“Then who done et the legs?”
“That,” said Dan Anderson, “brings me again to the position which I enunciated this morning. In these modern days of engineers, mining companies, parrots, and twins, the structure of our civilization is so complex as to require the services of a highly intelligent corporation counsel. You ask who ate the candy ornament, representation, or image formerly existent on your premises. I reply that in all likelihood it was done by a corporation; but these matters must appear in court at a later time.”
“Well,” said McKinney, “it looks like the joke was on us.”
Dan Anderson smiled gravely. “In the opinion of myself and the consolidation which I represent,” said he, and he hugged the twins, who looked down frightened from his arms, “the joke is on Bill, the prisoner at the bar.”
The group would have separated, had it not been for a sudden exclamation from Curly. “Ouch!” cried that worthy, and cast from him the body of Bill. supposedly defunct. “He bit me again, blame him!” said Curly, sucking his thumb.
“If he bit you for true,” said McKinney, who was of a practical turn of mind, “like enough he ain’t been dead at all.”
Corroboration was not lacking. The prisoner at the bar, thrown violently upon the ground, now sat up, half leaning against a pinon log, and contemplated those present with a cynical and unfriendly gray eye.
“Now,” said Doc Tomlinson, regarding him, “you get him a few drugs, and he’ll be just as good as new, right soon.”
“All I got to say,” grumbled Curly, “is, for a thing that ain’t got no teeth, and that’s dead, both, he can bite a leetle the hardest of anything I ever did see.”
“Yet it is strange,” remarked Dan Anderson, “that the innocent bystander should sit up and take notice, after all. How are you feeling, friend?”
This to Bill, who was now faintly fanning a wing and ruffling up his yellow crest.
“I’m mighty tired,” said Bill.
“I don’t blame you,” remarked Dan Anderson, cheerfully, turning to put down Suzanne and Arabella safe within the door, “but as corporation counsel I am bound to protect the interests of my clients. Run, you kids!
“As to you, Curly,” he continued, “you represent, in your ignorance, ourselves and all Heart’s Desire. We have intrusted to us a candy palladium of liberty, which, being interpreted, means a man’s chance to be a grown man, with whiskers, in a free state of Heart’s Desire. What do we do then? Ask in a railroad corporation, and shut our eyes!”
“And a corporation,” said Curly, meditatively, “can be a shore cheerful performer.”
CIVILIZATION AT HEART’S DESIRE
How the Men of Heart’s Desire surrendered to the Softening Seductions of Croquet and other Pastimes
“Go on, Curly, it’s your next shot. Hurry up,” said McKinney, who was nervous.