“Better. Thank Heaven.”
“That’s what the doctor told me.”
Dick propped himself on an elbow and looked directly at her, that affectionate smile of his on his face.
“Miss Valdes, do you know, ever since I’ve been well enough, I’ve been hoping that if one of us had to cross the Great Divide it would be me?”
Her troubled eyes studied him.
“Why do you say that?”
“Because it would seem more right that way. I came here and made all this trouble in the valley. I insulted him. I had in mind another hurt to him that we won’t discuss just now. Then, when it comes to a showdown, he just naturally waltzes into Hades and saves my life for me at the risk of his own. No, ma’am, I sure couldn’t have stood it if he had died.”
“I’m glad you feel that way,” she answered softly, her eyes dim.
“How else could I feel, and be a white man? I tell you, it makes me feel mean to think about that day I threw him in the water. Just because I’m a great big husky, about the size of two of him, I abused my strength and——”
“Just a moment,” the girl smiled. “You are forgetting he struck you first.”
“Oh, well! I reckon I could have stood that.”
“Will you be willing to tell him how you feel about it?”
“Will I? Well, I guess yes.”
The young woman’s eyes were of starry radiance. “I’m so glad—so happy. I’m sure everything will come right, now.”
He nodded, smiling.
“That’s just the way I feel, Miss Valencia. They couldn’t go wrong, after this—that is, they couldn’t go clear wrong.”
“I’m quite certain of that.”
“I want to go on record as saying that Manuel Pesquiera is the gamest man I know. That isn’t all. He’s a thoroughbred on top of it. If I live to be a hundred I’ll never be as fine a fellow. My hat’s off to him.”
There was a mist in her soft eyes as she poured a glass of ice water for him. “I’m so glad to hear you say that. He is such a splendid fellow.”
He observed she was no longer wearing the solitaire and thought it might be to spare his feelings. So he took the subject as a hunter does a fence.
“I wish you all the joy in the world, Miss Valdes. I know you’re going to be very happy. I’ve got my wedding present all picked out for you,” he said audaciously.
She was busy tidying up his dresser, but he could see the color flame into her cheeks.
“You have a very vivid imagination, Mr. Gordon.”
“Not necessary in this case,” he assured her.
“You’re quite sure of that, I suppose,” she suggested with a touch of ironic mockery.
“I haven’t read any announcement in the paper,” he admitted.
“It is always safe to wait for that.”
“Which is another way of saying that it is none of my business. But then you see it is.” He offered no explanation of this statement, nor did he give her time to protest. “Now about that wedding present, Miss Valdes. It’s in a tin box I had in the cabin before the fire. Can you tell me whether it was saved? My recollection is that I had it at the time the rafter put me to sleep. But of course I don’t remember anything more till I found myself in bed here.”