Far up on the flank of Carrizo he sat and looked down upon the little straggling town in the valley below. These hills, he thought, with all their treasures, were to be sold and purchased for a price, for a treasure greater than all their worth,—the hand of the woman whom he loved. She had consented to the bargain. She had been true to the States, and not to Heart’s Desire. She had been true to her class, and not to him, who had left her class. She had been true to her sex, and not to him, her unready lover. Ah, he had not deserved her remembrance; but still she ought to have remembered him! He had not been worthy of her, but still she ought to have loved him! He had offered her nothing, he had evaded her, shunned her, slighted her—but in spite of that she ought to have waited for him, and to have loved him through all, and believed in him in spite of all!
He sat, befooled and befuddled, arguing, accusing, denying, doubting, until he knew not where treachery began or faith had ended. It was late when he descended the mountain and walked dully down the street.
All this time Constance, in ignorance of everything except the absolute truth, sat in the meagre room of the little stone hotel. She wondered if there would ever be any change in her manner of life, if there would ever be anything but this continuous following of her father from one commercial battle into another. She wondered why Dan Anderson did not come. Surely he was here. Surely his business was with his employers; and more surely than all, and in spite of all, his place was here with her; because her heart cried out for him. In spite of all, he was her heart’s desire. Why did he not come?
She arose, her hands clenched; she hated him, as much as she had longed for him.
THE MEETING AT HEART’S DESIRE
How Benevolent Assimilation was checked by Unexpected Events
There are two problems in life, and only two: food and love. Civilization offers us no more, nor indeed does barbarism; for civilization and barbarism are not far apart. The great metropolis which sent its emissaries out to the little mountain hamlet never held within its teeming confines any greater or graver questions than those which were now to come before the town meeting of Heart’s Desire.
Down at the stone hotel of Uncle Jim Brothers the tables had been cleared away to make room for this event, the first of its kind ever known in that valley. Heretofore there had been no covenant among these men, no law save that which lay in leather on each man’s thigh. It was a land of the individual; and a sweeter land than that for a man was never known in all the world. Now these men were coming together to debate what we call a great question, but what is really a small question—that of an organization under the laws of what is denominated civilization; that compact which the world devised long ago, when first man’s flocks and herds became of value, and against which the world has since then rebelled, and ever will rebel, until there is no longer any world remaining, nor any worth the name of man.