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Out upon it! But he has been in and out with his victim over leagues of space where not one man in ten thousand has been privileged to fare. He has been familiar all his life with scenes, with folk, with deeds undreamed of by thirty-nine and three-quarters out of forty millions of people, and by that quarter-million only known as nursery tales.
The latter had handled nearly a quarter-million cattle that year, but like Abilene, Wichita, and other trail towns in eastern Kansas, it was doomed to succumb to the advance guard of pioneer settlers. The best sale of the year fell to my active partner. Before the shipping season opened, he sold, range count, our holdings on the Medicine River, including saddle stock, improvements, and good will.
Wichita was a frontier village of about two thousand inhabitants. We found a convenient camp northwest of town, and went into permanent quarters to await the opening of the market. Within a few weeks a light drive was assured, and prices opened firm. Fully a quarter-million less cattle would reach the markets within the State that year, and buyers became active in securing their needed supply.
Again discarding all precedent, I packed not all my forces together, as had been done in the past, but scattered them up and adown the coast fronting the land of Klow; and at a prearranged time my quarter-million men set out, a company in each tiny fleet. Some were slightly in advance of the rest, who had the shorter distance to travel.
And when the last beef was shipped, the final delivery concluded to the army, Don Lovell was a quarter-million dollars to the good, over and above the contract price at which he failed to deliver the same cattle to the government the fall before. As foreman of Lovell's beef ranch on the Little Missouri I spent five banner years of my life.
It had to examine every relatively nearby object for a constitution of silicon bronze and a rounded shape. The nearest objects had to be examined first. Speed was essential. But three-dimensional scanning takes time, even at some hundreds of pulses per minute. Nevertheless, the information came in. No other silicon-bronze object within a quarter-million miles. Within half a million. A million.
Fifty-nine of the Traiti warcraft were in positions that englobed a point in space a quarter-million n'liu from a blue-and-white oxygen planet over forty diameters out, nearly in the orbit of the planet's moon. The Hermnaen was still at the center of the twenty-n'liu-diameter sphere of ships, its Ship-Captain and crew waiting for Arjen's orders.
But the rudiments of civilization were sweeping westward, and Ogalalla was nerved to the importance of the occasion; for that very afternoon a hearing was to be given for the possession of two herds of cattle, valued at over a quarter-million dollars. The representatives of The Western Supply Company were quartered in the largest hotel in town, but seldom appeared on the streets.
And it is only the numbing power of habit that silences the question in ourselves. Cheap as English clothing is, second-hand it is cheaper still, and I suppose that out of that quarter-million people on the Heath every fine Bank Holiday hardly one per cent. wears clothes that no one has worn before him.
In the spring of '64, Virginia City mines still yielded treasure harvests unbelievable. Windham's bank account had risen to the quarter-million mark. Month by month he watched his assets grow by leaps more marvelous than even his romantic fancy could fore-vision. Stocks were climbing at a rate which raised the value of each share $100 every thirty days.