Transcriber's note:

In the original text the words "canyon" and "pinyon" are spelled in the

Spanish form, "canon" and "pinon", with tildes above the center "n"s.

Since the plain text format precludes the use of tildes, I've changed

these words to the more familiar spelling to make them easier to



























The spell of the desert comes back to me, as it always will come. I see

the veils, like purple smoke, in the canyon, and I feel the silence. And

it seems that again I must try to pierce both and to get at the strange

wild life of the last American wilderness--wild still, almost, as it

ever was.

While this romance is an independent story, yet readers of "Riders of

the Purple Sage" will find in it an answer to a question often asked.

I wish to say also this story has appeared serially in a different

form in one of the monthly magazines under the title of "The Desert

Crucible." ZANE GREY.

June, 1915.



Shefford halted his tired horse and gazed with slowly realizing eyes.

A league-long slope of sage rolled and billowed down to Red Lake, a dry

red basin, denuded and glistening, a hollow in the desert, a lonely and

desolate door to the vast, wild, and broken upland beyond.

All day Shefford had plodded onward with the clear horizon-line a thing

unattainable; and for days before that he had ridden the wild bare flats

and climbed the rocky desert benches. The great colored reaches and

steps had led endlessly onward and upward through dim and deceiving


A hundred miles of desert travel, with its mistakes and lessons and

intimations, had not prepared him for what he now saw. He beheld what

seemed a world that knew only magnitude. Wonder and awe fixed his gaze,

and thought remained aloof. Then that dark and unknown northland flung

a menace at him. An irresistible call had drawn him to this seamed and

peaked border of Arizona, this broken battlemented wilderness of Utah

upland; and at first sight they frowned upon him, as if to warn him not

to search for what lay hidden beyond the ranges. But Shefford thrilled

with both fear and exultation. That was the country which had been

described to him. Far across the red valley, far beyond the ragged line

of black mesa and yellow range, lay the wild canyon with its haunting


Red Lake must be his Rubicon. Either he must enter the unknown to seek,

to strive, to find, or turn back and fail and never know and be always

haunted. A friend's strange story had prompted his singular journey; a

beautiful rainbow with its mystery and promise had decided him. Once in

his life he had answered a wild call to the kingdom of adventure

within him, and once in his life he had been happy. But here in the

horizon-wide face of that up-flung and cloven desert he grew cold; he

faltered even while he felt more fatally drawn.

As if impelled Shefford started his horse down the sandy trail, but he

checked his former far-reaching gaze. It was the month of April, and the

waning sun lost heat and brightness. Long shadows crept down the slope

ahead of him and the scant sage deepened its gray. He watched the

lizards shoot like brown streaks across the sand, leaving their slender

tracks; he heard the rustle of pack-rats as they darted into their

brushy homes; the whir of a low-sailing hawk startled his horse.

Like ocean waves the slope rose and fell, its hollows choked with sand,

its ridge-tops showing scantier growth of sage and grass and weed. The

last ridge was a sand-dune, beautifullyribbed and scalloped and lined

by the wind, and from its knife-sharp crest a thin wavering sheet of

sand blew, almost like smoke. Shefford wondered why the sand looked red

at a distance, for here it seemed almost white. It rippled everywhere,

clean and glistening, always leading down.

