Bucky O'Connor by William MacLeod Raine
Chapter 6. Bucky Makes a Discovery
For a week Bucky had been in the little border town of Noches, called there by threats of a race war between the whites and the Mexicans. Having put the quietus on this, he was returning to Epitaph by way of the Huachuca Mountains. There are still places in Arizona where rapid transit can be achieved more expeditiously on the back of a bronco than by means of the railroad, even when the latter is available. So now Bucky was taking a short cut across country instead of making the two train changes, with the consequent inevitable delays that would have been necessary to travel by rail.
He traveled at night and in the early morning, to avoid the heat of the midday sun, and it was in the evening of the second and last day that the skirts of happy chance led him to an adventure that was to affect his whole future life. He knew a waterhole on the Del Oro, where cows were wont to frequent even in the summer drought, and toward this he was making in the fag-end of the sultry day. While still some hundred yards distant he observed a spiral of smoke rising from a camp-fire at the spring, and he at once made a more circumspect approach. For it might be any one of a score of border ruffians who owed him a grudge and would be glad to pay it in the silent desert that tells no tales and betrays no secrets to the inquisitive.
He flung the bridle-rein over his pony's neck and crept forward on foot, warily and noiselessly. While still some little way from the water-hole he was arrested by a sound that startled him. He could make out a raucous voice in anger and a pianissimo accompaniment of womanish sobs.
"You're mine to do with as I like. I'm your uncle. I've raised you from a kid, and, by the great mogul! you can't sneak off with the first good-for nothing scoundrel that makes eyes at you. Thought you had slipped away from me, you white-faced, sniveling little idiot, but I'll show you who is master."
The lash of a whip rose and fell twice on quivering flesh before Bucky leaped into the fireglow and wrested the riding-whip from the hands of the angry man who was plying it.
"Dare to touch a woman, would you?" cried the ranger, swinging the whip vigorously across the broad shoulders of the man. "Take that--and that--and that, you brute!"
But when Bucky had finished with the fellow and flung him a limp, writhing huddle of welts to the ground, three surprises awaited him. The first was that it was not a woman he had rescued at all, but a boy, and, as the flickering firelight played on his face, the ranger came to an unexpected recognition. The slim lad facing him was no other than Frank Hardman, whom he had left a few days before at the Rocking Chair under the care of motherly Mrs. Mackenzie. The young man's eyes went back with instant suspicion to the fellow he had just punished, and his suspicions were verified when the leaping light revealed the face of the showman Anderson.
Bucky laughed. "I ce'tainly seem to be interfering in your affairs a good deal, Mr. Anderson. You may take my word for it that you was the last person in the world I expected to meet here, unless it might be this boy. I left him safe at a ranch fifty miles from here, and I left you a staid business man of Epitaph. But it seems neither of you stayed hitched. Why for this yearning to travel?"
"He found me where I was staying. I was out riding alone on an errand for Mrs. Mackenzie when he met me and made me go with him. He has arranged to have me meet his wife in Mexico. The show wouldn't draw well without me. You know I do legerdemain," Frank explained, in his low, sweet voice.
"So you had plans of your own, Mr. Anderson. Now, that was right ambitious of you. But I reckon I'll have to interfere with them again. Go through him, kid, and relieve him of any guns he happens to be garnished with. Might as well help yourself to his knives, too. He's so fond of letting them fly around promiscuous he might hurt himself. Good.
Now we can sit down and have a friendly talk. Where did you say you was intending to spend the next few weeks before I interrupted so unthinking and disarranged your plans? I'm talking to you, Mr. Anderson."
"I was heading for Sonora," the man whined.
What Bucky thought was: "Right strange direction to be taking for Sonora. I'll bet my pile you were going up into the hills to meet some of Wolf Leroy's gang. But why you were taking the kid along beats me, unless it was just cussedness." What he said was:
"Oh, you'll like Epitaph a heap better. I allow you ought to stay at that old town. It's a real interesting place. Finished in the adobe style and that sort of thing. The jail's real comfy, too."
"Would you like something to eat, sir?" presently asked Frank timidly.
"Would I? Why, I'm hungry enough to eat a leather mail-sack. Trot on your grub, young man, and watch my smoke."
Bucky did ample justice to the sandwiches and lemonade the lad set in front of him, but he ate with a wary eye on a possible insurrection on the part of his prisoner.
"I'm a new man," he announced briskly, when he had finished. "That veal loaf sandwich went sure to the right spot. If you had been a young lady instead of a boy you couldn't fix things up more appetizing."
