Why did he say "It's Miss Fairchild" when he can say "you are Miss Child"? What did he mean by "excuse the other hand"? I think it's because his hand is handcuffed with the prisoner. So did he say just for an etiquette?Does "engage" mean "active"? "active hand"?
Hearts and Hands by O. Henry
"Well, Mr. Easton, if you will make me speak first, I suppose I must. Don't vou 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."
<===Previous part...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 traveler. 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.