp clip-clop of trotting horses outside on the road interrupted Miss Stockwell’s meditations. The riders were returning from the range. She thought it would be well for her to go out at once and make arrangements with one of the boys to go to Ryson next day to meet the stage.

“I wonder what Georgie will think of this ranch,” mused Miss Stockwell, as she went out.

The old ranch house, part logs and part frame, moss-covered and weather-beaten, with its rambling additions shaded by trees, had grown to be a picturesque and satisfying sight to her. But at first it had struck her, as had almost everything, as crude and primitive, and suggestive of raw pioneer life.

She walked back of the house, through the yard, where chickens and calves and dogs had free access, to the corrals. They were huge round pens, made of bare poles, growing old and dilapidated now. The gates were made of roughly sawed yellow-pine boards from Henry’s sawmill. Enoch’s white mule, old Wise, came toward her. He was a famous mule in Arizona, past his prime now, but still vigorous. His color was a speckled white, and he was far from beautiful. But he had a keen well-formed head and most intelligent eyes. Old Wise was renowned for many things, but especially for his kick. But he would not kick anyone he liked, and he certainly adored Miss Stockwell. This day, however, she had no sugar or candy for him, and passed the old beast by with a pat and a pull of his long ears.

The adjoining corral was large, and always, in spite of its space, had been a bewildering place to Miss Stockwell. One corner was heaped full of old wagons, buggies, farm implements, and worn-out autos, so that it was merely a junkheap. A long rambling barn ran the whole length of the corral, and in fact constituted the barrier on that side. Like the house, additions had been built to it from time to time, so that it seemed a jumble of peaks, roofs, lofts, and wide-open doors showing broken stalls. The corral was crowded with dusty rolling horses. These features, perhaps, were what usually bewildered Miss Stockwell, though she liked to see the sweaty horses roll. They manifestly enjoyed it so hugely. They would bend their legs, lie down on one side, and groan and heave and strain until they rolled clear over. Then they would lunge, snorting, to their feet, and with a violent wrestling shake of their bodies send off the dust in a cloud. Their next move was to make a bee line for the open gate to the wide green pasture that gave the valley its name.

Miss Stockwell found the riders, nine of them, grouped before one of the wide doors of the barn. She had a singular feeling that these young Westerners had suddenly become more important and significant to her.

In a group these boys all looked strangely alike. It was necessary to pick one out and study him individually to see where he differed from his comrades. They were all tall, lean, rangy, with the round powerful limbs, the small hips, the slightly bowed legs of the born horseman. If they were of different complexions it could not be discerned then, for each of them was black from dust and brush. They wore huge sombreros, mostly black, some of them gray, and all were old, slouched, and grimy. Blue jeans, jumpers, and overalls seemed the favorite garb. Several had discarded their chaps, to reveal trousers stuffed into high-topped, high-heeled boots, shiny and worn, bearing long spurs with huge rowels.

They responded to Miss Stockwell’s greeting with the slow, drawling Texas speech that never failed to please her.

“Boys, I want one of you to do me an especial favor,” she said.

Enoch Thurman came from behind the group. He was the chief of this clan, a lofty-statured rider, the very sight of whom had always fascinated her.

“Wal, Miss Mary, if it’s takin’ you to the dance, I’m shore puttin’ up my bid,” he drawled. He had wonderfully clear light-gray eyes, and the piercing quality of their gaze was now softened by a twinkle. A smile, too, changed the rigidity of the dark lean face.

It occurred to Miss Stockwell that from the date of Georgiana’s arrival she would have to attend the dances. The prospect was alarming. The few functions of this kind in which she had participated had rendered her somewhat incapable for teaching the next day. For these boys had kept her dancing unremittingly from dark till dawn.

“I accept your kind invitation, Enoch, but that’s not the favor I mean,” she said, with a smile.

Then Boyd Thurman lunged up, smiling. He was stalwart, big-shouldered, of strong rugged face, hard as bronze, and his blue eyes were as frank as a child’s. He tipped back his sombrero, showing a shock of tow-colored hair.

