Stony River

Stony River by Ciarra Montanna Read Free Book Online

Book: Stony River by Ciarra Montanna Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ciarra Montanna
by side.
    “Flint’s a big horse,” Sevana said, observing the broad, tufted feet he was lifting and setting on the path in front of her. “I think the horses I rode in Toronto could practically walk underneath him.”
    “Is that where you’re from?”
    “Yes. I just got here yesterday.”
    “You’re from the flatland, then.” He looked at her closely. “No wonder you wanted to see out. Some folks say these mountains take a little getting used to.”
    “Perhaps they do,” she agreed, glad to hear him say so. But after the majesty she’d just witnessed, she was beginning to think it might not be such a difficult adjustment.
    The path was becoming steep and narrow. Sevana dropped behind Joel, and concentrated on not letting his heavy workboots get very far ahead of her as he gained the mountain in a long-legged gait. She was glad when she looked up and saw the bright-green meadow on the face of the slope above her.
    Upon reaching open pasture, the sheep tried to scatter out at once to graze the tender grass, but Joel kept them all going toward the top. It was a much larger meadow than Sevana had expected, with too much of a curving angle to be seen as a whole from any one spot. Near the upper edge, Joel dropped his pack under a lone pine and stood waiting for a few stragglers to come into sight, but Sevana flung herself down on the ground to catch her breath. And there, with the grassy slope plunging giddily away below her, the blue-gray spires loomed up before her in unguarded splendor—almost as if there was no valley between. “The mountains look almost close enough to touch!” she marveled.
    “That’s Graystone, Old Stormy, and Bearclaw.” Joel named for her the three closest peaks with a pardonable touch of pride, for there was no denying the magnificence of those granite monuments as they presided over the valley, glacial ice sparkling, and framed by the meadow and forests sloping in a grand descent into the river canyon. “All the years I’ve been here, I still see them every day as new.”
    “Graystone, Old Stormy, Bearclaw,” Sevana repeated, to remember them. Their heights were so dominant, their beauty so vivid, it seemed an artist with a fancy for exaggeration had portrayed his ideal of a lofty mountain trio upon the sweeping canvas of the sky. “I want to paint them,” she said raptly—for from the first moment she’d set eyes on them, there had been no doubt.
    “You are an artist?” he asked with interest, joining her in the grass.
    “Yes—at least I hope to be. I’m going to study art in Alberta this fall.”
    “So you’re out of school. I wouldn’t have thought you old enough,” he said candidly.
    “I’m seventeen,” she said, unconsciously drawing herself a little straighter. But in the presence of the mature, self-possessed man beside her, it didn’t sound as impressive as she would have liked.
    He smiled as if he saw something in her he understood. “I struck out to find my own way in life when I was seventeen, too.”
    “Did you?” Her night-blue eyes rested on him inquisitively. “What were you hoping to find?”
    “The very life I did find,”—and his look seemed to take in the pasture and the sheep and the high peaks at once. “I found in these mountains the home I was looking for.”
    That statement went to Sevana’s heart. To hear him talk of his home and see the content in his eyes, made her deeply conscious that she had never known a home—not a true one, where she could feel at rest.
    But it was impossible to entertain such introspective thoughts for long, with the sheep to watch. Most of the flock had settled down to graze the rich pasturage, but the lambs were having a real struggle deciding whether to eat or play. They would nibble a little grass, but then their nature demanded they be back to bounding and gamboling on the hillside in the most lighthearted way. Two of them got so caught up in play—butting heads, circling around each other, and

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