The First Zane Grey Omnibus: Riders of the Purple Sage; Light of Western Stars; Call of the Canyon
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by Zane Grey
Category: Historical Fiction/Romance
Description: Three Novels By the Greatest Western Writer of All Time! Zane Grey knew the West. He'd lived there. His ancestors had helped pioneer it. That's why his stories of the frontier ring with authenticity and stirring action. Who can read his novels and not be swept away by their breathtaking thrills and heart-stirring romance. Now complete and unabridged, you can read three of Zane Grey's most acclaimed novels in one inexpensive eBook: Riders of the Purple Sage--the brave days of old Utah, the brave men and women who gambled their lives for love and adventure. Light of the Western Stars--mighty epic of lovers caught up in border warfare, throbbing with action and romance. Call of the Canyon--a courageous man and daring woman brave all the west's grimmest dangers, plus a climax that will leave you breathless.
eBook Publisher: Renaissance E Books/PageTurner, 2005
eBookwise Release Date: August 2005
13 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [1.3 MB]
Reading time: 858-1202 min.
THE CALL OF THE CANYONCHAPTER I.
What subtle strange message had come to her out of the West? Carley Burch laid the letter in her lap and gazed dreamily through the window.
It was a day typical of early April in New York, rather cold and gray, with steely sunlight. Spring breathed in the air, but the women passing along Fifty-seventh Street wore furs and wraps. She heard the distant clatter of an L train and then the hum of a motor car. A hurdy-gurdy jarred into the interval of quiet.
"Glenn has been gone over a year," she mused, "three months over a year--and of all his strange letters this seems the strangest yet."
She lived again, for the thousandth time, the last moments she had spent with him. It had been on New-Year's Eve, 1918. They had called upon friends who were staying at the McAlpin, in a suite on the twenty-first floor overlooking Broadway. And when the last quarter hour of that eventful and tragic year began slowly to pass with the low swell of whistles and bells, Carley's friends had discreetly left her alone with her lover, at the open window, to watch and hear the old year out, the new year in. Glenn Kilbourne had returned from France early that fall, shell-shocked and gassed, and otherwise incapacitated for service in the army--a wreck of his former sterling self and in many unaccountable ways a stranger to her. Cold, silent, haunted by something, he had made her miserable with his aloofness. But as the bells began to ring out the year that had been his ruin Glenn had drawn her close, tenderly, passionately, and yet strangely, too.
"Carley, look and listen!" he had whispered.
Under them stretched the great long white flare of Broadway, with its snow-covered length glittering under a myriad of electric lights. Sixth Avenue swerved away to the right, a less brilliant lane of blanched snow. The L trains crept along like huge fire-eyed serpents. The hum of the ceaseless moving line of motor cars drifted upward faintly, almost drowned in the rising clamor of the street. Broadway's gay and thoughtless crowds surged to and fro, from that height merely a thick stream of black figures, like contending columns of ants on the march. And everywhere the monstrous electric signs flared up vivid in white and red and green; and dimmed and paled, only to flash up again.
Ring out the Old! Ring in the New! Carley had poignantly felt the sadness of the one, the promise of the other. As one by one the siren factory whistles opened up with deep, hoarse bellow, the clamor of the street and the ringing of the bells were lost in a volume of continuous sound that swelled on high into a magnificent roar. It was the voice of a city--of a nation. It was the voice of a people crying out the strife and the agony of the year--pealing forth a prayer for the future.
Glenn had put his lips to her ear: "It's like the voice in my soul!" Never would she forget the shock of that. And how she had stood spellbound, enveloped in the mighty volume of sound no longer discordant, but full of great, pregnant melody, until the white ball burst upon the tower of the Times Building, showing the bright figures 1919.
The new year had not been many minutes old when Glenn Kilbourne had told her he was going West to try to recover his health.
Carley roused out of her memories to take up the letter that had so perplexed her. It bore the postmark, Flagstaff, Arizona. She reread it with slow pondering thoughtfulness.
It does seem my neglect in writing you is unpardonable. I used to be a pretty fair correspondent, but in that as in other things I have changed.
One reason I have not answered sooner is because your letter was so sweet and loving that it made me feel an ungrateful and unappreciative wretch. Another is that this life I now lead does not induce writing. I am outdoors all day, and when I get back to this cabin at night I am too tired for anything but bed.
Your imperious questions I must answer--and that must, of course, is a third reason why I have delayed my reply. First, you ask, "Don't you love me any more as you used to?" ... Frankly, I do not. I am sure my old love for you, before I went to France, was selfish, thoughtless, sentimental, and boyish. I am a man now. And my love for you is different. Let me assure you that it has been about all left to me of what is noble and beautiful. Whatever the changes in me for the worse, my love for you, at least, has grown better, finer, purer.
