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Title: Inez - A Tale of the Alamo
Author: Evans, Augusta J. (Augusta Jane), 1835-1909
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Inez - A Tale of the Alamo" ***

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INEZ

A TALE OF THE ALAMO

BY

AUGUSTA J. EVANS

_Author of "Beulah," "St. Elmo," "Infelice," "Macaria," Etc._

NEW YORK

THE FEDERAL BOOK COMPANY

PUBLISHERS



                        TO
                THE TEXAN PATRIOTS,
                 WHO TRIUMPHANTLY
             UNFURLED AND WAVED ALOFT
                        THE
          "BANNER OF THE LONE STAR!" WHO
                WRENCHED ASUNDER
  THE IRON BANDS OF DESPOTIC MEXICO! AND WREATHED
           THE BROW OF THE "QUEEN STATE"
                       WITH
         THE GLORIOUS CHAPLET OF "CIVIL AND
              RELIGIOUS LIBERTY!" THIS
                     WORK IS
             RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED BY
                    THE AUTHOR.



INEZ: A TALE OF THE ALAMO.



CHAPTER I.

  "But O, th' important budget!
  Who can say what are its tidings?"

  COWPER.


"There is the bell for prayers, Florry; are you ready?" said
Mary Irving, hastily entering her cousin's room at the large
boarding-school of Madame ----.

"Yes; I rose earlier than usual this morning, have solved two
problems, and translated nearly half a page of Telemaque."

"I congratulate you on your increased industry and application, though
you were always more studious than myself. I wish, dear Florry,
you could imbue me with some of your fondness for metaphysics and
mathematics," Mary replied, with a low sigh.

A momentary flush passed over the face of her companion, and they
descended the stairs in silence. The room in which the pupils were
accustomed to assemble for devotion was not so spacious as the
class-room, yet sufficiently so to look gloomy enough in the gray
light of a drizzling morn. The floor was covered with a faded carpet,
in which the indistinct vine seemed struggling to reach the wall,
but failed by several feet on either side. As if to conceal this
deficiency, a wide seat was affixed the entire length of the room, so
high

  "That the feet hung dangling down,
  Anxious in vain to find the distant floor."

There were no curtains to the windows, and the rain pattered drearily
down the panes.

The teacher who officiated as chaplain was seated before a large
desk, on which lay an open Bible. He seemed about twenty-four, his
countenance noble rather than handsome, if I may make so delicate a
distinction. Intelligence of the first order was stamped upon it, yet
the characteristic expression was pride which sat enthroned on his
prominent brow; still, hours of care had left their impress, and the
face was very grave, though by no means stern. His eye was fixed on
the door as the pupils came in, one by one, for prayers, and when
Florence and Mary entered, it sunk upon his book, In a few moments he
rose, and, standing with one arm folded across his bosom, read in a
deep, distinct tone, that beautiful Psalm, "The Lord is my shepherd."
He had only reached the fourth verse, when he was interrupted by two
girls of twelve or fourteen, who had been conversing from the moment
of their entrance. The tones grew louder and louder, and now the words
were very audible:

"My father did not send me here to come to prayers, and Madame has no
right to make us get up before day to hear him read his Bible!"

Many who coincided with them tittered, others stared in silence, while
Florence's lip curled, and Mary looked sorrowingly, pityingly upon
them--hers was the expression with which the angel multitudes of
Heaven regard their erring brethren here. The chaplain turned toward
them, and said, in a grave yet gentle voice, "My little friends, I am
afraid you did not kneel beside your bed this morning, and ask God to
keep your hearts from sinful thoughts, and enable you to perform all
your duties in a humble, gentle spirit. In your present temper, were I
to read the entire book instead of one Psalm, I fear you would receive
no benefit."

The girls were awed more by the tone than words, and sat silent and
abashed. The reading was concluded, and then he offered up a prayer
earnest and heartfelt. Instead of leaving the room immediately, the
pupils waited as for something, and taking a bundle of letters from
the desk, their tutor distributed them as the direction indicated.

"My budget is not so large as usual, and I regret it for your sakes,
as I fear some are disappointed. Miss Hamilton, here are two for you;"
and he handed them to her without looking up.

"Two for Florry, and none for me?" asked Mary, while her voice
slightly trembled. He was leaving the room, but turned toward her.

"I am very sorry, Miss Mary, but hope you will find a comforting
message in your cousin's."

Gently he spoke, yet his eyes rested on Florence the while, and, with
a suppressed sigh, he passed on. "Come to my room, Mary; it is strange
the letters are postmarked the same day." And while she solves the
mystery, let us glance at her former history.



CHAPTER II.

  "Calm on the bosom of thy God,
    Fair spirit! rest thee now!
  Ev'n while with us thy footsteps trod,
    His seal was on thy brow."

  HEMANS.


Florence Hamilton had but attained her fourth year when she was left
the only solace of her widowed father. Even after the lapse of long
years, faint, yet sweet recollections of her lost parent stole, in
saddened hours, over her spirit, and often, in dreams, a face of
angelic beauty hovered around, and smiled upon her.

Unfortunately, Florence proved totally unlike her sainted mother, both
in personal appearance and cast of character. Mr. Hamilton was a
cold, proud man of the world; one who, having lived from his birth in
affluence, regarded with a haughty eye all who, without the advantages
of rank or wealth, strove to attain a position equal to his own.
Intelligence, nobility of soul, unsullied character, weighed not an
atom against the counterpoise of birth and family. He enjoyed in youth
advantages rare for the unsettled times in which he lived; he tasted
all that France and Italy could offer; and returned _blasé_ at
twenty-seven to his home in one of the Southern States. Attracted by
the brilliant fortune of an orphan heiress, he won and married her;
but love, such as her pure, gentle spirit sought, dwelt not in his
stern, selfish heart. All of affection he had to bestow was lavished
on his only sister, who had married during his absence.

His angel wife drooped in the sterile soil to which she was
transplanted, and, when Florence was about four years old, sunk into a
quiet grave.

Perhaps when he stood with his infant daughter beside the newly-raised
mound, and missed the gentle being who had endeavored so strenuously
to make his home happy, and to win for herself a place in his heart,
one tear might have moistened the cold, searching eyes that for
years had known no such softening tendency. "Perhaps," I say; but to
conjecture of thee, oh Man! is fruitless indeed.

As well as such a nature could, he loved his child, and considered
himself extremely magnanimous in casting aside all thought of a second
marriage, and devoting his leisure moments to the formation of her
character, and direction of her education.

Florence inherited her father's haughty temperament without his sordid
selfishness, and what may seem incompatible with the former, a glowing
imagination in connection with fine mental powers. To all but Mr.
Hamilton she appeared as cold and impenetrable as himself; but the
flashing eye and curling lip with which she listened to a tale of
injustice, or viewed a dishonorable act, indicated a nature truly
noble. Two master passions ruled her heart--love for her parent, and
fondness for books. Idolized by the household, it was not strange that
she soon learned to consider herself the most important member of it.
Mr. Hamilton found that it was essential for the proper regulation
of his establishment that some lady should preside over its various
departments, and accordingly invited the maiden sister of his late
wife to make his house her home, and take charge of his numerous
domestics.

Of his daughter he said nothing. Aunt Lizzy, as she was called, was an
amiable, good woman, but not sufficiently intellectual to superintend
Florry's education. That little individual looked at first with
distrustful eyes on one who, she supposed, might abridge her numerous
privileges; but the affectionate manner of the kind-hearted aunt
removed all fear, and she soon spoke and moved with the freedom which
had characterized her solitude.

One day, when Florence was about nine years old, her father entered
the library, where she sat intently reading, and said,

"Florence, come here, I have something to tell you."

"Something to tell me! I hope it is pleasant;" and she laid her hand
on his knee, and looked inquiringly in his face.

"You remember the cousin Mary, whose father died not long ago? Well,
she has lost her mother too, and is coming to live with us." As he
spoke, his voice faltered, and his proud curling lip quivered, yet
he gave no other evidence of the deepest grief he had known for many
years.

"She will be here this evening, and I hope you will try to make her
contented." With these words he was leaving the room, but Florence
said,

"Father, is she to stay with us always, and will she sleep in my room,
with me?"

"She will live with us as long as she likes, and, if you prefer it,
can occupy the same room."

The day wore on, and evening found her on the steps, looking earnestly
down the avenue for the approach of the little stranger.

At length a heavy carriage drove to the door, and Florry leaned
forward to catch a glimpse of the inmate's face. A slight form, clad
in deep mourning, was placed on the piazza by the coachman.

Mr. Hamilton shook her hand kindly, and, after a few words of welcome,
said,

"Here is your cousin Florence, Mary. I hope you will love each other,
and be happy, good little girls." Mary looked almost fearfully at
her proud young cousin, but the sight of her own pale, tearful face
touched Florry's heart, and she threw her arms round her neck and
kissed her. The embrace was unexpected, and Mary wept bitterly.

"Florence, why don't you take Mary to her room?"

"Would you like to go up-stairs, cousin?"

"Oh yes! if you please, I had much rather." And taking her basket from
her hand, Florry led the way.

Mary took off her bonnet, and turned to look again at her cousin.
Their eyes met; but, as if overcome by some sudden recollection, she
buried her face in her hands and burst again into tears.

Florence stood for some time in silence, at length she said gently,

"It is almost tea-time, and father will be angry if he sees you have
been crying."

"Oh! I can't help it, indeed I can't," sobbed the little mourner, "he
is so much like my dear, darling mother;" and she stifled a cry of
agony.

"Is my father like your mother, cousin Mary?"

"Oh yes! When he spoke to me just now, I almost thought it was
mother."

A tear rolled over Florry's cheek, and she slowly replied, "I wish I
knew somebody that looked like my mother." In that hour was forged the
chain which bound them through life, and made them one in interest.

Years rolled on, and found Mary happy in her adopted home. If her
uncle failed to caress her as her loving heart desired, she did not
complain, for she was treated like her cousin, and found in the strong
love of Florence an antidote for every care. Mary was about sixteen,
and Florence a few months younger, at the time our story opens, and
had been placed in New Orleans to acquire French and music, as good
masters could not be obtained nearer home. We have seen them there,
and, hoping the reader will pardon this digression, return to Florry's
letter.



CHAPTER III.

    "Philosophy can hold an easy triumph over past and future
    misfortunes; but those which are present, triumph over her."

    ROCHEFOUCAULT.


A Striking difference in personal appearance was presented by the
cousins, as they stood together. Florence, though somewhat younger,
was taller by several inches, and her noble and erect carriage, in
connection with the haughty manner in which her head was thrown back,
added in effect to her height. Her hair and eyes were brilliant black,
the latter particularly thoughtful in their expression. The forehead
was not remarkable for height, but was unusually prominent and
white, and almost overhung the eyes. The mouth was perfect, the lips
delicately chiseled, and curving beautifully toward the full dimpled
chin. The face, though intellectual, and artistically beautiful, was
not prepossessing. The expression was cold and haughty; and for this
reason she had received the appellations of "Minerva" and "Juno," such
being considered by her fellow-pupils as singularly appropriate.

Mary, on the contrary, was slight and drooping, and her sweet,
earnest countenance, elicited the love of the beholder, even before an
intimate acquaintance had brought to view the beautiful traits of her
truly amiable character.

And yet these girls, diametrically opposed in disposition, clung to
each other with a strength of affection only to be explained by that
strongest of all ties, early association.

Florence broke the seal of her letter, and Mary walked to the window.
It looked out on a narrow street, through which drays rattled noisily,
and occasional passengers picked their way along its muddy crossings.

Mary stood watching the maneuvers of a little girl, who was
endeavoring to pass dry-shod, when a low groan startled her; and
turning quickly, she perceived Florence standing in the center of the
room, the letter crumpled in one hand: her face had grown very pale,
and the large eyes gleamed strangely.

"Oh! Florry, what is the matter? Is your father ill--dead--tell me
quick?" and imploringly she clasped her hands.

Florence made a powerful effort, and spoke, in her usual tone:

"I was foolish to give way to my feelings, even for a moment--my
father is well." She paused, and then added, as if painfully, "But,
oh! he is almost penniless!"

"Penniless!" echoed Mary, as though she could not comprehend her
cousin's meaning.

"Yes, Mary, he has been very unfortunate in his speculations, obliged
to sell our plantation and negroes, and now, he says, 'a few paltry
thousands only remain;' but, oh! that is not the worst; I wish it
were, he has sold out everything, broken every tie, and will be here
this evening on his way to Texas. He writes that I must be ready to
accompany him to-morrow night."

She paused, as if unwilling to add something which must be told, and
looked sadly at her cousin.

Mary understood the glance.

"Florry, there is something in the letter relating to myself, which
you withhold for fear of giving me pain: the sooner I learn it the
better."

"Mary, here is a letter inclosed for you; but first hear what my
father says," and hurriedly she read as follows: ... "With regard to
Mary, it cannot be expected that she should wish to accompany us on
our rugged path, and bitterly, bitterly do I regret our separation.
Her paternal uncle, now in affluence, has often expressed a desire to
have her with him, and, since my misfortunes, has written me, offering
her a home in his family. Every luxury and advantage afforded by
wealth can still be hers. Did I not feel that she would be benefited
by this separation, nothing could induce me to part with her, but,
under existing circumstances, I can consent to give her up."

Florence flung the letter from her as she concluded, and approaching
her cousin, clasped her arms fondly about her. Mary had covered her
face with her hands, and the tears glistened on her slender fingers.

"Oh, Florry, you don't know how pained and hurt I am, that uncle
should think I could be so ungrateful as to forget, in the moment of
adversity, his unvaried kindness for six long years. Oh! it is cruel
in him to judge me so harshly," and she sobbed aloud.

"I will not be left, I will go with him, that is if--if--Florry, tell
me candidly, do you think he has any other reason for not taking me,
except my fancied dislike to leaving this place--tell me?"

"No, dear Mary; if he thought you preferred going with us, no power on
earth could induce him to leave you."

Mary placed her hand in her cousin's, and murmured,

"Florry, I will go with you; your home shall be my home, and your
sorrows my sorrows."

A flash of joy irradiated Florence's pale face as she returned her
cousin's warm embrace.

"With you, Mary, to comfort and assist me, I fear nothing; but you
have not yet read your uncle's letter, perhaps its contents may
influence your decision."

Mary perused it in silence, and then put it in her cousin's hand,
while the tears rolled over her cheeks.

"Mary, think well ere you reject this kind offer. Remember how
earnestly he entreats that you will come and share his love, his home,
and his fortune. Many privations will be ours, in the land to which we
go, and numberless trials assail the poverty-stricken. All these you
can avoid, by accepting this very affectionate invitation. Think well,
Mary, lest in after-years you repent your hasty decision."

There came a long pause, and hurriedly Florence paced to and fro. Mary
lifted her bowed head, and pushing back her clustering hair, calmly
replied, "My heart swells with gratitude toward my noble, generous
uncle. Oh, how fervently I can thank him for his proffered home! yet,
separated from you, dear Florry, I could not be happy; my heart would
ache for you, and your warm, trusting love. I fear neither poverty
nor hardships. Oh, let me go with you, and cheer and assist my dear
uncle!"

"You shall go with us, my pure-hearted cousin. When I thought a moment
since, of parting with you, my future seemed gloomy indeed, but now I
know that you will be near, I am content."

A short silence ensued, broken by a mournful exclamation from
Florence.

"Ah! Mary, it is not for myself that I regret this change of fortune,
but for my proud, haughty father, who will suffer so keenly. Oh, my
heart aches when I think of him!"

"Florry, we must cheer him by those thousand little attentions, which
will lead him to forget his pecuniary troubles."

Florence shook her head.

"You do not know my father as I do. He will have no comforters, broods
over difficulties in secret, and shrinks from sympathy as from a
'scorching brand.'"

"Still, I think we can do much to lighten his cares, and I pray God I
may not be mistaken," replied Mary.

Florence lifted her head from her palm and gazed vacantly at her
cousin, then started from her seat.

"Mary, we must not sit here idly, when there is so much to do, Madame
---- should know we leave to-morrow, and it will take us all day to
prepare for our journey."

"Do let me go and speak to Madame----; it will be less unpleasant to
me?"

"No, no; I will go myself; they shall not think I feel it so sensibly,
and their condolence to-morrow would irritate me beyond measure. I
scorn such petty trials as loss of fortune, and they shall know it."

"Who shall know it, Florry?"

Her cheek flushed, but without a reply she left the room, and
descended the steps which led to Madame ----'s parlor. Reaching the
door, she drew herself proudly up, then knocked.

"Come in," was the response.

She did so. In the center of the apartment, with an open book on the
table before him, sat the teacher who officiated at prayers. He rose
and bowed coldly in answer to her salutation.

"Pardon my intrusion, Mr. Stewart. I expected to find Madame here."

"She has gone to spend the morning with an invalid sister, and
requested me to take charge of her classes, in addition to my own. If
I can render you any assistance, Miss Hamilton, I am at your service."

"Thank you, I am in need of no assistance, and merely wished to say to
Madame that I should leave New Orleans to-morrow, having heard from my
father that he will be here in the evening boat."

"I will inform her of your intended departure as early as possible."

"You will oblige me by doing so," replied Florence, turning to go.

"Miss Hamilton, may I ask you if your cousin accompanies you?"

"She does," was the laconic answer, and slowly she retraced her steps,
and stood at her own door. The cheeks had become colorless, and the
delicate lips writhed with pain. She paused a moment, then entered.

"Did you see her, Florry?"

"No, she is absent, but I left word for her."

Her tone was hard, dry, as though she had been striving long for some
goal, which, when nearly attained, her failing strength was scarce
able to grasp. It was the echo of a fearful struggle that had raged in
her proud bosom. The knell it seemed of expiring exertion, of sinking
resistance. Mary gazed sadly on her cousin, who stood mechanically
smoothing her glossy black hair. The haughty features seemed chiseled
in marble, so cold, stony was the expression.

"Dear Florry! you look harassed and weary already. Why, why will you
overtask your strength, merely to be called a disciple of Zeno? Surely
you cannot seriously desire so insignificant an honor, if it merits
that title?"

"Can, you, then, see no glory in crushing long-cherished hopes--nay,
when your heart is yearning toward some 'bright particular' path,
to turn without one symptom of regret, and calmly tread one just the
opposite! Tell me, can you perceive nothing elevating in this Stoical
command?"

The cold, vacant look had passed away; her dark eyes gleamed,
glittered as with anticipated triumph.

"Florry, I do not understand you exactly; but I do know that command
of the heart is impossible, from the source whence you draw. It may
seem perfect control now, but it will fail you in the dark hour of
your need, if many trials should assail. Oh! my cousin, do not be
angry if I say 'you have forsaken the fountain of living water, and
hewn out for yourself broken cisterns, which hold no water.' Oh!
Florry, before you take another step, return to Him, 'who has a balm
for every wound.'"

Florence's face softened; an expression of relief began to steal over
her countenance; but as Mary ceased speaking, she turned her face,
beautiful in its angelic purity, full upon her. A bitter smile curled
Florence's lip, and muttering hoarsely, "A few more hours and the
struggle will be over," she turned to her bureau, and arranged her
clothes for packing.

The day passed in preparation, and twilight found the cousins watching
intently at the casement. The great clock in the hall chimed out
seven, the last stroke died away, and then the sharp clang of the
door-bell again broke silence. They started to their feet, heard the
street door open and close--then steps along the stairs, nearer and
nearer--then came a knock at the door. Mary opened it; the servant
handed in a card and withdrew. "Mr. J.A. Hamilton." Florence passed
out, Mary remained behind.

"Come, why do you linger?"

"I thought, Florry, you might wish to see him alone; perhaps he would
prefer it."

"Mary, you have identified yourself with us. To my father we must be
as one." She extended her hand, and the next moment they stood in the
reception-room.

The father and uncle were standing with folded arms, looking down into
the muddy street below. He advanced to meet them, holding out a hand
to each. Florence pressed her lips to the one she held, and exclaimed,

"My dear father, how glad I am to see you!"

"Glad to see me! You did not receive my letters then?"

"Yes, I did, but are their contents and pleasure at meeting you
incompatible?"

He made no reply, and then Mary said, in a low, tremulous tone,

"Uncle, you have done me a great injury, and you must make me all the
reparation in your power. You said, in your letter to Florry, that
you did not think I would wish to go with you. Oh, uncle! you do not,
cannot believe me so ungrateful, so devoid of love as to wish, under
any circumstances, to be separated from you. Now ease my heart, and
say I may share your new home. I should be very miserable away from
you."

An expression of pleasure passed over his face, but again the brow
darkened.

"Mary! Florence is my child--my destiny hers, my misfortunes hers; but
I have no right to drag you with me in my fall; to deprive you of the
many advantages that will be afforded, by your uncle's wealth, of the
social position you may one day attain."

"Uncle! uncle! am I not your child by adoption? Have you not loved
and cared for me during long years? Oh! what do I care for wealth--for
what you call a high position in the world? You and Florry are my
world." She threw her arms about his neck, and sobbed, "Take me! oh,
take me with you!"

"If you so earnestly desire it, you shall indeed go with us, my Mary."
And, for the first time in her life, he imprinted a kiss on her brow.

When he departed, it was with a promise to call for them the next
morning, that they might make, with their aunt, some necessary
purchases, and remove to a hotel near the river.

Everything was packed the ensuing day, when Mary suddenly remembered
that her books were still in the recitation-room, and would have gone
for them, but Florence said,

"I will bring up the books, Mary; you are tired and pale with bending
so long over that trunk." And accordingly she went.

Mary threw herself on the couch to rest a moment, and fell into
a reverie of some length, unheeding the flying minutes, when she
recollected that Florence had been absent a long time, and rising,
was about to seek her; just then her cousin entered. A change had come
over her countenance--peace, quiet, happiness reigned supreme. One
hour later, and they had gone from Madame ----'s, never to return
again.



CHAPTER IV

  "Time the supreme! Time is eternity,
   Pregnant with all eternity can give;
   With all that makes archangels smile
   Who murders time, he crushes in the birth
   A power ethereal."

   YOUNG.


A year had passed away. "How paradoxical is the signification of the
term!" How vast, when we consider that each hour hastens the end
of our pilgrimage! How insignificant in comparison with futurity! A
single drop in the boundless deep of eternity! Oh Time! thou greatest
of all anomalies! Friend yet foe, "preserver and yet destroyer!"
Whence art thou, great immemorial? When shall thy wondrous mechanism
be dissolved? When shall the "pall of obscurity" descend on thy
Herculean net-work? Voices of the past echo through thy deserted
temples, and shriek along thy bulwarks--Never, no never!

Season had followed season in rapid succession, and the last rays
of an August sun illumined a scene so beautiful, that I long for
the pencil of a Claude Lorraine. It was a far-off town, in a far-off
state, yet who has gazed on thy loveliness, oh, San Antonio, can e'er
forget thee! Thine was the sweetness of nature; no munificent hand had
arranged, with artistic skill, a statue here, a fountain there.

The river wound like an azure girdle round the town; not confined
by precipitous banks, but gliding along the surface, as it were, and
reflecting, in its deep blue waters, the rustling tule which fringed
the margin. An occasional pecan or live-oak flung a majestic shadow
athwart its azure bosom, and now and then a clump of willows sighed
low in the evening breeze.

Far away to the north stretched a mountain range, blue in the
distance; to the south, the luxuriant valley of the stream. The
streets were narrow, and wound with a total disregard of the points
of the compass. Could a stranger have been placed blindfold in one
of them, and then allowed to look about him, the flat roofs and light
appearance of most of the houses would have forced him to declare that
he had entered a tropical town of the far east.

Many of the buildings were of musquit pickets, set upright in the
ground, lashed together with strips of hide, and thatched with the
tule before mentioned. There were scarce three plank-floors in the
town; by far the greater number being composed of layers of pebbles,
lime, and sand, rolled with a heavy piece of timber till quite
compact; daily sprinkling was found necessary, however, to keep down
the dust, produced by constant friction.

The wealthy inhabitants built of sun-dried bricks, overcast with a
kind of stucco. Yet, unfortunately, the plastering art died with the
Montezumas, for the most vivid imagination failed to convert this
rough coating into the "silver sheen" which so dazzled Cortes's little
band. The reader will exclaim, "I can fancy no beauty from so prosy a
description. Thatched roofs and dirt floors, how absurd!"

Although a strict analysis might prove detrimental, I assure you the
_tout ensemble_ was picturesque indeed.

  "Italia! oh Italia! thou who hast
   The fatal gift of beauty."

Art rivaled here. Thy gorgeous skies have floated hither, and hover
like a halo round the town. The sun had set; the glowing tints faded
fast, till of the brilliant spectacle naught remained save the soft
roseate hue which melted insensibly into the deep azure of the zenith.
Quiet seemed settling o'er mountain and river, when, with a solemn
sweetness, the vesper bells chimed out on the evening air. Even as the
Moslem kneels at sunset toward the "Holy City," so punctiliously does
the devout papist bend for vesper prayers. Will you traverse with me
the crooked streets, and stand beneath the belfry whence issued the
holy tones?

This ancient edifice was constructed in 1692. It fronted the Plaza,
and was a long, narrow building, flanked, as it were, by wings lower
than the main apartment, and surmounted by a dome, in which were five
or six bells. This dome or belfry was supported by pillars, and in the
intervening openings were placed the bells. The roof was flat, and the
dark green and gray moss clung along the sides. The interior presented
a singular combination of art and rudeness; the seats were of
unpainted pine, and the cement floor between was worn irregularly by
the knees of devout attendants. The railing of the altar was of carved
mahogany, rich and beautiful. Over this division of the long room hung
a silken curtain, concealing three niches, which contained an image of
the "Virgin," the "Child," and in the center one, a tall gilt cross.
Heavy silver candlesticks were placed in front of each niche, and
a dozen candles were now burning dimly. A variety of relics, too
numerous to mention, were scattered on the altar, and in addition,
several silver goblets, and a massive bowl for holding "holy water." A
few tin sconces, placed against the wall, were the only provision for
lighting that dark, gloomy church, and dreary enough it looked in the
twilight hour. About a dozen devotees were present, all kneeling on
the damp, hard floor. The silk curtain which concealed the altar was
drawn aside, with due solemnity, by two boys habited in red flannel
petticoats, over which hung a loose white slip. The officiating priest
was seen kneeling before the altar, with his lips pressed to the
foot of the cross. He retained his position for several moments, then
rising, conducted the ceremonies in a calm, imposing manner. When
these were concluded, and all had departed save the two boys, who
still knelt before the Virgin, he beckoned them to him, and speaking
a few words in Spanish, ended by pointing to the door and uttering,
emphatically, "Go." Crossing themselves as they passed the images,
they disappeared through a side door, and the priest was left alone.



CHAPTER V.

     *  *  * "He was a man
  Who stole the livery of the court of heaven
  To serve the devil in; in Virtue's guise,
  Devoured the widow's house and orphan's bread;
  In holy phrase, transacted villanies
  That common sinners durst not meddle with."

  POLLOK.


In years, he could not have exceeded twenty-five, yet the countenance
was that of one well versed in intrigue. The cast was Italian--the
crisp black hair, swarthy complexion, and never-to-be-mistaken eyes.
A large amount of Jesuit determination was expressed in his iris,
blended with cunning, malignity, and fierceness. The features were
prominent particularly the nose; the lips finely cut, but thin; the
teeth beautiful and regular. In stature he was low, and habited in the
dress of his order, a long black coat or gown, buttoned to the throat,
and reaching nearly to the feet.

Glancing at his watch as the sound of the last step died away,
he paced round and round the altar, neglecting now the many
genuflections, bows, and crossings with which he had honored the
images in the presence of his flock. His brows were knit, as if in
deep thought, and doubtless he revolved the result of some deep-laid
plan, when the door was hurriedly opened, and a man, bowing low before
the images, approached him. The dress of the stranger declared him a
ranchero: he wore no jacket but his pantaloons were of buckskin, and
his broad sombrero was tucked beneath his arm.

"Benedicit, Juan!"

"Bueño noche, Padre."

"What tidings do you bring me?" said Father Mazzolin.

The Mexican handed him a letter, and then, as if much fatigued, leaned
heavily against the wall, and wiped his brow with a large blue cotton
handkerchief. As the priest turned away and perused his letter, a
smile of triumphant joy irradiated his face, and a momentary flush
tinged his dark cheek. Again he read it, then thrusting it into his
bosom, addressed the bearer:

"May the blessing of the church rest upon you, who have so faithfully
served your Padre;" and he extended his hand. Warmly it was grasped by
Juan, with a look of grateful surprise.

"Este bueño?" inquired Juan.

"Si mui bueño. Juan, do you read American writing?"

"Chiquito," was answered, with a slight shrug.

"What is the news in the el-grand Ciudad?"

"They have a strong ox to pull the ropes, now Santa Anna is at the
head. Bravura!" and the ranchero tossed his hat, regardless of the
place.

It was, however, no part of Mazzolin's policy to allow him for one
moment to forget the reverence due the marble images that looked so
calmly down from their niches, and with a stern glance he pointed to
them, crossing himself as he did so. Juan went down on his knees,
and with an "Ave Maria," and a Mexican dollar (which he laid on the
altar), quieted his conscience.

"Señor Austin is in the Calaboose," he said, after a pause.

Mazzolin started, and looked keenly at him, as if striving to read his
inmost thoughts.

"You must be mistaken. Juan; there is no mention of it in my letter?"
he said, in a tone of one fearing to believe good news.

"Not at all, Padre. We started together--there were fifteen of us--and
after we had come a long way, so far as Saltillo, some of Santa Anna's
cavaleros overtook us, and carried Señor Americano back with them, and
said they had orders to do it, for he was no friend to our nation. I
know, for I heard for myself."

"Do you know the particular reason of his arrest?"

Juan shook his head, and replied, "That the officers did not say."

"Did you mention to any one your having a letter for me?"

"No, Padre; I tell no man what does not concern him."

"A wise plan, Juan, I would advise you always to follow; and be
very careful that you say nothing to any one about my letter: I
particularly desire it."

"Intiendo," said Juan, turning toward the door. "I go to my ranche
to-morrow, but come back before many sunsets, and if you want me
again, Padre, you know where to find me."

"The blessing of the Holy Virgin rest upon you, my son, and reward you
for your services in behalf of the church."

"Adios!" And they parted.

Father Mazzolin drew forth the letter, and read it attentively for
the third time, then held it over one of the twelve candles, and
deliberately burnt it, muttering the while, "Ashes tell no tales."

Extinguishing the candles and locking the door of the church, he said
to himself:

"All is as I foresaw; a breach is made which can only be closed by
the bodies of hundreds of these cursed heretics; and Santa Anna is
bloodthirsty enough to drain the last drop. Alphonso Mazzolin, canst
thou not carve thy fortune in the coming storm? Yea, and I will. I am
no unworthy follower of Loyola, of Gavier, and of Bobadillo. Patience!
a Cardinal's cap shall crown my labors;" and with a chuckling laugh he
entered the narrow street which led to his dwelling.

"There is but one obstacle here," he continued; "that Protestant
girl's work is hard to undo," and his step became quicker. "But for
her, I should have been confessor to the whole family, and will be
yet, despite her warning efforts, though I had rather deal with any
three men. She is as untiring as myself." He reached his door, and
entered.



CHAPTER VI.

  "And ruder words will soon rush in
  To spread the breach that words begin;
  And eyes forget the gentle ray
  They wore in courtship's smiling day;
  And voices lose the tone that shed
  A tenderness round all they said."

  MOORE.


Inez de Garcia was an only child, and in San Antonio considered quite
an heiress. Her wealth consisted in broad lands, large flocks, and
numerous herds, and these valuable possessions, combined with her
beautiful face, rendered her the object of considerable attention.
Inez was endowed with quick perceptions, and a most indomitable will,
which she never surrendered, except to accomplish some latent design;
and none who looked into her beautiful eyes could suppose that beauty
predominated over intellect. She was subtile, and consciousness of her
powers was seen in the haughty glance and contemptuous smile. Her hand
had been promised from infancy to her orphan cousin, Mañuel Nevarro,
whose possessions were nearly as extensive as her own. Inez looked
with indifference on her handsome cousin, but never objected till
within a few weeks of her seventeenth birthday (the period appointed
for her marriage), when she urged her father to break the engagement.
This he positively refused to do, but promising, at Father Mazzolin's
suggestion, that she should have a few more months of freedom, she
apparently acquiesced. Among the peculiar customs of Mexicans, was a
singular method of celebrating St. ----'s day. Instead of repairing to
their church and engaging in some rational service, they mounted their
half wild ponies, and rode furiously up and down the streets till
their jaded steeds refused to stir another step, when they were
graciously allowed to finish the day on the common. The celebration
of the festival was not confined to the masculine portion of the
community; silver-haired Señoras mingled in the cavalcade and many a
bright-eyed Señorita looked forward to St. ----'s day with feelings
nearly akin to those with which a New York belle regards the most
fashionable ball of the season.

On the evening preceding the day of that canonized lady, Mañuel
entered the room where Inez sat, her needle work on the floor at some
distance, as though flung impatiently from her, her head resting on
one hand, while the other held a gentleman's glove. Light as was his
step, she detected it and thrusting the glove into her bosom, turned
her fine face full upon him.

"What in the name of wonder brings you here this time of day, Mañuel?
I thought every one but myself was taking a siesta this warm evening."

"I have been trying a new horse, Inez, and came to know at what hour
you would ride to-morrow." He stood fanning himself with his broad
sombrero as he spoke.

"Excuse me, Señor, I do not intend to ride at all."

"You never refused before, Inez; what is the meaning of this?" and his
Spanish brow darkened ominously.

"That I do not feel inclined to do so, is sufficient reason."

"And why don't you choose to ride, pray? You have done it all your
life."

"I'll be cross-questioned by no one!" replied Inez, springing to
her feet, with flashing eyes, and passionately clinching her small,
jeweled hand.

Mañuel was of a fiery temperament, and one of the many who never pause
to weigh the effect of their words or actions. Seizing her arm in no
gentle manner, he angrily exclaimed,

"A few more weeks, and I'll see whether you indulge every whim, and
play the queen so royally!"

Inez disengaged her arm, every feature quivering with scorn.

"To whom do you speak, Señor Nevarro? You have certainly mistaken me
for one of the miserable peons over whom you claim jurisdiction. Allow
me to undeceive you! I am Inez de Garcia, to whom you shall never
dictate, for I solemnly declare, that from this day the link which has
bound us from childhood is at an end. Mine be the hand to sever it.
From this hour we meet only as cousins! Go seek a more congenial
bride!"

"Hold, Inez! are you mad?"

"No, Mañuel, but candid; for eight years I have known that I was
destined to be your wife, but I never loved you, Mañuel. I do not, and
never can, otherwise than as a cousin."

In a tone of ill-suppressed range, Nevarro retorted:

"My uncle's authority shall compel you to fulfil the engagement! You
shall not thus escape me!"

"As you please, Señor. Yet let me tell you, compulsion will not
answer. The combined efforts of San Antonio will not avail--they may
crush, but cannot conquer me." She bowed low, and left the room.

Every feature inflamed with wrath, Nevarro snatched his hat, and
hurried down the street. He had not proceeded far, when a hand was
laid upon his arm, and turning, with somewhat pugnacious intentions,
encountered Father Mazzolin's piercing black eyes.

"Bueño tarde, Padre."

The black eyes rested on Nevarro with an expression which seemed to
demand an explanation of his choler. Mañuel moved uneasily; the hot
blood glowed in his swarthy cheek, and swelled like cords on the
darkened brow.

"Did you wish to speak with me, Padre?"

"Even so, my son. Thou art troubled, come unto one who can give thee
comfort."

They were standing before the door of the harkell occupied by the
priest: he opened it and drew Mañuel in.

