He buried her little hand in his big paw and strode away. She watched him, a soft tenderness shining in her eyes. Lee was a lover herself, and she wanted everybody in the world to be as happy as she was.
Two horsemen rode down the street toward her. She looked up. One of them was Billie Prince, the other Jim Clanton.
The younger man gave a shout of gay greeting. “Yip-ee yippy yip.” He leaned from the cowpony and gave her his gloved hand. “I’ve brought him back to you. He sure did make a good clean-up. I’m the only bad man left in Washington County.”
She met his impudent little smile with friendly eyes. “Dad Wrayburn’s back from Santa Fe with the pardon, Jim. I’m so glad.”
“I’m some glad myself. Do you want me to shut my eyes whilst you an’ Billie—”
The sheriff knocked the rest of the sentence out of him with a vigorous thump on the back.
While Lee and her lover shook hands their eyes held fast to each other.
“Good to see you, Billie,” she said.
“Same here, Lee.”
“When you and Jim have put up your horses I want you to come up to aunt’s for supper.”
“We’ll be there.”
It was not a very gay little supper. Pauline and Jack Goodheart had very little to say for themselves, but in their eyes were bright pools of happiness. Clanton sustained the burden of the talk, assisted in a desultory fashion by Lee and Billie. But there was so much quiet joy at the table that for years the hour was one fenced off from all the others of their lives. Even Jim, who for the first time felt himself almost an outsider, since he did not belong to the close communion of lovers, could find plenty for which to be thankful.
He made an announcement before he left. “There’s no room here for me now that you lads are marryin’ all my girls. I’m goin’ to hit the trail. It’s Texas for me. I’ve got a letter in my pocket offerin’ me a job as a Ranger an’ I’m goin’ to take it.”
They shook hands with him in warm congratulation. Their friend was no longer a killer. He had definitely turned his back on lawlessness and would henceforth walk with the law. The problem of what was to become of Go-Get-’Em Jim was solved.
As to the problem of their own futures, that did not disturb these happy egoists in the least. Life beckoned them to primrose paths. It is the good fortune of lovers that their vision never pierces the shadows in which lie the sorrows of the years and the griefs that wear them gray.