She flushed to the roots of her hair, yet her lips laughed lightly.
“I imagine such an unexpected occurrence would merely serve to strengthen them,” she replied quickly. “I cannot conceive of any love so supremely selfish as to retard the development of a worthy ideal. But really, there is small need yet of discussing such a possibility.”
She stood aside as he made a movement toward the open door, yet, when he had stepped forth into the hall, she halted him with a sudden question:
“Do you intend returning at once to Denver?”
“No, I shall remain here.”
She said nothing, but he clearly read a farther unasked question in her face.
“I remain here, Miss Norvell, while you do. I shall be among your audiences at the Gayety. I do not altogether agree that your choice has been a correct one, but I do sincerely believe in you,—in your motives,—and, whether you desire it or not, I propose to constitute myself your special guardian. There is likely to be trouble at the Gayety, if any drunken fool becomes too gay.”
With flushed cheeks she watched him go slowly down the stairway, and there were tears glistening within those dark eyes as she drew back into the room and locked the door. A moment she remained looking at her reflected face in the little mirror, her fingers clinched as if in pain.
“Oh, why does n’t he go away without my having to tell him?” she cried, unconsciously aloud. “I—I thought he surely would, this time.”
THE “LITTLE YANKEE” MINE
A wide out-jutting wall of rock, uneven and precipitous, completely shut off all view toward the broader valley of the Vila, as well as of the town of San Juan, scarcely three miles distant. Beyond its stern guardianship Echo Canyon stretched grim and desolate, running far back into the very heart of the gold-ribbed mountains. The canyon, a mere shapeless gash in the side of the great hills, was deep, long, undulating, ever twisting about like some immense serpent, its sides darkened by clinging cedars and bunches of chaparral, and rising in irregular terraces of partially exposed rock toward a narrow strip of blue sky. It was a fragment of primitive nature, as wild, gloomy, desolate, and silent as though never yet explored by man.
A small clear stream danced and sang over scattered stones at the bottom of this grim chasm, constantly twisting and curving from wall to wall, generally half concealed from view by the dense growth of overhanging bushes shadowing its banks. High up along the brown rock wall the gleam of the afternoon sun rested warm and golden, but deeper down within those dismal, forbidding depths there lingered merely a purple twilight, while patches of white snow yet clung desperately to the steep surrounding hills, or showered in powdery clouds from off the laden cedars whenever the disturbing