More real were the persons who composed the party—whom they seemed to have always known—and who, in the innocent caprice of children, had become to them more actual than the dead had even been. There was Mr. Peyton, who they now knew owned the train, and who was so rich that he “needn’t go to California if he didn’t want to, and was going to buy a great deal of it if he liked it,” and who was also a lawyer and “policeman”—which was Susy’s rendering of “politician”—and was called “Squire” and “Judge” at the frontier outpost, and could order anybody to be “took up if he wanted to,” and who knew everybody by their Christian names; and Mrs. Peyton, who had been delicate and was ordered by the doctor to live in the open air for six months, and “never go into a house or a town agin,” and who was going to adopt Susy as soon as her husband could arrange with Susy’s relatives, and draw up the papers! How “Harry” was Henry Benham, Mrs. Peyton’s brother, and a kind of partner of Mr. Peyton. And how the scout’s name was Gus Gildersleeve, or the “White Crow,” and how, through his recognized intrepidity, an attack upon their train was no doubt averted. Then there was “Bill,” the stock herder, and “Texas Jim,” the vaquero—the latter marvelous and unprecedented in horsemanship. Such were their companions, as appeared through the gossip of the train and their own inexperienced consciousness. To them, they were all astounding and important personages. But, either from boyish curiosity or some sense of being misunderstood, Clarence was more attracted by the two individuals of the party who were least kind to him—namely, Mrs. Peyton and her brother Harry. I fear that, after the fashion of most children, and some grown-up people, he thought less of the steady kindness of Mr. Peyton and the others than of the rare tolerance of Harry or the polite concessions of his sister. Miserably conscious of this at times, he quite convinced himself that if he could only win a word of approbation from Harry, or a smile from Mrs. Peyton, he would afterwards revenge himself by “running away.” Whether he would or not, I cannot say. I am writing of a foolish, growing, impressionable boy of eleven, of whose sentiments nothing could be safely predicted but uncertainty.
It was at this time that he became fascinated by another member of the party whose position had been too humble and unimportant to be included in the group already noted. Of the same appearance as the other teamsters in size, habits, and apparel, he had not at first exhibited to Clarence any claim to sympathy. But it appeared that he was actually a youth of only sixteen—a hopeless incorrigible of St. Joseph, whose parents had prevailed on Peyton to allow him to join the party, by way of removing him from evil associations and as a method of reform. Of this Clarence was at first ignorant, not from any want of frankness on the part of the youth, for that ingenious young gentleman later informed him that he had killed three men in