The lad's face flushed with embarrassment, apparently at the ranger's compliment, and the latter, noticed how delicate the small face was. It made an instinctive, wistful appeal for protection, and Bucky felt an odd little stirring at his tender Irish heart.
"Might think I was the kid's father to see what an interest I take in him," the young man told himself reprovingly. "It's all tommyrot, too. A boy had ought to have more grit. I expect he needed that licking all right I saved him from."
When Bucky had eaten, the camp things were repacked for travel. Epitaph was only twenty-three miles away, and the ranger preferred to ride in the cool of the night rather than sit up till daybreak with his prisoner. Besides, he could then catch the morning train from that town and save almost a day.
So hour after hour they plodded on, the prisoner in front, O'Connor in the center, and Frank Hardman bringing up the rear. It was an Arizona night of countless stars, with that peculiar soft, velvety atmosphere that belongs to no other land or time. In the distance the jagged, violet line of mountains rose in silhouette against a sky not many shades lighter, while nearer the cool moonlight flooded a land grown magical under its divine touch.
The ranger rode with a limp ease that made for rest, his body shifting now and again in the saddle, so as to change the weight and avoid stiffness.
It must have been well past midnight that he caught the long breath of a sigh behind him. The trail had broadened at that point, for they were now down in the rolling plain, so that two could ride abreast in the road. Bucky fell back and put a sympathetic hand on the shoulder of the boy.
"Plumb fagged out, kid?" he asked.
"I am tired. Is it far?"
"About four miles. Stick it out, and we'll be there in no time."
"Don't call me sir. Call me Bucky."
Bucky laughed. "You're ce'tainly the queerest kid I've run up against. I guess you didn't scramble up in this rough-and-tumble West like I did. You're too soft for this country." He let his firm brown fingers travel over the lad's curly hair and down the smooth cheek. "There it is again. Shrinking away as if I was going to hurt you. I'll bet a biscuit you never licked the stuffing out of another fellow in your life."
"No, sir," murmured the youth, and Bucky almost thought he detected a little, chuckling laugh.
"Well, you ought to be ashamed of it. When come back from old Mexico I'm going to teach you how to put up your dukes. You're going to ride the range with me, son, and learn to stick to your saddle when the bronc and you disagrees. Oh, I'll bet all you need is training. I'll make a man out of you yet," the ranger assured his charge cheerfully. "Will you?" came the innocent reply, but Bucky for a moment had the sense of being laughed at.
"Yes, I 'will you,' sissy," he retorted, without the least exasperation. "Don't think you know it all. Right now you're riding like a wooden man. You want to take it easy in the saddle. There's about a dozen different positions you can take to rest yourself." And Bucky put him through a course of sprouts. "Don't sit there laughing at folks that knows a heap more than you ever will get in your noodle, and perhaps you won't be so done up at the end of a little jaunt like this," he concluded. And to his conclusion he presently added a postscript: "Why, I know kids your age can ride day and night for a week on the round-up without being all in. How old are you, son?"
"That's a lie," retorted the ranger, with immediate frankness. "You're not a day over fifteen, I'll bet."
"I meant to say fifteen," meekly corrected the youth.
"That's another of them. You meant to say eighteen, but you found I wouldn't swallow it. Now, Master Frank, you want to learn one thing prompt if you and I are to travel together. I can't stand a liar. You tell the truth, or I'll give you the best licking you ever had in your life."
"You're as bad a bully as he is," the boy burst out, flushing angrily.
"Oh, no, I'm not," came the ranger's prompt unmoved answer. "But just because you're such a weak little kid that I could break you in two isn't any reason why I should put up with any foolishness from you. I mean to see that you act proper, the way an honest kid ought to do. Savvy?"
"I'd like to know who made you my master?" demanded the boy hotly.
"You've ce'tainly been good and spoiled, but you needn't ride your high hawss with me. Here's the long and the short of it. To tell lies ain't square. If I ask you anything you don't want to answer tell me to go to hell, but don't lie to me. If you do I'll punish you the same as if you were my brother, so long as you trail with me. If you don't like it, cut loose and hit the pike for yourself."
"I've a good mind to go."
Bucky waved a hand easily into space. "That's all right, too, son. There's a heap of directions you can hit from here. Take any one you like. But if I was as beat as you are, I think I'd keep on the Epitaph road." He laughed his warm, friendly laugh, before the geniality of which discord seemed to melt, and again his arm went round the other's weary shoulders with a caressing gesture that was infinitely protecting.
