The Virginian--A Horseman Of The Plainsr
Into what mood was it that the Virginian now fell? Being less busy, did he begin to
"grieve" about the girl on Bear Creek? I only know that after talking so lengthily he fell
into a nine days' silence. The talking part of him deeply and unbrokenly slept.
Official words of course came from him as we rode southward from the railroad,
gathering the Judge's stray cattle. During the many weeks since the spring round-up,
some of these animals had as usual got very far off their range, and getting them on again
became the present business of our party.
Directions and commands--whatever communications to his subordinates were needful to
the forwarding of this--he duly gave. But routine has never at any time of the world
passed for conversation. His utterances, such as, "We'll work Willo' Creek to-morro'
mawnin'," or, "I want the wagon to be at the fawks o' Stinkin' Water by Thursday,"
though on some occasions numerous enough to sound like discourse, never once broke
the man's true silence. Seeming to keep easy company with the camp, he yet kept
altogether to himself. That talking part of him--the mood which brings out for you your
friend's spirit and mind as a free gift or as an exchange--was down in some dark cave of
his nature, hidden away. Perhaps it had been dreaming; perhaps completely reposing. The
Virginian was one of those rare ones who are able to refresh themselves in sections. To
have a thing on his mind did not keep his body from resting. During our recent journey--
it felt years ago now!--while our caboose on the freight train had trundled endlessly
westward, and the men were on the ragged edge, the very jumping-off place, of mutiny
and possible murder, I had seen him sleep like a child. He snatched the moments not
necessary for vigil. I had also seen him sit all night watching his responsibility, ready to
spring on it and fasten his teeth in it. And now that he had confounded them with their
own attempted weapon of ridicule, his powers seemed to be profoundly dormant. That
final pitched battle of wits had made the men his captives and admirers--all save
Trampas. And of him the Virginian did not seem to be aware.
But Scipio le Moyne would say to me now and then, "If I was Trampas, I'd pull my
freight." And once he added, "Pull it kind of casual, yu' know, like I wasn't noticing
myself do it."
"Yes," our friend Shorty murmured pregnantly, with his eye upon the quiet Virginian,
"he's sure studying his revenge."
"Studying your pussy-cat," said Scipio. "He knows what he'll do. The time 'ain't arrived."
This was the way they felt about it; and not unnaturally this was the way they made me,
the inexperienced Easterner, feel about it. That Trampas also felt something about it was
easy to know. Like the leaven which leavens the whole lump, one spot of sulkiness in
camp will spread its dull flavor through any company that sits near it; and we had to sit
near Trampas at meals for nine days.