On a certain afternoon in the early part of July, about a month after the fight at the irrigating ditch and the mass meeting at Bonneville, Cedarquist, at the moment opening his mail in his office in San Francisco, was genuinely surprised to receive a visit from Presley.
"Well, upon my word, Pres," exclaimed the manufacturer, as the young man came in through the door that the office boy held open for him, "upon my word, have you been sick? Sit down, my boy. Have a glass of sherry. I always keep a bottle here."
Presley accepted the wine and sank into the depths of a great leather chair near by.
"Sick?" he answered. "Yes, I have been sick. I'm sick now. I'm gone to pieces, sir."
His manner was the extreme of listlessness -- the listlessness of great fatigue. "Well, well," observed the other. "I'm right sorry to hear that. What's the trouble, Pres?"
"Oh, nerves mostly, I suppose, and my head, and insomnia, and weakness, a general collapse all along the line, the doctor tells me. 'Over-cerebration,' he says; 'over-excitement.' I fancy I rather narrowly missed brain fever."
"Well, I can easily suppose it," answered Cedarquist gravely, "after all you have been through."
Presley closed his eyes -- they were sunken in circles of dark brown flesh -- and pressed a thin hand to the back of his head.
"It is a nightmare," he murmured. "A frightful nightmare, and it's not over yet. You have heard of it all only through the newspaper reports. But down there, at Bonneville, at Los Muertos -- oh, you can have no idea of it, of the misery caused by the defeat of the ranchers and by this decision of the Supreme Court that dispossesses them all. We had gone on hoping to the last that we would win there. We had thought that in the Supreme Court of the United States, at least, we could find justice. And the news of its decision was the worst, last blow of all. For Magnus it was the last -- positively the very last."
"Poor, poor Derrick," murmured Cedarquist. "Tell me about him, Pres. How does he take it? What is he going to do?"
"It beggars him, sir. He sunk a great deal more than any of us
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Publication information: Book title: The Octopus. Contributors: Frank Norris - Author. Publisher: Sagamore Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1957. Page number: 390.
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