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The BRONZEMAN    Twenty-three

Many men came into her life and brought, well, you know what men bring. She would look at them, the doors in her eyes closed. But she was destined to love some day with a love that would consumer her like a hot flame; love that would sear, but... 

"You know, Stranger, she wouldn't say anything, but just sit there on the porch. Its a funny thing, but that home in which she lived was just a cabin with flowers and vines. A funny thing for a cabin, a porch, yet that cabin had one. Like I told you before, she would sit out there at sundown, so still you would think she was a statue, until you saw the rise and fall of her breast.

"Men passing by train and by trail would see her sitting there - it was in Hermanas - you know the place - you who have travelled out there - right at the junction. So she was in plain sight to all who passed that way. But the men who came gave her nothing but themselves and left, vowing to come back but didn't. She paid no attention to them after awhile, why ... because she grew used to them.
"They never brought her anything new, many came and many were to come and go, the same as the others; and all would and will bring the same thing. Perhaps they never thought of marrying, perhaps they did, but none stayed. Why, I don't know, she wasn't cold, but so many had approached her in the same way she had grown used to it and she was indifferent. 

"None came to offer her anything new, that is, not up to then. But, even so, how was she to know what kind of man he would turn out to be? It was always the same. Her kisses her gotten, the pressure of her soft body... yielding. The fragrance of her was enough to force any man to lose his head - they all did. Don't get the idea she was bad, because she wasn't. She didn't encourage them, left to her she would continue looking at the sunset. But, you know how it is, a beautiful girl, she a trusting sort, starved for the right man: a soft husky voice, and laughter like a deep-toned bell. Combine that with a western night and a silver studded sky. What man needs encouraging? 

"She was indifferent to men now, young in age, old in experience. Did she accept any of the offers? I would say she did and I won't say she didn't. 

"But, she would sit there watching the sunset. You know how a magnet draws steel...well...that is the way she drew men whenever she was sitting on her porch.
"But one evening, just at sunset, love, real love: the kind you read about but seldom see, came to her down the trail. Brought to her by a boy... yes, we would call him a boy, but the world would call him a man. But, still, he was a boy, not over twenty. Like the others that came, she had drawn him, but unlike the others, he said nothing, but just looked.
"The moment he saw her his world was right there, there was nothing else he wanted to see. How did she feel? I cannot say, she never gave a sign that she saw him... that is, she never moved, only her eyes moved; they left the sun and turned upon him. Those eyes, great sweet brown ones, turned the world upside down for him. He stayed, but he was tongue-tied.
"It was beautiful, the sunset, that night. All gold, and red, and pink. It was the time of the year when desert flowers bloom: a kaleidoscopic picture of never-ending beauty. 

Eve Expelled
By Jonathan H. Brooks
THOUGH you have hurt your precious name, poor girl, 
(You plucked too soon the sweet, forbidden fruit.)
Yet do not bow, a vassal to the brute. 
If you're no longer diamond, be a pearl;
Hold up your head. Let no one tragic start
Cheat you of roses, sunshine, and the lark; 
Though cur of gossip snap and growl and back, 
You will survive, if you keep pure in heart. 
Child, there are judges who will sure be hung
When they are tried before the Court of Right. 
There was a cure for those the serpents stung. 
Though mortal stumble, he may scale the height
And earn the gods' approval after all; 
Sinners are they who wallow when they fall. 

"He didn't talk - strange - you call that strange - is love ever strange? But we digress; the boy just followed her about, doing things for her. I guess his eyes and actions told her that he was in love with her, yes, deeply in love. How can I explain it otherwise? Women are mysteries no man can penetrate. She didn't encourage him nor did she discourage him; she merely tolerated him. 

"Whenever she spoke to him, or let him hold her hand, the blood would race through him, hot blood, blood that burned his veins. Evenings they would sit on the porch together and watch the sun sinking behind the hills. And when the sun had set and the dusk deepened he would sit closer to her. Together they would count the stars as they twinkled into sight. Silently they would sit there; he would open his mouth to speak his lover for her, but always something held him back. Her eyes would rest upon his face, softly; who knows what was behind those doors in her eyes? Surely he didn't; to him they were deep doors of mystery.
"There came a night when they were sitting on the porch and the sky was full of silver stars, a night made for love. He, as usual, was inarticulate; the beauty of the night combined with the beautiful creature beside him was too much. He grasped her hand and pulled her towards him; a gentle fragrance, like apple blossoms, drifted towards him. He grew mad with love, he bent to kiss her, but he didn't. Why - Stranger - she didn't resist him, she didn't speak, but it was her eyes. They mocked him, the doors had opened to let the chilling light of mockery shine through.
"It was as though someone had thrown a bucket of ice-water over him. He let go of her hand and for a moment never moved. Then with a muttered curse, rose and walked away.
"The next day he was back again - she knew he would come back. - When they saw each other everything went on as before, there was no reference to the night before.
"There was no change in her demeanor, she was indifferent. There were circles under his eyes and he looked weary. His clothes hung baggily upon him. His eyes were bright, his hands shook a little. 

"In the rear of the cabin was a tiny trail that led out into the mesquite to an old water-hole. Flowers grew out there and they went to gather some. The wind blew her dress about her and her hips rolled as she walked. They reached the water-hold and sat down. They talked; now and then her deep husky laugh would ring out, then they grew quiet. 

"He reached for her hand, she let him take it. Something took possession of him. He caught her in his arms and rained hot kisses upon her unresisting lips. He kissed her lovely throat; a golden valley nestling between twin golden hills came into view. She did not fight back not did she return his kisses, but lay quiescent in his arms. His arms were about her, crushing her, hungrily.
"Suddenly he began to speak, incoherently, wild things that only a man in love can say. He told her over and over that he loved her, would kill for her - yes, Stranger - he told her that. It was then the doors in her eyes opened. But, Stranger, instead of the love-light, there was surprise, yes surprise, that slowly turned to laughter!
"She rose to her feet and looked down at him. She spoke. She scorned him, laughed at him. She turned at last and left him, her
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