How Happiness Returned To The Lazy A





When Lite rapped with his knuckles on the door of the room where she

was waiting, Jean stood with her hands pressed tightly over her face,

every muscle rigid with the restraint she was putting upon herself.

For Lite this three-day interval had been too full of going here and

there, attending to the manifold details of untangling the various

threads of their broken life-pattern, for him to feel the suspense

which Jean had suffered. She had not done much. She had waited. And

now, with Lite and her dad standing outside the door, she almost

dreaded the meeting. But she took a deep breath and walked to the door

and opened it.



"Hello, dad," she cried with a nervous gaiety. "Give your dear daughter

a kiss!" She had not meant to say that at all.



Tall and gaunt and gray and old; lines etched deep ground his bitter

mouth; pale with the tragic prison pallor; looking out at the world

with the somber eyes of one who has suffered most cruelly,--Aleck

Douglas put out his thin, shaking arms and held her close. He did not

say anything at all; and the kiss she asked for he laid softly upon her

hair.



Lite stood in the doorway and looked at the two of them for a moment.

"I'm going down to see about--things. I'll be back in a little while.

And, Jean, will you be ready?"



Jean looked up at him understandingly, and with a certain shyness in

her eyes. "If it's all right with dad," she told him, "I'll be ready."



"Lite's a man!" Aleck stated unsmilingly, with a trace of that apathy

which had hurt Jean so in the warden's office. "I'm glad you'll have

him to take care of you, Jean."



So Lite closed the door softly and went away and left those two alone.





In a very few words I can tell you the rest. There were a few things

to adjust, and a few arrangements to make. The greatest adjustment,

perhaps, was when Jean begged off from that contract with the Great

Western Company. Dewitt did not want to let her go, but he had read a

marked article in a Montana paper that Lite mailed to him in advance of

their return, and he realized that some things are greater even than

the needs of a motion-picture company. He was very nice, therefore, to

Jean. He told her by all means to consider herself free to give her

time wholly to her father--and her husband. He also congratulated Lite

in terms that made Jean blush and beat a hurried retreat from his

office, and that made Lite grin all the way to the hotel. So the

public lost Jean of the Lazy A almost as soon as it had learned to

welcome her.



Then there was Pard, that had to leave the little buckskin and take

that nerve-racking trip back to the Lazy A. Lite attended to that with

perfect calm and a good deal of inner elation. So that detail was soon

adjusted.



At the Lazy A there was a great deal to do before the traces of its

tragedy were wiped out. We'll have to leave them doing that work,

which was only a matter of time, after all, and not nearly so hard to

accomplish as their attempts to wipe out from Aleck's soul the black

scar of those three years. I think, on the whole, we shall leave them

doing that work, too. As much as human love and happiness could do

toward wiping out the bitterness they would accomplish, you may be

sure,--give them time enough.





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