The Call of the Canyon (Chapter 10, page 1 of 15)


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Chapter 10

Carley's edifice of hopes, dreams, aspirations, and struggles fell in
ruins about her. It had been built upon false sands. It had no ideal for
foundation. It had to fall.

Something inevitable had forced her confession to Rust. Dissimulation
had been a habit of her mind; it was more a habit of her class than
sincerity. But she had reached a point in her mental strife where
she could not stand before Rust and let him believe she was noble and
faithful when she knew she was neither. Would not the next step in
this painful metamorphosis of her character be a fierce and passionate
repudiation of herself and all she represented?

She went home and locked herself in her room, deaf to telephone and
servants. There she gave up to her shame. Scorned--despised--dismissed
by that poor crippled flame-spirited Virgil Rust! He had reverenced
her, and the truth had earned his hate. Would she ever forget his
look--incredulous--shocked--bitter--and blazing with unutterable
contempt? Carley Burch was only another Nell--a jilt--a mocker of the
manhood of soldiers! Would she ever cease to shudder at memory of Rust's
slight movement of hand? Go! Get out of my sight! Leave me to my agony
as you left Glenn Kilbourne alone to fight his! Men such as I am do
not want the smile of your face, the touch of your hand! We gave for
womanhood! Pass on to lesser men who loved the fleshpots and who would
buy your charms! So Carley interpreted that slight gesture, and writhed
in her abasement.

Rust threw a white, illuminating light upon her desertion of Glenn. She
had betrayed him. She had left him alone. Dwarfed and stunted was
her narrow soul! To a man who had given all for her she had returned
nothing. Stone for bread! Betrayal for love! Cowardice for courage!

The hours of contending passions gave birth to vague, slow-forming
revolt.

She became haunted by memory pictures and sounds and smells of Oak Creek
Canyon. As from afar she saw the great sculptured rent in the earth,
green and red and brown, with its shining, flashing ribbons of
waterfalls and streams. The mighty pines stood up magnificent and
stately. The walls loomed high, shadowed under the shelves, gleaming in
the sunlight, and they seemed dreaming, waiting, watching. For what? For
her return to their serene fastnesses--to the little gray log cabin. The
thought stormed Carley's soul.

Vivid and intense shone the images before her shut eyes. She saw the
winding forest floor, green with grass and fern, colorful with flower
and rock. A thousand aisles, glades, nooks, and caverns called her
to come. Nature was every woman's mother. The populated city was a
delusion. Disease and death and corruption stalked in the shadows of
the streets. But her canyon promised hard work, playful hours, dreaming
idleness, beauty, health, fragrance, loneliness, peace, wisdom, love,
children, and long life. In the hateful shut-in isolation of her room
Carley stretched forth her arms as if to embrace the vision. Pale close
walls, gleaming placid stretches of brook, churning amber and white
rapids, mossy banks and pine-matted ledges, the towers and turrets and
ramparts where the eagles wheeled--she saw them all as beloved images
lost to her save in anguished memory.

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