A Border Ruffian by Thomas A. Janvier
A BORDER RUFFIAN.
By Thomas A. Janvier
Copyright, 1891, by Harper &Brothers
The Incident of the Boston Young Lady, the Commercial Traveller,
and the Desperado.
Throughout the whole of the habitable globe there nowhere is to be
found more delightful or more invigorating air than that which every
traveller through New Mexico, from Albuquerque, past Las Vegas, to the
Raton Mountains, is free to breathe.
Miss Grace Winthrop, of Boston, and also Miss Winthrop, her paternal
aunt, and also Mr. Hutchinson Port, of Philadelphia, her maternal
uncleall of whom were but forty hours removed from the Alkali Desert
west of the Continental Dividefelt in the very depths of their
several beings how entirely good this air was; and, as their several
natures moved them, they betrayed their lively appreciation of its
Miss Grace Winthrop, having contrived for herself, with the
intelligent assistance of the porter, a most comfortable nest of
pillows, suffered her novel to remain forgotten upon her knees; and, as
she leaned her pretty blond head against the wood-work separating her
section from that adjoining it, looked out upon the brown mountains,
and accorded to those largely-grand objects of nature the rare
privilege of being reflected upon the retina of her very blue eyes. Yet
the mountains could not flatter themselves with the conviction that
contemplation of them wholly filled her mind, for occasionally she
smiled a most delightful smile.
Miss Winthrop, retired from the gaze of the world in the cell that
the Pullman-car people euphemistically style a state-room, ignored all
such casual excrescences upon the face of nature as mountains, and
seriously read her morning chapter of Emerson.
Mr. Hutchinson Port, lulled by the easy, jog-trot motion of the car,
and soothed by the air from Paradise that, for his virtues, he was
being permitted to breathe, lapsed into calm and grateful slumber: and
dreamed (nor could a worthy Philadelphian desire a better dream) of a
certain meeting of the Saturday Night Club, in December, 1875, whereat
the terrapin was remarkable, even for Philadelphia.
Miss Winthrop, absorbed in her Emersonian devotions, and Mr.
Hutchinson Port, absorbed in slumber, did not perceive that the slow
motion of the train gradually became slower, and finally entirely
ceased; and even Grace, lost in her pleasant daydream, scarcely
observed that the unsightly buildings of a little way-station had
thrust themselves into the foreground of her landscapefor this
foreground she ignored, keeping her blue eyes serenely fixed upon the
great brown mountains beyond. Nor was she more than dimly conscious of
the appearance upon the station platform of a tall, broad-shouldered
young man clad in corduroy, wearing a wide-brimmed felt-hat, and girded
about with a belt, stuck full of cartridges, from which depended a very
big revolver. In a vague way she was conscious of this young man's
existence, and of an undefined feeling that, as the type of a dangerous
and interesting class, his appearance was opportune in a part of the
country which she had been led to believe was inhabited almost
exclusively by cut-throats and outlaws.
In a minute or two the train went on again, and as it started Grace
was aroused and shocked by the appearance at the forward end of the car
of the ruffianly character whom she had but half seen from the car
window. For a moment she believed that the train-robbery, that she had
been confidently expecting over since her departure from San Francisco,
was about to take place. Her heart beat hard, and her breath came
quickly. But before these symptoms had time to become alarming the
desperado had passed harmlessly to the rear end of the car, and after
him had come the porter carrying his valise and a Winchester rifle.
Goin' to Otero? Yes, sah! All right, sah! Put yo' heah; nice seat
on shady side, sah! Thank yo', sah! Have a pillow, sah? And, hearing
this address on the part of the porter, Grace knew that the desperado,
for the moment at least, was posing in the character of a law-abiding
citizen, and was availing himself of his rights as such to ride in a
Pullman-car. Being thus relieved of cause for immediate alarm, her
breast presently began to swell with a fine indignation at the
impudence of this abandoned person in thus thrusting himself into a
place reserved, if not absolutely for aristocratic, certainly, at
least, for respectable society.
The slight stir incident to the entrance of this offensive stranger
aroused Mr. Hutchinson Port from his agreeable slumber. He yawned
slightly, cast a disparaging glance upon the mountains, and then,
drawing an especially good cigar from his case, betook himself to the
smoking-room. Grace did not realize his intentions until they had
become accomplished deeds.
