Nor was Dave Law a person of the comic type; yet he was a gloom-dispeller, and now that Alaire was beginning to know him better she felt a certain happy restfulness in his company.
The ride was long, and the two proceeded leisurely, stopping now and then to talk or to admire the banks of wild flowers beside the road. No country is richer in spring blooms than is South Texas. The cactus had nearly done blooming now, and its ever-listening ears were absurdly warted with fruit; gorgeous carpets of bluebonnets were spread beside the ditches, while the air above was filled with thousands of yellow butterflies, like whirling, wind-blown petals of the prickly-pear blossom. Montrose and Montrosa enjoyed the journey also; it was just the mode of traveling to please equine hearts, for there were plenty of opportunities to nibble at the juicy grass and to drink at the little pools. Then, too, there were mad, romping races during which the riders laughed and shouted.
It was Law who finally discovered that they had somehow taken the wrong road. The fact that Alaire had failed to notice this gave him a sudden thrill. It aroused in his mind such a train of dizzy, drunken speculations that for some time following the discovery he jogged silently at his companion’s side.
It was early dusk when they reached Las Palmas; it was nearly midnight when Dave threw his leg across his saddle and started home.
Alaire’s parting words rang sweetly in his ears: “This has been the pleasantest day I can remember.”
The words themselves meant little, but Dave had caught a wistful undertone in the speaker’s voice, and fancied he had seen in her eyes a queer, half-frightened expression, as of one just awakened.
Jose Sanchez had beheld Dave Law at the Las Palmas table twice within a few days. He spent this evening laboriously composing a letter to his friend and patron, General Luis Longorio.
Time was when Phil Strange boasted that he and his wife had played every fair-ground and seaside amusement-park from Coney Island to Galveston. In his battered wardrobe-trunks were parts of old costumes, scrapbooks of clippings, and a goodly collection of lithographs, some advertising the supernatural powers of “Professor Magi, Sovereign of the Unseen World,” and others the accomplishments of “Mlle. Le Garde, Renowned Serpent Enchantress.” In these gaudy portraits of “Magi the Mystic” no one would have recognized Phil Strange. And even more difficult would it have been to trace a resemblance between Mrs. Strange and the blond, bushy-headed “Mlle. Le Garde” of the posters. Nevertheless, the likenesses at one time had been considered not too flattering, and Phil treasured them as evidences of imperishable distinction.