The boy laughed tremulously. "You're awfully good to me. I know I'm a cry-baby, sissy boy, but if you'll be patient with me I'll try to be gamer."
It certainly was strange the way Bucky's pulse quickened and his blood tingled when he touched the little fellow and heard that velvet voice's soft murmur. Yes, it surely was strange, but perhaps the young Irishman's explanation was not the correct one, after all. The cause he offered to himself for this odd joy and tender excitement was perfectly simple.
"I'm surely plumb locoed, or else gone soft in the haid," he told himself grimly.
But the reason for those queer little electric shocks that pulsed through him was probably a more elemental and primeval one than even madness.
Arrived at Epitaph, Bucky turned loose his prisoner with a caution and made his preparations to leave immediately for Chihuahua. Collins had returned to Tucson, but was in touch with the situation and ready to set out for any point where he was needed.
Bucky, having packed, was confronted with a difficulty. He looked at it, and voiced his perplexity.
"Now, what am I going to do with you, Curly Haid? I expect I had better ship you back to the Rocking Chair."
"I don't want to go back there. He'll come out again and find me after you leave."
"Where do you want to go, then? If you were a girl I could put you in the convent school here," he reflected aloud.
Again that swift, deep blush irradiated the youth's cheeks. "Why can't I go with you?" he asked shyly.
The ranger laughed. "Mebbe you think I'm going on a picnic. Why, I'm starting out to knock the chip off Old Man Trouble's shoulder. Like as not some greaser will collect Mr. Bucky's scalp down in manyana land. No, sir, this doesn't threaten to be a Y. P. S. C. E. excursion."
"If it is so dangerous as that, you will need help. I'm awful good at making up, and I can speak Spanish like a native."
"Sho! You don't want to go running your neck into a noose. It's a jail-break I'm planning, son. There may be guns a-popping before we get back to God's country--if we ever do. Add to that, trouble and then some, for there's a revolution scheduled for old Chihuahua just now, as your uncle happens to know from reliable information."
"Two can always work better than one. Try me, Bucky," pleaded the boy, the last word slipping out with a trailing upward inflection that was irresistible.
"Sure you won't faint if we get in a tight pinch, Curly?" scoffed O'Connor, even though in his mind he was debating a surrender. For he was extraordinarily taken with the lad, and his judgment justified what the boy had said.
"I shall not be afraid if you are with me."
"But I may not be with you. That's the trouble. Supposing I should be caught, what would you do?"
"Follow any orders you had given me before that time. If you had not given any, I would use my best judgment."
"I'll give them now," smiled Bucky. "If I'm lagged, make straight for Arizona and tell Webb Mackenzie or Val Collins."
"Then you will take me?" cried the boy eagerly.
"Only on condition that you obey orders explicitly. I'm running this cutting-out expedition."
"I wouldn't think of disobeying."
"And I don't want you to tell me any lies."
Bucky's big brown fist caught the little one and squeezed it. "Then it's a deal, kid. I only hope I'm doing right to take you."
"Of course you are. Haven't you promised to make a man of me?" And again Bucky caught that note of stifled laughter in the voice, though the big brown eyes met his quite seriously.
They took the train that night for El Paso, Bucky in the lower berth and his friend in the upper of section six of one of the Limited's Pullman cars. The ranger was awake and up with the day. For a couple of hours he sat in the smoking section and discussed politics with a Chicago drummer. He knew that Frank was very tired, and he let him sleep till the diner was taken on at Lordsburg. Then he excused himself to the traveling man.
"I reckon I better go and wake up my pardner. I see the chuck-wagon is toddling along behind us."
Bucky drew aside the curtains and shook the boy gently by the shoulder. Frank's eyes opened and looked at the ranger with that lack of comprehension peculiar to one roused suddenly from deep sleep.
"Time to get up, Curly. The nigger just gave the first call for the chuck-wagon."
An understanding of the situation flamed over the boy's face. He snatched the curtains from the Arizonian and gathered them tightly together. "I'll thank you not to be so familiar," he said shortly from behind the closed curtains.
"I beg your pahdon, your royal highness. I should have had myself announced and craved an audience, I reckon," was Bucky's ironic retort; and swiftly on the heels of it he added. "You make me tired, kid."