An hour later they emerged from the house. All trace of anger was
removed from Nevarro's brow, and Father Mazzolin's countenance wore
the impenetrable cast he ever assumed in public. It was his business
expression, the mask behind which he secretly drew the strings, and
lured his dupes into believing him a disinterested and self-denying
pastor, whose only aim in life was to promote the welfare and
happiness of his flock.

When Don Garcia sat that night, _à la Turk_, on a buffalo-robe before
his door, puffing his cigarrita, and keeping time to the violin, which
sent forth its merry tones at a neighboring fandango, Inez drew near,
and related the result of her interview with Mañuel, concluding by
declaring her intention to abide by her decision, and consult her own
wishes in the selection of a husband.

His astonishment was great. First he tried reasoning, but she refuted
every argument advanced with the adroitness of an Abelard: the small
stock of patience with which "Dame Nature" had endowed the Don gave
way, and at last, stamping with rage, he swore she should comply, or
end her life in a gloomy cell of San Jose.

Inez laughed contemptuously. She felt the whirlwind she had raised
gathering about her, yet sought not to allay it: she knew it was the
precursor of a fierce struggle, yet quailed not. Like the heroine of
Saragossa, or the martyr of Rouen, she knew not fear; and her restless
nature rather joyed in the strife.

A low growl from the dog who shared the robe, announced an intruder,
and the next moment the Padre joined them. He was joyfully hailed by
De Garcia as an ally; but a dark look of hatred gleamed from Inez's
eyes, as they rested on his form: it vanished instantly, and she
welcomed him with a smile. She was cognizant of his interview with
Nevarro, for her window overlooked the street in which it took place.
She knew, too, his powers of intrigue; that they were enlisted against
her; and a glance sufficed to show the path to be pursued. Long
ago her penetrating eye had probed the mask of dissimulation which
concealed, like the "silver veil" of Mokanna, a great deformity: how
much greater because, alas! a moral one.

Father Mazzolin inquired, with apparent interest, the cause of
contention. The Don gave a detailed account, and wound up by applying
to him for support, in favor of Nevarro. The look of sorrowful
astonishment with which he listened, compelled Inez to fix her large
Spanish eyes on the ground, lest he should perceive the smile which
lurked in their corners, and half played round her lip.

He rebuked her gently, and spoke briefly of the evils which would
result, if she persisted in her wilful and ungrateful course. Inez
listened with a meekness which surprised both parent and Padre; and
when the latter rose to go, approached, and, in a low tone, requested
him to meet her, that day week, in the confessional.

Woman's heart is everywhere the same, and in the solitude of her own
apartment, Inez's softer feelings found full vent. She sat with her
face in her hands, one long deep; sigh, which struggled up, telling of
the secret pain that was withering her joys and clouding her future.
Suddenly she started up, and passionately exclaimed,

"It is hard that _his_ love should be wasted, on one whose heart is
as cold and stony as this wall;" and she struck it impatiently.
Then drawing forth the glove, which on Mañuel's entrance had been so
hastily secreted, she pressed it repeatedly to her lips, returned it
to its hiding-place, and sought her couch.



CHAPTER VII.

  "What cause have we to build on length of life:
   Temptations seize when fear is laid asleep;
   And ill-foreboded is our strongest guard."

   YOUNG.

St. ----'s dawn was welcomed by joyous peals from the church-bells,
and the occasional firing of a few muskets, by way of accompaniment.
The sun rose with a brilliance which would have awakened deep tones
in Memnon's statue, and gilded mountain and valley. Beautiful beyond
description the city looked in his golden light, and

  "All nature seemed rejoicing."

Half hid by a majestic live-oak which shaded the front, and within
a few yards of the river, stood a small white house. It was built of
adoles, and contained only three rooms. Instead of reaching these by
a broad flight, one step from the threshold placed you on the ground.
The floor was uncovered, and, as usual, of cement. In one corner of
the front apartment stood a sideboard, covered with glass of various
kinds, and a few handsome pieces of plate. Its _vis-à-vis_ was a range
of shelves, filled with books; and on the plain deal mantelpiece stood
a pair of neat China vases, decked with brilliant prairie flowers.
Before the open window was placed the table, arranged for the morning
meal. How pure the cloth looked, how clear the glass; and then the
bouquet of fragrant roses which adorned the center, how homelike,
fresh, and beautiful it seemed! An air of comfort--American, southern
comfort--pervaded the whole. The breakfast was brought in by a
middle-aged negress, whose tidy appearance, and honest, happy, smiling
face presented the best refutation of the gross slanders of our
northern brethren. I would that her daguerreotype, as she stood
arranging the dishes, could be contrasted with those of the miserable,
half-starved seamstresses of Boston and New York, who toil from dawn
till dark, with aching head and throbbing heart, over some weary
article, for which they receive the mighty recompense of a shilling.

When she had arranged every dish with great exactness, a small bell
was rung; and, waiter in hand, she stood ready to attend the family.

A bright, young face appeared at the open window.

"I hope, Aunt Fanny, you have a nice breakfast. You have no idea what
an appetite my walk has given me."

"Now, Miss Mary, ain't my cooking always nice?"

"Indeed, it is. Your coffee would not disgrace a pasha's table; and
your rolls are

  'The whitest, the lightest, that ever were seen.'"

She disappeared from the window, and entered the room just as Mr.
Hamilton came in, followed by Florence.

"My dear uncle, have you forgotten the old adage of 'early to bed, and
early to rise?'"

"I am not sure that I ever learned it, Mary;" he dryly replied,
seating himself at the table.

"One would suppose you had taken a draught from the 'Elixir of Life;'"
said Florence, glancing affectionately at her beaming face.

"I have discovered the fountain of perpetual youth, so vainly sought
in South America!"

"Indeed! Is it located in this vicinity?"

"Yes; and if you will rise to-morrow with Aurora, when 'she sprinkles
with rosy light the dewy lawn,' I will promise to conduct you to it."

"Thank you; but, Mary, what induced you to ramble so early?"

"I have been nearly two miles for some roots Mrs. Carlton expressed a
wish for. See, Florry, how I have dyed my hands pulling them up!"

"Were you alone, Mary?" asked Mr. Hamilton.

"I was, most of the time. As I came back, Dr. Bryant overtook me.
He spent the night at San Jose mission, with a sick Mexican, and was
returning. But where is Aunt Lizzy?" continued Mary, with an inquiring
glance round the room.

"She went to mass this morning," replied her cousin.

"Oh, yes! It is St. ----'s day. I heard the bells at daybreak."

"It is a savage, heathenish custom they have adopted here, of tearing
up and down the streets from morning till night. I wish, by Jove! they
would ride over their canting Padre! I think he would find some other
mode of celebrating the festival!"

"He would lay claim to saintship on the strength of it," replied Mary.

"You had better keep out of the street to-day, girls," rejoined Mr.
Hamilton, pushing his cup away, and rising from the table.

At this moment Aunt Lizzy entered; and after the morning salutation,
turned toward the door.

"You are later than usual this morning, aunt. Do sit down and eat your
breakfast, or it will be so cold you cannot touch it," said Mary.

"No really devout Catholic tastes food on this holy day," she
answered, motioning it from her.

"It must be quite a penance to abstain, after your long walk," said
Mr. Hamilton with a smile.

"Father Mazzolin said, this morning, that all who kept this holy
day would add a bright jewel to their crown, and obtain the eternal
intercession of the blessed saint;" and she left the room.

"That falsehood adds another stone to the many that will sink him in
the lake of perdition, if there be one!" muttered Mr. Hamilton, as
he departed for the counting-room. The last few sentences had fallen
unheeded on Florence's ear, for she sat looking out the window, her
thoughts evidently far away. But every trace of merriment vanished
from Mary's face, and instead of her bright smile, a look of painful
anxiety settled there. A long silence ensued; Mary stood by the table,
wiping the cups as Aunt Fanny rinsed them, and occasionally glancing
at her cousin. At length she said,

"Florry, will you walk over to Mrs. Carlton's with me? I promised to
go, and the walk will do you good, for indeed your cheeks are paler
than I like to see them."

"Certainly, Mary, but do you remember what father said about our
remaining at home, to-day?"

"There is no danger, Florry, if we only look about us, and I really
must go."

"Well then, let us start at once."

In a few moments they set out, equipped in large straw hats, and
equally large gloves; in addition, Mary carried in her hand a basket,
filled with herbs and flowers.

"If we walk briskly, we shall get there before any of the riders set
forth. Ah! I am mistaken, there they come. Florry, don't go so near
the street: that horseman in blue, looks as though he were riding on
ice--see how his horse slides about!"

A party of twenty or thirty thundered past, and the girls quickened
their pace. A few minutes' walk brought them to Mrs. Carlton's door,
which closed after them.

That lady was reading, as they entered, but threw aside her book, and
advanced joyously to greet them. She kissed Mary affectionately, and
cordially shook Florence's hand.

"I am glad you came, Mary. I feared you would not, and really I want
you very much."

"What can I do, Mrs. Carlton?"

"You can take off your hat and gloves, and prepare yourselves to spend
the day with me."

They laughingly complied, protesting, however, that they could only
remain a short time.

"Mary, my poor blind proselyte died yesterday, and bequeathed her
orphan child to me: I feel almost obliged to accept the charge, for
her fear lest it should fall into the Padre's hands was painful to
behold, and I promised to protect it if possible. The poor little
fellow is nearly destitute of clothes; I have cut some for him, and
knew you would assist me in making them."

"With pleasure, dear Mrs. Carlton, and so will Florry; fill my basket
with work, and we will soon have him a suit. Oh! how glad I am that he
has such kind friends as yourself and husband."

"The Padre came last night to demand the child, but we refused to give
him up: he said he intended clothing and educating the boy free of
charge; yet I knew better, for he refused to baptize Madame Berara's
orphan-niece without the customary fee, though he well knew she could
ill afford it, and was compelled to sell her last cow to make up the
requisite sum. I feel assured he will do all in his power to entice
Erasmo from me; but hope, by constant watchfulness, to counteract his
influence. Oh! Mary, how much we need a Protestant minister here: one
who could effectually stem the tide of superstition and degradation
that now flows unimpeded through this community. Oh! my dear friend,
let us take courage, and go boldly forth in the cause of truth, and
strive to awaken all from the lethargy into which they have fallen--a
lethargy for which their priests are alone responsible, for they
administered the deadly drug."

"I feel as deeply as yourself, dear Mrs. Carlton, the evil tendency
and deplorable consequences of the institutions by which we are
surrounded, and the little that I can do will be gladly, oh, how
gladly! contributed to the work of reformation you have so nobly
begun."

"You forget, Mary, in your proselyting enthusiasm, that Aunt Lizzy
belongs to the despised sect; surely you can not intend, by attacks on
her religion, to render her home unpleasant?" said Florence.

Mary's eyes filled with tears, as she glanced reproachfully at her
cousin, and replied,

"Nothing is further from my wishes, Florry, than to make her home
other than happy. Aunt Lizzy has every opportunity of informing
herself on this important question. Yet she prefers the easier method,
of committing her conscience to the care of the priest; she has chosen
her path in life, and determinately closes her eyes to every other.
The state of the Mexicans around us is by no means analogous. They
were allowed no choice: bred from infancy in the Romish faith, they
are totally unacquainted with the tenets of other creeds. Implicit
obedience to the Padre is their primary law, the grand ruling
principle of life, instilled from their birth. To lay before them the
truths of our own 'pure and undefiled religion,' is both a privilege
and duty."

"You spoke just now, Miss Florence, of the 'despised sect;' allow me,
in all modesty, to say, that to the true and earnest Christian
there is no such class. Believe me, when I say, that though deeply
commiserating their unhappy condition, and resolved to do all in
my power to alleviate it, still I would as cheerfully assist the
conscientious Papist, and tender him the hospitalities of my home, as
one of my own belief."

"You have expressed my feelings exactly, Mrs. Carlton, and there are
times when I wish myself a missionary, that I might carry light to
this benighted race," exclaimed Mary, enthusiastically.

"We are very apt, my dear child, to consider ourselves equal to
emergencies, and capable of great actions, when a strict examination
would declare that the minor deeds and petty trials which test the
temper and the strength too often destroy our equanimity, and show our
inability to cope with difficulties. Woman's warfare is with little
things, yet we are assured by the greatest of all female writers, that
'trifles make the sum of human things;' therefore, let us strive more
and more earnestly to obtain perfect control of ourselves; then shall
we be enabled to assist others."

"I often think," replied Mary, thoughtfully, "that we make
great sacrifices with comparative ease, because we feel our own
insufficiency, and rely more on God for assistance; while in lesser
troubles we are so confident of success, that we neglect to ask his
blessing, and consequently fail in our unaided attempts."

"You are right, Mary, and it should teach us to distrust our powers,
and lead us to lean upon 'Him, who is a very precious help in time of
need.'"

A long silence ensued, broken at length by the entrance of Mrs.
Carlton's two children, who carried a large basket between them.
Hastily they set it down, on seeing Mary, and sprung to her side: the
little girl clung around her neck, and kissed her repeatedly.

"Maria, you are too boisterous, my little girl; Miss Mary will have
no cause to doubt your affection. Elliot, why do you not speak to Miss
Florence, my son?"

Blushing at his oversight, the boy obeyed, and, joined by his sister,
stood at his mother's side. Maria whispered something in his ear, but
he only shook his head and replied,

"Not now, sister, let us wait."

She hesitated a moment, then laid her little hand on Mrs. Carlton's
shoulder.

"Mother, I know you said it was rude to whisper in company, but I want
to tell you something very much."

Mrs. Carlton smiled.

"I am sure the young ladies will excuse you, my daughter, if it is
important." She bent her head, and a prolonged whispering followed.
A flush rose to the mother's cheek and a tear to her eyes, as she
clasped her to her heart, and said,

"I wish you, my children, to speak out, and tell all you know of this
affair."

Elliot was spokesman.

"We went into the garden as you desired us, mother, and Erasmo and I
picked the peas, while sister held the basket; presently we heard a
noise in the brush fence like something coming through, and sister got
frightened (here he laughed), and wanted to run to the house, but we
told her it was only a sheep or dog outside; but it turned out to be
the Padre, and he came and helped us to pick. Mother, he told us such
pretty stories; I can't think of the names; they must have been Dutch,
they were so long and hard. But I remember one of the tales; he said
there was once a good man who lived in Asia, and one day he lost his
crucifix; he looked everywhere for it, but could not find it; and a
long time afterward, he happened to be walking by the sea-shore
and looked out on the water, and oh, what do you think! He saw his
crucifix moving on the water, and a great crab paddled out to land and
laid his crucifix down before him, and then paddled right back into
the sea again. Now wasn't that funny. I can't think of the good man's
name, Saint--Somebody--Saint--Saint--"

"Brother, I reckon it was Saint Crab!"

"No, no! It was the crab that found the crucifix, and I think he was
smarter than the saint."

"Now, Florry, should I repeat this legend to Aunt Lizzy, it would be
impossible to convince her that it proceeded from the Padre's lips.
Yet even prelates of Rome scruple not to narrate as miracles tales
equally absurd, where their auditory is sufficiently ignorant to
credit them. Pardon my interruption, Elliot, and finish your story,"
continued Mary.

"Mother, the Padre talked to Erasmo in Spanish. I could not understand
all he said, but it was about coming to live with him, and going to
Mexico, to see the sights there. When he came to the rows you left for
seed, I told him we must come to the house, and asked him to come in;
but he would not, and offered us all some money, and said we must not
tell a soul we had seen him, for he happened to see us through the
fence, and just came in to speak to us, and you and father might
think he ought not to come into our garden. But oh, mother, would you
believe it! he told Erasmo, as he went off, that he must ask you to
let him go to bathe to-morrow; and instead of going to the river, he
must come to the church: he wanted to give him something. He told him
in Spanish, but I understood what he said. Now, wasn't that teaching
him to tell a lie? and he a Padre too! Mother, don't you think he
ought to be ashamed?"

"Elliot, if you would gladden the hearts of your father and mother,
be ever truthful. Remember the story of 'Pedro and Francisco' you
read not long ago, and put dishonesty and dissimulation far from you:
'honesty is the best policy,' and if you adhere to it through life,
it will prove of 'far more worth than gold.' Be sure you keep nothing
from me, particularly what the Padre may say."

"Shall we take the peas out under the hackberry and shell them," said
Maria.

"Yes, my dear, but first tell me where Erasmo is."

"Sitting on the steps, mother. I know he will help us to shell them,
for he said it was mere fun, picking peas."

"Say nothing to him of the Padre or his conversation, but interest him
about other things."

They left the room swinging the basket between them. Mrs. Carlton's
eyes filled as she looked after her children. "A mother's care can
do a great deal, yet how little did I imagine that temptation would
assail them at such a time, and in such a garb."

"Oh, guard them carefully; for, surrounded by these influences, it
will be difficult to prevent contamination," said Mary, earnestly.

Just then a long, loud shout from the street attracted their
attention, and hastening to the door, they perceived a crowd gathered
on the Plaza. In the center was a body of Mexican cavalry, headed by
their commanding officer, who, hat in hand, was haranguing them. The
ladies looked at each other in dismay.

"To what does this tend?" asked Mary, anxiously.

"My husband told me several days since that Austin was imprisoned in
Mexico, and said he feared difficulties would ensue, but knew not the
cause of his confinement."

"There is Dr. Bryant coming toward us; I dare say he can tell us the
meaning of this commotion."

That gentleman, bowing low in the saddle, reined his Steed as near the
step as possible.

"How do you do, Miss Hamilton, and you, my dear sister? I had the
pleasure of meeting Miss Mary in her morning rambles; she is a most
remarkable young lady. Assures me she actually loves early rising."
His dark eyes were fixed laughingly upon her.

"Do stop your nonsense, Frank, and tell us the cause of that crowd,"
said Mrs. Carlton, laying her hand on his arm.

"My dear sister, that tall, cadaverous-looking cavalier is the
brother-in-law of Santa Anna, and no less a personage than General
Cos, sent hither to fortify this and every other susceptible place."

"Against whom or what?"

"It is a long story, ladies. You know that Coahuila has pursued an
oppressive policy toward us for some time, and refused to hear reason:
Austin remonstrated again and again, and at last went to Mexico,
hoping that the authorities would allow us (here he bit his lip, and
his cheek flushed)--it galls my spirit to utter the word--allow us
to form a separate State. The Congress there took no notice of his
petition, for, in truth they were too much engaged just then about
their own affairs to heed him, and he wrote to several persons in
Austin, advising them at all hazards to proceed. Some cowardly wretch,
or spy in disguise, secretly despatched one of his letters to the
ministers; consequently, as Austin was returning, they made him
prisoner, and carried him back to Mexico. Santa Anna is at the head of
affairs. He has subverted the too liberal constitution of 1824, but
is opposed by a few brave hearts, who scorn the servitude in store
for them. Santa Anna knows full well that we will not submit to his
crushing yoke, and therefore sends General Cos to fortify the Alamo.
This is the only definite information I have been able to glean from
several sources."

"Do you think there is probability of a war?"

"It will most inevitably ensue, for total submission will be exacted
by Santa Anna, and the Texans are not a people to comply with any such
conditions."

"You think General Cos is here to fortify the Alamo?"

"Yes; the work commences to-morrow, I hear, and the fort will be
garrisoned by Spanish troops."

"How many has he with him?" inquired his sister.

"Only fifty or sixty; this is merely the advanced guard, the main body
will probably arrive in a few days."

"I suppose they are joyously welcomed by the Mexicans here, who have
ever regarded with jealous eyes Protestant settlers."

"Oh, yes, that shout testified the hearty welcome they received."

At this moment Mr. Hamilton joined the group.

"Have you heard the news?" he inquired.

"Yes, and sad enough it is," said Mary, with a sigh.

"It will be a bloody conflict."

"I am afraid so," replied Dr. Bryant.

"Come, girls, I am going home, will you go now?"

Mary took her basket, which Mrs. Carlton had filled with work, and
they descended the steps.

"I declare, Miss Irving, I have a great desire to know what that
basket contains; it is as inseparably your companion as was the tub of
Diogenes. I often see it round a corner before you are visible, and at
the glimpse of it, invariably sit more erect in saddle, and assume my
most amiable expression."

He raised himself, and peeped inquiringly over the edge; Mary swung it
playfully behind her.

"I never gratify idle curiosity, Dr. Bryant."

"Indeed, how very remarkable; but I assure you I know full well the
use to which those same herbs you had this morning are to be applied;
you are amalgamating nauseous drugs, and certain pills, to be
administered to my patients. I am grieved to think you would alienate
what few friends I have here, by raising yourself up as a competitor.
Pray, where did you receive your diploma? and are you Thomsonian,
Allopathic, Homeopathic, or Hydropathic?"

Mary looked at Mrs. Carlton: both smiled.

"Ah! I see Ellen is associated with you. Do admit me to partnership;
I should be a most valuable acquisition, take my word for it. A more
humble-minded, good-hearted, deeply-read, and experienced disciple of
Esculapius never felt pulse, or administered a potion."

They laughed outright.

"Mary, shall we tell Frank what we intend those herbs for?"

"By no means, he does not deserve to know."

"Ah! I see Terence was right after all, in his opinion of woman's
nature--'When you request, they refuse; when you forbid, they are sure
to do it.'"

"Come, girls, come! I have business at home;" said Mr. Hamilton,
and they set out homeward. They had not proceeded far, when Mary
exclaimed, pointing behind her,

"Oh, uncle, that woman will be killed! Can nobody help her?"

"She will certainly be thrown from her horse!"

A party of five or six Mexicans were riding with their usual rapidity
toward them. An elderly woman in the rear had evidently lost control
of her fiery horse, which was plunging violently. The other members of
the company seemed unable to render any assistance, as their own could
scarcely be restrained. The unfortunate Señora was almost paralyzed
with fright; for instead of checking him by the reins, they had fallen
over his head, become entangled in his feet, and, now grasping the
mane, she was shrieking fearfully.

"Oh, can't we do something for her!" cried Mary, clasping her hands.

"I do not see how we can assist her," said Mr. Hamilton.

"At least, let us try;" and they hastened to the spot where the
infuriated animal was struggling.

"Stand back, girls! you can do nothing."

He made several ineffectual attempts to catch the bridle, as the
forefeet rose in air, and at last succeeded in getting one end. He
bade the woman let go the mane, and slide off. She did so, but some
portion of her dress was caught in the saddle, and she hung suspended.
The horse feeling the movement, again plunged, despite Mr. Hamilton's
efforts to hold him down. The scene was distressing indeed, as she was
raised and then, flung down again.

Mary saw the danger, and rushing round the enraged horse, fearlessly
pushed off the piece which was attached to the pommel of the saddle,
and freed the unfortunate matron. The horse, feeling relieved of his
burden, gave a desperate bound, and rushed off down the street.

Florence shrieked, and sprung to her father's side. Mary was bending
over the moaning woman, but turned suddenly, and saw her uncle
stretched at Florence's feet. He was insensible, and a stream of
blood oozed from his lips. They raised his head, and motioned to
the Mexicans, that now gathered round, for water; some was hastily
procured, and then Mary entreated one of them to go for Dr. Bryant: as
she spoke, the tramp of hoofs caused her to look up, and she perceived
him urging his horse toward them. He flung the reins to a man who
stood near, and bent over the prostrate form.

"There is some internal injury, I see no outward wound; how did this
happen?"

Florence briefly explained the manner in which her father received a
kick on the chest. Happily, they were near their own home, and, with
the assistance of two men, Dr. Bryant carefully bore him in, and laid
him on a couch near the open window. A restorative was administered,
and soon the sufferer opened his eyes. The flow of blood had ceased,
but he lay quite exhausted.

The physician examined the wounded place, and assured Florence there
was no fracture.

"I am afraid some blood-vessel is ruptured?" said she, anxiously.

"It is only a small one, I hope, but cannot tell certainly for several
days. He must be perfectly quiet; the least excitement might prove
fatal, by causing a fresh hemorrhage."

Nearly a week passed, and one evening Mary followed the physician as
he left the house: he heard her step, and turned. His usually laughing
countenance was grave and anxious; but he strove to seem cheerful.

"Doctor, I wish to know what you think of my uncle's case; we are
afraid it is more serious than you at first pronounced it?"

"It is better that you should know the worst. I am pained to grieve
you, but candor compels me to say, that a fatal injury has been
inflicted. I hoped for the best, but an examination this evening
confirmed my fears."

Mary sobbed bitterly and long. Dr. Bryant sought not to comfort her
by exciting false hopes, but paced up and down the gravel-walk beside
her.

"You do not fear a rapid termination of the disorder?" she said at
last, in a low, trembling tone.

"He may linger some days, but I do not think it probable that he
will."

"Florry, Florry! what is to become of us?" cried the weeping girl, in
a voice of agony. "Oh, God! spare him to us!"

"Do you think your cousin comprehends her father's danger?"

"She fears the worst, and requested me this evening to ask your
opinion. Oh, how can I tell her that he must die!"

"Do not crush all hope (though I have none); let her believe that he
may recover. She is not of a temperament to bear prolonged agony.
The shock will be less painful, rest assured. Believe me, I deeply
sympathize with you both." And pressing her hand, he withdrew.



CHAPTER VIII.

  "See! the dappled gray coursers of the morn
  Beat up the light with their bright silver hoofs,
  And chase it through the sky!"

  MARSTON.


Inez left her father's door as the last notes of the matin bell died
away on the cool, clear morning air. She held in her hand a silken
scarf, which, according to the custom of her country, was thrown
lightly across the head, and confined at the chin.

Beautiful she looked, with the feverish glow on her cheek, and her
large Spanish eyes, restless and piercing, flashing out at times the
thoughts of her inmost soul. She threw the mantilla round her head,
and turned toward the church. The step was firm yet hasty. She seemed
endeavoring to escape from herself.

The streets were silent and the Plaza deserted, and naught seemed
stirring save the swallows that twittered and circled round and round
the belfry of the church. There was something soothing in the deep
stillness that reigned on that balmy morning, and Inez felt its
influence. She paused at the entrance of the gray old church, and
stretched forth her arms to the rosy east.

"Peace, peace!" she murmured, in a weary tone, and sunk her head upon
her bosom. The door opened behind her, and raising herself proudly,
she drew the scarf closer about her, and entered.

A basin of holy water was placed near, and hastily she signed the
figure of the cross and proceeded down the aisle to a side door
leading to one of the wings. She pushed it noiselessly ajar and passed
in.

A solitary tin sconce dimly lighted the small confessional, dark and
gloomy as night, at that early hour. A wooden cross suspended from the
wall, a stone bench, and table, on which lay a rosary and crucifix,
and a small vessel of holy water, formed the entire furniture. Before
this table sat Father Mazzolin, his face buried in his hands. Her
step, light as it was, startled him; yet without rising, he murmured,
"Benedicit."

"Bueño dios, Padre."

He motioned to her to kneel, and she did so, on the damp floor at his
feet, drawing the scarf over her face, so as to conceal the features.

"Bless me, my Father, because I have sinned."

He laid his hands on her bowed head, and muttered indistinctly a Latin
phrase. "I confess to Almighty God, to blessed Mary, ever Virgin, to
blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the
holy apostles Peter and Paul, and to all the saints, that I have
sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed, through my most
grievous fault. Therefore I beseech the blessed Mary, ever Virgin, the
blessed Michael the Archangel, the blessed John the Baptist, the holy
apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints, to pray to the Lord our
God for me.

"Since my last confession, I accuse myself of many sins. I have missed
mass, vespers and many holy ordinances of our most holy church. Have
borne hatred, and given most provoking language.

"I have broken the engagement thou did'st command me to keep; have
angered Mañuel, and enraged my father greatly. I neglected fasting on
the day of our most holy Saint ----.

"I have entered this church, this holy sanctuary, without crossing
myself; and passed the image of the Blessed Virgin without kneeling."
She paused, and bent her head lower.

'The Padre then said, "My daughter, thy sins are grievous; my heart
bleeds over thy manifold transgressions."

"Even so, my Father; even so."

"Dost thou still bear enmity to Mañuel Nevarro, who loves thee truly,
and is thy promised husband?"

"No, my Father; I desire to be speedily reconciled to him whom I have
offended."

"Wilt thou promise to offer no objection, but become his wife?"

"My Father, I do not wish to be his wife; yet thy will, not mine."

A smile of triumph glittered in the Padre's eye at this confession;
yet his low tone was unchanged.

"Inez, I will not force thee to marry Mañuel, yet thou shalt never be
another's wife. In infancy thou wast promised, and thy hand can never
be joined to another. Choose you, my daughter, and choose quickly."

"Padre, give me time. May one so guilty as I speak out?"

"Yes, speak; for I would have thine inmost thoughts."

"Father, let me spend a month of quiet and peace among the holy
sisters at San Jose; there will I determine either to be Mañuel's
wife, or dedicate the remainder of my life to the service of God and
our most Holy Lady."

"You have spoken well: even so shall it be; but, Inez, I would
question you further and see you answer me truly, as you desire the
intercession of the Blessed Virgin."

Inez lifted her head, and fixing her eyes full on his swarthy face,
replied with energy:

"My Father, even as I desire the intercession of our Blessed Virgin,
so will I answer."

The head was bent again on her bosom. He had sought to read her
countenance during that brief glance, but there was a something in its
dark depths he could not quite understand.

"My daughter, hast thou been of late with that Protestant girl, by
name Mary Irving?"

"I have seen her twice since last confession."

"Where did you meet her?"

"Once at Señora Perraras, and once she came for me, to walk with her."

"Answer truly. Upon what subjects did you converse?"

Inez seemed striving to recall some portion of what had past. At last
she said, "Indeed, Padre, I cannot remember much she said. It was
mostly of birds, and trees, and flowers, and something, I believe,
about this beautiful town, as she called it."

"Think again. Did she not speak lightly of the blessed church, and
most holy faith? Did she not strive to turn you to her own cursed
doctrines, and, above all, did she not speak of me, your Padre, with
scorn?"

"No, my Father, most truly she did not." Again she raised her eyes to
his face. Piercing was the glance he tent upon her. Yet hers fell not
beneath it: calm and immovable she seemed.

He lifted his hand menacingly.

"I bid you now beware of her, and her friend, the trader's wife.
They are infernal heretics, sent hither by the evil one to turn good
Catholics from their duty. I say again, beware of them!" and he struck
his hand heavily on the table beside him. "And now, my daughter, have
you relieved your conscience of its burden? Remember, one sin
withheld at confession will curse you on your death-bed, and send you,
unshriven, to perdition!"

A sort of shudder ran through the bowed form of Inez, and in a low
tone, she replied, "I also accuse myself of all the sins that may have
escaped my memory, and by which, as well as those I have confessed, I
have offended Almighty God, through my most grievous fault."

"I enjoin upon you, as penance for the omission of the holy ordinances
of our most holy church, five Credos when you hear the matin bell,
twelve Paters when noon comes round, and five Aves at vespers. These
shall you repeat, kneeling upon the hard floor, with the crucifix
before you, and your rosary in your hand. In addition, you must repair
to a cell of San Jose, and there remain one month. Moreover, you shall
see and speak to none, save the holy sisters. And now, my daughter, I
would absolve you."

Inez bent low, while he spread his hands above her head and pronounced
the Latin text to that effect, then bade her rise, and dismissed her
with a blessing.

The sun was just visible over the eastern hills, as Inez stepped upon
the Plaza. Her face was deadly pale, and the black eyes glittered
strangely.

"I have knelt to thee for the last time, Father Mazzolin. Long
enough you have crushed me to the earth; one short month of seeming
servitude, and I am free. Think you I too cannot see the gathering
tempest? for long I have watched it rise. It may be that happiness
is denied me; but yonder gurgling waters shall receive my body ere I
become a lasting inmate of your gloomy cell. My plan works well;
even my wily Padre thinks me penitent for the past! But dearly have I
bought my safety. I have played false! lied! where is my conscience?
Have I one? No, no! 'tis dead. Dead from the hour I listened to the
Padre's teachings! If there be a hereafter, and, oh! if there is a
God, what will become of me?" And the girl shuddered convulsively.
"Yet I have heard him lie. I know that even he heeds not the laws of
his pretended God! He bade me follow his teachings, and I did, and I
deceived him! Hal he thinks the game all at his fingers' ends. But I
will neither marry Mañuel, nor be a holy sister of Jose. There will
come a time for me. Now I must work, keep him in the dark, spend the
month in seclusion; by that time the troubles here will begin, and who
may tell the issue?"

A quick step behind her caused Inez to turn in the midst of her
soliloquy. Dr. Bryant was hastening by, but paused at sight of her
face.

"Ah, Señorita! How do you do this beautiful morning?" He looked at
her earnestly, and added, "You are too pale, Inez--much too pale. Your
midnight vigils do not agree with you; believe me, I speak seriously,
you will undermine your health." Her eyes were fixed earnestly on his
noble face, beaming with benevolence, and a slight flush tinged her
cheek, as she replied, "Dr. Bryant, I am not the devout Catholic you
suppose me. The Padre thinks me remiss in many of my duties, and I
am going for a short time to San Jose. You need not look at me so
strangely, I have no idea of becoming a nun, I assure you."

"Inez, one of your faith can never be sure of anything; let me entreat
you not to go to the convent. You need recreation, and had much better
mount your pony, and canter a couple of miles every morning; it would
insure a more healthful state of both body and mind."

"I must go, Dr. Bryant."

"Well then, good-by, if you must, yet I fear you will not return
looking any better."

"Adios," and they parted.

Inez's eye followed the retreating form till an adjoining corner
intervened. Then pressing her hand on her heart, as if to still some
exquisite pain, she murmured in saddened tones--"Oh! I would lay down
my life for your love, yet it is lavished on one who has no heart to
give in return. Oh, that I may one day be able to serve you!"

At the moment she perceived Mañuel Nevarro crossing the Plaza, and
drawing closer the mantilla, she hastened homeward.



CHAPTER IX.

  "A perfect woman, nobly planned;
  To warn, to counsel, to command,
  The reason firm, the temperate will,
  Prudence, foresight, strength, and skill."

  WORDSWORTH.


The beautiful ideal of Wordsworth seemed realized in Mrs. Carlton. She
was by nature impetuous, and even irritable; but the careful training
of her deeply pious mother early eradicated these seeds of discord and
future misery. She reared her "in the way she should go," and taught
her to "remember her Creator in the days of her youth." Crushing
vanity, which soon rose hydra-headed in her path, she implanted in her
daughter's heart a sense of her own unworthiness, and led her to the
"fountain of light and strength."

Under her judicious care, Ellen's character was molded into perfect
beauty. She became a Christian, in the purest sense of the term. Hers
were not the gloomy tenets of the anchorite, which, with a sort of
Spartan stoicism, severs every tie enjoined by his great Creator, bids
adieu to all of joy that earth can give, and becomes a devotee at the
shrine of some canonized son of earth, as full of imperfections as
himself. Neither did she hold the lighter and equally dangerous creed
of the latitudinarian. Her views were of a happy medium; liberal, yet
perfectly orthodox.

Ellen married early in life, and many were the trials which rose up
to test her fortitude, and even her reliance on almighty God. Of six
beautiful children that blessed her union, four went down to an early
tomb. Though bowed to the earth by the weight of her affliction, she
murmured not against the hand that chastened her; but as one by one
was snatched from her warm embrace, she poured out the depth of a
mother's love on the remaining two.

One stroke of fortune reduced her, in a day, from affluence to
comparative penury; and leaving his luxurious home, Mr. Carlton
resolved to seek his fortune in the Western World. Hither she
had accompanied him, encountering, without a murmur, the numerous
hardships, which those who have not endured can never fully realize.
They had preceded Mr. Hamilton but a few months, and joyfully welcomed
him as an agreeable acquisition to their little circle.

Mrs. Carlton found in Mary a real friend; one who sympathized with,
and assisted her in her many benevolent plans for ameliorating the
condition of the destitute Mexicans around them.

