O’Reilly had met women with ideals, with purposes, with avocations, and his opinion of them was low. Women who had “missions” were always tiresome, he had discovered. This one, it appeared, was unusual only in that she had adopted a particularly exacting form of charitable work. Nursing, even as a rich woman’s diversion, must be anything but agreeable. O’Reilly pictured this Evans person in his mind—a large, plain, elderly creature, obsessed with impractical ideas of uplifting the masses! She would undoubtedly bore him stiff with stories of her work: she would reproach him with neglect of his duties to the suffering. Johnnie was too poor to be charitable and too deeply engrossed at the moment with his own troubles to care anything whatever about the “masses.”
And she was a “miss.” That meant that she wore thick glasses and probably kept cats.
A ringing laugh from the cramped hallway interrupted these reflections; then a moment later Doctor Alvarado was introducing O’Reilly to a young woman so completely out of the picture, so utterly the opposite of his preconceived notions, that he was momentarily at a loss. Johnnie found himself looking into a pair of frank gray eyes, and felt his hand seized by a firm, almost masculine grasp. Miss Evans, according to his first dazzling impression, was about the most fetching creature he had ever seen and about the last person by whom any young man could be bored. If she kept cats they must be pedigreed Persian cats, and well worth keeping, Johnnie decided. The girl—and she was a girl—had brought into the room an electric vitality, a breeziness hard to describe. Her eyes were humorous and intelligent; her teeth, which she seemed always ready to show in a friendly, generous smile, were strong and white and sparkling. Altogether she was such a vision of healthy, unaffected, and smartly gotten-up young womanhood that O’Reilly could only stammer his acknowledgment of the introduction, inwardly berating himself for his awkwardness. He was aware of Alvarado’s amusement, and this added to his embarrassment.
“The doctor has told me all about you.” Miss Evans addressed Johnnie over her shoulder as she laid off her furs and a stylish little turban hat. “I’m dying to hear what happened on your trip.”
“So am I,” confessed Alvarado. “You know, Mr. O’Reilly has seen my brothers.”
“You men must go right ahead and talk as if I weren’t here. I won’t interrupt, except with a few vivas or carambas or—What are some other lady-like Spanish exclamations?”
“There aren’t very many,” Johnnie acknowledged. “I always try to swear in English.”
Alvarado placed an affectionate hand upon Miss Evans’s shoulder. “O’Reilly, this girl has done more for Cuba than any of us. She has spent a small fortune for medical supplies,” said he.
“Those poor men must live on quinine,” the girl exclaimed. “Any one who can bear to take the stuff ought to have all he wants. I’ve a perfect passion for giving pills.”