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A Belle of Canada City
by [?]

Cissy was tying her hat under her round chin before a small glass at her window. The window gave upon a background of serrated mountain and olive-shadowed canyon, with a faint additional outline of a higher snow level–the only dreamy suggestion of the whole landscape. The foreground was a glaringly fresh and unpicturesque mining town, whose irregular attempts at regularity were set forth with all the cruel, uncompromising clearness of the Californian atmosphere. There was the straight Main Street with its new brick block of “stores,” ending abruptly against a tangled bluff; there was the ruthless clearing in the sedate pines where the hideous spire of the new church imitated the soaring of the solemn shafts it had displaced with almost irreligious mockery. Yet this foreground was Cissy’s world–her life, her sole girlish experience. She did not, however, bother her pretty head with the view just then, but moved her cheek up and down before the glass, the better to examine by the merciless glare of the sunlight a few freckles that starred the hollows of her temples. Like others of her sex, she was a poor critic of what was her real beauty, and quarreled with that peculiar texture of her healthy skin which made her face as eloquent in her sun-kissed cheek as in her bright eyes and expression. Nevertheless, she was somewhat consoled by the ravishing effect of the bowknot she had just tied, and turned away not wholly dissatisfied. Indeed, as the acknowledged belle of Canada City and the daughter of its principal banker, small wonder that a certain frank vanity and childlike imperiousness were among her faults–and her attractions.

She bounded down the stairs and into the front parlor, for their house possessed the unheard-of luxury of a double drawing-room, albeit the second apartment contained a desk, and was occasionally used by Cissy’s father in private business interviews with anxious seekers of “advances” who shunned the publicity of the bank. Here she instantly flew into the arms of her bosom friend, Miss Piney Tibbs, a girl only a shade or two less pretty than herself, who, always more or less ill at ease in these splendors, was awaiting her impatiently. For Miss Tibbs was merely the daughter of the hotel-keeper; and although Tibbs was a Southerner, and had owned “his own niggers” in the States, she was of inferior position and a protegee of Cissy’s.

“Thank goodness you’ve come,” exclaimed Miss Tibbs, “for I’ve bin sittin’ here till I nigh took root. What kep’ ye?”

“How does it look?” responded Cissy, as a relevant reply.

The “it” referred to Cissy’s new hat, and to the young girl the coherence was perfectly plain. Miss Tibbs looked at “it” severely. It would not do for a protegee to be too complaisant.

“Hem! Must have cost a heap o’ money.”

“It did! Came from the best milliner in San Francisco.”

“Of course,” said Piney, with half assumed envy. “When your popper runs the bank and just wallows in gold!”

“Never mind, dear,” replied Cissy cheerfully. “So’ll YOUR popper some day. I’m goin’ to get mine to let YOUR popper into something–Ditch stocks and such. Yes! True, O King! Popper’ll do anything for me,” she added a little loftily.

Loyal as Piney was to her friend, she was by no means convinced of this. She knew the difference between the two men, and had a vivid recollection of hearing her own father express his opinion of Cissy’s respected parent as a “Gold Shark” and “Quartz Miner Crusher.” It did not, however, affect her friendship for Cissy. She only said, “Let’s come!” caught Cissy around the waist, pranced with her out into the veranda, and gasped, out of breath, “Where are we goin’ first?”

“Down Main Street,” said Cissy promptly.

“And let’s stop at Markham’s store. They’ve got some new things in from Sacramento,” added Piney.

“Country styles,” returned Cissy, with a supercilious air. “No! Besides, Markham’s head clerk is gettin’ too presumptuous. Just guess! He asked me, while I was buyin’ something, if I enjoyed the dance last Monday!”