Hence, when the comfortable arrangement with the pipe trust threatened to miscarry, all he did was to urge Vincent to hasten the day when Miss Dabney’s stock could be utilized as a Farley asset. Pressed for particular reasons, he turned it off lightly. A young man in the fever of ante-nuptial expectancy was a mere pawn in the business game: let it be over and done with, so that the nominal treasurer of Chiawassee Limited could once more become the treasurer in fact.
Whereupon Vincent, who rode badly at best, bought a new saddle-horse and took his place at Miss Dabney’s whip-hand in the early morning rides, the place formerly filled by Tom Gordon,—which was not the part of wisdom, one would say. Contrasts are pitiless things; and the wary woman-hunter will break new paths rather than traverse those already broken by his rival.
Tom, meanwhile, had apparently relapsed into his former condition of disinterest, and was once more spending his days on the mountain, seemingly bent on effacing himself socially, as he had been effaced business-wise by the Farley overturn.
A week or more after the relapse, as he was crossing the road leading over the mountain’s shoulder, he came on the morning riders walking their horses toward Paradise, and saw trouble in Miss Dabney’s eyes, and on Farley’s impassive face a mask of sullen anger.
When they were out of sight and hearing, Tom sat on a flat stone by the roadside with his gun between his knees, thoughtfully speculative. Were the high gods invoked in the midnight conference at the Marlboro beginning to point the finger of fate at these two? He was malevolent enough to hope so, and in the comfort of the hope, walked many miles that day through the forests of crimson and gold showering with falling leaves.
Whatever their influence in the field of sentiment, undeniably in that of fact the high gods were imposing Sisyphean labors on Mr. Duxbury Farley.
With the negotiations for the sale to the trust so abruptly terminated, the promoter-president set instant and anxious inquiry afoot to determine the cause. It was soon revealed; and when Mr. Farley found that the pipe-pit patents had not been transferred with the Gordon plant, and that Major Dabney had given Caleb Gordon a power of attorney over Ardea’s stock in the company, there were hard words said in the town offices of Messrs. Trewhitt and Slocumb, Chiawassee attorneys, and a torrent of persuasive ones poured into the Major’s ear—the latter pointing to the crying necessity for the revocation of the power of attorney, summarily and at once.
The Major proved singularly obstinate and non-committal. “Mistah Caleb Gordon is my friend, suh, and I was mighty proud to do him this small faveh. What his object is makes no manneh of diffe’ence to me, suh; no manneh of diffe’ence, whateveh,” was all an anxious promoter could get out of the old autocrat of Deer Trace. But Mr. Farley did not desist; neither did he fail to keep the telegraph wires to New York heated to incandescence with his appeals for a renewal of the negotiations for surrender.