Puslapio vaizdai




Author of The Led-Horse Claim,» «John Bodewin's Testimony,» etc."


WONDER Charles Lamb did not include in his list of popular fallacies the saying, "It costs nothing to be polite.» My dear, I am paying the price at this moment of one of my own imprudences in that line-a chance phrase with which I tried to round off a rather chilly leave-taking neatly, and cheaply, I flattered myself. But now, listen to the sequel!

I am to have a bride on my hands, or a bride-elect, for she is n't married yet. Her intended has been rustling for a home out here in the wilds of Idaho, while she has been waiting in the old country for success to crown his efforts. How much success in her case is demanded I don't know. She is a little English girl, upper middle-class, which Mrs. Percifer assures me is the class to belong to in England at the present day (it is her class, I infer), and the interesting reunion is to take place at our house. She sailed, poor thing, this day week, and will be forwarded to us

by her confiding friends in New York as soon as she arrives. She has never seen either of us, but I suppose she will hear of us from the Percifers. That is something-enough for some persons, it seems.

The Percifers were really very nice to us in New York last winter, though one must not flatter one's self too much; it is all in the day's work for those commission men to be nice to a good shipper and his wife when they come out of the West. There was a rather impersonal note to her politeness, which made it difficult when we parted for me to speak of the possibility, to say nothing of the pleasure, of a visit from her. My natural «gush» was strangled in my throat. But one must say something, so I put it off on any friends or fellow-Britishers of theirs who might care to command us in the West; we should be so happy, and so forth. And, my dear, she writes me, quite as a matter of course (she's not im

[graphic][merged small]

personal now), that she is so glad, for dear he could not meet her train, «Kitty's » friends Kitty's sake,» that we are here; and she is sure will be so relieved to know that the dear, we will be very good to her, she is such a brave little girl is in good hands » - ours, if sweet girl no one could help being,»-which you please, who never beheld her in our does n't leave much margin for our goodness. "The poor child» (I am quoting Mrs. Percifer)


Mark the coolness with which she treats

[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small]

WELL, my dear, here's a pretty kettle of fish! Kitty has arrived, and one Mr. Harshaw. Where the Mr. Harshaw is, quien sabe! It's awfully late. Poor Kitty has gone to bed, and has cried herself to sleep, I dare say, if sleep she can. I never have heard of a girl being treated so.

Tom and the other Mr. Harshaw are smoking in the dining-room, and Tom is talking endlessly-what about I can't imagine, unless he is giving this young recordbreaker his opinion of his extraordinary conduct. But I must begin at the beginning.

Mrs. Percifer wired us from New York the day the bride-elect started, and she was to wire us from Ogden, which she did. I went to the train to meet her, and I told Tom to be on the watch for the bridegroom, who would come in from his ranch on the Snake River, by wagon or on horseback, across country from Ten Mile. To come by rail he 'd have had to go round a hundred miles or so, by Mountain Home. An American would have done it, of course, and have come in with her on the train; but the Percifers plainly expected no such wild burst of enthusiasm from him.




can marry our daughters at all unless we can give them dowries, or professions to support their husbands on, and "feelings » are a luxury that only the rich can afford.

I hope Kitty » won't have any; but still more I hope that her young man will arrive on schedule time, and that they can trot round the corner and be married, with Tom and me for witnesses, as speedily as possible.

I'VE had such a blow! Tom, with an effort, has succeeded in remembering this Mr. Harshaw who is poor Kitty's fate. He must have been years in this country, long enough to have citizenized himself and become a member of our first Idaho legislature (I don't believe you even know that we are a State!). Tom was on the supper committee of the ball the city gave them. They were a deplorable set of men; it was easy enough to remember the nice ones. Tom says he is a «chump, if you know what that means. I tell him that every man, married or single, is constitutionally horrid to any other man who has had the luck to be chosen of a charming girl. But I'm afraid Harshaw was n't one of the nice ones, or I should have remembered him myself; we had them to dinnerall who were at all worth while.

The train was late. I walked and walked the platform; some of the people who were waiting went away, but I dared not leave my post. I fell to watching a spurt of dust away off across the river toward the mesa. It rolled up fast, and presently I saw a man on horseback; then I did n't see him; then he had crossed the bridge, and was pounding down the track-side toward the depot. He pulled up and spoke to a trainman, and after that he walked his horse as if he was satisfied.

That is Harshaw, I thought, and a very pretty fellow, but not in the least like an Idaho legislator. I don't seem to care for the sort of Englishman who is so prompt to swear allegiance to our flag, and take out his first papers and his second papers and all that; they never do unless they want to go in for government land, or politics, or something that has nothing to do with any flag. But this youngster looked ridiculously young. I simply knew he was coming for that girl, and that he had no ulterior motives whatever. He was ashy-white with dust-hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, and his fair little mustache all powdered with it; his corduroys, leggings, and hat all of a color. I saw no baggage, and I wondered what he expected to be married in. He leaned on his horse dizzily a moment when he first got out of the saddle, and the poor

Poor Kitty! There is so little here to beast stretched his fore legs, and rocked with come for but the man.

the gusts of his panting, his sides going in and

[merged small][merged small][graphic]

"I don't think you'll have time to go uptown,» said the ticket-man.


Harshaw came out then, and he began to walk the platform, and to stare down the track toward Nampa; so I sat down. Presently he stopped, and raised his hat, and asked if I was Mrs. Daly, a friend of Mrs. Percifer of London and New York.

Not to be boastful, I said that I knew Mrs. Percifer.

Then,» said he, «< we are here on the same errand, I think.»

I was there to meet Miss Kitty Comyn, I

«Is Mr. Harshaw ill?» I asked. He looked foolish, and dropped his eyes. «No,» said he. «He was well last night when I left him at the ranch.» Last night! He had come a hundred miles between dark of one day and noon of the next!

«Your cousin takes a royal way of bringing home his bride-by proxy,» I said.

«Ah, but it 's partly my fault, you know,>> -he could not quell a sudden shamefaced laugh,-« if you'd kindly allow me to explain. I shall have to be quite brutally frank; but Mrs. Percifer said»-here he lugged in a

« AnkstesnisTęsti »