the effects I have shown—sparks in unsuspected places
A glint of slithering green showed where the Snake hugged the bluff a mile away, and a brown trail, ankle-deep in dust, stretched straight out to the west, and then lost itself unexpectedly behind a sharp, jutting point of rocks where the blufF had thrust out a rugged finger into the valley.
By devious turnings and breath-taking climbs, the trail finally reached the top at the only point for miles, where it was possible for a horseman to pass up or down.
Then began the desert, a great stretch of unlovely sage and lava rock and sand for mile upon mile, to where the distant mountain ridges reached out and halted peremptorily the ugly sweep of it. The railroad gashed it boldly, after the manner of the iron trail of modern industry; but the trails of the desert dwellers wound through it diffidently, avoiding the rough crest of lava rock where they might, dodging the most aggressive sagebrush and dipping tentatively into hollows, seeking always the easiest way to reach some remote settlement or ranch.
Of the men who followed those trails, not one of them but could have ridden straight to the Peaceful Hart ranch in black darkness; and there were few, indeed, white men or Indians, who could have ridden there at midnight and not been sure of blankets and a welcome to sweeten their sleep. Such was the Peaceful Hart Ranch, conjured from the sage and the sand in the valley of the Snake.
There is a saying--and if it is not purely Western, it is at least purely American--that the only good Indian is a dead Indian. In the very teeth of that, and in spite of tho fact that he was neither very good, nor an Indian--nor in any sense "dead"-- men called Grant Imsen "Good Indian" to his face; and if he resented the title, his resentment was never made manifest--perhaps because he had grown up with the name, he rather liked it when he was a little fellow, and with custom had come to take it as a matter of course.
Because his paternal ancestry went back, and back to no one knows where among the race of blue eyes and fair skin, the Indians repudiated relationship with him, and called him white man--though they also spoke of him unthinkingly as "Good Injun."
Because old Wolfbelly himself would grudgingly admit under pressure that the mother of Grant had been the half-caste daughter of Wolfbelly's sister, white men remembered the taint when they were angry, and called him Injun. And because he stood thus between the two races of men, his exact social status a subject always open to argument, not even the fact that he was looked upon by the Harts as one of the family, with his own bed always ready for him in a corner of the big room set apart for the boys, and with a certain place at the table which was called his--not even his assured position there could keep him from sometimes feeling quite alone, and perhaps a trifle bitter over his loneliness.
Phoebe Hart had mothered him from the time when his father had sickened and died in her house, leaving Grant there with twelve years behind him, in his hands a dirty canvas bag of gold coin so heavy he could scarce lift it, which stood for the mining claim the old man had just sold, and the command to invest every one of the gold coins in schooling.