And now for your second question, "Are you coming home as soon as you are well again?" ... Carley, I am well. I have delayed telling you this because I knew you would expect me to rush back East with the telling. But--the fact is, Carley, I am not coming--just yet. I wish it were possible for me to make you understand. For a long time I seem to have been frozen within. You know when I came back from France I couldn't talk. It's almost as bad as that now. Yet all that I was then seems to have changed again. It is only fair to you to tell you that, as I feel now, I hate the city, I hate people, and particularly I hate that dancing, drinking, lounging set you chase with. I don't want to come East until I am over that, you know ... Suppose I never get over it? Well, Carley, you can free yourself from me by one word that I could never utter. I could never break our engagement. During the hell I went through in the war my attachment to you saved me from moral ruin, if it did not from perfect honor and fidelity. This is another thing I despair of making you understand. And in the chaos I've wandered through since the war my love for you was my only anchor. You never guessed, did you, that I lived on your letters until I got well. And now the fact that I might get along without them is no discredit to their charm or to you.
It is all so hard to put in words, Carley. To lie down with death and get up with death was nothing. To face one's degradation was nothing. But to come home an incomprehensibly changed man--and to see my old life as strange as if it were the new life of another planet--to try to slip into the old groove--well, no words of mine can tell you how utterly impossible it was.
My old job was not open to me, even if I had been able to work. The government that I fought for left me to starve, or to die of my maladies like a dog, for all it cared.
I could not live on your money, Carley. My people are poor, as you know. So there was nothing for me to do but to borrow a little money from my friends and to come West. I'm glad I had the courage to come. What this West is I'll never try to tell you, because, loving the luxury and excitement and glitter of the city as you do, you'd think I was crazy.
Getting on here, in my condition, was as hard as trench life. But now, Carley--something has come to me out of the West. That, too, I am unable to put into words. Maybe I can give you an inkling of it. I'm strong enough to chop wood all day. No man or woman passes my cabin in a month. But I am never lonely. I love these vast red canyon walls towering above me. And the silence is so sweet. Think of the hellish din that filled my ears. Even now--sometimes, the brook here changes its babbling murmur to the roar of war. I never understood anything of the meaning of nature until I lived under these looming stone walls and whispering pines.
So, Carley, try to understand me, or at least be kind. You know they came very near writing, "Gone west!" after my name, and considering that, this "Out West" signifies for me a very fortunate difference. A tremendous difference! For the present I'll let well enough alone.
Adios. Write soon. Love from--Glen
Carley's second reaction to the letter was a sudden upflashing desire to see her lover--to go out West and find him. Impulses with her were rather rare and inhibited, but this one made her tremble. If Glenn was well again he must have vastly changed from the moody, stone-faced, and haunted-eyed man who had so worried and distressed her. He had embarrassed her, too, for sometimes, in her home, meeting young men there who had not gone into the service, he had seemed to retreat into himself, singularly aloof, as if his world was not theirs.
Again, with eager eyes and quivering lips, she read the letter. It contained words that lifted her heart. Her starved love greedily absorbed them. In them she had excuse for any resolve that might bring Glenn closer to her. And she pondered over this longing to go to him.
Carley had the means to come and go and live as she liked. She did not remember her father, who had died when she was a child. Her mother had left her in the care of a sister, and before the war they had divided their time between New York and Europe, the Adirondacks and Florida, Carley had gone in for Red Cross and relief work with more of sincerity than most of her set. But she was really not used to making any decision as definite and important as that of going out West alone. She had never been farther west than Jersey City; and her conception of the West was a hazy one of vast plains and rough mountains, squalid towns, cattle herds, and uncouth ill-clad men.
So she carried the letter to her aunt, a rather slight woman with a kindly face and shrewd eyes, and who appeared somewhat given to old-fashioned garments.
"Aunt Mary, here's a letter from Glenn," said Carley. "It's more of a stumper than usual. Please read it."
"Dear me! You look upset," replied the aunt, mildly, and, adjusting her spectacles, she took the letter.
Carley waited impatiently for the perusal, conscious of inward forces coming more and more to the aid of her impulse to go West. Her aunt paused once to murmur how glad she was that Glenn had gotten well. Then she read on to the close.
"Carley, that's a fine letter," she said, fervently. "Do you see through it?"
"No, I don't," replied Carley. "That's why I asked you to read it."
"Do you still love Glenn as you used to before--"
"Why, Aunt Mary!" exclaimed Carley, in surprise.
"Excuse me, Carley, if I'm blunt. But the fact is young women of modern times are very different from my kind when I was a girl. You haven't acted as though you pined for Glenn. You gad around almost the same as ever."
"What's a girl to do?" protested Carley.
"You are twenty-six years old, Carley," retorted Aunt Mary.
"Suppose I am. I'm as young--as I ever was."
"Well, let's not argue about modern girls and modern times. We never get anywhere," returned her aunt, kindly. "But I can tell you something of what Glenn Kilbourne means in that letter--if you want to hear it."
"The war did something horrible to Glenn aside from wrecking his health. Shell-shock, they said! I don't understand that. Out of his mind, they said! But that never was true. Glenn was as sane as I am, and, my dear, that's pretty sane, I'll have you remember. But he must have suffered some terrible blight to his spirit--some blunting of his soul. For months after he returned he walked as one in a trance. Then came a change. He grew restless. Perhaps that change was for the better. At least it showed he'd roused. Glenn saw you and your friends and the life you lead, and all the present, with eyes from which the scales had dropped. He saw what was wrong. He never said so to me, but I knew it. It wasn't only to get well that he went West. It was to get away ... And, Carley Burch, if your happiness depends on him you had better be up and doing--or you'll lose him!"