Her arms crept up and round his neck. “Oh, boy—boy—boy. I thought you were—I thought you were——”
She broke down, but he understood. “Well, I’m not,” he laughed happily. Catching sight of Buck’s grim, set face, Larrabie explained what scarce needed an explanation. “You’ll have to excuse us, I reckon. It’s my day for congratulations.”
Phyllis freed herself and walked across to her other lover. “My friend, I know the answer now,” she told him.
“I see you do.”
“Don’t—please don’t be hurt,” she begged. “I have to care for him.”
The hard, leathery face softened. “I lose, girl. But who told you I was a bad loser? The best man wins. I’ve got no kick to register.”
“Not the best man,” Keller corrected, shaking hands with his rival.
Phyllis summed it up in woman fashion: “My man, whether he is the best or not. It’s just that a girl goes where her heart goes.”
Weaver nodded. “Good enough. Well, I’ll be going. I expect you’ll not miss me.”
He turned and went down the hill alone. At the foot of it he met Jim Yeager.
“What about Brill?” the younger man asked quickly.
“He’ll never rustle another cow,” Buck answered gravely. “I killed him on the top of Point o’ Rocks after an even break.”
“Duke has cashed in. Game to the last. Wouldn’t say a word to implicate his pals. But Tom has confessed everything. The boys slipped a noose over his head, and he came through right away.
“Says he and Duke and Irwin helped Healy rob the Noches Bank and do a lot of other deviltry. It was just like Keller figured. The automobile was waiting for the bunch with the showfer, and took them out the old Fort Lincoln Road. Dixon knows where the gold is hidden, and is going to show the boys.”
“That clears up everything, then. I judge we’ve made a pretty thorough gather.”
Jim looked up and indistinctly saw the lovers coming slowly down through the grove. Dusk had fallen and soon the cloak of night would be over the mountains.
“Who is that?”
Buck did not look round. “I reckon it’s Keller and his sweetheart. She followed us here.”
“I told her not to come.”
“I expect she takes her telling from Mr. Keller.” He changed the subject abruptly. “We’ll go on down to the boys and see what’s doing. They’ll be some glad, I shouldn’t wonder, at making a gather that cleans out the worst bunch of cutthroats and rustlers in the Malpais. Don’t you reckon?”
“I reckon,” answered Yeager briefly.