“Teacher, what is this heah favor?” he inquired.

“Reckon we’re all a-rarin’ to do you any favor,” said Wess Thurman. He was a cousin of Boyd’s and Enoch’s, twenty-two, with the Thurman stature and wide-open eyes.

“It’s to go to Ryson tomorrow to meet my sister,” responded Miss Stockwell.

The announcement was not a trivial one in its content. Indeed, it seemed of tremendous importance. The boys reacted slowly to its significance.

“Tomorrow,” spoke up Enoch, regretfully. “Wal, I’m shore sorry. But I can’t go, Miss Mary. We rode Mescal Ridge today, an’ I drove some yearlin’s inside our drift fence. They belong to that Bar XX outfit, an’ shore there’s no love lost between us. I’m drivin’ them off our range tomorrow.”

Judging from the eagerness of the rest of the boys, with the exception of Cal Thurman, they all preferred meeting Miss Stockwell’s sister to driving cattle. And for several moments it appeared that Enoch would not have much help on the morrow.

“Goodness! I don’t want you all!” she protested. “One of you will do. If it’s such an occasion, you might draw lots.”

But this suggestion did not meet with the approval of the majority. They argued about it. Miss Stockwell had long been used to their simplicity, their earnestness and loquacity, and when opposed, their singular perversity to one another’s ideas and persistence in their own. They argued so determinedly that the teacher feared one of the quarrels which were of daily, almost hourly, occurrence. If one of these boys wanted to do something especially, that was a cue for the others to oppose him.

“Say, can she dance?” suddenly inquired Serge Thurman, brother of Wess. He was a yellow-haired young giant, sunburnt, with eyes reddened by heat and dust and wind. Serge was the most gallant, as well as the best dancer, of all the Thurmans. His query opened up a new train of thought, manifestly of intense interest to the boys.

Miss Stockwell had to laugh. Assuredly the advent of Georgiana would be worth seeing. “Why, I’m pretty sure she dances,” she replied, thoughtfully. It began to dawn upon her that she might repay these Thurmans for some of the innocent little tricks they had played on her.

More arguments followed this tentative admission by Miss Stockwell, and it was in no wise concluded when several of the boys asserted they were going to Ryson, and alone.

“Now, Miss Stockwell, what’s this heah sister of yourn like?” queried Pan Handle Ames. He was one of the several men employed by Enoch, like most of them of Texas stock, and a rider of the desert Pan Handle of Texas before he came to Arizona. He had a homely face and serious air. And his question precipitated such renewed interest that it seemed absolutely vital to the issue.

The teacher studied these friendly, queer young men, laughing to herself, thrilling for them, and slowly yielding to machinations of her own. How likable they were! They would spend hours over this simple matter, unless she settled it.

“I’ll tell you, boys,” she asserted. “I have a picture of her. I’ll fetch it–and then you can decide who really wants to meet her.”

That, at last, was one thing they approved of with instant unity. Miss Stockwell hurried to her room, and with growing consciousness of her opportunity, searched in her effects for the picture of a maiden aunt who was noted for her plain, severe face. She felt a twinge at thought of the use she meant to make of this likeness of the good aunt whom she loved, but did not let such trepidations dissuade her from her purpose. Armed with the photograph, she hurried back to the group of boys in the corral.

“There!” she exclaimed, holding it out.

All of them but Cal Thurman crowded round her, eager to see the likeness of her sister. Cal seemed amused at their actions…. He was Enoch’s youngest brother, a boy of nineteen, and apparently the only one of the clan not particularly interested in girls.

There was a moment of strained, silent attention, then one of them burst out:

“Aw, Miss Mary, she ain’t a bit like you.”

“Not much,” said Serge, decisively, with a finality the teacher did not fail to note.

“Wal, is this–is she really your sister?” queried Enoch, slowly, as if trying to remember. “Shore I thought you once showed me a picture.”

