A Deal in Wheat And Other Stories
while from the back veranda of Chino Zavalla's cabin came the clear voice of Felice
singing "The Spanish Cavalier" while she washed the dishes.
The twilight was fading; the glory that had blazed in cloudless vermilion and gold over
the divide was dying down like receding music. The mountains were purple-black. From
the cañon rose the night mist, pale blue, while above it stood the smoke from the mill, a
motionless plume of sable, shot through by the last ruddiness of the afterglow.
The air was full of pleasant odours--the smell of wood fires from the cabins of the
married men and from the ovens of the cookhouse, the ammoniacal whiffs from the
stables, the smell of ripening apples from "Boston's" orchard--while over all and through
all came the perfume of the witch-hazel and tar-weed from the forests and mountain
sides, as pungent as myrrh, as aromatic as aloes.
"And if I should fall,
In vain I would call,"
Lockwood took his pipe from his teeth and put back his head to listen. Felice had as good
a voice as so pretty a young woman should have had. She was twenty-two or twenty-
three years of age, and was incontestably the beauty of the camp. She was Mexican-
Spanish, tall and very slender, black-haired, as lithe as a cat, with a cat's green eyes and
with all of a cat's purring, ingratiating insinuation.
Lockwood could not have told exactly just how the first familiarity between him and
Felice had arisen. It had grown by almost imperceptible degrees up to a certain point;
now it was a chance meeting on the trail between the office and the mill, now a fragment
of conversation apropos of a letter to be mailed, now a question as to some regulation of
the camp, now a detail of repairs done to the cabin wherein Felice lived. As said above,
up to a certain point the process of "getting acquainted" had been gradual, and on
Lockwood's part unconscious; but beyond that point affairs had progressed rapidly.
At first Felice had been, for Lockwood, a pretty woman, neither more nor less; but by
degrees she emerged from this vague classification: she became a very pretty woman.
Then she became a personality; she occupied a place within the circle which Lockwood
called his world, his life. For the past months this place had, perforce, to be enlarged.
Lockwood allowed it to expand. To make room for Felice, he thrust aside, or allowed the
idea of Felice to thrust aside, other objects which long had sat secure. The invasion of the
woman into the sphere of his existence developed at the end into a thing veritably
headlong. Deep-seated convictions, old-established beliefs and ideals, even the two
landmarks right and wrong, were hustled and shouldered about as the invasion widened
and penetrated. This state of affairs was further complicated by the fact that Felice was
the wife of Chino Zavalla, shift-boss of No. 4 gang in the new workings.