O'Connor was destined to be "made tired" a good many times in the course of the next few days. In all the little personal intimacies Frank possessed a delicate fastidiousness outside the experience of the ranger. He was a scrupulously clean man himself, and rather nice as to his personal habits, but it did not throw him into a flame of embarrassment to brush his teeth before his fellow passengers. Nor did it send him into a fit if a friend happened to drop into his room while he was finishing his dressing. Bucky agreed with himself that this excess of shyness was foolishness, and that to indulge the boy was merely to lay up future trouble for him. A dozen times he was on the point of speaking his mind on the subject, but some unusual quality of innocence in the lad tied his tongue.
"Blame it all, I'm getting to be a regular old granny. What Master Frank needs is a first-class dressing-down, and here the little cuss has got me bluffed to a fare-you-well so that I'm mum as a hooter on the nest," he admitted to himself ruefully. "Just when something comes up that needs a good round damn I catch that big brown Sunday school eye of his, and it's Bucky back to Webster's unabridged. I've got to quit trailing with him, or I'll be joining the church first thing I know. He makes me feel like I want to be good, confound the little swindle."
Notwithstanding the ranger's occasional moments of exasperation, the two got along swimmingly. Each of them found a continued pleasure in delving into the other's unexplored mental recesses. They drifted into one of those quick, spontaneous likings that are rare between man and man. Some subtle quality of affection bubbled up like a spring in the hearts of each for the other. Young Hardman could perhaps have explained what lay at the roots of it, but O'Connor admitted that he was "buffaloed" when he attempted an analysis of his unusual feeling.
From El Paso a leisurely run on the Mexican Central Pacific took them to Chihuahua, a quaint old city something about the size of El Paso. Both Bucky and his friend were familiar with the manners of the country, so that they felt at home among the narrow adobe streets, the lounging, good-natured peons, and the imitation Moorish architecture. They found rooms at a quiet, inconspicuous hotel, and began making their plans for an immediate departure in the event that they succeeded in their object.
At a distance it had seemed an easy thing to plan the escape of David Henderson and to accomplish it by craft, but a sight of the heavy stone walls that encircled the prison and of the numerous armed guards who paced to and fro on the walls, put a more chilling aspect on their chances.
"It isn't a very gay outlook," Bucky admitted cheerfully to his companion, "but I expect we can pull it off somehow. If these Mexican officials weren't slower than molasses in January it might have been better to wait and have him released by process of law on account of Hardman's confession. But it would take them two or three years to come to a decision. They sure do hate to turn loose a gringo when they have got the hog-tie on him. Like as not they would decide against him at the last, then. Course I've got the law machinery grinding, too, but I'm not banking on it real heavy. We'll get him out first any old way, then get the government to O. K. the thing."
"How were you thinking of proceeding?"
"I expect it's time to let you in on the ground floor, son. I reckon you happen to know that down in these Spanish countries there's usually a revolution hatching. There s two parties among the aristocrats, those for the government and those ferninst. The 'ins' stand pat, but the 'outs' have always got a revolution up their sleeves. Now, there's mostly a white man mixed up in the affair. They have to have him to run it and to shoot afterward when the government wins. You see, somebody has to be shot, and it's always so much to the good if they can line up gringoes instead of natives. Nine times out of ten it's an Irish-American lad that is engineering the scheme. This time it happens to be Mickey O'Halloran, an old friend of mine. I'm going to put it up to Mick to find a way."
"But it isn't any affair of his. He won't do it, will he?"
"Oh, I thought I told you he was Irish."
"And spoiling for trouble, of course. Is it likely he could keep his fist out of the hive when there's such a gem of a chance to get stung?"
It had been Frank's suggestion that they choose rooms at a hotel which open into each other and also connect with an adjoining pair. The reason for this had not at first been apparent to the ranger, but as soon as they were alone Frank explained.
"It is very likely that we shall be under surveillance after a day or two, especially if we are seen around the prison a good deal. Well, we'll slip out the back way to-night, disguised in some other rig, come boldly in by the front door, and rent the rooms next ours. Then we shall be able to go and come, either as ourselves or as our neighbors. It will give us a great deal more liberty."
"Unless we should get caught. Then we would have a great deal less. What's your notion of a rig-up to disguise us, kid?"
"We might have several, in case of emergencies. For one thing, we could easily be street showmen. You can do fancy shooting and I can do sleight-of-hand tricks or tell fortunes."
"You would be a gipsy lad?"
The youngster blushed. "A gipsy girl, and you might be my husband."
"I'm no play actor, even if you are," said Bucky. "I don't want to be your husband, thank you."