With Florence, the former had little affinity, and, consequently,
little intercourse. Their tastes were directly opposite, and though
they often met, there was no interchange of the deep and holier
feelings of the heart.

Frank Bryant was the orphan-brother of Mrs. Carlton, and almost as
dearly loved by her as her own darling Elliot. A few months before
St. ----'s day, he reached San Antonio, on a visit to the sister, from
whom he had been separated several years. Soon after his arrival, an
epidemic made its appearance among the lower order of Mexicans; and as
there was no resident physician at that early time, his services
were speedily in requisition. The Padre, who numbered among his
many acquirements a tolerable knowledge of medicine, viewed with
indifference the suffering around him; and was only roused from his
lethargy by discovering the flattering estimation in which Frank was
held. Fearing so formidable a rival in the affections of his people,
he left no means untried to undermine the popularity so deservedly
acquired. But gratitude is a distinguishing trait of Indian character;
and though apparently obeying the injunctions of their Padre, to
follow no directions save his own, they reverenced Dr. Bryant as a
being of superior order.

It was beside the bed of a dying friend that Inez first met him. One
long weary night they watched together, and when at last death freed
the sufferer, with mingled emotions of admiration and gratitude she
thanked him for the attentions conferred with such disinterested
benevolence. She could not avoid contrasting the conduct of the cold
and calculating Jesuit with the warm-hearted kindness of the noble
stranger.

In a few days it became evident that she had herself imbibed the
disease, and her terrified father brought the young physician to
restore her. With unwearied patience he watched over the beautiful
Señorita, whom Mrs. Carlton and Mary most carefully nursed, and was
rewarded by the glow of returning health.

The idols of her youth were neglected and forgotten; one image filled
Inez's heart, and before it she poured out all the passionate love of
her ardent nature; hence her aversion to a union with Mañuel Nevarro.

Dr. Bryant early perceived her attachment; and knowing full well
that he could never return it, avoided her society with a delicacy
peculiarly his own. When thrown accidentally into her presence, his
manner was frank, kind, and brotherly.

Inez did not deceive herself for a moment by supposing that he would
ever return her love. She knew too well the nature of the barrier
which intervened. To remain unfettered, to see, to love, and one day
to serve him, was her dearest wish; and for its gratification she
dared the rage of her father, and the hatred of her Padre. She fancied
he loved another, and with the characteristic jealousy of her nation,
an aversion to that object settled on her heart.

Dr. Bryant had nursed the last patient into convalescence: still he
lingered, and at the close of St. ----'s day, announced his intention
of remaining until the difficulties with Mexico were either amicably
arranged, or war declared. Mary and Florence he often met, for he was
a constant visitor at Mr. Hamilton's. His manner toward them was
very different; with Mary he ever assumed the light bantering tone
of brotherly freedom; with Florence he was always grave and earnest.
Their conversation was generally upon literary topics, of which she
was fond. Many were their discussions for and against their favorite
authors and philosophers. In these arguments Mary seldom took part,
though fully qualified to do so. Occasionally her cousin asked her
opinion on various topics; at such times she gave them clearly, yet
modestly, and with a gentle dignity peculiar to herself. The earnest
attention with which Frank listened to her views, and his happy smile,
when they coincided with his own, somewhat puzzled Mary; yet she
welcomed his repartees with the same bright smile, and allowed
distrust and jealousy no room in her heart.



CHAPTER X.

                "He swore that love of souls
  Alone had drawn him to the church; yet strewed
  The path that led to hell with tempting flowers,
  And in the ear of sinners, as they took
  The way of death, he whispered peace."

  POLLOK.


How wearily pass the hours to the anxious watcher beside the couch of
pain. To her, it seems as though the current of time had forgotten
to run on and join the mighty past, and that its swift waters were
gathering glassily around her. With unmitigated care, Florence had
attended the bedside of her suffering parent; occasionally slumbering
on his pillow, but more frequently watching through the long nights,
and often stealing to the casement, to look out upon surrounding
gloom, and wonder if the light of day would ever fall again on earth.
Ah! in the midnight hour, when all nature is hushed when universal
darkness reigns, when the "still small voice" will no longer be
silenced, then we are wont to commune with our own hearts. All
barriers melt away, and the saddened past, the troubled present, and
the shadowy future rise successively before us, and refuse to be put
by. In vain we tightly close the aching lids; strange lurid lights
flare around us, and mysterious forms glide to and fro.

To the guilty, how fearful must the season of darkness prove, when,
unable longer to escape from themselves, they yield to the pangs of
remorse, and toss in unutterable anguish!

    "By night, an atheist half believes a God."

And thousands, who in the sunny light of day rush madly on to ruin,
pause, shudderingly, in the midnight hour, and look yearningly
toward the narrow path where Virtue's lamp, flashing into the
deepest recesses of surrounding gloom, dispels all shadow; and, in
imagination, view the Christian peacefully descending the hill of
life, fearlessly crossing the "valley of the shadow of death," and
resting at last on that blest shore, where night and darkness are
unknown, "swallowed up in endless day."

It was very evident that Mr. Hamilton could survive but a few days;
and to every entreaty that she would take some rest, Florence but
shook her head, and replied, that she would not leave him when he must
die so soon.

One evening Dr. Bryant, having administered a soothing potion, turned
to her and said, "My dear Miss Hamilton, you will seriously injure
your health by such constant watching. Your father needs nothing now
but quiet. Let me entreat you to go out for a short time; the air will
refresh you, and your aunt will remain with Mr. Hamilton." He drew her
reluctantly from her seat as he spoke, and whispered Mary to accompany
her.

Drawing her arm round Florence, Mary turned in the direction of their
accustomed rambles, but her cousin said, "I am too weary to walk far,
let us go to our old seat by the river."

The stream was only a few yards distant, and they seated themselves
on a broad, flat stone, beneath a cluster of pomegranate and figs. The
evening was beautifully clear, the soft light which still lingered in
the west mellowing every object, and the balmy southern breeze, fresh
from "old ocean's bosom," rustling musically amidst the branches
above. As if to enhance the sweetness of the hour, and win the
mourners from their sad thoughts, the soothing tones of the vesper
bells floated afar on the evening air; distance had softened them, and
now they sounded clear and Eolian-like. The river eddied and curled
rapidly along at their feet; and ever and anon, the stillness that
seemed settling around was broken by the plunging fish, that gambled
in hundreds amidst its blue waters.

"How calm and holy this stillness seems! Florry, does it not cause
you to lift your heart in gratitude to the 'almighty Giver' of so many
blessings?"

"All things are dark to sorrow;" replied Florence, and folding her
arms across her bosom, she dropped her head wearily upon them.

"Oh, Florry, do not give up so! I cannot bear to hear your despairing
tone. Still hope; your dear father may be spared to us;" and she put
her arms caressingly around her.

"Hope!" echoed Florence; "I have ceased to hope that he will recover.
I know that he cannot; and in a few hours I shall be alone in the
world. Alone, alone!" she repeated the words, as if fully to realize
the misery in store for her. "O God! why hast thou not taken me
before? Take me now; oh, in mercy, take me with him!"

In vain Mary strove to soothe and console her; she remained perfectly
still, her face hid in her arms, and replied not to her anxious
questionings. A long silence ensued, and Mary wept. A feeling of
desolation began to creep over her; a second time she was to be thrown
on the wide, cold world. She thought of her uncle's generosity and
unvaried kindness during the many years she had dwelt under his roof,
and scarcely felt that it was not her own. And then there stole up
the image of her lost mother; the wan, but saint-like face, and the
heavenly smile with which she pointed upward, and bade her child
prepare for the glorious union, in that mansion which Jehovah assigned
to those who are faithful on earth.

Poor Mary's heart was sad indeed; yet there was no bitterness in
her soul, no rebellious feelings toward Almighty God, who had thus
afflicted her so sorely. She wiped away her tears, and calming herself
as much as possible, repeated, in a faltering voice, the beautiful
hymn commencing "I would not live always." She paused at the
conclusion of the second verse; but Florence did not lift her head,
and hoping to cheer her, she finished the hymn.

Twilight had fallen on the earth, and the blue vault of heaven was
studded with its myriad lamps. The new moon glittered like a golden
thread--low in the west--and seemed almost to rest upon the bosom of
the stream, as it curved in the distance to meet the horizon.

"Come, Florry, you must not stay out so late; I am afraid you will
take cold!"

Florence rose mechanically and accompanied her.

"Oh, Florry, do try and trust in God, and believe that in every trial
and affliction he will comfort and assist us."

Her cousin sighed heavily, but made no reply.

As they reached the gate it was quickly opened, and the Padre met
them: he bowed coldly to Mary, but shook hands with Florence, and
promised to come again the ensuing day. It was so late that Mary could
not distinguish his features; but just as he turned to go, Aunt Fanny
threw open the kitchen door, and the light streamed full on his
face; their eyes met, and she started at the smile of triumph that
irradiated his dark countenance: he bowed, and passed on.

Mary hastened down the walk, and entered the sick room, fearing she
scarcely knew what. The invalid Was tossing restlessly from side to
side, and on the pillow lay a rosary and crucifix. For an instant she
stood motionless; then sprang forward, and clasped his burning hand
in hers. "Uncle! dear uncle! tell me who has been with you! Aunt
Lizzy promised she would not leave you till we came back You have been
excited: your hands are burning with fever!"

"I was not alone, Mary; the Padre sat and talked with me;" as the
sufferer spoke, he shuddered and closed his eyes.

"And did he leave these here!" said she, taking up the crucifix and
rosary.

"No, no! they are mine!" and he snatched them from her.

Mary turned pale, and leaned against the bed for support. Florence,
now bending over her father, motioned to her cousin to be silent;
without effect, however; for, passing round the bed, she knelt beside
him. "Uncle, was it by your desire that the Padre came here this
evening?"

He did not seem to hear her question; she repeated it.

"Yes; that is, this is not his first visit."

"Uncle, why do you evade me? Tell me, I entreat you, if he did not
force himself here in my absence!"

"Mary, will you drive my father delirious with your interference with
his wishes?"

"No, Florry, not when I am convinced that such are his wishes. I know
that in health he is no more a Papist than you or I; yet, now I see
him clinging to that rosary and crucifix, what am I to think? If you
can explain this mystery, do so, Florry."

"The day that you were at Mrs. Carlton's, learning to make that
custard my father likes so well, the Padre came, and kindly sat with
him some time. He came the next night, and the next; and read and
prayed with him. I hope you are satisfied now that there is no
intrusion." All this was whispered so low as not to reach the ears of
the invalid.

"Were you present at any of these interviews, Florry?"

"No; they always preferred being alone,"

"Oh! why did you not tell me this before?"

"I am sure I can't see what you are so excited about! If my father
chooses to become a Catholic, I should think it would relieve you to
know that he realizes his situation." She turned resolutely away as
she finished speaking, and seated herself beside the bed.

Mary left the room almost stunned by the discovery she had made; and
scarce knowing what to do, wrapped her shawl about her, and walked
quickly to Mrs. Carlton's. To her she related all she had just
learned, and begged her advice and assistance.

Mrs. Carlton was sorely puzzled and much distressed.

"I fear, Mary, it is too late to remedy the evil."

"Oh, do not say so! I cannot bear that he should die in that faith; he
is too feeble to oppose anything they offer, and is scarcely conscious
of his own actions. In health, they dared not approach him; for they
knew full well that he scorned their creed, and disliked their Padre.
Yet now that he is so weak, in both body and mind, they hope to
influence him. Oh, how could Florence be so blind! Dear Mrs. Carlton,
come and reason with him. I know he esteems you very highly, and your
opinion might weigh with him."

"Indeed, my dear child, I will do all in my power to dissuade him
from the unfortunate course he has taken, but not to-night; he must be
wearied very much already. I will come in the morning."

Early the ensuing day she fulfilled her promise, and in Florence's
presence strove to elicit his views and belief. To her surprise he
refused to hold any conversation on the subject; declaring that his
mind was made up, and that he was determined to die a member of the
holy Catholic Church.

Before she could frame a reply, they were startled by the sound of a
struggle at the door, and the next moment it was flung wide open, and
Father Mazzolin, livid with rage, rushed in. Mrs. Carlton rose with
gentle dignity, and inquired his business. He heeded not her question,
but strode to the bed, and whispered in Mr. Hamilton's ear. The
invalid, in a voice so feeble that it was scarce audible, requested
them to leave him with the Padre for an hour, as he wished to converse
with him alone. Mrs. Carlton perfectly well understood that he but
repeated the priest's orders, and perceiving that nothing could now be
effected, left the room accompanied by Florence. But Mary clung to the
bed, and refused to go.

"You have taken advantage of my uncle's weakness to force yourself
where your presence is unwelcome, and I will not leave him when he is
too weak to oppose your orders."

He strove to force her out, but she clung firmly to the bed; and
muttering an oath between his teeth, he turned to the sufferer, and
spoke in an unknown tongue; a feeble response in the same language
seemed to satisfy him, and darting a triumphant glance at the kneeling
girl, he seated himself, and conversed for nearly an hour. Then
offering up a Latin prayer, departed, promising to come again.

Mrs. Carlton had not left the house; she waited anxiously for Mary.
And when Florence re-entered the sick room, the former hastened to her
friend.

"Oh, I did all I could to prevent it!" cried Mary, in despair. "All
is over, I am afraid. I was sitting on the doorstep, preparing some
arrowroot, when I saw Aunt Lizzy go out the gate. I thought it strange
at the time of day, but never suspected the truth. Presently I saw her
coming back with the priest, and knew in an instant she had gone for
him. I was determined to prevent his seeing my uncle, if possible, and
fastened the front door. Before I could lock my uncle's, he wrenched
open the window, and sprang in. I tried to put the key in my pocket,
and told him he could not go in then; but he made Aunt Lizzy hold one
of my hands, while he forced open my fingers and took the key. Oh!
that Dr. Bryant had been here." She showed Mrs. Carlton the marks of
his grasp on her wrist. "Tell, oh, tell me what I can do to save him!"

"Alas! nothing, Mary. He is completely under the control of the Padre,
and no reasoning will avail him now."

With a sad heart Mrs. Carlton took leave, advising Mary "to offer no
further resistance, as it was now impossible to convince her uncle of
his error."



CHAPTER XI.

  "He's gone--his soul hath ta'en its earthless flight,
  Whither? I dread to think--but he is gone!"

  BYRON.


Mr. Hamilton, though perfectly conscious that his end was rapidly
approaching, had scrupulously avoided the subject in the presence of
the girls. One morning, after a night of more than ordinary suffering,
he lay quite exhausted. Death was at hand, and feeling intuitively
that the appointed hour had arrived, he requested all to withdraw,
save Florence. When they were alone, he laid his hand on her head, and
said, in a low, feeble tone--"Florence, I am going. I cannot survive
this day, and I wish to give you my last advice. I am afraid your lot
will be a hard one, when I am gone; trials without number are in store
for you. Oh! my proudhearted, beautiful Florence, what will become
of you now?" He covered his face with his hands a moment, then
continued--"I do not wish you to return to your native place. My child
must be dependent on no one, yet to leave you here so unprotected,
is hard indeed. Dr. Bryant has promised to watch over you, and the
Carltons are kind friends. Florence you must depend upon yourself.
Thank God, you are strong-minded, and Mary, our kind, good Mary, will
be near, to comfort and assist you. I am growing weaker, but there is
one more thing I wish to say."

He paused, and for the first time Florence spoke.

"My father, tell me every wish; fear nothing for me, there is nothing
I cannot bear now."

"For my sake, Florence, if not for your own, will you promise to be
guided by Father Mazzolin?"

"Do you mean in matters of religion, my father?"

"I mean in all things: matters of interest, as well as matters of
faith. He will assist you much, if you will but follow his advice and
directions."

There was a pause, and then Florence said slowly, as if weighing every
word--"Rest assured your wishes shall be my law. I will consult the
Padre as you desire."

With a look of relief the dying man sank back on his pillow, and
closed his eyes. Florence quickly summoned the physician, and her aunt
and cousin. A little while after, as Mr. Hamilton's eye fell on the
weeping Mary, he extended his hand, and when she bent over him, drew
her face down, and imprinted a long kiss on her pale cheek. Even as he
did so, a dark form glided to the bedside. Another moment, the uncle
and niece were separated; none knew how, yet the Padre stood between,
whispering low in the sufferer's ear. Almost gasping for breath, the
latter intimated his desire to confess for the last time. And they
were left alone.

Nearly an hour after, the priest entered the apartment where Florence
and Mary sat. He trembled visibly, yet, in his usual tone, said that
he wished the family to be present at the last rites about to be
performed for the dying Papist. They immediately repaired to the sick
room, and the spectacle there presented made Mary quiver in every
limb. The sufferer had been placed for convenience on a low couch, and
was supported by pillows in an upright position. A dozen candles burnt
around him, and a cloud of incense wreathed slowly along the wall.
The room had been profusely sprinkled with holy water, and a chalice
containing the consecrated wafer, sat near. Gasping for breath, Mr.
Hamilton clasped a crucifix to his lips, though unable from weakness
to secure it there; for twice it fell from his fingers, and rolled to
the floor.

Father Mazzolin, attired in a surplice ornamented with the insignia of
his order, stood beside the bed, holding in one hand a superbly-bound
volume--in the other, a silver cup containing oil.

After a moment's pause he opened the book, and hurriedly read in
a low, muttering tone, a Latin service of several pages. At the
conclusion he carefully poured out a few drops of the oil, and just
touched the palms of the sufferer's hands and the soles of his feet,
bidding him at the same time cross himself. Perceiving that he was
utterly unable to do so, he hastily signed the figure and resumed his
reading. How long he would have gabbled on it is impossible to say,
but a gasping sound from the dying man declared that dissolution
was at hand, and, snatching the chalice, he hastily administered the
wafer, which was swallowed with difficulty. For the third time, Father
Mazzolin strove to replace the crucifix in his hand and bend it to
his lips. The cold fingers refused to clasp the consecrated wood, and
sank, stiffened and powerless, by his side.

Mary had gazed mournfully on as this mummery was enacted. A death-bed
for a theater, weeping relatives an audience, and Father Mazzolin an
amateur performer. Aunt Lizzy was kneeling beside the Padre, ever
and anon invoking the Virgin; while Florence sat with her face in her
hands, almost as unconscious of what passed as her dying parent She
bent over him now, and in heartrending accents conjured him not to
leave her. He struggled in vain to utter words of comfort; they died
away in whispers, and, with a slight moan, the spirit returned to
the God that gave it. The Padre snatched his hat and hastily left
the house, while Mary gave vent to an uncontrollable burst of sorrow.
Florence seemed suddenly frozen, so rigid was her countenance, as she
gazed on the cold form before her. She neither wept nor moaned, but
closed the eyes with a long, long kiss, and drawing a sheet over the
marble features, turned, with a slow, unfaltering step, away.



CHAPTER XII.

  "For now that Hope's last ray is gone,
  Sure Lethe's dream would bless:
  In grief to think of bliss tha'ts flown,
  Adds pangs to wretchedness."

  ANONYMOUS.


A fortnight had passed, and again it was evening. In the small
dining-room of Florence Hamilton's humble home assembled the now
diminished family circle. Florence sat sadly apart, leaning her head,
with closed eyes, against the window. The tea bell rang; she lifted
her head, glanced round the room, and wearily dropped her brow again
on its resting-place. Mary approached, and taking her hand, said, in a
gentle, winning tone, "Come, Florry dear."

"Eat your supper, Mary; I do not wish any."

"But you have not eaten anything to-day, and need something; do try,
for my sake."

"I cannot. If you knew how both head and heart ache, you would not
urge me."

Mary turned away, and ate the usually joyous meal with a heavy heart.
Florence had left her seat, and was standing in the door: as her
cousin rose from the table she beckoned to her, and passed hurriedly
out. Mary strove to catch her arm but she hastened on, as if trying
to escape from herself. Suddenly she paused by the river side, and
clasped her hands convulsively over her head.

"Mary! Mary! you know not what I suffer."

"Florry, sit down, and lean your weary head on my shoulder."

She dipped her hand in the water, and dashed the cold, sparkling drops
on her cousin's burning brow, speaking the while in a low, soothing
tone. Florence rested a few moments in her cousin's arms, then threw
herself on a grassy bank, and covered her face; one long, deep groan
alone attesting her mental anguish. Mary wept more bitterly than
she had yet done; still, she was so quiet, none would have known her
grief, save from the tears that fell over her hand and arms. Can it
be, that the spirits of departed friends hover near us while on
earth, and draw closer in hours of woe? If so, why is it denied to the
suffering one to hear again the dear accents of the "loved and lost?"
Why may not their silver pinions fan the burning brow of sorrowing
mortality, and the echo of Heaven's own melody murmur gently, "Peace,
peace and joy for evermore?"

Florence stood up before her cousin; all trace of emotion had passed
away, and left her calm. The bright moon shone full on her face. Oh!
how changed since the morning she stood in Madame ----'s schoolroom.
The large dark eyes were sunken; the broad brow marked with lines of
mental anguish; the cheeks colorless, and her long raven hair tossed
back, and hanging like a veil below her slender waist. There was
a hollow, wasted look in every feature; the expression was one of
hopeless misery, and a something there was which made the heart ache,
yet the haughty glance of other days might still be seen.

"Mary, look at me!"

"Well, Florry, I have looked at you, and sad enough it makes me feel."

"I am changed Mary, strangely changed, am I not? Answer me truly."

"Yes, you look weary and ill; but why do you ask me such a question?
You have had cause to look pale."

"Ah! you say truly; but, Mary, have you never suspected that a secret
grief was freezing the life-blood in my cheeks?"

"Florry, what do you mean? I am afraid you are feverish!" and Mary
laid her hand anxiously on her cousin's. It was flung contemptuously
off.

"Mary, listen to what I have to say. I am in a strange mood to-night,
and you must not contradict me. Where shall I begin? When my mother
died I was four years old, they say, and a very delicate child. My
mother! how strange it sounds. Yet I can at times faintly remember
her beautiful face. Very faintly, as in a dream, I have seen an angel
visitant. My mother, why did you leave your hapless babe? Oh! why? my
mother! I was left much to myself, and followed unrestrained my
own inclinations. You know my fondness for books; that fondness was
imbibed in girlhood, as I wandered in my own sunny home--my lost home.
My father taught me to conceal my emotions--to keep down the rising
sob, to force back the glittering tear; and when I smiled over some
childish grief, applauded my stoicism. I became unnatural, cold,
haughty, but not unfeeling. I remember well how your pale face and
mourning dress touched my heart, and waked my sympathies. From that
hour I lavished my love on my father and yourself. Years passed and we
went to New Orleans--" Here Florence paused, and closed her eyes for
a moment, but quickly resumed--"You know how I studied. Mary, was it
merely from love of metaphysics and philosophy, think you? No. no!
Mr. Stewart's look of surprise and pleasure as, one by one, I mastered
various intricacies, was the meed for which I toiled. Mary, from the
first day we met, I loved him, for his was a master spirit I worshiped
him in my inmost soul, and he loved me in return. I know--I feel that
he did. Yet he was even prouder than myself, and would have scorned to
speak of love to one who never smiled in his presence. Oh! often when,
he stood beside my desk giving instruction, my heart has sprung to
him. I have longed to hear the words of tenderness that welled up from
his heart, but scorned to tremble on his lips. No look of love ever
fell on me. His glance was cold and haughty. Oh, how inconsistent
is woman! I yearned for his love; yet, had he tendered it, under my
haughtiness would have dropped my idol--have shivered it at my feet.
Weeks passed, and while near him I knew no sorrow; but the morning of
my life was destined to be short. The cloud that had lowered on the
horizon suddenly darkened around. That never-to-be-forgotten letter
came, and I saw a great gulf open at my feet. An invisible hand placed
Dudley Stewart on one brink, and I was left upon the other; and an
unknown messenger thundered the decree of separation--'Forget the past
and live again in the future!' I started as from a frightful dream.
The cold reality forced itself upon me. Mary, a suspicion stole into
my heart, and stung me. I thought for a brief time that Mr. Stewart
loved you, and whose hand may register the darkened thoughts that
crowded bitterly up? The morning we left New Orleans, I went into the
schoolroom for our books. Ah! who may know the agony of that hour! I
sat down in his chair, and laid my head on his desk, and groaned in
mine anguish of spirit. Oh! Mary, that was the blackest, bitterest
hour of my life. I had fancied he loved me: I feared I was deceived; I
hated--despised myself for my weakness. Yet I could not reproach him;
he had never sought my love.

"I had just risen from his desk when Mr. Stewart came in. He did
not seem to see me, but took a seat near the door. I was well-nigh
exhausted, but strove to appear as cold and indifferent as ever. I
gathered up my books and turned to go, then he laid down his pen, and
came to me.

"'I believe you and your cousin leave to-day?'

"'Yes. in this evening's boat,' I answered, much as usual.

"'I wish you a safe and pleasant voyage. My kindest adieux to your
cousin. Good-by, Miss Hamilton.'

"He held out his hand. I said 'good-by' as clearly and coldly as
himself. Our hands met but an instant: there was no pressure--no
warmth, and then he opened the door for me to pass. As he did so
our eyes met; his glance was calm and cold, but his lips were firmly
compressed. Had he looked sad, mournful, or tender, I should have
passed out and triumphed; but my overtasked strength gave way; a cold
shudder crept through my frame, and consciousness forsook me. I never
fainted before or since. When I revived, I raised my head and looked
about me, I was reclining on a couch; he kneeling beside me, calmly,
as he would have stood in class. He held my hand, and pressed it
warmly.

"'Are you better now, Florence?'

"'Oh, yes, thank you,' I said, and rose to my feet.

"He still held my hand. I withdrew it, and turned to the door. He
placed himself before it, and said--'Florence, it was well done; you
are an admirable dissembler, but I am not deceived. You love me, and
have for long, yet I freely acknowledge your love can never exceed my
own. I love you better than my life, though perfectly aware that
we are now parted forever. I am a poor tutor, dependent on my daily
exertions for subsistence; you the cherished daughter of a wealthy and
ambitious parent.'

"He drew me to him, and imprinted a long kiss on my lips; then put me
gently back, and left the room.

"I never saw him again, but did I doubt his love? No, no! I would
sooner doubt my own existence. We embarked, as you know, in the
evening. That night was beautiful--just such a one as this--serene and
heavenly. I stole out on deck when others slumbered, and for a long
weary hour paced to and fro. There was a wild tumult in my soul which
would not be stilled, and every restraining effort but fanned the
flame that raged within. A never-to-be-forgotten contest was waged
that night, and my heart was the arena. My guardian angel whispered
low, 'Forget the past as a feverish dream; it is not well for thee;
forget, forget!' But the heaven-born accents were suddenly drowned
by the wild shriek of my dark destiny--'Of Lethe's waters thou shall
never taste! I have shattered the goblet at thy feet, and scattered
the draught to the winds of heaven! Behold the apotheosis of thine
idol! At this shrine shalt thou bow evermore--evermore!'

"A new impulse was implanted within me; and, impotent to resist, I
was impelled onward, and onward, till a chasm yawned at my feet. Yet
a moment I trembled on the brink, then plunged desperately forward.
Mary, listen. I knelt on the damp, glistening deck, and implored
Almighty God to register my words in heaven. In his awful name and
presence, I solemnly swore to love Dudley Stewart alone--to be his
wife, or go down to the tomb as Florence Hamilton. I rose up
calm--the fierce warring was stilled. Yet it was not inward peace that
succeeded. My fate was sealed--the last page of destiny transcribed.

"Time passed on, oblivious of the darkened hours it bore on its broad
bosom. Mary, I have watched for one loved form, and listened for that
calm, proud step. I have loved, and trusted, and believed that we
should meet again. Deluded Florence! a period is put to thy hopes and
fears! Mary, he is married! All is over for me. The dull, heavy weight
resting upon my heart will soon crush out the life spark, and lay low
my proud head. Ah! I my cousin, you weep. I wish that I could; but
tears have been _too_ often scornfully repulsed; they come not now at
my call. Oh, Mary, I am weary, weary! I long for rest, even the rest
of the dark, still tomb! I have no hope--no wish. I am passive now.
At last nature has broken the bonds so long forced upon her, and the
reaction is strong indeed. You ask how I received my information: ah!
you need not doubt its authenticity. Aunt Lizzy and his mother were
old friends, and she received a letter the day before my father died,
announcing _his_ approaching union with a beautiful cousin! I am
deservedly punished: I worshiped the creature and forgot the God. I
needed a desperate remedy, and it is administered."

As Florence concluded she leaned heavily against a tree, and raised
her eyes to the jeweled vault above. Just then a dense black cloud,
which had floated up from the west, passed directly over the moon,
obscuring the silvery rays. She pointed to it, and said, in a low,
mournful voice--"How typical of my life and heart; shut out from joy
and hope in one brief hour, unlike it ever to be brightened again."

"Oh! Florry, dear Florry! turn to God for comfort and succor in this
hour of need. He will enable you to bear this trial, and go steadily
on in the path of duty."

"Mary, I have no incitement to exertion; nothing to anticipate. My
future is blank and dreary. I know my lot in life; I have nothing to
hope for."

"Not so, Florry. Your future life will be an active one. Are we not
dependent on our exertions for subsistence? and does not our little
school open to-morrow? Cheer up, darling all may yet be bright.
Bury the painful remembrances of the past; believe me, peace, if not
joyousness, will surely follow the discharge of your duties."

"I cannot forget the past. Had he sought my love, I could scorn him
for his baseness; but it is not so, I almost wish it were. Yet I know
and feel that he loves me; and oblivion of the past is as impossible
for him as, myself. I know not what strange impulse has induced me to
tell you all this. I did it half unconsciously, hoping for relief by
revealing that which has pressed so heavily on my heart. Mary, never
speak to me of it again; and, above all, do not mention his name. It
has passed my lips for the last time, and all shall be locked again
within my own heart. We will open the school to-morrow; and may God
help me, Mary, pray, oh, pray for me! I had no mother to teach me, and
prayer is a stranger to my lips."

She walked hurriedly to the house, and shut herself within her own
apartment.



CHAPTER XIII.

  "Freedom calls you! Quick! be ready:
     Think of what your sires have been:
   Onward! onward! strong and steady,
     Drive the tyrant to his den."

  PERCIVAL.


How intoxicating is the love of power; and how madly the votaries
of ambition whirl to the vortex of that moral Corbrechtan, which has
ingulfed so many hapless victims. Our own noble Washington stands
forth a bright beacon to warn every ruler, civil or military, of the
thundering whirlpool. Father of your country! you stand alone on
the pedestal of greatness; and slowly rolling years shall pour their
waters into the boundless deep of eternity ere another shall be placed
beside you.

When Iturbide attempted to free his oppressed countrymen from the
crushing yoke of Spanish thraldom, Liberty was the watchword. Success
crowned his efforts--sovereign power lay before him. He grasped it,
and made himself a despot. Ambition hurled him from the throne of the
Montezumas, and laid his proud head low. A new star rose on the stormy
horizon of the west; pure and softly fell the rays on the troubled
thousands round. The voice of the new-comer said "Peace," and the wild
tumult subsided. Ten years passed; Santa Anna culminated. The gentle
tones of the arch-deceiver were metamorphosed into the tiger's growl,
the constitution of 1824 subverted in a day, and he ruled in the room
of the lost Iturbide.

* * * * *

The Alamo was garrisoned. Dark bodies of Mexican troops moved heavily
to and fro, and cannon bristled from the embrasures. The usually quiet
town was metamorphosed into a scene of riot and clamor, and fandangos,
at which Bacchus rather than Terpsichore presided, often welcomed the
new-born day. The few Americans[A] in San Antonio viewed with darkened
brows the insolent cavaliers. The gauntlet was flung down--there
was no retraction, no retreat. They knew that it was so, and girded
themselves for a desperate conflict.

[Footnote [A]: It doubtless appears absurd to confine the title of
"Americans" to the few citizens of the United States who emigrated to
Texas, when all who inhabit the continent are equally entitled to the
appellation. Yet the distinction is Mexican; "Los Americanos" being
the name applied to all who are not of Spanish descent.]

The declaration of independence was enthusiastically hailed by the
brave-hearted Texans, as they sprang with one impulse to support the
new-born banner, that floated so majestically over the sunny prairies
of their western home. Mechanic, statesman, plowboy, poet, pressed
forward to the ranks, emulous of priority alone. A small, but intrepid
band, they defied the tyrant who had subverted the liberties of his
country; defied Santa Anna and his fierce legions, and spurned the
iron yoke which the priests of Mexico vainly strove to plant upon
their necks. Liberty, civil and religious, was the watchword, and
desperately they must struggle in the coming strife.

Mañuel Nevarro had eagerly enlisted in the Mexican ranks, and in a
few weeks after General Cos's arrival, donned his uniform. Thus
accoutered, he presented himself, for the first time since their
disagreement, before Inez, who had but recently returned from San
Jose, doubting not that her admiration of his new dress would extend
to him who filled it. In truth, his was a fine form and handsome face;
yet sordid selfishness, and, in common parlance, "a determination to
have his own way," were indelibly stamped upon his countenance.

Inez was busily preparing the evening meal when he entered; and though
perfectly aware of his presence, gave no indication of it. He
stood aside and watched her movements, as she shaped and turned the
tortillas. Presently she began to sing

  "He quits his mule, and mounts his horse,
     And through the streets directs his course--
   Through the streets of Gacatin,
     To the Alhambra spurring in,
       Wo is me, Alhama.

  "And when the hollow drums of war
     Beat the loud alarm afar,
   That the Moors of town and plain
     Might answer to the martial strain,
      Wo is me, Alhama.

As the mournful cadence died away, she turned, and started with
well-feigned surprise on meeting the piercing glance fixed upon her.

"Ah, Mañuel!" She held out both hands, with a most amicable expression
of countenance. He grasped them, and would have kissed her beautiful
lips, but she slipped adroitly to one side--"No, no! Mañuel. I'll not
permit that till I am Señora Nevarro."

"And when will that be, Señorita?"

"Not till the war is over."

"But it has not begun yet; and it will be many moons before we whip
these cursed Americanos."

"How many, think you, Mañuel?"

"I can't tell, Inez; therefore we will not wait till the war is over.
The Padre is ready any time, and why not marry at once?"

"Sacra Dios! I'll do no such thing."

"And why not, Inez?"

"Because they might kill you, Mañuel, and then what would become of
me?"

"You would be as well off then as now; there would be no difference,
only you would be married. You will mourn, any how, if I am killed."

"How do you know I would?" Her Spanish eyes twinkled as she spoke; but
for fear of going too far, she laid her hand on his shoulder. Mañuel
turned sharply round.

"You deserve to be shot, Mañuel, for joining in a miff. Why didn't you
tell me you were going to be a soldier?"

He grasped her hand tighter, but made no reply.

"I say, why did not you tell me first?"

"And if I had told you, what then?"

"Why, I should not have let you do it, you savage. If you had only
asked me, I might be willing to marry you next week. But as it is, I
am not going to be left a widow, I can tell you."

"Inez, I don't believe you care whether I am killed of not. I do not
understand you at all."

The girl's eyes filled, and her lip quivered with emotion. "Mañuel do
you think me a brute? There is nobody to love Inez but her father and
you. I am not cold-hearted."

"You speak truth, Inez; and my uncle will not live very long, for he
has seen many years. When he is gone, there will be nobody to take
care of you but me; so the sooner we are married the better."

"Not so. You must come and see us as often as you can till the war is
over; but I will marry no one now."

"Will you promise it shall be as soon as the war is over?"

Inez coquettishly tossed her beautiful head, and advancing to the
fire, gaily exclaimed--"While we talked the tortillas burned. Come,
eat some supper. I know they are as good as those you get at the
Alamo."

Mañuel seated himself on a buffalo-robe, and while partaking of the
evening meal, Inez chatted away on indifferent subjects, asking,
during the conversation, what news had been received from the Texan
army.

