The Girl from Montana (Chapter 1, page 1 of 12)


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Chapter 1

The late afternoon sun was streaming in across the cabin floor as the girl
stole around the corner and looked cautiously in at the door.

There was a kind of tremulous courage in her face. She had a duty to
perform, and she was resolved to do it without delay. She shaded her eyes
with her hand from the glare of the sun, set a firm foot upon the
threshold, and, with one wild glance around to see whether all was as she
had left it, entered her home and stood for a moment shuddering in the
middle of the floor.

A long procession of funerals seemed to come out of the past and meet her
eye as she looked about upon the signs of the primitive, unhallowed one
which had just gone out from there a little while before.

The girl closed her eyes, and pressed their hot, dry lids hard with her
cold fingers; but the vision was clearer even than with her eyes open.

She could see the tiny baby sister lying there in the middle of the room,
so little and white and pitiful; and her handsome, careless father sitting
at the head of the rude home-made coffin, sober for the moment; and her
tired, disheartened mother, faded before her time, dry-eyed and haggard,
beside him. But that was long ago, almost at the beginning of things for
the girl.

There had been other funerals, the little brother who had been drowned
while playing in a forbidden stream, and the older brother who had gone
off in search of gold or his own way, and had crawled back parched with
fever to die in his mother's arms. But those, too, seemed long ago to the
girl as she stood in the empty cabin and looked fearfully about her. They
seemed almost blotted out by the last three that had crowded so close
within the year. The father, who even at his worst had a kind word for her
and her mother, had been brought home mortally hurt--an encounter with
wild cattle, a fall from his horse in a treacherous place--and had never
roused to consciousness again.

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