A CATTLE DRIVE
George was summer fallowing, sitting in the iron saddle of a plow which a heavy Clydesdale team hauled through the stubble. The work should have been done earlier, for the soil on the Marston farm was very light, and, as it had already grown several crops of cereals, George was anxious to expose it to the influence of sun and wind as soon as possible. It was about the middle of the afternoon and very hot. Rounded cloud-masses overhung the plain, but dazzling sunshine fell on grass and stubble, and a haze of dust surrounded the team, while now and then the fine soil and sand, blown from the rest of the fallow by the fresh breeze, swept by in streams. George wore motor-goggles to protect his eyes, but his face and hands felt scorched and sore. Farther back, Edgar plodded behind a lighter team, making very poor progress.
Presently George looked up and saw Flora Grant riding toward him. She sat astride, but her skirt fell in becoming lines, and he thought the gray blouse and wide Stetson hat, with a red band round it, most effective. She reined up her horse near the plow, and George got down.
“I was passing—going on to Forsyth’s place—and my father asked me to call,” she said. “You were talking about buying cattle, and a man at Dunblane has some good Herefords to sell. Father thinks they would suit you.”
“His recommendation carries weight,” said George.
“I’ll go and see them. I must thank you for bringing me word.”
“I’ve another message. It’s this—when you’re buying stock, be cautious how you bid.”
“As I’m not well up in local prices, I wish Mr. Grant had been a little plainer.”
“He went farther than I expected. You see, as a friend of the seller, he’s awkwardly fixed.”
“Just so,” said George. “But, if you’re not in the same position, you might give me a hint. How much is the value of Canadian cattle usually below the price likely to be asked of a new arrival?”
“In this case, I should say about fifty per cent,” Flora answered, with a laugh.
“Thank you,” responded George. “I am sure your opinion’s to be relied on.”
Edgar stopped his team near by, and Flora regarded him with amusement as he came toward them, his red face streaked with dust.
“You look a good deal more like a western farmer than you did when I saw you last,” she laughed.
Edgar removed his goggles and surveyed his working attire somewhat disgustedly.
“I wonder whether that’s a compliment; but now that I’ve made the first plunge, I’d better go through with it—get a flappy hat and a black shirt, or one of those brilliant orange ones.”
“The latter are more decorative. But, as you are going on a two days’ journey to drive some cattle, I’ll tell you how to find the way.”