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The Lilac Girl   By: (1870-1944)

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THE LILAC GIRL

BY

RALPH HENRY BARBOUR

Author of "Kitty of the Roses," "An Orchard Princess," "A Maid in Arcady," "Holly," "My Lady of the Fog," etc.

With Illustrations in Color by CLARENCE F. UNDERWOOD

and Decorations by EDWARD STRATTON HOLLOWAY

1909

[Illustration: OVER THE TIPS OF THE SPRAYS SHE SHOT A GLANCE AT WADE]

To L.D.K.

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

OVER THE TIPS OF THE SPRAYS SHE SHOT A GLANCE AT WADE

"OH, NO, SIR," REPLIED ZEPHANIA, WITH A SHOCKED, PITYING EXPRESSION

"YOUR HOUSE? THEN THEN WHERE IS MINE, PLEASE?"

"STERN IN HER ANGER, MR. HERRICK, BUT OF AN AMIABLE AND FORGIVING DISPOSITION"

"NOW WHAT HAVE YOU TO SAY?" HE DEMANDED

THE LILAC GIRL

I.

Two men were sitting beside a camp fire at Saddle Pass, a shallow notch in the lower end of the Sangre de Cristo Range in southern Colorado. Although it was the middle of June and summer had come to the valleys below, up here in the mountains the evenings were still chill, and the warmth of the crackling fire felt grateful to tired bodies. Daylight yet held, although it was fast deepening toward dusk. The sun had been gone some little time behind the purple grandeur of Sierra Blanca, but eastward the snowy tips of the Spanish Peaks were still flushed with the afterglow.

Nearby three ragged burros were cropping the scanty growth. Behind them the sharp elbow of the mountain ascended, scarred and furrowed and littered with rocky debris. Before them the hill sloped for a few rods and levelled into a narrow plateau, across which, eastward and westward, the railway, tired from its long twisting climb up the mountain, seemed to pause for a moment and gasp for breath before beginning its descent. Beyond the tracks a fringe of stunted trees held precarious foothold on the lower slope of a smaller peak, which reared its bare cone against the evening sky. There were no buildings at Saddle Pass save a snow shed which began where the rails slipped downward toward the east and, dropping from sight, followed for a quarter of a mile around the long face of the mountain. It was very still up here on the Pass, so still that when the Western Slope Limited, two hours and more late at Eagle Cliff, whistled for the tunnel four miles below the sound came echoing about them startlingly clear.

"Train coming up from the west," said the elder of the two men. "Must be the Limited." The other nodded as he drained the last drop in his tin cup and looked speculatively at the battered coffee pot.

"Any more of the Arbuckle nectar, Ed?" he asked.

"Not a drop, but I can make some."

"No, I've had enough, I reckon. That's the trouble with dining late, Ed; you have too much appetite."

"We'll have to get some more grub before long," was the reply, "or it'll be appetite and nothing else with us. I can eat bacon with the next man, but I don't want to feast on it six days running. What we need, Wade, is variety."

"And plenty of it," sighed the other, stretching his tired legs and finding a new position. "The fact is, even after this banquet I feel a little hollow."

"Same here, but I figure we'd better go a little short till we get nearer town. We ought to strike Bosa Grande to morrow night."

"Why not hop the train and go down to Aroya? We can find some real grub there."

"Couldn't get back before to morrow afternoon. What's the good of wasting a whole day?"

"Looks to me like we'd wasted about twenty of them already, Ed."

Craig made no reply. He fished a corn cob pipe and a little sack of tobacco from his pocket and began to fill the bowl. Wade watched for a moment in silence. Then, with a protesting groan, he rolled over until he could get at his own pipe. Craig drew an ember from the edge of the fire with calloused fingers, held it to his bowl and passed it on to Wade. Then with grunts of contentment they settled back against the sagging canvas of their tent and puffed wreaths of acrid smoke into the twilight.

The shadows were creeping up the mountain side. Overhead the wide sweep of sky began to glitter with white stars... Continue reading book >>




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