“I’ll be damned if you will!” he said, hoarsely. “She ’s my girl now.”
A NEW PROPOSITION
To one in the least inclined toward fastidiousness, the Miners’ Home at Glencaid would scarcely appeal as a desirable place for long-continued residence. But such a one would have had small choice in the matter, as it chanced to be the only hotel there. The Miners’ Home was unquestionably unique as regards architectural details, having been constructed by sections, in accordance with the rapid development of the camp, and enjoyed the further distinction—there being only two others equally stylish in town—of being built of sawn plank, although, greatly to the regret of its unfortunate occupants, lack of seasoning had resulted in wide cracks in both walls and stairway. These were numerous, and occasionally proved perilous pitfalls to unwary travellers through the ill-lighted hall, while strict privacy within the chambers was long ago a mere reminiscence. However, these deficiencies were to be discovered only after entering. Without, the Miners’ Home put up a good front,—which along the border is considered the chief matter of importance,—and was in reality the most pretentious structure gracing the single cluttered street of Glencaid. Indeed, it was pointed at with much civic pride by those citizens never compelled to exist within its yawning walls, and, with its ornament of a wide commodious porch, appeared even palatial in comparison with the log stable upon its left flank, or the dingy tent whose worm-eaten canvas flapped dejectedly upon the right. Directly across the street, its front a perfect blaze of glass, stood invitingly the Occidental saloon; but the Widow Guffy, who operated the Miners’ Home with a strong hand, possessed an antipathy to strong liquor, which successfully kept all suspicion of intoxicating drink absent from those sacredly guarded precincts, except as her transient guests imported it internally, in the latter case she naturally remained quiescent, unless the offender became unduly boisterous. On such rare occasions Mrs. Guffy had always proved equal to the emergency, possessing Irish facility with either tongue or club.
Mr. Hampton during the course of his somewhat erratic career had previously passed several eventful weeks in Glencaid. He was neither unknown nor unappreciated at the Miners’ Home, and having on previous occasions established his reputation as a spender, experienced little difficulty now in procuring promptly the very best accommodation which the house afforded. That this arrangement was accomplished somewhat to the present discomfort of two vociferous Eastern tourists did not greatly interfere with his pleasurable interest in the situation.
“Send those two fellows in here to argue it out,” he said, languidly, after listening disgustedly to their loud lamentations in the hallway, and addressing his remarks to Mrs. Guffy, who had glanced into the room to be again assured regarding his comfort, and to express her deep regret over the unseemly racket. “The girl has fallen asleep, and I ’m getting tired of hearing so much noise.”