QUICK WITH A VENGEANCE
Old Heck rode in advance of Charley and Bert as the trio returned from repairing the fences wrecked by the flood that had swept over the east bottom-lands of the Quarter Circle KT. All morning he had been silent and morose. Only when necessary had he spoken while he directed the cowboys at their labor, helped them reset posts, or untangle twisted wires and build up again that which the rush of water had torn down. The damage had not been great and by noon the fence was as good as new. As soon as the breaks were mended the moody owner of the Quarter Circle KT mounted his horse and started for the house.
“Them women coming or something has got Old Heck’s goat,” Bert remarked to Charley as they climbed on their horses and followed a moment later.
“Something’s got it,” Charley answered, “he ain’t acted natural all day—do you reckon he’s sore because Parker took the widow to town?”
“Darned if I know,” Bert said doubtfully, “that might be it.”
“Well, he’s feverish and disagreeable for some reason or other and that’s the way people generally get when they’re jealous,” Charley observed sagely.
“He hadn’t ought to be,” Bert argued, “it’s Parker’s day to keep company with Ophelia, and Old Heck and him agreed to split.”
“If he’s in love he won’t split,” Charley retorted with conviction, “I never saw two men take turn about loving the same woman yet. It can’t be done!”
“The woman wouldn’t object, would she?” Bert queried.
“Probably not,” Charley replied, “at least not as long as double doses of affection was coming her way. From what I’ve heard most of ’em sort of enjoy having as many men make love to ’em as possible, but—” he paused.
“They kick if a man loves several women at once!” was the sophisticated reply. “But as far as that’s concerned,” he continued, speaking as a man wise in the ways of the world, “men and women ain’t much different in that respect. When it comes to loving, both sides are plumb willing to divide up ‘a-going’ but want it to be clean exclusive when it comes to ‘coming!’”
“It’s funny, ain’t it?” Bert commented.
“No, it ain’t funny,” Charley declared. “It’s just natural—”
“Maybe Parker and Old Heck will have a fight about Ophelia,” Bert suggested hopefully. “Which do you suppose would lick?”
“It’s hard telling,” Charley said thoughtfully. “Old Heck’s the heaviest, but Parker’s pretty active.”
“Well, it sure does seem like wherever women are trouble is, don’t it?” Bert observed meditatively.
“Blamed if it don’t,” Charley agreed; “there’s something about them that’s plum agitating!”