It showed, too, in the light of big eyes and the gentle reach of eagerness.
"I never seen their like," was Lassiter's encomium, "an' in my day I've seen a sight of horses. Now, ma'am, if you was wantin' to make a long an' fast ride across the sage--say to elope--"
Lassiter ended there with dry humor, yet behind that was meaning.
Jane blushed and made arch eyes at him.
"Take care, Lassiter, I might think that a proposal," she replied, gaily. "It's dangerous to propose elopement to a Mormon woman. Well, I was expecting you. Now will be a good hour to show you Milly Erne's grave. The day-riders have gone, and the night-riders haven't come in. Bern, what do you make of that?
Need I worry? You know I have to be made to worry."
"Well, it's not usual for the night shift to ride in so late," replied Venters, slowly, and his glance sought Lassiter's.
"Cattle are usually quiet after dark. Still, I've known even a coyote to stampede your white herd."
"I refuse to borrow trouble. Come," said Jane.
They mounted, and, with Jane in the lead, rode down the lane, and, turning off into a cattle trail, proceeded westward.
Venters's dogs trotted behind them. On this side of the ranch the outlook was different from that on the other; the immediate foreground was rough and the sage more rugged and less colorful; there were no dark-blue lines of canyons to hold the eye, nor any uprearing rock walls. It was a long roll and slope into gray obscurity. Soon Jane left the trail and rode into the sage, and presently she dismounted and threw her bridle. The men did likewise. Then, on foot, they followed her, coming out at length on the rim of a low escarpment. She passed by several little ridges of earth to halt before a faintly defined mound. It lay in the shade of a sweeping sage-brush close to the edge of the promontory; and a rider could have jumped his horse over it without recognizing a grave.
She looked sad as she spoke, but she offered no explanation for the neglect of an unmarked, uncared-for grave. There was a little bunch of pale, sweet lavender daisies, doubtless planted there by Jane.
"I only come here to remember and to pray," she said. "But I leave no trail!"
A grave in the sage! How lonely this resting-place of Milly Erne!
The cottonwoods or the alfalfa fields were not in sight, nor was there any rock or ridge or cedar to lend contrast to the monotony. Gray slopes, tinging the purple, barren and wild, with the wind waving the sage, swept away to the dim horizon.