His patience was rewarded. On the second day, while he was gazing blankly at the post a groom brought two horses to the curb in front of the house opposite. One of the horses had a real cowboy’s saddle. Johnnie’s eyes gleamed. This was like a breath of honest-to-God Arizona. The door opened, and out of it came a man and a slim young woman. Both of them were dressed for riding, she in the latest togs of the town, he in a well-cut sack suit and high tan boots.
Johnnie threw up his hat and gave a yell. “You blamed old horn-toad! Might ‘a’ knowed you was all right! Might ‘a’ knowed you wouldn’t bite off more’n you could chew! Oh, you Arizona!”
Clay gave one surprised look—and met him in the middle of the street. The little cowpuncher did a war dance of joy while he clung to his friend’s hand. Tears brimmed into his faded eyes.
“Hi yi yi, doggone yore old hide, if it ain’t you big as coffee, Clay. Thinks I to myse’f, who is that pilgrim? And, by gum, it’s old hell-a-mile jes’ a-hittin’ his heels. Where you been at, you old skeezicks?”
“How are you, Johnnie? And what are you doin’ here?”
The Runt was the kind of person who tells how he is when any one asks him. He had no imagination, so he stuck to the middle of the road for fear he might get lost.
“I’m jes’ tol’able, Clay. I got a kinda misery in my laigs from trompin’ these hyer streets. My feet are plumb burnin’ up. You didn’t answer my letters, so I come to see if you was all right.”
“You old scalawag. You came to paint the town red.”
Johnnie, highly delighted at this charge, protested. “Honest I didn’t, Clay. I wasn’t feelin’ so tur’ble peart. Seemed like the boys picked on me after you left. So I jes’ up and come.”
If Clay was not delighted to have his little Fidus Achates on his hands he gave no sign of it. He led him across the road and introduced him to Miss Whitford.
Clay blessed her for her kindness to this squat, snub-nosed adherent of his whose lonely heart had driven him two thousand miles to find his friend. It would have been very easy to slight him, but Beatrice had no thought of this. The loyalty of the little man touched her greatly. Her hand went out instantly. A smile softened her eyes and dimpled her cheeks.
“I’m very glad to meet any friend of Mr. Lindsay. Father and I will want to hear all about Arizona after you two have had your visit out. We’ll postpone the ride till this afternoon. That will be better, I think.”
Clay agreed. He grudged the loss of his hour with her, but under the circumstances it had to be. For a moment he and Beatrice stood arranging the time for their proposed ride. Then, with a cool little nod that included them both, she turned and ran lightly up the steps into the house.
“Some sure-enough queen,” murmured Johnnie in naive admiration, staring after her with open mouth.