The Man of the Desert (Chapter 2, page 2 of 9)

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Chapter 2

But as he looked afar over the long way he had come, and thought of the bright little home where he had dined the day before, the sadness still lingered in his face.

"It would be good to have somebody like that," he said, aloud again, "somebody to expect me, and be glad,--but then"--thoughtfully--"I suppose there are not many girls who are willing to give up their homes and go out to rough it as she has done. It is a hard life for a woman--for that kind of a woman!" A pause, then, "And I wouldn't want any other kind!"

His eyes grew large with wistfulness. It was not often thus that the cheery missionary stopped to think upon his own lot in life. His heart was in his work, and he could turn his hand to anything. There was always plenty to be done. Yet to-day for some inexplicable reason, for the first time since he had really got into the work and outgrown his first homesickness, he was hungry for companionship. He had seen a light in the eyes of his fellow-missionary that spoke eloquently of the comfort and joy he himself had missed and it struck deep into his heart. He had stopped here on this mesa, with the vast panorama of the desert spread before him, to have it out with himself.

The horse breathed restfully, drooping his head and closing his eyes to make the most of the brief respite, and the man sat thinking, trying to fill his soul with the beauty of the scene and crowd out the longings that had pressed upon him. Suddenly he raised his head with a quiet upward motion and said reverently: "Oh, my Christ, you knew what this loneliness was! You were lonely too! It is the way you went, and I will walk with you! That will be good."

He sat for a moment with uplifted face towards the vast sky, his fine strong features touched with a tender light, their sadness changing into peace. Then with the old cheery brightness coming into his face again he returned to the earth and its duties.

"Billy, it's time we were getting on," he remarked to his horse chummily. "Do you see that sun in the heavens? It'll get there before we do if we don't look out, and we're due at the fort to-night if we can possibly make it. We had too much vacation, that's about the size of it, and we're spoiled! We're lazy, Billy! We'll have to get down to work. Now how about it? Can we get to that water-hole in half an hour? Let's try for it, old fellow, and then we'll have a good drink, and a bite to eat, and maybe ten minutes for a nap before we take the short trail home. There's some of the corn chop left for you, Billy, so hustle up, old boy, and get there."

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