“Safe, my dear. Because I’m afraid he is pretty nearly as shrewd as I am. And that’s rather dangerous in a subordinate.” The Judge laughed again. “But his action regarding the man they call Steve has made me feel easy.” And then it came out that the Virginian was supposed to have discovered in some way that Steve had fallen from the grace of that particular honesty which respects another man’s cattle. It was not known for certain. But calves had begun to disappear in Cattle Land, and cows had been found killed. And calves with one brand upon them had been found with mothers that bore the brand of another owner. This industry was taking root in Cattle Land, and of those who practised it, some were beginning to be suspected. Steve was not quite fully suspected yet. But that the Virginian had parted company with him was definitely known. And neither man would talk about it.

There was the further news that the Bear Creek schoolhouse at length stood complete, floor, walls, and roof; and that a lady from Bennington, Vermont, a friend of Mrs. Balaam’s, had quite suddenly decided that she would try her hand at instructing the new generation.

The Judge and Mrs. Henry knew this because Mrs. Balaam had told them of her disappointment that she would be absent from the ranch on Butte Creek when her friend arrived, and therefore unable to entertain her. The friend’s decision had been quite suddenly made, and must form the subject of the next chapter.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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