"We got news to-day that they are marching down to Gonzales, but I am
thinking they will find hot work."

"How many men may we number, Mañuel, and think you the chances are for
us?"

"By the blessed Virgin, if we were not ten to five Mañuel Nevarro
would not eat his tortilla in peace. The Captain says we will scatter
them like pecans in a high wind."

"What bone is there to fight for at Gonzales?"

"Cannon, Inez, cannon. Don't you know we sent a thousand men to bring
it here, and the white rascal sent five hundred to keep it there. By
the Virgin, we will see who gets it!"

"Holy Mother protect us! Mañuel, take care of yourself, man, and rush
not into danger. It will profit you little that we have many men, if
some strong arm tells your length on the sward."

"Never fear, Inez--never fear. We must not stop till every American
turns his back on the Alamo, and his face to the East."

"But you will not harm those that live here in peace with all men?"

"The Padre told our General, yesterday, that we must fight till all
submitted, or the last American child was driven to the far bank of
the Sabine."

Inez laid her hand on his arm, and looking him full in the face,
asked, in a low tone--"Mañuel, would you help to drive Mary from her
home among us? She who nursed me in sickness, and bound the white
bread to your bleeding arm, and made the tea for my dying mother, when
none other came to help? Mañuel! Mañuel! she is alone in the world,
with only her cousin. Spare Mary in her little home; she hurts none,
but makes many to die in peace."

Mañuel's face softened somewhat, but he replied in the same determined
tone--"The Padre says she is an accursed heretic, and he will not
rest till she is far away. But I tell you now, Inez, she will not be
harmed; for he said he would see that she was protected, and would
himself take her to a place of safety. He said she had been kind to
our people, and none should molest her or her cousin; but leave all to
him."

"If the Padre promised, he will place them in safety; he never forgets
to do what he says. I am satisfied, Mañuel; and for the rest of the
Americans, the sooner they are driven out the better."

"You say truly, Inez, the sooner the better: all, all shall go, even
their Doctor, that carries himself with such a lordly air, and sits
in saddle as though never man had horse before. But the moon is up; I
must return, for I watch to-night, and must be back in time." He put
on his hat as he spoke.

"Mañuel, come as often as you can, and let me know what is going on.
You are the only one whose word I believe; there are so many strange
tales nowadays, I put little faith in any. And before you go, put this
crucifix about your neck: 'twill save you in time of danger, and think
of Inez when you see it." She undid the fastening which held it round
her own throat, and pressing it to her lips, laid it in his hand.

Astonished at a proof of tenderness so unexpected, Mañuel caught
her in his arms, but disengaging herself, she shook her finger
threateningly at him, and pointed to the door. He lighted his
cigarrita, and promising to come often, returned to the Alamo.

Left alone, the Spanish maiden sought her own apartment, muttering as
she ascended the steps--"The Padre protect you, Mary! Yes, even as
the hawk the new chicken. Take thee to a place of safety! even as the
eagle bears the young lamb to his eyrie. Yes, Mañuel, I have bound
the handkerchief about your eyes, You think I love you, and trust both
Padre and crucifix! Trust on, I too have been deceived."



CHAPTER XIV.


More like somnambulism than waking reality was now the life of
Florence Hamilton. No duty was unperformed, so exertion spared to
conduce to the comfort of the now diminished family circle. No words
of repining or regret were uttered--no tear dimmed the large dark
eyes. She moved and lived as it were mechanically, without the agency
of feeling or sympathy; yet though she obtruded her grief on none,
it was equally true that no gleam of returning cheerfulness ever
lightened the gloom which enveloped her. A something there was in the
hopeless, joyless expression of her beautiful face, which made the
heart ache; yet none offered sympathy, or strove to console her, for
she seemed unapproachable, with the cold, haughty glance of other
days. Painfully perceptible was the difference between Christian
fortitude and perfect hopelessness--gentle, humble resignation and
despair. There was no peace in her soul, for her future was shrouded
in gloom: she had no joys in anticipation. The sun of hope had set
forever to her vision, and she lived and bore her grief like one who
had counted the cost, and knew that for a little while longer she must
struggle on; and that oblivion of the past was dispensed only by
the angel of death. She acquiesced in Mary's plan of opening a small
school, and unfalteringly performed her allotted task as assistant
teacher. Unexpected success had crowned their efforts, and fifteen
pupils daily assembled in the room set apart for the purpose. Mary
had feared opposition on the part of the Padre, and was agreeably
surprised at the number of Catholic children committed to her care.

One morning early in October, having finished her household duties,
she repaired to the schoolroom for the day. Florence was already at
her post, though suffering from violent nervous headache. Mary seated
herself with her back to the door, and called one of her classes.
Arithmetic it proved; and if the spirits of the departed were
ever allowed to return in vindication of their works, the ghost
of Pythagoras would certainly have disturbed the equanimity of
the "muchachos," who so obstinately refused the assistance and
co-operation of his rules and tables. In vain she strove to impress on
one that 2 from 8 left 6. Like the little girl that Wordsworth met, he
persisted "it was seven." Despairing at last, she remanded the class
to their seats. Anxious to facilitate the progress of her pupils, Mary
spared no pains to make perspicuous what to them appeared obscure. The
little savages could not, or would net understand that the earth
was like a ball, and not only turned upon its own axis, but made
the entire circumference of the sun. A pair of globes could not be
procured, and she taxed her ingenuity for a substitute. Selecting two
apples, one enormous, the other medium size, she carefully introduced
a reed through the center of the smaller apple, thus causing it to
revolve on its axis. Calling up the tyros in geography, she took the
smallest, or "Earth," as she designated it, and while causing it to
perform the diurnal motion, she carried it slowly round the larger, or
"Sun," as she termed it; thus illustrating the combined movements of
our globe. Even the dullest could not fail to comprehend; and well
satisfied with the result of her experiment, she carefully put her
planets by in one corner of the schoolroom, and proceeded with her
questions. The imperfect recitation finished, Mary glanced across
the room, hoping her cousin's patience was not so tried, and some
brilliant coruscations in that direction fixed her attention. Florence
had dropped her aching head on the desk in front, shading her eyes
with her hand; before her, in dark array, stood some half dozen
small boys just beginning to spell. Each held a book containing
illustrations of various well-known articles and animals, having the
name beneath.

"U-r-n--teapot." Elliot Carlton, whose seat was near, gave a
suppressed giggle. Florence looked around inquiringly, then dropt her
head again on her hand, bidding the boy "spell on."

"S-t-a-g--goat." Elliot crammed his handkerchief into his mouth, and
Mary smiled.

"W-i-g--curly head." Florence was effectually roused this time by a
shout of laughter from Elliot, in which he was joined by Mary, and Dr.
Bryant, who had just entered and was standing in such a position that
no one had perceived him.

"Really, Miss Hamilton, I must congratulate you on the extraordinary
progress your pupils make; I was not aware that you cultivated their
powers of comparison in connection with the rudiments of orthoepy,"

"To what do you allude, Doctor; I am scarcely conscious of what passes
around me this morning," said Florence, wearily pressing her hand
across her aching brow.

"I am not surprised that you are somewhat stunned, though, after all,"
he continued, pointing to the picture of a ringleted pate, "the little
fellow was not far wrong, for this wig is incontestibly a curly head,"

With a faint smile which passed as quickly as it came, she dismissed
the class with an additional lesson.

"I am sorry to see you suffering so much this morning," said Frank,
seating himself beside her: "and should certainly not recommend this
schoolroom as an antidote to nervous attacks. Miss Mary, why do you
allow your cousin to overtax her strength? However, I bring you good
news. We have had an engagement at Gonzales, and, thank Heaven, are
victorious. The brave five hundred sent to preserve the field-piece
there, encountered double their number of the enemy, and not only
saved the cannon, but scattered the Mexicans in all directions.
Our brave band are marching to Coliad, where they expect to supply
themselves and comrades with ammunition; they have probably taken the
magazine before this, and are returning."

"Thank Heaven we have triumphed!" cried Mary, fervently clasping her
hands; "but oh! if the tide should turn this way, what will become of
us? The Mexicans are numerous here, and the Alamo strongly fortified
and in their possession." She turned her eyes inquiringly on Frank,
and started as she met the earnest, searching expression of his, bent
full upon her face.

"How pale you have grown of late," he murmured as to himself, and
replied to her questioning glance--"I think, myself, there is much
danger incurred by remaining here; but rest assured you shall not be
harmed. I am watching the signs of the times, and will warn you should
peril approach."

He took Florence's hand, and pressed it as he spoke; then turning
to Mary, who had walked away, he said--"I must insist on your cousin
having rest; she is weary and too much excited, and you, who are a
good nurse, must take better care of her."

"Indeed, Doctor, I did my best to prevent her teaching to-day, but she
would not listen to my entreaties," replied Mary, with averted head.

"If I might venture to advise yourself and cousin, Miss Hamilton, I
should suggest the discontinuance of your school, at least for the
present; for in these stormy times one scarce knows what a day may
bring forth: and, indeed, your pupils are dropping off within the last
few days, and you had better disband voluntarily."

"I believe you are right, Doctor; and if Mary concurs with us, I think
we will follow your advice."

"Do as you think best, Florry; I suppose we would have no pupils soon,
even if we continued our efforts; yet I dislike very much to give up
the school so very soon." Her voice faltered slightly, and her cheek
grew paler.

"Your reluctance to dismiss these children, I am not surprised at; and
if it will relieve you in the least, allow me to see their parents,
and arrange all pecuniary matters. You certainly feel no hesitation in
confiding this to me."

"Thank you, Dr. Bryant, you are very kind; but we will not burden you
with an additional trouble. I prefer taking these children home to
their parents, who committed them to my care; and as you and Florry
think it advisable, we will close our school this evening. Believe me,
however, that in refusing your kind offer, I am not insensible to, but
appreciate fully the motives which dictated it."

"Feel no hesitation in calling on me to perform any of the many
services a gentleman friend may so often render. If you knew how
gladly I would serve you, I am sure you would not fail to do so."

Shaking hands with Florence who stood near, he turned to go, but
paused at the threshold.

At this moment a slight disturbance in a distant corner of the room
attracted their attention, and springing forward, little Maria Carlton
exclaimed--"Oh, Miss Mary, what do you think? Somebody has eat up the
world, and bit a great big piece out of the sun!"

When the merriment this excited had in some degree subsided, Dr.
Bryant laughingly said--"I am much afraid you have a Polyphemus among
your pupils. Miss Mary, do discover the incipient monster and eject
him forthwith. Heavens, what powers of digestion he must possess! Good
morning, ladies--good morning." And with a bow he left the house.

"Florry, dear, do try and sleep some; I will do all that is necessary
about the children. True, there is not enough to occupy me long, and
meanwhile you must impart the news of this victory to Aunt Lizzy."



CHAPTER XV.

  "----I might not this believe
  Without the sensible and true avouch
  Of mine own eyes."

  SHAKSPEARE.


Twilight had fallen slowly, for the evening was heavy and wet, and
dark masses of cloud driven by the northern blasts sailed gloomily
overhead. Nature wore a dreary aspect, and one involuntarily turned
inward for amusement. A bright light gleamed from the window of
Florence Hamilton's humble home, and her little dining-room seemed by
contrast extremely cheerful; yet the hearts of its inmates were
more in accordance with the gloom which reigned without. Aunt Lizzy,
growing somewhat infirm of late, had retired earlier than usual.
Florence had been sewing all the afternoon, but now lay with closed
eyes on the couch, her hands clasped over her head. Mary sat near the
table holding an open volume, but her thoughts had evidently wandered
far away; for her gaze was fixed abstractedly on the fire which blazed
and crackled at her feet. The girl's countenance was an interesting
study, as she sat rapt in her saddened thoughts. A careworn expression
rested upon her face, as though some weighty responsibility too soon
had fallen on one so frail. The cheeks were very pale, and now and
then across the lips there came a quiver, as though she struggled
inwardly, and fain would give no outward show of grief. In truth, an
almost spiritual expression had come over her features; the impress of
some deep and hidden sorrow, nobly borne, though chasing the rosy hue
from her cheeks. Sadder grew the look, and some acute pain wrinkled
her brow as she threw aside the book, and covered her face with her
hands; while a heavy, yet smothered sigh, struggled forth, as if
striving to relieve the aching heart.

The door opened noiselessly, and a dark shrouded form glided with soft
steps to the chair, and laid a heavy hand on her shoulder. Mary raised
her head, and starting up, gazed inquiringly at the muffled face,
while the intruder pointed to the motionless form of Florence, and
laid a finger on her lip. Then beckoning Mary to follow, she receded,
with stealthy tread, to the door, which was softly closed, and walked
hurriedly on till she reached a large rose-tree, which shaded the
window. Mary shivered as the piercing wind swept over her, and strove
in vain to suppress a fit of coughing. There was a moment's silence.

"You did not know me?"

Mary started. "I did not, till you spoke; but, Inez, what brings you
out on such a night?"

Inez took off the mantilla which had so effectually concealed her
features, and threw it round the frail, drooping form before her.

"No, no, Inez, you will take cold;" and Mary tendered it back.

It was tossed off contemptuously, and mingled with a bitter laugh came
the reply--"I am not cold, Mariñita, nor ever shall be but once again.
I am burning with an inward fire that will not be quenched"

"You are ill, Inez, and want some medicine; tell me where and how you
suffer?"

"No, no. I want nothing from you or yours: I come to help, not to
ask. Mary, why is it you have made me love you so, when I hate yonder
dark-eyed girl? But I am losing time. I come to warn you of danger,
and even now I am watched; but no matter, listen to what I have to
say. The Padre hates you, even as--as I hate him, and has sworn your
ruin. I tell you now you must fly from San Antonio, and fly quickly,
for danger is at hand. My countrymen are many here, and he is stronger
than all. You and I have thwarted him, and the walls of a far off
convent are our destination--you, and your cousin, and myself. I am
at heart no Catholic; I have seen the devil, if there be one, in my
confessor. I have heard him lie, and seen him take the widow's and the
orphan's portion. Mary, if there was a God, would he suffer such as
my Padre to minister in his holy place, and touch the consecrated
vessels? No, no; there is none, or he would be cut off from the face
of the earth."

"Inez! Inez! stop and hear me."

"No, no! time waits for none, and I have little more to say, Mary, you
are deceived; your cousin is not what you think. She is a Catholic;
for mine own eyes have seen her in the confessional, and mine own ears
have listened to her aves and paters."

Mary uttered a deep groan, and clasped Inez's arm, murmuring--"You
are--you must be delirious or mad: Florry deceive me! impossible!"

"Ah! poor deluded Mary: do you trust any on earth? Yet I would trust
you, with your white face and soft blue eyes; and there is one other
I would trust--but no more. You will not believe that Florence has
turned from the faith of her fathers? Go to her as she sleeps yonder,
and feel with your own hand the crucifix around her neck. Ha! you hold
tight to my arm: I tell you your Cousin Florence is as black-hearted
as the Padre, for he told me she had promised her dying father to
follow his advice in all things, yet she tells you not of this: and
again, has she not won the love of a good, a noble man, and does she
not scorn his love; else why is his cheek pale, and his proud step
slow? Mariñita, I have read you long ago. You love your Doctor, but he
loves that Florence, whose heart is black and cold as this night You
are moaning in your agony; but all must suffer. I have suffered
more than you; I shall always suffer. My stream of bitterness is
inexhaustible; daily I am forced to quaff the black, burning waters.
Ha! I know my lot--I swallow and murmur not. Mary, I am sorry to make
you drink so much that is bitter to-night; but you must, for your own
good; better a friend should hold the cup and let you taste, than have
it rudely forced upon you."

"Why have you told me this, Inez? I never did you harm, or gave you
pain."

"Poor pale face! I want to save you from worse than death--yea, from
a living death. Go from this place; for if you are here a month hence,
you will be lost. Your people here will be defeated, and then the
Mexicans will hand you all over to the Padre, who says he means to put
you where you will be protected. Mark me: you will be sent where no
cry for succor will ever be heard. You will be imprisoned for life,
where none can come back to tell the tale. Mary, go to your friends in
the States; or if you cannot get there, go where your people are
many, and take your Doctor with you, for blood will yet run down these
streets, and I would not that his swelled the stream. He has promised
to watch over you; tell him to take you from here--from this cursed
place. I have crept from home this dark night to tell you of your
danger; I am watched, for the Padre suspects me, but you were always
good; you nursed me and my dying mother, and were kind to Mañuel, and
I would risk more than I have to help you. I have done all I can; I
charge you, wait not till the last moment."

Inez stretched out her hand for her mantilla, which she folded closely
about her face, and then clasped Mary's hand in hers.

"Inez! oh, Inez!"

"Well, Mariñita, I may not linger here. I will see you again if I can;
but if we meet no more, forget not Inez de Garcia, or the love she
bears you; and as the greatest blessing now for you, I hope you may
soon find peace in the quiet grave. I shall never find rest till I
sleep that last, unbroken sleep!"

"Inez, my heart is wrung by what I have heard to-night; but I beg of
you, as a last favor, do not, oh, do not turn away from God! Inez,
there is a God; and death is not an everlasting sleep. Hereafter is an
awful tribunal; and if not again on earth, you and I shall assuredly
meet before God. Oh I believe that he will yet bless you; that he
will enable you to bear all earthly trials; and, if faithful, he will
receive you at last into the kingdom of eternal rest. Try to forget
the past, and in this book you will find the path of duty so clearly
marked out, that you cannot mistake it. 'Tis all I have about me, yet
I pray God it may be the greatest treasure you possess."

She drew a small Bible from her pocket as she spoke, and pressed it
within Inez's fingers, adding--"I cannot sufficiently thank you for
your kindness in warning me of my danger; I shall leave this place as
soon as possible, and shall constantly pray that you may be spared and
blessed."

She held out her hands. Inez clasped them tightly for a moment, and
then glided down the walk as noiselessly as she came.



CHAPTER XVI.

  Be sure that you teach nothing to the people but what is certainly
  to be found in Scripture."

  BISHOP TAYLOR.


Mary Irving sought her chamber, and sinking on her knees, fervently
implored the blessing and guidance of Him who is very precious help in
time of need. She prayed for strength to meet with Christian fortitude
the trials which awaited her, and in all the vicissitudes of her
checkered life to pursue unfalteringly the path of duty. She strove
to collect her scattered thoughts, and with what composure she could
assume, returned to the dining-room. The fire was burning low on
the hearth, and the single candle gave but a faint, unsteady light.
Florence was slowly pacing up and down the floor; she raised her head
as Mary entered, then sunk it wearily on her bosom, and resumed her
walk.

"Florry, come sit here by me--I want to consult you."

"Is it very important, Mary? I feel to-night as though I could
comprehend nothing; let me wear off this dull pain in my heart and
head by walking, if possible."

"My dear Florry, it is important; and therefore you will forgive me if
I claim your attention."

Florence seated herself, and as she did so, leaned her head on Mary's
shoulder, while the latter wound her arm fondly about her, and gently
stroked back the raven hair from her aching brow.

"Since we broke up our school, I have been warned that we are in
danger, and advised to leave San Antonio as speedily as possible; for
strife is evidently at hand, and a battleground is no place for those
so unprotected as you and I."

"Dr. Bryant has promised to watch over us: and surely you have
implicit confidence in both his judgment and honor. What do you fear,
Mary?"

"Everything. We may remain here too long--till escape will be
impossible; and then who may predict with any degree of certainty the
chances of war? That Dr. Bryant will do all that a friend or brother
would, I doubt not; but he may be powerless to help when danger
assails; and even if he should not, to travel from here in stormy
times would not be so easy as you imagine."

"Who has been filling your head with such ideas? It could be none
other than that dark-browed Inez."

"If she has, could aught but disinterested friendship actuate her to
such a course?"

"Really, Mary, I should not have given you credit for so much
credulity. Do you place any confidence in what that girl may tell
you?"

"I do rely on what she confides to me. Has she ever given you cause
to doubt her sincerity? Indeed, Florry, you do her injustice. I would
willingly--God only knows how willingly--doubt some portions of what I
have heard from her lips, but I dare not."

"Mary, can you not perceive that she is jealous of us, and hopes, by
operating on your fears, to drive us from this place? The Padre hinted
as much to me not long since."

"Florry, it is for you to say whether Inez speaks truth. From her lips
I had the words--Your Cousin Florence is a Papist, wears a crucifix
about her neck, and kneels in the confessional. Oh, Florry! will
you--can you--do you deny the charge?"

The cousins stood up, and each gazed full upon the other. Mary's face
was colorless as marble, and her hands were tightly clasped as she
bent forward with a longing, searching, eager look. A crimson glow
rushed to Florence's very temples; then receded, leaving an ashy
paleness.

"I am a member of the Church of Rome."

Mary groaned and sank back into her chair, at this confirmation of her
fears. Florence leaned against the chimney, and continued in a low,
but clear voice--"I have little to say in defense of what you may
consider a deception. I deny the right of any on earth to question my
motives of actions; yet I would not that you, Mary, who have loved me
so long and truly, should be alienated, without hearing the reasons
which I have to allege in favor of my conduct. Mary, think well when
I ask you what prospect of happiness there was for me a month since?
Alone in the wide world, with ruined hopes, and a long, long, joyless
future stretching gloomily before me. I was weary of life. I longed
for death, not as a passport to the joys of heaven (for I had never
sought or deserved them), but as bringing rest, peace, and oblivion
of the past I viewed it only as a long, last, dreamless sleep. Mary,
I was groping my way in what seemed endless night, when suddenly there
came a glimmer of light, faint as the first trembling rays of the
evening star, and just pierced the darkness in which I wandered. The
Padre came to me, and pointed to the long-forgotten God, and bade me
seek him who hath said, come unto me all ye who are weary, and I
will give you rest. Mary, do you wonder that I clasped the hand
outstretched to save me, and besought him to lead me to the outraged
and insulted God? My eyes were opened, and looking down the long, dark
vista of the past. I saw how, worshiping a creature, I built a great
barrier between myself and heaven. I saw my danger, and resolved, ere
it was too late, to dedicate the remainder of my life to him who gave
it. The door of the church was opened, and Father Mazzolin pointed
out the way by which I might be saved. The paths seem flowery, and
he tells me the ways are those of pleasantness and peace, and I have
resolved to try them. Once, and once only, I met him at confession,
hoping, by unveiling my sufferings to a man of God, to receive comfort
of a higher order than I might otherwise expect. He has granted
me absolution for the past, and I doubt not that in future the
intercession of the blessed saints in heaven will avail with my
offended Maker."

"Florry, my own dear Florry! hear me, for none on earth love you as I
do. Do you not believe the Bible--God's written word? Has he not said,
'there is _one mediator_ between God and man--the man Christ Jesus?'
Has not Christ made propitiation for our sin, and assured us there is
but one way whereby we may be saved, repentance for our past sins and
faith in the sufficiency of his atonement? Do you doubt the efficacy
of Christ's suffering and death? Tell me, Florry, by what authority
you invoke your saints? Surely you do so in opposition to the express
declaration of the Bible already quoted--'there is _one mediator_
between God and man.'"

"The holy Fathers of our church have been in the habit of praying for
the intercession of saints from the earliest periods, and none have
questioned their fervent piety, or doubted the orthodoxy of their
faith," replied Florence.

"In the first place," said Mary, "it would be ridiculous in the
extreme to advocate all the opinions and tenets advanced by those
same Fathers. St. Augustine doubted the existence of the antipodes;
Tertullian emphatically pronounced second marriages adultery; Origen
denied the sin of David in causing the death of Uriah, and has often
been accused of favoring Arianism, and the doctrine of transmigration
of soul; while it is a well-known fact, that Jerome, to vindicate
Peter from the charge of dissimulation, actually accused St. Paul of
lying, and thereby favoring deceit. In the second place, are you quite
sure that they were in the habit of invoking saints?"

"Certainly, Mary; for it is undeniable that St. Augustine in his
Meditations calls on the Blessed Virgin, and all the angels and
apostles in heaven, to intercede with God in his behalf. Father
Mazzolin pointed out the passage no later than last week, to remove
the doubts which I confess I entertained, as to whether it was proper
and in accordance with the practise of the Fathers to implore such
intercession."

"And does your conviction rest on so frail a basis? Hear what the
Rev. Dr. Milner says on this subject, in the first volume of his
Ecclesiastical History;" and taking it from the shelf, Mary read:

'The book of Meditations, though more known to English readers than
any other of the works ascribed to Augustine, on account of the
translation of it into our language by Stanhope, seems not to be his,
both on account of its style, which is sententious, concise, abrupt,
and void of any of those classical elegancies which now and then
appear in our author's genuine writings; and also, on account of the
prayers to deceased saints which it contains. This last circumstance
peculiarly marks it to have been of a later date than the age of
Augustine. Frauds of this, kind were commonly practised on the works
of the Fathers in the monastic times.'

"And why, Florry, does it peculiarly mark it as spurious? Because, had
he entertained these views on so vital a point, the expression of them
would most certainly have occurred in his other very voluminous works.
I have searched his Confessions for instances of this invocation,
either from himself or anxious mother, and had he believed, as the
Catholic prelates assert, in this intercession of the dead, it would
most assuredly have been sought in the hour of his suffering and fear,
lest he should be given over. But I find none. On the contrary,
these two passages occur in his Confessions: 'I now sought the way of
obtaining strength to enjoy thee, and found it not, till I embraced
the mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ, who is above all, God,
blessed forever, calling and saying I am the way, the truth, and the
life.' And here, Florry, is another extract from the same book still
more conclusive--'Whom shall I look to as my mediator? Shall I go to
angels? Many have tried this, and have been fond of visions, and have
deserved to be the sport of the illusions which they loved. The true
mediator, whom in thy secret mercy thou hast shown to the humble, and
hast sent that by his example they might also learn humility, the man
Christ Jesus, hath appealed a mediator between mortal sinners and the
immortal Holy One, that he might justify the ungodly, and deliver them
from death.' Yet in your manuals you are directed to say 'Mother of
God command thy son;' and one of your prayers, Florry, is as follows:
'Hail, Holy Queen! Mother of Mercy--our life, our sweetness, and our
hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished sons of Eve, to thee do we send
up our sighs, mourning and weeping in the valley of tears. Turn thee,
most gracious Advocate, thy eyes of mercy toward us.' And at vespers
you say,

  'Hail, Mary! queen of heavenly spheres,
  Hail! whom the angelic host reveres!'

Florry, in all candor, let us investigate this subject; we will
consult both the Bible and the Fathers, or, if you prefer it, by the
words of the latter only we will decide; for truth we are searching."

"Mary, let me read a second time those passages from St. Augustine.
Strange I should have been so deceived," she continued, as, having
perused them, she returned the book to her cousin.

"Florry, can you perceive any encouragement there given to the
practise of invocation? Does not St. Augustine expressly denounce it?"

"There can be no doubt of his sentiments on this point; but, Mary,
this is only one decision, when I have been assured that the united
voices of many Fathers established it without a doubt, even supposing
there was no authority in Holy Writ for such a custom--which, however,
we have, for did not Jacob wrestle with an angel and did not his
blessing descend upon him?"

"But Christ had not then died; neither had the Christian dispensation
succeeded to the old Jewish rites and customs. If you will turn to
Jeremiah, you will also read how the curse of God was pronounced
against the idolaters who offered incense to the Queen of Heaven: yet
you do the same. Still, by the tradition of the elders, we will judge.
Hear the words of Paulinus on this subject--'Paul is not a mediator;
he is an ambassador for Christ. John intercedes not, but declares that
this mediator is the propitiation for our sin. The Son of Almighty
God, because he redeemed us with the price of his blood, is justly
called the true Redeemer,' Again, the great and good Ambrose--'We
follow thee, Lord Jesus, but draw us up that we may follow. No one
rises without thee. Let us seek him, and embrace his feet, and worship
him, that he may say to us, Fear not. I am the remission of sin, I am
the light, I am the life. He that cometh to me shall not see death;
because he is the fulness of divinity.' One more, Florry--'Come to
yourselves again, ye wretched transgressors! Return ye blind to your
light! Shall we not believe God, when he swears that neither Noah,
nor Daniel, or Job, shall deliver one son or daughter by their
righteousness. For this end he makes the declaration, that none might
put confidence in the intercession of saints. Ye fools! who run to
Rome to seek there for the intercession of an Apostle. When will ye
be wise? What would St. Augustine say of you, whom ye have so often
quoted?' Such, Florry, are the words of the celebrated Claud of Turin;
but as he is regarded by your church somewhat as a reformer, I will
just read one passage from Anselm, whose orthodoxy no Papist ever
questioned. Speaking of the intercession of Christ--'If the people sin
a thousand times, they need no other Saviour; because this suffices
for all things, and cleanses from all sin.' Florry, we have jointly
admired the character of one of the earliest martyrs, St. Cyprian.
Will you hear him on this subject?--'Christ, if it be possible, let us
all follow. Let us be baptized in his name. He opens to us the way
of life. He brings us back to Paradise. He leads us to the heavenly
kingdom. Redeemed by his blood, we shall be the blessed of God the
Father,' Yet you say in your prayers, 'We fly to thy patronage, oh!
holy Mother of God!' And again--

  'Hail sacred gate.'

Florence, you have cited the Fathers: by their own words are you not
convinced as to intercession?"

"Mary, I was asking myself if vital Christianity could exist in any
church which allows such a system of deceit on the part of its clergy:
for deceived I assuredly have been."

"You should remember, Florry, that the promulgation of Papal
doctrines, and the aggrandizement of the Romish church, is the only
aim of its priesthood; consequently, all means which conduce to this
great object are unscrupulously employed. Even crime is sanctioned
where the good of the church can be promoted."

"Surely, Mary, you cannot mean what you say? Crime sanctioned by the
Romish clergy! Impossible! How dare you make such an assertion!"

"It doubtless strikes you, Florry, as strangely uncharitable and
unchristian; yet, if you will consult the records of the past, I
venture to say you will think very differently. What memorable event
occurred on one of your saints' days--the 24th of August, 1572? At
dead of night the signal was given, and the Papal ministers of France
perpetrated the foulest deed that stains the page of history.
Thirty thousand Huguenots were butchered in their beds. And what
distinguished the murderer from the doomed victim? A white cross on
the hat of the former. How did Imperial Rome receive the tidings of
this massacre? The cannons were discharged, the Pope ordered a jubilee
and grand procession, and caused a _Te Deum_ to be chanted. I ask
you, Florry, was not this sanctioning crime? Again, how died the great
Henry IV? The celebrated edict of Nantes sealed his doom, and the
infamous Ravaillac, for the good of the Romish church, conveniently
forgot the commandment of Jehovah, and meritoriously assassinated him.
Florry, I have myself heard a Papist say, 'that whatever her priest
commanded, she would unhesitatingly perform.' Shocked at the broad
assertion, I replied: 'You surely do not know what you are saying.
Obey the priest in all things! Why, you would not commit murder at his
command?' 'Certainly I would, if my priest bid me; for if I obey him,
I cannot do wrong.' I know this to be true; and I ask you what is the
inference? You admit that you have been deceived. Pious frauds were
committed in the time of Ambrose and Chrysostom; yet hear what St.
Augustine says: 'Lying is the saying of one thing, and thinking of
another;' and in all cases, even for most pious purposes, he excludes
lying as unchristian and anti-scriptural."

Florence was leaning with clasped hands on the table gazing intently
at her cousin; while Mary knelt on the other side, her hand resting
on the large family Bible. The light fell full on her pale face as she
knelt; her chestnut curls half veiling the pure white cheek, and the
dark-blue eyes, earnest, and yet almost angelic, in their gentle,
loving expression.

"Oh, Florry! need I implore you in future to look to Christ alone as
the author of our salvation?"

"One more question, Mary. Is there not a passage in Revelations
substantiating the doctrine of intercession? Father Mazzolin assured
me the testimony was conclusive in favor of that practise."

"The passages to which you allude are these: 'And another angel came
and stood at the altar, having a golden censor; and there was given
unto him much incense, that he should offer it, with the prayers of
all saints, upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And
the smoke of the incense which came with the prayers of the
saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.' No word of
intercession occurs here; and are we not as free to suppose that the
prayers so offered were in their own behalf as that of their friends?
Had it been as the Padre tells you, would not St. John have said
intercession or prayers in behalf of others?"

"Mary, can you have mistaken the passage? This cannot be his boasted
testimony."

"I know that these two verses are highly prized by Papists, as
establishing the doctrine in question; yet I cannot see them in that
light--can you?" "No, no; and if these are the strongest arguments
they can adduce in the defense of invocation, I reject it as a remnant
of the dark ages, during which period it certainly crept into the
church."

"If you do this, Florry, you cause the whole fabric to totter, for on
this doctrine, as a foundation, rests the arch, of which confession is
the keystone."

"'Confess ye your sins, one to another,' is very strong in our favor,
Mary?"

"Florry, we are searching for truth, and let us in all humility and
candor investigate this particularly important point. It seems to me
that St. James's meaning is this--when we have offended or harmed our
fellow-men or brethren, we should make all the amends in our power;
confess our faults unto them; implore their pardon, and abstain from
offensive conduct in future. Do you not think that if he had intended
us to interpret it differently, he would have said--'Confess your
faults unto your priest, and he will give you absolution.' Setting
aside all bias, do you not think this reasonable; the more so, when
we call to mind those words of our Saviour in his sermon on the mount:
'Therefore, if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest
that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before
the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and
then come and offer thy gift.' If our Lord had intended the ordinance
of confession, would he not have said on this occasion, 'First confess
thy sins unto thy priest, and when he has absolved thee, then come
with clean hands and offer thy gift.' Mark the difference, and ask
your own heart if there is any encouragement here for confessing to
your Padre?"

"If this passage of James were all we could adduce in favor of
confession, I should think with you, Mary; yet it is not so. When
about to dismiss his Apostles on their errands of mercy, Christ said
to them--'Peace be with you; as my Father hath sent me, even so I send
you;' and when he had breathed upon them, he said unto them--'Receive
ye the Holy Ghost; whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto
them, and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.' Now, Mary,
do you not plainly perceive that the power of forgiving sin was
conferred upon the Apostles?"

"Most assuredly I do; and avow my belief that they were enabled
to forgive sin, and at the same time other miraculous powers were
conferred on the 'Twelve.' 'Then he called his twelve disciples
together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to
cure diseases.' We know that they cast out devils, restored the blind,
and raised the dead. Power to forgive sin was one among many wonderful
gifts conferred upon them. Yet you do not believe that the power of
raising the dead was transmitted to posterity. How, then, can you say
the gift of absolution was?"

"But, Mary, Christ says in another place--'Thou art Peter: and upon
this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not
prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom
of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in
heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in
heaven.'"

"I perfectly agree with you, Florry, in believing that St. Peter had
miraculous powers bestowed on him by our Saviour; but it seems absurd
to suppose that these powers were perpetuated in the ministers of the
Roman Catholic Church. Our Saviour said, what 'Peter loosed, should
be loosed in heaven,' and not what Peter's successors loosed should be
observed and loosed in heaven. We should not judge of Christ's views
by isolated passages, but rather from all his teachings; for if we
did, what would you say to the verse just below those already quoted,
'And he said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an
offense unto me: for thou savorest not the things which be of God, but
those that be of men.' But this is wandering from the subject. In
St. Augustine's Confessions, though I admit somewhat abridged, I find
nothing relating to confessing to priests. This passage alone appears:
'O Lord, thou knowest!--have I not confessed my sins to thee? and
hast thou not pardoned the iniquity of my heart?' Speaking of a
sudden illness during his boyhood, he says he eagerly desired baptism,
fearing to die, and his mother was about to comply with his request,
when he quickly recovered. Now, had he considered confession
necessary, would he not have urged it upon all who read his
Confessions, which you will mark, Florry, were not made to a priest,
but obviously to God himself,"

There followed a long pause, while Florence dropped her face in her
hands and sighed heavily.