Mr. Hutchinson Portalthough a member (on the retired list) of the
First City Troop, and therefore, presumably, inflamed with the martial
spirit characteristic of that ancient and honorable organizationwas
not, perhaps, just the man that a person knowing in such matters would
have selected to pit against a New Mexico desperado in a hand-to-hand
conflict. But Grace felt her heart sink a little as she saw the round
and rather pursy form of her natural protector walk away into the
depths of a mirror at the forward end of the car, and so vanish. And in
this same mirror she beheld, seated only two sections behind her, the
The situation, as Grace regarded it, was an alarming one; and it was
the more trying to her nerves because it did not, reasonably, admit of
action. She was aware that the very presence of a ruffian in a Pullman
car was in the nature of a promise, on his part, that for the time
being it was not his intention either to murder or to robunless,
indeed, he were one of a robber band, and was awaiting the appearance
of his confederates. For her either to call her uncle, or break in upon
the Emersonian seclusion of her aunt, she felt would not be well
received, under the circumstances, by either of these her relatives. As
to the porter, that sable functionary had vanished; there was no
electric bell, and the car, one of a Pullman train, had no conductor.
For protection, therefore, should need for protection arise, Grace
perceived that she must depend upon the one other passenger. (They had
lingered so long amid the delights of a Santa Barbara spring that they
were journeying in that pleasant time of year when spring travel
eastward has ended, and summer travel has not yet begun.) This one
other passenger was a little man of dapper build and dapper dress,
whose curiously-shaped articles of luggage betokened his connection
with commercial affairs. Grace was forced to own, as she now for the
first time regarded him attentively, that he did not seem to be wrought
of the stern stuff out of which, as a rule, champions are made.
As she thus looked upon him, she was startled to find that he was
looking very fixedly upon her; and she was further startled, as their
eyes met, by the appearance upon his face of a friendly smile. She
would have been vastly surprised had she been aware that this little
person labored under the belief that he had already effected a
favorable lodgement in her good graces; and she would have been both
surprised and horrified could she have known that each of her own
strictly confidential smiles during her day-dream had been accepted by
the commercial traveller as intended for himself; and had been met, as
they successively appeared, by his own smiles in answer. Yet this was
the actual state of the case; and the little man's soul was uplifted by
the thought that here was a fresh proof, and a very pleasant one, of
how irresistible were his personal appearance and his personal charm of
manner when arrayed in battery against any one of the gentler sex.
Viewed from the stand-point of his experience, this inquiring look
and its attendant eye-encounter indicated that the moment for more
pronounced action now had arrived. With the assured air of one who
possibly may be repulsed, but who certainly cannot be defeated, he
arose from his seat, crossed to Miss Grace Winthrop's section, and,
with a pleasant remark to the effect that in travelling it always was
nice to be sociable, edged himself into the seat beside her.
For a moment, the insolent audacity of this move was so overwhelming
that Grace was quite incapable of coherent expression. The lovely pink
of her cheeks became a deep crimson that spread to the very tips of her
ears; her blue eyes flashed, and her hands clinched instinctively.
Looked like a perfect little blue-eyed devil, the drummer
subsequently declared, in narrating a highly-embellished version of his
adventure, but she didn't mean it, you knowat least, only for a
minute or two. I soon combed her down nicely. What he actually said,
Been travellin' far, miss?
What do you mean by this? Go away! Grace managed to say; but she
could not speak very clearly, for she was choking.
Come, don't get mad, miss! I know you're not mad, really, anyway.
When a woman's as handsome as you are, she can't be bad-natured. Come
from California, I suppose? Nice country over there, ain't it?
What with surprise and rage and fright, Grace was very nearly
frantic For the moment she was powerlessher uncle in the
smoking-room, her aunt locked up with her Emersonian meditations, the
porter in the lobby; the only available person upon whom she could call
for aid a horrible drunken murderer and robber, steeped in all the
darkest crimes of the frontier! She felt herself growing faint, but she
struggled to her feet. The drummer laid his hand on her arm: Don't go
away, my dear! Just stay and have a little talk. You see
But the sentence was not finished. Grace felt her head buzzing, and
then, from somewherea long way off, it seemedshe heard a voice
saying: I beg your pardon; this thing seems to be annoying you. Permit
me to remove it.
