During the recital of this adventure Bumblepuppy’s face had deepened in tint till it glowed like an iron disc in the heart of a fire. As he finished speaking, he knelt down and dipped his head into the cool, bubbling creek. Lifting up his ruddy face, a ray of sunshine, filtering through the tremulous leaves of the cottonwoods, fell full upon his chestnut curls, and each drop of water on his hair became of a sudden a gem of prismatic colour and most brilliant lustre.
“Phew-w-w!” said Bumblepuppy. “I hope Mis’ Janssen ain’t feelin’ as warm as I am.”
JASPERSON’S BEST GIRL
Jasperson came to the ranch at the time of the March branding, and it was well understood between the contracting parties—Ajax and I of the first part, and Jasper Jasperson of the second part, all of San Lorenzo County, in the State of California—that the said Jasperson came to us as a favour, and, so to speak, under protest. For he had never worked out before, and was possessed of money in bank and some four hundred acres of good arable land which, he carefully explained to us, he was unwilling to farm himself. Indeed, his appearance bespoke the man of independent means, for he wore a diamond collar-stud—his tie was always pulled carefully down so as not to interfere with this splendid gem—and two diamond rings. In Jasperson’s hot youth he had come into violent contact with a circular saw, and the saw, as he admitted, had the best of the encounter—two fingers of his left hand being left in the pit. A man of character and originality, he insisted upon wearing the rings upon his maimed hand, both upon the index finger; and once, when Ajax suggested respectfully that the diamonds would shine to better advantage upon the right hand, he retorted reasonably enough that the mutilated member “kind of needed settin’ off.” He seized the opportunity to ask Ajax why we wore no jewellery, and upon my brother replying that we considered diamonds out of place upon a cattle ranch, he roundly asserted that in his opinion a “gen’leman couldn’t be too dressy.”
During the first month he bought in San Lorenzo a resplendent black suit, and an amazing dress shirt with an ivy pattern, worked in white silk, meandering down and up the bosom. To oblige Ajax he tried on these garments in our presence, and spoke hopefully of the future, which he said was sure to bring to his wardrobe another shirt and possibly a silk hat. We took keen interest in these important matters, and assured Jasperson that it would afford us the purest pleasure to see once more a silk hat. Then Ajax indiscreetly asked if he was about to commit matrimony.
“Boys,” he replied, blushing, “I’d ought to be engaged, but I ain’t. Don’t give me away, but I ain’t got no best girl—not a one. Surprisin’, yes, sir, considerin’ how I’m fixed—most surprisin’.”