"Florry, it is very late; our candle has burnt low--see, it is
flickering in the socket; we have not heeded the lapse of time." She
rose and replaced the books she had been consulting.

"Mary, Mary! why have you shaken my faith? I had thought to find
comfort in future, but you have torn my hope from me, and peace flies
with the foundations which you have removed!"

"Florry, you have been blinded, deceived. They have cried unto you,
Peace! peace! when there was no peace. But oh! there is a source
of rest, and strength, and comfort, which is to be attained not
by confession, or the intercession of the dead or living, but
by repentance for the past, and an active, trusting faith in the
mediation of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ"



CHAPTER XVII.

      "The purple clouds
  Are putting on their gold and violet,
  To look the meeter for the sun's bright coming.
  How hallowed is the hour of morning! Meet--
  Ay! beautifully meet--for the pure prayer."

  WILLIS.


Morn broke in the East; or, in the beautiful language of the Son of
Fingal, "Sol's yellow hair streamed on the Eastern gale." Awakened by
the first chirping of the feathered tribe, Florence rose as the gray
morning light stole into her chamber, and seating herself at the
window, looked out on the town before her. Quiet reigned as yet,
broken only by the murmuring and gurgling of the river, which roiled
swiftly on, just below their little gate. How delightful to her seemed

  "The cool, the fragrant, and the silent hour
  To meditation due."

Calmly she now weighed the conversation of the preceding night, and,
engrossed in earnest thought, sat gazing out till the Orient shone
resplendent, and an October sun poured his rays gloriously around her.
Then she knelt, and prayed as she had never done before. She sought
the "pure fountain of light," and implored strength and guidance
in her search after truth. Rising, her glance fell on her sleeping
cousin, and she was struck with the change which within the last month
had taken place in her appearance. Approaching the bed, she lifted the
masses of chestnut hair that clung to the damp brow. As she looked on
the pure, pale face, there came a gush of tenderness into her soul,
and bending, she imprinted a long, warm kiss. Mary stirred, and opened
her eyes.

"Ah, Florry, you are up earlier than usual." She closed them again,
murmuring slowly, "I feel as though I had no strength remaining; I can
scarcely lift my head."

"Sleep, Mary, if you can. I will shut out the light, and call you
again after a while."

"No, Florry, I must not give way to such feelings; indeed they are
getting quite too common of late; I can't think what makes me so weak
and feverish."

An hour later, as they stood together at the door of their little
dining-room, a body of Mexican cavalry dashed furiously past their
gate. The cousins looked full at each other. Then Florence said in a
low, calm tone: "You are right, Mary; we will go from this place; I
feel now that it is for the best." She averted her face; but Mary saw
an expression of keen agony resting there. "Florry, let us consult
Mrs. Carlton. She will advise us what would be best to do in this
emergency."

"Go and see her yourself; I cannot. Whatever you decide upon I will
agree to. Oh! Mary, how desolate and unprotected we are."

"No, not while there is an Almighty One to watch over us. But, Florry,
I am much troubled about Aunt Lizzy. I mentioned our wish to leave
here, and she opposed it strenuously, on the grounds that the Padre
had promised his protection. Now what are we to do?"

"Go to Mrs. Carlton's, Mary, and I will convince aunt that it is
best we should remove from here immediately. You need apprehend no
difficulty on her part. As you return from Mrs. Carlton's, meet me in
the churchyard."

"Florry, do not go till I come home; or, if you prefer it, let us go
there at once."

"No, Mary, I wish to be there alone."

"But I am afraid it is not quite safe for you to venture out so far
from home."

"I fear nothing: who would harm a daughter beside her father's grave?"

Mary sighed heavily, but offered no further opposition. Her walk to
Mrs. Carlton's was a sad one, for her heart clung to the scenes she
had learned to love so well, and the prospect of departure, and the
uncertainty of the future, weighed heavily on her heart, and made her
step unwontedly slow. She found her friend alone, and much depressed.
Mrs. Carlton clasped her tenderly in her arms, while the tears rolled
silently down her cheeks.

"I hope nothing has happened to distress you?" said Mary, anxiously.

"You are the very one I wished to see. Mr. Carlton said, this morning,
that he was unwilling for me to remain here any longer, as our
troops are marching to attack the Alamo. He says he will take us to
Washington, and I could not bear the idea of leaving you here."

"I have come to consult you on this subject; for some of my Mexican
friends have advised us to leave San Antonio; and not knowing where or
how to go, concluded to come and see you. But Washington is far, very
far from here. How will we ever reach it in these unsettled times?"

"Mr. Carlton and Frank have gone to make all necessary preparation
for our immediate departure. We will have two tents, and carry such
cooking utensils and provisions as are needful for a tedious journey:
one wagon is all we hope to obtain for conveying these. I suppose we
shall all ride horseback; for you know there is not a carriage in the
town. Frank does not wish us to leave this place, for he suggested
your coming to remain with us till these stormy times were over. But
this is not a suitable home for you. Surely your cousin and aunt will
consent to accompany us?"

"Yes, I think so; for Florry left it entirely with me, and certainly
we should go now."

"I am very glad to hear you say so, Mary; not only upon your own
account, but also for Frank. He will consider himself bound to
accompany you; for he promised your dying uncle to watch over you both
with a brother's care, and otherwise he could not be induced to leave
San Antonio at this crisis. He seems completely rapt in the issue of
the contest; and would you believe it, Mary, he is anxious to enlist;
but my entreaties have as yet prevented him."

"Dear Mrs. Carlton, there is no obligation resting on him to go with
us. He has been very kind and careful, and though deeply grateful, we
could not consent to his leaving against his own inclinations. Oh, no!
we could not allow this. Yet should he remain, what may be the result?
Oh! Mrs. Carlton, this is terrible."

Mary's cheek was very pale, and her lips quivered convulsively, while
the small hands, clasped each other tightly.

"Mary, for my sake, use your influence with him in favor of going to
Washington. I can't go in peace, and feel that he is here exposed
to such imminent danger, for when I am gone, what will restrain him?
Mary, Mary! do not deter him, if he feels it incumbent on him to see
you to a place of of safety."

"Mrs. Carlton, you can appreciate the peculiar position in which I am
placed. Florry and I would shrink from drawing him away, in opposition
to his wishes, particularly when there is no danger attendant on our
traveling; for with you and Mr. Carlton we would feel no apprehension;
and even if we did, we could not consent to such a sacrifice on his
part. Yet I sympathize with you, most sincerely, and will willingly do
all that in propriety I can to alleviate your sorrow; but knowing his
sentiments, how could I advise, or even acquiesce in his going?"

"My pure-hearted girl, forgive a request made so thoughtlessly. I
had not considered, as I should have done; yet you can appreciate
the anxious feelings which dictated it." As she spoke, Mrs. Carlton
clasped her friend to her heart, and wept on her shoulder. No tear
dimmed Mary's eye; yet that she suffered, none who looked on her pale
brow and writhing lips could doubt. As she raised her head to reply,
Dr. Bryant entered, and started visibly on seeing her, Mrs. Carlton
endeavored to regain her composure; and, with a slightly faltering
voice, asked how he succeeded in procuring horses?

"Better than I had hoped," was the rejoinder; and he held out his hand
to Mary. She gave him hers, now cold as ice. He held it a moment, and
pressed it gently, saying: "You see my sister is going to run away on
the first intimation of danger. I hope she has not infected you with
her fears; though, to judge from your looks, I should almost predict a
stampede in another direction."

"Indeed you are quite right. Florry and I are going with her; though
we had decided on leaving before we knew she intended doing so."

"Ah! you did not seem to apprehend any immediate danger when we
conversed on this subject a few days since. What has changed your
views?"

"I have been warned not to risk the dangers attendant on the
approaching conflict by a Mexican friend, whose attachment I have
every reason to believe is sincere; and besides, it needed but little
to augment my fears: and Florry and I concluded, if practicable, to
remove to a place of greater safety."

"Can you be ready within two days, think you, Miss Mary? for, if we
leave at all, it is advisable that we do so immediately."

"Oh, yes! I know we can be ready by that time."

"Let me see--how many additional horses shall we need? Yourself, your
cousin, and aunt, and myself."

Mary looked eagerly at Mrs. Carlton; but she had averted her head; and
for a moment a terrible struggle within kept the gentle girl silent.

"Dr. Bryant, I know you do not wish to leave here at this juncture,
intensely interested as you are in the event, and I fear you are
sacrificing your own wishes for our benefit. Let me beg you to consult
your inclinations, and do not feel it in the least incumbent on you to
attend us, particularly when we are in the kind care of Mr. Carlton;
and you have already done so much toward contributing to our comfort."

"Thank you for your consideration. Nevertheless, I shall not rest
satisfied till I place you in safety on the banks of the Brazos. One
of my greatest pleasures has been to render you service, and you would
not abridge them, I hope, by refusing my company on your journey?"

Mary's eyes were fixed earnestly on his face while he spoke, and
though there was no change in his kind, gentle tone, there came an
undefinable expression over his noble countenance--an expression in
which coldness and sorrow predominated. She could not understand him;
yet a shudder crept though her frame, and a sensation of acute pain
stole into her heart. She felt as through a barrier had suddenly risen
between them, yet could not analyze the cause.

"Your servants will take all possible care of the house and furniture
during your absence, which, I hope, will be but temporary. They will
not be molested; and I am afraid we could not conveniently carry two
additional persons. What think you of this arrangement?"

"I think with you, that under existing circumstances the servants
could not well accompany us; and though they will incur no danger,
I regret the necessity of leaving them, particularly should they
object."

"I hope you will find no difficulty in arranging everything to your
entire satisfaction, previous to our departure. You and my sister must
consult as to all minor points, and I must look to our preparations.
My respects to your cousin. I will see you again to-morrow;" and
bidding her good morning, he turned away.

"Oh, such a weight is lifted from my heart!" exclaimed Mrs. Carlton.
"I can now exert myself as I am called on to do."

"Florry will be waiting for me, and we have much to do at home; so
good-by," and Mary lifted her pale face for a farewell kiss.

Mrs. Carlton affectionately embraced her, and bidding her "make all
speed," they parted.



CHAPTER XVIII.

    "'There is a soul just delivered from Purgatory!' It was found
    to be a frog dressed in red flannel."

    KIRWAN.


Florence having succeeded, as she imagined, in convincing her aunt
that it was advisable to remove from San Antonio, slowly proceeded to
the churchyard, little dreaming that the door had scarce closed behind
her ere Aunt Lizzy, with swift steps, directed her way to the house
of the Padre, He was writing, but gave his attention, and heard,
with ill-disguised chagrin, that Florence distrusted his promised
protection.

"Does she doubt in matters of faith, think you?" he eagerly inquired.

"Indeed, Padre, I cannot say. All I know is, that she and Mary sat
till midnight, reading and talking, and she has not seemed like
herself since."

"Where shall I find Florence?" said he, taking his hat.

"In the churchyard, I think, beside her father's grave."

"Say nothing to her, but apparently acquiesce in her plans; and, above
all, do not let her dream that you have told me these things."

Ah, Florence! who may presume to analyze the anguish of your tortured
heart as you throw yourself, in such abandonment of grief, on the tomb
of your lost parent? The luxuriant grass, swaying to and fro in the
chill October blast, well-nigh concealed the bent and drooping form,
as she knelt and laid her head on the cold granite.

"My father! oh, my father!" and tears, which she had not shed before,
fell fast, and somewhat eased the desolate, aching heart. Florence had
not wept before in many years; and now that the fountain was unsealed,
she strove not to repress the tears which seemed to lift and bear away
the heavy weight which had so long crushed her spirits.

What a blessing it is to be able to weep; and happy are they who can
readily give vent to tears, and thus exhaust their grief! Such
can never realize the intensity of anguish which other natures
suffer--natures to whom this great relief is denied, and who must keep
the withering, scorching agony pent up within the secret chambers of
their desolate, aching hearts. Sobs and tears are not for these. No,
no; alone and in darkness they must wrestle with their grief, crush it
down into their inmost soul, and with a calm exterior go forth to meet
the world. But ah! the flitting, wintry smile, the short, constrained
laugh, the pale brow marked with lines of mental anguish, will
ofttimes, tell of the smoldering ruin....

"My daughter, God has appointed me in place of the parent he has taken
hence; turn to me, and our most holy church, and you will find comfort
such as naught else can afford."

Florence sprung to her feet, and shuddered at the sound of his low,
soft voice. The Padre marked the shudder, and the uneasy look which
accompanied it: "Padre, I have confessed, and I have prayed to almost
every saint in the Calendar, and I have had your prayers in addition
to my own; yet I find no comfort. No joy has stolen to my heart, as
you promised it inevitably would."

"My daughter, if peace has not descended on thy spirit, I fear you
have not been devout. Tell me truly if you have not doubted in matters
of faith, for our most holy Mother ever grants the prayers of her
faithful and loving children?"

"I have searched the Bible, and I nowhere find authority for invoking
saints or the Virgin."

"I can convince you, without doubt, that there is such authority--nay,
command."

"'Tis useless, you may save yourself the trouble; for my mind is
clearly made up that we have not even the sanction of the Fathers."

"Holy Mary, pardon her unbelief, and send down light into her darkened
soul!"

Florence fixed her eyes full upon him, and replied--"Christ expressly
declares 'I am the light, I am the life.'"

"Daughter, your heretic cousin has done you a great injury. May God
protect you, and forgive her blasphemy."

"She needs no forgiveness, for she is pure in heart before God, and
truthful in all things."

The swarthy cheek of the Italian flushed--"Florence, you and your aunt
must come and stay at my house till it is safe here; and, I doubt not
when you are at leisure to hear me, you will duly repent your hasty
speeches. I shall pray God and our Lady to give you a more trusting,
believing heart, and intercede with the blessed saints for your entire
conversion."

"Not so, Father Mazzolin; we shall leave this place in a very few
days, and I have come to bid adieu to the grave of my father: leave
me, for I wish to be alone and in peace."

"Do you doubt my will or ability to protect you, my daughter? Beneath
my roof no danger can assail."

"We have fully decided to go from here, and further reasoning or
entreaty would be vain; accept, however, my thanks for your proffered
kindness."

"Girl, you have gone too far! Hear me while I am placable, for I tell
you now, without my consent, you cannot--shall not leave here."

"You have neither right nor power to detain me."

"Have I not? I swear, if you do not hear and abide by what I say,
your father's soul will remain forever in purgatory, where it justly
belongs."

"How dare you make so miserable a threat?" said the calm, clear voice
of Mary, who had approached unobserved.

"Cursed believer in a cursed creed, what do you here? Begone, or dread
the vengeance I shall surely inflict on so blasphemous and damnable a
heretic!"

Winding her arm tightly about Florence's waist, she
replied--"'Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord. I will repay;' and
though I have never injured you, Padre--even if I had, it ill becomes
a consecrated priest to utter such language, or so madly to give vent
to passion."

"Silence!" thundered the Padre, livid with rage; "I will compass
heaven and earth rather than you shall escape me."

"Come, Florry, this is no place for us now; even the churchyard is not
sacred. Come home."

"Florence, dare you curse your own father?" The girl's lips quivered,
but no sound came forth--she seemed stunned.

"You would usurp the prerogatives of Jehovah, Father Mazzolin; but
your threat is vain. You cannot bless or damn my uncle at will. How
dare you, guilty as you are, hold such impious language?"

For a moment he quailed before the calm, unflinching girl, then
seizing Florence's arm, hoarsely exclaimed: "One more chance I give
you. Florence, I am your brother--your father, my father. On his
death-bed he confessed his sins and discovered his son."

A deep groan burst from Florence's lips, and her slender frame
quivered like a reed in a wintry blast. The Padre laid his head on the
granite slab which covered the remains of Mr. Hamilton, and continued:
"I call God in heaven, and all the saints to witness the truth of what
I say, and if I prove it not, may I sink into perdition. When your
father was yet young, he made the tour of Europe. Traveling in Italy,
he met at Florence a poor but beautiful girl; and she, struck, in
turn, by the handsome face of the stranger, left her humble home,
and listened to the voice of seduction. He remained five months at
Florence, and then suddenly left Italy for his native country, without
apprising the unfortunate woman of his intentions. Hatred succeeded to
love, and she vowed vengeance. That woman was my mother; and when ten
years had passed, she told me my parentage, and made me swear on the
altar of her patron saint that I would fulfil her vow of vengeance.
She died, and I became a priest of Rome, and in time was sent by
my order to Mexico, and thence here to assist my aged and infirm
predecessor. I had in my possession a miniature of my father, and no
sooner had I met him here than I recognized the base being who had
deserted my mother. I kept my peace; but ere he died, he confessed
that one sin--heavier than everything beside--weighed on his
conscience. In the agony and remorse of that hour my mother was
revenged. I told my parentage, and he discovered his child. Feeling
that I was your brother, he bade you remain here, claim my protection,
and follow my advice. But, Florence, hear me--your misery touched my
heart; a kindred feeling for you made me desire to serve you; but I
swear now that if you hear not my voice, and return to the bosom
of our church, your father's soul shall linger in damnation, and my
vengeance shall follow you. You know not my power, and wo to you if
you defy me!"

Had the specter-form of the deceased, leaving the shadowy band of
the spirit-world, risen on the granite slab before them the two girls
could not have been more startled. Tightly they clung one to another,
their eyes riveted on the face of the Padre. There was a long pause;
then Florence lifted herself proudly up, and cold and haughty was her
tone: "It is not for me to deny your statement. If my father sinned,
peace to his memory, and may God forgive him. One so sinful and
malignant as yourself cannot be invested with divine prerogatives.
I have known your intentions with regard to myself since the hour
I knelt in confession. I was destined for a convent, and I tacitly
acquiesced in your plans, hoping that so secluded from the world I
should be comparatively happy; but my feelings are changed on many
points, and any further interference from you will be received with
the scorn it merits. No love for me actuates your movements, else you
would have spared me the suffering of this hour."

"You defy me, then?"

Florence had turned away, and heeded not his question; but Mary,
clasping her hands, looked appealingly in his face; "Oh, Padre, by the
tie which you declare exists between yourself and Florry--for the sake
of your lost parent--do not put your threat in execution. Spare an
unprotected orphan. You will not harm your sister!"

"Know you not, girl, that when a Jesuit priest takes the oath of his
order, he tears his heart from his breast and lays it at the feet of
his superior? Appeal not to ties of relationship: we repudiate them,
and pity is unknown among us."

With a shudder Mary joined her cousin, and rapidly and in perfect
silence they retraced their steps homeward. When they reached their
gate, Mary would have opened it, but her cousin, taking her hand, led
the way to their old seat beside the river.

Florence seated herself as near the water as possible, and then
tightly clasping the hand she held, asked in a voice of suppressed
emotion; "Tell me, Mary, is there a purgatory?"

"No, Florry; I think there is less foundation for that doctrine than
any advanced by your church."

"Mary, you speak truth, and all that you say I can implicitly believe.
Tell me what grounds support the theory?"

"You remember the words of our Saviour. 'All sin shall be forgiven,
save blasphemy of the Holy Ghost; that shall not be forgiven, either
in this world or the next.' Now Papists argue in this way: Then other
sins can be forgiven in another world; there is no sin in heaven, in
hell no forgiveness, consequently, there must exist a middle place,
or, in other words, a purgatory. Florry, you smile, yet I assure you I
have seen this advanced as unanswerable. In the book of Maccabees is a
very remarkable passage authorizing prayers for the dead, and on this
passage they build their theory and sanction their practise. Yet you
know full well it is one of the Apocryphal books rejected by the Jews,
because not originally written in their language. It was never quoted
by our Saviour, nor even received as inspired by your own church
till the Council of Trent, when it was admitted to substantiate the
doctrine of purgatory, and sanction prayers for the dead. I admit that
on this point St. Augustine's practise was in favor of it; though it
was only near the close of his long life that he speaks of the soul
of his mother. Yet already history informs us that the practise of
praying for the dead was gaining ground in the church, along with
image worship. St. Cyprian, who lived long before him, and during
a purer state of the church, leaves no doubt on our minds as to his
sentiments on this subject; his words are these: 'When ye depart
hence, there will be no room for repentance--no method of being
reconciled to God. Here eternal life is either lost or won. Here,
by the worship of God, and the fruit of faith, provision is made for
eternal salvation. And let no man be retarded, either by his sins or
years, from coming to obtain it. No repentance is too late while a man
remains in this world.' Our Saviour nowhere gives any encouragement
for such a doctrine. On the contrary, he said to the dying thief:
'This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.' I know of no other
argument which Papists advance in favor of their darling theory, save
the practise of the latter Fathers of their church."

"Mary, I cannot believe this doctrine, without further proof of Divine
sanction."

"Indeed, Florry, I know of no other reason in its favor, and have long
supposed it a system of extortion in connection with indulgences, now
used, only as a means of gain by the dissolute clergy of the Romish
faith. I need scarcely say, that the abuse of this latter doctrine
drove Luther to reformation. It is a well-known fact, that in the 16th
century, Tetzel, a Dominican monk high in his order, drove through
Germany in a wagon, containing two boxes--one holding indulgences,
the other the money received for them. You will smile, Florry, when I
repeat a translation of the German lines Written on the outside of the
latter box:

  "'When in this chest the money rings,
  The soul straight up to heaven springs.'"

Yet the boldness and audacity of his general language was quite in
accordance: 'Indulgences,' said he, 'are the most precious of God's
gifts. I would not exchange my privileges for those of St. Peter in
heaven; for I have saved more souls with my indulgences than he with
all his sermons. There is no sin so great that the indulgence will not
remit it. Even repentance is not necessary. Indulgences save the dead;
for the very moment the money chinks against the bottom of this chest,
the soul escapes from purgatory, and flies to heaven,'

"Yet this inquisitor was high in favor with Pope Leo X. You will
say, Florry, that the abuse of a doctrine should be no test of its
soundness; and I admit that had he received the punishment he so
richly merited it would not; yet this is only one instance among
many. We have conversed on the doctrines of the Romish faith merely as
theories, should we not now look at the practise? We need not go very
far. When Aunt Fanny expressed surprise on seeing our Mexican shepherd
eat meat last Friday, did he not reply in extenuation, 'I have paid
the priest and can eat meat'? Now if it was necessary for him to
abstain previously, could the small sum paid to the Padre exempt him
from the duty? Again we see the working of the system: was not Herrara
scrupulously exact on the same point? yet he rose from the table and
told a most positive lie. With regard to indulgences, there is not
a Papist who will admit that they are a license to sin. The voice of
history declares that 'a regular scale for absolution was graded,' and
the fact is authenticated by a recent traveler, who asserts that
in the chancel of Santa Croce, at Rome, is hung a catalogue of the
indulgences granted to all who worship in that church. Yet your
priests will tell you they are the remission of sins already
committed. Did not Herrara say, 'I have paid the Padre and can eat
meat'? Now I ask you if this is not a license to commit what would
otherwise be considered a heinous offense by all devout Papists?"

"Relying implicitly on what the Padre asserted, Mary, I have never
investigated these subjects as I should have done, before giving my
credence and support; but of the doctrine in question I can henceforth
entertain but one opinion--a detestable and infamous method of filling
the papal coffers; for since you have led me to think on this subject,
I clearly remember that a large portion of the enormous expense
incurred by the building, ornamenting, and repairing of St. Peter's,
was defrayed by money obtained through the sale of indulgences.
Oh, Mary, how could I have been so deluded--allowed myself to be so
deceived!" She took from her pocket the rosary and crucifix which had
been given to her father, and threw them impatiently into the river
gurgling at her feet.

"The perfect harmony with which the entire system works is
unparalleled in the civil, religious, or political annals of the
world. A complete espionage is exercised in papal countries, from the
Adriatic to the Californian gulf. And the greater portion of this is
accomplished by means of the confessional. The Superior at Rome
can become, at pleasure, as perfectly conversant with your domestic
arrangements, and the thousand incidents which daily occur, as you or
I, who are cognizant of them. To what is all this tending? Ah,
Florry, look at the blood-stained records of the past. The voices of
slaughtered thousands, borne to us across the waste of centuries, bid
us remember the Duke of Alva, the Albigensian crusade, the massacre of
St. Bartholomew, and the blazes of Smithfield. Ignatius Loyola! happy
would it have been for millions lost, and millions yet to be, hadst
thou perished at the siege of Pampeluna. Florry, contrast Italy and
Germany, Spain and Scotland, and look at Portugal, and South America,
and Mexico, and oh, look at this benighted town! A fairer spot by
nature the face of earth cannot boast; yet mark the sloth, the penury,
the degradation of its people, the misery that prevails. And why?
Because they languish under the iron rule of the papal see--iron,
because it admits of no modification. Entire supremacy over both body
and soul, or total annihilation of their power. May the time speedily
come when they shall spurn their oppressors, and trample their yoke
in the dust, as their transatlantic brethren will ultimately do. Oh,
Florry, does not your heart yearn toward benighted Italy? Italy, once
so beautiful and noble--once the acknowledged mistress of the world,
as she sat in royal magnificence enthroned on her seven hills; now a
miserable waste, divided between petty sovereigns, and a by-word for
guilt and degradation! The glorious image lies a ruin at our feet: for
the spirit that gave beauty and strength, and shed a halo of splendor
round its immortal name, has fled afar, perhaps forever; banished
by the perfidious system of Papacy--that sworn foe to liberty,
ecclesiastical or political.

"How incomprehensible the apathy with which the English regard the
promulgation of Puseyism in their church! It is stealing silently but
swiftly to the very heart of their ecclesiastical institutions,
and total subversion will ultimately ensue. That Americans should
contemplate without apprehension the gradual increase of papal power
is not so astonishing, for this happy land has never groaned beneath
its iron sway. But that the descendants of Latimer and of Ridley, of
Hooper and of Cranmer, should tamely view the encroachments of this
monster hydra, is strange indeed. Do not imagine, Florry, that I doubt
the sincerity of all who belong to the Church of Rome. I know and
believe that there are many earnest and conscientious members--of this
there cannot be a doubt; yet it is equally true, that the most
devoted Papists are to be found among the most ignorant, bigoted,
and superstitious of men. The masses of your church are deceived with
pretended miracles and wondrous legends, such as the one currently
reported respecting the holy house of Loretto, which seems so
migratory, and flies hundreds of miles in a night. These marvelous
tales are credited by the uneducated; yet no enlightened man or woman
of the present age, who has fully investigated this subject, can say
with truth that they conscientiously believe the doctrines of the
Romish Church to be those taught by our Saviour, or its practises in
accordance with the general tenor of the Bible. This may seem a
broad assertion, yet none who calmly consider the subject in all its
bearings, and consult the page of history, will pronounce it a hasty
one."

"Yet remember, Mary, that the sect in question is proverbial for
charitable institutions. One vital principle is preserved. Surely
this is a redeeming virtue. Catholics are untiring in schemes of
benevolence and philanthropy."

"You will start, and perhaps condemn me, when I reply, that their
boasted charity is but the mask behind which they disseminate the
doctrines of the Romish Church. I may appear very uncharitable in
the expression of this opinion; yet hear me, Florry; facts are
incontrovertible. If you will think a moment, you cannot fail to
remember Patrick, the porter at our friend Mrs. D----'s. Having
received a dangerous wound in his foot, he was sent to the hospital,
where several of the nurses were Sisters of Charity. He remained
nearly a month, and on his return related to Mrs. D----, in my
presence, some of the circumstances of his long illness. His words
made a lasting impression on my mind:

"'Indeed, and I am glad enough to come home, ma'am; for never was I
treated worse in my life. The first week Sister Agnes, who nursed
in my room, was kind and tender as could be, and thought I, if ever
angels come to earth, this good woman is one; but I can tell ye I did
not think so long: she read some saints' lives to us, and asked me if
I was a Catholic. I said no, I was no Catholic. Then she tried every
way to make me one, and told me if I refused I would surely die and go
to purgatory. Faith! the more she talked that way the more I wouldn't
be a Catholic; and then she just let me alone, and not another thing
would she do for me. I might call from then till now, and never a step
would she come, or nurse me a bit. It is no good care of hers that has
brought me back alive and well: I tell you, Sister Agnes won't do for
any but Catholics.'

"Florry, is such charity akin to that taught by the Bible? Catholics
boast of their asylums; and by means of fairs and suppers, large
amounts are annually collected for the support of these numerous
institutions. I have been told by a directress of a Protestant orphan
asylum, that on one occasion a squalid woman, accompanied by two boys,
presented herself and entreated that her children might be received
into the asylum. The unhappy mother informed the directress that she
was a Roman Catholic, and had claimed the protection of her own sect;
but, said she, tearfully, 'Indeed I had no money to pay for their
entrance, and they refused to take my children.'

"Such, Florry, is their boasted charity; and I might add, their lives
are little in accordance with the spirit inculcated by our Saviour,
who said, 'When ye do your alms, let not your left hand know what your
right hand doeth.' There are thousands who daily dispense charities
of various kinds; yet they do not term themselves Sisters of Charity;
neither promenade the streets in a garb so antiquated and peculiar
as to excite attention, or elicit encomiums on their marvelously holy
lives and charitable deeds. Do not suppose, Florry, because I speak
thus, that I doubt the sincerity of all who enroll themselves as
Sisters. I do believe that there are many pious and conscientious
women thus engaged; yet they are but tools of the priests, and by them
placed in these institutions for the purpose of making proselytes."

A pause ensued, and Florence paced slowly along the bank. Somewhat
abruptly she replied:

"Yet you will admit, Mary, that we owe much to the monks, by whose
efforts light and knowledge were preserved during the dark ages? But
for them every vestige of literature, every record of the past, would
inevitably have been lost."

"Tell me, Florry, what caused the dark ages? Was it not the gradual
withdrawal of light and knowledge--the crushing, withering influence
exerted on the minds of men? And tell me if this influence was not
wielded by the priests of Rome--corrupted, fallen Rome? During the
dark period in question, papal power was at its height; the thunders
of the Vatican were echoed from the Adriatic to the Atlantic--from the
Mediterranean to the North Sea. An interdict of its profligate Pope
clothed cities, and kingdoms, and empires in mourning; the churches
were closed, the dead unburied, and no rite, save that of baptism,
performed. Ignorance and superstition reigned throughout the world;
and it is said, that in the ninth century scarce a person was to
be found in Rome itself who knew even the alphabet. Yet monasteries
crowned every eminence, and dotted the vales of southern Europe. The
power of the priesthood was supreme. Florry, I do admit that what
remained of light and learning was hid in the cell of the anchorite;
not disseminated, but effectually concealed. They forgot our Saviour's
injunction--'Let your light shine before men.' Oh! Florry, did not the
teachers of the dark ages put their light under a bushel? Dark ages
will ever follow the increase of papal power. It is part of their
system to keep the masses in ignorance. How truly it has been said
that Rome asked but one thing, and that Luther denied her--'A fulcrum
of ignorance on which to rest that lever by which she can balance the
world.' They dare not allow their people light and knowledge; and what
to others was indeed a dark age, is regarded by the priests of Rome as
a golden season. Can you point to a single papal country which is not
enveloped in the black cloud of superstition and crime? To Italy, and
Spain, and Portugal, the dark ages have not passed away; neither will
they, till liberty of conscience is allowed, and the Bible permitted
in the hands of the laity. Under papal rule, those unfortunate nations
will never rise from their degradation; for their masters and teachers
'love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.'
It has often been said by those who fail properly to consider this
subject, that the Roman Catholic schools and colleges which abound in
the United States are far superior to similar Protestant institutions.
Why do not these very superior teachers disseminate knowledge at
home? Why do they not first enlighten the Spaniards ere they cross the
Atlantic to instruct American pupils? The ignorance of Neapolitans
is proverbial; yet Naples is the peculiarly favored city of Romanism.
Tell me why these learned professors do not teach their own people?
Florry, papal institutions in America are but branches of the
Propaganda. They but come to proselyte. I have heard it repeatedly
averred of a certain nunnery, 'that no efforts were made to affect the
religious views of the pupils.' Yet I know that such is not the case.
They are far too politic openly to attack the religion; yet
secretly it is undermined. I will tell you how, Florry, for you look
wonderingly at me. Prizes are awarded for diligence, and application;
and these prizes are books, setting forth in winning language the
doctrines of their church. I have seen one of these which was given
to M---- K----, and I also read it most carefully. It was titled
'Alethea; or, a Defense of Catholic Doctrines.' Yet most indignantly
they deny any attempts toward proselyting the pupils intrusted to
their care."

"Who will deny the truth of your statements, Mary! Yet, if such are
the facts, how can the world be so utterly ignorant of, or indifferent
to them? Strange that they can thus regard a subject so fraught with
interest to every lover of liberty--to every patriot."

"Florry, Papists are unacquainted with these things; for, begirt with
darkening, crushing influence, they are effectually secluded from even
a wandering ray of light on this subject. The avenue through which all
information is conveyed at the present day is barred to them. Books
are denied to the Catholic laity. You may ask how this is effected in
this enlightened and liberal age. The prelates of Rome, who long ago
resorted to ignorance as their bulwark, are ever on the alert. No
sooner is a new publication announced, than it is most carefully
perused by them; and if calculated to point out the fallacy of their
doctrines, or depict their abuse of power, a papal bull is forthwith
issued, prohibiting all Catholics from reading the heretical book.
The writings of the prince of novelists, Walter Scott, which are
universally read by other sects, are peremptorily refused to all
Papists. And why? Because many of his darts are aimed at their
profligate priesthood. Now if, as they tell their people, these are
but slanderous attacks on their religion, surely the shafts would fall
harmless on the armor of truth. Why then so strenuously oppose their
reading such works? Florry, the trite adage, 'Truth is the hardest of
all to bear,' is applicable to these prelates of papacy; who, knowing
their danger, are fully resolved to guard the avenues of light and
knowledge. The Pope of imperial Rome, surrounded as he is with luxury,
magnificence, and hosts of scarlet-liveried cardinals, who stand in
readiness to convey his mandates to the remotest corners of the earth,
has been made to tremble on his throne by the pen of feeble woman. The
truthful delineations of Charlotte Elizabeth startled his Holiness
of the Vatican, and the assistant conclave of learned cardinals are
trembling lest their laity of the Green Isle should catch a glimpse
of light. A bull was quickly fulminated against her heretical
productions. Alas! when, when will the Romish Church burst the iron
bands which begirt her?

"The world at large--I mean the world as composed of Protestants,
latitudinarians, politicians, statesmen, and fashionable dunces,
are in a great measure acquainted with these facts; but knowing the
rapidly increasing power of papal Rome, and the vast influence already
wielded in this happy land by its priesthood, they prefer to float
along with the tide, rather than vigorously resist this blasting
system of ignorance, superstition, and crime which, stealthily
approaching from the east and from the west, will unite and crush the
liberties of our glorious Republic. As patriots, they are called on
to oppose strenuously its every encroachment--yet they dare not; for
should they venture to declaim against its errors, they endanger
their popularity and incur the risk of defeat at an ensuing election.
Florry, I was once conversing on this subject with a lady who had
recently visited Europe, and inquired of her if she had not marked the
evils and abuses which existed in the papal dominions through which
she traveled. She whisperingly replied--'Certainly, my dear, I could
not fail to mark the ignorance and degradation which prevailed, but
I never speak of it, because, you know, it makes one very unpopular,'
Here, Florry, you have the clew to the mystery. Americans quietly
contemplate this momentous subject, and silently view the abuses which
are creeping into our communities, because if they expose them, it is
at the hazard of becoming unpopular,"

"Mary, can I ever, ever forget that hour in the churchyard?" Florence
sadly said, as they rose and proceeded to the house. "Oh! it seems
branded on my brain; yet I must cast this new grief from me, for
enough of anguish was mine before. Still I feel that there is a path
just ahead, and it seems lighted up. But a slight barrier intervenes,
and when that is passed all will be well. Pray for me, Mary, that I
may be enabled to lead the life of a Christian, and at last die the
death of the righteous."

