An Heiress From Redhorse





CORONADO, June 20th.



I find myself more and more interested in him. It is not, I am

sure, his--do you know any noun corresponding to the adjective

"handsome"? One does not like to say "beauty" when speaking of a

man. He is handsome enough, heaven knows; I should not even care

to trust you with him--faithful of all possible wives that you are--

when he looks his best, as he always does. Nor do I think the

fascination of his manner has much to do with it. You recollect

that the charm of art inheres in that which is undefinable, and to

you and me, my dear Irene, I fancy there is rather less of that in

the branch of art under consideration than to girls in their first

season. I fancy I know how my fine gentleman produces many of his

effects, and could, perhaps, give him a pointer on heightening

them. Nevertheless, his manner is something truly delightful. I

suppose what interests me chiefly is the man's brains. His

conversation is the best I have ever heard, and altogether unlike

anyone's else. He seems to know everything, as, indeed, he ought,

for he has been everywhere, read everything, seen all there is to

see--sometimes I think rather more than is good for him--and had

acquaintance with the QUEEREST people. And then his voice--Irene,

when I hear it I actually feel as if I ought to have PAID AT THE

DOOR, though, of course, it is my own door.





July 3d.



I fear my remarks about Dr. Barritz must have been, being

thoughtless, very silly, or you would not have written of him with

such levity, not to say disrespect. Believe me, dearest, he has

more dignity and seriousness (of the kind, I mean, which is not

inconsistent with a manner sometimes playful and always charming)

than any of the men that you and I ever met. And young Raynor--you

knew Raynor at Monterey--tells me that the men all like him, and

that he is treated with something like deference everywhere. There

is a mystery, too--something about his connection with the

Blavatsky people in Northern India. Raynor either would not or

could not tell me the particulars. I infer that Dr. Barritz is

thought--don't you dare to laugh at me--a magician! Could anything

be finer than that? An ordinary mystery is not, of course, as good

as a scandal, but when it relates to dark and dreadful practices--

to the exercise of unearthly powers--could anything be more

piquant? It explains, too, the singular influence the man has upon

me. It is the undefinable in his art--black art. Seriously, dear,

I quite tremble when he looks me full in the eyes with those

unfathomable orbs of his, which I have already vainly attempted to

describe to you. How dreadful if we have the power to make one

fall in love! Do you know if the Blavatsky crowd have that power--

outside of Sepoy?





July 1



The strangest thing! Last evening while Auntie was attending one

of the hotel hops (I hate them) Dr. Barritz called. It was

scandalously late--I actually believe he had talked with Auntie in

the ballroom, and learned from her that I was alone. I had been

all the evening contriving how to worm out of him the truth about

his connection with the Thugs in Sepoy, and all of that black

business, but the moment he fixed his eyes on me (for I admitted

him, I'm ashamed to say) I was helpless, I trembled, I blushed, I--

O Irene, Irene, I love the man beyond expression, and you know how

it is yourself!



Fancy! I, an ugly duckling from Redhorse--daughter (they say) of

old Calamity Jim--certainly his heiress, with no living relation

but an absurd old aunt, who spoils me a thousand and fifty ways--

absolutely destitute of everything but a million dollars and a hope

in Paris--I daring to love a god like him! My dear, if I had you

here, I could tear your hair out with mortification.



I am convinced that he is aware of my feeling, for he stayed but a

few moments, said nothing but what another man might have said half

as well, and pretending that he had an engagement went away. I

learned to-day (a little bird told me--the bell bird) that he went

straight to bed. How does that strike you as evidence of exemplary

habits?





July 17th.



That little wretch, Raynor, called yesterday, and his babble set me

almost wild. He never runs down--that is to say, when he

exterminates a score of reputations, more or less, he does not

pause between one reputation and the next. (By the way, he

inquired about you, and his manifestations of interest in you had,

I confess, a good deal of vraisemblance.)



Mr. Raynor observes no game laws; like Death (which he would

inflict if slander were fatal) he has all seasons for his own. But

I like him, for we knew one another at Redhorse when we were young

and true-hearted and barefooted. He was known in those far fair

days as "Giggles," and I--O Irene, can you ever forgive me?--I was

called "Gunny." God knows why; perhaps in allusion to the material

of my pinafores; perhaps because the name is in alliteration with

"Giggles," for Gig and I were inseparable playmates, and the miners

may have thought it a delicate compliment to recognize some kind of

relationship between us.



Later, we took in a third--another of Adversity's brood, who, like

Garrick between Tragedy and Comedy, had a chronic inability to

adjudicate the rival claims (to himself) of Frost and Famine.

Between him and the grave there was seldom anything more than a

single suspender and the hope of a meal which would at the same

time support life and make it insupportable. He literally picked

up a precarious living for himself and an aged mother by

"chloriding the dumps," that is to say, the miners permitted him to

search the heaps of waste rock for such pieces of "pay ore" as had

been overlooked; and these he sacked up and sold at the Syndicate

Mill. He became a member of our firm--"Gunny, Giggles, and Dumps,"

thenceforth--through my favor; for I could not then, nor can I now,

be indifferent to his courage and prowess in defending against

Giggles the immemorial right of his sex to insult a strange and

unprotected female--myself. After old Jim struck it in the

Calamity, and I began to wear shoes and go to school, and in

emulation Giggles took to washing his face, and became Jack Raynor,

of Wells, Fargo & Co., and old Mrs. Barts was herself chlorided to

her fathers, Dumps drifted over to San Juan Smith and turned stage

driver, and was killed by road agents, and so forth.



Why do I tell you all this, dear? Because it is heavy on my heart.

