A B C D E F
G H I J K L M 

Total read books on site:
more than 10 000

You can read its for free!


Text on one page: Few Medium Many
If I was you, I'd go out and see some of these
real-estate fellers; they most always know what's going on."

"That's a good idea; much obliged. I'll tackle 'em to-morrow," said
Arthur, and he went off to bed, feeling victory almost a tame bird in
his hands.

The next forenoon he made his first attempt. He had determined on his
speech, and he went into the first office with his song on his lips.

"I'm looking for a place on a dairy farm; I've had five years' practical
experience, and am a graduate of the ---- Agricultural College. I'm
after the position of bookkeeper and foreman."

The man looked at him gravely.

"You're aiming pretty high, young feller, for this country. There are
plenty of chances to work, punching cattle, but I don't think chances
are good for a foreman's place." He was a kindly man, and repented when
he saw how the young man's face fell. "However, I'll give you some names
of people to see."

On the whole, this was not so depressing, Arthur thought.

The next man made a mistake and took him for an investor. He rose with
great cordiality.

"Ah, good morning, sir--good morning! Have a chair. Just in? Do you feel
the draft there? Oh, all right!" Then he settled himself in his swivel
chair and beamed his warmest. "Well, what do you think of our charming
town?"

Arthur had not the heart to undeceive him, and so, saturated in agony
sweat, crawled out at last, and went timidly on to the third man, who
was kindly and interested in a way, and gave him the names of some
ranchers likely to hire a hand. Some days passed in this sort of search
and resulted in nothing materially valuable, but a strong quality came
out in his nature. Defeat seemed to put a grim sort of resolution into
his soul.

Following faint clews, Ramsey made long walks into the country, toiling
from ranch to ranch over the dun-colored, lonely hills, dogged,
persistent, with lips set grimly.

He was returning late one afternoon from one of these fruitless
journeys. It was one of those strange days that come in all seasons at
that altitude. The air was full of suspended mist--it did not rain, the
road was almost dry under foot, and yet this all-pervasive moisture
seemed soaking everything. It was, in fact, a cloud, for this whole land
was a mountain top.

The road wound among shapeless buttes of red soil, the plain was clothed
on its levels with a short, dry grass, and on the side of the buttes
were scattering, scraggy cedars, looking at a distance like droves of
cattle.

He sat down upon a little hummock to rest, for his feet ached with the
long stretches of hilly road. The larks cried to him out of the mist,
with their piercing sweet notes, cheerful and undaunted ever. There was
a sudden lighting up of the day, as if the lark's song had shot the mist
with silver light.

As he rose and started on with painful slowness, he heard the sound of
horses' hoofs behind him, and a man in a yellow cart came swiftly out of
the gray obscurity.

Arthur stepped aside to let him pass, but he could not help limping a
little more markedly as the man looked at him. The man seemed to
understand.

"Will you ride?" he asked.

Arthur glanced up at him and nodded without speaking. The stranger was a
fine-looking man, with a military cut of beard, getting gray. His face
was ruddy and smiling.

"Thank you. I am rather tired," Arthur said, as he settled into the
seat. "I guess I'll have to own up, I'm about played out."

"I thought you looked foot-sore. I'm enough of a Western man to feel
mean when I pass a man on the road. A footman can get very tired on
these stretches of ours."

"I've tramped about forty miles to-day, I guess. I'm trying to find some
work to do," he added, in desperate confidence.

"Is that so? What kind of work?"

"Well, I wanted to get a place as foreman on a ranch."

"I'm afraid that's too much to expect."

Arthur sighed.

"Yes, I suppose it is. If I'd known as much two weeks ago as I do now, I
wouldn't be here."

"Oh, don't get discouraged; there's plenty of work to do. I can give you
something to do on my place."

"Well, I've come to the conclusion that there is nothing here for me but
the place of a common hand, so if you can give me anything----"

"Oh, yes, I can give you something to do in my garden. Perhaps something
better will open up later. Where are you staying?" he asked, as they
neared town.

Arthur told him, and the man drove him down to his hotel.

"I'd like to have you call at my office to-morrow morning; my partner
does most of the hiring. I've been living in Denver. Here's my card."

After he had driven away, the listening landlord broke forth:

"You're in luck, Cap. If you get a place with Major Thayer you're
fixed."

"Who is he, anyhow?"

"Who is he? Why, he owns all the land up the creek, and banks all over
Colorado."

"Is that so?"

Arthur was delighted. Of course, it was only a common hand's place, but
here was the vista he had looked for--here was the chance.

He stretched his legs under the table in huge content as he ate his
supper. His youthful imagination had seized upon this slender wire of
promise and was swiftly making it a hoop of diamonds.


II.

When he entered the office next day, however, the Major merely nodded to
him over the railing and said:

"Good morning. Take a seat, please."

He seemed deeply engaged with a tall young man of about thirty-five
years of age, with a rugged, smooth-shaven face. The young man spoke
with a marked English accent, and there was a quality in his manner of
speech which appealed very strongly to Arthur.