“Ahuh!” added Pan Handle Ames. “Nice sweet-appearin’ lady.” He said it with aloof nonchalance, with obvious insincerity.

Then, as a group they became silent, rather awkwardly and slowly realizing that the situation had subtly changed. They backed away from the teacher’s side and assumed former lounging positions, most of them calmly resorting to the inevitable cigarette. Enoch regarded his clan with undisguised mirth. They had placed themselves in an embarrassing position.

“Wal, I reckon you-all are rarin’ to chase them Bar XX steers in the mawnin’,” he drawled, with dry sarcasm. Enoch knew his clan.

The riders had drifted imperceptibly, as if by magic, back into that cool, easy serenity that usually characterized them. No hint of embarrassment or concern or consciousness of Enoch’s half-veiled scorn showed in look or action.

“Enoch, you cain’t drive that bunch of yearlin’s without me an’ Boyd,” asserted Serge, calmly.

Boyd nodded his assurance of this, and his big eyes shone with a glare as he spoke: “Reckon thet new Bar XX foreman won’t like you any better, Enoch. An’ considerin’ how much thet was, he’s goin’ to be riled when he finds out. He’s always achin’ to start a fight. An’ if you don’t drive thet bunch off our range he’ll swear we’re rustlin’.”

Enoch took this seriously, as if there was a good deal in it.

“Boyd, I was only doin’ Bloom a favor,” he replied. “It was near dark when we rounded up that bunch. An’ his outfit is ridin’ Mescal Ridge tomorrow.”

“Shore. But my advice is to get them cattle on his range before the day’s busted,” went on Boyd. “An’ it mightn’t be easy to find them all.”

Enoch then turned to Miss Stockwell with more of a serious consideration of the matter. “Miss Mary, I’m needin’ Serge an’ Boyd tomorrow, an’ so none of us can meet your sister. But shore any of the rest of my obligin’ an’ lady-killin’ outfit can get off for the day.”

“Thank you, Enoch,” replied the teacher, and thus fortified by his permission, she turned again to the boys to inquire sweetly: “Now which one of you will do me this favor?”

As her gaze surveyed them all collectively they remained mute, thoughtful, very far away; but when she singled out Pan Handle Ames to look directly at him, he drawled:

“Miss Mary, air you forgettin’ how I drove you home from the school-house one day?”

“Indeed I’m not!” returned Miss Stockwell, with a shudder. “Driving automobiles is not your forte.”

“Wal, it shore ain’t. But all the same, I’d ‘a’ got you home if the car had held together,” replied Pan Handle, and then settled back coolly to enjoy his cigarette. He knew he was out of the reckoning.

Then it seemed incumbent upon the others to face Miss Stockwell, ready to answer her appealing and reproachful gaze, when it alighted upon each of them.

Dick Thurman was the youngest of the boys, and he was still in school. “You know, teacher, I’d go, if it wasn’t for lessons. I’m behind now, you say, an’ father keeps me busy before an’ after school.”

Lock Thurman was the dark-skinned, dark-eyed, and dark-haired member of the family, a young man of superb stature, and the quietest, shyest of all the clan.

“Lock, please, won’t you go?” asked the teacher.

He shook his head and dropped it, to hide his face. “I reckon I’m afeared of women,” he said.

“Huh! Why don’t you say you’re afeared of thet there girl of yourn–Angie Bowers?” retorted his brother Wess.

“I ain’t no more afeared of her than you are of her twin sister Aggie,” responded Lock.

“Wal, when you cain’t tell which is Angie an’ which is Aggie–all the time mixin’ up your gurls–you oughta be scared. What’ll you do if you ever git married?” spoke up Serge.

This might have led to another argument had not Miss Stockwell broken in upon them by appealing to Wess.

“Teacher, I just hate to tell you I cain’t go for your sister,” replied Wess, in apparent deep sincerity. “I got a lot to do tomorrow, an’ shore need that day off Enoch said we could have. My saddle’s got to be mended, an’ my boots need half-solin’, an’ father’s at me to begin doctorin’ the dog’s feet–for we’ll be chasin’ bear soon–an’ mother wants a lot done–an’ I just cain’t go to Ryson. Ask Arizona there. He can leave off cuttin’ sorghum for tomorrow.”

