And to-morrow! Out to Galeria in the fervor of a pilgrim to some shrine, with the easy movement of her pony and the rigid lines of the pass gradually drawing nearer and the sky ever distant! She would be mistress of her thoughts in all the silent glamour of morning on the desert. She would hear the train stop at the station, its heavy effort as it pulled out, and watch it winding over the flashing steel threads in a clamor of stridency and harshness, which grew fainter and fainter. And she would smile as it disappeared around a bend in the range. She would smile at him, at the incident, just as carelessly as he had smiled when he told of the dinosaur.
A JOURNEY ON CRUTCHES
The sun became benign in its afternoon slant. Little Rivers was beginning to move after its siesta, with the stretching of muscles that would grow more vigorous as evening approached and freshened life came into the air with the sprinkle of sunset brilliance.
To Jack the hour palpably brought a reminder of the misery of the moment when a thing long postponed must at last be performed. The softness of speculative fancy faded from his face. His lips tightened in a way that seemed to bring his chin into prominence in mastery of his being. As he called Firio, his voice unusually high-pitched, he did not look out at P.D. and Wrath of God and Jag Ear.
Firio came with the eagerness of one who is restless for action. He leaned on the windowsill, his elbows spread, his chin cupped in his hands, his Indian blankness of countenance enlivened by the glow of his eyes, as jewels enliven dull brown velvet.
“Firio, I have something to tell you.”
There was a laboring of Jack’s throat muscles, and then he forced out the truth in a few words.
“Firio,” he said, “this is my trail end. I am going back to New York to-morrow.”
“Si!” answered Firio, without a tremor of emotion; but his eyes glowed confidently, fixedly, into Jack’s.
“There will be money for you, and—”
“Si!” said Firio mechanically, as if repeating the lines of a lesson.
Was this Indian boy prepared for the news? Or did he not care? Was he simply clay that served without feeling? The thought made Jack wince. He paused, and the dark eyes, as in a spell, kept staring into his.
“And you get P.D. and Wrath of God and Jag Ear and, yes, the big spurs and the chaps, too, to keep to remember me by.”
Firio did not answer.
“You are not pleased? You—”
“Si! I will keep them for you. You will want them; you will come back to all this;” and suddenly Firio was galvanized into the life of a single gesture. He swept his arm toward the sky, indicating infinite distance.
“No, I shall never come back! I can’t!” Jack said; and his face had set hard, as if it were a wall about to be driven at a wall. “I must go and I must stay.”