He looked at her silently. “Oh, I know who you come to see,” asserted the Littlest Girl, “and I don’t blame you. It’s time you did, too.”
Without a word he turned and walked with her up the street, there to miss Constance by three moments, which, potentially, might have been a life-time.
JUSTICE AT HEART’S DESIRE
The Story of a Sheriff and Some Bad Men; showing also a Day’s Work, and a Man’s Medicine
“Dad, you’ve been drinking!” burst out Constance as her father met her at the door of Curly’s house. She had heard footsteps, and hastened to meet the visitor. Perhaps it was disappointment, perhaps indignation with herself that she had listened, that she had waited, which caused her to greet her parent with such asperity.
“You wrong me, daughter!” protested Mr. Ellsworth, solemnly; “only took one or two little ones, to celebrate the saving of the twin. You’ve made a great hit with those people over there. They’d all celebrate, if there was anything to drink. I had to stock the Lone Star myself out of my valise. They won’t have anything in till Tom Osby comes.
“I say,” he resumed, taking his daughter’s arm with genial gallantry as they stepped out into the sunlight together, “these people are not so bad. They’re warming up right along now. If you and I could stay here awhile, we’d get along with ’em all right—better understanding all around.”
Her face brightened. “Then you don’t give up the railroad?”
“No; by no means. I never give up a thing I want. Besides, I wouldn’t mind coming here to live for a while. The climate’s glorious.”
“You live here? You’d look well in a wide hat and a blue shirt, wouldn’t you, dad?”
“More irreverence! Of course I’d look well. And it’s worth something to eat the way I do here. I’m getting better every day. Why, they tell me no one has died out here in a hundred years. A man can eat anything from cactus to sole leather, and keep hearty. I saw a lot of fellows over there just now, sitting flat on the ground in the sun out in the middle of the street, eating dried beef and canned tomatoes, and they looked so happy that I sat down and took a bite with them. They are just travelling through,—sheriff’s party from somewhere, going somewhere after somebody.”
“What’s that, Mr. Ellsworth?” the woman from Kansas came out and inquired; for she knew better than he what that meant. “Sheriff? Was he a tall, slim man, longish mustache, sorter thin?”
Ellsworth nodded; the woman wiped her hands on her blue-checked apron. Constance glanced at her serious face, and wondered.
“Then it’s Ben Stillson,” the woman from Kansas said, “the sheriff of Blanco. He’s after somebody. Did he summons any of our men along?”
“I don’t know, madam,” answered Ellsworth. The woman said no more; she only watched and listened.