Joan, fierce virgin of the hills, is romantically wed by Pierre, lone rancher. They are happy enough till a young "sin-buster" Holliwell butts in (the right phrase), a fool (his author seems to think him rather noble) who, never mind how, succeeds in rousing Pierre's jealousy. Instead of shooting the parson, Pierre brands his wife between the shoulders with his branding iron. On the second, enter male number three, Prosper Gael, author and elegant man of the world: shoots Pierre, leaving him for dead, and carries off Joan -- and that's just the beginning!
finding no place at the long, central table sat apart at a smaller one under a high, uncurtained window. By the time she met his eyes they were charged with light; smoky-blue eyes they were, the iris heavily ringed with black, the pupils dilated a little. For the first time it occurred to Joan, looking down with a still heart into his eyes, that a man might be beautiful. The blood came up from her heart to her face. Her eyes struggled away from his.
"What's yer name, gel?" murmured Pierre.
"You run away from home?" He too had heard of her.
"Will your father be takin' you back?"
"I won't be goin' with him."
She was about to pass on. Pierre cast a swift look about the table--bent heads and busy hands, eyes cast down, ears, he knew, alert. It was a land of few women and of many men. He must leave in the morning early and for months he would not be back. He put out a long, hard hand, caught Joan's wrist and gave it a queer, urgent shake, the