Beth Norvell A Romance of the West by Randall Parrish Page 2 of 281


BETH NORVELL
A TALE OF THE WEST


CHAPTER I
A CHANCE MEETING

There were nine altogether in the party registering. This number included the manager, who, both on and off the stage, quite successfully impersonated the villain - a rather heavy-jawed, middle-aged fellow, of foreign appearance, with coarse, gruff voice; three representatives of the gentler sex; a child of eight, exact species unknown, wrapped up like a mummy; and four males.

Beyond doubt the most notable member of the troupe was the comedian "star," Mr. T. Macready Lane, whose well-known cognomen must even now awaken happy histrionic memories throughout the western circuit.


The long night's ride from their previous stand, involving as it did two changes of trains, had proven exceedingly wearisome; and the young woman in the rather natty blue toque, the collar of her long gray coat turned up in partial concealment of her face, was so utterly fatigued that she refused to wait for a belated breakfast, and insisted upon being at once directed to her room.

There was a substantial bolt decorating the inside of the door, but, rendered careless by sheer exhaustion of both mind and body, she forgot everything except her desire for immediate rest, dropped her wraps upon the only chair visible, and flung herself, fully dressed, upon the bed. Her cheek had barely pressed the hard pillow before she was sleeping like a tired child.

It must have been an hour later when Winston drove in from Flat Rock, shook the powdery snow from off his long fur overcoat, his cheeks still tingling from the sharp wind, and, with fingers yet stiffened by cold, wrote his name carelessly across the lower line of the dilapidated hotel register.



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