The Call of the Canyon (Chapter 7, page 2 of 12)


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Chapter 7

Presently through the shaded and shadowed breadth of the belt of forest
she saw gleams of a sunlit clearing. And crossing this space to the
border of trees she peered forth, hoping to espy Glenn at his labors.
She saw an old shack, and irregular lines of rude fence built of poles
of all sizes and shapes, and several plots of bare yellow ground,
leading up toward the west side of the canyon wall. Could this clearing
be Glenn's farm? Surely she had missed it or had not gone far enough.
This was not a farm, but a slash in the forested level of the canyon
floor, bare and somehow hideous. Dead trees were standing in the lots.
They had been ringed deeply at the base by an ax, to kill them, and so
prevent their foliage from shading the soil. Carley saw a long pile of
rocks that evidently had been carried from the plowed ground. There
was no neatness, no regularity, although there was abundant evidence of
toil. To clear that rugged space, to fence it, and plow it, appeared at
once to Carley an extremely strenuous and useless task. Carley persuaded
herself that this must be the plot of ground belonging to the herder
Charley, and she was about to turn on down the creek when far up under
the bluff she espied a man. He was stalking along and bending down,
stalking along and bending down. She recognized Glenn. He was planting
something in the yellow soil.

Curiously Carley watched him, and did not allow her mind to become
concerned with a somewhat painful swell of her heart. What a stride he
had! How vigorous he looked, and earnest! He was as intent upon this job
as if he had been a rustic. He might have been failing to do it well,
but he most certainly was doing it conscientiously. Once he had said to
her that a man should never be judged by the result of his labors, but
by the nature of his effort. A man might strive with all his heart and
strength, yet fail. Carley watched him striding along and bending down,
absorbed in his task, unmindful of the glaring hot sun, and somehow to
her singularly detached from the life wherein he had once moved and to
which she yearned to take him back. Suddenly an unaccountable flashing
query assailed her conscience: How dare she want to take him back? She
seemed as shocked as if some stranger had accosted her. What was this
dimming of her eye, this inward tremulousness; this dammed tide beating
at an unknown and riveted gate of her intelligence? She felt more then
than she dared to face. She struggled against something in herself. The
old habit of mind instinctively resisted the new, the strange. But she
did not come off wholly victorious. The Carley Burch whom she recognized
as of old, passionately hated this life and work of Glenn Kilbourne's,
but the rebel self, an unaccountable and defiant Carley, loved him all
the better for them.

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