The day at hand resembled many days gone before. As Venters had no tools with which to build, or to till the terraces, he remained idle. Beyond the cooking of the simple fare there were no tasks. And as there were no tasks, there was no system. He and Bess began one thing, to leave it; to begin another, to leave that; and then do nothing but lie under the spruces and watch the great cloud-sails majestically move along the ramparts, and dream and dream. The valley was a golden, sunlit world. It was silent.
The sighing wind and the twittering quail and the singing birds, even the rare and seldom-occurring hollow crack of a sliding weathered stone, only thickened and deepened that insulated silence.
Venters and Bess had vagrant minds.
"Bess, did I tell you about my horse Wrangle?" inquired Venters.
"A hundred times," she replied.
"Oh, have I? I'd forgotten. I want you to see him. He'll carry us both."
"I'd like to ride him. Can he run?"
"Run? He's a demon. Swiftest horse on the sage! I hope he'll stay in that canyon.
They left camp to wander along the terraces, into the aspen ravines, under the gleaming walls. Ring and Whitie wandered in the fore, often turning, often trotting back, open-mouthed and solemn-eyed and happy. Venters lifted his gaze to the grand archway over the entrance to the valley, and Bess lifted hers to follow his, and both were silent. Sometimes the bridge held their attention for a long time. To-day a soaring eagle attracted them.
"How he sails!" exclaimed Bess. "I wonder where his mate is?"
"She's at the nest. It's on the bridge in a crack near the top.
I see her often. She's almost white."
They wandered on down the terrace, into the shady, sun-flecked forest. A brown bird fluttered crying from a bush. Bess peeped into the leaves. "Look! A nest and four little birds. They're not afraid of us. See how they open their mouths. They're hungry."
Rabbits rustled the dead brush and pattered away. The forest was full of a drowsy hum of insects. Little darts of purple, that were running quail, crossed the glades. And a plaintive, sweet peeping came from the coverts. Bess's soft step disturbed a sleeping lizard that scampered away over the leaves. She gave chase and caught it, a slim creature of nameless color but of exquisite beauty.
"Jewel eyes," she said. "It's like a rabbit--afraid. We won't eat you. There--go."
Murmuring water drew their steps down into a shallow shaded ravine where a brown brook brawled softly over mossy stones.
Multitudes of strange, gray frogs with white spots and black eyes lined the rocky bank and leaped only at close approach. Then Venters's eye descried a very thin, very long green snake coiled round a sapling. They drew closer and closer till they could have touched it. The snake had no fear and watched them with scintillating eyes.