By Mary Austin
Agua Dulce By Mary AustinILLUSTRATIONS BY DENMAN FINK
THE Los Angeles special got in so late that day that if the driver of the Mojave stage had not, from having once gone to school to me, acquired the habit of minding what I said, I should never have made it. I hailed it from the station, and he swung the four about in the wide street as the wind swept me toward the racked old coach in a blinding whirl of dust.
It wrapped my skirts about the iron gear of the coach as I climbed to the seat beside the driver, and, as we dropped the town behind us, lifted my hat and searched out my hairpins. But it was the desert wind [illustrationomitted]and the smell it carried was the smell of marrow-fat weed and gilias after the sun goes down; so, because I had been very unhappy away from it, and was now drunk with the joy of renewal, and as in my case there would be no time for a toilet proper to the road until we came to the Eighteen-Mile House, I was satisfied merely to cling to the pitching front of the coach and let the wind do what it would. The sky was alight and saffron-tinted, the mountains bloomed with violet shadows; as we came whirling by the point of Dead-Man we saw the wickiups of the Paiutes, and the little hearth fires all awink among the sage. They had a look of home.
“There’s some,” said the driver to the desert at large, “that thinks Indians ain’t properly folks, but just a kind of cattle;” then, as we jolted forward in a chuck, he swore deeply and brought the team about, putting back my instinctive motion to steady the lurching stage with a gesture so sharp and repellent that I sat up suddenly in offence.
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