Suddenly Shefford became aware of a house looming out of the bareness

of the slope. It dominated that long white incline. Grim, lonely,

forbidding, how strangely it harmonized with the surroundings! The

structure was octagon-shaped, built of uncut stone, and resembled a

fort. There was no door on the sides exposed to Shefford's gaze, but

small apertures two-thirds the way up probably served as windows and

port-holes. The roof appeared to be made of poles covered with red


Like a huge cold rock on a wide plain this house stood there on the

windy slope. It was an outpost of the trader Presbrey, of whom Shefford

had heard at Flagstaff and Tuba. No living thing appeared in the

limit of Shefford's vision. He gazed shudderingly at the unwelcoming

habitation, at the dark eyelike windows, at the sweep of barren slope

merging into the vast red valley, at the bold, bleak bluffs. Could any

one live here? The nature of that sinistervalleyforbade a home there,

and the spirit of the place hovered in the silence and space. Shefford

thought irresistibly of how his enemies would have consigned him to

just such a hell. He thought bitterly and mockingly of the narrow

congregation that had proved him a failure in the ministry, that had

repudiated his ideas of religion and immortality and God, that had

driven him, at the age of twenty-four, from the calling forced upon him

by his people. As a boy he had yearned to make himself an artist; his

family had made him a clergyman; fate had made him a failure. A failure

only so far in his life, something urged him to add--for in the lonely

days and silent nights of the desert he had experienced a strange birth

of hope. Adventure had called him, but it was a vague and spiritual

hope, a dream of promise, a namelessattainment that fortified his

wilder impulse.

As he rode around a corner of the stone house his horse snorted and

stopped. A lean, shaggy pony jumped at sight of him, almost displacing

a red long-haired blanket that covered an Indian saddle. Quick thuds

of hoofs in sand drew Shefford's attention to a corral made of peeled

poles, and here he saw another pony.

Shefford heard subdued voices. He dismounted and walked to an open door.

In the dark interior he dimly descried a high counter, a stairway, a

pile of bags of flour, blankets, and silver-ornamented objects, but the

persons he had heard were not in that part of the house. Around another

corner of the octagon-shaped wall he found another open door, and

through it saw goat-skins and a mound of dirty sheep-wool, black and

brown and white. It was light in this part of the building. When he

crossed the threshold he was astounded to see a man struggling with

a girl--an Indian girl. She was straining back from him, panting, and

uttering low guttural sounds. The man's face was corded and dark with

passion. This scene affected Shefford strangely. Primitive emotions were

new to him.

Before Shefford could speak the girl broke loose and turned to flee. She

was an Indian and this place was the uncivilized desert, but Shefford

knew terror when he saw it. Like a dog the man rushed after her. It was

instinct that made Shefford strike, and his blow laid the man flat. He

lay stunned a moment, then raised himself to a sitting posture, his

hand to his face, and the gaze he fixed upon Shefford seemed to combine

astonishment and rage.

"I hope you're not Presbrey," said Shefford, slowly. He felt awkward,

not sure of himself.

The man appeared about to burst into speech, but repressed it. There

was blood on his mouth and his hand. Hastily he scrambled to his feet.

Shefford saw this man's amaze and rage change to shame. He was tall and

rather stout; he had a smooth tanned face, soft of outline, with a weak

chin; his eyes were dark. The look of him and his corduroys and his soft

shoes gave Shefford an impression that he was not a man who worked hard.

By contrast with the few other worn and rugged desert men Shefford had

met this stranger stood out strikingly. He stooped to pick up a soft

felt hat and, jamming it on his head, he hurried out. Shefford followed

him and watched him from the door. He went directly to the corral,

mounted the pony, and rode out, to turn down the slope toward the south.

When he reached the level of the basin, where evidently the sand was

hard, he put the pony to a lope and gradually drew away.

"Well!" ejaculated Shefford. He did not know what to make of this

adventure. Presently he became aware that the Indian girl was sitting on

a roll of blankets near the wall. With curious interest Shefford studied

her appearance. She had long, raven-black hair, tangled and disheveled,

and she wore a soiled white band of cord above her brow. The color of

her face struck him; it was dark, but not red nor bronzed; it almost

had a tinge of gold. Her profile was clear-cut, bold, almost stern. Long

black eyelashes hid her eyes. She wore a tight-fitting waist garment of

material resembling velveteen. It was ripped along her side, exposing

a skin still more richly gold than that of her face. A string of silver

ornaments and turquoise-and-white beads encircled her neck, and it moved

gently up and down with the heaving of her full bosom. Her skirt was

some gaudy print goods, torn and stained and dusty. She had little feet,

incased in brown moccasins, fitting like gloves and buttoning over the

ankles with silver coins.

