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It was a curious thing to see Ty Jones with his bristly eyebrows and his eagle's beak of a nose, makin' mechanical toys for the Friar's and Olaf's children. They didn't put any limit on what he was able to do, and he used to grumble at 'em as fierce as a grizzly-and then back-track like an Injun, and do whatever they wanted him to.
The Friar never quite gave up his plot to go back and work among the poor; but the' was allus so many things imposed upon him by the home folks that he was pestered with letters every time he left; and usually compromised by gatherin' up a bunch o' the poor as hasty as possible, and bringin' 'em back with him. His head was full of what he called welfare plans, and he settled the poor along all the likely cricks he found vacant, and bulldozed 'em into goin' to work. It's a curious coincident; but most of 'em turned out well.
The' was a bilious feller out visitin' me once, which called himself a sosologist. I told him about some o' the Friar's projects; and he said that the Friar was nothin' but a rank Utopian, and that this sort o'
work would never remove all the evils of the world.
"You can call him anything ya want to," sez I, "so long as it's a word I don't understand; but the Friar's not tryin' to remove all the evils in the world. He only removes those evils he can find by spendin' his whole life in huntin' for 'em; but he certainly does remove these ones in quick and able shape."
Another time, right after the Friar had brought about a settlement between some sheep and cattle men, a preacher dropped off to give his appet.i.te a little exercise at the Diamond Dot. He belonged to the same herd that the Friar had cut out from, and I thought he would be interested; so I told him consid'able about the Friar. He was a most judicious-lookin' man, but baggy under the eyes and chin. He got all fussed up when I spoke well o' the Friar, and said he was un-co-nonical, said he was unorthodox-Oh, he cut loose and swore at the Friar in his own tongue 'til I about lost my temper.
"Look here," I sez to him, "it would take me some months to tell you all the good deeds the Friar has actually done; but I'll just give you one single example. If I was to live up to my natural disposition, I'd wring your neck, or shoot off your ears, or somethin' like that; but owin' to the Friar havin' taught me self-control, I'm not even goin'
to snap my fingers again' your blue nose. Make yourself perfectly at home here, and stay as long as the East can spare ya; but you'll have to excuse me for a while, as the Friar has just written me an order to go over into the Basin to see what can be done for a young feller who has been arrested for hoss-stealin'."
Horace contributes liberally to the Friar's projects; but he don't take a hand in the game, himself-except with the imported poor which are gathered at the Cross brand, waitin' to be transplanted. Every year he seems to shrink about an eighth of an inch smaller, and get about that much tougher. He lights out for a trip now and again, and ol' Tank allus tags along, grumblin'. Tank thinks full as much of Horace as The did; but Tank's a different proposition. The easier his lot is the more he grumbles; but I like nothin' better than to have a chat with him over old times.
One night I was up visitin' Horace, and after supper we got a little restless and started out for a walk. We sauntered down to our old look-out and stood gazin' down at the lights of the Cross brand ranch.
Ty had rigged up a water power to manufacture e-lectricity, simply because the children had needed it to run some o' their idees, but the' was plenty of it to light the whole place. In token of Ty's brand, and also as a symbol of his own callin', the Friar had built an immense cross on the cliff just above the mouth of the ravine, and on the upright, and at each end o' the cross-piece were big electric lights. These could be seen for miles, and every one knew 'at whatever troubles they had, there was allus welcome, cheery hospitality, and sound advice waitin' for 'em in the shadow of this cross.
It was a moonlight night, one of those crisp, bright nights, when it makes a feller feel solemn just to get up high and look down at the beauty of the old, hard Earth. We had been talkin' o' the old days as usual; but not talkin' much, for we each saw the same set of pictures when we looked down from here, and they didn't need many words.
"Life is like a game o' chess," sez Horace. "The openin' is not so absolutely vital; but after a time the' comes one little move which is the keynote of all the balance of the game-and the same is true o'
life. The way things has turned out down yonder seems to be the very best way they could have turned out; but it's hard to look back and tell just what was the keynote of it all. Of course Promotheus-Promotheus was the prime mover; but then all the way along you can see the Friar's influence. What would you say was the keynote o' this tangled game, Happy?"
I looked down at Horace: he was wearin' a battered old hat, rough clothes and leggins, and smokin' a corncob pipe. "That's an easy one,"
sez I, tryin' to shake off a feelin' o' sadness which was beginnin' to creep over me, in spite of all I could do; "gettin' your nerves cured up, Horace, was the keynote of it all."
"That was a long time ago," sez Horace, "a long, long time ago."