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How Reuben Allen "Saw Life" In San Francisco
by [?]

“‘Scuse me, pard! I was just dropping in; don’t you hurry! I kin wait,” he stammered, falling back, and then the door closed abruptly behind him.

Kane gathered up the shorn locks, wiped the face and neck of his patient with a clean towel and his own handkerchief, threw her gorgeous opera cloak over her shoulders, and assisted her to rise. She did so, weakly but obediently; she was evidently stunned and cowed in some mysterious way by his material attitude, perhaps, or her sudden realization of her position; at least the contrast between her aggressive entrance into the shop and her subdued preparation for her departure was so remarkable that it affected even Kane’s preoccupation.

“There,” he said, slightly relaxing his severe demeanor with an encouraging smile, “I think this will do; we’ve stopped the bleeding. It will probably smart a little as the plaster sets closer. I can send my partner, Dr. Sparlow, to you in the morning.”

She looked at him curiously and with a strange smile. “And zees Doctor Sparrlow–eez he like you, M’sieu?”

“He is older, and very well known,” said the young man seriously. “I can safely recommend him.”

“Ah,” she repeated, with a pensive smile which made Kane think her quite pretty. “Ah–he ez older–your Doctor Sparrlow–but YOU are strong, M’sieu.”

“And,” said Kane vaguely, “he will tell you what to do.”

“Ah,” she repeated again softly, with the same smile, “he will tell me what to do if I shall not know myself. Dat ez good.”

Kane had already wrapped her shorn locks in a piece of spotless white paper and tied it up with narrow white ribbon in the dainty fashion dear to druggists’ clerks. As he handed it to her she felt in her pocket and produced a handful of gold.

“What shall I pay for zees, M’sieu?”

Kane reddened a little–solely because of his slow arithmetical faculties. Adhesive plaster was cheap–he would like to have charged proportionately for the exact amount he had used; but the division was beyond him! And he lacked the trader’s instinct.

“Twenty-five cents, I think,” he hazarded briefly.

She started, but smiled again. “Twenty-five cents for all zees–ze medicine, ze strips for ze head, ze hair cut”–she glanced at the paper parcel he had given her–“it is only twenty-five cents?”

“That’s all.”

He selected from her outstretched palm, with some difficulty, the exact amount, the smallest coin it held. She again looked at him curiously–half confusedly–and moved slowly into the shop. The miner, who was still there, retreated as before with a gaspingly apologetic gesture–even flattening himself against the window to give her sweeping silk flounces freer passage. As she passed into the street with a “Merci, M’sieu, good a’night,” and the hackman started from the vehicle to receive her, the miner drew a long breath, and bringing his fist down upon the counter, ejaculated,–

“B’gosh! She’s a stunner!”

Kane, a good deal relieved at her departure and the success of his ministration, smiled benignly.

The stranger again stared after the retreating carriage, looked around the shop, and even into the deserted surgery, and approached the counter confidentially. “Look yer, pardner. I kem straight from St. Jo, Mizzorri, to Gold Hill–whar I’ve got a claim–and I reckon this is the first time I ever struck San Francisker. I ain’t up to towny ways nohow, and I allow that mebbe I’m rather green. So we’ll let that pass! Now look yer!” he added, leaning over the counter with still deeper and even mysterious confidence, “I suppose this yer kind o’ thing is the regular go here, eh? nothin’ new to YOU! in course no! But to me, pard, it’s just fetchin’ me! Lifts me clear outer my boots every time! Why, when I popped into that thar room, and saw that lady–all gold, furbelows, and spangles–at twelve o’clock at night, sittin’ in that cheer and you a-cuttin’ her h’r and swabbin’ her head o’ blood, and kinder prospectin’ for ‘indications,’ so to speak, and doin’ it so kam and indifferent like, I sez to myself, ‘Rube, Rube,’ sez I, ‘this yer’s life! city life! San Francisker life! and b’gosh, you’ve dropped into it! Now, pard, look yar! don’t you answer, ye know, ef it ain’t square and above board for me to know; I ain’t askin’ you to give the show away, ye know, in the matter of high-toned ladies like that, but” (very mysteriously, and sinking his voice to the lowest confidential pitch, as he put his hand to his ear as if to catch the hushed reply), “what mout hev bin happening, pard?”