“I shall never believe so until I have faced it for myself, nor will I even say good-bye, for, under God, I am coming back to you.”
He turned slowly, and walked away. As his hand touched the latch of the door he paused and looked longingly back.
She glanced up at him.
“You kissed me once; will you again?”
She rose silently and crossed over to him, her hands held out, her eyes uplifted to his own. Neither spoke as he drew her gently to him, and their lips met.
“Say it once more, sweetheart?”
“Donald, I love you.”
A moment they stood thus face to face, reading the great lesson of eternity within the depths of each other’s eyes. Then slowly, gently, she released herself from the clasp of his strong arms.
“You believe in me now? You do not go away blaming me?” she questioned, with quivering lips.
“There is no blame, for you are doing what you think right. But I am coming back, Naida, little woman; coming back to love and you.”
An hour later N Troop trotted across the rude bridge, and circled the bluff, on its way toward the wide plains. Brant, riding ahead of his men, caught a glimpse of something white fluttering from an open window of the yellow house fronting the road. Instantly he whipped off his campaign hat, and bowing to the saddle pommel, rode bareheaded out of sight. And from behind the curtain Naida watched the last horseman round the bluff angle, riding cheerfully away to hardship, danger, and death, her eyes dry and despairing, her heart scarcely beating. Then she crept across the narrow room, and buried her face in the coverlet of the bed.
MR. HAMPTON RESOLVES
Mr. Bob Hampton stood in the bright sunshine on the steps of the hotel, his appreciative gaze wandering up the long, dusty, unoccupied street, and finally rising to the sweet face of the young girl who occupied the step above. As their eyes met both smiled as if they understood each other. Except for being somewhat pale, the result of long, inactive weeks passed indoors, Mr. Hampton’s appearance was that of perfect health, while the expression of his face evidenced the joy of living.
“There is nothing quite equal to feeling well, little girl,” he said, genially, patting her hand where it rested on the railing, “and I really believe I am in as fine fettle now as I ever have been. Do you know, I believe I ’m perfectly fit to undertake that little detective operation casually mentioned to you a few days ago. It ’s got to be done, and the sooner I get at it the easier I’ll feel. Fact is, I put in a large portion of the night thinking out my plans.”
“I wish you would give it up all together, Bob,” she said, anxiously. “I shall be so dull and lonely here while you are gone.”