The Flying U's Last Stand
The Flying U's Last Stand
Chapter 2 Andy Green's New Acquaintance
Andy Green, chief prevaricator of the Happy Family of the Flying U-and not ashamed of either title or connection- pushed his new Stetson back off his untanned forehead, attempted to negotiate the narrow passage into a Pullman sleeper with his suitcase swinging from his right hand, and butted into a woman who was just emerging from the dressingroom. He butted into her so emphatically that he was compelled to swing his left arm out very quickly, or see her go headlong into the window opposite; for a fullsized suitcase propelled forward by a muscular young man may prove a very efficient instrument of disaster, especially if it catches one just in the hollow back of the knee. The woman tottered and grasped Andy convulsively to save herself a fall, and so they stood blocking the passage until the porter arrived and took the suitcase from Andy with a tip-inviting deference.
Andy apologized profusely, with a quaint, cowpunchery phrasing that caused the woman to take a second look at him. And, since Andy Green would look good to any woman capable of recognizing-and appreciating-a real man when she saw him, she smiled and said it didn't matter in the least.
That was the beginning of the acquaintance. Andy took her by her plump, chiffon-veiled arm and piloted her to her seat, and he afterward tipped the porter generously and had his own belongings deposited in the section across the aisle. Then, with the guile of a foreign diplomat, he betook himself to the smoking-room and stayed there for three quarters of an hour. He was not taking any particular risk of losing the opportunity of an unusually pleasant journey, for the dollar he had invested in the goodwill of the porter had yielded the information that the lady was going through to Great Falls. Since Andy had boarded the train at Harlem there was plenty of time to kill between there and Dry Lake, which was his destination.
The lady smiled at him rememberingly when finally he seated himself across the aisle from her, and without any serious motive Andy smiled back. So presently they were exchanging remarks about the journey. Later on, Andy went over and sat beside her and conversation began in earnest. Her name, it transpired, was Florence Grace Hallman. Andy read it engraved upon a card which added the information that she was engaged in the real estate business-or so the three or four words implied. "Homemakers' Syndicate, Minneapolis and St. Paul," said the card. Andy was visibly impressed thereby. He looked at her with swift appraisement and decided that she was "all to the good."
Florence Grace Hallman was tall and daintily muscular as to figure. Her hair was a light yellow-not quite the shade which peroxide gives, and therefore probably natural. Her eyes were brown, a shade too close together but cool and calm and calculating in their gaze, and her eyebrows slanted upward a bit at the outer ends and were as heavy as beauty permitted. Her lips were very red, and her chin was very firm. She looked the successful business woman to her fingertips, and she was eminently attractive for a woman of that self-assured type.
Andy was attractive also, in a purely Western way. His gray eyes were deceivingly candid and his voice was pleasant with a little, humorous drawl that matched well the quirk of his lips when he talked. He was headed for home-which was the Flying U-sober and sunny and with enough money to see him through. He told Florence Hallman his name, and said that he lived "up the road a ways" without being too definite. Florence Hallman lived in Minneapolis, she said; though she traveled most of the time, in the interests of her firm.
Yes, she liked the real estate business. One had a chance to see the world, and keep in touch with people and things. She liked the West especially well. Since her firm had taken up the home