The Man of the Desert (Chapter 9, page 3 of 7)


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Chapter 9

She made her toilet in a leisurely way, for she dreaded to have to talk as she knew she would, and dreaded still more to meet Hamar. But she knew she must go and tell her father of her experiences, and presently she came out to them fresh and beautiful, with eyes but the brighter for her tears, and a soft wild-rose flush on her wind-browned cheeks that made her beauty all the sweeter.

They clamoured at once, of course, for all the details of her experience, and began by rehearsing once more how hard Mr. Hamar had tried to save her from her terrible plight, risking his life to stop her horse. Hazel said nothing to this, but one steady clear look at the disfigured face of the man who had made them believe all this was the only recognition she gave of his would-be heroism. In that look she managed to show her utter disbelief and contempt, though her Aunt Maria and perhaps even her father and brother thought her gratitude too deep for utterance before them all.

The girl passed over the matter of the runaway with a brief word, saying that the pony had made up his mind to run, and she had lost the bridle, which of course explained her inability to control him. She made light of her ride, however, before her aunt, and told the whole story most briefly until she came to the canyon and the howl of the coyotes. She was most warm in praise of her rescuer, though here too she used few words and avoided any description of the ride back, merely saying that the missionary had shown himself a gentleman in every particular, and had given her every care and attention that her own family could have done under the circumstances, making the way pleasant with stories of the country and the people. She said that he was a man of unusual culture and refinement, she thought, and yet most earnestly devoted to his work, and then she abruptly changed the subject by asking about certain plans for their further trip and seeming to have no further interest in what had befallen her; but all the while she was conscious of the piercing glance and frowning visage of Milton Hamar watching her, and she knew that as soon as opportunity offered itself he would continue the hateful interview begun on the plain. She decided mentally that she would avoid any such interview if possible, and to that end excused herself immediately after lunch had been served, saying she needed a good sleep to make up for the long ride she had taken.

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