The Girl from Montana (Chapter 3, page 2 of 15)


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Chapter 3

The horse had already begun to crop the tender grass at his feet as if his
life depended upon a good meal. The girl took some more beans from the
pack she carried, and mechanically ate them, though she felt no appetite,
and her dry throat almost refused to swallow. She found her eyes shutting
even against her will; and in desperation she folded the old coat into a
pillow, and with the horse's bridle fastened in her belt she lay down.

The sun went away; the horse ate his supper; and the girl slept. By and by
the horse drowsed off too, and the bleating sheep in the distance, the
lowing of the cattle, the sound of night-birds, came now and again from
the distance; but still the girl slept on. The moon rose full and round,
shining with flickering light through the cottonwoods; and the girl
stirred in a dream and thought some one was pursuing her, but slept on
again. Then out through the night rang a vivid human voice, "Hello!
Hello!" The horse roused from his sleep, and stamped his feet nervously,
twitching at his bridle; but the relaxed hand that lay across the leather
strap did not quicken, and the girl slept on. The horse listened, and
thought he heard a sound good to his ear. He neighed, and neighed again;
but the girl slept on.

The first ray of the rising sun at last shot through the gray of dawning,
and touched the girl full in the face as it slid under the branches of her
sheltering tree. The light brought her acutely to her senses. Before she
opened her eyes she seemed to be keenly and painfully aware of much that
had gone on during her sleep. With another flash her eyes flew open. Not
because she willed it, but rather as if the springs that held the lids
shut had unexpectedly been touched and they sprang back because they had
to.

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