The Man of the Desert (Chapter 9, page 2 of 7)


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Chapter 9

It was the voice of her Aunt Maria that recalled her to herself, while the little station with its primitive setting, its straggling onlookers and its one great man, slipped past and was blurred into the landscape by the tears which she could not keep back.

"Hazel! For pity's sake! Don't stand mooning and gazing at that rude creature any longer. We'll have you falling off the train and being dramatically rescued again for the delectation of the natives. I'm sure you've made disturbance enough for one trip, and you'd better come in and try to make amends to poor Mr. Hamar for what you have made him suffer with your foolish persistence in going off on a wild western pony that ran away. You haven't spoken to Mr. Hamar yet. Perhaps you don't know that he risked his life for you trying to catch your horse and was thrown and kicked in the face by his own wretched little beast, and left lying unconscious for hours on the desert, until an Indian came along and picked him up and helped him back to the station." (As a matter of fact Milton Hamar had planned and enacted this touching drama with the help of a passing Indian, when he found that Hazel was gone, leaving an ugly whip mark on his cheek which must be explained to the family.) "He may bear that dreadful scar for life! He will think you an ungrateful girl if you don't go at once and make your apologies."

For answer Hazel, surreptitiously brushing away the tears, swept past her aunt and locked herself into her own little private stateroom.

She rushed eagerly to the window which was partly open, guarded with a screen, and pressed her face against the upper part of the glass. The train had described a curve across the prairie, and the station was still visible, though far away. She was sure she could see the tall figure of her lover standing with hat in hand watching her as she passed from his sight.

With quick impulse she caught up a long white crepe scarf that lay on her berth, and snatching the screen from the window fluttered the scarf out to the wind. Almost instantly a flutter of white came from the figure on the platform, and her heart quickened with joy. They had sent a message from heart to heart across the wide space of the plains, and the wireless telegraphy of hearts was established. Great tears rushed to blot the last flutter of white from the receding landscape, and then a hill loomed brilliant and shifting, and in a moment more shut out the sight of station and dim group and Hazel knew that she was back in the world of commonplace things once more, with only a memory for her company, amid a background of unsympathetic relatives.

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