**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


The Landlord of the Big Flume Hotel
by [?]

“Same to you, Rosalie–though I say it too,” returned the landlord. “But hol’ on just a minit.” He moved forward to the other guest, put the same perfunctory question regarding his needs, received a negative answer, and then returned to the lady and dropped into a chair opposite to her.

“You’re looking peart and–fleshy,” he said resignedly, as if he were tolerating his own conventional politeness with his other difficulties; “unless,” he added cautiously, “you’re takin’ on some new disease.”

“No! I’m fairly comf’ble,” responded the lady calmly, “and you’re gettin’ on in the vale, ez is natural–though you still kind o’ run to bone, as you used.”

There was not a trace of malevolence in either of their comments, only a resigned recognition of certain unpleasant truths which seemed to have been habitual to both of them. Mr. Langworthy paused to flick away some flies from the butter with his professional napkin, and resumed,–

“It must be a matter o’ five years sens I last saw ye, isn’t it?– in court arter you got the decree–you remember?”

“Yes–the 28th o’ July, ’51. I paid Lawyer Hoskins’s bill that very day–that’s how I remember,” returned the lady. “You’ve got a big business here,” she continued, glancing round the room; “I reckon you’re makin’ it pay. Don’t seem to be in your line, though; but then, thar wasn’t many things that was.”

“No–that’s so,” responded Mr. Langworthy, nodding his head, as assenting to an undeniable proposition, “and you–I suppose you’re gettin’ on too. I reckon you’re–er–married–eh?”–with a slight suggestion of putting the question delicately.

The lady nodded, ignoring the hesitation. “Yes, let me see, it’s just three years and three days. Constantine Byers–I don’t reckon you know him–from Milwaukee. Timber merchant. Standin’ timber’s his specialty.”

“And I reckon he’s–satisfactory?”

“Yes! Mr. Byers is a good provider–and handy. And you? I should say you’d want a wife in this business?”

Mr. Langworthy’s serious half-perfunctory manner here took on an appearance of interest. “Yes–I’ve bin thinkin’ that way. Thar’s a young woman helpin’ in the kitchen ez might do, though I’m not certain, and I ain’t lettin’ on anything as yet. You might take a look at her, Rosalie,–I orter say Mrs. Byers ez is,–and kinder size her up, and gimme the result. It’s still wantin’ seven minutes o’ schedule time afore the stage goes, and–if you ain’t wantin’ more food”–delicately, as became a landord–“and ain’t got anythin’ else to do, it might pass the time.”

Strange as it may seem, Mrs. Byers here displayed an equal animation in her fresh face as she rose promptly to her feet and began to rearrange her dust cloak around her buxom figure. “I don’t mind, Abner,” she said, “and I don’t think that Mr. Byers would mind either;” then seeing Langworthy hesitating at the latter unexpected suggestion, she added confidently, “and I wouldn’t mind even if he did, for I’m sure if I don’t know the kind o’ woman you’d be likely to need, I don’t know who would. Only last week I was sayin’ like that to Mr. Byers”–

“To Mr. Byers?” said Abner, with some surprise.

“Yes–to him. I said, ‘We’ve been married three years, Constantine, and ef I don’t know by this time what kind o’ woman you need now–and might need in future–why, thar ain’t much use in matrimony.'”

“You was always wise, Rosalie,” said Abner, with reminiscent appreciation.

“I was always there, Abner,” returned Mrs. Byers, with a complacent show of dimples, which she, however, chastened into that resignation which seemed characteristic of the pair. “Let’s see your ‘intended’–as might be.”

Thus supported, Mr. Langworthy led Mrs. Byers into the hall through a crowd of loungers, into a smaller hall, and there opened the door of the kitchen. It was a large room, whose windows were half darkened by the encompassing pines which still pressed around the house on the scantily cleared site. A number of men and women, among them a Chinaman and a negro, were engaged in washing dishes and other culinary duties; and beside the window stood a young blonde girl, who was wiping a tin pan which she was also using to hide a burst of laughter evidently caused by the abrupt entrance of her employer. A quantity of fluffy hair and part of a white, bared arm were nevertheless visible outside the disk, and Mrs. Byers gathered from the direction of Mr. Langworthy’s eyes, assisted by a slight nudge from his elbow, that this was the selected fair one. His feeble explanatory introduction, addressed to the occupants generally, “Just showing the house to Mrs.–er–Dusenberry,” convinced her that the circumstances of his having been divorced he had not yet confided to the young woman. As he turned almost immediately away, Mrs. Byers in following him managed to get a better look at the girl, as she was exchanging some facetious remark to a neighbor. Mr. Langworthy did not speak until they had reached the deserted dining-room again.