“Nothing, nothing, nothing a-tall,” Lanpher replied, irritably.
“If Racey didn’t mean nothing by it, what did yore eyes flip for and why didja shuffle yore feet?”
“Whatell business is it of yores?” burst out the goaded manager.
“None,” Alicran replied, calmly. “I was just wondering. I got a curiosity to know why, thassall.”
“Then hogtie yore curiosity—or you’ll be gettin’ yore time. I’m free to admit I need you, like I said before, but I can do without you if I gotta.”
“That’s just where yo’re dead wrong,” Alicran promptly contradicted. “You can’t do without me. Lanpher, I like the job of bein’ yore foreman. I like it so well that if you was to fire me I dunno what I wouldn’t do. You know, Lanpher, a man is a whole lot bigger target than the branch of a wild currant bush.”
Frankly speculative, the eyes of Alicran travelled up and down the spare frame of the 88 manager. Which gave Lanpher furiously to think, as it were.
“Why,” said he, forcing a smile, “I guess we understand each other, Alicran.”
“Shore we do,” said Alicran, cheerfully. “And don’t you forget it.”
When the two 88 men had departed Molly Dale continued to stand where she was for a space and stare dumbly at nothing. Racey, realizing well enough that her world had crashed to pieces about her, wished that she would burst into tears. A sobbing woman is easily comforted. It is simply necessary to pet her and keep on petting her till her grief is assuaged. But this hard stillness of Molly Dale’s gave Racey no opening. He could but gaze at her uncomfortably and shift his weight from one foot to the other.
“That was a dirty trick of the Marysville bank.” Thus tentatively.
It is doubtful whether Molly heard him. “Poor Father,” she said in a low tone.
“Lookit here, Molly,” said Racey, struck by a bright idea, “I’ve got a li’l money I been saving. I—I want you should take it.”
Molly continued to stare into the distance.
“I’ve got some money—” he began again, thinking that Molly had not heard.
But she turned her face toward him at that, and he saw that her eyes were shining with unshed tears.
“Racey,” she said, with a slight catch in her voice, and laid her hand lightly on his arm. “Racey, you’re a dear, good boy. We—we’ll manage somehow. I mum-must tell Mother.”
Abruptly she swung away and left him. He watched her cross the garden and enter the kitchen of the ranch-house. Then slowly, thoughtfully, he set to work repairing as best he could the ravages left in the garden by the hoofs of Lanpher’s horse.
Came then Swing Tunstall on a paint pony and was moved to mirth at sight of Racey Dawson engaged in earthy labour.