“You are my star,” he said, “and I am going to crush this pain out of my heart, and make it just a glad thing that I’ve known you, and something to remember always; so don’t you feel sorry, my lady, dear. It was not your fault. It was nobody’s fault—just fate. And we out in this desert country learn to size up a situation and face it out. But I don’t want you to go away from this happy party of ours with an ache in your tender heart, thinking I am a weakling and going to cry by myself in a corner; I am not. Nothing’s going to be changed, and you can count till death on Nelson Renour.”
I don’t know what I said, Mamma, I was so profoundly touched. What a noble gentleman; how miles and miles above the puny Europeans, setting snares for every married woman’s heart, if she is anything which attracts them. Suddenly all the men I know seemed to turn into little paltry dolls, and Harry with his dear blue eyes flashing at me seemed to be the only reality, except this splendid Western hero; and a great lump came in my throat, and I could not speak. Then he took my hand and kissed it. “We’re through with all our sad talk, my Lady Elizabeth,” he said, the kindest smile in his faithful eyes, “and now I am going to show you I can keep my word, and not be a bleating lambkin.”
We came down the mountain after that, and he told me just interesting things about the camp, and the life, and the wonderful quantities of gold there. And when we got into the restaurant tent where we were to meet the others for lunch, Tom and the Vicomte and the rest had returned after a fruitless search for desperadoes, and underneath I am glad they have got away after all.
The journey back to Hot Creek was too divinely beautiful, in spite of two broken tyres which delayed us. The view this way is indescribably grand and vast—the sunset a pale magenta turning into crimson, and the sky a blue turning to green, the desert grey, and the mountains beyond deepest violet turning to sapphire and peacock blue. Does not it sound as if I were romancing, Mamma! But it was really so, and luminous and clear, so that we could see perhaps a hundred miles, all a vast sea of sage brush. The Senator sat by me this time, and Octavia, while Nelson went in front with the chauffeur, and the Senator held my arm and kept my sore shoulder from getting shaken; and he seemed such a comfort and so strong, and he asked us if we had enjoyed our trip in spite of the catastrophe last night, and we both said we had, and all the more on account of it, because it was lovely seeing the real thing. And he said it was a chance in a thousand, as all the camps were so orderly now, not as in Bret Harte, or as it was in his young days. And he said both Octavia and I would make splendid miners’ wives not to be squeamish or silly over the “carrion” that was shot, and not to have trembling nerves today. We felt so pleased, and only that underneath I can’t help being sad about Nelson, we should all have been very gay.