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Under the Tonto Rim

Country of origin: USA USA
Available texts by the same author here Dokument

Chapter 1

   Lucy Watson did not leave home without regrets. For a long time she gazed at the desert scenery through tear-blurred eyes. But this sadness seemed rather for the past--the home that had been, before the death of her mother and the elopement of her younger sister with a cowboy. This escapade of Clara's had been the last straw. Lucy had clung to the home in the hope she might save her sister from following in the footsteps of others of the family. Always she had felt keenly the stigma of being the daughter of a saloon-keeper. In her school days she had suffered, under this opprobrium, and had conceived an ideal to help her rise above the circumstances of her position. Clara's deflection had left her free. And now she was speeding away from the town where she had been born, with an ache in her heart, and yet a slowly dawning consciousness of relief, of hope, of thrill. By the time she reached Oglethorpe, where she was to take a branch-line train, she was able to address all her faculties to a realisation of her adventures.
   Lucy had graduated from high school and normal school with honours. Of the several opportunities open to her she had chosen one of welfare work among backwoods people. It was not exactly missionary work, as her employers belonged to a department of the state government. Her duty was to go among the poor families of the wilderness and help them to make better homes. The significance of these words had prompted Lucy to make her choice. Better homes! It had been her ideal to help make her own home better, and so long as her mother lived she had succeeded. The salary offered was small, but that did not cause her concern. The fact that she had the welfare department of the state behind her, and could use to reasonable extent funds for the betterment of these primitive people, was something of far greater importance. When she had accepted this position two remarks had been made to her, both of which had been thought-provoking. Mr. Sands, the head of the department, had said: "We would not trust every young woman with this work. It is a sort of state experiment. But we believe in the right hands it will be a great benefit to these uncultivated people of the backwoods. Tact, cleverness, and kindliness of heart will be factors in your success."
   Lucy had derived gratification from this indirect compliment. The other remark had aroused only Amusement. Mrs. Larabee, also connected with the welfare work, had remarked: "You are a good-looking woman, Miss Watson. You will cause something of a stir among the young men at Cedar Ridge. I was there last summer. Such strapping young giants I never saw! I liked them, wild and uncouth as they were. I wouldn't be surprised if one of them married you."
   Oglethorpe was a little way station in the desert. The branch-line train, consisting of two cars and the engine, stood waiting on a side track. Mexicans in huge sombreros and Indians with coloured blankets stolidly watched Lucy carry her heavy bags from one train to the other, A young brakeman espied her and helped her aboard, not forgetting some bold and admiring glances. The coach was only partly filled with passengers, and those whom Lucy noticed bore the stamp of the range.
   Soon the train started over an uneven and uphill roadbed. Lucy began to find pleasure in gazing out of the window. The flat bare desert had given place to hills, fresh with spring greens. The air had lost the tang of the cattle range. Occasionally Lucy espied a black tableland rising in the distance, and this she guessed was timbered mountain country, whither she was bound.
   At noon the train arrived at its terminal stop, San Dimas, a hamlet of flat-roofed houses. Lucy was interested only in the stage-coach that left here for her destination, Cedar Ridge. The young brakeman again came to her assistance and carried her baggage. "Goin' up in the woods, hey?" he queried curiously.
   "Yes, I think they did say woods, backwoods," laughed Lucy. "I go to Cedar Ridge, and farther still."
   "All alone--a pretty girl!" he exclaimed gallantly. "For two cents I'd throw up my job an' go with you."
   "Thank you. Do you think I need a--a protector?" replied Lucy.
   "Among those bee hunters an' white-mule drinker I reckon you do, miss."
   "I imagine they will not be any more dangerous than cowboys on the range--or brakemen on trains," replied Lucy, with a smile. "Anyway, I can take care of myself."
   "I'll bet you can," he said admiringly. "Good luck."
   Lucy found herself the sole passenger in the stage-coach and soon bowling along a good road. The driver, a weather-beaten old man, appeared to have a grudge against his horses. Lucy wanted to climb out in front and sit beside him, so that she could see better and have opportunity to ask questions about the country and the people. The driver's language, however, was hardly conducive to nearer acquaintance; therefore Lucy restrained her inquisitive desires and interested herself in the changing nature of the foliage and the occasional vista that opened up between the hills.
