But Dave walked on mountain-tops tipped with mellow gold. He threw off the weight that had oppressed his spirits for years and was for the hour a boy again. She had exorcised the gloom in which he walked. He looked down on a magnificent flaming desert, and it was good. To-day was his. To-morrow was his. All the to-morrows of the world were in his hand. He refused to analyze the causes of his joy. It was enough that beside him moved with charming diffidence the woman of his dreams, that with her soft hands she had torn down the barrier between them.
“And now I don’t know whether I’ve done right,” she said ruefully. “Dad warned me I’d better be careful. But of course I always know best. I ‘rush in.’”
“You’ve done me a million dollars’ worth of good. I needed some good friend to tell me just what you have. Please don’t regret it.”
“Well, I won’t.” She added, in a hesitant murmur, “You won’t—misunderstand?”
His look turned aside the long-lashed eyes and brought a faint flush of pink to her cheeks.
“No, I’ll not do that,” he said.
DAVE BECOMES AN OFFICE MAN
From Graham came a wire a week after the return of the oil expert to Denver. It read:
Report satisfactory. Can you come at once and arrange with me plan of organization?
Sanders was on the next train. He was still much needed at Malapi to look after getting supplies and machinery and to arrange for a wagon train of oil teams, but he dropped or delegated this work for the more important call that had just come.
His contact with Graham uncovered a new side of the state builder, one that was to impress him in all the big business men he met. They might be pleasant socially and bear him a friendly good-will, but when they met to arrange details of a financial plan they always wanted their pound of flesh. Graham drove a hard bargain with him. He tied the company fast by legal control of its affairs until his debt was satisfied. He exacted a bonus in the form of stock that fairly took the breath of the young man with whom he was negotiating. Dave fought him round by round and found the great man smooth and impervious as polished agate.
Yet Dave liked him. When they met at lunch, as they did more than once, the grizzled Westerner who had driven a line of steel across almost impassable mountain passes was simple and frank in talk. He had taken a fancy to this young fellow, and he let him know it. Perhaps he found something of his own engaging, dogged youth in the strong-jawed range-rider.
“Does a financier always hogtie a proposition before he backs it?” Dave asked him once with a sardonic gleam in his eye.
“No matter how much he trusts the people he’s doing business with?”
“He binds them hard and fast just the same. It’s the only way to do. Give away as much money as you want to, but when you loan money look after your security like a hawk.”