Thus directed, Miss Stockwell turned to the young man designated as Arizona. If he had another name she had never heard it. He was the only one of small stature in the group, a ruddy-faced, blinking-eyed rider, with a reputation for humor that his appearance belied.

“Aw, Miss Stockwell, I’m ‘most sick because I cain’t oblige you,” asserted this worthy, in the most regretful of voices. “But old Hennery gave me plumb orders to cut thet sorghum before it rains.”

“Wal,” spoke up Wess, “it hasn’t rained for a month an’ it’ll go dry now till October.”

“Nope. It’s a-goin’ to rain shore aboot day after tomorrer. See them hazy clouds flyin’ up from the southwest. Shore sign of storm. You get Con to go.”

Con Casey, the comrade now referred to by Arizona, was a newcomer to the Thurman range, an Irishman only a few years in America and not long in the West. He was the most earnest and simple-minded of young men, and a source of vast amusement to his comrades. They liked him, though they made him the butt of their jokes and tricks.

When the teacher appealed to Con he sat up, startled. His solemn freckled face lost its ruddy color, his big pale-blue eyes dilated and stared. There was no mistaking his sincerity or his fright.

“My Gawd!” he ejaculated, in deep solemn tones, “Miss Stockwell, shure I niver was alone wit’ a woman in me loife.”

The boys guffawed at this, and cast sly banter at him, but there was no doubt that they believed him.

Miss Stockwell wore a manner of great anxiety which was really not in strict harmony with her true feelings. She was enjoying the situation hugely, and saw that it would probably work out exactly as she had hoped. Then what a climax on the morrow, when Georgiana appeared on the scene!

Tim Matthews, another rider, added his ridiculous excuse to avoid meeting the teacher’s sister; and the last one, excepting Cal Thurman, nonchalantly made a statement that he was not very well and might soon be having the doctor from the village.

At that Cal slouched up with all his five-foot-eleven of superb young manhood and surveyed his brothers and comrades in amused derision.

“You’re a lot of boobs, I’ll tell the world,” he said.

Miss Stockwell thrilled at this, and felt the imminence of something she had hoped for. This nineteen-year-old son of Henry Thurman’s was, in her opinion, the finest of the whole clan. He had all the hardiness, simplicity, and ruggedness of the Tonto natives, and somewhat more of intelligence and schooling. He seemed more modern and was fairly well read. Cal had spent his last year of school under Miss Stockwell and he had been a good student. His grandfather had been a Texan and a Rebel noted for his wild fiery temperament, which, according to family talk, Cal had inherited.

“Teacher, I’ll be glad to go meet your sister,” he declared, turning to her. “I was only waitin’ to see how they’d wiggle out of it.”

“Thank you, Cal. I’m certain you won’t be sorry,” replied the teacher, gratefully. She was indeed pleased, and now began to revolve in mind just how to prepare Cal for the advent of Georgiana. Certainly up to that moment it had not occurred to her to go on with the deception.

“She’s to come on the stage from Globe?” inquired Cal, as he walked with Miss Stockwell toward the corral gate.

“Yes. Tomorrow.”

“What’ll I take–the buckboard or car?”

The teacher thought that over a moment.

“It’s an awful old clap-trap–that bundle of rusty iron,” observed the teacher, remembering her few experiences in the family automobile. “I don’t believe it’s as safe as the buckboard.”

“Sure I’ll get her here safe,” replied Cal, with a laugh.

By this time they had reached the corral gate, which he opened for her. Suddenly loud cries of mirth resounded from the boys back by the barn. The teacher turned with Cal to see what had occasioned them such amusement. Some of them were standing with their heads close together and were apparently conversing earnestly. Their very air intimated deviltry and secrecy.