   It seemed impossible not to wonder about what was going to happen to her; and the clinking of the harness on the horses, the rhythmic beat of their hoofs, and the roll of wheels all augmented her sense of the departure from an old and unsatisfying life toward a new one fraught with endless hopes, dreams, possibilities. Whatever was in store for her, the worthy motive of this work she had accepted would uphold her and keep her true to the ideal she had set for herself.
   The only instructions given Lucy were that she was to go among the families living in the backwoods between Cedar Ridge and what was called the Rim Rock and to use her abilities to the best advantage in teaching them to have better homes. She had not been limited to any method or restricted in any sense or hampered by any church or society. She was to use her own judgment and report her progress. Something about this work appealed tremendously to Lucy. The responsibility weighed upon her, yet stimulated her instinct for conflict. She had been given a hint of what might be expected in the way of difficulties. Her success or failure would have much to do with future development of this state welfare work. Lucy appreciated just how much these isolated and poor families might gain or lose through her. Indeed, though beset by humility and doubt, she felt that a glorious opportunity had been presented to her, and she called upon all the courage and intelligence she could summon. There was little or nothing she could plan until she got among these people. But during that long ride through the lonely hills, up and ever upward into higher country, she laboured at what she conceived to be the initial step toward success--to put into this work all her sympathy and heart.
   Presently she plucked up spirit enough to address the stage driver.
   "How far is it to Cedar Ridge?"
   "Wal, some folks calkilate it's round twenty-five miles, then there's tothers say it's more," he drawled. "But I don't agree with nary of them."
   "You would know, of course," said Lucy appreciatingly. "How far do you call it?"
   "Reckon aboot twenty miles as a crow flies an' shinnyin' round forty on this uphill road."
   Lucy felt rather bewildered at this reply, and did not risk incurring more confusion. She was sure of one thing, however, and it was that the road assuredly wound uphill. About the middle of the afternoon as stage reached the summit of what appeared rolling upland country, grassy in patches and brushy in others, and stretching away toward a bold black mountain level with a band of red rock shining in the sun. Lucy gazed westward across a wide depression, grey and green, to a range of ragged peaks, notched and sharp, with shaggy slopes. How wild and different they seemed to her! Farther south the desert mountains were stark and ghastly, denuded rock surfaces that glared inhospitably down upon an observer. But these mountains seemed to call in wild abandon. They stirred something buoyant and thrilling in Lucy. Gradually she lost sight of both ranges as the road began to wind down somewhat, obstructing her view. Next to interest her were clearings in the brush, fields and fences and cabins, with a few cattle and horses. Hard as she peered, however, Lucy did not see any people.
   The stage driver made fast time over this rolling country, and his horses trotted swingingly along, as if home and feed were not far off. For Lucy the day had been tiring; she had exhausted herself with unusual sensation. She closed her eyes to rest them and fell into a doze. Sooner or later the stage driver awoke her.
   "Say, miss, there's Cedar Ridge, an' thet green hill above is what gives the town its name," he said. "It's a good ways off yit, but I reckon we'll pull in aboot dark."
   Lucy's eyes opened upon a wonderful valley, just now coloured by sunset haze. A cluster of cottages and houses nestled under a magnificent sloping ridge, billowy and soft with green foliage. The valley was pastoral and beautiful. This could not be the backwoods country into which she was going. Lucy gazed long with the most pleasing of impressions. Then her gaze shifted to the ridge from which the town derived its name. Far as she could see to east and west it extended, a wild black barrier to what hid beyond. It appeared to slope higher toward the east, where on the horizon it assumed the proportions of a mountain.
   To Lucy's regret, the winding and ascending nature of the road again obscured distant views. Then the sun set; twilight appeared short; and soon darkness settled down. Lucy had never before felt mountain air, but she recognised it now. How cold and pure! Would the ride never end? She peered through the darkness, hoping to see lights of the village. At last they appeared, dim pin-points through the blackness. She heard the barking of dogs. The stage wheeled round a corner of trees, to enter a wide street, and at last to slow down before looming flap-topped houses, from which the yellow lights shone.
   "Miss, anybody goin' to meet you?" queried the driver.
   "No," replied Lucy.
   "Wal, whar shall I set you down? Post office, store, or hotel?"
   Lucy was about to answer his question when he enlightened her by drawling that she did not need to make any choice, because all three places mentioned were in the same house.
   When the stage came to a halt Lucy saw a high porch upon which lounged the dark forms of men silhouetted against the yellow light of lamps. Despite the lights, she could scarcely see to gather up her belongings. To her relief, the stage driver reached in for her grips.
