“I’m goin’ to take you up to the hotel, ma’am,” said Tom Osby, after Constance had finished her third breakfast, “and then, after that, I’m goin’ to take Dan Anderson back home to Heart’s Desire. We’ll see you up there after a while.
“One thing I want to tell you, ma’am, is this. We’ve got along without a railroad, all right, and we ain’t tearin’ our clothes to have one now. If that railroad does get into our town, it’s more’n half likely that it’ll be because the boys has took a notion to you. I never did see you before this mornin’; but the folks has told me about you—Curly’s wife, you know, and the rest. We’d like to have you live there, if only we thought the town was good enough for you. It’s been mostly for men, so far.”
THE GROUND FLOOR AT HEART’S DESIRE
Proposing Certain Wonders of Modern Progress, as wrought by Eastern Capital and Able Corporation Counsel
Tom Osby and Constance walked up the trail toward the hotel, and Dan Anderson from a distance saw them pass. He watched the gray gown move through sun and shadow, until it was lost beyond the thickening boles of mountain pines. She turned once and looked back, but he dared not appropriate the glance to himself, although it seemed to him that he must rise and follow, that he must call out to her. She had been there, close to him. He had felt the very warmth of her hand near to his own. There flamed up in his soul the fierce male jealousy. He turned to this newcomer, this man of the States, successful, strong, fortunate. In his soul was ready the ancient challenge.
But—the earth being as it is to-day, a compromise, and love being dependent upon property, and chastity upon chattels, and the stars of the Universe upon farthing dips—though aching to rise and follow the gray gown, to snatch its wearer afar and away into a sweet wild forest all their own, Dan Anderson must sit silent, and plan material ways to bring the gray gown back again to his eyes according to the mandates of our society. Because the gray gown was made in the States, he must forget the lesson of Curly and the Littlest Girl. Because the wearer of the gown lived in the States, he must pull down in ruins the temple of Heart’s Desire. Such is the sweet logic of these days of modern progress, that independence, friendship, faith, all must yield if need be; even though, and after all, man but demands that himself and the woman whom he has sought out from all the world may one day be savage and sweet, ancient and primitive, even as have been all others who have loved indeed, in city or in forest, from the beginning of the world.
“As Mr. Ellsworth has told me,” went on Porter Barkley, “you are an able man, Mr. Anderson,—far too able to be buried down here in a mountain mining town.”
“Thank you,” said Dan Anderson, sweetly; “that’s very nice of you.”