But all was dark and silent out at Bill Lang’s store. After their return from Agua Fria, the rescuing party, Jim Galway leading, had attended to another matter. The remnants of Pete Leddy’s gang, far from offering any resistance, explained that they had business elsewhere which admitted of no delay. There was peace in the valley of Little Rivers. Its phantoms had been laid at the same time as Jack’s.
THEIR SIDE OF THE PASS
“Persiflage! Persiflage!” cried the Doge.
He and Jack were in the full tilt of controversy, Jack pressing an advantage as they came around the corner of the Ewold house. It was like the old times and better than the old times. For now there was understanding where then there had been mystery. The stream of their comradeship ran smoothly in an open country, with no unsounded depths.
“But I notice that you always say persiflage just as I am getting the better of the argument!” Jack whipped back.
“Has it taken you all this time to find that out? For what purpose is the word in the English vocabulary? But I’ll take the other side, which is the easy one, next time, and then we’ll see! Boom! boom!” The Doge pursed out his lips in mock terrorization of his opponent. “You are pretty near yourself again, young sir,” he added, as he paused at the opening in the hedge.
“Yes, strength has been fairly flooding back the last two or three days. I can feel it travelling in my veins and making the tissues expand. It is glorious to be alive, O Doge!”
“Now, do you want me to take the other side on that question so you can have another unearned victory? I refuse to humor the invalid any longer and I agree. The proposition that it is glorious to live on such an afternoon as this is carried unanimously. But I will never agree that you can grow dates the equal of mine.”
“Not until my first crop is ripe; then there will be no dispute!”
“That is real persiflage!” the Doge called after Jack.
Jack had made his first visit to the Doge’s garden since he had left it to meet Prather and Leddy rather brief when he found that Mary was not at home. She had ridden out to the pass. Her trips to the pass had been so frequent of late that he had seen little of her during his convalescence. Yet he had eaten her jelly exclusively. He had eaten it with his bread, his porridge, his dessert, and with the quail that Firio had broiled. He had even intimated his willingness to mix it with his soup. She advised him to stir it into his coffee, instead.
When he was seated in the long chair on the porch and she called to ask how he was, they had kept to the domain of nonsense, with never a reference to sombre memories; but she was a little constrained, a little shy, and he never gave her cause to raise the barrier, even if she had been of the mind in face of a possible recurrence of former provocations while he was weak and easily tired. It was enough for him to hear her talk; enough to look out restfully toward the gray masses of the range; enough to know that the desert had brought him oblivion to the past; enough to see his future as clear as the V of Galeria against the sky, sharing the life of the same community with her.