But ah! she was Eve enough for any Eden—a tall girl, rounded, firm formed, with a mass of good brown hair, and a frank gray eye, and a regular and smooth forehead. Her garb was a cool, gray serge, and, a miracle here in this desert, it was touched here and there with immaculate white, how, after that cruel ninety miles, none but a woman might tell. A cool, gray veil was rolled about her hatbrim. Her hands, shapely and good, were gloved in gray. Her foot, trim and well shaped,—for even a desolate pariah might note so much,—was shod in no ultra fashion, but in good feminine gear with high and girlish heels, all unsuited to gravel and slide-rock, yet exceeding good, as it seemed at that time. The girl raised her eyes, smiling frankly. There was no cold cream traceable. The first thought of Learned Counsel was that her complexion would brown nicely under sunburn; his second thought was that he had on overalls,—a fact which had escaped him for more than four years.
If Eve, new come within Heart’s Desire, felt any surprise, or if she even experienced any pique at the calm deportment of Dan Anderson, she masked it all and put all at ease with a few words spoken in that manner of voice which is an excellent thing in woman. In a sort of dream the coach trundled on up the street, to pause for half an instant in front of the commercial emporium of Whiteman the Jew. Whiteman came out with his hat above his head, and said, “Velgome.”
The girl looked backward down the street as they turned to cross the arroyo beyond which stood the house of the Kansas family, where Curly lived. The off mule limped. “Poor little fellow,” she said; “I wanted them to stop. They have no pity—”
“No,” said Learned Counsel to her, “there is no such thing as pity in all the world.” She fell silent at this, and looked back once more, unconsciously, down the street, as one who would gladly pity, or be pitied. But soon the coach was at Curly’s house, and there came out to meet it, already forewarned of her guest, the Littlest Girl, wiping her hands on her apron, which means Welcome on the frontier.
The Littlest Girl, uncertain and overawed by her visitor, came forward and took a first look. Then she suddenly held out her arms; and Constance Ellsworth, from the East, lonely, perhaps grieved, walked straight into the outstretched arms and straight into the heart of the Littlest Girl from Kansas.
TEMPTATION AT HEART’S DESIRE
Showing how Paradise was lost through the Strange Performance of a Craven Adam
The hotel of Uncle Jim Brothers, to which Dan Anderson led Mr. Ellsworth, was a long, low adobe, earthen roofed. The window-panes were very small, where any still remained. The interior of the hotel consisted of a long dining room, a kitchen, a room where Uncle Jim slept, and a very few other rooms, guest chambers where any man might rest if very weary from one cause or another. The front door was always open. The hotel of Uncle Jim Brothers, not being civilized but utterly barbaric, was anchorage for the Dead Broke, in a way both hotel and bank.