Her head cleared a little, for there was a promise of helpnot only
in the words but in the tone. And then she saw the desperado calmly
settle a big hand into the collar of the little man's coat, lift him
out of the seat and well up into the air, and so carry him at
arm's-lengthkicking and struggling, and looking for all the world
like a jumping-jackout through the passage-way at the forward end of
As they disappeared, she precipitately sought refuge in the
state-roomwhere Miss Winthrop was aroused from her serious
contemplation of All-pervading Thought by a sudden and most energetic
demand upon her protection and her salts-bottle. And, before she could
be made in the least degree to comprehend why Grace should require
either the one or the other, Grace had still further complicated and
mystified the matter by fainting dead away.
In the course of two or three hoursaided by Miss Winthrop's salts
and Mr. Hutchinson Port's travelling-flask of peculiar old Otard, which
together contributed calmness and strength, and being refreshed by a
little slumberGrace was able to explain in an intelligible manner the
adventure that had befallen her.
And no matter what dreadful crimes that horrible man may have
committed, she said, in conclusion. I shall be most grateful to him
to my dying day. And I want you, Uncle Hutchinson, no matter how
unpleasant it may be to you to do so, to thank him from me for what he
did. And, oh! it was so funny to see that detestable little impudent
man kicking about that way in the air! Which remembrance, at the same
moment, of both the terrifying and the ludicrous side of her recent
experience, not unnaturally sent Grace off into hysterics.
Mr. Hutchinson Port was quite ready to carry the message of thanks
to the desperado, and to add to it some very hearty thanks of his own.
But his good intentions could not be realized; the desperado no longer
was on the train.
Yes, sah; I knows the gen'l'm yo' means, sah, responded the
porter, in answer to inquiries. Pow'fl big gen'l'm yo' means, as got
on this mo'nin' to Vegas. Thet's th' one, sah! He'd some kind er
trib-bilation with th' little gen'l'm'th' drummer gen'lm' as got on
las' night to Lamyan' he brought him out, holdin' him like he was a
kitten, to the lobby, an' jus' set him down an' boxed his ears till he
hollered! Yes, sah, thet's th' one. He got off to Otero. An' th' little
man he got off to Trinidad, an' said he was agoin' up by the Denver to
Pueblo. Yes, sah; they's both got off, sah! Thank yo', sah! Get yo' a
And so it came to pass that Miss Grace Winthrop returned to Boston
cherishing towards desperadoes in general, and towards the desperadoes
of New Mexico in particular, sentiments as generous as they were
Miss Winthrop the elder, whose soul was accustomed to a purer ether
than that in which desperadoes ordinarily are found, presently forgot
the vicarious excitements of her journey eastward in the calm joys of
the Summer School of Philosophy.
And Mr. Hutchinson Port longed to be able to forget the whole State
of California: when he realized, as he did with a most bitter keenness,
that the superficial charms of that greatly overrated region had
detained him upon the Western coast until the terrapin season was
absolutely at an end!
The Incident of the Mysterious Stranger, and the Philadelphia
Mrs. Rittenhouse Smith had achieved righteousness. That is to say,
being a Philadelphian, she was celebrated for giving successful
dinners. The person who achieves celebrity of this sort in Philadelphia
is not unlike the seraph who attains to eminence in the heavenly choir.
It was conceded that Mr. Rittenhouse Smith (he was one of the
Smiths, of coursenot the others. His mother was a Biddle) was an
important factor in his wife's success; for, as became a
well-brought-up Philadelphian, he attended personally to the marketing.
But had these Smith dinners been commendable only because the food was
good, they would not have been at all remarkable. In Philadelphia, so
far as the eating is concerned, a bad dinner seems to be an
In truth, Mrs. Smith's dinners were famous because they never were
marred by even the slightest suggestion of a contretemps;
because they glided along smoothly, and at precisely the proper rate of
speed, from oysters to coffee; and, becauseand to accomplish this in
Philadelphia was to accomplish something very little short of a
miraclethey never were stupid.
Therefore it was that Mrs. Rittenhouse Smith stood among the elect,
with a comfortable sense of security in her election; and she smelled
with a satisfied nose the smell of the social incense burned before her
shrine; and she heard with well-pleased ears the social hosannas which
constantly were sung in her praise.
Occupying a position at once so ornate and so enviable, the feelings
of Mrs. Rittenhouse Smith may be imagined upon finding herself
confronted. with the tragical probability that one of her most
important dinner-parties would be a failure.
