“Haw-Haw,” answered Mac Strann, “Will you gimme a hand saddlin’ my hoss? I got an appointment, an’ I’m two minutes late already.”
DOCTOR BYRNE ANALYSES
In the room which had been assigned to his use Doctor Randall Byrne sat down to an unfinished letter and began to write.
“Dinner has interrupted me, my dear Loughburne. I have dined opposite Miss Cumberland—only the two of us at a great table—with a wide silence around us—and the Chinese cook padding to and fro from the kitchen. Have I told you of that room? No, I believe that I have made no more than casual mention of my environment here, for reasons which are patent. But to-night I wished that you might look in upon the scene. Along the walls hang a rope with which Mr. Cumberland won a roping and tieing contest in his youth—a feat upon which he prides himself highly; at another place hang the six-shooters of a notorious desperado, taken from his dead body; there is the sombrero of a Mexican guerilla chief beside the picture of a prize bull, and an oil painting of Mr. Cumberland at middle age adjoins an immense calendar on which is portrayed the head of a girl in bright colours—a creature with amazing quantities of straw-coloured hair. The table itself is of such size that it is said all the guests at a round-up—a festival of note in these barbaric regions—can be easily seated around it. On one side of this table I sat—and on the other side sat the girl, as far away as if an entire room had separated us.
“Before going down to the meal I had laid aside my glasses, for I have observed that spectacles, though often beneficial to the sight, are not always equally commendable in the opinion of women; and it should assuredly be one’s endeavour to become agreeable to those about us.
“Be it noted at this point, my dear Loughburne, that I have observed peculiar properties in the eyes of Miss Cumberland. Those of all other humans and animals that have fallen under my observance were remarkable only for their use in seeing, whereas the eyes of Miss Cumberland seem peculiarly designed to be seen. This quality I attribute to the following properties of the said eyes. First, they are in size well beyond the ordinary. Secondly, they are of a colour restful to behold. It is, indeed, the colour of the deep, blue evening sky into which one may stare for an incalculable distance.
“As I have said, then, I noted a glow in these eyes, though they were so immediately lowered that I could not be sure. I felt, however, an extraordinary warmth beneath my collar, the suffusion of blood passing swiftly towards my forehead. I inquired if she had smiled and for what reason; whereat she immediately assured me that she had not, and smiled while making the assurance.
“I was now possessed of an unusual agitation, augmented by the manner in which Miss Cumberland looked at me out of twinkling but not unkindly eyes. What could have caused this perturbation I leave to your scientific keenness in analysis.