"Who was that man? Did he hurt you?" inquired Shefford, turning to gaze

down the valley where a moving black object showed on the bare sand.

"No savvy," replied the Indian girl.

"Where's the trader Presbrey?" asked Shefford.

She pointed straight down into the red valley.

"Toh," she said.

In the center of the basin lay a small pool of water shining brightly in

the sunset glow. Small objects moved around it, so small that Shefford

thought he saw several dogs led by a child. But it was the distance

that deceived him. There was a man down there watering his horses. That

reminded Shefford of the duty owing to his own tired and thirsty beast.

Whereupon he untied his pack, took off the saddle, and was about ready

to start down when the Indian girl grasped the bridle from his hand.

"Me go," she said.

He saw her eyes then, and they made her look different. They were as

black as her hair. He was puzzled to decide whether or not he thought

her handsome.

"Thanks, but I'll go," he replied, and, taking the bridle again, he

started down the slope. At every step he sank into the deep, soft sand.

Down a little way he came upon a pile of tin cans; they were everywhere,

buried, half buried, and lying loose; and these gave evidence of how

the trader lived. Presently Shefford discovered that the Indian girl

was following him with her own pony. Looking upward at her against the

light, he thought her slender, lithe, picturesque. At a distance he

liked her.

He plodded on, at length glad to get out of the drifts of sand to the

hard level floor of the valley. This, too, was sand, but dried and baked

hard, and red in color. At some season of the year this immense flat

must be covered with water. How wide it was, and empty! Shefford

experienced again a feeling that had been novel to him--and it was that

he was loose, free, unanchored, ready to veer with the wind. From the

foot of the slope the water hole had appeared to be a few hundred rods

out in the valley. But the small size of the figures made Shefford

doubt; and he had to travel many times a few hundred rods before those

figures began to grow. Then Shefford made out that they were approaching


Thereafter they rapidly increased to normal proportions of man and

beast. When Shefford met them he saw a powerful, heavily built young man

leading two ponies.

"You're Mr. Presbrey, the trader?" inquired Shefford.

"Yes, I'm Presbrey, without the Mister," he replied.

"My name's Shefford. I'm knocking about on the desert. Rode from beyond

Tuba to-day."

"Glad to see you," said Presbrey. He offered his hand. He was a stalwart

man, clad in gray shirt, overalls, and boots. A shock of tumbled light

hair covered his massive head; he was tanned, but not darkly, and there

was red in his cheeks; under his shaggy eyebrows were deep, keen eyes;

his lips were hard and set, as if occasion for smiles or words was rare;

and his big, strong jaw seemed locked.

"Wish more travelers came knocking around Red Lake," he added. "Reckon

here's the jumping-off place."

"It's pretty--lonesome," said Shefford, hesitating as if at a loss for


Then the Indian girl came up. Presbrey addressed her in her own

language, which Shefford did not understand. She seemed shy and would

not answer; she stood with downcast face and eyes. Presbrey spoke again,

at which she pointed down the valley, and then moved on with her pony

toward the water-hole.

Presbrey's keen eyes fixed on the receding black dot far down that oval


"That fellow left--rather abruptly," said Shefford, constrainedly. "Who

was he?"

"His name's Willetts. He's a missionary. He rode in to-day with this

Navajo girl. He was taking her to Blue Canyon, where he lives and

teaches the Indians. I've met him only a few times. You see, not many

white men ride in here. He's the first white man I've seen in six

months, and you're the second. Both the same day!... Red Lake's getting

popular! It's queer, though, his leaving. He expected to stay all night.

There's no other place to stay. Blue Canyon is fifty miles away."

"I'm sorry to say--no, I'm not sorry, either--but I must tell you I was

the cause of Mr. Willetts leaving," replied Shefford.

"How so?" inquired the other.

Then Shefford related the incident following his arrival.