   "Hyar we air--Cedar Ridge--last stop--all out," he drawled.
   Lucy stepped down hurriedly so that she could stay close to him. The darkness, and the strangeness of the place, with those silent men so close, made her heart beat a little quicker. She followed her escort up wide rickety steps, between two lines of men, some of whom leaned closer to peer at her, and into a large room, dimly lighted by a hanging lamp.
   "Bill, hyar's a party fer you," announced the driver, setting down the baggage. "An', miss, I'll thank you fer ten dollars--stage fare."
   Lucy stepped under the lamp so that she could see to find the money in her purse, and when she turned to pay the driver she espied a tall man standing by him.
   "Madam, do you want supper an' bed?" he asked.
   "Yes. I am Lucy Watson of Felix, and I shall want room and board, perhaps for a day or two, until I find out where I'm to go," replied Lucy.
   He lighted a lamp and held it up so that he could see her face.
   "Glad to help you any way I can," he said. "I'm acquainted in these parts. Come this way."
   He led her into a hallway, and up a stairway, into a small room, where he placed the lamp upon a washstand. "I'll fetch your baggage up. Supper will be ready in a few minutes."
   When he went out Lucy looked first to see if there was a key in the lock on the door. There was not, but she found a bolt, and laughed ruefully at the instant relief it afforded.
   "I'm a brave welfare worker," she whispered to herself scornfully. Then she gazed about the room. Besides the washstand before noted it contained a chair and a bed. The latter looked clean and inviting to Lucy. There would be need of the heavy roll of blankets at the foot. The cold air appeared to go right through Lucy. And the water in the pitcher was like ice. Before she had quite made herself ready to go downstairs she heard a bell ring, and then a great trampling of boots and a scraping of chairs on a bare floor.
   "Those men coming in to supper!" she exclaimed. "Bee hunters and white-mule drinkers, that brakeman said!...Well, if I have to meet them I--I can stand it now, I guess."
   The hall and stairway were so dark Lucy had to feel her way down to the door. She was guided by the loud voices and laughter in the dining-room. Lucy could not help hesitating at the door. Neither her courage nor her pride could prevent the rise of unfamiliar emotions. She was a girl, alone, at the threshold of new life. Catching her breath, she opened the door.
   The dining-room was now brightly lighted and full of men sitting at the tables. As Lucy entered, the hubbub of voices quieted and a sea of faces seemed to confront her. There was a small table vacant. Lucy seated herself in one of the two chairs. Her feeling of strangeness was not alleviated by the attention directed toward her. Fortunately the proprietor approached at once, asking what she would have to eat. When she had given her order Lucy casually looked up and around the room. To her surprise and relief, none of the young men now appeared to be interested in her. They had lean, hard faces and wore dark, rough clothes. Lucy rather liked their appearance, and she found herself listening to the snatches of conversation.
   "Jeff's rarin' to plough right off," said one. "Reckon it'll be plumb boggy," was the reply. And then others of them spoke. "My hoss piled me up this mawnin'," and "Who air you goin' to take to the dance?" and "Lefty March paid what he owed me an' I near dropped daid," and "Did you-all hear about Edd Denmeade makin' up to Sadie again, after she dished him once?" and "Edd's shore crazy fer a wife. Wants a home, I reckon."
   The talk of these young men was homely and crude. It held a dominant note of humour. Probably they were as fun-loving as the riders of the low country. Lucy had expected to be approached by some of them or at least to hear witticisms at her expense. But nothing of the kind happened. She was the only woman in the room, and she might not have been there at all, for any attention she received. Something of respect was forced from Lucy, yet, woman-like, she suffered a slight pique. Soon her supper came, and being hungry she attended to that.
   After supper there was nothing for her to do but to her room. It was cold and she quickly went to bed. For a while she lay there shivering between the cold sheets, but presently she grew warm and comfortable. The darkness appeared pitch-black. Distant voices penetrated from the lower part of the house, and through the open window came the sound of slow footsteps accompanied by clink of spurs. Then from somewhere far off sounded the bay of a hound, and it was followed by the wild bark of a coyote. Both bay and bark struck lonesomely upon her spirit.
