“Red” Giddings had been on the ranch with Gilbert since the very beginning. He came from the North with the young man, willing to stake all on this one venture. Like young Jones, he was not afraid. He was an efficient, well-set-up young fellow, with three consuming passions: Arizona, his harmonica, and Angela Hardy. The first saw a lot of “Red”; the second touched his lips frequently; but as for Angela—well, perhaps the poor boy kissed his harmonica so often in order to forget her lips. But if his own music charmed “Red,” it failed to have that effect upon others—particularly Uncle Henry, who went into a rage whenever he heard the detested instrument. “Red’s” music had no charms to soothe the savage breast of Henry Smith.
But another did like it. Angela once told “Red” in the moonlight—and her father had never forgiven her for her foolishness—that his harmonica never wearied her. That was enough for “Red.” Once every day he managed to find some excuse to get over to the Hardy ranch; and always his beloved instrument went along with him in his pocket, and he would approach his lady love’s castle like the troubadours of old, his foot tapping on the path while his harmonica, in the place of a lute, made soft sounds. Instantly Angela would poke her pretty head from the window, and pretend that she was a princess in distress, and he her knight who had come to release her from her prison.
Moreover, the Hardys had a wonderful cook—a woman they had brought down from Phoenix. Instead of the firecracker stuff that Uncle Henry so bitterly complained of, she, being an Irish woman, could concoct a stew that would make one’s hair curl; and her pastry was succulent and sweet, and literally melted in the mouth. Her coffee—ah! who could make better coffee? And as the meals at the Jones ranch were served sporadically, and “Red” was as healthy as a peasant and had never known the time when he couldn’t tuck away some dainty from the kitchen he ingratiated himself with Mrs. Quinn, quite won her heart, too, with his music, and was even known to desert his work for the boon of a bit of pie.
When she was suffering from the heat of the stove, and was ready to throw up her job and return to the bright lights of Phoenix, “Red” invariably came around to the door with music on his lips, his shock of hair blown by the soft wind, looking so boyish that she had to succumb to him, boil another pot of coffee, and lay a place for him at the corner of the table.
“Be off wid yez!” she always began by saying. But the insinuating harmonica was his only reply; and she ended by begging him to come in and play for her while she messed with the pots and pans, and maybe found some batter for a plate of griddle cakes.
On this particular morning, work being useless since things were going so badly for Jones, “Red” slipped up the road and reached the kitchen door just as Mrs. Quinn was washing up.
“Oh, so there ye be, me boy!” was her motherly greeting. “Come in, an’ maybe—who knows?—I’ll find a cup o’ coffee fer ye, though I’m not thinkin’ ye deserve it.”