“One line, Judge, one little line. What profit does your client want on that quarter-section?”
“That quarter-section is not in the market, Colonel. When it is, I’ll send for you, since you’re the only logical prospect should my client decide to sell. And remembering how you butted in on politics in this county last fall and provided a slush-fund to beat me and place a crook on the Superior Court bench, in order to give you an edge in the many suits you are always filing or having filed against you, I rise to remark that you have about ten split seconds in which to disappear from my office. If you linger longer, I’ll start throwing paper-weights.” And as if to emphasize his remark, the Judge’s hand closed over one of the articles in question.
The Colonel withdrew with what dignity he could muster.
Upon his return from the office that night, Bryce Cardigan found his father had left his bed and was seated before the library fire.
“Feeling a whole lot better to-day, eh, pal?” his son queried.
John Cardigan smiled. “Yes, son,” he replied plaintively. “I guess I’ll manage to live till next spring.”
“Oh, I knew there was nothing wrong with you, John Cardigan, that a healthy check wouldn’t cure. Pennington rather jolted you, though, didn’t he?”
“He did, Bryce. It was jolt enough to be forced to sell that quarter— I never expected we’d have to do it; but when I realize that it was a case of sacrificing you or my Giants, of course you won. And I didn’t feel so badly about it as I used to think I would. I suppose that’s because there is a certain morbid pleasure in a real sacrifice for those we love. And I never doubted but that Pennington would snap up the property the instant I offered to sell. Hence his refusal—in the face of our desperate need for money to carry on until conditions improve—almost floored your old man.”
“Well, we can afford to draw our breath now, and that gives us a fighting chance, partner. And right after dinner you and I will sit down and start brewing a pot of powerful bad medicine for the Colonel.”
“Son, I’ve been sitting here simmering all day.” There was a note of the old dominant fighting John Cardigan in his voice now. “And it has occurred to me that even if I must sit on the bench and root, I’ve not reached the point where my years have begun to affect my thinking ability.” He touched his leonine head.” I’m as right as a fox upstairs, Bryce.”
“Right-o, Johnny. We’ll buck the line together. After dinner you trot out your plan of campaign and I’ll trot out mine; then we’ll tear them apart, select the best pieces of each and weld them into a perfect whole.”
Accordingly, dinner disposed of, father and son sat down together to prepare the plan of campaign. For the space of several minutes a silence settled between them, the while they puffed meditatively upon their cigars. Then the old man spoke.