Wrong Woman, The

Wrong Woman, The
Catalog # SKU3739
Publisher Texas National Press
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Charles D. Stewart
ISBN 10: 0000000000
ISBN 13: 0000000000000


The Wrong Woman

A Texas Tale

Charles D. Stewart

As the air was mild and the sky serenely blue (though you can never tell about a Texas Norther), she took Sir Slicker by the nape of his collar-band and dropped him out of the window to be lashed to the saddle; then she turned to the mirror again, and, having done the best she could with the hat, she went to take leave of the farmer's family, who, as she judged by certain sounds, were assembled at the front of the house awaiting her departure.

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But scarcely had she stepped into the adjoining room and shut the door behind her, when the buxom, blue-eyed Lena, rushing in from the porch, met her with a hug that was more like a welcome than a leave-taking.

"Oh, goo-o-o-bye, Miss Janey. I am so-o-o sorry. I t'ink you are so-o-o sweet and nice."

And then Lena, whose open Swiss nature was either at the summit of happiness or down in the valley of despair, regarded her ruefully for a space, and after one more hug and the shedding of two large healthy tears, accompanied her out to the porch. There the Wangers were waiting and the children standing in line to be kissed-quite as if she were a dear relative, or at least an acquaintance of more than four days' standing. Janet kissed them all; and having done so she proceeded to the hitching-post, followed by the entire family, down to little Jacob, who stationed himself at the very heels of the broncho, and was so far forgotten by them all, in their concern with Janet's affairs, that they did not think to rescue him from his perilous situation till it was everlastingly too late, the horse having by that time moved away. And then Jacob, who had been studying his elders closely, after the manner of his tribe, guessed the meaning of those farewell words which he had not been able to understand; and as she drew away he opened his mouth and bawled.

Her route, which lay forty miles before her with but one stream to ford, might be described as simply a fenced road on each side of which was open prairie and the sky; for, though this land was all private property, the holdings were so vast that the rest of the fence could not be seen as far as the eye could reach. As this gave the roadside fence the appearance of not inclosing land at all, but rather of inclosing the traveler as he crossed over the vacant waste from town to town, the stretch of wire seemed to belong to the road itself as properly as a hand-rail belongs to a bridge; and this expansive scene, while it was somewhat rolling, was of so uniform and unaccentuated a character in the whole, and so lacking in features to arrest the eye, that the road might be said to pass nothing but its own fence-posts.

For a while Janet's thoughts dwelt upon her experience with the farmer's family, the final scene of which now impressed her more deeply as she realized how promptly these good folk had opened their hearts to receive her, and how genuine was their sorrow at seeing her go; and this reflection imparted so pleasant a flavor to the world that her mind kept reënacting that simple scene of leave-taking. But when she had got well out to sea,-for that is the effect of it except that the stretch of wire puts the mind in a sort of telegraphic touch with the world,-she drifted along contemplating the prairie at large, all putting forth in spring flowers, and for a time she seemed to have ridden quite out of the Past; but finally, recalling her affairs, her mind projected itself forward and she fell to wondering what the Future might have in store.

There was nothing to answer her, and little to interrupt her speculations. About the middle of the forenoon, or later, she encountered a fellow-traveler in the person of a cowboy on a bay pony. At first a mere speck in the distance, he grew steadily on her vision, and then went riding past, life-size and lifting his sombrero; which salute she acknowledged pleasantly, smiling and inclining her head. A very strong fellow, she thought, whoever he might be. A while later, as she was jogging along with her mind on the horse, whose need of a drink was now a matter of growing concern to her, she came to where a wooden gate opened upon the roadside, and here, after a moment of doubtful consideration, she entered; and having closed it and got into the saddle again by means of its bars, she struck out across the prairie with the intention of casting about until she should come upon one of those spring-fed water-holes which are always to be found, here and there, upon the cattle range. For a time it looked as if her horse would have to go thirsty; but just when she was beginning to feel that she must not venture farther, she found herself upon a slight rise or swell from which she made out a group of cattle in the distance, and with this promise of success before her she put her horse to a gallop and set out for it, slapping him with the reins. Presently, the ring of black muck becoming plainly visible, she knew her quest was at an end; and her thirsty animal quickened his pace as if he caught scent of the water.

There now ensued a course of conduct upon the part of the horse which was strange. There was a small mesquite bush near the water-hole which lay directly in the horse's course, and Janet, seeing he was almost upon it, and not wishing him to leap it, as a running cow-pony will often do, gave the reins a jerk to make him dodge it, the which he did, and that with a suddenness which only a cow-pony would be capable of. A cowboy's horse is so used to outdodging wild cattle that such a sudden turn is nothing to him. But now, instead of going to drink, he gave a leap and broke into a mad race, splashing right through one end of the water-hole and continuing onward. It was such a burst of speed as only the wildest rider could have roused him to; and he kept it up despite Janet's efforts to stop him. To her, it seemed as if no horse had ever gone at such a pace before. At every leap forward she felt as if he must shoot straight from under her. She supposed he had taken fright at something; but instead of slackening his pace as he got farther away, he rather added to his speed like a horse in a race.

192 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover

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