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HOME > Classical Novels > Dorothy Dale in the West > CHAPTER III THE “TWO-FACED” MAN
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 The boys were discussing the extent of Colonel Hardin’s great estate when Dorothy and Tavia joined them at the garage an hour later. The possibilities of the vast cattle pastures and game preserves, walled in by the natural boundary of the higher Rockies, appealed strongly to Ned and Nat, and even to Dorothy’s younger brothers.  
“And it was all begun by Colonel Hardin taking advantage of the Homestead Law when he came out of the army. Too bad your father didn’t do that, Dorothy,” said Ned.
“What is the Homestead Law?” asked Dorothy.
“I can tell you,” interposed Nat, quickly. “Not just in the wording of the law—the legal phraseology, you know,” he added, his eyes twinkling. “But the upshot of it is, that the Government is willing to bet you one hundred and sixty acres of land against fourteen dollars that you can’t live on it five years without starving to death!”
 “How ridiculous!” Dorothy.
“What is the use of asking these boys anything?” demanded Tavia, her nose in the air. “They’re like all other college .”
“Don’t say that, Miss,” urged Ned, easily. “Remember that we’re freshmen no longer, but sophs. Or, we will be so rated next fall.”
“Then perhaps you’ll know a little less than you have appeared to know this past year,” said the sharp-tongued Tavia. “As juniors you will know a little less. And when you’re seniors, you’ll probably be still more human—less like Olympic Joves, you know.”
“Compliments fly when quality meets,” quoth Dorothy. “Don’t let’s , children. We can tell the boys something they don’t know. We’ve got to get a on, to quote the provincialism of the locality for which we are bound—the wild and woolly West. A telegram has been already sent to Tavia’s folks. We start West to-morrow.”
“To-morrow!” cried Ned and Nat, in surprise.
“The Mater must have changed her mind sudden,” added Ned.
“She did,” said Tavia, nodding. “Or, rather, we changed it for her.”
“How was that?” asked Nat. “And say! what did the fellow want who came so far for a drink?” and he grinned. “What’s his name?”
“Mr. Philo ,” said Dorothy, gravely.19 “And a very shrewd, if not an out-and-out bad man.”
“Hul-lo!” exclaimed Ned. “What’s happened? Let’s hear about it.”
“You should have stayed and seen the visitor,” said Dorothy.
“He’s a two-faced scamp!” declared Tavia, with emphasis.
“Right out of Barnum & Bailey’s—eh?” asked Nat. “One of the greatest freaks of the age. Two faces, no less!”
But Ned saw that something serious had happened. “What is it, Dorothy?” he asked.
“I wish you had remained and seen that Philo Marsh,” said Dorothy Dale. “I—I think he is a bad man. I do not trust him at all.”
“And good reason!” broke in Tavia, forgetting that she had first exclaimed over the romantic appearance of the man with the silky black mustache and the yellow diamond.
Then, eagerly, she went on to tell the boys of what had happened to her and Dorothy on the road that morning.
“Why! the scamp!” ejaculated Nat, quite .
“But that isn’t all the story?” Ned, turning to Dorothy. “What were you going to say about Philo Marsh?”
Dorothy at once told them how she and Tavia had hidden behind the window draperies when Mr. Philo Marsh was announced, having recognized him as he stood waiting on the porch.
“And you should have heard him talk!” interrupted Tavia.
“He is a very smooth talking man,” went on Dorothy, seriously, “and we could see father and Aunt Winnie were impressed.”
“But what did he want?” Ned demanded.
“He says he represents a committee of citizens of Desert City and the farmers on that side of the Hardin estate. He had papers all up, ready to sign, leasing to him and his fellow-committeemen the water rights on the Hardin place, and he wants father and Aunt Winnie to sign up right now.”
“But they didn’t?” cried Ned and Nat.
“He urged them to. He claims haste is necessary.”
“Why?” asked the older cousin.
“He wasn’t just clear about that. I guess that is what made father doubtful. But he was very .”
“Say!” interrupted Nat. “What about this water? If there is so much of it on the Hardin place, doesn’t it flow somewhere?”
“That’s a curious thing,” Dorothy said, quickly. “It seems this water-supply is a stream called Lost River.”
 “Lost River?” ejaculated Ned.
“Yes. There’s more than one like it out there, too. I guess this particular Lost River has its rise on the estate somewhere. And without flowing beyond the boundaries of the land Colonel Hardin has left to us, it dives right down into a crack in the earth again.”
“Crickey!” exclaimed Nat. “Some river! I want to see that.”
“I’ve read of such things,” said his brother.
“It must be wonderful,” Dorothy said. “You see, they want father and Aunt Winnie to let them turn the water into another channel. From that channel they will pipe water to Desert City, while the surplus will be carried by open ditches to the farms.”
“And how about the water supply for the cattle pastures?” demanded Ned, who, from the first, had shown a deep interest in the cattle end of the business in hand.
“Oh, they say there is water in abundance,” Dorothy answered.
“Well,” asked Ned, “did that fellow get mother to sign up? That’s the important question.”
“Do you think we would let her, after what we know about the fellow?” retorted Tavia, indignantly.
“I don’t see how you girls knew much about him,” Nat. “You simply did not like the cut of his jib, as the sailors say.”
“What did you do to stop them?” asked Joe Dale, round-eyed. “Walk right in and give him away?”
“That would have been melodramatic, wouldn’t it?” laughed Dorothy.
“But what did you do?” insisted Joe.
“Why,” said Tavia, “we climbed out of the window—and I ripped my skirt, of course!—and we ran around to the hall and sent the maid in to call Mrs. White out. Then we told her about Philo Marsh—the two-faced scamp! Why, to hear and see him in that library, you’d think butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth!”
“Well, wouldn’t it?” Nat.
“I guess the Major was suspicious, anyway,” chuckled Tavia, ignoring Master Nat. “And Mrs. White declared she would have to look over the ground personally before she could make any decision.”
“He was in an awful hurry,” said Dorothy.
“Who’s in a hurry?” asked Ned, quickly.
“That Philo Marsh, as he calls himself. So we are going to start for the West to-morrow, instead of next week.”
“And what is this fellow who’s come East here going to do?” asked Ned.
“Going back. Says he’ll meet us at Dugonne. That is where we leave the train. Oh, Aunt Winnie has already looked up our route, and the time-tables, and all that,” Dorothy said.
“Well, we’ll be on hand to look out for Little Mum, and see that this fellow doesn’t ‘double cross’ her in any way,” said Nat, with assurance.
“We girls shall watch him, too,” Tavia declared. “I believe he’s a regular ‘bad man’—like you read about.”
“Shouldn’t read about such things,” advised Dorothy, laughing.
“I guess we four can hedge Little Mum about so that no wild and woolly Westerner will trouble her,” Ned said, with gravity.
But only time could prove whether that was so, or not.

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