PART II. The Country of the Saints.
1. CHAPTER I. ON THE GREAT ALKALI PLAIN.
Before sitting down, he had deposited upon the ground his
useless rifle, and also a large bundle tied up in a grey
shawl, which he had carried slung over his right shoulder.
It appeared to be somewhat too heavy for his strength, for
in lowering it, it came down on the ground with some little
violence. Instantly there broke from the grey parcel a
little moaning cry, and from it there protruded a small,
scared face, with very bright brown eyes, and two little
speckled, dimpled fists.
"You've hurt me!" said a childish voice reproachfully.
"Have I though," the man answered penitently, "I didn't go
for to do it." As he spoke he unwrapped the grey shawl and
extricated a pretty little girl of about five years of age,
whose dainty shoes and smart pink frock with its little linen
apron all bespoke a mother's care. The child was pale and
wan, but her healthy arms and legs showed that she had
suffered less than her companion.
"How is it now?" he answered anxiously, for she was still rubbing
the towsy golden curls which covered the back of her head.
"Kiss it and make it well," she said, with perfect gravity,
shoving the injured part up to him. "That's what mother
used to do. Where's mother?"
"Mother's gone. I guess you'll see her before long."
"Gone, eh!" said the little girl. "Funny, she didn't say
good-bye; she 'most always did if she was just goin' over
to Auntie's for tea, and now she's been away three days.
Say, it's awful dry, ain't it? Ain't there no water,
nor nothing to eat?"
"No, there ain't nothing, dearie. You'll just need to be
patient awhile, and then you'll be all right. Put your head
up agin me like that, and then you'll feel bullier. It ain't
easy to talk when your lips is like leather, but I guess I'd
best let you know how the cards lie. What's that you've got?"