Clasping tightly the hand which rested in her own, Mary replied:

"While life remains, it shall indeed be my prayer that you may be
blessed on earth, and rewarded in heaven. Oh, Florry, I thank God that
the scales have fallen from your eyes, and that truth shines brightly
before you." She stopped suddenly, and pressed her hand to her side,
while the pale brow wrinkled with pain.

"I have been talking too much, there is a suffocating sensation here."

"It is only momentary, I hope."

Mary shook her head, and smiled sadly: "I don't know, Florry; I have
felt strangely of late."

That evening as the household were busily preparing for their intended
departure, Dr. Bryant abruptly entered, and informed them, with a
clouded brow, that removal was impossible, as he could not procure a
pair of horses for any price.

"It is perfectly unaccountable what has possessed the Mexican from
whom I purchased as many as I thought necessary. We agreed as to
price, and they were to be sent this afternoon; but about two hours
ago, he came to me, and declared that he had changed his mind, and
would not part with them. I offered double the original amount, but he
said money was no inducement. I strove to borrow or hire for any
given time, but every proposal was peremptorily declined, and as it is
impossible to leave here, I came over to entreat you to remain with
my sister, at least for a few days, till we can determine what is
advisable to do."

His proposal was accepted, and the ensuing day saw them inmates of
Mrs. Carlton's.



CHAPTER XIX.

  "We're the sons of sires that baffled
    Crowned and mitered tyranny:
  They defied the field and scaffold
    For their birth-rights--so will we!"

  CAMPBELL.


The issue of the engagement of the 8th October placed Goliad, with
valuable munitions, in the hands of the Texans. Many and joyous
acclamations rose from their camp, hope beamed on every face, and
sanguine expectations were entertained of a speedy termination of the
conflict. Slowly the little band proceeded toward Bexar, receiving
daily accessions from headquarters, and girding themselves for a
desperate struggle. General Cos, fully appreciating the importance
of the post he held, made active preparation for its defense, never
doubting, however, that the strong fortifications of the Alamo would
prove impregnable to assailants so feeble numerically. Under the
direction of the cautious Spaniard, the town already assumed a
beleaguered aspect, and in addition to the watchman stationed on the
observatory of the fortress, a sentinel paced to and fro on the flat
roof of the gray old church, having orders to give instant alarm in
case of danger by the ringing of the several bells. Silver-haired men,
bending beneath the weight of years, alone passed along the deserted
streets, and augured of the future in the now silent Plaza. The stores
were closed, and anxiously the few Americans awaited the result;
rising at dawn with the belief that ere twilight closed again their
suspense would be terminated. On the morning of the 28th the booming
of distant artillery was borne on the southern breeze. With throbbing
hearts the inhabitants gathered about their doors, and strained their
eyes toward the south. A large body of Mexicans, availing themselves
of the cover of night, sallied from the Alamo, hoping to cut off a
squad of ninety-two men, who, leaving the main body of the Texan army,
had advanced for the purpose of reconnoitering, and were posted at the
old Mission of Conception, some two miles below the town; and here
the contest was waged. The watchman on the church listened intently
as each report reached his ear, and kept his fingers firmly on
the bell-rope. An hour passed on, and the sun rode high in heaven;
gradually the thundering died away. Quicker grew the breathing, and
tighter the cold fingers clasped each other. The last sound ceased: a
deathlike silence reigned throughout the town, and many a cheek
grew colorless as marble. There came a confused sound of shouts--the
mingling of many voices--the distant tramp of cavalry; and then there
fell on the aching ears the deep, thrilling tones of the church bells.

An intervening bend in the river was quickly passed, and a body of
Mexican cavalry dashed at full gallop across the plain, nor slackened
their pace till secure behind the somber walls of the Alamo.

At intervals of every few moments, small squads pushed in, then a
running band of infantry, and lastly a solitary horseman, reeling in
his saddle, dripping with gore. Madly his wounded horse sprung on,
when just as the fort was gained, his luckless rider rolled senseless
at the entrance. One deep groan was echoed from church to fortress.
Victory, which had hovered doubtful o'er the bloody field, settled at
last on the banner of the "Lone Star." Against what fearful odds is
victory ofttimes won! The intrepid Texans, assaulted by forces which
trebled their own, fought as only Texans can. With unerring precision
they lifted their rifles, and artillerymen and officers rolled
together in the dust. The brave little band conquered, and the flying
Mexicans left them sole masters of the field of the "Horseshoe." On
the hill which rose just beyond the town stood, in bold relief against
the eastern sky, a tall square building, to which the sobriquet of
"Powder-House" was applied. Here, as a means of increased vigilance,
was placed a body of horse, for the purpose of watching the plain
which stretched along the river. Fearing every moment to see the
victorious Texans at the heels of their retreating infantry, they had
orders to dash in, at the first glimpse of the advance-guard of the
enemy. But night closed and none appeared, and, dreading the morning
light, many lay down to sleep at the close of that eventful day.
Several hours elapsed, and then the Texan forces, under General
Burleson, wound across the valley, and settled along the verge of the
town. The Alamo was beleaguered.

Forced, as it were, to remain a witness of the horrors of the then
approaching conflict, the cousins strove to cast from them the gloomy
forebodings which crept into their hearts, darkening the present and
investing the future with phantoms of terror. Mrs. Carlton and Mary
were far more hopeful than the remainder of the little circle,
and kept up the semblance of cheerfulness, which ever flies at the
approach of danger. The girls saw but little of the gentlemen, for Mr.
Carlton was ever out in search of tidings from the camp, and Frank,
in opposition to his sister's tearful entreaties, had enlisted
immediately after General Burleson's arrival. His manner, during his
brief visits, was considerate and kind; yet Mary fancied at times
that he avoided her, though, marking her declining health, he had
prescribed some simple remedy, and never failed to inquire if she were
not improving. Still there was a certain something, indescribable, yet
fully felt, which made her shrink from meeting him, and as week after
week passed, her cheek grew paler, and her step more feeble.

With an anxious heart, Mrs. Carlton watched her failing strength; but
to all inquiries and fears Mary replied that she did not suffer, save
from her cough, and for a time dispelled her apprehensions.

One evening Mary stood leaning against the window, looking earnestly,
wistfully upon the beautiful tints which ever linger in the western
sky. She stretched her arms toward the dim outline, murmuring slowly:

"Oh! that my life may fade away as gently as those tints, and that I
may at last rest on the bosom of my God."

Darkness closed around--the soft hues melted into the deep blue of the
zenith as she stood communing with her own heart, and she started when
a shawl was wrapped about her, and the window closed.

"As ministering physician, I cannot allow such neglect of injunctions.
How dare you expose yourself after my express direction to keep
close?"

"I have kept very closely all day, and did not know that star-gazing
was interdicted."

As she spoke, a violent fit of coughing succeeded; he watched her
anxiously.

"Do you suffer any acute pain?"

"Occasionally I do; but nothing troubles me so much as an unpleasant
fluttering about my heart, which I often have."

"You must be very careful, or your cough will increase as winter comes
on."

Mary repressed a sigh which struggled up from her heart, and inquired
if there was any news.

"We cannot learn exactly what is transpiring within the Alamo, but
feel assured the crisis is at hand; some excitement has prevailed in
the garrison all day, and it is confidently expected in our camp that
the assault will soon be made."

"Oh! may God help you in the coming strife, and adjudge victory to the
side of justice and liberty."

"Apparently the chances are against us, Miss Irving; yet I regard the
future without apprehension, for the Texans are fearless, and General
Burleson in every respect worthy the confidence reposed in him. Allow
gloomy forebodings no room in your heart, but, like myself anticipate
a speedy termination of the war."

"Yet your situation is perilous in the extreme; hourly you incur
danger, and each day may be your last. Oh! why will you hazard your
life, and cause your sister such bitter anguish?" Mary replied, with
quivering lips, while the tone faltered, despite her efforts to seem
calm.

"At least, I could not die in a better cause; and, as the price of
independence, I would willingly yield up my life. Yet Ellen's tears
are difficult to bear; I bade her adieu a few moments since, and must
not meet her again till all is decided. So good-by, Miss Irving."

He held her hand in his, pressing it warmly, then lifted the cold
fingers to his lips, and quietly turned away.



CHAPTER XX.

  "It rains--what lady loves a rainy day?
  She loves a rainy day who sweeps the hearth,
  And threads the busy needle, or applies
  The scissors to the torn or threadbare sleeve;
  And blesses God that she has friends and home."

  ANON.


"Mary, where is your cousin? I have not seen her since breakfast,"
inquired Mrs. Carlton, as the two friends sat conversing in the
chamber of the latter.

"She laid aside her book just now, declaring it was so dark she
could scarcely read. This gloomy day has infected her spirits; she is
probably in the dining-room. I will seek her." And rising, Mary left
the apartment.

For two days the rain had fallen in torrents, and now on the third
morning, the heavens were still overcast, and at intervals of every
few moments the heavy clouds discharged themselves in copious showers.
The despondency induced by the unsettled times was enhanced by the
gloomy weather, and many an earnest wish was expressed that sunshine
would soon smile again upon the town.

Weary with pacing up and down the dining-room, Florence had stationed
herself at the window, and stood with her cheek pressed against the
panes, gazing dreamily out upon the deluged streets. She was roused
from her reverie by Mary's entrance.

"Florry, I have come in quest of you. Pray, how are you amusing
yourself here, all alone?"

"Communing with my own thoughts, as usual. Here, Mary, stand beside
me. As you came in I was puzzling myself to discover how those
Mexican women across the street are employing themselves. They
seem distressed, yet every now and then chatter with most perfect
unconcern. There, they are both on their knees, with something like a
picture hanging on the fence before them. They dart in and out of the
house in a strange, excited manner. Perhaps you can enlighten me?"

Mary looked earnestly in the direction indicated by her cousin, and at
length replied:

"You will scarcely credit my explanation: yet I assure you I perfectly
understand the pantomime. Florry, look more particularly at the
picture suspended in the rain. What does it most resemble, think you?"

"Ah, I see now--it is an image of the Virgin! But I should suppose
they considered it sacrilegious to expose it to the inclemencies of
the weather."

"Look closely, Florry, there are praying to the Virgin, and imploring
a cessation of the rain. I once happened at Señor Gonzale's during a
thunder-storm, and, to my astonishment, the family immediately
hung out all the paintings of saints they possessed. I inquired the
meaning, and was told in answer, that the shower would soon pass over,
as they had petitioned the images to that effect. Those women have
repeated a certain number of aves, and withdrawn into the house, but
ere long you will see them return, and go through the same formula."

"It is almost incredible that they should ascribe such miraculous
power to these little bits of painted canvas," replied Florence,
gazing curiously upon the picture which was suspended with the face
toward her.

"No, not incredible, when you remember the quantity of relics annually
exported from Rome, such as 'chips of the Cross,' 'bones of the
Apostles,' and 'fragments of the Virgin's apparel,' which Papists
conscientiously believe are endowed with magical powers sufficient to
relieve various infirmities. I doubt not that those women confidently
expect a favorable response to their petition; and if such
intercession could avail, it was certainly never more needed. Absurd
as the practise appears to us, a doubt of the efficacy of their
prayers never crossed their minds. They are both devout and
conscientious."

"But, Mary, such superstitious ignorance is entirely confined to the
degraded and uneducated classes. No really intelligent mind could rely
on yonder picture to dispel these clouds, and win a ray of sunshine.
I think you are too hasty in supposing that the enlightened portion
of the Catholic Church place such implicit confidence in images and
relics."

"What do you term the enlightened portion of the church? Would not its
prelates be considered as belonging to that class?"

"Most certainly they would, Mary: for doubtless many of the greatest
minds Europe has produced, were and are still to be found among the
Roman Catholic clergy. Yet you would not insinuate that these rely on
the efficacy of such mummery as that we have just witnessed?" replied
Florence, fixing her eyes inquiringly upon her cousin's face.

"Allow me to ask one question ere I reply. Florry, do you believe the
days of miracles have passed away, or do you suppose that the laws of
nature are still constantly infringed, the harmony of cause and
effect destroyed, and wonderful phenomena still vouchsafed to favored
Europeans?"

"Of course I do not advocate the theory that miracles occur at the
present day. It is too preposterous to advance in this enlightened
age. There are perhaps natural phenomena, only to be explained
by scientific research; yet in the common acceptation of the term
miracle, I unhesitatingly declared that I believe none have occurred
since the days of Christ and the Apostles."

"Then, Florry, your position is untenable, for Romish prelates of the
present day do most unquestionably defend the theory of the annual
occurrence of miracles. Bishop ----, whose intellectual endowments are
the constant theme of encomiums, has recently visited Italy. On
his return to America, he brought with him a valuable collection of
relics, which he distributed among the members of his church. Florry,
I can vouch for the truth of what I now say. He declared himself
extremely fortunate in having happened at Naples during the
anniversary of the death of St. Janarius. Said he, 'I repaired to the
place of his martyrdom, and took into my own hand the vial containing
the blood of the blessed saint, now decomposed. As the hour rolled
around I watched the holy dust in breathless anxiety; at the appointed
moment I perceived a change in its appearance, and while I held the
vial in my hand the ashes liquefied and became veritable blood; while
the dark spots on a neighboring stone turned of a deep crimson.' Now
the bishop related this miracle far and wide and priests ministering
at the altar repeated his words to their listening flocks. Sanctioned
by the example of their prelates, do you wonder that the ignorant
masses of the Romish church should implicitly rely upon the
intercession of saints, and place unbounded confidence in the
miraculous powers imputed to relics? Again, the Manuals placed in
the hands of the laity, are compiled under the special supervision of
these ecclesiastical professors, who necessarily indorse all we see
there advanced. In the Ursuline Manual I find this assertion: 'The
Hail Mary was composed in Heaven, dictated by the Holy Ghost, and
delivered to the faithful by the Angel Gabriel!' Now, Florry, does
not this seem blasphemy, bordering on the absurd? What conscientious,
honest, enlightened Christian would unblushingly defend such a
declaration?"

"But, Mary, admitting as you do, that you believe there exist
many truly conscientious members of this sect, why indulge your
apprehension at the promulgation of its tenets?" replied Florence.

"I might answer you, Florry, in the words of Henry IV., who inquired
of a celebrated Protestant divine, 'if a man might be saved by the
Roman Catholic religion?' 'Undoubtedly,' replied the clergyman, 'if
his life and heart be holy.' 'Then,' said the king, 'according to both
Catholics and Protestants, I may be saved by the Catholic religion;
but if I embrace your religion, I shall not be saved according to the
Catholics.' Thus Henry most unquestionably adjudged Protestants the
more tolerant of the two sects. Here, Florry, you have the clew to
my anti-Romanism. I fear the extension of papal doctrines, because
liberty of conscience was never yet allowed where sufficient power was
vested in the Roman Catholic clergy to compel submission. To preserve
the balance of power in ecclesiastical affairs is the only aim of
Protestants. We but contend for the privilege of placing the Bible in
the hands of the masses--of flashing the glorious flambeau of truth
into the dark recesses of ignorance and superstition--into the abysmal
depths of papal iniquity. Unscrupulously employing every method
conducive to the grand end of disseminating Romish dogmas, the
fagot, the wheel, and all the secret horrors of the Inquisition, were
speedily brought to bear upon all who dared to assume the privilege of
worshiping God according to the dictates of an unfettered conscience.
If the bloody tragedies of the Middle Ages are no longer enacted upon
the theater of a more enlightened world, it is because the power so
awfully abused has been wrested from the scarlet-robed tenants of the
Vatican, The same fierce, intolerable tyranny is still exercised where
their jurisdiction is unquestioned. From the administration of the
pontifical states of Italy to the regulation of convent discipline, we
trace the workings of the same iron rule. No barriers are too mighty
to be overborne, no distinctions too delicate to to be thrust rudely
aside. Even the sweet sacredness of the home circle is not exempt from
the crushing, withering influence. Ah! how many fair young members of
the household band have been decoyed from the hearthstone and immured
in gloomy cells. Ah! how many a widowed parent has mourned over the
wreck of all that was beautiful in a cherished daughter, snatched by
the hand of bigotry from her warm embrace, and forever incarcerated
in monastic gloom. Oh! tell me, Florry, if compulsory service is
acceptable to all-seeing God? If the warm young heart, beating behind
many a convent grate, yearns to burst asunder the iron bands which
enthrall her, and, mingling again upon the stage of life to perform
the duties for which she was created, oh! where in holy writ is
sanction found for the tyrannical decree which binds her there
forever--a living sacrifice?"



CHAPTER XXI.


  "'Tis the light that tells the dawning
    Of the bright millennial day,
  Heralding its blessed morning,
    With its peace-restoring ray.

         *       *       *       *       *

  "Man no more shall seek dominion
    Through a sea of human gore;
  War shall spread its gloomy pinion
    O'er the peaceful earth no more."

  BURLEIGH.

It was a dark, tempestuous night in December, and the keen piercing
blasts whistled around the corners and swept moaningly across the
Plaza. Silence reigned over the town. No sound of life was heard--the
shout of laughter, the shriek of pain, or wail of grief was stilled.
The voices of many who had ofttimes hurried along the now silent and
deserted streets were hushed in death. The eventful day had dawned
and set, the records of its deeds borne on to God by the many that
had fallen. Oh! when shall the millennium come? When shall peace and
good-will reign throughout the world? When shall hatred, revenge,
and malice die? When shall the fierce, bitter strife of man with
fellow-man be ended? And oh! when shall desolating war forever cease,
and the bloody records of the past be viewed as monster distortions of
a maddened brain? These things shall be when the polity of the world
is changed. When statesmen cease their political, and prelates their
ecclesiastical intrigues; when monarch, and noble, and peasant, alike
cast selfishness and dissimulation far from them; when the Bible is
the text-book of the world, and the golden rule observed from pole to
pole.

The 11th of December is marked with a white stone in the calendar of
the Texans. During the fortnight which elapsed from the engagement of
Conception, the Alamo had been closely invested by General Burleson,
and brief though bloody struggles almost daily occurred. The besiegers
numbered only eight hundred, while the fortress was garrisoned by
twenty-five hundred Mexican troops. Yet well-directed valor has ever
proved more than a match for numerical superiority. On the morning of
the 11th a desperate assault was made, a violent struggle ensued,
and ere long victory declared for the "Lone Star." With unutterable
chagrin General Cos was forced to dispatch a messenger bearing the
white banner of submission to the Texan commander, and night saw the
Alamo again in Texan hands, and General Cos and his disheartened band
prisoners of war.

Dr. Bryant had received, during the engagement, a wound in the arm,
which he caused to be dressed, and, placing the injured member in a
sling, strove to soothe the dying and relieve the wounded. Early
he dispatched tidings of his safety to his anxious sister, and now
devoted himself to the suffering soldiery. Midnight found him beside
the couch of pain, and even as he bent to administer a sedative, a
hand was lightly laid on his shoulder. Looking up, Frank perceived the
muffled form of a female, though unable to determine who stood beside
him, for the face was entirely concealed by the mantilla.

"Can I do anything for you, Señora?"

"Dr. Bryant, will you leave your people here to see a dying
Mexican--one who fell fighting against you?"

"Most assuredly, if I can render relief; but, Inez, you should not
have ventured here on such an errand; could no messenger be found? It
was imprudent in you to come at this hour."

"No matter; I felt no fear of your people, and mine would not molest
me. But I have little time to wait. Mañuel is sorely wounded: we bore
him from the Alamo, and he lies at my father's. Can you do nothing for
him?"

"I hope it is not too late to render assistance; we will go
immediately." And drawing his cloak over the wounded arm, he followed
her to Don Garcia's. Neither spoke till they reached the threshold;
then Frank said:

"Inez, does Mañuel know you came for me?"

"Yes; he objected at first, but as the pain grew more acute, he begged
us to do something for him. I told him there was none to help save
you. He frowned a little, but nodded his head, and then I lost no
time."

They entered the apartment of the sufferer, and Inez started at the
change which had taken place during her temporary absence. Mañuel
feebly turned his head as the door opened, and his eyes brightened
as they rested on Inez. He motioned her to sit beside him, and she
complied, lifting his head and carefully leaning it upon her bosom.
Dr. Bryant examined the wound, felt the pulse, and stooping over him,
asked:

"Nevarro, do you suffer much?"

Mañuel laid his hand on the bleeding side, and feebly inclined his
head.

"Inez, I can only use one hand, will you assist me in binding this
wound?"

She attempted to rise, but Nevarro clutched her hand and gasped--"Too
late--too late!"

Resolved to do something, if possible, for his relief, Frank beckoned
to the Don, who stood near, and with some difficulty they succeeded
in passing a bandage round the mouth of the wound. The groans of the
dying man caused even the cheek of the fearless Inez to blanch. She
who scorned danger, and knew not fear, could not witness with out
a pang the sufferings of another. She moaned in very sympathy, and
stroked gently back the straight raven hair, now clotted with blood.
The exertion necessarily made proved fatal; the breathing grew short
and painful, the pulse slow and feeble. Appealing was the look which
the wounded one bent on Inez: he strove to utter his wishes, but,
alas, it was indeed too late. The blood gushed anew from his side,
crimsoning bandage and couch, and dyeing Inez's dress. Dr. Bryant took
one of the cold hands and pressed it kindly. Mañuel opened his eyes,
and looked gratefully on one who had at least endeavored to relieve
him. Convulsively the fingers closed over his physician's hand; again
he turned his face to Inez, and with a groan expired.

Frank took the lifeless form from her arms, and laying it gently back
upon the pillow, closed the eyes forever, and covered the face.

No words, save "Holy Mary!" escaped the Don's lips, as he quitted the
room of death.

Inez's lips Quivered, and the convulsive twitching of her features
plainly indicated her grief at this mournful parting with the playmate
of her youth--with her affianced husband. Yet the large dark eyes were
undimmed: and her tone calm, as though the "King of Terrors" were not
there in all his gloom.

"Inez, I sympathize with you in this affliction, and sincerely regret
that the fatal wound was inflicted by one of my nation. Yet the past
is irretrievable, though painful, and many are, like you, bereft of
friends and relatives. Inez, in your hours of gloom and sadness can
you not think of your reunion with Mañuel, where death and parting are
unknown!"

She had averted her head, and a look of unutterable bitterness rested
on the pale, stern face.

"I thank you for coming; though you could not give Mañuel relief. It
was good and kind in you to try, and none but Frank Bryant would have
done it: again I thank you. I shall not forget this night, and you,
Señor, shall be requited. I trust you are not suffering with your arm;
why is it bound up?" And she laid her hand softly on it.

"I received a slight though rather painful wound during the
engagement, and placed it in a sling for convenience and relief; but,
Inez, it is well-nigh day, see how the stars are waning. You
need rest, so good night, or rather morning; I will see you again
to-morrow." And Frank sought his sister, knowing full well her
anxiety, and wishing speedily to allay it.



CHAPTER XXII.

      "Where is the place of meeting?
  At what hour rises the moon?
  I repair to what? to hold a council in the dark
  With common ruffians leagued to ruin states!"

  BYRON.


The fierce storm of war had swept over the town, and quiet seemed
succeeding. No sound of strife disturbed the stillness which settled
around. Many had fallen, and the grass began to bud on the grave of
Mañuel; no tear moistened the sod beneath which he rested. Inez often
stood beside the newly-raised mound with folded arms, and a desolate,
weary look on her beautiful features, which too plainly indicated
a longing to sleep near him. Yet she never wept; for her love for
Nevarro had been that of a cousin, perhaps not so fervent. Still,
now that his steps no longer echoed at their door, and his deep voice
sounded not again on her ear, a lonely feeling stole into her heart,
and often she crept from her dreary home and sought the churchyard.

Christmas had come and gone; a joyless season to many saddened hearts
accustomed to hail it with delight. The cousins had returned to
their home, and were busily arranging their yard, and making some
alterations for the New Year. Florence had begun of late to grow
cheerful again, and Mary watched, with silent joy, the delicate
tinge come back to her marble cheek. She seemed very calm, and almost
hopeful; and the spirit of peace descended and rested on their hearth.
Only one cause of sorrow remained--Mary's declining health: yet she
faded so gently, and almost painlessly, that their fears were ofttimes
lulled.

Dr. Bryant was still engaged in nursing the wounded, and only came
occasionally, regretting often that it was not in his power to see
them more frequently. A change had come over him of late; the buoyancy
of his spirits seemed broken, and his gay tone of raillery was hushed;
the bright, happy look of former days was gone, and a tinge of sadness
was sometimes perceptible on his handsome face. Mrs. Carlton had
spoken on her last visit of Frank's departure. She said she hoped
he would return soon, as his business required attention at home. He
would not leave, however, as long as his services were in requisition.

One Sabbath morning Inez attended mass--something unusual for her of
late, for since Nevarro's death she had secluded herself as much
as possible. She knelt in her accustomed place, with covered head,
seemingly rapt in devotion, but the eyes rested with an abstracted
expression on the wall beside her: her thoughts were evidently
wandering from her rosary, and now and then the black brows met as her
forehead wrinkled; still the fingers slid with mechanical precision up
and down the string of beads. The services were brief and the few who
had assembled quietly departed. As Inez rose to go, the Padre, who was
hastening down the aisle, was stopped by a Mexican in the garb of a
trader. They stood quite near, and the hoarse whisper of the latter
fell on her listening ear.

"Meet me at the far end of the Alameda, when the moon rises to-night."

"I will be there before you: is there any good news?"

A finger was laid on the lip, and a significant nod and wink were not
lost upon the maiden, who, bowing low before the Padre, walked slowly
away. The day wore on, much as Sabbaths ordinarily do, yet to her it
seemed as though darkness would never fall again, and many times she
looked out on the shadows cast by the neighboring houses athwart
the street. Twilight closed at last, and having placed her father's
evening meal before him, she cautiously gazed down the narrow alley,
and perceiving no one stirring, sallied forth. The stars gave a faint
light, and she hurried on toward the bridge: swift was her step,
yet noiseless, and she glided on like a being from another world,
so stealthy were her movements. The bridge was gained at length and
almost passed, when she descried in the surrounding gloom a dark
figure approaching from the opposite direction. Closer she drew the
mantle about her form, and slackened her rapid pace. They met, and the
stranger paused and bent eagerly forward:

"Who goes there?"

The voice was well known. Inez's heart gave a quick bound, and she
answered:

"Inez de Garcia!"

"Why, where are you roaming to this dark night, Inez? Are you not
afraid to venture out alone and so far from home?"

"No, Doctor, I have no fears; I was never a coward you know; and
besides, who would harm me, an unoffending woman? Surely your people
will not molest me?"

"No, certainly not. But, Inez, I hope you are not bending your steps
toward the Alamo?"

"I am a friend to the Americans, though they have taken the last of my
family there was to give. Yet I will be true to Mary and to you. Fear
nothing for me, and let me pass on my errand."

He stood aside. "Bueño noche, Señorita."

"Bueño noche;" and she glided on. "I fear I have lost time;" and
hastily glancing toward the east, she saw a faint light stealing up
from the horizon. Redoubling her speed she pushed on, but, despite her
efforts, the moon rose with uncommon brilliance as she approached the
place of rendezvous, and soon every object was bathed in a flood of
light.

The Alameda, which she had just entered, was a long double row of
majestic cotton-woods, which, stretching out in the direction of the
Powder-House, was the favorite promenade with the inhabitants of the
town. Previous to the breaking out of the war numbers were to be seen
here every afternoon, some walking, others playing games, another
group dancing, and the graver portion of the company resting on the
rude seats supplied for the purpose. But their favorite resort was
blood-stained, for the Alameda was the battle-field in the late
desperate conflict, and the smooth surface was torn and trampled by
the stamp of prancing cavalry. Dark spots were still visible, that
were yet damp with gore. Just to the west rose the grim walls of the
fort, distinctly seen through the opening between the trees. Beyond
where the avenue ceased, stood a low, irregular building of stone,
thatched with tule.

Inez stood at the threshold and listened intently. The place bore a
desolate air, and neither sound nor light betokened the presence of
a human being. It had long been uninhabited, and some declared it was
haunted, so that the Padre had some time before sprinkled holy water
profusely about, in order to drive away the evil one.

Cautiously Inez tried the fastening; it swerved not beneath her firm,
strong grasp. She shook it slightly: a hollow echo answered back.
Entrance was impossible; and even as she lingered irresolute, the
sound of approaching steps was borne to her listening ears by the
night wind. What should she do? Without a moment's hesitation she
glided swiftly to a cluster of chapperal, and crouched low among its
thorny branches. Inez had scarcely secreted herself, when the figure
of a man, directing his steps to the house she had just left, warned
her to keep quiet. He stood still a moment, then knocked. Drearily the
knock resounded through the empty building. Again was the signal for
admission given, but no response greeted the anxious tympanums.

"Why in the name of twenty devils don't you open the door?" and he
shook it violently: still no answer.

"I swear I'll batter it down, and stretch you on it to boot, if you
don't let me in. Why do you keep me waiting? I am too late already."

"Nay, nay; restrain your impatience," said a voice behind him.

"By the saints, you are come in good time, Padre. I had well-nigh made
a soldier's entrance."

"No need of violence, Señor. Why could not you wait in Christian
patience?"

"Look here, my good friend. I came not all the way from Mexico to
listen to a lecture; and you will do well to save your canting for a
better time and a worse man. So, Mazzolin, just open the door of this
cursed den."

Roused by the bold language of the stranger, the Padre, though anxious
to learn his errand, was still true to his policy, and could in no
measure compromise the dignity of his person.

"There is no obligation resting on me to do so against my will, and no
man shall bully or threaten me, a priest of our holy church." He had
partially opened the door, but closed it again.

Enraged beyond degree, the soldier grasped what little collar was
afforded by the habit he wore.

"You infernal, canting hypocrite! I swear by Cortes I'll kick you to
a jelly--I'll bastinade you till you won't know the Virgin from the
Devil, if you don't instantly let me in, and keep your lying tongue in
your Jesuit head. Think you to gull me with your holy talk? I know you
all: you are a blessed, holy brotherhood, truly. Have I not seen
your letters to Mexico, you canting scoundrel?" He shook the Padre
violently as he delivered this benediction.

Now Father Mazzolin, like many of his sex, was fond of supporting his
dignity, and reverence for his sacred person was especially inculcated
by his teachings. Yet when firmly met his threats melted away, and, to
all appearances, his choler too, for he knew full well when to succumb
and when to oppose belligerent demonstrations. The expression of rage
that darkened the face of the soldier, left no doubt that he would
execute his threat if further opposed. And Father Mazzolin, fully
satisfied that the organ of reverence was altogether omitted in his
cranium, thought it best to comply.

"Ha! you can understand Irish logic as well as the next brave one."
And he entered, followed by the Padre, who ground his teeth with
mortification.

An hour later they stood again on the threshold in earnest converse,
not perceiving the dark form which fled, on the reopening of the door,
to the old hiding-place. They turned to go in different directions;
the stranger stopped, and calling to the Padre, desired him to keep
well the secret, and in no way divulge a breath of their conference.

"It could not be in safer hands," was answered back, and they parted.

A low, bitter laugh escaped Inez's lips as, waiting till it was safe
to venture forth, she rose from the chapperal and hastened homeward.

"Padre, cunning though you are, we are well mated; there are few like
unto you and me."



CHAPTER XXIII.

  "I simply tell thee peril is at hand,
  And would preserve thee!"

  BYRON.

Two days later the cousins sat in their front room, Florence intently
reading, Mary watching beside the couch of pain, bathing her aunt's
brow, and chafing the hands. Aunt Lizzy was suffering from violent
nervous headache: all day she had tossed restlessly about, and now,
soothed by the gentle touches on her brow, had fallen asleep. Her
fingers had tightly clasped Mary's small, thin hands, but gradually
relaxing their hold, sunk beside her. Softly smoothing back the
disordered hair, the young nurse failed to perceive the entrance of
Dr. Bryant, and only looked up when a beautiful bouquet of flowers
was laid upon her lap. The feverish glow deepened on her cheek as she
warmly thanked him.

"I am glad you like them, Miss Irving."

"How could I do otherwise?"

"My bunch is equally beautiful," cried Florence, holding it up for
inspection. "Pray, Doctor, how came you so thoroughly acquainted with
our different tastes? You have selected admirably."

"I am gratified at succeeding so happily in my arrangement of them.
But I hope your aunt is not seriously indisposed?"

"No, merely a bad nervous attack, to which she is subject."

"Miss Mary, as you are free from apprehension on her account, can you
take a short ride this evening? I have a gentle horse at the gate, and
if you will trust yourself with me, I think a good canter will benefit
you exceedingly: will you go?"

Mary sought Florence's eye; it brightened with pleasure.

"Certainly, Mary; why do you hesitate? I am very glad Dr. Bryant
suggested it; I will take good care of aunt, and the ride will
doubtless benefit you."

"You are very kind, Doctor; I will only detain you while I change my
dress." And she withdrew.

"Don't you think she looks much better to-day?" asked Florence,
anxiously, as her cousin left the room.

"She has certainly more color, but I am afraid it is only a feverish
glow. Let me entreat you, Miss Hamilton, to watch over her with the
greatest care: the slightest exposure might cause a return of that
terrible cough, and in her feeble state I fear for the consequences."

"She has grown very, very thin, within the last month; but then, when
warm weather comes again, I doubt not she will grow rosy and strong
once more." They both sighed heavily, as though against conviction
each had striven to cheer the other.

Mary re-entered the room equipped for her ride, and now, for the first
time, Florence thought her cousin beautiful. Beneath her straw hat
floated back from her fair face a luxuriant mass of brown curls; a
bright blush mantled the delicate cheek, and the gentle blue eyes
seemed unusually large and brilliant. A smile dimpled round her lip as
she met the fond glance bent upon her. Florence tenderly clasped her
hand a moment, then kissed her warmly, and bade Dr. Bryant take all
care of her. He promised to do so, and soon they had passed beyond her
sight. They rode slowly, lest Mary should be too much fatigued; and
often the eyes of her companion rested on the frail but lovely being
by his side.

"Which way shall we ride?"

"If you have no preference, suppose we go to San Pedro?"

"You could not have selected more in accordance with my own wishes."

A long silence ensued, broken only by the clatter of their horses'
hoofs along the gravel path.

"The prospect of leaving forever these beautiful environs, which I
have so often admired, fills me with inexpressible regret. My heart
clings to San Antonio, though my residence here has been very brief;"
said Dr. Bryant sadly.

"Do you go to return no more?" asked Mary, with averted head.

"Yes, most probably I shall never see this place again; for I wish to
visit Europe so soon as my business affairs are arranged at home, and
on my return, shall devote myself to my profession." He fixed his eyes
earnestly on her face as he spoke.

Slowly the head drooped, till the hat concealed her features.

"We shall miss you very much when you are gone. Florry and I feel
deeply grateful for your continued kindness, and never--no, never
shall we forget your care of my uncle."

"Take care--take care; you are dropping your reins."

He gathered them up and replaced them in her hand.

"Thank you; I had quite forgotten them."

"Do you not think it would be best for you and Florence to return to
your friends in Louisiana? This is an unpleasant home for you."

"It was my uncle's wish that we should remain here, and I know Florry
would not consent to leave, unless some danger threatened. We have
learned to love San Antonio more dearly than any other place, except
our old home;" replied Mary, earnestly.

"By the bye, I had almost forgotten to mention that I have had a
letter from an old friend, who inquired very particularly after
you--Dudley Stewart; you knew him, I think, in New Orleans. His letter
is dated six months ago; but I am happy to receive it at all during
these unsettled times."

"We heard of his marriage," said Mary, in a low tone, as the image of
Florence rose before her.

"His marriage! Oh, no! you must be mistaken. He would most certainly
have mentioned it, for we are old and intimate friends."

