On a day when Bryce’s mind happened to be occupied with thoughts of Shirley Sumner, he bumped into her on the main street of Sequoia, and to her great relief but profound surprise, he paused in his tracks, lifted his hat, smiled, and opened his mouth to say something— thought better of it, changed his mind, and continued on about his business. As Shirley passed him, she looked him squarely in the face, and in her glance there was neither coldness nor malice.
Bryce felt himself afire from heels to hair one instant, and cold and clammy the next, for Shirley spoke to him.
“Good morning, Mr. Cardigan.”
He paused, turned, and approached her. “Good morning, Shirley,” he replied. “How have you been?”
“I might have been dead, for all the interest you took in me,” she replied sharply. “As matters stand, I’m exceedingly well—thank you. By the way, are you still belligerent?”
He nodded. “I have to be.”
“Still peeved at my uncle?”
Again he nodded.
“I think you’re a great big grouch, Bryce Cardigan,” she flared at him suddenly. “You make me unutterably weary.”
“I’m. sorry,” he answered, “but just at present I am forced to subject you to the strain. Say a year from now, when things are different with me, I’ll strive not to offend.”
“I’ll not be here a year from now,” she warned him. He bowed. “Then I’ll go wherever you are—and bring you back.” And with a mocking little grin, he lifted his hat and passed on.
Though Buck Ogilvy was gone from Sequoia for a period of three weeks, he was by no means forgotten. His secretary proved to be an industrious press-agent who by mail, telegraph, and long-distance telephone managed daily to keep the editor of the Sequoia Sentinel fully apprised of all developments in the matter of the Northern California Oregon Railroad Company—including some that had not as yet developed! The result was copious and persistent publicity for the new railroad company, and the arousing in the public mind of a genuine interest in this railroad which was to do so much for the town of Sequoia.
Colonel Seth Pennington was among those who, skeptical at first and inclined to ridicule the project into an early grave, eventually found himself swayed by the publicity and gradually coerced into serious consideration of the results attendant upon the building of the road. The Colonel was naturally as suspicious as a rattlesnake in August; hence he had no sooner emerged from the ranks of the frank scoffers than his alert mind framed the question:
“How is this new road—improbable as I know it to be—going to affect the interests of the Laguna Grande Lumber Company, if the unexpected should happen and those bunco-steerers should actually build a road from Sequoia to Grant’s Pass, Oregon, and thus construct a feeder to a transcontinental line?”