“Well, folks in New York don’t know me. What was the use of gettin’ him in bad?”
“You know that wasn’t the reason. You did it because—” She stopped in the midst of the sentence. It had occurred to her that this subject was more dangerous even than silence.
“I did it because he was the man you were goin’ to marry,” he said.
They moved side by side through the shadows. In the faint light he could make out the fine line of her exquisite throat. After a moment she spoke. “You’re a good friend, Clay. It was a big thing to do. I don’t know anybody else except Dad that would have done it for me.”
“You don’t know anybody else that loves you as much as I do.”
It was out at last, quietly and without any dramatics. A flash of soft eyes darted at him, then veiled the shining tenderness beneath long lashes. She paced a little faster, chin up, nerves taut.
“I’ve had an attack of common sense,” he went on, and in his voice was a strength both audacious and patient. “I thought at first I couldn’t hope to win you because of your fortune and what it had done for you. Even when I knew you liked me I felt it wouldn’t be fair for me to ask you. I couldn’t offer you the advantages you’d had. But I’ve changed my mind. I’ve been watching what money does to yore friends. It makes them soft. They flutter around like butterflies. They’re paupers—a good many of them—because they don’t pay their way. A man’s a tramp if he doesn’t saw wood for his breakfast. I don’t want you to get like that, and if you stay here long enough you sure will. It’s in my heart that if you’ll come with me we’ll live.”
In the darkness she made a rustling movement toward him. A little sob welled up in her throat as her hands lifted to him. “Oh, Clay! I’ve fought against it. I didn’t want to, but—I love you. Oh, I do love you!”
He took her lissom young body in his arms. Her lips lifted to his.
Presently they walked forward slowly. Clay had never seen her more lovely and radiant, though tears still clung to the outskirts of her joy.
“We’re going to live—oh, every how!” she cried to the stars, her lover’s hand in hers.
CLAY PLAYS SECOND FIDDLE
Johnnie felt that Kitty’s farewell dinner had gone very well. It was her first essay as a hostess, and all of them had enjoyed themselves. But, so far as he could see, it had not achieved the results for which they had been hoping.
Clay came home late and next morning was full of plans about leaving. He discussed the packing and train schedules and affairs at the B-in-a-Box. But of Beatrice Whitford he made not even a casual mention.
“Two more days and we’ll hit the trail for good old Tucson,” he said cheerfully.
“Y’betcha, by jollies,” agreed his bandy-legged shadow.