In his last year at college Ogilvy’s father, a well-known railroad magnate, had come a disastrous cropper in the stock market, thus throwing Buck upon his own resources and cutting short his college career—which was probably the very best thing that could happen to his father’s son. For a brief period—perhaps five minutes—Buck had staggered under the blow; then his tremendous optimism had asserted itself, and while he packed his trunk, he had planned for the future. As to how that future had developed, the reader will have gleaned some slight idea from the information imparted in his letter to Bryce Cardigan, already quoted. In a word, Mr. Ogilvy had had his ups and downs.
Ogilvy’s return to Sequoia following his three-weeks tour in search of rights of way for the N. C. O. was heralded by a visit from him to Bryce Cardigan at the latter’s office. As he breasted the counter in the general office, Moira McTavish left her desk and came over to see what the visitor desired.
“I should like to see Mr. Bryce Cardigan,” Buck began in crisp businesslike accents. He was fumbling in his card-case and did not look up until about to hand his card to Moira—when his mouth flew half open, the while he stared at her with consummate frankness. The girl’s glance met his momentarily, then was lowered modestly; she took the card and carried it to Bryce.
“Hum-m-m!” Bryce grunted. “That noisy fellow Ogilvy, eh?”
“His clothes are simply wonderful—and so is his voice. He’s very refined. But he’s carroty red and has freckled hands, Mr. Bryce.”
Bryce rose and sauntered into the general office.
“Mr. Bryce Cardigan?” Buck queried politely, with an interrogative lift of his blond eyebrows.
“At your service, Mr. Ogilvy. Please come in.”
“Thank you so much, sir.” He followed Bryce to the latter’s private office, closed the door carefully behind him, and stood with his broad back against it.
“Buck, are you losing your mind?” Bryce demanded.
“Losing it? I should say not. I’ve just lost it.”
“I believe you. If you were quite sane, you wouldn’t run the risk of being seen entering my office.”
“Tut-tut, old dear! None of that! Am I not the main-spring of the Northern California Oregon Railroad and privileged to run the destinies of that soulless corporation as I see fit?” He sat down, crossed his long legs, and jerked a speckled thumb toward the outer office. “I was sane when I came in here, but the eyes of the girl outside—oh, yow, them eyes! I must be introduced to her. And you’re scolding me for coming around here in broad daylight. Why, you duffer, if I come at night, d’ye suppose I’d have met her? Be sensible.”
“You like Moira’s eyes, eh?”
“I’ve never seen anything like them. Zounds, I’m afire. I have little prickly sensations, like ants running over me. How can you be insensate enough to descend to labour with an houri like that around? Oh, man! To think of an angel like that working—to think of a brute like you making her work!”