Hearts and Hands
by O. Henry
At Denver there was an influx of passengers into the
coaches on the eastbound B. & M. express. In one coach
there sat a very pretty young woman dressed in elegant
taste and surrounded by all the luxurious comforts of
an experienced traveller. Among the newcomers were two
young men, one of handsome presence, with a bold,
frank countenance and manner; the other a ruffled,
glum-faced person, heavily built and roughly dressed.
The two were handcuffed together.
As they passed down the aisle of the coach the only
vacant seat offered was a reversed one facing the
attractive young woman. Here the linked couple seated
themselves. The young woman's glance fell upon them
with a distant, swift disinterest; then, with a lovely
smile brightening her countenance and a tender pink
tingeing her rounded cheeks, she held out a little
gray-gloved hand. When she spoke her voice, full,
sweet, and deliberate, proclaimed that its owner
was accustomed to speak and be heard.
"Well, Mr. Easton, if you will make me speak first,
I suppose I must. Don't you ever recognize old friends
when you meet them in the West?"
The younger man roused himself sharply at the sound of
her voice, seemed to struggle with a slight embarrassment
which he threw off instantly, and then clasped her fingers
with his left hand.
"It's Miss Fairchild," he said, with a smile. "I'll ask you to
excuse the other hand; it's otherwise engaged just at present."
He slightly raised his right hand, bound at the wrist by the
shining "bracelet" to the left one of his companion. The glad
look in the girl's eyes slowly changed to a bewildered horror.
The glow faded from her cheeks. Her lips parted in a vague,
relaxing distress. Easton, with a little laugh, as if amused,
was about to speak again when the other forestalled him. The
glum-faced man had been watching the girl's countenance with
veiled glances from his keen, shrewd eyes.
"You'll excuse me for speaking, miss, but, I see you're acquainted
with the marshall here. If you'll ask him to speak a word for
me when we get to the pen he'll do it, and it'll make things
easier for me there. He's taking me to Leavenworth prison. It's
seven years for counterfeiting."
"Oh!" said the girl, with a deep breath and returning color.
"So, that is what you are doing out here? A marshal!"
"My dear Miss Fairchild," said Easton, calmly, "I had to do
something. Money has a way of taking wings unto itself, and
you know it takes money to keep step with our crowd in
Washington. I saw this opening in the West, and--well, a
marshalship isn't quite as high a position as that of
"The ambassador," said the girl, warmly, "doesn't call any
more. He needn't ever have done so. You ought to know that.
And so now you are one of these dashing Western heroes, and
you ride and shoot and go into all kinds of dangers. That's
different from the Washington life. You have been missed
from the old crowd."
The girl's eyes, fascinated, went back, widening a little,
to rest upon the glittering handcuffs.
"Don't you worry about them, miss," said the other man. "All
marshals handcuff themselves to their prisoners to keep them
from getting away. Mr. Easton knows his business."
"Will we see you again soon in Washington?" asked the girl.
"Not soon, I think," said Easton. "My butterfly days are
over, I fear."
"I love the West," said the girl, irrelevantly. Her eyes were
shining softly. She looked away out the car window. She began
to speak truly and simply, without the gloss of style and
manner: "Mamma and I spent the summer in Denver. She went
home a week ago because father was slightly ill. I could
live and be happy in the West. I think the air here agrees
with me. Money isn't everything. But people always misunderstand
things and remain stupid--"
"Say, Mr. Marshal," growled the glum-faced man. "This isn't
quite fair. I'm needin' a drink, and haven't had a smoke all
day. Haven't you talked long enough? Take me in the smoker
now, won't you? I'm half dead for a pipe."
The bound travellers rose to their feet, Easton with the same
slow smile on his face.
"I can't deny a petition for tobacco," he said, lightly.
"It's the one friend of the unfortunate. Good-bye, Miss
Fairchild. Duty calls, you know." He held out his hand
for a farewell.
"It's too bad you are not going East," she said, reclothing
herself with manner and style. "But you must go on to
Leavenworth, I suppose?"
"Yes," said Easton, "I must go on to Leavenworth."
The two men sidled down the aisle into the smoker.
Two passengers in a seat nearby had heard most of the
conversation. Said one of them: "That marshal's a good
sort of chap. Some of these Western fellows are all right."
"Pretty young to hold an office like that, isn't he?" asked
"Young!" exclaimed the first speaker, "why--Oh! didn't you
catch on? Say--did you ever know an officer to handcuff a
prisoner to his right hand?"
~~~~~~~ THE END ~~~~~~~