“A little green River”
To suddenly stop off at a cow-town station, without baggage or definite itinerary, was unconventional, to say the least. Bartley was amused and interested. Hitherto he had written more or less conventional stuff—acceptable stories of the subway, the slums, the docks, and the streets of Eastern cities. But now, as he strode over to the saloon, he forgot that he was a writer of stories. A boyish longing possessed him to see much of the life roundabout, even to the farthest, faint range of hills—and beyond.
He felt that while he still owed something to his original plan of visiting California, he could do worse than stay right where he was. He had thought of wiring to have his baggage sent back. Then it occurred to him that, aside from his shaving-kit and a few essentials, his baggage comprised but little that he could use out here in the mesa country. And he felt a certain relief in not having trunks to look after. Outing flannels and evening clothes would hardly fit into the present scheme of things. The local store would furnish him all that he needed. In this frame of mind he entered the Blue Front Saloon where he found Senator Steve and his foreman seated at a side table discussing the merits of “Green River.”
“Hello!” called the Senator. “Mr. Bartley, meet my foreman, Lon Pelly.”
They shook hands.
“Lon says the source of Green River is Joy in the Hills,” asserted the Senator, smiling.
The long, lean cow-puncher grinned. “Steve, here, says the source of Green River is trouble.”
“Now, as a writin’ man, what would you say?” queried the Senator.
Bartley gazed at the label on the bottle under discussion. “Well, as a writer, I might say that it depends how far you travel up or down Green River. But as a mere individual enjoying the blessings of companionship, I should say, let’s experiment, judiciously.”
“Fetch a couple more glasses, Tom,” called the Senator.
After the essential formalities, Bartley pushed back his chair, crossed one leg over the other, and lighted a cigar. “I’m rather inclined toward that Joy in the Hills theory, just now,” he asserted.
“That’s all right,” said Lon Pelly. “Bein’ a little inclined don’t hurt any. But if you keep on reachin’ for Joy, your foot is like to slip. Then comes Trouble.”
“Lon’s qualified for the finals once or twice,” said the Senator. “Now, take me, for a horrible example. I been navigatin’ Green River, off and on, for quite a spell, and I never got hung up bad.”
“Speaking of rivers, they’re rather scarce in this country, I believe,” said Bartley.
“Yes. But some of ’em are noticeable in the rainy season,” stated Senator Steve. “But you ain’t seen Arizona. You’ve only been peekin’ through your fingers at her. Wait till you get on a cayuse and hit the trail for a few hundred miles—that’s the only way to see the country. Now, take ‘Cheyenne.’ He rides this here country from Utah to the border, and he can tell you somethin’ about Arizona.