**** 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 [?]

“Well?” he said briefly, glancing at the clock, “what did ye think o’ Mary Ellen?”

To any ordinary observer the girl in question would have seemed the least fitted in age, sobriety of deportment, and administrative capacity to fill the situation thus proposed for her, but Mrs. Byers was not an ordinary observer, and her auditor was not an ordinary listener.

“She’s older than she gives herself out to be,” said Mrs. Byers tentatively, “and them kitten ways don’t amount to much.”

Mr. Langworthy nodded. Had Mrs. Byers discovered a homicidal tendency in Mary Ellen he would have been equally unmoved.

“She don’t handsome much,” continued Mrs. Byers musingly, “but”–

“I never was keen on good looks in a woman, Rosalie. You know that!” Mrs. Byers received the equivocal remark unemotionally, and returned to the subject.

“Well!” she said contemplatively, “I should think you could make her suit.”

Mr. Langworthy nodded with resigned toleration of all that might have influenced her judgment and his own. “I was wantin’ a fa’r- minded opinion, Rosalie, and you happened along jest in time. Kin I put up anythin’ in the way of food for ye?” he added, as a stir outside and the words “All aboard!” proclaimed the departing of the stage-coach,–“an orange or a hunk o’ gingerbread, freshly baked?”

“Thank ye kindly, Abner, but I sha’n’t be usin’ anythin’ afore supper,” responded Mrs. Byers, as they passed out into the veranda beside the waiting coach.

Mr. Langworthy helped her to her seat. “Ef you’re passin’ this way ag’in”–he hesitated delicately.

“I’ll drop in, or I reckon Mr. Byers might, he havin’ business along the road,” returned Mrs. Byers with a cheerful nod, as the coach rolled away and the landlord of the Big Flume Hotel reentered his house.

For the next three weeks, however, it did not appear that Mr. Langworthy was in any hurry to act upon the advice of his former wife. His relations to Mary Ellen Budd were characterized by his usual tolerance to his employees’ failings,–which in Mary Ellen’s case included many “breakages,”–but were not marked by the invasion of any warmer feeling, or a desire for confidences. The only perceptible divergence from his regular habits was a disposition to be on the veranda at the arrival of the stage-coach, and when his duties permitted this, a cautious survey of his female guests at the beginning of dinner. This probably led to his more or less ignoring any peculiarities in his masculine patrons or their claims to his personal attention. Particularly so, in the case of a red-bearded man, in a long linen duster, both heavily freighted with the red dust of the stage road, which seemed to have invaded his very eyes as he watched the landlord closely. Towards the close of the dinner, when Abner, accompanied by a negro waiter after his usual custom, passed down each side of the long table, collecting payment for the meal, the stranger looked up. “You air the landlord of this hotel, I reckon?”

“I am,” said Abner tolerantly.

“I’d like a word or two with ye.”

But Abner had been obliged to have a formula for such occasions. “Ye’ll pay for yer dinner first,” he said submissively, but firmly, “and make yer remarks agin the food arter.”

The stranger flushed quickly, and his eye took an additional shade of red, but meeting Abner’s serious gray ones, he contented himself with ostentatiously taking out a handful of gold and silver and paying his bill. Abner passed on, but after dinner was over he found the stranger in the hall.

“Ye pulled me up rather short in thar,” said the man gloomily, “but it’s just as well, as the talk I was wantin’ with ye was kinder betwixt and between ourselves, and not hotel business. My name’s Byers, and my wife let on she met ye down here.”

For the first time it struck Abner as incongruous that another man should call Rosalie “his wife,” although the fact of her remarriage had been made sufficiently plain to him. He accepted it as he would an earthquake, or any other dislocation, with his usual tolerant smile, and held out his hand.