Riders of the Purple Sage (Chapter 8, page 2 of 17)

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Chapter 8

"Very well, Bess. It doesn't matter," he said. "But this matters--what shall I do with you?"

"Are--you--a rider?" she whispered.

"Not now. I was once. I drove the Withersteen herds. But I lost my place--lost all I owned--and now I'm--I'm a sort of outcast.

My name's Bern Venters."

"You won't--take me--to Cottonwoods--or Glaze? I'd be--hanged."

"No, indeed. But I must do something with you. For it's not safe for me here. I shot that rustler who was with you. Sooner or later he'll be found, and then my tracks. I must find a safer hiding-place where I can't be trailed."

"Leave me--here."

"Alone--to die!"


"I will not." Venters spoke shortly with a kind of ring in his voice.

"What--do you want--to do--with me?" Her whispering grew difficult, so low and faint that Venters had to stoop to hear her.

"Why, let's see," he replied, slowly. "I'd like to take you some place where I could watch by you, nurse you, till you're all right."


"Well, it'll be time to think of that when you're cured of your wound. It's a bad one. And--Bess, if you don't want to live--if you don't fight for life--you'll never--"

"Oh! I want--to live! I'm afraid--to die. But I'd rather--die--than go back--to--to--"

"To Oldring?" asked Venters, interrupting her in turn.

Her lips moved in an affirmative.

"I promise not to take you back to him or to Cottonwoods or to Glaze."

The mournful earnestness of her gaze suddenly shone with unutterable gratitude and wonder. And as suddenly Venters found her eyes beautiful as he had never seen or felt beauty. They were as dark blue as the sky at night. Then the flashing changed to a long, thoughtful look, in which there was a wistful, unconscious searching of his face, a look that trembled on the verge of hope and trust.

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