“Looks plain enough to me,” Pink answered. “Uh course, it’s funny Blink should be the man, and be setting there listening—”
“Yes, but darn it all, Pink, there’s a funnier side to it than that, and it’s near driving me crazy trying to figure it out. Yuh needn’t tell anybody, Pink, but it’s like this: I was just merely and simply romancing when I told that there blood-curdling tale! I never was south uh the Wyoming line except when I was riding in a circus and toured through, and that’s the truth. I never was down in the San Simon basin. I never set on no pinnacle with no field glasses—” Andy stopped short his labored confession to gaze, with deep disgust, upon Pink’s convulsed figure. “Well,” he snapped, settling back on the pillow, “laugh, darn yuh! and show your ignorance! By gracious, I wish I could see the joke!” He reached up gingerly and readjusted the bandage on his head, eyed Pink sourly a moment, and with a grunt eloquent of the mood he was in turned his face to the wall.
* * * * *
MISS MARTIN’S MISSION
When Andy Green, fresh-combed and shining with soap and towel polish, walked into the dining-room of the Dry Lake Hotel, he felt not the slightest premonition of what was about to befall. His chief sensation was the hunger which comes of early rising and of many hours spent in the open, and beyond that he was hoping that the Chinaman cook had made some meat-pie, like he had the week before. His eyes, searching unobtrusively the long table bearing the unmistakable signs of many other hungry men gone before—for Andy was late—failed to warn him. He pulled out his chair and sat down, still looking for meat-pie.
“Good after_noon!_” cried an eager, feminine voice just across the table.
Andy started guiltily. He had been dimly aware that some one was sitting there, but, being occupied with other things, had not given a thought to the sitter, or a glance. Now he did both while he said good afternoon with perfunctory politeness.
“Such a beautiful day, isn’t it? so invigorating, like rare, old wine!”
Andy assented somewhat dubiously; it had never just struck him that way; he thought fleetingly that perhaps it was because he had never come across any rare, old wine. He ventured another glance. She was not young, and she wore glasses, behind which twinkled very bright eyes of a shade of brown. She had unpleasantly regular hair waves on her temples, and underneath the waves showed streaks of gray. Also, she wore a black silk waist, and somebody’s picture made into a brooch at her throat. Further, Andy dared not observe. It was enough for one glance. He looked again for the much-desired meat-pie.
The strange lady ingratiatingly passed him the bread. “You’re a cowboy, aren’t you?” was the disconcerting question that accompanied the bread.