He seated himself on the blanketed bed, and picked up the newspaper which he had brought home with him. He gazed long and steadily at it before he tore it across and flung it on the floor. It held more news than he had given to Tom Osby. In brief, there was a paragraph which announced the arrival in town of Mr. John Ellsworth, President of the new A. P. and S. E. Railway, his legal counsel, Mr. Porter Barkley, also of New York, and Miss Constance Ellsworth. This party was bound for Sky Top, where business of importance would in all likelihood be transacted, as Mr. Ellsworth expected to meet there the engineers on the location of the road.
“I ought not to go,” said Dan Anderson to himself, over and over again. “I must not go . . . But I’m going!”
OPERA AT HEART’S DESIRE
Telling how Two Innocent Travellers by mere Chance collided with a Side-tracked Star
Many miles of sand and silence lay between Heart’s Desire and Sky Top, by the winding trail over the high plateau and in among the foot-hills of the Sacramentos. The silence was unbroken by any music from the “heavenly maid,” which lay disused beneath the wagon seat; nor did the two occupants of Tom Osby’s freight wagon often emerge from the reticence habitual in a land where spaces were vast, men infrequent, and mountains ever looking down. The team of gnarled gray horses kept on their steady walk, hour after hour, and day after day; and bivouac after bivouac lay behind them, marked by the rude heap of brush piled up at night as an excuse for shelter against the wind or by the tiny circle of ashes where had been a small but sufficient fire. At last the line of the bivouacs ended, far up toward the crest of the heavily timbered Sacramentos, after a weary climb through miles of mountain canons.
“We’ll stop at the lowest spring,” said Tom Osby, who knew the country of old. “That’ll leave us a half mile or so from where they’ve built their fool log hotel. It beats the dickens how these States folks, that lives in cities, is always tryin’ to imertate some other way of livin’. Why didn’t they build it out of boards? They’ve got a saw-mill, blame ’em, and they’re cuttin’ off all the timber in these mountings; but they got to have logs to build their house with. Folks that builds real log houses, and not toys, does it because they ain’t got no boards. But these States folks always was singerler.”
By this time Tom Osby was unhitching and feeding his team, and throwing out the blanket rolls upon the ground. “Go easy on the ‘Annie Laurie’ machine there,” called out Dan Anderson, hearing a suspicious rattling of brass against the wagon box. But his companion heeded him little, casting the phonograph at the foot of a tree, where the great horn swung wide, disconsolately.
“A imertation,” said Tom, “is like I was just sayin’. It ain’t the real thing.