The Girl from Montana (Chapter 6, page 2 of 10)


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Chapter 6

The girl broke the stillness.

"You are what they call a 'tenderfoot,'" she said significantly.

"Yes," he assented humbly, "I guess I am. I couldn't have shot it to save
anybody's life."

"You are a tenderfoot, and you couldn't shoot," she continued
eulogistically, as if it were necessary to have it all stated plainly,
"but you--you are what my brother used to call 'a white man.' You
couldn't shoot; but you could risk your life, and hold that coat, and look
death in the face. You are no tenderfoot."

There was eloquence in her eyes, and in her voice there were tears. She
turned away to hide if any were in her eyes. But the man put out his hand
on her sure little brown one, and took it firmly in his own, looking down
upon her with his own eyes filled with tears of which he was not ashamed.

"And what am I to say to you for saving my life?" he said.

"I? O, that was easy," said the girl, rousing to the commonplace. "I can
always shoot. Only you were hard to drag away. You seemed to want to stay
there and die with your coat."

"They laughed at me for wearing that coat when we started away. They said
a hunter never bothered himself with extra clothing," he mused as they
walked away from the terrible spot.

"Do you think it was the prayer?" asked the girl suddenly.

"It may be!" said the man with wondering accent.

Then quietly, thoughtfully, they mounted and rode onward.

Their way, due east, led them around the shoulder of a hill. It was
tolerably smooth, but they were obliged to go single file, so there was
very little talking done.

It was nearly the middle of the afternoon when all at once a sound reached
them from below, a sound so new that it was startling. They stopped their
horses, and looked at each other. It was the faint sound of singing wafted
on the light breeze, singing that came in whiffs like a perfume, and then
died out. Cautiously they guided their horses on around the hill, keeping
close together now. It was plain they were approaching some human being or
beings. No bird could sing like that. There were indistinct words to the
music.

They rounded the hillside, and stopped again side by side. There below
them lay the trail for which they had been searching, and just beneath
them, nestled against the hill, was a little schoolhouse of logs,
weather-boarded, its windows open; and behind it and around it were horses
tied, some of them hitched to wagons, but most of them with saddles.

The singing was clear and distinct now. They could hear the words. "O,
that will be glory for me, glory for me, glory for me--"

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