[Illustration: “’Something has got to be did, and did mighty blame quick.’”]
THE CONSPIRACY AT HEART’S DESIRE
This being the Story of a Sheepherder, Two Warm Personal Friends, and their Love-letter to a Beautiful Queen
When Tom Osby came back to Heart’s Desire, he drew Curly to one side, and the two walked over to a shady spot at the side of Whiteman’s corral, seating themselves for what was evidently to be an executive session.
Tom Osby continued to stuff tobacco into his pipe with a stubby forefinger, and Curly’s hat was pushed back from a forehead wrinkled in deep thought.
“It’s a good deal like you say, Tom,” he assented; “I know that. Unless we can get Dan Anderson and that girl to some sort of an understandin’, the jig’s up, and there ain’t a-goin’ to be no railroad at Heart’s Desire. But how’re you a-goin’ to do that?”
“Well, I done told you what I thought,” said Tom Osby. “I’m a married man, been married seven times, or maybe six. There’s just two things I understand, and them is horses and women, which I ought to, from associatin’ with them constant. Now, I tell you, if I’m any judge of women, that girl thinks a heap of Dan Anderson, no matter what she lets on. It’s her that’s got the railroad up her sleeve. The old man just thinks she’s a tin angel with fresh paint. Why, he’s done give her the whole railroad. He don’t want it. He’s got money now that’s sinful. Now, I say, she’s got the railroad. Dan Andersen’s chances, they go with the railroad. If she could just get him to go with the business chances, that’d about fix things; and I more’n half believe she’d drop into line right free and gentle.”
“Well, why don’t she say so, then,” grumbled Curly, “and stop this foolishness?”
“Now there you go!” replied Tom. “Can’t you see that any woman on earth, even a married woman, is four-thirds foolishness and the rest human? With girls it’s still worse’n that. If I’m any judge, she’s wishin’ a certain feller’d come along and shake the tree. But she ain’t goin’ to fall off until the tree’s done shook. Consequently, there she is, still up the tree, and our railroad with her.”
“Looks like he ought to make the first break,” observed Curly, sagely.
“Of course he ought. But will he, that’s the question.”
“No, he won’t,” admitted Curly, pushing his hat still farther back on his head. “He’s took his stand, and done what he allowed was right. After that, he ain’t built to crawfish. He’s passed up the girl, and the railroad, too, and I reckon that settles it.”
“And yet he thinks a heap of the girl.”
“Natural? Of course he does. How can he help it? That’s where the trouble is. I tell you, Tom, these here things is sort of personal. If these two folks is havin’ trouble of their own, why, it’s their trouble, and it ain’t for us to square it, railroad or no railroad.”