The Cattle-Baron’s Daughter - Harold Bindloss - ebook

The Cattle-Baron’s Daughter ebook

Harold Bindloss

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The basis of the plot is the inherent love of people of the upper and lower class. So our heroes had such love. Larry Grant works on a farm and he realizes that he falls in love with the daughter of a baron. Our main character has a worthy contender, but unfair. After all, he is also a baron and wants to lure the girl with his wealth, stating that he can give her more. Our main character will give real courageous resistance.

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Liczba stron: 527

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Contents

I

II

III

IV

V

VI

VII

VIII

IX

X

XI

XII

XIII

XIV

XV

XVI

XVII

XVIII

XIX

XX

XXI

XXII

XXIII

XXIV

XXV

XXVI

XXVII

XXVIII

XXIX

XXX

XXXI

I

THE PORTENT

The hot weather had come suddenly, at least a month earlier than usual, and New York lay baking under a scorching sun when Miss Hetty Torrance sat in the coolest corner of the Grand Central Depot she could find. It was by her own wish she had spent the afternoon in the city unattended, for Miss Torrance was a self-reliant young woman; but it was fate and the irregularity of the little gold watch, which had been her dead mother’s gift, that brought her to the depot at least a quarter of an hour too soon. But she was not wholly sorry, for she had desired more solitude and time for reflection than she found in the noisy city, where a visit to an eminent modiste had occupied most of her leisure. There was, she had reasons for surmising, a decision of some moment to be made that night, and as yet she was no nearer arriving at it than she had been when the little note then in her pocket had been handed her.

Still, it was not the note she took out when she found a seat apart from the hurrying crowd, but a letter from her father, Torrance, the Cattle-Baron, of Cedar Range. It was terse and to the point, as usual, and a little smile crept into the girl’s face as she read.

“Your letter to hand, and so long as you have a good time don’t worry about the bills. You’ll find another five 2 hundred dollars at the bank when you want them. Thank God, I can give my daughter what her mother should have had. Two years since I’ve seen my little girl, and now it seems that somebody else is wanting her! Well, we were made men and women, and if you had been meant to live alone dabbling in music you wouldn’t have been given your mother’s face. Now, I don’t often express myself this way, but I’ve had a letter from Captain Jackson Cheyne, U. S. Cavalry, which reads as straight as I’ve found the man to be. Nothing wrong with that family, and they’ve dollars to spare; but if you like the man I can put down two for every one of his. Well, I might write a good deal, but you’re too much like your father to be taken in. You want dollars and station, and I can see you get them, but in a contract of this kind the man is everything. Make quite sure you’re getting the right one.”

There was a little more to the same purpose, and when she slipped the letter into her pocket Hetty Torrance smiled.

“The dear old man!” she said. “It is very like him; but whether Jake is the right one or not is just what I can’t decide.”

Then she sat still, looking straight in front of her, a very attractive picture, as some of the hurrying men who turned to glance at her seemed to find, in her long light dress. Her face, which showed a delicate oval under the big white hat, was a trifle paler than is usual with most Englishwomen of her age, and the figure the thin fabric clung about less decided in outline. Still, the faint warmth in her cheeks emphasized the clear pallor of her skin, and there was a depth of brightness in the dark eyes that would have atoned for a good deal more than there was in her case necessity for. Her supple slenderness 3 also became Hetty Torrance well, and there was a suggestion of nervous energy in her very pose. In addition to all this, she was a rich man’s daughter, who had been well taught in the cities, and had since enjoyed all that wealth and refinement could offer her. It had also been a cause of mild astonishment to the friends she had spent the past year with, that with these advantages, she had remained Miss Torrance. They had been somewhat proud of their guest, and opportunities had not been wanting had she desired to change her status.

While she sat there musing, pale-faced citizens hurried past, great locomotives crawled to and fro, and long trains of cars, white with the dust of five hundred leagues, rolled in. Swelling in deeper cadence, the roar of the city came faintly through the din; but, responsive to the throb of life as she usually was, Hetty Torrance heard nothing of it then, for she was back in fancy on the grey-white prairie two thousand miles away. It was a desolate land of parched grass and bitter lakes with beaches dusty with alkali, but a rich one to the few who held dominion over it, and she had received the homage of a princess there. Then she heard a voice that was quite in keeping with the spirit of the scene, and was scarcely astonished to see that a man was smiling down on her.

He was dressed in city garments, and they became him; but the hand he held out was lean, and hard, and brown, and, for he stood bareheaded, a paler streak showed where the wide hat had shielded a face that had been darkened by stinging alkali dust from the prairie sun. It was a quietly forceful face, with steady eyes, which had a little sparkle of pleasure in them, and were clear and brown, while something in the man’s sinewy pose suggested that he would have been at home in the saddle. 4 Indeed, it was in the saddle that Hetty Torrance remembered him most vividly, hurling his half-tamed broncho straight at a gully down which the nondescript pack streamed, while the scarcely seen shape of a coyote blurred by the dust, streaked the prairie in front of them.

“Hetty!” he said.

“Larry!” said the girl. “Why, whatever are you doing here?”

Then both laughed a little, perhaps to conceal the faint constraint that was upon them, for a meeting between former comrades has its difficulties when one is a man and the other a woman, and the bond between them has not been defined.

“I came in on business a day or two ago,” said the man. “Ran round to check some packages. I’m going back again to-morrow.”

“Well,” said the girl, “I was in the city, and came here to meet Flo Schuyler and her sister. They’ll be in at four.”

The man looked at his watch. “That gives us ‘most fifteen minutes, but it’s not going to be enough. We’ll lose none of it. What about the singing?”

Hetty Torrance flushed a trifle. “Larry,” she said, “you are quite sure you don’t know?”

The man appeared embarrassed, and there was a trace of gravity in his smile. “Your father told me a little; but I haven’t seen him so often of late. Any way, I would sooner you told me.”

“Then,” said the girl, with the faintest of quivers in her voice, “the folks who understand good music don’t care to hear me.”

There was incredulity, which pleased his companion, in the man’s face, but his voice vaguely suggested contentment. 5

“That is just what they can’t do,” he said decisively. “You sing most divinely.”

“There is a good deal you and the boys at Cedar don’t know, Larry. Any way, lots of people sing better than I do, but I should be angry with you if I thought you were pleased.”

The man smiled gravely. “That would hurt. I’m sorry for you, Hetty; but again I’m glad. Now there’s nothing to keep you in the city, you’ll come back to us. You belong to the prairie, and it’s a better place than this.”

He spoke at an opportune moment. Since her cherished ambition had failed her, Hetty Torrance had grown a trifle tired of the city and the round of pleasure that must be entered into strenuously, and there were times when, looking back in reverie, she saw the great silent prairie roll back under the red sunrise into the east, and fade, vast, solemn, and restful, a cool land of shadow, when the first pale stars came out. Then she longed for the jingle of the bridles and the drumming of the hoofs, and felt once more the rush of the gallop stir her blood. But this was what she would not show, and her eyes twinkled a trifle maliciously.

“Well, I don’t quite know,” she said. “There is always one thing left to most of us.”

She saw the man wince ever so slightly, and was pleased at it; but he was, as she had once told him in the old days, grit all through, and he smiled a little.

“Of course!” he said. “Still, the trouble is that there are very few of us good enough for you. But you will come back for a little?”

Miss Torrance would not commit herself. “How are they getting along at the Range?”

“Doesn’t your father write you?” 6

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