And with the smile still upon his lips he left her.
THE DIVINE SPARK
“Boney, old chap, you’re the very man I want!” Such was Lucas Errol’s greeting to the man who had shot like a thunderbolt into the peaceful atmosphere that surrounded him, to the general disturbance of all others who dwelt therein.
“I guess you must have known it,” he said, the sinewy hand fast gripped in his. “You’ve come like an answer to prayer. Where have you been all this time? And why didn’t you write? It’s worried me some not hearing.”
“Great Lucifer!” said Nap.
He sat down, leaving his hand in his brother’s grasp. The cynicism had gone utterly from his face, but he did not answer either question.
“So you are winning out?” he said. “It’s been a long trail, I’ll wager.”
“Oh, damnably long, Boney.” Lucas uttered a weary sigh. “I was nearly down and out in the winter. But I’m better, you know. I’m better.” He met the open criticism of Nap’s eyes with a smile. “What’s the verdict?” he asked.
“I’ll tell you presently. You’re not looking overfed anyway.” Nap’s fingers began to feel along his wrist. “Did Capper say he wanted a skeleton to work on?”
“Shucks, dear fellow! There’s more than enough of me. Tell me about yourself. What have you been doing? I want to know.”
“I?” Nap jerked back his head. “I’ve nothing to tell,” he declared. “You know what I went to do. Well, I’ve done it, and that’s all there is to it.”
“I’m not quite clear as to what you went to do,” Lucas answered. “You didn’t turn up in Arizona. I was puzzled what to think.”
“You never expected me to go to Arizona,” said Nap with conviction. “You were shrewd enough for that.”
“Thanks, Boney! P’r’aps I was. But I’ve been hoping all this while, nevertheless, that you might have the grit to keep the devil at arm’s length.”
Nap laughed, stretched his arms above his head, and made a vehement gesture as if flinging something from him—something that writhed and clung.
“Will it interest you to know that the devil has ceased to provide me with distractions?” he asked suddenly.
A certain eagerness came into the blue eyes. “That so, Boney?”
Nap leaned back and stared at the ceiling. “It’s no virtue of mine,” he said. “I found I wanted solitude, so I went to the Rockies and stayed there till I was tired. That’s all.”
Again the skeleton hand of the man on the bed sought and pressed his. “Old chap, I’m real glad,” the tired voice drawled. “You’ve found yourself at last. I always felt you would—sooner or later.”
Nap’s lips twitched a little. “Don’t be too sure of that. Anyway it doesn’t follow that I shall sit at home and practise the domestic virtues. I’ve got to wander a bit first and find my own level.”