   Lucy realised that actually to experience loneliness, to be really cut off from family and friends, was vastly different from the thought of it. She had deliberately severed all ties. She was alone in the world, with her way to make. A terrible blank sense of uncertainty assailed her. Independence was wholly desirable, but in its first stage it seemed hard. Lucy was not above tears, and she indulged in a luxury long unfamiliar to her. Then she cried herself to sleep.
   When she awoke the sun was shining in upon her. The air was crisp and cold and bore a fragrance wild and sweet, new to Lucy. With the bright daylight all her courage returned, even to the point of exhilaration. She put on a woollen dress and heavier shoes. The cold air and water had greatly accelerated her toilet. When had her cheeks glowed as rosily as now? And for that matter, when had her hair been as rebellious? But she had no time now to brush it properly, even if her hands had not been numb. She hurried down to the dining-room. A wood fire blazed and cracked in the stove, to Lucy's great satisfaction. The dining-room was empty. Presently the kitchen door opened and a stout woman entered with a pleasant greeting.
   "Miss Watson, my husband said we might find somethin' we could do for you," she said kindly.
   "Yes, indeed, you may be able to give me information I need," replied Lucy.
   "I'll fetch your breakfast an' then you can tell me what you want to know."
   The proprietor's wife introduced herself as Mrs. Lynn, and appeared to be a motherly person, kindly and full of curiosity. Lucy frankly explained the nature of the work she was about to undertake.
   "I think it's a fine idea," responded Mrs. Lynn emphatically. "If only the Denmeades an' the rest of them will have it."
   "Will they be too proud or--or anything to give me a chance?" asked Lucy anxiously.
   "We're all plain folks up here, an' the backwoods families keep to themselves," she replied. "I don't know as I'd call them proud. They're ignorant enough, Lord knows. But they're just backwoods. Like ground-hogs, they stay in their holes."
   On the moment the woman's husband came in from the street. He appeared to be a gaunt man, pallid, and evidently suffered from a lung complaint, for he had a hoarse cough.
   "Bill, come here," called his wife. "Miss Watson has what I think a wonderful mission. If it will only work!...She's been hired by the state government to go among our people up here in the backwoods an' teach them things. She has explained to me a lot of things she will do. But in few words it means better homes for those poor people. What do you think about it?"
   "Wal, first off I'd say she is a plucky an' fine little girl to take such a job," replied Mr. Lynn. "Then I'd say it's good of the state. But when it comes to what the Denmeades an' the Claypools will think about it I'm up a stump."
   "Bill, it's such a splendid idea," said his wife earnestly. "She can do much for the mothers an' children up there. We must help her to get a start."
   "I reckon. Now let's see," returned her husband, ponderingly. "If our backwoods neighbours are only approached right they're fine an' hospitable. The women would welcome anyone who could help them. But the men ain't so easy. Miss Watson, though, bein' young an' nice-lookin', may be able to make a go of it...If she can keep Edd Denmeade or one of them bee hunters from marryin' her!"
   Here Lynn laughed good-humouredly and smiled knowingly at Lucy. Mrs. Lynn took the question more seriously.
   "I was goin' to tell her that myself," she said. "But we mustn't give her the wrong impression about our neighbours. These backwoodsmen are not Bluebeards or Mormons, though they are strong on gettin' wives. They are a clean, hardy, pioneer people. Edd Denmeade, for instance, now--he's a young man the like of which you won't see often. He's a queer fellow--a bee hunter, wonderful good to look at, wild like them woods he lives in, but a cleaner, finer boy I never knew. He loves his sisters. He gives his mother every dollar he earns, which, Lord knows, isn't many...Now, Miss Lucy, Edd like as not will grab you right up an' pack you off an' marry you. That would settle your welfare work."
   "But, Mrs. Lynn," protested Lucy, laughing, "it takes two to make a bargain. I did not come up here to marry anyone. With all due respect to Mister Edd's manner of courting, I feel perfectly capable of taking care of myself. We can dismiss that."
   "Don't you be too sure!" ejaculated Mrs. Lynn bluntly "It's better to be safe than sorry!...I ain't above tellin' you, though--if Edd Denmeade really fell in love with you--that'd be different. Edd has been tryin' to marry every single girl in the country. An' I don't believe he's been in love with any one of them. He's just woman hungry, as sometimes these backwoodsmen get. That speaks well for him bein' too clean an' fine to be like many others. An' as to that, Edd is only one of a lot of good boys."
   "Thanks for telling me," replied Lucy simply. "Of course I want to know all I can find out about these people. But just now what I need to know is how to get among them."
