Georgianna Stockwell, a free-spirited young woman from the East, moves to the wilds of the Tonto Basin in Arizona and she creates a violent culture clash. She revels in a whirlwind of flirtations and coquetry, outraging the proud Western folk and violating their Code of Honour, Her presence is provocative to all young men in the Basin, but to Cal Thurman in particular she is like a firebrand in prairie grass. Through Cal she finds a love she does not expect - and a heritage of violence she cannot control.
363 pages, with a reading time of ~5.75 hours (90,975 words), and first published in 1934. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, 2015.
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Of the many problems that had beset Mary Stockwell during her two years of teaching school in the sparsely settled Tonto Basin of Arizona, this last one was the knottiest, the one that touched her most keenly. For it involved her little sister, Georgiana May, who was on her way to Arizona to be cured, the letter from their mother disclosed, of a slight tendency toward tuberculosis, and a very great leaning toward indiscriminate flirtation.
This day Mary was unusually tired. She had walked all the way up to the little log school-house on Tonto Creek—six miles—and back again to the Thurman ranch at Green Valley, where she boarded. Her eighteen pupils, ranging from six-year-old Mytie Thurman to sixteen-year-old Richard, had broken all records that day for insubordination. Then the hot sun of the September afternoon and the thick dust of the long dry road through brush and forest had taxed her to extreme weariness. Consequently she was not at her best to receive such a shock as her mother’s letter had given her.
“Well, there’s no help for it,” she thought wearily, taking up the letter again. “Georgiana is on her way—will arrive in Globe on the ninth. Let me see. Goodness, that’s tomorrow—Tuesday. The mail stage leaves Globe on Wednesday. She’ll get to Ryson about five o’clock. And I can’t get away. I’ll have to send someone to meet her…. Dear little golden-haired Georgie!”
Miss Stockwell seemed divided between distress at this sudden vexatious responsibility, and a reviving tender memory of her sister. What would she do with her? How would the Thurmans take this visit? Georgiana had looked very much like an angel, but she most assuredly had belied her appearance. Taking up the letter again, the perplexed schoolmistress hurried to that part which had so shocked her and scattered her wits:
… Dr. Smith says Georgie’s right lung is affected, but Dr. Jones, whom father swears by, says Georgie had just danced and gadded herself into a run-down condition. But _I_ think Dr. Smith is right. I never could bear that man Jones. You remember Mrs. Jones—what airs she put on. Anyway, Georgie is in a bad way, besides being possessed of a variety of devils. Daughter, you’ve been away from home going on six years, and part of the time you’ve been living in the backwoods. You’ve been better off, thank Heavens, but you’re buried alive as far as knowing what’s come over the world. Since you left we’ve had the Great War, and then after-the-war, which was worse. I’m sure I don’t know how to explain what has happened. At least I can give you some idea of Georgiana. She is now seventeen, and pretty. She knows more than you, who are twice her age. She knows more than I do. Whatever the modern girl has developed, Georgie has it. It seems to me that no one can help loving her. This is not a mother’s foolish vanity. It’s based on what I see and hear. All our friends love Georgie. And as for the boys—the young men—they are wild about her, and she does her best to keep them that way. I hate to admit it, but Georgie is an outrageous flirt. But to come to the point—Georgiana absolutely will have her own way. All these modern girls are alike in this respect. They say we parents are “out of date,” “we do not understand.”—Perhaps they are right. Father thinks Georgie has not been held back by any restraint or anything we have tried to teach her. But worried and sick and frightened as I am about Georgie, I can’t believe she is really _bad_. I realize, though, that this may be merely a mother’s faith or blindness or vanity. Georgiana has graduated from high school. We want her to work. But she will never work in Erie, and perhaps any hard application now—if Georgie could perform such a miracle—might be worse for her health. Friends of ours, the Wayburns, are motoring to California, and offered to take Georgie West with them. You may be sure we grasped desperately and hopefully at the idea of sending her. That thrilled her. We are not so well off as formerly. But we made sacrifices and got Georgie all she wanted, and we will arrange to pay her board indefinitely out there. Maybe the West you tell so wonderfully about will cure her and be her salvation. Most assuredly her coming will be a trial for you. But, daughter, we beg of you—accept it, and do your best—for Georgie’s sake.