"Perhaps my action was hasty," he concluded, apologetically. "I didn't

think. Indeed, I'm surprised at myself."

Presbrey made no comment and his face was as hard to read as one of the

distant bluffs.

"But what did the man mean?" asked Shefford, conscious of a little

  • spelling [´speliŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.拼法;缀字   (初中英语单词)
  • hidden [´hid(ə)n] 移动到这儿单词发声  hide 的过去分词   (初中英语单词)
  • willow [´wiləu] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.柳树   (初中英语单词)
  • purple [´pə:pl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.紫色 a.紫(红)的   (初中英语单词)
  • pierce [piəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.刺穿;突破;洞察   (初中英语单词)
  • romance [rəu´mæns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.中世纪骑士小说   (初中英语单词)
  • lonely [´ləunli] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.孤独的;无人烟的   (初中英语单词)
  • upward [´ʌpwəd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.&ad.向上(的);以上   (初中英语单词)
  • beheld [bi´held] 移动到这儿单词发声  behold的过去式(分词)   (初中英语单词)
  • menace [´menəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.威胁(者) v.恐吓   (初中英语单词)
  • wilderness [´wildənis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.荒地,荒野   (初中英语单词)
  • valley [´væli] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.谷;河谷;流域   (初中英语单词)
  • mystery [´mistəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.神秘;秘密;故弄玄虚   (初中英语单词)
  • rustle [´rʌsl] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.&n.(使)沙沙作响   (初中英语单词)
  • ribbed [ribd] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.呈肋状的;有罗纹的   (初中英语单词)
  • incline [in´klain] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.(使)倾斜 n.斜坡   (初中英语单词)
  • strangely [´streindʒli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.奇怪地;陌生地   (初中英语单词)
  • vision [´viʒən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.视觉;想象力;幻影   (初中英语单词)
  • barren [´bærən] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.贫瘠的;不生育的   (初中英语单词)
  • bitterly [´bitəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.悲痛地;憎恨地   (初中英语单词)
  • failure [´feiljə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.失败;衰竭;破产   (初中英语单词)
  • indian [´indiən] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.印度的 n.印度人   (初中英语单词)
  • saddle [´sædl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.鞍子 v.装鞍(于)   (初中英语单词)
  • interior [in´tiəriə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&a.内部地(的)   (初中英语单词)
  • primitive [´primitiv] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.原始的 n.原始人   (初中英语单词)
  • terror [´terə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.恐怖;惊骇   (初中英语单词)
  • hastily [´heistili] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.急速地;草率地   (初中英语单词)
  • outline [´autlain] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.外形 vt.画出…轮廓   (初中英语单词)
  • impression [im´preʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.印刷;印象;效果   (初中英语单词)
  • contrast [´kɔntrɑ:st] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.对比 v.使对比(照)   (初中英语单词)
  • evidently [´evidəntli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.明显地   (初中英语单词)
  • presently [´prezəntli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.不久;目前   (初中英语单词)
  • garment [´gɑ:mənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.衣服,外衣   (初中英语单词)
  • pointed [´pɔintid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.尖(锐)的;中肯的   (初中英语单词)
  • sunset [´sʌnset] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.日落;晚霞   (初中英语单词)
  • slender [´slendə] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.细长的;微薄的   (初中英语单词)
  • immense [i´mens] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.广大的,无限的   (初中英语单词)
  • normal [´nɔ:məl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.正规的 n.正常状态   (初中英语单词)
  • incident [´insidənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.小事件;事变   (初中英语单词)
  • comment [´kɔment] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&v.评论;评注;注意   (初中英语单词)
  • conscious [´kɔnʃəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.意识的;自觉的   (初中英语单词)
  • rainbow [´reinbəu] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.彩虹   (高中英语单词)
  • monthly [´mʌnθli] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.每月(的) n.月刊   (高中英语单词)
  • onward [´ɔnwəd] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.&a.向前(的)   (高中英语单词)
