“I don’t think you have left him any way of escape,” he said.
“No,” replied Grant; “we have got him tight. You had better come along to the auction—you’ll get notice of it—and see how the thing goes.”
George said that he would do so, and shortly afterward drove away. On reaching home he told Edgar what he had heard, and the lad listened with a thoughtful expression.
“One can’t doubt that Grant knows what he’s doing, but I’m not sure he’s wise,” he said. “Though Langside’s a regular slacker, he has a good many friends, and as a rule nobody has much sympathy with exacting creditors. Then it’s bound to come out that it was Grant who set the other fellows after Langside; and if he buys up much of the property at a low figure, the thing will look suspicious.”
“I tried to point that out.”
“And found you had wasted words? Grant would see it before you did, and it wouldn’t have the least effect on him. You wouldn’t expect that man to yield to popular opinion. Still, the thing will make trouble, though I shall not be sorry if it forces on a crisis.”
“I’m getting tired of these continual petty worries, and keeping a ceaseless lookout. I want to hit back.”
“You’ll no doubt get your chance. What about Miss Grant’s attitude?”
“She agreed with her father completely; I was a little surprised.”
“That was quite uncalled for,” said Edgar with a smile. “It looks as if you didn’t know the girl yet. These Westerners are a pretty grim people.”
George frowned at this, though he felt that there was some truth in what his companion said. On the whole, he was of the same mind as Grant; there were situations in which one must fearlessly take a drastic course.
“The sooner the trouble begins, the sooner it will be over,” he said. “One has now and then to run the risk of getting hurt.”
Langside’s farm was duly put up at auction, together with a valuable team which he hired out to his neighbors when he left the place, a few implements and a little rude furniture. The sale was held outside, and when George arrived upon the scene during the afternoon a row of light wagons and buggies stood behind the rickety shack, near which was an unsightly pile of broken crockery, discarded clothes and rusty provision cans. It was characteristic of Langside that he had not taken the trouble to carry them as far as the neighboring bluff. In front of the bluff, horses were picketed; along the side ran a strip of black soil, sprinkled with the fresh blades of wheat; and all round the rest of the wide circle the prairie stretched away under cloudless sunshine, flecked with brightest green.