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The Man From Solano
by [?]

“I calklate to stop over here some time, miss, and you and me bein’ sorter strangers here, maybe when there’s any show like this goin’ on you’ll let me–“

Miss X. said somewhat hastily that the multiplicity of her engagements and the brief limit of her stay in New York she feared would, etc., etc. The two other ladies had their handkerchiefs over their mouths, and were staring intently on the stage, when the Man from Solano continued:–

“Then, maybe, miss, whenever there is a show goin’ on that you’ll attend, you’ll just drop me word to Earle’s Hotel, to this yer address,” and he pulled from his pocket a dozen well-worn letters, and taking the buff envelope from one, handed it to her with something like a bow.

“Certainly,” broke in the facetious Dashboard, “Miss X. goes to the Charity Ball to-morrow night. The tickets are but a trifle to an opulent Californian, and a man of your evident means, and the object a worthy one. You will, no doubt, easily secure an invitation.”

Miss X. raised her handsome eyes for a moment to Dashboard. “By all means,” she said, turning to the Man from Solano; “and as Mr. Dashboard is one of the managers and you are a stranger, he will, of course, send you a complimentary ticket. I have known Mr. Dashboard long enough to know that he is invariably courteous to strangers and a gentleman.” She settled herself in her chair again and fixed her eyes upon the stage.

The Man from Solano thanked the Man of New York, and then, after shaking hands with every body in the box, turned to go. When he had reached the door he looked back to Miss X., and said,–

“It WAS one of the queerest things in the world, miss, that my findin’ them checks–“

But the curtain had just then risen on the garden scene in “Faust,” and Miss X. was absorbed. The Man from Solano carefully shut the box door and retired. I followed him.

He was silent until he reached the lobby, and then he said, as if renewing a previous conversation, “She IS a mighty peart gal–that’s so. She’s just my kind, and will make a stavin’ good wife.”

I thought I saw danger ahead for the Man from Solano, so I hastened to tell him that she was beset by attentions, that she could have her pick and choice of the best of society, and finally, that she was, most probably, engaged to Dashboard.

“That’s so,” he said quietly, without the slightest trace of feeling. “It would be mighty queer if she wasn’t. But I reckon I’ll steer down to the ho-tel. I don’t care much for this yellin’.” (He was alluding to a cadenza of that famous cantatrice, Signora Batti Batti.) “What’s the time?”

He pulled out his watch. It was such a glaring chain, so obviously bogus, that my eyes were fascinated by it. “You’re looking at that watch,” he said; “it’s purty to look at, but she don’t go worth a cent. And yet her price was $125, gold. I gobbled her up in Chatham Street day before yesterday, where they were selling ’em very cheap at auction.”

“You have been outrageously swindled,” I said, indignantly. “Watch and chain are not worth twenty dollars.”

“Are they worth fifteen?” he asked, gravely.


“Then I reckon it’s a fair trade. Ye see, I told ’em I was a Californian from Solano, and hadn’t anything about me of greenbacks. I had three slugs with me. Ye remember them slugs?” (I did; the “slug” was a “token” issued in the early days–a hexagonal piece of gold a little over twice the size of a twenty-dollar gold piece–worth and accepted for fifty dollars.)

“Well, I handed them that, and they handed me the watch. You see them slugs I had made myself outer brass filings and iron pyrites, and used to slap ’em down on the boys for a bluff in a game of draw poker. You see, not being reg’lar gov-ment money, it wasn’t counterfeiting. I reckon they cost me, counting time and anxiety, about fifteen dollars. So, if this yer watch is worth that, it’s about a square game, ain’t it?”