Our website is made possible by displaying online advertisements to our visitors.
Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker.

Download links will be available after you disable the ad blocker and reload the page.

The Forfeit

Download options:

  • 279.57 KB
  • 836.66 KB
  • 414.35 KB




A companionable silence prevailed in the room. At intervals it was broken, but only by the rustle of paper or the striking of a match. The heavy breathing, almost amounting to a snore, of one of the two men, and the inarticulate protests of a laboring "rocker" chair—these things were only a part of it.

The man at the table was deeply immersed in a miniature sea of calculations. His fair brows were drawn in deep concentration. Frequently he was at great pains to relight a pipe which contained nothing but charred remnants of tobacco and a moist, unsmokable mixture which afforded only a somewhat offensive taste and aroma.

The partner in this companionship overflowed an undersized "rocker," which withstood, with supreme heroism, the overwhelming forces of its invader. But its sufferings, under the rhythmic rise and fall imposed upon it, found expression at intervals, although they failed to inspire the least sympathy. The heedless giant's whole attention seemed to be absorbed in the personality and effort of his friend.

Finally the latter raised a pair of deep blue eyes. Following upon a sigh, he thrust his papers aside with a brusque movement of relief. Then he raised a hand to his broad forehead and smoothed his disheveled fair hair, which seemed to have undergone some upheaval as a result of the mental disturbance his efforts had inspired in the brain beneath. The handsome eyes smiled a reassuring smile into the rugged face of his friend.

"Well?" he enquired, without seeming to desire a reply.

"Wal?" echoed the gruff voice of the man in the rocker.

"It's done."

"So—I guessed."

The patient amusement in the twinkling eyes of the man in the rocker was good to see. There was confidence, too, in his regard of the younger man.

"Can we do it—sure?" he enquired, as the other remained silent.

"Without a worry."

"Then dope it out, boy. The easiest thing in the world is handin' out dollars on a right enterprise. I don't know nothin' better—except it is takin' 'em in on the same sort o' play."

Jeffrey Masters smiled more broadly into his friend's good-humored face.

"Five years back, handing out twenty thousand dollars would have given us a nightmare, even on a right proposition," he said. "It isn't that way now. Guess we'll sleep on this thing like new-born babes with our tanks filled right. Nat Williams is out to sell quick, and if we're bright, it's up to us to buy quick. For twenty thousand dollars," he proceeded, referring to his figures, "we get his house, barns, corrals, and all his rolling stock. His growing crops and machinery. The bunch of old cows and calves he's pleased to call his 'herds.' Also three teams of Shire-bred heavy draft horses, and six hundred and forty acres of first-class wheat land and grazing that only needs capital and hustle to set right on top. I don't guess it'll worry us any to hand it all it needs that way. This buy will join up my 'O——' territory with your 'T.T.' grazing, and will turn the combination into one of the finest ranching propositions west of Calthorpe, and one which even Montana needs to be proud of."

He leaned back in his chair with a certain air of satisfaction....