"It was reported that he had married his cousin."

"Ah! is that all? I am not much surprised that you should have heard
that, for before I left home it was quite current. His widowed mother
was very anxious to make the match; but Stewart assured me he would
never comply with her wishes, as he had fully resolved never to wed a
woman he did not tenderly love; and though quite pretty, Ellen is not
sufficiently intellectual to attract such a man."

"Are you quite sure of this, Dr. Bryant?" said Mary, in a quick, eager
tone.

"Certainly; I had it from his own lips."

"Oh! I"--She stopped short, and her cheek crimsoned, as she met the
piercing glance of his dark eye bent upon her face. Her small hands
trembled so that the reins quivered, and she closed her eyes for a
moment, while the glow fled from her cheeks, leaving them pale as
marble.

He caught her hand, and steadied her in her saddle.

"Forgive my inattention, Miss Irving, you are not strong enough to
extend your ride. Your face is very pale, and you look fatigued."

"Yes, let us go home--home." Her voice was low and faltering, and she
with difficulty restrained the tears which sprung to her eyes.

They turned their horses' heads, and neither attempted to remove the
restraint which both experienced. They entered the town, and then
seeing her hand glide quickly to her side, he gently said:

"I am afraid we are riding too fast for you."

Her lips writhed for a moment with acute pain; but with a faint smile,
which touched him with its sadness, she replied:

"I am better now--the pain has almost left me, I am very sorry to
trouble you so much, Dr. Bryant,"

"Trouble!" he murmured, as if communing with his own heart. "I see
you do not know me, nor ever will; for none have truly read my soul or
sympathized." A look of bitterness passed over his face, and a sterner
expression rested there than Mary had ever marked before. She knew not
what to reply, for she could not comprehend the change, and even as
she pondered, he pointed to the western sky, and, much in his usual
tone, asked:

"Don't you think the sunsets here exceed any you ever beheld
elsewhere?"

"In brilliancy they certainly do. Yet I love still better the soft
tints which often linger till the stars come out. I think they blend
and harmonize more beautifully with the deep blue of the zenith than
any I have seen before, and I have watched sunsets from my childhood."

"You are right; I have noticed in more northern latitudes a very
perceptible difference in the appearance of the firmament. The moon,
for instance, on cold, clear nights, presents a silvery, glittering
disk, but the soft mellow light of a southern clime is wanting."

While he spoke, the figure of a woman emerged from a house near by,
and, softly approaching Mary's horse, laid her finger on her lips,
and, pressing a piece of paper into her hand, returned as silently
as she came. Dr. Bryant turned his head toward Mary as he finished
speaking, and, catching a glimpse of the retreating form, looked
inquiringly at her.

"I believe it was Inez, though the face was entirely concealed. She
did not speak, but gave me this paper," and Mary unrolled the note:

    "MARINITA,

    "Santa Anna has crossed the Rio Grande with eight thousand
    men. I warn you of your danger. You can get horses now, for
    the Padre cannot control your people. There are brave men in
    the Alamo, tell them of their danger. Again I say, fly quickly
    from San Antonio.

    "INEZ."

With a groan, Mary handed him the paper. In silence he perused and
returned it to her.

"Tell me, was it Inez who warned you before?"

"Yes, she told me we incurred unknown dangers by remaining here." He
mused for several moments.

"Ah! I can understand it all now. Several nights ago, returning
from the Alamo, I met her on the bridge alone; she seemed excited, I
thought, and impatient at meeting me, for I questioned her rambling so
late."

"Inez is a warm friend, and what she advises I feel almost bound
to do, for she is not timid, and only real danger rouses her
apprehension."

"Eight thousand men! and not two hundred to man the Alamo. Inez is
right; this is not a proper place for you. We will go, as we once
decided, to Washington; and when you are in safety, I will return and
lend my efforts to the feeble garrison."

They reached the gate, and he gently lifted the frail form from the
saddle; and, drawing her arm through his, led her to the house. As
they entered, he bent his head and said, in, a low tone:

"Tell me candidly, are you able to undergo the fatigue incident to
this journey? I fear you are not."

"Yes, I shall perhaps grow stronger; at any rate, if you do not change
your mind, let no fears for me influence you."

When leaving, he said it was probable that all would be in readiness
for their departure within a couple of days, as he wished to see them
secure, and then return.

"Mrs. Carlton will accompany us when she learns this terrible news?"
said Mary, inquiringly.

"Oh yes; I cannot consent for her to remain, and besides Mr. Carlton
has been anxious for some time regarding his family."

Florence, having read the note, fully approved their promptly
removing, and all necessary preparations were made for immediate
departure.

Mary longed inexpressibly to impart to her cousin what she had learned
respecting Mr. Stewart, but shrank instinctively from reviving hopes
which might never be realized--hopes which Florence had long since
crushed and cast out of her heart as dead. With an earnest prayer
that her cousin might yet be blessed and happy, Mary determined not
to broach the subject at least for a time. Dr, Bryant without delay
apprised the garrison of the rumor which had reached him, and a
courier was immediately despatched to headquarters for reinforcements
sufficient to defend this important fortress--this key of the
state--from the powerful force now advancing to assault it. Horses
were supplied with alacrity, for he had made many and warm friends,
and two large tents, together with a baggage-wagon, were readily
granted to one who so nobly contributed to the relief of the sick,
wounded, and dying.

At length every arrangement was completed, and the next morning
appointed for their departure. Aunt Lizzy had objected at first,
but speedily became reconciled when Dr. Bryant painted, in a graphic
manner, the horrors which were about to ensue.

As the shades of evening came gently on, the girls set out for Mrs.
Carlton's, as from her dwelling they commenced their journey. Aunt
Lizzy remained to give some final direction, and then came a sorrowful
parting with their servants, one of whom took Mary in her arms and
bade God bless her, while the tears rolled over her wrinkled face.
Mary could not repress her own, and she sobbed convulsively. Dr.
Bryant, who had come over for them, laid his hand on the shoulder of
the true-hearted negress, and said:

"Why, Aunt Fanny, you must not excite Miss Irving; she is not strong,
you know, and has a long ride before her to-morrow."

"Oh yes, Doctor, it will do well enough for you to tell me not to cry,
but I can't help it, for I love her as if she was my own child, and if
I thought to see her again I should not grieve so much; but I saw her
mother before her, and I know how she grew pale and thin, and then
took to the sofa, and never rose up till she was carried to her grave;
and can't I see that blessed child going just like her? Oh I it's no
use talking to me; she ain't long for this world, and it's hard--yes,
it's hard for her to die away from old Fanny!" and she covered her
face with her apron, and sobbed aloud.

Mary wiped her own tears quickly away, and taking the hand of her
old friend, led her back to the kitchen. For several moments her
companions waited anxiously for her; and soon she advanced slowly to
meet them. Frank drew her arm through his, and sadly they walked away.
Passing the gate, Mary paused and looked out on the river, where she
had so often sat at this hour; and sad though sweet associations,
infinite in number, crowded upon her mind.

How calm and beautiful all nature seemed, as though arrayed in its
loveliest garb to chain her affection, that, in after years, the
memory of that western home might steal gently up amidst surrounding
gloom, to charm away the anguish of some bitter hour, and soothe the
saddened spirit. Her heart was inexpressibly touched, and she averted
her head to conceal the expression of keen sorrow which rested on her
face.

"This view of the San Antonio has often struck me as particularly
fine," said Dr. Bryant, turning to Florence, whose pale cheek alone
attested regret at leaving her home.

"Yes, I know none superior; and our favorite ramble was along this
bank, and down the river side."

"Its windings are multitudinous, yet how graceful every curve: and
then, the deep blue of its waters adds not a little to the beauty of
the whole. But we have not leisure to admire it now, for your cousin
must not be chilled, and the wind blows freshly from the north."

He stepped on as he spoke, but feeling the small hands clasped over
his arm, looked earnestly down into the pale face at his side. Mary
was bending a last, long look on house and tree and river; as they
walked on, the different objects passed beyond her view, and then a
faint moan escaped her lips. She met the anxious gaze of her friend,
and replied to its silent questioning:

"Forgive what doubtless seems a great weakness. You and Florry can
not sympathize with me now. You will both return ere long, but my eyes
have rested for the last time on each loved object. I have dreaded
this parting from the home that has grown so dear to me--but the pang
is over."

Her deep blue eyes rested on his face, and touchingly sad was the
expression, as she swept back the clustering hair from her brow.
The lips quivered, as of late they often did when she was excited.
Florence did not hear her words, for she had crossed the street; but
Frank's heart throbbed violently as he listened to her low, sad tone.
Laying his hand on hers, that were tightly clasped, he pressed them
gently, and said, in a slightly faltering voice:

"For Florence's sake--for mine--for your own, do not give way to such
gloomy forebodings! Your depressed spirits will act injuriously on
your health. Let me beg you to place no confidence in Aunt Fanny's
words at parting; she was herself scarce conscious of their import."

"I have no gloomy forebodings, no apprehension of the future, and
generally no depressed spirits; but I know full well that my life is
gradually wasting away, slowly, gently, and almost without pain, I
am sinking to an early tomb. Yet I would not have it otherwise if I
could. Death has long lost all terrors for me; I have no fear--all is
peace and quiet. I am paining you. Forgive me, Dr. Bryant; but knowing
that you and Florry were anxious about me, I thought it best to tell
you that I am fully aware of my danger, if so I can term what I would
not avert."

A shudder crept over the strong man as he looked down at the calm,
colorless face of her who spoke so quietly of death, and of quitting
forever the scenes she loved so truly.

"I cannot--will not believe you are so ill. You will grow stronger
when we leave this place, and a year hence, when quite well again, you
will beg pardon for the pain you have given me."

A faint smile played round the thin lips, and in silence they
proceeded to Mrs. Carlton's.



CHAPTER XXIV.

  "Who's here besides foul weather?"

  SHAKESPEARE.


Far away stretched the prairie, bounded, ocean-like, only by the
horizon; the monotony occasionally relieved by clumps of aged live
oaks, which tossed their branches to and fro in summer breezes and
in wintry blasts, and lent a mournful cadence to the howlings of the
tempest. Now and then a herd of deer, lifting proudly their antlered
heads, seemed to scorn danger from the hand of man, as they roamed
so freely over the wide, desolate waste which possessed no visible
limits. And groups of cattle, starting at the slightest sound, tossed
their horns in defiance, and browsed along the mosquit, in many places
so luxuriant as well-nigh to conceal their forms. The day had been
unusually warm for January, and the sun beamed down with a sickening
intensity which made the blood tingle in the veins. Toward noon the
sky assumed a dull, leaden cast, and light flakes of cloud, like
harbingers of evil, scudded ominously overhead. The sun passed the
zenith, and a low sighing breeze swept moaningly across the wide
waste, even as the wail of lost spirits floats out on the midnight
air, and then is hushed forever.

The cattle that stood leisurely cropping about, and now and then
moving a few paces, lifted their heads, snuffed the air, and, with
a simultaneous lowing, started at full speed to the timbered tracts,
where they were wont to resort for shelter from the winds of winter.
On, on they rushed, till in the distance one might fancy them a
quantity of beetles, or other insects, dotting the surface before
them. Soon not a vestige remained of the flying herd, and happy it was
for them they made good their retreat, and gained a place of refuge
ere the "norther" burst in all its keenness on the unprotected plain.
Wildly the piercing blasts whistled through the trees, and rushed
furiously on, unimpeded by the forests, which in more eastern lands
present a formidable barrier to the progress. The rain began to fall
heavily, when a small cavalcade sought the protection of a clump of
oaks, by placing the leafy boughs between themselves and the beating,
driving torrents. The party consisted of several ladies and gentlemen,
two children, and as many servants; the latter in a wagon, the
remainder on horseback. With all possible speed the gentlemen
dismounted, and, tightly buttoning their great-coats about them,
proceeded to stretch two tents, by means of poles and pins, carried in
the wagon.

Night closed in, and finding a sheltered spot beneath the trees,
a large fire was kindled, which threw its ruddy light into the
surrounding tents, and illumined the entire grove. The horses were
picketed out, almost within reach from the tents, and the wagon
containing their stores drawn so near as, in some degree, to shelter
them. The servants prepared the evening meal--simple, it is true, yet
enjoyed far more than a sumptuous repast of Indian delicacies, and
untold ragouts, eaten without the sauce of hunger produced by their
long ride. More than a week had elapsed since leaving San Antonio,
and Mary had borne better than they dared to hope the fatigue of the
journey.

To-night, however, she lay exhausted on her pallet, the thin cheek
bright with fever: gently she declined all that was proffered, and her
hollow cough chased the smile from the lips of her friends. Dr. Bryant
knelt beside her, and taking one hot hand in his own, asked, in a low
anxious voice, if she suffered.

Turning away her face, she said--"Oh no, not much. There is, however,
such a painful throbbing about my heart I can scarcely breathe. And I
not feverish?" she continued.

"Yes;" and he placed his fingers on the pulse, beating violently. "I
am afraid you have taken severe cold--the day has been so inclement."
And, with a somewhat unsteady hand, he administered a potion.

"Don't feel uneasy about me, Doctor, I shall be better when I sleep."
And she turned away, and wearily closed her eyes.

When the camp-fire burned low, and all slumbered save Mary, who could
not calm her feverish excitement, and lay wide awake, she fancied
she heard steps around the tent. All was silent; then again came
the sound; and raising herself, she thought she perceived some one
standing near the entrance. The figure disappeared, and then followed
a rumbling, stamping, kicking, as though the horses were verily
bewitched. "The Indians!" thought Mary; and quickly rising, she threw
a black mantle round her, and creeping to the door of the tent,
peeped cautiously out. The horses still seemed restless, stamping and
snorting, and she thought she could softly reach the adjoining tent
and rouse the gentlemen, knowing that their arms were in readiness.
She had just stepped out of her own tent, and stood out of doors, when
she caught a glimpse of a dark, muffled figure walking toward her.
The rain had ceased, but it was very dark, and only by the aid of the
firelight, now grown dim, she perceived it. A cold shudder crept over
her, as, raising her eyes to the blackened sky but an instant, she
sprung forward toward the place where she fancied the gentlemen were
sleeping. A hand was laid on her arm, and a deep voice sounded in her
ear:

"Be not alarmed, Miss Mary, I am here!"

She trembled so that she could scarcely stand. He supported her a
moment, ere she replied in a whisper--

"What causes the disturbance to-night?"

"I feel assured there are Indians about, though you need fear nothing,
for they are not in sufficient numbers to attack us. There are four
men in our party--nearly a dozen muskets, besides my pistols, and
plenty of ammunition. Were you one of the timid sort, I should not
venture to tell you my apprehensions: but I know that you are not. I
have not slept, or even lain down; and a while ago, I heard the sound
of hoofs approaching. Taking my pistols, I went round to the horses,
and had not waited many moments before I saw two figures, evidently
reconnoitering and planning the abduction of our horses, who seemed
much alarmed. I suppose the intruders must have seen me, for they
suddenly wheeled off and galloped away."

"Perhaps there is a party not far distant, for whose assistance they
have gone."

"Possibly, though I think not; but you must not stand on this wet
ground." He led her to the tent, and seating himself near the door,
continued:

"I shall not sleep to-night, and rest assured you will be most
carefully guarded. You were imprudent to venture out on such a night."

"What! when I thought there was danger, and none, save myself, aware
of it?"

"Did you think I could rest, knowing, as I do, how you are suffering?"

"I never imagined you were up, or watching, for I heard no sound near
me."

"Well, no matter; sleep, if you can, and dream of peace, and quiet,
and perfect happiness." He sighed heavily as he spoke, and rising,
renewed the fire.

Mary lay watching him as he paced to and fro in front of the burning
logs--his arms folded across his chest, and his cap drawn over the
brow: gradually a sense of utter weariness stole over her, and she
slept.

At dawn a bustle commenced in the camp, and preparation made--first
for breakfast, then for moving.

When Mary came out, her pale face and wearied look attracted Mrs.
Carlton's attention.

"My dear child, I am afraid you are scarcely able to travel to-day;
did you not sleep well?"

"Not so soundly as I could have wished," she said, passing her hand
over her brow, as if to remove some painful thought.

Dr. Bryant acquainted them with the adventures of the night
suggesting, that in future some of the party should watch, as security
for their horses; and all agreed that it was advisable.

"How readily one might suppose this a gipsy encampment. Miss Hamilton
and myself are quite dark enough to favor the illusion, and Ellen and
Mr. Carlton would pass as of gipsy descent; but what would they think
of Miss Mary? She is decidedly anti-gipsy in her appearance."

"I can tell you, Uncle Frank," cried Elliot, clapping his hands; "they
would take Miss Mary for an angel that came to our tent, like the one
that came down to see Abraham."

"Unfortunately, angels never appear in the form of a lady, Elliot; so
you must tax your ingenuity to dispose of me in a different manner,"
said Mary, smiling gently on the noble boy beside her.

"Indeed, I would sooner think you ought to be an angel than any
gentleman I know, or lady either; don't you think so too, Uncle
Frank?"

"Certainly I do; but, Elliot, you should not have made me say so in
Miss Florence's presence. You forget that she is also a young lady."

"No, I don't, uncle, and I ask her pardon if I was rude; but I heard
you say Miss Mary was an angel, and though I like Miss Florence very
much indeed, I can't help thinking so too."

Dr. Bryant's cheek flushed, and he glanced quickly at Mary. Mr. and
Mrs. Carlton and Florence laughed good-naturedly; and laying his hand
on the boy's head, Frank said:

"My very promising nephew, you will never be accused of want of candor
if you grow up in your present spirit."

Mary drew the child to her, and whispered in his ear:

"Your uncle meant that I should soon be in Heaven, Elliot; and I hope
it will not be very long before I am an angel. Don't you see how thin
and pale I am?"

Elliot's eyes filled, as he looked earnestly at the gentle girl, so
wasted of late, and throwing his arms about her neck, he hid his face
on her shoulder, and murmured:

"Oh! you must not go from us--we can't spare you even to God! Why
does he want to take you? He has plenty of angels already around him!
Mother and uncle and I had almost as soon die ourselves as see you go
away forever."

None heard what passed between them; but Mrs. Carlton saw a look
of pain on Mary's pure white brow, and gently drawing her son away,
changed the conversation by asking if it would not be better for Mary
to ride awhile in the wagon.

"I am afraid she would find the jolting rather too much for her.
However, it will answer as a change, and by driving myself, I can
avoid many inequalities. So, Miss Irving, make up your mind to
relinquish your babicca at least for to-day."

"You are very kind, Dr. Bryant, but I greatly prefer your riding as
usual. Indeed you need not look so incredulous. I won't allow you to
make such a sacrifice."

"I was not aware that I was making any sacrifice," he coldly answered,
and turned away.

Mary's lip quivered with internal pain, but she offered no further
opposition.

All was in readiness for moving on. Dr. Bryant stood arranging
Florence's bridle, and bantering her on her inattention to the reins.
She laughed in her turn.

"Indeed, Doctor, don't you think me a capital horse-woman? you will
certainly admit it, after being vanquished in a race?"

"Really, Miss Florence, I rather think the credit due to your fine
horse than to your skill as a rider.

"Ah, incorrigible as usual, I see, Doctor!" and she rode off to join
Mr. Carlton.

Mr. Carlton had placed Mary in the wagon, and carefully arranged her
shawls that she might rest easily. Frank quietly seated himself, and
drove on.

"I shall not exert myself in the least to entertain you, so you need
not expect it; for having very politely told me you did not desire my
company, I shall not disturb you with my chatter, I promise you, and
take this opportunity to inform you that my tympanums are at your
service the remainder of the day."

He glanced over his shoulder at the frail form nearly buried beneath
the weight of shawls and cloaks wrapt about her. She smiled, and laid
her head on her arm: as she did so, he, looking at her, failed to
perceive a large stone in the track, and the wheels passing directly
over it caused the wagon to jolt most unmercifully.

Florence was just in the rear, and, unable to control her mirth,
laughed outright as Frank and Mary bounced up and down; and, riding up
to them, merrily asked "if Mary duly appreciated her good fortune in
having so careful and scientific a driver?"

Not a little amused, yet scarce able to laugh, the latter replied that
"she did indeed congratulate herself on the change of drivers, as she
would not have survived the day had it been otherwise."

Frank joined heartily in their merriment.

"Miss Hamilton," said he, "if you only knew what caused me to overlook
that unfortunate stone, you would be more lenient in your criticisms."

"I am very sure you will adduce every possible reason in your own
favor, sir, and therefore feel no sympathy for your carelessness," she
retorted.

"Really you make me out as incorrigible a self-excuser as the heroine
of Miss Edgeworth's juvenile tales; though even she chanced upon a
good excuse occasionally. Come, try me, and see what I can urge in my
own defense."

"Well, then, I ask you, _à la Godfrey_, what you were thinking of
when you, who had an ailing lady in your cart, drove directly over the
largest rock you have seen in a week?"

"In the first place, I did not see it. You need not look quite so
incredulous; I assure you I did not."

"That is very evident, but no excuse at all. Pray, where were your
eyes?"

"Where nature intended them to be, I suppose."

"Nonsense! why didn't you use them?"

"Because I have not the faculty of looking two ways at once,
like Brahma; and my optics were irresistibly drawn in an opposite
direction."

"A truce to all such excuses!"

"Patience, Miss Florence, hear me only once more. The reason is, that
I was looking at your cousin over there, and calculating the chances
of her surviving suffocation."

"There is certainly some danger. Pray, Mary, why wrap up so closely?
Æolus has closed the mouth of his cave, and the warring winds are
securely pent in their prison."

"Are you not very much edified Miss Mary? I should beg pardon for such
a waste of time and talk, if I were not aware that

  "'A little nonsense now and then,
  Is relished by the wisest men.'"

As Mary made no reply, he turned around and regarded her earnestly,
Her hat had fallen back from the face, which rested on his black
cloak. Every vestige of mirth fled from his countenance as they gazed
on the sleeping girl. The feverish flush had left the cheek, now
perfectly wan; the dark brown hair clung on the pure, beautiful
brow, and beneath the closed eyes were dark circles, traced by mental
suffering. The expression of the face was perfectly calm, yet a
wearied look, as though longing to be at rest, lingered there. So
motionless she lay, that Frank hastily placed his hand on hers to feel
if warmth and vitality remained. Slowly and faint came the pulsations,
and, as he watched her deathlike slumber, his cheek grew pale, a look
of unutterable anguish settled on his noble brow, and the finely cut
lips were tightly compressed, as with some acute though hidden pain.
Florence slowly returned to Mr. and Mrs. Carlton--no smile passed her
lips the remainder of the day; she seemed now, for the first time,
to realize her cousin's danger, and naught could divert her mind from
this new grief.

Dr. Bryant bent his head upon his breast, and murmured in saddened
tones: "Oh, Mary! Mary! how gladly would I give all I possess on earth
to see you strong and well again."



CHAPTER XXV.

  "And therefore my heart is heavy
    With a sense of unquiet pain,
  For but Heaven can tell if the parted
    Shall meet in the earth again.

  "With Him be the time and the season
    Of our meeting again with thee:
  Whether here, on these earthly borders,
    Or the shore of the world to be."

  CAREY.


One day our party had traveled further than on any previous occasion:
long and tedious was the ride, still they pushed on, hoping to reach
some stream ere the tents were pitched for the night, as an abundant
supply of pure fresh water was essential to the comfort of their camp.
In the metaphorical strain of a certain writer--"Phoebus drove his
steeds to be foddered in their western stables." Slowly twilight fell
upon the earth, and, one by one, the lamps of heaven were lit. The
wagon in which Dr. Bryant and Mary rode was rather in the rear of the
party, as the riders pressed anxiously forward. The cool night-wind
blew fresh upon the fevered brow of the invalid, and gently lifted and
bore back the clustering curls.

"I am very much afraid you will take cold:" and Dr. Bryant wrapped his
coat carefully about her.

"Thank you:" and she sank back in its heavy folds, and looked up to
the brilliant firmament, where the stars glittered, like diamonds on a
ground of black velvet, in the clear, frosty air.

"Orion has culminated; and how splendidly it glows to-night, I think I
never saw it so brilliant."

"Perhaps it appears so from the peculiar position whence you view it.
You never observed it before from a wagon, in a broad prairie,
with naught intervening between the constellation and yourself save
illimitable space, though I agree with you in thinking it particularly
splendid. I have ever regarded it as the most beautiful among the many
constellations which girt the heavens."

"I have often wondered if Cygnus was not the favorite of papists, Dr.
Bryant."

"Ah I it never occurred to me before, but, since you mention it, I
doubt not they are partial to it. How many superstitious horrors are
infused into childish brains by nurses and nursery traditions! I
well remember with what terror I regarded the Dolphin, or, in common
parlance, 'Job's Coffin,' having been told that, when that wrathful
cluster was on the meridian, some dreadful evil would most inevitably
befall all who ventured to look upon it; and often, in my boyhood, I
have covered my face with my hands, and asked its whereabouts. Indeed
I regarded it much as Æneas did Orion, when he says:

  "'To that blest shore we steered our destined way,
  When sudden dire Orion roused the sea!
  All charged with tempests rose the baleful star,
  And on our navy poured his watery war.'

The contemplation of the starry heavens has ever exerted an elevating
influence on my mind. In viewing its glories, I am borne far from
the puerilities of earth, and my soul seeks a purer and more noble
sphere."

"Your quotation from Virgil recalled a passage in Job--'Seek him that
maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death
into morning.' Oh! how inimitably sublime is inspired language--and
'turneth the shadow of death into morning.' And how comforting the
promise conveyed," said Mary, earnestly.

"Miss Irving, don't you admire Cassiopeia very much?" said Dr.
Bryant, wishing to turn the current of her thoughts. "I think it very
beautiful, particularly when it occupies its present position, and, as
it were, offers to weary travelers so inviting a seat. Yet often I am
strangely awed, in gazing on the group so enveloped in unfathomable
mystery. Who may say when another of its jewels shall flicker and go
out? And when may not our own world to other planets be a 'Lost Star?'
How childish associations cling to one in after years. I never looked
up at Cassiopeia, without recalling the time when my tutor gave me as
a parsing lesson, the first lines of the 'Task'--literally a task to
me (mind I do not claim the last as original, for it is a plagiarism
on somebody, I forget now who). My teacher first read the passage
carefully over, explaining each idea intended to be conveyed, and
at the conclusion turned to an assistant, and remarked that
'with Cassiopeia for a model, he wondered chairs were not earlier
constructed.' I wondered in silence what that hard word could signify,
and at length summoned courage to ask an explanation. A few nights
afterward, visiting at my father's, he took me out, pointed to the
constellation, and gave the origin of the name, while, to my great
joy, I discovered the resemblance to a chair. Ah! that hour is as
fresh in my memory as though I stood but last night by his side and
listened to his teachings.

"Yes, who will deny the magic influence of association? After all, Dr.
Bryant, it is not the intrinsic beauty of an object that affords us
such delight, but ofttimes the memory of the happy past, so blended
with the beauty viewed as scarcely to be analyzed in the soothing
emotions which steal into the heart. Such a night as this ever reminds
me of the beautiful words of Willis, in his 'Contemplations;' and,
like Alethe, I often ask, 'When shall I gather my wings, and, like a
rushing thought, stretch onward, star by star, up into heaven?'"

A silence ensued for several moments, and then the cry of "Water!"
"water!" fell refreshingly on the ears of the wearied travelers, and
the neighboring stream was hailed as joyfully as was in olden time the
well of Gem-Gem.

Soon the tents were pitched, and a bright crackling fire kindled.
Florence, declaring she was too much fatigued for supper, threw
herself on her pallet. Aunt Lizzy and Mrs. Carlton were busily
unpacking some of their utensils, and Mary, closely wrapt up, stood
by the blazing logs, thinking how cheerful its ruddy light made every
object seem, and wondering if, after all, the Ghebers were so much to
blame, Mr. Carlton joined her; and after inquiring how she bore
their very fatiguing ride, remarked that in a few more days their
journeyings would be over.

"I shall almost regret its termination. This mode of traveling seems
very pleasant to me, and you, who are strong and well, must enjoy it
much more."

Just then the sound of approaching hoofs caused her to look toward
their wagon; and she perceived two men mounted, one in the act of
descending, while Dr. Bryant advanced quickly to meet him.

Mr. Carlton left her. Silently she looked on, wondering who the
strangers could possibly be, when the words fell with startling
distinctness on her listening ear:

"Dudley Stewart! do my eyes deceive me?"

"Frank Bryant is it possible I meet you here?"

The tones of the last speaker were too familiar to be mistaken. She
trembled from head to foot as the past rose before her. Her first
thought was of Florence.

"Oh, if he is married, this meeting will be terrible!" and her heart
throbbed violently as the gentlemen approached her. Scarce conscious
of her movements, she advanced to meet Dr. Bryant, whose arm was
linked in that of the new comer. They met: the fire-light glowed on
the face of both.

"Mr. Stewart!" and the wasted hand was extended.

"Mary Irving! or is this an illusion?" Tightly the hand was clasped.

"It is I----your old pupil, though so altered, I wonder not that you
fail to recognize me." She lifted her eyes and met Dr. Bryant's gaze,
deep and piercing, as though he were reading her inmost soul. Mr.
Stewart looked long at the face turned toward him.

"Frank, you did not tell me she was with you! Oh, how changed--how
wasted you are! But what means this black dress?" and his fingers
clutched her mourning gown, while his deep tone faltered. Mary drew
closer to his side, and murmured:

"Florry is well: but my uncle has been taken from us." Her head sunk
on her bosom as she spoke.

"Where is Florence?" and he tightly clasped her hand between his own.

A shudder crept over Dr. Bryant, who had not heard their words, and he
walked quickly away.

"Florry is in the tent. Mr. Stewart, we heard that you were married;
can this be true?"

"No, no! Did your cousin credit the report?"

"Yes; and ere you make yourself known, let me in some degree prepare
her for the meeting."

So saying, she sought Florence, and asked if she were sleeping.

"No, Mary; can I do anything for you?" and she raised her head.

"Yes, Florry, come with me--I want to speak to you."

Her cousin accompanied her to the door, and standing so that the
tent intervened between them and Mr. Stewart, Mary laid her hand on
Florence's shoulder, and said:

"I have just learned, Florry, that Mr. Stewart is not married."

"Mary, Mary! why touch a chord which ever vibrates with the keenest
agony? There is no happiness for me on earth--I have known that for
long, and now I am striving to fix my thoughts, and all of hope that
remains, on heaven."

Mary linked her arm in Florence's, and gently drawing her forward,
replied:

"God has not promised heaven as the price of every earthly joy and
comfort. Can you not still hope for happiness?"

"Mary, I am parted forever from him whom I have loved so devotedly;
yet I cease to repine. I know my lot, and I will pass through life
alone, yes, alone, without a murmur."

"Not so, Florence--my own treasured Florence!"

She turned quickly, and was clasped to the heart of him she had sworn
to love alone.

"Am I dreaming?" said Florence, gazing eagerly up into the noble face
before her. He lifted his cap from his brow, and bent his head that
the light might fall full upon it. A gleam of perfect joy irradiated
her beautiful face, and, leaning her head on his shoulder, she
whispered: "Forgive me--for I doubted you."

He bent, and sealed her pardon with a long kiss.

Mary stole away to Mrs. Carlton to impart the good news; Dr. Bryant
had already communicated it. Warmly she sympathized with them in again
meeting an old friend; but Mary heeded not her words, for her eyes
were riveted on Frank's stern brow and slightly curling lip. A mist
rose before her, and catching for support at the tent, she would
have fallen, had not his strong arm encircled her; and soon she lay
motionless in her tent. He stood and looked on her a moment, then
knelt and clasped the cold hands. Mary had not swooned, though
well-nigh insensible, and a low moan of anguish escaped her lips,
colorless, and writhing with pain.

"Can I do nothing for you?"

"No, thank you; only do not tell Florry and Mr. Stewart I am ill. It
would only damp the joy of their meeting."

He left her, and met the lovers as they sought the remainder of the
party. He understood at a glance the position of affairs, and with the
sad conviction that Mary loved Mr. Stewart, and loved him in vain, he
strove to repress his emotion and appear as usual.

Florence withdrew her hand from Mr. Stewart's clasp, and, with a deep
blush, passed Frank in order to reach the tent. He placed himself
before it.

"Miss Hamilton, I can't allow any one to disturb your cousin; she is
almost exhausted by our long ride, and I forbid all company, as she
needs rest and quiet."

"I will not disturb her in the least, I assure you, Doctor." But
he persisted, and she was forced to form one of the circle that now
gathered round the fire.

Mr. Stewart, in answer to Dr. Bryant's inquiries, replied that he had
long felt anxious to visit San Antonio, but had been detained at home
by important business till within a few weeks, when he set out
for Austin, and obtaining there a sort of guide and companion, was
hastening on, hoping to reach the former place ere the arrival of the
Mexican forces.

"Having heard," continued he, "that Mr. Hamilton's death left his
family somewhat unprotected, I felt particularly anxious on their
account. Seeing your camp-fire, attracted us in this direction, and
happy am I to meet so many old friends."

To Florence he had been far more explicit, detailing the causes
which produced a most fortunate change in his circumstances, and his
immediate determination to seek her in her Western home.

"You will return with us to Washington then, Stewart, as we possess
the treasure you are in search of?"

"Yes, if none of the party offer any objection," replied he.

"I don't know that any feel disposed to act so ungratefully:
suppose we inquire however. Miss Hamilton, have you any objection to
receiving, as an escort and protector, this amiable cavalier, who has
wandered so far from home to offer his services?"

"Frank, it is hardly fair to make her speak for the party; some may
differ with her, on so important a point."

"You seem quite certain as to her sentiments on this subject. Upon my
word, Miss Florence, if I were you, I should most assuredly take this
occasion to teach him a little humility; for instance, just tell him
it makes no difference with you--that it is perfectly immaterial."

"In following your advice, Doctor, the responsibility will be
inevitably transferred to yourself; and I must thank you for so
politely relieving me."

"I see no reason, Stewart, why you should not join our party, and lend
your assistance toward enlivening the tedious hours yet in store for
us; though only a few more days of travel remain, thank Heaven."

"One would suppose, from the fear of ennui which seems to cloud your
future, that Mary and I had not succeeded so happily as we imagined,
in our efforts to entertain you."

"Pardon me, Miss Florence, if I have failed duly to appreciate your
kind efforts; though candor compels the avowal, that I was not aware
any extraordinary exertion was made in my behalf."

"Really, Frank, I should say you have made considerable progress
in raising yourself in your own estimation since last I heard you
converse. Mrs. Carlton, I am afraid this climate is unfavorable for
the growth of at least two of the cardinal virtues."

"Your insinuation is contemptible, because utterly without grounds.
Miss Florence, I appeal to you, as worthy the privilege of acting as
umpire in this important discussion. Have you ever observed aught in
my conduct indicating a want of humility?"

"Unfortunately, Doctor, should I return an answer in your favor, it
would be at the expense of a virtue equally entitled to pre-eminence."

"To the very candid Miss Hamilton, I must return thanks for her
disinterested and very flattering decision."

Here the conversation was interrupted by a call to the evening meal,
and gladly they obeyed the welcome summons.

Florence glancing round perceived the absence of her cousin, and
inquired the cause.

"I dare say she is asleep, poor child," said Aunt Lizzy.

"She is trying to rest, Miss Hamilton, and I would not advise any
interruption. She needs quiet, for she was sorely tried by this day's
fatigues," observed Dr. Bryant.

"I am afraid so," replied Florence, an anxious look again settling on
her face. "Oh, I wish on her account we could reach a place of rest
and safety. I fear she has failed in strength since leaving San
Antonio."

"How sadly changed she has become: had she not spoken in her old,
familiar tones, I should not have known her. I earnestly hope there
is nothing serious in her attack, and that she will soon regain her
former bloom; it pains me to see her so altered," said Mr. Stewart.

