Lonesome Pete, coming back with his armful of firewood, dropped it, and for a moment stood staring from one to another, his mouth wide open. And then, forgetful of Conniston, pushing Argyl away as he came forward, he took Jocelyn’s quivering form into his arms and drew her close to him.
“Miss Jocelyn,” he cried, suddenly, “I ain’t goin’ away! Don’t you think it. An’ you ain’t to blame for nothin’ whatever! You’re jest a little girl as has made a slip or two—who in hell ain’t, huh?”—with belligerent, flashing eyes—“an’ I’ll dye my hair any color you say as you like better ’n red!”
* * * * *
“I am going East to-morrow, Mr. Conniston.” Jimmie Kent was speaking, his eyes very keen. “Before I go I’d like to make you a proposition. First, do you know what firm it is I represent? Maybe you have heard of the W. I. R.? That means the Western Improvement and Reclamation Company. The board of directors met the other day in Denver, and against his protest made Mr. Crawford its first vice-president. The company plans on the reclamation of many thousands of square miles of sand and sage-brush in Colorado and Nevada. The company wants a competent engineer to act as general superintendent of all of its operations. Do you want the job? Who am I to offer it to you?” He laughed softly. “Oh, I’m just its president.”
* * * * *
Filled to bursting with hopeful toil, the days ran by. Again it was night, the night before the first day of October. With the desert about them, with the stars low flung in the wide arch of heaven, Argyl and Greek Conniston stood at the edge of a deep canal which ran with water to its level banks. And as they spoke to each other, looking down into the future which belongs to them, contented, confident, eager for the coming of the Great Day, a boy rode up to them upon a shaggy pony and called:
“Yes,” Greek answered. “What is it?”
It was a telegram. He read it by the light of the match he had swept across his thigh. Argyl, bending forward, read it with him. It was from New York.
“Mr. WILLIAM CONNISTON, Jr.,
“Superintendent Crawford Reclamation,
“Good boy! Congratulations. They tell me you win.
“WM. CONNISTON, Sr.”
Conniston, the bit of yellow paper crumpled between his fingers, turned to Argyl.
“In the only thing which counts—to the uttermost—do I win, Argyl dear?”
And Argyl, lifting her eyes to him frankly, proudly, held out her hands.