  • arizona [,æri´zəunə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.亚利桑那(州)   (高中英语单词)
  • ragged [´rægid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.衣服破烂的   (高中英语单词)
  • strive [straiv] 移动到这儿单词发声  vi.争取;努力;奋斗   (高中英语单词)
  • singular [´siŋgjulə] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.单一的;非凡的   (高中英语单词)
  • decided [di´saidid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.明显的;决定的   (高中英语单词)
  • brightness [´braitnis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.光明;快乐   (高中英语单词)
  • trader [´treidə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.商人;商船   (高中英语单词)
  • ministry [´ministri] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.政府各部;内阁   (高中英语单词)
  • clergyman [´klə:dʒimən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.牧师;教士   (高中英语单词)
  • counter [´kauntə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.计算者;柜台;计算机   (高中英语单词)
  • threshold [´θreʃhəuld] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.门槛;入门;开端   (高中英语单词)
  • rugged [´rʌgid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不平的;粗犷的   (高中英语单词)
  • hurried [´hʌrid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.仓促的,慌忙的   (高中英语单词)
  • brightly [´braitli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.明亮地;聪明地   (高中英语单词)
  • bridle [´braidl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(马)笼头;束缚   (高中英语单词)
  • picturesque [,piktʃə´resk] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.似画的;别致的   (高中英语单词)
  • massive [´mæsiv] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.厚实的;魁伟的   (高中英语单词)
  • missionary [´miʃənəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.传教(士)的 n.传教士   (高中英语单词)
  • related [ri´leitid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.叙述的;有联系的   (高中英语单词)
  • canyon [´kænjən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.峡谷   (英语四级单词)
  • ridden [´ridn] 移动到这儿单词发声  ride 的过去分词   (英语四级单词)
  • magnitude [´mægnitju:d] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.宏大;重要性;大小   (英语四级单词)
  • irresistible [,iri´zistəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不可抵抗的   (英语四级单词)
  • beautifully [´bju:tifəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.美丽地;优美地   (英语四级单词)
  • sinister [´sinistə] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.阴险的;不吉的   (英语四级单词)
  • forbade [fə´beid] 移动到这儿单词发声  forbid的过去式   (英语四级单词)
  • immortality [,imɔ:´tæliti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.不死,不朽,永生,来生   (英语四级单词)
  • experienced [ik´spiəriənst] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有经验的;熟练的   (英语四级单词)
  • shaggy [´ʃægi] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.蓬乱的;多粗毛的   (英语四级单词)
  • stairway [´steəwei] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.楼梯   (英语四级单词)
  • richly [´ritʃli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.富裕地;浓厚地   (英语四级单词)
  • overalls [´əuvərɔ:lz] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.工装裤;工作裤   (英语四级单词)
  • seethe [si:ð] 移动到这儿单词发声  vi.沸腾;骚动   (英语六级单词)
  • upland [´ʌplənd] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.高地;山地   (英语六级单词)
  • exultation [egzʌl´teiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.欢腾,狂欢   (英语六级单词)
  • far-reaching [fɑ:´ri:tʃiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.影响远大的;深远的   (英语六级单词)
  • calling [´kɔ:liŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.点名;职业;欲望   (英语六级单词)
  • nameless [´neimlis] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.无名字的;无名声的   (英语六级单词)
  • attainment [ə´teinmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.达到;得到;造诣   (英语六级单词)
  • affected [ə´fektid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.做作的;假装的   (英语六级单词)
  • posture [´pɔstʃə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.姿势 v.故作姿态   (英语六级单词)
  • profile [´prəufail] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.侧面 vt.画…侧面   (英语六级单词)
  • fitting [´fitiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.适当的 n.试衣   (英语六级单词)
  • taking [´teikiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.迷人的 n.捕获物   (英语六级单词)
  • darkly [´dɑ:kli] 移动到这儿单词发声  adv.暗,黑;暗中   (英语六级单词)
  • downcast [´daunkɑ:st] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.沮丧的;向下看的   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 17:51:46
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