In preparing for this dinner-party she had thought deeply in the
still watches of the night, and she had pondered upon it in the silence
of noonday. For Mrs. Smith, above all others, knew that only by such
soulful vigilance can a perfect dinner be secured. It was her desire
that it should be especially bright intellectually, for it was to be
given to Miss Winthrop, of Boston, and was to include Miss Winthrop's
niece, Miss Grace Winthrop, also of Boston. These ladies, as she knew,
belonged to clubs which, while modestly named after the days of the
week, were devoted wholly to the diffusion of the most exalted mental
culture. Moreover, they both were on terms of intimacy with Mr. Henry
James. On the other hand, it was her desire that the dinner should be
perfect materially, because among her guests was to be Miss Grace
Winthrop's uncle, Mr. Hutchinson Port. It was sorely against Mrs.
Smith's will that Mr. Hutchinson Port was included in her list, for he
had the reputation of being the most objectionable diner-out in
Philadelphia. His conversation at table invariably consisted solely of
disparaging remarks, delivered in an undertone to his immediate
neighbors, upon the character and quality of the food. However, in the
present case, as Miss Grace Winthrop's uncle, he was inevitable.
And, such was Mrs. Smith's genius, she believed that she had
mastered the situation. Her listexcepting, of course, Mr. Hutchinson
Port, and he could not reasonably be objected to by his own
relativeswas all that she could desire. The nine other guests, she
was satisfied, were such as could be exhibited creditably even to
ladies belonging to Boston clubs and personally acquainted with Mr.
Henry James. As to the dinner itself, Mr. Rittenhouse Smith, who never
spoke inconsiderately in matters of this grave nature, had agreed with
her thatbarring, of course, some Providentially interposed calamity
such as scorching the ducks or getting too much salt in the
terrapineven Mr. Hutchinson Port would be unable to find a flaw in
And now, at the last moment, at twelve o'clock of the day on which
the dinner was to take place, came a note from the man upon whom she
had most strongly counted to make the affair a successthe brightest
man on her list, and the one who was to take out Miss Grace
Winthropsaying that he was laid up with a frightful cold and
face-ache! He tried to make a joke of it, poor fellow, by adding a
sketchhe sketched quite nicelyof his swelled cheek swathed in a
handkerchief. But Mrs. Rittenhouse Smith was in no humor for joking;
she was furious!
When a woman misses fire in this way, it usually is possible to fill
her place with a convenient young sister, or even with an elderly aunt.
But when a man is wanted, and, especially, as in the case in point, a
clever man, the matter very readily may become desperate. Mrs.
Rittenhouse Smith certainly was dismayed, yet was she not utterly cast
down. She had faith in her own quick wits, which had rescued her in
times past from other social calamities, though never from one darker
than this, of having, at a single fatal blow, her best man cut off from
one of her most important dinner-parties, and the dinner-party itself
reduced to thirteen; an ominous and dismal number that surely would be
discovered, and that would cast over her feast a superstitious gloom.
In this trying emergency Mrs. Smith acted with characteristic
decision and wisdom. She perceived that to send invitations
simultaneously to all the possible men of her acquaintance might
involve her in still more awkward complications, while to send
invitations successively might result in a fatal loss of time.
Obviously, the only practicable course was a series of prompt, personal
appeals from one to another, until assurance was received that the
vacant place certainly would be filled. Therefore she despatched a note
to Mr. Rittenhouse Smith, at his down-town office, acquainting him with
the impending catastrophe and bidding him drop all other concerns until
he had averted it by securing a satisfactory man.
Now, under ordinary circumstances, Mr. Rittenhouse Smith would have
obeyed his wife's orders cheerfully and promptly; but on this
particular day there was a flurry in the stock-market (Mr. Smith was a
stock-broker), and every minute that he was away from his office
exposed him to serious business danger. At what he considered to be the
safest moments, he made no less than five sallies after as many
different men; and three of these had engagements for the evening, and
two of them were out of town. What with the condition of the
stock-market and the gloomy outlook for the dinner-party, Mr. Smith,
albeit he was ordinarily a calm, sedate man, was almost distraught.
Three o'clock brought a prospect of relief, but after a day of such
active dealing his books could not be settled hurriedly. In point of
fact, when at last he was able to leave his Third Street office the
State House clock was striking five; and the dinner, in accordance with
Philadelphia custom, was to be at seven! He knew that his wife had
discharged into his hands the matter of procuring the needed man; and
he knew that this line of action on her part had been both right and
wise; but he groaned in spirit, as he thought how dreadful a
responsibility was his!
