The girl herself was silent. She sat looking out over the street below, instinctively following Dan Anderson’s gaze. Voices came to them, clamorous, strident, coarse. There lay revealed all that was crude, all that was savage, all that was unlovable and impossible of Heart’s Desire. It had been a dream, but it was a man’s dream in which he had lived. For a woman—for her—for this sweet girl of a gentler world, that dream could be nothing else than hideous. “Be just! Be fair!” Dan Anderson’s soul demanded of him; and as best he saw justice and fairness to the woman he loved he answered for himself.
“Come,” said the girl, gently, rousing herself from the lassitude which suddenly assailed her, “we must go in.”
His face was averted as he walked beside her. There was no word that he could say. Accord being gone from all the universe, he could not know that in her heart, humbled and shamed as it was, she understood and in some part forgave.
“It has been very beautiful to-night,” she said, as he turned back at length from the door of Curly’s house.
Choking, he left her. As he stumbled blindly back, over the arroyo, there crossed on the heavens the long red line of a shooting star. Dully he watched it, and for him it was the flaming sword barring the gates of Eden.
Hours later—for sleep was not for him—Dan Anderson stood waiting for the sun to rise over old Carrizo. Far off, along the pathway of the morn, lay his former home, the States, the East, the fight, the combat, and the grovelling. “No, not for me; not there!” he said, conviction coming to him once more.
He turned then and glanced down the single street of Heart’s Desire, a street as straggling and purposeless as his own misdirected life—a wavering lane through the poor habitations of a Land of Oblivion. Longer he looked, and stronger the conviction grew. “No, no,” he said, clenching his hand; “not here for her—not here!”
THE CORPORATION AT HEART’S DESIRE
This being the Story of a Parrot, Certain Twins, and a Pair of Candy Legs
Time wore on at Heart’s Desire, uncalendared and unclocked. The sun rose, passed through a sky impenetrably blue, and sank behind Baxter Peak at evening. These were the main events of the day. All men had apparently long ago forgotten the departure of the stage-coach that had borne away at one voyaging both Eve and Eastern Capital. Eve had gone forever, as she supposed, although Capital secretly knew full well that it, at least, was coming back again.
The population shifted and changed, coming and going, as was the wont of the land, but none questioned the man booted and spurred who rode out of town or who came into town. Of late, however, certain booted and bearded men wandered afoot over the mountain sides, doing strange things with strange instruments. A railroad was about to cross the country somewhere. Grave and moody, Heart’s Desire sat in the sun, and for two months did not mention the subject which weighed upon its mind. Curly broke the silence one morning at a plebiscite of four men who gathered to bask near Whiteman’s corral.