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STORY TELLING

We Meet Again

At Denver, a great many passengers joined the east-bound Boston and Maine train. In one coach there sat a pretty young woman. She was beautifully and richly dressed. Among the new-comers were two men. The younger one was good-looking with a bold, honest face and manner. The other was a large, sad-faced person, roughly dressed. The two were handcuffed together.

As they passed down the aisle of the coach, the only empty seat was one facing the young woman. Here the linked pair seated themselves. The woman quickly glanced at them with disinterest. Then with a lovely smile, she held out a little grey-gloved hand. When she spoke her voiced showed that she was used to speaking and being heard.

‘Well Mr Easton, if you will make me speak first, I suppose I must. Don’t you ever say hello to old friends when you meet them in the West?’

The younger man pulled himself up sharply at the sound of her voice. He seemed to struggle with a little embarrassment, which he threw of instantly. Then he held her fingers with his left hand.

‘It’s Miss Fairchild,’ he said, with a smile, ‘I’ll ask you to excuse the other hand, I am not able to use it at present.’

He slightly raised his right hand, which was bound at the wrist by the shinning bracelet to the left one of his partner. The happy look in the woman’s eyes slowly changed to one of puzzled horror. The glow passed from her cheeks. Easton, with a little laugh, as if amused, was about to speak again when the other stopped him. The sad-faced man had been watching the young woman’s face with his sharp, searching eyes.

‘You’ll excuse  me for speaking miss, but  see you know the marshal here. If you’ll ask him to speak a word for me when we get to the pen, he’ll do it. It’ll make things easier for me there. He’s taking me to Leavenworth Prison. It’s seven years for counterfeiting.’

‘Oh!’ she said, with a deep breath and returning to colour. ‘So that is what you are doing here. A marshal?’

‘My dear Miss Fairchild,’ said Easton calmly, ‘I had to do something. Money has a way of taking wings. You know it takes money to keep in step with our crowd in Washington. I saw this opening in the West, and  . . . well, a marshal isn’t quite as high a position as that of an ambassador, but  . . .’

‘The ambassador,’ she said warmly, ‘doesn’t call anymore. He needn’t never have done so. You ought to know that. So now you are one of those dashing western heroes. And you ride and shoot and go into all kinds of dangers. That’s different from the Washington life. You have been missed by the old crowd.’

The woman’s eyes, interested, went back, widening a little, to rest upon the shiny handcuffs.

‘Don’t worry about them miss,’ said the other man. ‘All marshals handcuff themselves these days to their prisoners to stop them getting away. Mr Easton knows his business.’

‘Will we see you again soon in Washington?’ asked Miss Fairchild.

‘Not soon, I think,’ said Easton. ‘My carefree days are over, I fear.’

‘I love the West,’ she said. Her eyes were shinning softly. She looked away and out of the train window. She began to speak truly and simply, forgetting about style and manner. ‘Mamma and I spent the summer in Denver. She went home a week ago because father was ill. I could live and be happy in the West. I think the air here agrees with me. Money isn’t everything. But people always misunderstand things and remain stupid.’

‘Say, Mr Marshal,’ growled the sad-faced man. ‘This isn’t quiet fair. I’m needin’ a drink of water. Haven’t you talked long enough? Take me into the dining car now, won’t you?’

The bound travellers rose to their feet. Easton still had the same slow smile on his face.

‘I can’t say no to a need for water,’ he said lightly. ‘It’s the one friend of the unfortunate. Goodbye Miss Fairchild. Duty calls, you know.’ He held out his hand for a farewell.

‘It’s too bad you are not going East,’ she said, remembering again her manner and style. ‘But you must go to Leavenworth, I suppose.’

‘Yes,’ said Easton. ‘I must go on to Leavenworth.’

The two men made their way down the aisle into the dining car.

The two passengers in a seat nearby heard most of the conversation. Said one of them, “That marshal is a good sort of chap. Some of those Westerners are all right.’

‘Pretty young to hold an office like that, isn’t he?’ asked the other.

‘Young!’ exclaimed the first speaker. ‘Why . . . Oh! . . . Didn’t you catch on? Say, did you ever know an officer to handcuff a prisoner to his right hand?’

 

  • Read each sentence and decide if it is True or False.

    (Instructions) Read each sentence and decide if it is True or False.