Because I walk the Valley of Humility. Because I am subduing

myself to permanent consciousness of my unworthiness to unloose the

latchet of Dr. Barritz's shoe. Because-oh, dear, oh, dear--there's

a cousin of Dumps at this hotel! I haven't spoken to him. I never

had any acquaintance with him, but--do you suppose he has

recognized me? Do, please, give me in your next your candid, sure-

enough opinion about it, and say you don't think so. Do you think

He knows about me already and that is why He left me last evening

when He saw that I blushed and trembled like a fool under His eyes?

You know I can't bribe ALL the newspapers, and I can't go back on

anybody who was good to Gunny at Redhorse--not if I'm pitched out

of society into the sea. So the skeleton sometimes rattles behind

the door. I never cared much before, as you know, but now--NOW it

is not the same. Jack Raynor I am sure of--he will not tell him.

He seems, indeed, to hold him in such respect as hardly to dare

speak to him at all, and I'm a good deal that way myself. Dear,

dear! I wish I had something besides a million dollars! If Jack

were three inches taller I'd marry him alive and go back to

Redhorse and wear sackcloth again to the end of my miserable days.





July 25th.



We had a perfectly splendid sunset last evening, and I must tell

you all about it. I ran away from Auntie and everybody, and was

walking alone on the beach. I expect you to believe, you infidel!

that I had not looked out of my window on the seaward side of the

hotel and seen him walking alone on the beach. If you are not lost

to every feeling of womanly delicacy you will accept my statement

without question. I soon established myself under my sunshade and

had for some time been gazing out dreamily over the sea, when he

approached, walking close to the edge of the water--it was ebb

tide. I assure you the wet sand actually brightened about his

feet! As he approached me, he lifted his hat, saying: "Miss

Dement, may I sit with you?--or will you walk with me?"



The possibility that neither might be agreeable seems not to have

occurred to him. Did you ever know such assurance? Assurance? My

dear, it was gall, downright GALL! Well, I didn't find it

wormwood, and replied, with my untutored Redhorse heart in my

throat: "I--I shall be pleased to do ANYTHING." Could words have

been more stupid? There are depths of fatuity in me, friend o' my

soul, which are simply bottomless!



He extended his hand, smiling, and I delivered mine into it without

a moment's hesitation, and when his fingers closed about it to

assist me to my feet, the consciousness that it trembled made me

blush worse than the red west. I got up, however, and after a

while, observing that he had not let go my hand, I pulled on it a

little, but unsuccessfully. He simply held on, saying nothing, but

looking down into my face with some kind of a smile--I didn't know--

how could I?--whether it was affectionate, derisive, or what, for

I did not look at him. How beautiful he was!--with the red fires

of the sunset burning in the depths of his eyes. Do you know,

dear, if the Thugs and Experts of the Blavatsky region have any

special kind of eyes? Ah, you should have seen his superb

attitude, the godlike inclination of his head as he stood over me

after I had got upon my feet! It was a noble picture, but I soon

destroyed it, for I began at once to sink again to the earth.

There was only one thing for him to do, and he did it; he supported

me with an arm about my waist.



"Miss Dement, are you ill?" he said.



It was not an exclamation; there was neither alarm nor solicitude

in it. If he had added: "I suppose that is about what I am

expected to say," he would hardly have expressed his sense of the

situation more clearly. His manner filled me with shame and

indignation, for I was suffering acutely. I wrenched my hand out

of his, grasped the arm supporting me, and, pushing myself free,

fell plump into the sand and sat helpless. My hat had fallen off

in the struggle, and my hair tumbled about my face and shoulders in

the most mortifying way.



"Go away from me," I cried, half choking. "Oh, PLEASE go away,

you--you Thug! How dare you think THAT when my leg is asleep?"



I actually said those identical words! And then I broke down and

sobbed. Irene, I BLUBBERED!



His manner altered in an instant--I could see that much through my

fingers and hair. He dropped on one knee beside me, parted the

tangle of hair, and said, in the tenderest way: My poor girl, God

knows I have not intended to pain you. How should I?--I who love

you--I who have loved you for--for years and years!"



He had pulled my wet hands away from my face and was covering them

with kisses. My cheeks were like two coals, my whole face was

flaming and, I think, steaming. What could I do? I hid it on his

shoulder--there was no other place. And, oh, my dear friend, how

my leg tingled and thrilled, and how I wanted to kick!



We sat so for a long time. He had released one of my hands to pass

his arm about me again, and I possessed myself of my handkerchief

and was drying my eyes and my nose. I would not look up until that

was done; he tried in vain to push me a little away and gaze into

my eyes. Presently, when it was all right, and it had grown a bit

dark, I lifted my head, looked him straight in the eyes, and smiled

my best--my level best, dear.



"What do you mean," I said, "by 'years and years'?"



"Dearest," he replied, very gravely, very earnestly, "in the

absence of the sunken cheeks, the hollow eyes, the lank hair, the

slouching gait, the rags, dirt, and youth, can you not--will you

not understand? Gunny, I'm Dumps!"



In a moment I was upon my feet and he upon his. I seized him by

the lapels of his coat and peered into his handsome face in the

deepening darkness. I was breathless with excitement.



"And you are not dead?" I asked, hardly knowing what I said.



"Only dead in love, dear. I recovered from the road agent's

bullet, but this, I fear, is fatal."



"But about Jack--Mr. Raynor? Don't you know--"



"I am ashamed to say, darling, that it was through that unworthy

person's invitation that I came here from Vienna."



Irene, they have played it upon your affectionate friend,



MARY JANE DEMENT.





P.S.--The worst of it is that there is no mystery. That was an

invention of Jack to arouse my curiosity and interest. James is

not a Thug. He solemnly assures me that in all his wanderings he

has never set foot in Sepoy.





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