“That,” Mr. Dill remarked, his business instincts uppermost, “it seems to me, need not concern us—seeing that they will sell, and at a price we can handle.”
“I reckon you’re right. Would yuh mind saying over the details uh the offer again?”
“Mr. Brown”—Dill cleared his throat—“offered to sell me a full section of land, extending from the line-fence of the home ranch, east—”
“Uh-huh—now what the devil’s his idea in that?” Billy cut in earnestly. “The Double-Crank owns about three or four miles uh bottom land, up the creek west uh the home ranch. Wonder why he wants to hold that out?”
“I’m sure I do not know,” answered Dill. “He did not mention that to me, but confined himself, naturally, to what he was willing to sell.”
“Oh it don’t matter. And all the range stuff, yuh said—ten thousand head, and—”
“I believe he is reserving some thoroughbred stock which he has bought in the last year or two. The stock on the range—the regular range grade-stock—all goes, as well as the saddle-horses.”
“Must be the widow said yes and wants him to settle down and be a gentle farmer,” decided Billy after a moment.
“We will meet him in Hardup to-night or to-morrow,” Dill observed, as if he were anxious to decide the matter finally. “Do you think we would better buy?” It was one of his little courteous ways to say “we” in discussing a business transaction, just as though Billy were one of the firm.
“Buy? You bet your life we’ll buy! I wisht the papers was all signed up and in your inside pocket right now, Dilly. I’m going to get heart failure the worst kind if there’s any hitch. Lord, what luck!”
“Then, we will consider the matter as definitely settled,” said Dill, with a sigh of satisfaction. “Brown cannot rescind now—there is my deposit to bind the bargain. I will say I should have been sorely disappointed if you had not shown that you favored the idea. It seems to me to be just what we want.”
“Oh—that part. But it seems to me that old Brown is sure locoed to give us a chance at the outfit. He’s gone plumb silly. His friends oughta appoint a guardian over him—only I hope they won’t get action till this deal is cinched tight.” With that, Billy relapsed into crooning his ditty. But there were odd breaks when he stopped short in the middle of a line and forgot to finish, and there was more than one cigarette wasted by being permitted to go cold and then being chewed abstractedly until it nearly fell to pieces.
Beside him, Alexander P. Dill, folded loosely together in the seat, caressed his knees and stared unseeingly at the trail ahead of them and said never a word for more than an hour.
The Day We Celebrate.