Keller laughed grimly, and spoke aloud to himself, after the manner of one who lives much alone.
“There’s a nice young man—yellow clear through. Queer thing she could ever have fancied him. But I don’t know, either. He’s a right good looker, and has lots of cheek; that goes a long way with girls. Likely he was mighty careful before her. And he’d not been brought up against the acid test, then.”
His roving eyes took in with disgust the stains of tobacco juice plastered all over the clean surface of the rocks.
“I’ll bet a doughnut she never knew he chewed. Didn’t know it myself till now. Well, a man lives and learns. Buck Weaver told me he came on a dead cow of his just after the rustlers had left. Fire still smoldering. Tobacco stains still wet on the rocks. And one of the horses had a hind hoof that left a blurred trail. Surely looks like Mr. Tom Dixon is headed for the pen mighty fast.”
He turned and strolled back to the house, smiling to himself.
A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION
Breakfast finished, Weaver cast about for some diversion to help him pass the time.
This room, alone of those he had seen in the house, seemed to reflect something of the teacher’s dainty personality. There were some framed prints on the walls—cheap, but, on the whole, well selected. The rugs were in subdued brown tints that matched well the pretty wall paper. To the cattleman, it was pathetic that the girl had done so much with such frugal means to her hand. For plainly her meagre efforts were circumscribed by the purse limitation.
Ranging over the few books in the stand, he selected a volume of verse by Markham, and, turning the leaves aimlessly, chanced on “A Satyr Song.”
I know by the stir of the
The way she went;
And at times I can see where a stem
Of the grass is bent.
She’s the secret and light of my life,
She allures to elude;
But I follow the spell of her beauty,
Whatever the mood.
“Knows what he’s talking about—some poet, that fellow,” Buck cried aloud to himself, for it seemed to him that the Californian had put into words his own feeling. He read on avidly, from one poem to another, lost in his discovery.
It was perhaps an hour later that he came back to a realization of a gnawing desire. He wanted a pipe, and the need was an insistent one. It was of no use to argue with himself. He surely had to have one smoke. Longingly he fingered his pipe, filled it casually with the loose tobacco in his coat pocket, and balanced the pros and cons in his mind. From behind the window curtain he examined the plaza.
“Not a soul in sight. Don’t believe there’s a man about the place. No risk at all, looks to me.”
With that, he swept the match to a flame, and lit the pipe. He sat close to the open window, so that the smoke could drift out without his being seen.