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Riders of the Purple Sage

17.
Wrangle's Race Run
The plan eventually decided upon by the lovers was for Venters to go to the
village, secure a horse and some kind of a disguise for Bess, or at least less
striking apparel than her present garb, and to return post-haste to the valley.
Meanwhile, she would add to their store of gold. Then they would strike the long
and perilous trail to ride out of Utah. In the event of his inability to fetch back a
horse for her, they intended to make the giant sorrel carry double. The gold, a
little food, saddle blankets, and Venters's guns were to compose the light outfit
with which they would make the start.
"I love this beautiful place," said Bess. "It's hard to think of leaving it."
"Hard! Well, I should think so," replied Venters. "Maybe--in years--" But he did not
complete in words his thought that might be possible to return after many years
of absence and change.
Once again Bess bade Venters farewell under the shadow of Balancing Rock,
and this time it was with whispered hope and tenderness and passionate trust.
Long after he had left her, all down through the outlet to the Pass, the clinging
clasp of her arms, the sweetness of her lips, and the sense of a new and
exquisite birth of character in her remained hauntingly and thrillingly in his mind.
The girl who had sadly called herself nameless and nothing had been
marvelously transformed in the moment of his avowal of love. It was something
to think over, something to warm his heart, but for the present it had absolutely to
be forgotten so that all his mind could be addressed to the trip so fraught with
danger.
He carried only his rifle, revolver, and a small quantity of bread and meat, and
thus lightly burdened, he made swift progress down the slope and out into the
valley. Darkness was coming on, and he welcomed it. Stars were blinking when
he reached his old hiding-place in the split of canyon wall, and by their aid he
slipped through the dense thickets to the grassy enclosure. Wrangle stood in the
center of it with his head up, and he appeared black and of gigantic proportions
in the dim light. Venters whistled softly, began a slow approach, and then called.
The horse snorted and, plunging away with dull, heavy sound of hoofs, he
disappeared in the gloom. "Wilder than ever!" muttered Venters. He followed the
sorrel into the narrowing split between the walls, and presently had to desist
because he could not see a foot in advance. As he went back toward the open
Wrangle jumped out of an ebony shadow of cliff and like a thunderbolt shot huge
and black past him down into the starlit glade. Deciding that all attempts to catch
Wrangle at night would be useless, Venters repaired to the shelving rock where
he had hidden saddle and blanket, and there went to sleep.
The first peep of day found him stirring, and as soon as it was light enough to
distinguish objects, he took his lasso off his saddle and went out to rope the
sorrel. He espied Wrangle at the lower end of the cove and approached him in a
perfectly natural manner. When he got near enough, Wrangle evidently
recognized him, but was too wild to stand. He ran up the glade and on into the
narrow lane between the walls. This favored Venters's speedy capture of the
 
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