Mr. Smith was a methodical man, and in the calmness partly bred of
his naturally orderly habits, and partly bred of his despair, he seated
himself at his desk, in company with a comforting cigar, to think of
any possible men whom he might beat up at their homes as he went
westward. While he thus meditatedand while blackness settled down
upon his soul, for of none could he think available for his purposehe
looked idly at the list of hotel arrivals in the morning paper that
chanced to lie beside him; and suddenly he arose with a great shout of
joy, for in this list he beheld the name, Van R. Livingstone.
Here, indeed, was good-fortune at last! Van Rensselaer Livingstone
was in college with him, in his own class, at Harvard. They had been
capital friends while their college life lasted; and although
Livingstone had spent the last ten or twelve years in Europe, they had
not wholly lost track of each other. Clever, handsome, well-born, and
well-bred, he was everything that the present occasion required. He
seemed to have been sent from heaven direct. In twenty minutes Mr.
Smith was asking for him at his hotel.
Mr. Livingstone? Mr. Livingstone is out.
Did he leave any word as to when he would come in?
Yes, sir. He said that a gentleman might call, and to say that he
certainly would be back at six, and would not go out again to-night.
Mr. Smith looked at his watchit was 5:30. Had there been any
uncertainty as to Livingstone's return, he would have waited. But it
was clear that he was coming back to dine at his hotel, and to spend
the evening there. A note, therefore, could be trusted to do the
business, and by writing, instead of waiting, Mr. Smith would save half
an hour; moreover, if he waited, he would not have time to make the
Probably it is only in Philadelphia that it ever occurs nowadays to
the master of a feast to dress the salad; which, doubtless, is the
reason why a better salad is served at certain dinner-tables in
Philadelphia than at any other dinner-tables in the whole world.
The thought of the mayonnaise settled the matter. Mr. Smith hastily
wrote an account of the trying situation, and concluded his note with a
solemn demand upon dear old Van to fill the vacant place, in the
holy name of the class of '68, and for love of your old classmate, R.
Presently the person thus adjured returned to his hotel, and with a
somewhat puzzled expression read the adjuration. R. Smith, he
murmured, reflectively. I think I do remember a Dicky Smith, from
Philadelphia, at Columbia. But he wasn't in my class, and my class
wasn't '68, but '76, and I don't remember ever saying a dozen words to
him. He's got a good deal of cheek, whoever he isand he, and his
dinner, and his missing man may all go to the devil together! His
invitation is absurd! And with this ultimatum Mr. Livingstone laid the
letter and envelope neatly together, preparatory to tearing them into
But before this purpose was accomplished, another view of the
situation came into his mind. I don't see why I shouldn't go, he
thought. I've been muddling all day with this wretched wool manwhich
is a bore, even if I have made a pretty good bargain with him for next
season's clip; and Ned hasn't come to time, which is another bore, for
now I'll have to eat my dinner alone. And this Dicky Smith writes like
a gentleman, even if he is cheeky; and he certainly seems to be in a
peck of troubles about his missing man, and his thirteen at table, and
the rest of it. Why, it's a regular adventure! And to think of having
an adventure in Philadelphia, of all places in the world! By Jove, I'll
How very, very good of you, Mr. Livingstone, to come to our
rescue! It was Mrs. Rittenhouse Smith who spoke, and she spoke in a
guarded tone; for Livingstone was among the last to arrive, and she had
no desire to publish among her guests the catastrophe that so nearly
had overtaken her.
And I know, she continued: that you will understand how sorry I
am that this first visit of Mr. Smith's old friend to our house should
be under such peculiar circumstances. But you will have your reward,
for you are to take out the very prettiest and the very brightest girl
here. Come and be rewarded! And Mrs. Smith slipped her hand upon her
benefactor's arm, and piloted him across the room.
Miss Winthrop, permit me to present Mr. Livingstone. Miss Winthrop
is half Boston and half European, Mr. Livingstone; and as you, after
these ten years abroad, must be wholly European, you can cheer each
other as fellow foreigners in the midst of Philadelphia
barbarismwith which pleasant speech the hostess turned quickly to
receive the last arrival (a man, of course; only a man would dare to be
even near to late at one of Mrs. Rittenhouse Smith's dinners), and
then, standing beside the doorway, with Mr. Hutchinson Port, marshalled
her company in to dinner. It was a comfort to her to know that for once
in his fault-finding life Mr. Port would be compelled, since he was to
be seated beside his hostess, to eat his food without abusing it.
