The Border Legion (Chapter 4, page 1 of 7)


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Chapter 4

Joan Randle rode on and on, through the canon, out at its head and
over a pass into another canon, and never did she let it be possible
for Kells to see her eyes until she knew beyond peradventure of a
doubt that they hid the strength and spirit and secret of her soul.

The time came when traveling was so steep and rough that she must
think first of her horse and her own safety. Kells led up over a
rock-jumbled spur of range, where she had sometimes to follow on
foot. It seemed miles across that wilderness of stone. Foxes and
wolves trotted over open places, watching stealthily. All around
dark mountain peaks stood up. The afternoon was far advanced when
Kells started to descend again, and he rode a zigzag course on
weathered slopes and over brushy benches, down and down into the
canons again.

A lonely peak was visible, sunset-flushed against the blue, from the
point where Kells finally halted. That ended the longest ride Joan
had ever made in one day. For miles and miles they had climbed and
descended and wound into the mountains. Joan had scarcely any idea
of direction. She was completely turned around and lost. This spot
was the wildest and most beautiful she had ever seen. A canon headed
here. It was narrow, low-walled, and luxuriant with grass and wild
roses and willow and spruce and balsam. There were deer standing
with long ears erect, motionless, curious, tame as cattle. There
were moving streaks through the long grass, showing the course of
smaller animals slipping away.

Then under a giant balsam, that reached aloft to the rim-wall, Joan
saw a little log cabin, open in front. It had not been built very
long; some of the log ends still showed yellow. It did not resemble
the hunters' and prospectors' cabins she had seen on her trips with
her uncle.

In a sweeping glance Joan had taken in these features. Kells had
dismounted and approached her. She looked frankly, but not directly,
at him.

"I'm tired--almost too tired to get off," she said.

"Fifty miles of rock and brush, up and down! Without a kick!" he
exclaimed, admiringly. "You've got sand, girl!"

"Where are we?"

"This is Lost Canon. Only a few men know of it. And they are--
attached to me. I intend to keep you here."

"How long?" She felt the intensity of his gaze.

"Why--as long as--" he replied, slowly, "till I get my ransom."

"What amount will you ask?"

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