Kate Underwood could have given a dozen reasons why she liked him. There were for instance the superficial ones. She liked the way he tossed back the tawny sun-kissed hair from his eyes, the easy pantherish stride with which he covered ground so lightly, the set of his fine shoulders, the peculiar tint of his lean, bronzed cheeks. His laugh was joyous as the song of a bird in early spring. It made one want to shout with him. Then, too, she tremendously admired his efficiency. To look at the hard, clear eye, at the clean, well-packed build of the man, told the story. The movements of his strong, brown hands were sure and economical. They dissipated no energy. Every detail of his personality expressed a mind that did its own thinking swiftly and incisively.
“It’s curious about these documents of the old Valdes and Moreno claims. They have lain here in the vaults—that is, here and at the old Governor’s Palace—for twenty years and more untouched. Then all at once twenty people get interested in them. Scarce a day passes that lawyers are not up to look over some of the copies. You have certainly stirred things up with your suit, Mr. Gordon.”
Dick looked out of the window at the white adobe-lined streets resting in a placid coma of sun-beat.
“Don’t you reckon Santa Fe can stand a little stirring up, Miss Underwood?”
“Goodness, yes. We all get to be three hundred years old if we live in this atmosphere long enough.”
The man’s gaze shifted. “You’d have to live here a right long time, I reckon.”
A quick slant of her gay eyes reproached him. “You don’t have to be so gallant, Mr. Gordon. The State pays me fifteen hundred dollars a year to wait on you, anyhow.”
“You don’t say. As much as that? My, we’re liable to go bankrupt in New Mexico, ain’t we? And, if you want to know, I don’t say nice things to you because I have to, but because I want to.”
She laughed with a pretense at incredulity. “In another day or two I’ll find out just what special favor I’m able to do Mr. Gordon. The regular thing is to bring flowers or candy, you know. Generally they say, too, that there never has been a clerk holding this job as fit for it as I am.”
“You’re some clerk, all right. Say, where can I find the original of this Agua Caliente grant, Miss Kate?”
She smiled to herself as she went to get him a certified copy. “Only two days, and he’s using my first name. Inside of a week he’ll be calling me ‘Dearie,’” she thought. But she knew very well there was no danger. This young fellow was the kind of man that could be informal without the slightest idea of flirting or making love.
Kate Underwood’s interest in the fight between the claimants for the Valdes and Moreno grants was not based entirely upon her liking for Dick. He learned this the fourth day of his stay in Santa Fe.
“Do you know that you were followed to the hotel last night, Mr. Gordon?” she asked him, as soon as he arrived at the State House.