“Er—what? No.” He lifted his eyes, startled, and looked out across the quaint old city.
“Then is there anything the matter with my face?”
“Yes? Well, what?”
“It’s going to be hard to forget,” complained he of the goggles.
“Then look away before it’s too late,” she cried merrily; but her color deepened a little. “Good-bye, O friend of the lowly scarab!”
At the dip of the road down into the bridged arroyo, she turned, and was surprised—or at least she told herself so—to find him still looking after her.
AT THE KAST
One dines at the Gran Hotel Kast after the fashion of a champignon sous cloche. The top of the cloche is of fluted glass, with a wide aperture between it and the sides, to admit the rain in the wet season and the flies in the dry. Three balconies run up from the dining-room well to this roof, and upon these, as near to the railings as they choose, the rather conglomerate patronage of the place sleeps, takes baths, dresses, gossips, makes love, quarrels, and exchanges prophecies as to next Sunday’s bullfight, while the diners below strive to select from the bill of fare special morsels upon which they will stake their internal peace for the day. No cabaret can hold a candle to it for variety of interest. When the sudden torrential storms sweep down the mountains at meal times, the little human champignons, beneath their insufficient cloche, rush about wildly seeking spots where the drippage will not wash their food away. Commercial travelers of the tropics have a saying: “There are worse hotels in the world than the Kast—but why take the trouble?” And, year upon year, they return there for reasons connected with the other hostelries of Caracuna, which I forbear to specify.
To Miss Polly Brewster, the Kast was a place of romance. Five miles away, as the buzzard flies, she could have dined well, even elegantly, on the Brewster yacht. Would she have done it? Not for worlds! Miss Brewster was entranced by the courtly manners of her waiter, who had lost one ear and no small part of the countenance adjacent thereto, only too obviously through the agency of some edged instrument not wielded in the arts of peace. She was further delightedly intrigued by the abrupt appearance of a romantic-hued gentleman, who thrust out over the void from the second balcony an anguished face, one side of which was profusely lathered, and addressed to all the hierarchy of heaven above, and the peoples of the earth beneath, a passionate protest upon the subject of a cherished and vanished shaving brush; what time, below, the head waiter was hastily removing from sight, though not from memory, a soup tureen whose agitated surface bore a creamy froth not of a lacteal origin. One may not with impunity balance personal implements upon the too tremulous rails of the ancient Kast.