"All you would have to do is to be sullen and rough. It is easy enough."
"And you think you could pass for a girl? You're slim and soft enough, but I'll bet you would give it away inside of an hour."
The boy laughed, and shot a swift glance at O'Connor under his long lashes. "I appeared as a girl in one of the acts of the show for years. Nobody ever suspected that I wasn't."
"We might try it, but we have no clothes for the part."
"Leave that to me. I'll buy some to-day while you are looking the ground over for our first assault an the impregnable fortress."
"I don't know. It seems to me pretty risky. But you might buy the things, and we'll see how you look in them. Better not get all the things at the same store. Sort of scatter your purchases around."
They separated at the door of the hotel, Frank to choose the materials he needed, and O'Connor to look up O'Halloran and get a permit to visit the prison from the proper authorities. When the latter returned triumphantly with his permit he found the boy busy with a needle and thread and surrounded by a litter of dress-making material.
"I'm altering this to fit me and fixing it up," he explained.
"Holy smoke! Who taught you to sew?" asked Bucky, in surprise.
"My aunt, Mrs. Hardman. I used to do all the plain sewing on my costumes. Did you see your friend and get your permit?"
"You bet I did, and didn't. Mickey was out, but I left him a note. The other thing I pulled off all right. I'm to be allowed to visit the prison and make a careful inspection of it at my leisure There's nothing like a pull, son."
"Does the permit say you are to be allowed to steal any one of the prisoners you take a fancy to? asked Frank, with a smile.
"No, it forgot to say that. When do you expect to have that toggery made?"
"A good deal of it is already made, as you see. I'm just making a few changes. Do you want to try on your suit?"
"Is this mine?" asked the ranger, picking up with smiling contempt the rather gaudy blouse that lay on a chair.
"Yes, sir, that is yours. Go and put it on and we'll see how it fits."
Bucky returned a few minutes later in his gipsy uniform, with a deprecating grin.
"I'll have to stain your face. Then you'll do very well," said Frank, patting and pulling at the clothes here and there. "It's a good fit, if I do say it that chose it. The first thing you want to do when you get out in it is to roll in the dust and get it soiled. No respectable gipsy wears new clothes. Better have a tear or two in it, too."
"You ce'tainly should have been a girl, the way you take to clothes, Curly."
"Making up was my business for a good many years, you know," returned the lad quietly. "If you'll step into the other room for about fifteen minutes I'll show you how well I can do it."
It was a long half-hour later that Bucky thumped on the door between the rooms. "Pretty nearly ready, kid? Seems to me it is taking you a thundering long time to get that outfit on."
"How long do you think it ought to take a lady to dress?"
"Ten minutes is long enough, and fifteen, say, if she is going to a dance. You've been thirty-five by my Waterbury."
"It's plain you never were married, Mr. Innocent. Why, a girl can't fix her hair in less than half an hour."
"Well, you got a wig there, ain't you? It doesn't take but about five seconds to stick that on. Hurry up, gringo! I'm clean through this old newspaper."
"Read the advertisements," came saucily through the door.
"I've read the durned things twice."
"Learn them by heart," the sweet voice advised.
"Oh, you go to Halifax!"
Nevertheless, Mr. Bucky had to wait his comrade's pleasure. But when he got a vision of the result, it was so little what he had expected that it left him staring in amazement, his jaw fallen and his eyes incredulous.
The vision swept him a low bow. "How do you like Bonita?" it demanded gaily.
Bucky's eyes circled the room, to make sure that the boy was not hidden somewhere, and came back to rest on his surprise with a look that was almost consternation. Was this vivid, dazzling creature the boy he had been patronizing, lecturing, promising to thrash any time during the past four days? The thing was unbelievable, not yet to be credited by his jarred brain. How incredibly blind he had been! What an idiot of sorts! Why, the marks of sex sat on her beyond any possibility of doubt. Every line of the slim, lissom figure, every curve of the soft, undulating body, the sweep of rounded arm, of tapering waist-line, of well-turned ankle, contributed evidence of what it were folly to ask further proof. How could he have ever seen those lovely, soft-lashed eyes and the delicate little hands without conviction coming home to him? And how could he have heard the low murmur of her voice, the catch of her sobs, without knowing that they were a denial of masculinity?
