“Y-y-you really m-mean it?” he asked, eagerly, as though fearing the return to daylight might already have altered her decision. “C-can I c-call on you wh-wh-where you s-s-said?”
She smiled sweetly down at him, her eyes picturing undisguised admiration of his generous proportions, and frank, boyish face.
“Si, si, senor. Sapristi, why not? ’T is I, rather, who ’fraid you forget to come.”
“Y-you n-need n’t be,” he stammered, coloring. “S-senorita, I sh-shall never f-f-forget this day.”
“Quien sabe?—poof! no more vill I; but now, adios, senor.”
She touched her pony’s side sharply with the whip, and, standing motionless, Stutter watched them disappear over the abrupt ledge. Once she glanced shyly back, with a little seductive wave of the gauntleted hand, and then suddenly dropped completely out of view down the steep descent of the trail. Old Mike struck another match, and held the tiny flame to his pipe-bowl.
“An’ it’s hell ye played the day,” he remarked reflectively, his eyes glowing gloomily.
The younger man wheeled suddenly about and faced him.
“Wh-what do ye m-m-mean?”
“Jist the same whut I said, Stutter. Ye ’re a broight one, ye are. That’s the Mexican dancer down at the Gayety at San Juan, no less; and it’s dollars to doughnuts, me bye, that that dom Farnham sint her out here to take a peek at us. It wud be loike the slippery cuss, an’ I hear the two of thim are moighty chummy.”
And Stutter Brown, his huge fists clinched in anger, looked off into the dark valley below, and, forgetting his affliction of speech, swore like a man.
The far from gentle orchestra at the Gayety was playing with a vivacity which set the pulses leaping, while the densely packed audience, scarcely breathing from intensity of awakened interest, were focussing their eager eyes upon a slender, scarlet-robed figure, an enveloping cloud of gossamer floating mistily about her, her black hair and eyes vividly contrasting against the clear whiteness of her skin, as she yielded herself completely to the strange convolutions of her weird dance. The wide stage was a yellow flood of light, and she the very witch of motion. This was her third encore, but, as wildly grotesque as ever, her full skirts shimmering in the glare of the foot-lights, her tripping feet barely touching the sanded floor, her young, supple figure, light as a fairy, weaving in the perfect rhythm of music, the tireless child of Mexico leaped and spun, wheeled and twirled,—at times apparently floated upon the very air, her bare white arms extended, her wonderful eyes blazing from the exhilaration of this moment of supreme triumph.