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The Man From Solano
by [?]

He came toward me out of an opera lobby, between the acts,–a figure as remarkable as anything in the performance. His clothes, no two articles of which were of the same color, had the appearance of having been purchased and put on only an hour or two before,–a fact more directly established by the clothes-dealer’s ticket which still adhered to his coat-collar, giving the number, size, and general dimensions of that garment somewhat obtrusively to an uninterested public. His trousers had a straight line down each leg, as if he had been born flat but had since developed; and there was another crease down his back, like those figures children cut out of folded paper. I may add that there was no consciousness of this in his face, which was good-natured, and, but for a certain squareness in the angle of his lower jaw, utterly uninteresting and commonplace

“You disremember me,” he said, briefly, as he extended his hand, “but I’m from Solano, in Californy. I met you there in the spring of ’57. I was tendin’ sheep, and you was burnin’ charcoal.”

There was not the slightest trace of any intentional rudeness in the reminder. It was simply a statement of fact, and as such to be accepted.

“What I hailed ye for was only this,” he said, after I had shaken hands with him. “I saw you a minnit ago standin’ over in yon box–chirpin’ with a lady–a young lady, peart and pretty. Might you be telling me her name?”

I gave him the name of a certain noted belle of a neighboring city, who had lately stirred the hearts of the metropolis, and who was especially admired by the brilliant and fascinating young Dashboard, who stood beside me.

The Man from Solano mused for a moment, and then said, “Thet’s so! thet’s the name! It’s the same gal!”

“You have met her, then?” I asked, in surprise.

“Ye-es,” he responded, slowly: “I met her about fower months ago. She’d bin makin’ a tour of Californy with some friends, and I first saw her aboard the cars this side of Reno. She lost her baggage-checks, and I found them on the floor and gave ’em back to her, and she thanked me. I reckon now it would be about the square thing to go over thar and sorter recognize her.” He stopped a moment, and looked at us inquiringly.

“My dear sir,” struck in the brilliant and fascinating Dashboard, “if your hesitation proceeds from any doubt as to the propriety of your attire, I beg you to dismiss it from your mind at once. The tyranny of custom, it is true, compels your friend and myself to dress peculiarly, but I assure you nothing could be finer than the way that the olive green of your coat melts in the delicate yellow of your cravat, or the pearl gray of your trousers blends with the bright blue of your waistcoat, and lends additional brilliancy to that massive oroide watch-chain which you wear.”

To my surprise, the Man from Solano did not strike him. He looked at the ironical Dashboard with grave earnestness, and then said quietly:–

“Then I reckon you wouldn’t mind showin’ me in thar?”

Dashboard was, I admit, a little staggered at this. But he recovered himself, and, bowing ironically, led the way to the box. I followed him and the Man from Solano.

Now, the belle in question happened to be a gentlewoman–descended from gentlewomen–and after Dashboard’s ironical introduction, in which the Man from Solano was not spared, she comprehended the situation instantly. To Dashboard’s surprise she drew a chair to her side, made the Man from Solano sit down, quietly turned her back on Dashboard, and in full view of the brilliant audience and the focus of a hundred lorgnettes, entered into conversation with him.

Here, for the sake of romance, I should like to say he became animated, and exhibited some trait of excellence,–some rare wit or solid sense. But the fact is he was dull and stupid to the last degree. He persisted in keeping the conversation upon the subject of the lost baggage-checks, and every bright attempt of the lady to divert him failed signally. At last, to everybody’s relief, he rose, and leaning over her chair, said:–