Day followed day in an endless round of range duties, and two weeks had passed since Greek Conniston began work for the Half Moon outfit. He admitted to himself over many a solitary pipeful of cheap tobacco that Miss Argyl Crawford had been the reason for his coming out into the wilderness. And he asked himself what good his coming had done. He had not so much as caught a fleeting glimpse of her since her father had engaged him to go to work at thirty dollars a month. He did not even know that she was still on the range, that she had not gone to Crawfordsville, where her father had a house, where he owned the electric-lighting plant, the water system, and a general merchandise store, and where both father and daughter spent many weeks each year.
The range-house, although but a few hundred yards distant from the bunk-house, might as well have been in the next county. News from it seldom filtered to the men’s sleeping-quarters. The foreman, Brayley now, Bat Truxton before him, reported frequently to Mr. Crawford at his office in the big building, took orders from him there, advised with him. The other men went there only when they were sent for, and that was not more than half a dozen times yearly, when that many.
Conniston knew that Hapgood had stayed with the Crawfords two or three days, resting up, as he overheard Brayley say with a fine scorn, and that then he had gone on into Crawfordsville. Conniston supposed that by now he had borrowed money and, if not again in New York, was on his way thither. Of all else of the doings in the big house he was as ignorant as though he had never crossed the desert lands between the Half Moon and Indian Creek.
Conniston most of all men working for Mr. Crawford felt that he could not go to the house. He had come to these people as an equal, as one of their own station in life, even from a plane a bit higher than theirs. When he had gone to work he had not thought that he was to be put upon the same footing as every ignorant laborer who drew his pay from the owner of the Half Moon. He had thought that it would be a lark, that he would come to the house and laugh with the girl over his days of rubbing elbows with thirty-dollar-a-month men. That he would be, in a way, a guest.
Now it was evident that they had forgotten him, that if they thought of Conniston it was merely to remember that he was one of the common outfit. And Conniston’s pride told him that if they chose to ignore him, to look down upon him, to shut him out of their world socially, he could do equally as well without them. Which was all very well, but which did not in the least hinder him from dreaming dreams inhabited solely by a slender, lithe, graceful girl with big gray eyes like dawn skies in springtime.