The Call of the Canyon (Chapter 4, page 1 of 12)


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Chapter 4

Two warm sunny days in early May inclined Mr. Hutter to the opinion that
pleasant spring weather was at hand and that it would be a propitious
time to climb up on the desert to look after his sheep interests. Glenn,
of course, would accompany him.

"Carley and I will go too," asserted Flo.

"Reckon that'll be good," said Hutter, with approving nod.

His wife also agreed that it would be fine for Carley to see the
beautiful desert country round Sunset Peak. But Glenn looked dubious.

"Carley, it'll be rather hard," he said. "You're soft, and riding and
lying out will stove you up. You ought to break in gradually."

"I rode ten miles today," rejoined Carley. "And didn't mind it--much."
This was a little deviation from stern veracity.

"Shore Carley's well and strong," protested Flo. "She'll get sore, but
that won't kill her."

Glenn eyed Flo with rather penetrating glance. "I might drive Carley
round about in the car," he said.

"But you can't drive over those lava flats, or go round, either. We'd
have to send horses in some cases miles to meet you. It's horseback if
you go at all."

"Shore we'll go horseback," spoke up Flo. "Carley has got it all over
that Spencer girl who was here last summer."

"I think so, too. I am sure I hope so. Because you remember what the
ride to Long Valley did to Miss Spencer," rejoined Glenn.

"What?" inquired Carley.

"Bad cold, peeled nose, skinned shin, saddle sores. She was in bed two
days. She didn't show much pep the rest of her stay here, and she never
got on another horse."

"Oh, is that all, Glenn?" returned Carley, in feigned surprise. "Why,
I imagined from your tone that Miss Spencer's ride must have occasioned
her discomfort.... See here, Glenn. I may be a tenderfoot, but I'm no
mollycoddle."

"My dear, I surrender," replied Glenn, with a laugh. "Really, I'm
delighted. But if anything happens--don't you blame me. I'm quite sure
that a long horseback ride, in spring, on the desert, will show you a
good many things about yourself."

That was how Carley came to find herself, the afternoon of the next day,
astride a self-willed and unmanageable little mustang, riding in the
rear of her friends, on the way through a cedar forest toward a place
called Deep Lake.

Carley had not been able yet, during the several hours of their journey,
to take any pleasure in the scenery or in her mount. For in the first
place there was nothing to see but scrubby little gnarled cedars and
drab-looking rocks; and in the second this Indian pony she rode had
discovered she was not an adept horsewoman and had proceeded to take
advantage of the fact. It did not help Carley's predicament to remember
that Glenn had decidedly advised her against riding this particular
mustang. To be sure, Flo had approved of Carley's choice, and Mr.
Hutter, with a hearty laugh, had fallen in line: "Shore. Let her ride
one of the broncs, if she wants." So this animal she bestrode must
have been a bronc, for it did not take him long to elicit from Carley a
muttered, "I don't know what bronc means, but it sounds like this pony
acts."

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