Just at this time two things struck Mrs. Smith as odd. One was that
as she presented her handsome guest to Miss Grace Winthrop she
certainly had felt him start, while his arm had trembled curiously
beneath her hand. The other was that as Mr. Rittenhouse Smith left the
drawing-room, passing close beside her with Miss Winthrop upon his arm,
he made a face at her. The first of these phenomena struck her as
curious. The second struck her as ominous. Had it been possible she
would have investigated the cause of Mr. Smith's facial demonstration.
But it was not possible. She only could breathe a silent prayer that
all would go welland the while sniff anxiously to discover if
perchance there were a smell of scorching duck.
Mrs. Smith would have been still more mystified could she have been
cognizant at this juncture of her husband's and of Miss Grace
Winthrop's and of Mr. Livingstone's thoughts.
The first of these was thinking: It isn't Van Rensselaer
Livingstone, any more than I am; though he certainly looks like him.
And I'm sure that he knows that he don't know me. And I think that
we've managed to get into a blank idiotic mess!
And the second of these was thinking: If he's been in Europe for
the past ten years, there's not one chance in fifty that I ever have
laid eyes on him. But I know I have!
And the third of these was thinking: There isn't man in the room
who looks enough like Dicky Smith to be his tenth cousin. But if ever
the goodness of heaven was shown in the affairs of men it is shown here
to me to-night!
Even as the sun triumphs over the darkness of night and the gloom of
the tempest, so did Mrs. Rittenhouse Smith's dinner-party emerge
radiantly from the sombre perils which had beset it. It was a
brilliant, unqualified success.
Miss Winthrop was good enough to say, when the evening was
endedsaying it in that assured, unconscious way that gives to the
utterances of Boston people so peculiar a charmReally, Mrs. Smith,
you have given me not only a delightful dinner, but a delightful
surprise; I would not have believed, had I not seen it myself, that
outside of Boston so many clever people could be brought together!
And Mr. Hutchinson Port, upsetting all his traditions, had kept up a
running fire of laudatory comment upon the dinner that had filled Mrs.
Smith's soul with joy. She had expected him, being cut off by her
presence from engaging in his accustomed grumbling, to maintain a moody
silence. She had not expected praise: and she valued his praise the
more because she knew that he spoke out of the fulness of his wisdom;
and because in a matter of such vital moment as eating she knew that
she could trust him to be sincere. His only approach to invidious
comment was in regard to the terrapin.
With the grave solemnity that marks the serving of this delicacy in
Philadelphia; in the midst of a holy calm befitting a sacred rite, the
silver vessels were carried around the board, and in hushed rapture (a
little puzzling to the Bostonians) the precious mixture was ladled out
upon the fourteen plates; and Mr. Hutchinson Port, as the result of
many years of soulful practice, was able to secure to himself at one
dexterous scoop more eggs than fell to the lot of any other two men.
It was while rapturously eating these eggs that he spake: My dear
Mrs. Smith, will you forgive me if I venture to suggest, even to
youfor what I have seen this night has convinced me that you are one
of the very few people who know what a dinner ought to bethat the
Madeira used in dressing terrapin cannot possibly be too old?
Proceeding in accordance with the cue that Mrs. Smith had given her,
Miss Grace Winthrop engaged Mr. Livingstone in conversation upon
European topics; and was somewhat astonished to find, in view of his
past ten years in Europe, that they evidently had very little interest
for him. And all the while that she talked with him she was haunted by
the conviction that she had seen him somewhere; and all the while she
was aware of something in his manner, she could not tell what, that
seemed to imply that she ought to know who he was.
What Miss Grace Winthrop did feel entirely certain about, however,
was that this was one of the cleverest and one of the manliest men she
had ever come across. His well-shaped hands were big and brown, and his
face was brown, and the set of his head and the range of his broad
shoulders gave him an alert look and a certain air of command. There
was that about him which suggested a vigorous life in the open air.
There was nothing to suggest ten years in Europe, unless it were the
charm of his manner, and his neat way of saying bright things.