   "Mary, I've been thinkin'," spoke up Mr. Lynn, "an' I've an idea. Suppose I call in the Rim Cabin school-teacher. He's in the post office now--just rode in. I reckon he's the one to help Miss Watson."
   "Fetch him in pronto," replied Mrs. Lynn with alacrity; and as her husband went out she continued: "It's Mr. Jenks, the school-teacher. First man teacher ever here. You see, the youngsters at Rim Cabin school never got much teachin', because whenever a schoolmarm did come one of the boys would up an' marry her. So they're tryin' a man. It's workin' out fine, I hear. Mr. Jenks is in this high, dry country for his health, same as my husband. I reckon he wasn't always a school-teacher. Anyway, he's a good Christian man, not young enough to have the girls makin' sheep eyes at him."
   At this juncture Mr. Lynn returned with a slight, stoop-shouldered man whose thin, serious face showed both suffering and benevolence. He was introduced to Lucy, who again, somewhat more elaborately, explained the reason for her presence in Cedar Ridge.
   He made her a very gallant bow, and seated himself at the table, to bend keen, kind blue eyes upon her.
   "You are a courageous young woman," he said, "and if you are sincere these people will take you into their homes."
   "No one could be more sincere," replied Lucy, with spirit. "I have absolutely no motive but to do good. I chose this out of a number of positions offered me. I wanted something different--and not easy."
   "You have found it," he said. "The opportunity is here and it is big. There are a score or more of children who might as well belong to savages for all the civilisation they get. No doctor when they are sick, no church, no amusement, no pretty things common to children, no books or toys--nothing except what little schooling I can give them. They have no school in winter, on account of weather. I've been here a month. There are twenty-seven pupils in my school, the eldest a boy of nineteen--a man, really--and the youngest a girl of four. They are like a lot of wild Hottentots. But I really think more of them than any children I ever taught. The problem is to win them."
   "It must be a problem for an outsider," replied Lucy seriously.
   "I believe they will take more quickly to a girl," he went on. "At least the children and boys will. Your problem will be a different one from mine. I'll not dwell on it, lest I discourage you. What's more to the point, I can say as their teacher I've learned a good deal about their lives. At first this seemed a tragedy to me, but I am learning that a good many of our necessities are not really necessary, after all. These children and young people are really happy. They have few wants because they do not know what more civilised people have in their lives. It is not through sophistication that you will benefit them. To brighten their surroundings, change the primitive squalor, teach the children useful things--therein lies your opportunity."
   "Can you advise me how to start--whom to approach first?" asked Lucy.
   "Come with me," replied Mr. Jenks earnestly. "I'm driving back to-day. I live at Johnson's--five miles down from the Rim Cabin, which, by the way, is the name of my school. I'll take you up to see Lee Denmeade. He lives some miles farther on, up in the woods under the Rim Rock. He's probably the most influential man among these backwoodsmen. I rather incline to the opinion that he will like your proposition."
   "It's very good of you. Thank you," replied Lucy gratefully. "I am ready now to go with you."
   "I'll call for you in an hour," said Mr. Jenks, rising.
   After he had gone out Lucy returned to Mrs. Lynn to ask: "I wonder--when he hinted about my problem and said he didn't want to discourage me--did he mean this--this marrying propensity you spoke of?"
   "I reckon you hit it plumb," replied Mrs. Lynn gravely, yet with a smile. "It's the only problem you have. You will be a blessin' to them overworked mothers an' a godsend to the children."
   "Then--I can stand anything," rejoined Lucy happily, and she ran upstairs to repack the grip she had opened. While her hands were busy her mind was preoccupied, now humorously and then thoughtfully, and again dreamily. She was indeed curious about these backwoods people--earnestly and sympathetically curious. It was impossible not to conjecture about this Edd Denmeade. She made a mental picture of him, not particularly flattering. Poor fellow! So all he wanted was a wife, any girl he could get. The thought afforded Lucy amusement, yet she felt pity for the lonesome fellow. "I hope to goodness he doesn't run after me!" soliloquised Lucy, suddenly aghast. "I certainly wouldn't marry a backwoodsman--or a cowboy...Pooer little foolish sister! I wonder how soon she'll find out her mistake. That Rex Wilcox was no good...I wish everybody wouldn't make me think of marriage. It'll be a long time until I want to--if ever."
