He had spent his days in what might be termed, biblically, riotous living. His mother had hoped for an aristocratic and Eastern marriage. When he married Fluffy Hair she had allowed him three thousand a year and had asked him not to bring his wife to see her. His father had refused to give him a penny. O-liver's wild oats and wilfulness cut him off, he ruled, from parental consideration.

She was leaning forward a little, her lips parted, her hands clasped, as if he still spoke to her. As Tillotson's sponsor rose Jane straightened up, smiled at Tommy, and again set herself to listen. The unctuous voice of the speaker was a contrast to O-liver's crisp tones. There were other contrasts not so apparent. This man was in the game for what he could get out of it.

The other men within doors and without wore hats broad hats that shielded them from the California sun; or, as in the case of Atwood Jones, who came from the city, a Panama of an up-to-the-minute model. But O-liver's blond mane waved in every passing breeze. It was only when he rode forth on his mysterious journeys that he crowned himself with a Chinese straw helmet.

She had seen his efforts at self-control. She knew his agony of soul. She knew that at any moment he might knock somebody down Tillotson or Tillotson's sponsor. And it would all be in the morning papers. There would be innuendo the hint of scandalous things. And O-liver's reputation would pay the price. It was characteristic that she did not at the moment think of her own reputation.

"But you haven't seen her," Tommy protested. "I know the type." On Sunday morning Tommy brought him a baked-bean sandwich. "It isn't as fresh as it might be. But you can see what she's giving us." There were months of O-liver's life which had been spent with a grandmother in Boston. His grandmother had made brown bread and she had baked beans.

The other men scorned O-liver's point of view and told him so. They were a rather prosperous bunch, all except Tommy Drew, who dealt in a dilettante fashion in insurance, and who sat at O-liver's feet and worshiped him. It was Saturday and some of the men had drifted in from the surrounding ranches; others from the cities, from the mountains, from the valleys, from the desert, from the sea.

"I'd give," said O-liver, "my kingdom for a horse, but not for a car." O-liver's little mare stood quite happily in the shade; she was slim as to leg, shining as to coat, and with the eyes of a loving woman. "I should think you'd want to get ahead," said Atwood Jones, who sold shoes up and down the coast. He was a junior member of the firm, but still liked to go on the road.

It was O-liver's lightness which gave him the whip hand in an argument. They were most of them serious men; not serious in a Puritan sense of taking thought of their souls' salvation and the world's redemption, but serious in their pursuit of wealth. They had to be rich.

"I should say," she stated with scorn, "that your O-liver's lazy." "No, he isn't. He only wants enough to eat and enough to smoke and enough to read." "That sounds all right, but it isn't. What's he going to do when he's old?" "He ain't ever going to grow old. He said so, and if you'd see him you'd know." Jane felt within her the stirring of curiosity. But she put it down sternly.

Tillotson's supporters kept the thing stirring. If the meeting could end in a brawl the odds would be in favor of Tillotson. The effect of O-liver's uplift would be lost. Even his friends couldn't sway a fighting crowd back to him. But they had forgotten to reckon with Jane! She had seen in a sudden crystal flash the thing which might happen. A fight would end it all for O-liver.