As for Livingstone, he was as one who at the same time is both
entranced and inspired. He knew that he never had been happier in his
life; he knew that he never had said so many clever things in so short
a time. Therefore it was that these young people always thereafter were
most harmoniously agreed that this was the very happiest dinner that
they had eaten in all their lives.
It came to an end much too soon for either of them. The ladies left
the room, and cigars were invoked to fill their place. This was the
moment that Livingstone had looked forward to as affording the first
practicable opportunity for taking his host apart and explaining that
his, Livingstone's, presence at that particular feast certainly must be
owing to some mistake. And this was the moment that Mr. Smith, also,
had looked forward to as available for clearing up the mysteryof
which his wife still was blissfully ignorantas to who their stranger
guest really was. But the moment now being come, Livingstone weakly but
deliberately evaded it by engaging in an animated conversation with Mr.
Hutchinson Port in regard to the precise number of minutes and seconds
that a duck ought to remain before the fire; and Mr. Smithhaving
partaken of his own excellent wines and meats until his whole being was
aglow with a benevolent friendlinesscontented himself with thinking
that, no matter who his guest was, he certainly was a capital fellow;
and that to cross-question him as to his name, at least until the
evening was at an end, would be a gross outrage upon the laws of
Livingstone, however, had the grace to feel a good deal ashamed of
himself as they returned to the drawing-room. In all that had gone
before, he had been a victim of circumstances. He had an uncomfortable
conviction that his position now was not wholly unlike that of an
impostor. But as he pushed aside the portiere he beheld a pair of blue
eyes which, he flattered himself, betrayed an expression of pleased
expectancyand his compunctions vanished.
There was only a little time left to them, for the evening was
almost at an end. Their talk came back to travel. Did she like
travelling in America? he asked. Yes, she liked it very much indeed,
only as a sudden memory of a past experience flashed into her
mindone does sometimes meet such dreadfully horrid people!
They were sitting, as they talked, in a narrow space between a table
and the wall, made narrower by the presence of an unused chair. Just as
this memory was aroused, some one tried to push by them, and
Livingstone, rising, lifted the obstructing chair away. To find a clear
space in which to put it down, he lifted it across the table; and for a
moment he stood erect, holding the chair out before him at
When he seated himself and turned again to speak to Grace, he was
startled to find that her face and shoulders, and even her armsher
arms and shoulders were delectablewere crimson; and in her eyes he
found at last the look of recognition that he had hoped for earlier in
the evening, but that now he had ceased to expect. Recognition of this
emphatic sort he certainly had not expected at all.
Youyou see, she said, I alalways have thought that you were a
robber and a murderer, and shocking things like that. And I didn't
really see you that day, except as you walked away, holding up that
horrid little man, kickingjust as you held up the chair. Can you
ever, ever forgive me for thinking such wicked things about you, and
for being so ungrateful as not to know you at the very first?
And Livingstone, then and later, succeeded in convincing her that he
By an emphatic whisper Miss Grace Winthrop succeeded in impressing
upon her aunt the necessityat no matter what sacrifice of the social
conventionsof being the last to go. In the matter of keeping
Livingstone, she experienced no difficulty at all. And when the
unnecessary eight had departed, she presented to her aunt and uncle her
deliverer, andin a delightfully hesitating waytold to Mr. and Mrs.
Smith the story of her deliverance.
It was when this matter had been explained that Livingstone, who
felt that his position now was absolutely secure, brought up the
delicate question of his own identity.
You can understand, I am sure, Mrs. Smith, he said, how very
grateful I am to you for this evening; but, indeed, I don't think that
I am the person you meant to ask. And it has occurred to me, from
something that you said about my having been in Europe for a good
while, that Mr. Smith might have meant his invitation for Van
Rensselaer Livingstone. He's my cousin, you know; and he has spent the
last ten years in Europe, and is there yet, I fancy. But I am Van
Ruyter Livingstone, and if I can be said to have a home
anywhereexcept the old home in New York, of courseit is on my sheep
range in New Mexico.
But you won't be cruel enough, Mrs. Smith, after letting me into
Paradiseeven if I did get in by mistaketo turn me out again; will
And Mrs. Rittenhouse Smith, who was a clever woman, as well as a
remarkably clear-sighted one, replied that even if she wanted to turn
Mr. Van Ruyter Livingstone out of Paradise she believed that it was now