The Heart of the Desert (Chapter 4, page 1 of 12)


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Chapter 4

It was some time before the call of a coyote close beside her penetrated Rhoda's senses. At its third or fourth repetition, she sighed and opened her eyes. Night had come, the luminous lavender night of the desert. Her first discovery was that she was seated on a horse, held firmly by a strong arm across her shoulders. Next she found that her uneasy breathing was due to the cloth tied round her mouth. With this came realization of her predicament and she tossed her arms in a wild attempt to free herself.

The arm about her tightened, the horse stopped, and the voice went on repeating the coyote call, clearly, mournfully. Rhoda ceased her struggling for a moment and looked at the face so close to her own. In the starlight only the eyes and the dim outline of the features were visible, and the eyes were as dark and menacing to her as the desert night that shut her in.

Mad with fear, Rhoda strained at the rigid arm. Kut-le dropped the reins and held her struggling hands, ceased his calling and waited. Off to the left came an answering call and Kut-le started the pony rapidly toward the sound. In a few moments Rhoda saw a pair of horsemen. Utterly exhausted, she sat in terror awaiting her fate. Kut-le gave a low-voiced order. One of the riders immediately rode forward, leading another horse. Kut-le slipped another blanket from this and finished binding Rhoda to her saddle so securely that she scarcely could move a finger. Then he mounted his horse, and he and one of the Indians started off, leading Rhoda's horse between them and leaving the third Indian standing silently behind them.

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