“And I am young!” exclaimed Jack, with a hopeful smile. “I have good health. I mean to work. I try to be cheerful. Am I eligible?”
“Sir Chaps, you—you have done us a great favor. Everybody likes you. Sir Chaps”—the Doge hesitated for an instant, with a baffling, unspoken inquiry in his eyes—“Sir Chaps, I like your companionship and your mastery of persiflage. Jim Galway, who is secretary of the association, will look after details of the permit and Bob Worther will turn the water on your land, and the whole town will assist you with advice! Luck, Sir Chaps, in your new vocation!”
That evening, while the Doge took down the David and set a fragment from the frieze of the Parthenon in its place, Little Rivers talked of the delightful news that it was not to lose its strange story-teller and duelist. Little Rivers was puzzled. Not once had Jack intimated a thought of staying. By his own account, so far as he had given any, his wound had merely delayed his departure to New York, where he had pressing business. He had his reservation on the Pullman made for the morning express; he had paid a farewell call at the Ewolds, and apparently then had changed his mind and his career. These were the only clues to work on, except the one suggested by Mrs. Galway, who was the wise woman of the community, while Mrs. Smith was the propagandist.
“I guess he likes the way Mary Ewold snubs him!” said Mrs. Galway.
But there was one person in town who was not surprised at Jack’s decision. When Jack sang out as he entered the Galway yard on returning from the Doge’s, “We stay, Firio, we stay!” Firio said: “Si, Senor Jack!” with no change of expression except a brighter gleam than usual in his velvety eyes.
WHEN THE DESERT BLOOMS
Perhaps we may best describe this as a chapter of Incidents; or, to use a simile, a broad, eddying bend in a river on a plateau, with cataracts and canyons awaiting it on its route to the sea. Or, discarding the simile and speaking in literal terms, in a search for a theme on which to hang the incidents, we revert to Mary’s raillery at the announcement of an easy traveller that he was going to turn sober rancher.
“You plowing! You blistering your hands! You earning your bread by the sweat of your brow!”
But there he was in blue overalls, sinking his spade deep for settings, digging ditches and driving furrows through the virgin soil, while the masons and carpenters built his ranch house.
“They are straight furrows, too!” Jack declared.
“Passably so!” answered Mary.
“And look at the blisters!” he continued, exhibiting his puffy palms.
“You seem to think blisters a remarkable human phenomenon, a sensational novelty to a laboring population!”
“Now, would you advise pricking?” he asked, with deference to her judgment.