   Lucy sighed, dispelled her dreams, and finished her packing, after which she gazed out of the window.
   It was considerably longer than an hour before Lucy found herself seated in an old buckboard beside Mr. Jenks, rattling along a dusty road behind the heels of two big shaggy horses.
   But the brisk trot soon ended at the base of the steep ridge, up which the road zigzagged through a low-branched thick-foliaged forest, remarkable for its fragrance.
   "What smells so sweet?" was one of Lucy's many questions.
   "Cedar. Those gnarled trees with the grey sheafs of bark, hanging like ribbons, and the dense fine light-green foliage, are the cedars that give name to the ridge and village," replied Mr. Jenks. "They are an upland tree, an evergreen. I like them, but not so well as this more graceful tree with the chequered bark. That's a juniper. See the lilac-coloured berries. They grow ripe about every two years. And this huge round green bush with the smooth red-barked branches is manzanita. And that pale green plant with the spear-pointed leaves like a century plant--that's mescal...But perhaps you would be more interested to hear about the people."
   "Yes. But I love the outdoors and all that grows," replied Lucy enthusiastically. "I've never had a chance to live in the country, let alone in the wilds."
   "You may find it too wild, as I did at first," replied the teacher in grim amusement. "I walk from Johnson's to the schools--five miles. I used to see fresh bear tracks in mud or dust. I seldom see them now, as the bears have moved up higher. Almost every day I see deer and wild turkey. One night I was late leaving the cabin. It was moonlight. A big grey animal followed me half-way down to Johnson's. I didn't know what it was until next day, but anyhow my hair stood on end."
   "And what was it?" queried Lucy.
   "A mountain lion," replied Mr. Jenks impressively.
   "A lion?" echoed Lucy incredulously. "I didn't know there were lions in this country."
   "It was a panther, or cougar. But mountain lion is the proper name. I'll show you his skin. Lee Denmeade put his hounds on the track of the beast and killed it. He gave me the skin...Oh, it'll be wild enough for you. After we get on top of the ridge you won't wonder that bears and lions live there."
   Lucy, being an artful questioner and inspiring listener, led Mr. Jenks to talk about the people among whom she expected to dwell.
   He told how some of his child pupils rode their little burros six and eight miles to school; how a slip of a boy came on horseback from his home twelve miles away; how sometimes they were frightened by wild animals and cattle. He told of the dance that was held at the school-house once every week--how everyone for miles around attended--babies, children, young people, and grown-ups--and stayed from sundown to sunrise. All of which time the boys and girls danced! It was their one and only time to be together. Distance and hard work precluded the pleasure of company. Sometimes on a Sunday or a birthday one family would visit another. The girls spent what little leisure they had in sewing. The boys passed their spare time in hunting and fighting.
   Mr. Jenks said he had at first been dreadfully concerned at the frequent fights. But as these young backwoodsmen appeared to thrive on it, and seldom were any less friendly for all their bloody battles, he had begun to get used to it.
   So interesting was the talk of the school teacher that Lucy scarcely noted the tedious miles up the long ascent of the ridge, and was only reminded of distance when he informed her they were almost on top and would soon have a magnificent view. Despite his statement, however, Lucy was wholly unprepared for what suddenly burst upon her gaze from the summit.
   "Oh--how glorious!" she cried.
   It seemed she gazed down on an endless green slope of massed tree-tops, across a rolling basin black with forest, to a colossal wall of red rock, level and black fringed on top, but wildly broken along its face into gigantic cliffs, escarpments, points, and ledges, far as eye could see to east or west. How different from any other country Lucy had ever viewed! A strong sweet breath of pine assailed her nostrils. Almost she tasted it. In all the miles of green and black there was not a break. If homes of people existed there, they were lost in the immensity of the forest. An eagle soared far beneath her, with the sun shining on his wide-spread wings. A faint roar of running water floated up from the depths, and that was the only sound to disturb the great stillness. To one who had long been used to flat desert, the drab and yellow barrenness, how fertile and beautiful these miles and miles of rolling green! That wild grand wall of rock seemed to shut in the basin, to bar it from what lay beyond. Lastly the loneliness, the solitude, gripped Lucy's heart.
   "We're on top of Cedar Ridge," the school teacher was saying. "That mountain wall is called the Red Rim Rock. It's about thirty miles in a straight line...We're looking down upon the homes of the backwoodsmen you've come to live among."

Chapter 2 >