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- The World For Sale, Volume 2. - 2/28 -
"That mare--she was all right."
"Yes, but what was the matter with her?"
"Oh, a spavin--she was all right when she got wound up--go like Dexter or Maud S."
"But if you were buying her what would you have paid for her, Jowett? Come now, man to man, as they say. How much did you pay for her?"
"About what she was worth, Chief, within a dollar or two."
"And what was she worth?"
"What I paid for her-ten dollars."
Then the two men looked at each other full in the eyes, and Jowett threw back his head and laughed outright--laughed loud and hard. "Well, you got me, Chief, right under the guard," he observed.
Ingolby did not laugh outright, but there was a bubble of humour in his eyes. "What happened to the watch?" he asked.
"I got rid of it."
"In a horse-trade?"
"No, I got a town lot with it."
"Well, sort of in Lebanon's back-yard."
"What's the lot worth now?"
"About two thousand dollars!"
"Was it your first town lot?"
"The first lot of Mother Earth I ever owned."
"Then you got a vote on it?"
"Yes, my first vote."
"And the vote let you be a town-councillor?"
"It and my good looks."
"Indirectly, therefore, you are a landowner, a citizen, a public servant, and an instrument of progress because of Felix Marchand. If you hadn't had the watch you wouldn't have had that town lot."
"Well, mebbe, not that lot."
Suddenly Ingolby got to his feet and squared himself, and his face became alight with purpose. His mind had come back from fishing, and he was ready now for action. His plans were formed. He was in for a fight, and he had made up his mind how, with the new information to his hand, he would develop his campaign further.
"You didn't make a fuss about the watch, Jowett. You might have gone to Felix Marchand or to his father and proved him a liar, and got even that way. You didn't; you got a corner lot with it. That's what I'm going to do. I can have Felix Marchand put in the jug, and make his old father, Hector Marchand, sick; but I like old Hector Marchand, and I think he's bred as bad a pup as ever was. I'm going to try and do with this business as you did with that watch. I'm going to try and turn it to account and profit in the end. Felix Marchand's profiting by a mistake of mine--a mistake in policy. It gives him his springboard; and there's enough dry grass in both towns to get a big blaze with a very little match. I know that things are seething. The Chief Constable keeps me posted as to what's going on here, and pretty fairly as to what's going on in Manitou. The police in Manitou are straight enough. That's one comfort. I've done Felix Marchand there. I guess that the Chief Constable of Manitou and Monseigneur Lourde and old Mother Thibadeau are about the only people that Marchand can't bribe. I see I've got to face a scrimmage before I can get what I want."
"What you want you'll have, I bet," was the admiring response.
"I'm going to have a good try. I want these two towns to be one. That'll be good for your town lots, Jowett," he added whimsically. "If my policy is carried out, my town lot'll be worth a pocketful of gold- plated watches or a stud of spavined mares." He chuckled to himself, and his fingers reached towards a bell on the table, but he paused. "When was it they said the strike would begin?" he asked.
"Did they say what hour?"
"Eleven in the morning."
"Third of a day's work and a whole day's pay," he mused. "Jowett," he added, "I want you to have faith. I'm going to do Marchand, and I'm going to do him in a way that'll be best in the end. You can help as much if not more than anybody--you and Osterhaut. And if I succeed, it'll be worth your while."
"I ain't followin' you because it's worth while, but because I want to, Chief."
"I know; but a man--every man--likes the counters for the game." He turned to the table, opened a drawer, and took out a folded paper. He looked it through carefully, wrote a name on it, and handed it to Jowett.
"There's a hundred shares in the Northwest Railway, with my regards, Jowett. Some of the counters of the game."
Jowett handed it back at once with a shake of the head. "I don't live in Manitou," he said. "I'm almost white, Chief. I've never made a deal with you, and don't want to. I'm your man for the fun of it, and because I'd give my life to have your head on my shoulders for one year."
"I'd feel better if you'd take the shares, Jowett. You've helped me, and I can't let you do it for nothing."
"Then I can't do it at all. I'm discharged." Suddenly, however, a humorous, eager look shot into Jowett's face. "Will you toss for it?" he blurted out. "Certainly, if you like," was the reply.
"Heads I win, tails it's yours?"
Ingolby took a silver dollar from his pocket, and tossed. It came down tails. Ingolby had won.
"My corner lot against double the shares?" Jowett asked sharply, his face flushed with eager pleasure. He was a born gambler.
"As you like," answered Ingolby with a smile. Ingolby tossed, and they stooped over to look at the dollar on the floor. It had come up heads. "You win," said Ingolby, and turning to the table, took out another hundred shares. In a moment they were handed over.
"You're a wonder, Jowett," he said. "You risked a lot of money. Are you satisfied?"
"You bet, Chief. I come by these shares honestly now."
He picked up the silver dollar from the floor, and was about to put it in his pocket.
"Wait--that's my dollar," said Ingolby.
"By gracious, so it is!" said Jowett, and handed it over reluctantly.
Ingolby pocketed it with satisfaction.
Neither dwelt on the humour of the situation. They were only concerned for the rules of the game, and both were gamesters in their way.
After a few brief instructions to Jowett, and a message for Osterhaut concerning a suit of workman's clothes, Ingolby left his offices and walked down the main street of the town with his normal rapidity, responding cheerfully to the passers-by, but not encouraging evident desire for talk with him. Men half-started forward to him, but he held them back with a restraining eye. They knew his ways. He was responsive in a brusque, inquisitive, but good-humoured and sometimes very droll way; but there were times when men said to themselves that he was to be left alone; and he was so much master of the place that, as Osterhaut and Jowett frequently remarked, "What he says goes!" It went even with those whom he had passed in the race of power.
He had had his struggles to be understood in his first days in Lebanon. He had fought intrigue and even treachery, had defeated groups which were the forces at work before he came to Lebanon, and had compelled the submission of others. All these had vowed to "get back at him," but when it became a question of Lebanon against Manitou they swung over to his side and acknowledged him as leader. The physical collision between the rougher elements of the two towns had brought matters to a head, and nearly every man in Lebanon felt that his honour was at stake, and was ready "to have it out with Manitou."
As he walked along the main street after his interview with Jowett, his eyes wandered over the buildings rising everywhere; and his mind reviewed as in a picture the same thinly inhabited street five years ago when he first came. Now farmers' wagons clacked and rumbled through the prairie dust, small herds of cattle jerked and shuffled their way to the slaughter-yard, or out to the open prairie, and caravans of settlers with their effects moved sturdily forward to the trails which led to a new life beckoning from three points of the compass. That point which did not beckon was behind them. Flaxen-haired Swedes and Norwegians; square- jawed, round-headed North Germans; square-shouldered, loose-jointed Russians with heavy contemplative eyes and long hair, looked curiously at each other and nodded understandingly. Jostling them all, with a jeer and an oblique joke here and there, and crude chaff on each other and everybody, the settler from the United States asserted himself. He invariably obtruded himself, with quizzical inquiry, half contempt and half respect, on the young Englishman, who gazed round with phlegm upon his fellow adventurers, and made up to the sandy-faced Scot or the cheerful Irishman with his hat on the back of his head, who showed in the throng here and there. This was one of the days when the emigrant and settlers' trains arrived both from the East and from "the States," and Front Street in Lebanon had, from early morning, been alive with the children of hope and adventure.
With hands plunged deep in the capacious pockets of his grey jacket,
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