Well, Mr. Easton, if you will make me speak first, I suppose I must

Collection of Short Stories (10)

Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:

"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."

(i) Describe Miss Fairchild and Mr. Easton. 

(ii) Where does the above conversation occur? Why was Mr. Easton embarrassed when Miss Fairchild addressed him?

(iii) How was Mr. Easton’s other hand ‘otherwise engaged’? How does Miss Fairchild react when he raises his right hand to show her what he meant?

(iv) How does Miss Fairchild feel about Mr. Easton? How does she try to convey these feelings to him?

(v) The story has a surprise ending. How is the surprise revealed to the reader?

Answer

(i) Fairchild - pretty, young, dressed elegantly, experienced traveler, voice showed that she was used to speaking and being heard / attractive / rounded cheeks / sweet voice  full and deliberate.

Easton - handsome / bold / frank / young.

(ii) In a railway coach / on the east bound B & M express / on a train / compartment

He was handcuffed / was being taken to prison for counterfeiting / and did not want her to know this.

(iii) It was handcuffed.

glad look in her eyes slowly changed / to bewildered horror / glow faded from her cheeks / lips parted in distress.

(iv) She is attracted to him / possibly loves him / friends / likes him / has feelings.

How? - by assuring Easton that she never had been interested in the Ambassador

By declaring that she loved the West (believing that he was a Marshal in the west) – that she could live there happily.

Saying that money wasn’t everything (Implying that she was prepared to give up a life of comfort in the East and move West to be with Easton)

Says - I will see you soon in Washington.

You are one of the dashing heroes who write and shoot and get into dangers.

You have been missed from the old crowd

It is too bad you are not going to the west.

(v) Through the conversation of two passengers who had overheard the exchange between Ms. Fairchild and Mr. Easton.

One of them mistook Easton for the Marshal and commented on his youth "Pretty young to hold an office like that, isn’t he?"

The other passenger realised his friend’s mistake and pointed out a vital clue - an officer would never handcuff a prisoner to his right hand!!

The reader understands / infers that the glum faced man was actually a kind hearted Marshall and Easton was the prisoner.