Deep silence greeted this. Tom reached forward and picked up a brand to light his pipe more thoroughly.
“I just want to thank you,” said he, “for comin’ along down here to take care of me.”
THE PRICE OF HEART’S DESIRE
Concerning Goods, their Value, and the Delivery of the Same
In the morning the travellers arose with the sun, and after breakfast Tom Osby began methodically to break camp as though preparing for the return up-country. Neither made reference to any event occurring since their arrival, or which might possibly occur in the near future. Dan Anderson silently watched his partner as he busied himself gearing up his horses. All was nearly ready for the start on their journey down the east side of the Sacramentos, when they heard afar a faint and wheezy squeak, the whistle of a railway train climbing up the opposite slope.
“There’s the choo-choo cars,” said Tom, “comin’ a-rarin’ and a-pitchin’. The ingine has to side-step and back-track about eight times to get up the grade. Didn’t notice my old grays a-doin’ that none, when we come up, did you? I’m the railroad for our town, and I’ve got that one beat to a frazzle. Now listen to that thing, Dan; that’s the States comin’ to find us out.” Dan Anderson made no reply.
“Well, let her come,” Tom resumed cheerfully; “I come from Georgy, and in that country, it ain’t considered perlite to worry if you’ve got one square meal ahead. Which, by the way, reminds me that that’s about all we’ve got ahead now. You just set here with the team a while, while I take a pasear down the canon to see if I can get a deer for supper to-night. I hope the old railroad ain’t scared ’em all away. Besides, we might as well stay here for a hour or so anyway, now, and see what the news is, since the cars has got in.”
He tapped the muzzle of his old rifle against the wagon wheel to shake out the dust, and then took a squint into the barrel. “I can see through her,” he said, “or any ways, halfway through, and I reckon she’ll go off.” Next he poked the magazine full of cartridges, and so tramped off down the mountain side.
Dan Anderson sat down on a bundle of bedding, and fell into a half dream in the warm morning sun. There was time even yet for him to escape, he reflected. He had but to step into the wagon, and drive on down the canon. Constance Ellsworth—if indeed it were true that she had come again so near to him—need never know that he had been there. How could he learn if she had indeed come? How could he ever face her now? Surely she could never understand. She could only despise him. Dan Anderson sat, irresolute, staring at the breakfast dishes piled near the mess-box ready for packing.