She was dressed like a Spanish dancing girl, in short kilts, red sash, and jaunty little cap placed sidewise on her head. She wore a wig of black hair, and her face was stained to a dusky, gipsy hue. Over her thumb hung castanets and in her hand was a tambourine. Roguishly she began to sway into a slow, rhythmic dance, beating time with her instruments as she moved. Gradually the speed quickened to a faster time. She swung gracefully to and fro with all the lithe agility of the race she personified. No part could have been better conceived or executed. Even physically she displayed the large, brilliant eyes, the ringleted, coal-black hair, the tawny skin, and the flashing smile that showed small teeth of dazzling ivory, characteristic of the Romanies he had met. It was a daring part to play, but the young man watching realized that she had the free grace to carry it out successfully. She danced the fandango to a finish, swept him another low bow, and presented laughingly to him the tambourine for his donation. Then, suddenly flinging aside the instrument, she curtsied and caught at his hand.
"Will the senor have his fortune told?"
Bucky drew a handful of change from his pocket and selected a gold eagle. "I suppose I must cross your palm with gold," he said, even while his subconscious mind was running on the new complication presented to him by this discovery.
He was very clear about one thing. He must not let her know that he knew her for a girl. To him she must still be a boy, or their relation would become impossible. She had trusted in her power to keep her secret from him. On no other terms would she have come with him; of so much he was sure, even while his mind groped for a sufficient reason to account for an impulse that might have impelled her. If she found out that he knew, the knowledge would certainly drive her at once from him. For he knew that not the least charm of the extraordinary fascination she had for him lay in her sweet innocence of heart, a fresh innocence that consisted with this gay Romany abandon, and even with a mental experience of the sordid, seamy side of life as comprehensive as that of many a woman twice her age. She had been defrauded out of her childish inheritance of innocence, but, somehow, even in her foul environment the seeds of a rare personal purity had persistently sprung up and flourished. Some flowers are of such native freshness that no nauseous surroundings can kill their fragrance. And this was one of them.
Meanwhile, her voice ran on with the patter of her craft. There was the usual dark woman to be circumvented and the light one to be rewarded. Jealousies and rivalries played their part in the nonsense she glibly recited, and somewhere in the future lay, of course, great riches and happiness for him.
With a queer little tug at his heart he watched the dainty finger that ran so lightly over his open palm, watched, too, the bent head so gracefully fine of outline and the face so mobile of expression when the deep eyes lifted to his in question of the correctness of her reading. He would miss the little partner that had wound himself so tightly round his heart. He wondered if he would find compensating joy in this exquisite creature whom a few moments had taken worlds distant from him.
Suddenly tiring of her diversion, she dropped his hand. "You don't say I do it well," she charged, aware suspiciously, at last, of his grave silence.
"You do it very well indeed. I didn't think you had it in you, kid. What's worrying me is that I can never live up to such a sure enough gipsy as you."
"All you have to do is to look sour and frown if anybody gets too familiar with me. You can do that, can't you?"
"You bet I can," he answered promptly, with unnecessary emphasis.
"And look handsome," she teased.
"Oh, that will be easy for me--since you are going to make me up. As a simple child of nature I'm no ornament to the scenery, but art's a heap improving sometimes."
She thought, but did not say, that art would go a long way before it could show anything more pleasing than this rider of the plains. It was not alone his face, with the likable blue eyes that could say so many things in a minute, but the gallant ease of his bearing. Such a springy lightness, such sinewy grace of undulating muscle, were rare even on the frontier. She had once heard Webb Mackenzie say of him that he could whip his weight in wildcats, and it was easy of belief after seeing how surely he was master of the dynamic power in him. It is the emergency that sifts men, and she had seen him rise to several with a readiness that showed the stuff in him.
That evening they slipped out unobserved in the dusk, and a few minutes later a young gipsy and his bride presented themselves at the inn to be put up. The scowling young Romany was particular, considering that he spent most nights in the open, with a sky for a roof. So the master of the inn thought when he rejected on one pretense or another the first two rooms that were shown him. He wanted two rooms, and they must connect. Had the innkeeper such apartments? The innkeeper had, but he would very much like to see the price in advance if he was going to turn over to guests of such light baggage the best accommodations in the house. This being satisfactorily arranged, the young gipsies were left to themselves in the room they had rented.
The first thing that the man did when they were alone was to roll a cigarette, which operation he finished deftly with one hand, while the other swept a match in a circular motion along his trousers leg. In very fair English the Spanish gipsy said: "You ce'tainly ought to learn to smoke, kid. Honest, it's more comfort than a wife."
"How do you know, since you are not married?" she asked archly.
"I been noticing some of my poor unfortunate friends," he grinned.