Cal gazed at them suspiciously, and a darker fire gleamed in his eyes. He had a smooth, almost beardless face, clear brown tan, and less of the leanness and craggy hardness that characterized his brothers’ features. He looked something better than handsome, the teacher thought.

“Say, that outfit is up to tricks,” he muttered. And he pushed back his huge sombrero to run a sinewy hand through his brown hair.

“Tricks?” echoed Miss Stockwell, vague. Had she better not divulge her own duplicity?

“Sure. Just look at Tim. He’s plannin’ something now. He always wags his head that way when he’s… Aw, I can read their minds.”

“What are they going to do?” inquired Miss Stockwell, curiously.

“They’ll be in Ryson tomorrow when I meet your sister,” he answered, grimly.

“What! They will?” cried the teacher, almost too eagerly. Cal looked at her dubiously, and again he brushed back his hair. He wanted, and meant, to be obliging, but evidently he did not have any delightful anticipations at the prospect before him. Almost like a flash came the inspiration to Miss Stockwell to go on with the deception and not enlighten Cal as to the truth regarding Georgiana. He would be all the more amazed and dazed when the realization burst suddenly upon him. How supremely happy he would be to lord it over his tricky comrades! And as for Tim Matthews, and those few evidently elected to have great fun at Cal’s expense–what poignant consternation and regret they would suffer! Miss Stockwell reveled in her idea. Georgiana, too, would make the best of it.

“Let me see that picture you showed the boys–so I’ll know her,” said Cal.

Miss Stockwell handed it to him without a word. Cal gazed at it for a moment.

“Can’t see any resemblance to you,” he remarked, presently. “She’s homely an’ you’re good-lookin’.”

“Thank you, Cal,” replied Miss Stockwell, demurely. “I appreciate your compliment. But you didn’t have to say so just because you found my–my sister plain.”

“Say!–I mean it, teacher. Why, Enoch thinks you’re the best-lookin’ woman he ever saw. An’ sure he’s a good judge.”

Miss Stockwell felt a little warmth on her cheek that was not all the westering sun. She liked the boy’s faith in Enoch. There was a singularly fine relation between these brothers, and one that augured well for the boy’s future.

“Cal, I think I’d take the buckboard instead of that old car,” suggested Miss Stockwell. She was thinking of the spirited black horses usually driven with the buckboard, and how much more they might appeal to a girl.

“Aw, she won’t mind the looks of that old gas-wagon. An’ sure I don’t care,” said Cal, with a laugh. “You see, the stage gets in late sometimes, an’ if I take the car I can drive your sister out here quick, before dark. It’s fifteen miles to Ryson, you know, an’ would take me several hours with the team. I’d like to get home before dark.”

“Why–so particularly? I’ve heard how you can ride the trails after night.”

“Aw, that outfit will be up to some trick, an’ between you an’ me I’d rather not be caught along a dark road with that old–I mean–your sister,” replied Cal, finishing lamely.

“Oh, I see,” mused Miss Stockwell, slowly, studying the perplexed face of the young man. “Very well, Cal. You do as you think best. But take a hunch from me, as you boys say. You won’t be sorry I inflicted this job on you.”

“Aw, now, teacher, I didn’t mean you’d done that,” he protested. “It’s only Tim an’ those darn fools. They’ve got a chance to get even. You don’t know what I did to them last dance.”

“Well, I don’t care what you did to them or what they do to you–tomorrow. You’re not going to be sorry you went. You might be very glad.”

“Why?” he asked, with a dawning of curiosity. He eyed her in confidence, yet withal as a boy who realized an unknown quantity in women. He had not the slightest idea what she meant, yet he had acquired an interest apart from his kindliness or desire to oblige her. “Maybe she’s rich an’ will give me a new saddle or somethin’,” he remarked, jokingly.

“Maybe. She’ll give you something, that’s certain,” replied Miss Stockwell, mysteriously.

She left him at the corral gate, holding it open for her, a pleased and rather vaguely expectant smile on his face as he turned to look back at his scheming comrades.

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This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.