THE AFTERNOON was well advanced, and
the late spring sun had lost some of its fire. A scattered flotilla
of small flat-keeled clouds cruised slowly across the sky. The
wind was from the west, warm and insistent, a clean desert wind
that spoke of sage and of sand and of sun-baked rock. It stirred
the needles of the pinyon pines, and rocked the tall stalks of
the yuccas, with their spires of creamy blooms.
To the south, a dust devil scurried
relentlessly across the broad shelf of the Esplanade. And beyond,
out of the haze, loomed the canyon's upper cliffs, stretching
from east to west in a continuous gray-buff scarp, two thousand
feet high . . .