"Confeound the fellow," the young Englishman was saying, "I've
discharged him. I cawn't re-engage him, ye kneow! We cawn't have a man
abeout who gets drunk, y' kneow--it's too bloody proveoking, Majah."

"But the poor fellow's family, Saulisbury."

"Oh, hang the fellow's family," laughed Saulisbury. "We are not a
poorhouse, y' kneow--or a house for inebriates. I confess I deon't mind
these things as you do, old man. I'm a Britisher, y' kneow, and I
haven't got intristed in your bloody radicalism, y' kneow. I'm in for
Sam Saulisbury 'from the word go,' as you fellows say."

"And you don't get along any better--I mean in a money way."

"I kneow, and that's too deuced queeah. Your blawsted sentimentality
seems note to do you any harm. Still I put it in this way, y' kneow--if
he weren't so deadly sentimental, what couldn't the fellow do, y'
kneow?"

The Major laughed.

"Well, I can't turn Jackson off, even for you."

"Well, deon't do it then--only if he gets drunk agine and drops a match
into the milk can, fancy! and blows us all up, deon't come back on me,
that's all."

They both laughed at this, and the Major said:

"This is the young man I told you about, Mr.--a----"

"Ramsey is my name," said Arthur, rising.

"Mr. Ramsey, this is my partner, Mr. Saulisbury."

"Haow de do," said Saulisbury, with a nod and a glance, which made
Arthur hot with wrath, coming as it did after the talk he had heard.
Saulisbury did not take the trouble to rise. He merely swung round on
his swivel chair and eyed the young stranger.

Arthur was not thick-skinned, and he had been struck for the first time
by the lash of caste, and it raised a welt.

He choked with his rage and stood silent, while Saulisbury looked him
over, and passed upon his good points, as if he were a horse. There was
something in the lazy lift of his eyebrows which maddened Arthur.

"He looks a decent young fellow enough; I suppeose he'll do to try,"
Saulisbury said at last, with cool indifference. "I'll use him, Majah."

"By Heaven, you won't!" Arthur burst out. "I wouldn't work for you at
any price."

He turned on his heel and rushed out.

He heard the Major calling to him as he went down the stairs, but
refused to turn back. The tears of impotent rage filled his eyes, his
fists strained together, and the curses pushed slowly from his lips. He
wished he had leaped upon his insulter where he sat--the smooth, smiling
hound!

He was dizzy with rage. For the first time in his life he had been
trampled upon, and could not, at least he had not, struck his assailant.

As he stood on the street-corner thinking of these things and waiting
for the mist of rage to pass from his eyes, he felt a hand on his arm,
and turned to Major Thayer, standing by his side.

"Look here, Ramsey, you mustn't mind Sam. He's an infernal Englishman,
and can't understand our way of meeting men. He didn't mean to hurt your
feelings."

Arthur looked down at him silently, and there was a look in his eyes
which went straight to the Major's heart.

"Come, Ramsey, I want to give you a place. Never mind this. You will
really be working for me, anyhow."

Saulisbury himself came down the stairs and approached them, putting on
his gloves, and Arthur perceived for the first time that his eyes were
blue and very good-natured. Saulisbury cared nothing for the youth, but
felt something was due his partner.

"I hope I haven't done anything unpardonable," he began, with his
absurd, rising inflection.

Arthur flared up again.

"I wouldn't work for a man like you if I starved. I'm not a dog. You'll
find an American citizen won't knuckle down to you the way your English
peasants do. If you think you can come out here in the West and treat
men like dogs, you'll find yourself mighty mistaken, that's all!"

The men exchanged glances. This volcanic outburst amazed Saulisbury, but
the Major enjoyed it. It was excellent schooling for his English friend.

"Well, work for me, Mr. Ramsey. Sam knuckles down to me on most
questions. I hope I know how to treat my men. I'm trying to live up to
traditions, anyway."

"You'll admit it is a tradition," said Saulisbury, glad of a chance to
sidle away.

The Major dismissed Saulisbury with a move of the hand.

"Now get into my cart, Mr. Ramsey, and we'll go out to the farm and look
things over," he said; and Arthur clambered in.

"I can't blame you very much," the Major continued, after they were well
settled. "I've been trying lately to get into harmonious relations with
my employees, and I think I'm succeeding.



Pages: | Prev | | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | | 8 | | 9 | | 10 | | 11 | | 12 | | 13 | | 14 | | 15 | | 16 | | 17 | | 18 | | 19 | | 20 | | 21 | | 22 | | 23 | | 24 | | 25 | | 26 | | 27 | | 28 | | 29 | | 30 | | 31 | | 32 | | 33 | | 34 | | 35 | | 36 | | 37 | | 38 | | 39 | | Next |

N O P Q R S T
U V W X Y Z 

Your last read book:

You dont read books at this site.