It would seem that the end of every war has been followed inthe United States by social and moral changes, mostly for the worse. Zane Greycertainly felt that way about the effects of the Great War, and to show thesechanges and how to cope with them became the impulse behind what he called TheWater Hole. However, before magazine publication, changes were made in histext, including the names of all the characters. Fortunately Grey’s originalhandwritten manuscript has survived, so now this story can be told with hischaracters named and presented as he intended them to be.
In 1925 widowed businessman Elijah Winters brings hisdaughter, Cherry, from Long Island to stay at a trading post in a remote areasome distance from Flagstaff, Arizona. Removed from the country clubs andspeakeasies, Cherry is at first bored with simple ranch life, and to entertainherself she flirts with several of the cowboys, not realizing they are verydifferent from the young men she knew back east. Also very different is StephenHeftral, a young archaeologist who is searching for an ancient and lost kiva ofa primitive Indian tribe that disappeared centuries before in what became theland of the Navajos.
Heftral believes that this lost kiva is most probablyin a desert fastness called Beckyshibeta, the Navajo word for waterhole. Elijah colludes with Heftral to awaken Cherry to a new and healthier wayof life by taking her, by force if necessary, to the site. Cherry resents being kidnapped but comes to forget theluxury of her past in the beauty and dangers of the canyons—and in the thrillof making an important archaeological discovery.