The Call of the Canyon (Chapter 8, page 1 of 9)

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Chapter 8

At Flagstaff, where Carley arrived a few minutes before train time, she
was too busily engaged with tickets and baggage to think of herself
or of the significance of leaving Arizona. But as she walked into the
Pullman she overheard a passenger remark, "Regular old Arizona sunset,"
and that shook her heart. Suddenly she realized she had come to love the
colorful sunsets, to watch and wait for them. And bitterly she thought
how that was her way to learn the value of something when it was gone.

The jerk and start of the train affected her with singular depressing
shock. She had burned her last bridge behind her. Had she unconsciously
hoped for some incredible reversion of Glenn's mind or of her own? A
sense of irreparable loss flooded over her--the first check to shame and

From her window she looked out to the southwest. Somewhere across the
cedar and pine-greened uplands lay Oak Creek Canyon, going to sleep in
its purple and gold shadows of sunset. Banks of broken clouds hung to
the horizon, like continents and islands and reefs set in a turquoise
sea. Shafts of sunlight streaked down through creamy-edged and
purple-centered clouds. Vast flare of gold dominated the sunset

When the train rounded a curve Carley's strained vision became filled
with the upheaved bulk of the San Francisco Mountains. Ragged gray
grass slopes and green forests on end, and black fringed sky lines, all
pointed to the sharp clear peaks spearing the sky. And as she watched,
the peaks slowly flushed with sunset hues, and the sky flared golden,
and the strength of the eternal mountains stood out in sculptured
sublimity. Every day for two months and more Carley had watched these
peaks, at all hours, in every mood; and they had unconsciously become a
part of her thought. The train was relentlessly whirling her eastward.
Soon they must become a memory. Tears blurred her sight. Poignant regret
seemed added to the anguish she was suffering. Why had she not learned
sooner to see the glory of the mountains, to appreciate the beauty and
solitude? Why had she not understood herself?

The next day through New Mexico she followed magnificent ranges and
valleys--so different from the country she had seen coming West--so
supremely beautiful that she wondered if she had only acquired the
harvest of a seeing eye.

But it was at sunset of the following clay, when the train was speeding
down the continental slope of prairie land beyond the Rockies, that the
West took its ruthless revenge.

Masses of strange cloud and singular light upon the green prairie, and a
luminosity in the sky, drew Carley to the platform of her car, which was
the last of the train. There she stood, gripping the iron gate, feeling
the wind whip her hair and the iron-tracked ground speed from under her,
spellbound and stricken at the sheer wonder and glory of the firmament,
and the mountain range that it canopied so exquisitely.

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