"She cannot possibly improve while subjected to the fatigues of this
journey. I feared she was scarce able to endure it," answered Frank.

The conversation turned on more agreeable topics, and soon--by all but
Frank, who could not forget her look of anguish--she was for a time
forgotten.

Mary heard from her couch of suffering the cheerful blending
of voices, though nothing distinct reached her ear; and as none
approached to soothe her by affectionate inquiries, a sense of neglect
stole over her. But too habitually accustomed to judge gently of
others and forget herself, it passed quickly away. She knelt on her
pallet, and clasping her thin hands, raised her heart to God, in the
low, feeble tone of one well-nigh spent:

"My God, thou readest my heart! Thou knowest how, day by day, I have
striven to love thee more and serve thee better. Yet, oh, Father of
mercies! my soul is tortured with unutterable agony! Oh! on the verge
of the tomb, my heart still clings to earth and its joys. Look down in
thy mercy upon me, and help me to fix my thoughts on heaven and thee.
For long I have known the vanity of my hope, and the deceitfulness of
human things; yet I could not tear away the pleasing image, and turn
to thee alone for comfort. Oh, may peace be my portion the few days
I have to live, and when death comes, be thou with me, my God, to
comfort and take me soon to my home above."

She sank back in very weariness. "Oh, Frank, how could you so mistake
me?--you whom I have loved so long, how could you believe I loved
another?"

       *       *       *       *       *

In the clear sunny light of morning, how cheerful all things looked;
and to a heart at peace with God, nature seemed rejoicing. The deep
blue vault arching inimitably above--the musical murmuring of the
creek, as it rushed along its rocky bed--the mosquit, bent and
glittering with its frosty mantle, blended with the blazing camp-fire
and the busy hum of preparation for the day, stole pleasingly into the
heart. All the party, save Mary, stood about the fire, warming their
fingers and chatting on the various occurrences of their long journey.
All paused to welcome the invalid, as she joined them with a slow,
feeble step; yet she looked better than she had done since leaving her
home. Restlessly she had tossed on her hard couch, and now the hectic
flush mantled the thin cheek and brightened the deep blue eyes. The
warm congratulations of her friends on her improved appearance brought
a sad smile to her lip, and the expression of Dr. Bryant's countenance
told her that he at least realized her danger. Never had Florence
looked more beautiful, as the clear cold air brought the glow to her
cheek, added to the effect of her mourning dress and the expression
of quiet happiness, imparting an indescribable charm to her lovely
features.

"As you now stand, Miss Florence, looking so earnestly toward the
east, you seem to me a perfect realization of Willis's Jephtha's
Daughter:

  "'She stood before her father's gorgeous tent,
  To listen for his coming. Her loose hair
  Was resting on her shoulder, like a cloud
  Floating around a statue, and the wind
  Just swaying her light robe, revealed a shape
  Praxiteles might worship:
  Her countenance was radiant with love:
  She looked to die for it--a being whose
  Whole existence was the pouring out
  Of rich and deep affections.'"

As he looked upon her these lines were uttered half unconsciously;
and then turning to Mary, he gently asked if he might speak what was
passing in his mind.

"Certainly, Frank--continue your quotation; the lines never seemed so
beautiful before;" said Mr. Stewart, glancing at Florence as he spoke.

"Doubtless not, Stewart, because never so applied. Miss Hamilton, your
cousin looks more as did the Jewish maiden at close of evening:

  "'Her face was pale, but very beautiful; her lip
  Had a more delicate outline, and the tint
  Was deeper. But her countenance was like the
  Majesty of Angels.'"

"Dr. Bryant, is it possible you so far forget yourself and previously
expressed opinions, as to make quotations? I thought you a sworn foe
to the practise."

"On ordinary occasions, I am: and you may rest assured it is the last
time I commit such an absurdity by a camp fire. I think you once asked
me my objection--will you hear it now? When I was quite young, I one
day read an anecdote of the celebrated Greek professor, Dr. Porson,
which gave me a strong bias against quotations, particularly locating
them, which necessarily follows. Porson was once traveling in a
stage-coach, when a young Oxonian, fresh from college, was amusing
some ladies with quite a variety of small talk, among other things
a quotation from Sophocles, as he said. A Greek quotation in a
stage-coach roused Porson, who half slumbered in a quiet corner.
'Young gentleman,' said he, 'I think you indulged us, just now, with a
quotation from Sophocles; I don't happen to remember it there.'--'Oh,
sir,' rejoined the tyro, 'the quotation is word for word, and in
Sophocles too.' The professor handed him a small edition of Sophocles,
and requested him to point out the passage. After rummaging about
for some time, he replied: 'Upon second thought the passage is in
Euripides.' 'Then,' said Porson, handing him a similar edition of
Euripides, 'perhaps you will be so kind as to find it for me in this
little book.' Our young gentleman returned unsuccessfully to the
search, with the very pleasant cogitation of 'Curse me, if ever I
quote Greek again in a stage-coach,' The tittering of the ladies
increased his confusion, and desperate at last, he exclaimed--'Bless
me, how dull I am; I remember now perfectly that the passage is in
Æschylus. The incorrigible professor dived again into his apparently
bottomless pocket, and produced an edition of Æschylus; but the
astounded Oxonian exclaimed, 'Stop the coach! Halloa! coachman, let
me out instantly; there is a fellow inside here that has got the whole
Bodleian library in his pocket. Let me out, I say--it must be Porson
or the devil!' Now previous to reading this anecdote, I must confess
to quite a _penchant_ for quotations, but I assure you a full year
elapsed ere I ventured on another; and for a long time the ghost of
our gentleman appeared, specter-like, before me, whenever I attempted
one."

When the merriment subsided, Mr. Stewart asked if it was not of this
same professor that a phrenologist remarked, on examining his skull,
that "the most important question was, how the ideas found access to
the brain--once inside, and there are very solid reasons to prevent
their getting out again."

"Yes, the same. Craniologists admit, I believe, that his was the
thickest skull ever examined; and it is related that when he could no
longer articulate English, he spoke Greek with fluency."

In a few moments the camp was broken up, and they proceeded on their
way. Mary cast a longing glance toward her horse, now mounted by one
of the servants, and was taking her seat in the wagon, when Dr. Bryant
said:

"Would you like to try your horse a little while this morning? If it
proves too fatiguing, you can return to the wagon."

"I should like it very much, if I felt strong enough, but I could not
sit upright so long. Doctor, will you be so kind as to ride my horse
for me to-day, and let William drive?"

"Certainly, if you prefer it; but may I venture to ask your reason?"

"You have long been separated from your friend, and naturally wish to
be with him. Do not, on my account, remain behind the party, as you
are forced to do in driving the wagon, but join Florence and Mr.
Stewart, who seem in such fine spirits this beautiful morning. I feel
too weary and feeble to talk, and William will take good care of me."

He fixed his dark eyes mournfully on her face; she could not meet his
gaze, and her head sunk upon her bosom.

"Believe me, Miss Irving, every other pleasure is second to that
of watching over and being with you. If, in the proposed change, my
feelings alone are to be consulted, allow me to remain with you."

"Thank you, Dr. Bryant, you are very kind to remember me so
constantly; my only object was to promote your enjoyment of the day."

They rode for some distance in silence.

"This is my birthday; and how little I fancied, on the last
anniversary, that I should be so situated," said Dr. Bryant, as though
speaking unconsciously.

"How one's feelings change with maturer years. I remember well that,
in my childhood, the lapse of time seemed provokingly slow, and I
wondered why, from year to year, it seemed so very long. The last
three years of my life, though somewhat checkered, have flown too
quickly away. A month ago, I would willingly have recalled them, but
they are lost in the ocean of eternity, only to be remembered now as a
changing, feverish dream," Mary replied.

"Miss Irving, without the benign and elevating influence of Hope, that
great actuating principle from the opening to the close of life, what
a dreary blank our existence would prove. In childhood it gorgeously
gilds the future; the tints fade as maturity gains that future, and
then it gently brightens the evening of life, while memory flings her
mantle of witchery over the past, recalling, in hours of sadness,
all of joy to cheer the heart, and banishing forever the phantoms of
terror--the seasons of gloom that once haunted us."

"Yes, how appropriately has the great bard of Time, termed Hope
'silver-tongued.' And then, its soothing accents are felt and
acknowledged in the darkest hour of human trial. When about to sever
every earthly tie--when on the eve of parting with every object
rendered dear by nature and association--when the gloomy portals of
the silent tomb open to receive us, then comes Hope to paint the joys
of heaven. Our reunion with those we have loved and lost--perfect
freedom from sin--the society of angels, and the spirits of the just
made perfect; the presence of our Saviour, and an everlasting home in
the bosom of our God."

A look of unutterable peace and joy settled on the face of Mary as
she finished speaking and sank back, her hands clasped, and her eyes
raised as though in communion with the spirits above.

Dr. Bryant's eyes rested with a sort of fascination on her
countenance.

"You have this hope; yes, already your soul turns from earth and its
vanities to the pure, unfailing fount of heavenly joy. Oh! that I,
like you, could soon find peace and perfect happiness? I have striven
against the bitter feelings which of late have crept into my heart;
still, despite my efforts, they gather rapidly about me. I look
forward, and feel sick at heart. Turbid are all the streams of earthly
pleasures, and fully now I realize those lines, which once seemed the
essence of misanthropy--

  'I thought upon this hollow world,
  And all its hollow crew.'

For a time I found delight in intellectual pursuits, but soon wearied
of what failed to bring real comfort in hours of trial."

"You need some employment to draw forth every faculty: in a life of
active benevolence and usefulness, this will be supplied. Do not give
vent to feelings of satiety or ennui; your future should be bright--no
dangers threaten, and many and important duties await you in life. God
has so constituted us, that happiness alone springs from the faithful
discharge of these. Every earthly resource fails to bring contentment,
unless accompanied by an active, trusting faith in God, and hope of
blessedness in heaven. Wealth, beauty, genius are as naught; and fame,
that hollow, gilded bauble, brings not the promised delight, and an
aching void remains in the embittered heart. One of our most talented
authors, now seated on the pinnacle of fame, assures us that

  'The Sea of Ambition is tempest tost,
  And your hopes may vanish like foam.'

         *       *       *       *       *

  'The Sun of Fame but gilds the name,
  The heart ne'er felt its ray.'

Pardon me if I have ventured too far, or wounded your feelings: it was
not my intention, and I have spoken half unconsciously."

"Thank you, Miss Irving, for your kind words of comfort and advice.
Fear not that ambition will lure me: I know its hollow, bitter wages,
and cannot be deceived. Yet there is a lonely feeling in my heart
which I cannot dispel at will. Still my plans for the future are
sufficiently active to interest me; and I doubt not that a year hence
I shall feel quite differently. If I could always have your counsel
and sympathy, I should fear nothing."

"In seasons of trial--in the hours of gloom and despondency--appeal to
your sister for comfort. Oh! she is far more capable of advising and
cheering than I, who only echo her sentiments." Mary pressed her hand
to her side, and leaning back, closed her eyes, as if longing for
rest.

"I have drawn you on to converse more than was proper--forgive my
thoughtlessness; and, if it would not be impossible, sleep, and be at
rest." He carefully arranged her shawls, and as she lay a long while
with closed eyes, he thought her sleeping, but turning, after a time,
was surprised to perceive her gazing earnestly out on the beautiful
country through which they now rode.



CHAPTER XXVI.

  "Alas! how light a cause may move
  Dissensions between hearts that love!
  Hearts that the world in vain had tried,
  And sorrow but more closely tied;
  That stood the storm when waves were rough,
  Yet in the sunny hour, fall off,
  Like ships that have gone down at sea,
  When heaven was all tranquillity!"

  MOORE.


"Peace and quiet and rest for you at last!" cried Dr. Bryant, as they
drove into the village of Washington, and, by dint of much trouble and
exertion, procured a small and comfortless house. But a bright fire
soon blazed in the broad, deep, old-fashioned chimney--the windows and
doors closed--their small stock of furniture and provisions unpacked,
and a couch prepared for Mary, now far too feeble to sit up. The
members of the safe and happy party gathered about the hearth, and
discussed hopefully their future prospects. Dr. Bryant raised his
eyes to the somewhat insecure roof, through which the light of day
occasionally stole in, and exclaimed:

    "'And doth a roof above me close?'"

"Not such a one as greeted Mazeppa on regaining his senses, Frank;
rather insecure, 'tis true, yet somewhat better than the canvas
covering for which we have been so grateful of late."

Dr. Bryant leaned his elbow on the mantel-piece, and fell into a fit
of musing, not unusual to him since leaving San Antonio. The servant
disturbed his reverie by requesting room for her cooking utensils.
He raised his head as she spoke, and then, as if utterly unconscious,
dropped it again, without reply.

"A cigar for your thoughts, Bryant!" said Mr. Stewart, and linking his
arm in that of his friend they turned away. Florence approached
her cousin, and bending over the wasted form, asked if she were not
already better.

Mary lifted her arms to her cousin's neck, and for a moment strove to
press her to her heart, but strength had failed rapidly of late, and
they sank wearily by her side. Florence sat down and took both hands
between hers.

"Tell me, dear, if you are in pain?"

"No, Florry, I do not suffer much now; I am at present free from all
pain. I have not had an opportunity of talking with you for some time.
Florry, tell me, are you very happy?"

"Yes, Mary, I am very happy--happier than I ever was before; and far
more so than I deserve. Oh! Mary, how miserable I have been; and it
is by contrast that the transition is so delightful. I doubted the
goodness and mercy of God; and, in the bitterness of my heart, I
asked why I had been created for so much suffering. Oh, Mary! my
pure-hearted, angel cousin, how much of my present happiness I owe to
you. Suppose you had suffered me to wander on in the maze of darkness.
At this moment I should have been a desolate, deluded, miserable nun;
clinging to a religion which, instead of Bible truths, filled the
anxious, aching heart with monkish legends of unattested miracles, and
in place of the pure worship of God, gives us mummeries nearer akin
to pagan rites! I thank God that I am released from my thraldom. I
see now the tissue of falsehood so plausible in which all things were
wrapped. Blackness and deceit in the garb of truth and purity! And
it is horrible, to think that he who so led me astray claims to be my
brother! Mary, Mary, how can I tell Mr. Stewart this?--tell him that I
have wandered from the true faith--that I have knelt in confession to
him who cursed our common father! He will despise me for my weakness:
for only yesterday he said he first loved me for my clear insight into
right and wrong, and my scorn of deceit and hypocrisy! Yet I deceived
you; at least, tacitly--you who have ever loved me so truly, you
who have saved me at last, and pointed out the road to heaven. Mary,
forgive me! I never asked pardon of any on earth before, but I wronged
you, good and gentle though you always were. Forgive me, oh, my
cousin!"

Mary clasped Florence's hands in hers, and though too feeble to speak
very audibly, replied:

"Florry, think not of the past; it has been very painful to us both,
yet I thank God that you are right at last. You know how I love you:
I would give every treasure of earth to contribute to your happiness;
and now that you are so blest, listen to my counsel. Florry, there is
a cloud no bigger than a man's hand resting low on the horizon of your
happiness--be warned in time. You know Mr. Stewart's firm, unwavering
principals of Protestantism; you know, too the aversion with which he
regards the priests of Rome; it may be a hard task now, but it will be
tenfold more difficult a year hence. Go to him at once, tell him you
were misguided and deceived, and reveal every circumstance connected
with that unhappy period. He will love you more for your candor.
Florry, you turn pale, as though unequal to the task. Oh, my cousin,
you prize his love more than truth; but the time will come when he
will prize truth more than your love! Florry, let me beg you tell him
all, and at once." She sank back, as if exhausted by her effort in
speaking so long, yet firmly retained Florence's hand.

"Mary, if I do this, it is at the risk of losing his esteem, which
I prize even more than his love. And after all, _I_ cannot see that
truth or duty requires this humiliating confession. Should he ever
question me, I should scorn to deceive him, and at once should tell
him all. But he does not suspect it, and _I_, being no longer in
danger or blinded, need not reveal the past."

Mournfully Mary regarded her beautiful cousin.

"Florry, if you conceal nothing now, he will esteem you more than ever
for hazarding his love in the cause of truth. If, in after years,
he discovers the past, he will tell you that, silently at least, you
deceived him, and reproach you with want of candor and firmness. Oh!
there is a fearful risk to run; he will never place confidence in you
again--be warned in time."

The entrance of Aunt Lizzy and Mrs. Carlton prevented further
conversation, and unclasping Mary's fingers, Florence disengaged her
hand and left the room.

Two days passed in furnishing and arranging their new home, and Mary
saw but little of her cousin. As evening closed in again, the invalid
watched from her couch the countenance of Mr. Stewart, as he sat
earnestly conversing with her aunt. Florence and Mr. and Mrs. Carlton
were out making some necessary purchases, and Dr. Bryant had been
absent on business of his own since morning.

"Florence is too young to marry, or even dream of it, at present, Mr.
Stewart; and besides, if I must be candid, I have always entertained
different views for her."

"Pardon me, but I believe I scarcely comprehend your meaning. You
speak of other views for her; may I venture to ask the nature of
these?"

"I have never expected her to marry at all, Mr. Stewart."

"And why not, pray? What can you urge in favor of your wishes?"

"I had her own words to that effect, scarce a month ago."

A proud, happy smile played round his lips, and he replied: "She may
have thought so then, but I think her views have changed."

"But for Mary, she would have been the same;" and a bitter look passed
over her wrinkled face.

"Excuse me, if I ask an explanation of your enigmatical language;
there is some hidden meaning, I well know."

"Mr. Stewart, your mother and I are old friends, and I wish you well;
but all good Catholics love their church above every earthly thing. I
should like to see Florence happy, but her eternal good should first
be secured; you are a Protestant, and bitterly opposed to our Holy
Church, and I cannot consent to see her marry a heretic, for such you
are: she is too far astray already."

"If your niece were herself a Papist, your reason would indeed be
a cogent one; but, under existing circumstances, I am puzzled to
understand you."

"Were it not for Mary's influence, Florence would even now rest in the
bosom of our Holy Church. She has done her cousin a grievous wrong;
may God and the blessed Virgin forgive her!"

Mary groaned in spirit, as she marked the stern glance of his eagle
eye, and feebly raising herself, she said: "Mr. Stewart, will you take
this seat beside the sofa? I wish to speak with you."

Aunt Lizzy left the room hurriedly, as though she had already said too
much, and silently he complied with Mary's request.

"You are pained and perplexed at what my aunt has just said; allow me
to explain what may seem a great mystery. You are not aware that my
uncle died a Papist. Weakened in body and mind by disease, he was
sought and influenced in secret, when I little dreamed of such a
change. On his death-bed he embraced the Romish faith, and, as I have
since learned, exacted from Florry a promise to abide by the advice
of his priest, in spiritual as well as temporal matters. He expired
in the act of taking the sacrament, and our desolation of heart can be
better imagined than described--left so utterly alone and unprotected,
far from our relatives and the friends of our youth. I now marked a
change in Florry, though at a loss to account for it. An influence,
secret as that exerted on her lost parent, was likewise successful
and, to my grief and astonishment, I found that she too had embraced
papacy."

The door opened and Florence entered. She started on seeing her lover,
but advanced to them much as usual. He raised his head, and cold and
stern was the glance he bent on her beautiful face. She stood beside
him, and rising, he placed a chair for her in perfect silence. Mary's
heart ached, as she noted the marble paleness which overspread her
cousin's cheek. Mr. Stewart folded his arms across his chest, and said
in a low, stern, yet mournful tone:

"Florence, I could not have believed that you would have deceived me,
as you have silently done."

Mournfully Florence looked for a moment on Mary's face, yet there was
no reproach in her glance; it seemed but to say--"You have wakened me
from my dream of happiness."

She lifted proudly her head, and fixed her dark eye full on her lover.

"Explain yourself, Mr. Stewart; I have a right to know with what I am
charged, though I almost scorn to refute that of deceit."

"Not a week since, Florence, you heard me avow my dislike of the
tenets and practises of the Romish Church. I said then, as now, that
no strong-minded, intelligent woman of the present age could consult
the page of history and then say that she conscientiously believed its
doctrines to be pure and scriptural, or its practises in accordance
with the teachings of our Saviour. You tacitly concurred in my
opinions. Florence, did you tell me you had once held those doctrines
in reverence? Nay, that even now you lean to papacy?" Stern was his
tone, and cold and slightly contemptuous his glance.

A bitter, scornful smile wreathed the lips of his betrothed. "I
acknowledge neither the authority of questioning, nor allow the
privilege of any on earth to impugn my motives or my actions. Had I
felt it incumbent on me to acquaint you with every circumstance of my
past life, I should undoubtedly have done so, when you offered me your
hand. I felt no obligation to that effect, and consequently consulted
my own inclinations. If, for a moment, you had doubted me, or asked an
explanation of the past, I should have scorned to dissemble with you;
and now that the subject is broached you shall have the particulars,
which, I assure you, have kept well, though, as you suppose, sometime
withheld. I have been a member of the Church of Rome: I have prayed
to saints and the Virgin, counted beads and used holy water, and
have knelt in confession to a priest of papal Rome. I did all this,
thinking, for a time, my salvation dependent on it. You know all now."

Mr. Stewart regarded her sadly as she uttered these words, and his
stern tone softened as he noticed her bloodless cheek and quivering
lip.

"Florence, it is not your former belief or practise that gives me this
pain, and saddens our future. If you were at this moment a professor
of the Romish faith, I would still cherish and trust you: I should
strive to convince you of your error--to point out the fallacy of your
hopes. When I recall the circumstances by which you were surrounded,
and the influences exerted, I scarcely wonder that, for a time, you
lent your credence and support. But, Florence, full well you know that
this is not what pains me. It is the consciousness that you have
kept me in ignorance of what your own heart told you would show your
momentary weakness, and led me to suppose you entertained a belief at
variance with your practise. You have feared my displeasure more than
the disregard of truth and candor. Florence, Florence! knowing how
well I loved you, and what implicit confidence I reposed in you, how
could you do this?"

"Again, Mr. Stewart, I repeat that I perceive no culpability in my
conduct. Had I felt it my duty, your love or indifference would not
have weighed an atom in my decision to act according to my sense of
right and wrong."

He turned from her, and paced to and fro before the fire. Florence
would have left the room, but Mary clasped her dress, and detained
her.

"Mr. Stewart, you have been too harsh and hasty in your decision, and
too severe in your remarks. Florry has not forfeited your love, though
she acted imprudently. Ask your own heart whether you would be willing
to expose to her eye your every foible and weakness. For you, like all
God's creatures, have faults of your own. Is there nothing you have
left untold relative to your past? Oh! if you knew how deep and
unutterable has been her love, even when she never again expected to
meet you, you would forget this momentary weakness--a fault committed
from the very intensity of her love, and fear lest she should sink in
your estimation."

"Mary, if she had said, Dudley, I have not always felt as now, and my
mind was darkened for a time, I should have loved her, if possible,
more than before, for her noble candor. My own heart would have told
me, This is one in whom you may eternally trust, for she risked the
forfeiture of your love in order that truth might be unsullied.
How can I confide in one who values the esteem of man more than
the approval of her own conscience? You have said her love was a
palliation. No, you are wrong; it is an aggravation of her fault. She
should have loved me too well to suffer me to discover by chance
what should have been disclosed in confidence. Mary, her love is not
greater than mine. None know how I have cherished her memory--how I
have kept her loved image in my heart during our long separation. I
would give every earthly joy or possession to retain her affection,
for it is dearer to me than everything beside, save truth, candor, and
honesty. I have nothing to conceal from her; I would willingly bare
my secret soul to her scrutiny. There is nothing I should wish to keep
back, unless it be the pain of this hour."

He paused by her side, and looked tenderly on the pale, yet lovely
face of Florence.

"Mr. Stewart, shall one fault forever destroy your confidence in
Florry, when she has declared that had she thought it incumbent on her
to speak of these things--if she had felt as you do, she asserts that
nothing could have prevented her revealing every circumstance."

"Mary, I fear her code of morality is somewhat too lax; and the fact
that she acknowledges no fault is far more painful than any other
circumstance."

"Mary, I have omitted one thing which I wish him to know. I neglected
to inform you, that the priest to whom I confessed is my half-brother!
I have now told you all; and thinking as you do, it is better that in
future we forget the past and be as strangers to each other. That I
have loved you fervently, I can never forget--neither your assertion
that I am unworthy of your confidence."

She disengaged her dress from Mary's clasp, and turned toward the
door. Mr. Stewart caught her hand, and firmly held it. She struggled
not to release herself, but lifted her dark eyes to his, and calmly
met his earnest glance.

"Florence!"

There was a mournful tenderness in the deep tone. Her lip quivered,
still her eyes fell not beneath his, piercing as an eagle's.

"Mr Stewart, you have wronged her; you have been too severe." And Mary
clasped his hand tightly, and looked up appealingly. He withdrew his
hand.

"Florence, this is a bitter, bitter hour to me. Yet I may have judged
too harshly: we will forget the past, and, in future, let no such
cloud come between us."

"Not so, Mr. Stewart: if I am unworthy, how can you expect confidence
from me? Think you I will change the code which you just now
pronounced too lax? Oh! you know not what you have done. It is no
light thing to tell a woman of my nature she is unworthy of the love
she prized above every earthly thing!" Her voice, despite her efforts,
faltered.

"Florence, I have been too severe in my language, and you too proud
and haughty. Full well we know that without the love of each other
life would be joyless to both. Ours is not a common love; and again I
say, let us forget the past, while, in future, need I ask you to keep
nothing from me?"

He drew her to him as he spoke, and passing his arm round her, pressed
her to his heart. A long time Florence hid her head on his shoulder,
as if struggling with her emotion, and then a heavy sob relieved her
troubled heart. Closer he clasped her to him, and, laying his cheek on
hers, murmured:

"My own darling Florence, forgive me, if I misjudged you; tell me
that you will not remember my words--that this hour shall be to us a
painful dream,"

She withdrew from his embrace, and, lifting her head, replied:

"I was wrong to doubt your love, or believe that you would think long
of my weakness; but I am innocent of the charge of dissimulation, and
never let us recur to the past"

She held out her hand, and clasping it in his, Mr. Stewart led her
away.

An hour later Mary lay with closed eyes, too weary, from
overexcitement, even to look about her. All had left the room, and a
dim light from the hearth just faintly lighted the large, comfortless
apartment. With noiseless step Dr. Bryant entered, and seating himself
in the vacant chair, near Mary's sofa, bent forward that he might
look on the wan face of the sufferer. His heart ached as he noted the
painful alteration of the last week, and gently and softly he took one
of the thin white hands between his own. It was cold and damp, and,
while he pressed it, the dark blue eyes rested earnestly on his face.

"I hoped you were sleeping, did I wake you?" and he laid the hand
back, as she strove to withdraw it.

"No, I have not slept since morning."

"Oh! I am troubled at your constant suffering; is there anything I can
do for you?"

"No, thank you, Doctor, I wish nothing."

"All my arrangements are completed, and to-morrow I return to your
home. Can I deliver any message, or execute any commission?"

For a moment, Mary closed her eyes, then replied in a low voice:

"If you should see Inez, tell her to remember my gift at parting, and
thank her, in my name, for her many, many kindnesses." She paused, as
if gathering courage to say something more.

"And tell her, too, that ere many hours I shall be at rest. Tell her
I have no fear, nay more, that I have great hope, and that heaven is
opening for me. Let her prepare to join me, where there is no sorrow
nor parting."

There was a silence, as if each were communing with their own hearts.

"You go to-morrow, Dr. Bryant? Then you will not stay to see me die? I
am failing fast, and when you return, I shall have gone to that bourne
whence no traveler comes back to tell the tale. Let me thank you
now, for your unvarying kindness; many have been your services, and
a brother's care has ever followed me. Thank you; I appreciate your
kindness, and earnest and heartfelt is my prayer that you may be very
happy and blest on earth; and when you, too, come to die, may your
end be like mine--free from all fear, and may hope and joy attend your
last moments!"

Her breathing grew short, and large drops stood on her pure beautiful
brow.

He had bent his head upon his bosom while she spoke, but now he raised
it, and, taking her hand, clasped it warmly.

"Mary, Mary, if you knew what torture you inflicted, you would spare
me this!"

It was the first time he had called her Mary, and her pale lip
quivered.

"Forgive me, if I cause you pain!"

Bending forward, he continued, in a tone of touching sadness--"I had
determined, Mary, to keep my grief locked in my own heart, and never
to let words of love pass my lips. But the thought of parting with you
forever is more than I can bear. Oh! Mary, have you not seen for weeks
and months how I have loved you? Long ago, when first we met, a deep,
unutterable love stole into my heart. I fancied for a time that you
returned it, till the evening we met at my sister's, and you spoke
with such indifference of leaving me behind. I saw then I had
flattered myself falsely; that you entertained none save friendly
feelings toward me. Still, I thought in time you might learn to regard
me with warmer sentiments. So I hoped on till the evening of our last
ride, when your agitation led me to suppose you loved another. I saw
you meet Mr. Stewart, and was confirmed in my supposition. I gave up
all hope of ever winning your affection in return. Now I see my error
in believing for a moment that you felt otherwise to him than as a
brother, as the betrothed of your cousin. I know that you have never
loved him, and pardon my error. When I sought you just now, it was to
say good-by, and in absence and varied and exciting pursuits to shut
out from my heart the memory of my hopes and fears. Mary, your words
fill me with inexpressible anguish! Oh, you cannot know how blank and
dreary earth will seem when you are gone! I shall have no hope, no
incitement, no joy!"

As she listened to this confession, which a month before would have
brought the glow to her cheek and sparkle to her eye, she felt that
it came too late; still a perfect joy stole into her heart. She turned
her face toward him, and gently said:

"I am dying; and, feeling as I do, that few hours are allotted me, I
shall not hesitate to speak freely and candidly. Some might think me
deviating from the delicacy of my sex; but, under the circumstances, I
feel that I am not. I have loved you long, and to know that my love
is returned, is a source of deep and unutterable joy to me. You were
indeed wrong to suppose I ever regarded Mr. Stewart otherwise than as
Florry's future husband. I have never loved but one."

"Mary, can it be possible that you have loved me, when I fancied, of
late, that indifference, and even dislike, nestled in your heart? We
shall yet be happy! I thank God that we shall be so blest!" And he
pressed the thin hand to his lips.

"Do not deceive yourself. Your confession has come too late. I can
never be yours, for the hand of death is already laid upon me, and
my spirit will wing its way, ere long, home to God. Now that we
understand each other, and while I yet live, let us be as calm, as
happy as the circumstances allow. It may seem hard that I should be
taken when the future appears so bright, but I do not repine, neither
must you. God, ever good and merciful, sees that it is best I should
go, and we will not embitter the few hours left us by vain regrets."
Too feeble to speak more, she closed her eyes, while her breathing
grew painfully short.

Dr Bryant bent forward, and gently lifting her head, supported her
with his strong arm, and stroked off from her beautiful brow the
clustering hair. A long time she lay motionless, with closed eyes, and
bending his head, he pressed a long kiss on the delicately-chiseled
lips.

"O God! spare me my gentle angel Mary," he murmured, as looking on the
wan, yet lovely face, he felt that to yield her up was more than he
could bear.

At this moment Mrs. Carlton entered: he held out his hand, and drawing
her to his side, said, in a deep, tender tone:

"She is mine now, sister; thank God, that at last I have won her, and
pray with me that she may be spared to us both."

Fervently she pressed his hand, and a tear rolled down and dropped
upon it, as she bent down to kiss the sufferer. Gently he put her
back.

"She is wearied, and just fallen asleep; do not wake her."

He carefully depressed his arm that she might rest more easily. Mrs.
Carlton seated herself beside her brother, and whispered:

"You will not go to-morrow, Frank?"

"No, no; I will not leave her a moment. Ellen, does she seem very much
thinner since leaving home? I know she is very pale."

"Yes, Frank; she is fearfully changed within the last week."

"Oh, Ellen! if she should be taken from me;" and closer he drew his
arm, as though fearing some unseen danger.

"We must look to Heaven for her restoration, and God is good,"
answered his sister, turning away to conceal her tears.



CHAPTER XXVII.

      "Ah! whence yon glare
  That fires the arch of heaven?--that dark red smoke
  Blotting the silver moon?...
  Hark to that roar whose swift and deafening peals,
  In countless echoes, through the mountains ring,
  Startling pale midnight on her starry throne!

         *       *       *       *       *

  Loud and more loud, the discord grows,
  Till pale Death shuts the scene,
  And o'er the conqueror and the conquered draws
  His cold and bloody shroud."

  SHELLEY.


The 6th of March rose dark and lowering, and all nature wore an aspect
meet for the horrors which that day chronicled in the page of
history. Toward noon the dense leaden cloud floated off, as though
the uncertainty which veiled the future had suddenly been lifted--the
crisis had come. Santa Anna and his bloodthirsty horde, rendered more
savage by the recollection of the 11th December, poured out the vial
of their wrath on the doomed town. Oh! San Antonio, thou art too
beautiful for strife and discord to mar thy quiet loveliness. Yet the
fiery breath of desolating war swept rudely o'er thee, and, alas! thou
wast sorely scathed.

A second time the ill-fated fortress was fiercely charged. Long it
withstood the terrible shock, and the overwhelming thousands that so
madly pressed its gray, moldering walls. The sun went down as it were
in a sea of blood, its lurid light, gleaming ominously on the pale,
damp brows of the doomed garrison. Black clouds rolled up and veiled
the heavens in gloom. Night closed prematurely in with fitful gusts,
mingling the moans and strife of nature with the roar of artillery.
Still the fury of the onset abated not: the Alamo shook to its firm
basis. Despairingly the noble band raised their eyes to the blackened
sky. "God help us!" A howling blast swept by, lost in the deep
muttering of the cannonade. Then a deep voice rung clearly out, high
above the surrounding din: "Comrades, we are lost! let us die like
brave men!"

The shriek of departing hope was echoed back by the sullen groan of
despair. Travis fell, fighting at the entrance. As the hero sank upon
the glory floor, there was a pause; friend and foe gazed upon the
noble form! His spirit sprung up to meet his God.

"On, comrades! Travis has fallen! dearly will we die!"

One hundred and fifty brave hearts poured out their life-blood by
his motionless form, struck down like sheep in the slaughter-pen. But
seven remained: in despair they gazed on the ruin around, reeling from
exhaustion and slipping in gore. There was borne on the midnight air a
faint, feeble cry: "Quarter! quarter!" Alas! brave hearts, the appeal
was lost, for an incarnate demon led the thirsty band. With a fiendish
yell it was answered back, "No quarter!" and ye seven were stretched
beside your fearless, noble Travis.

Not a living Texan remained. The stiffening forms, grim in death,
returned not even a groan to the wild shout of triumph that rung so
mockingly though the deserted chambers of the slaughter-house. Victory
declared for the wily tyrant--the black-hearted Santa Anna. Complete
was the desolation which reigned around: there was none to oppose--no
not one; and the Alamo was his again! Oh, Death! thou art insatiate!
Hundreds had yielded to thy call, and followed the beckoning of thy
relentless hand: and still another must swell thy specter host, and
join the shadowy band of the Spirit World!

For three days Don Garcia lay motionless on his couch of pain; even
utterance was denied him, for paralysis had stretched forth her numb,
stiffening finger, and touched him, even while he stood in the busy
haunts of men. All day the din of battle had sounded in his ear;
Inez from time to time stole from his side, and looked out toward the
fortress, dimly seen through the sulphurous cloud of smoke and the
blaze of artillery.

In the silent watches of the night, the shout of "Victory!" was
borne on by the blast. "My father, the Alamo is taken--Santa Anna has
conquered!" He struggled fearfully, a gurgling sound alone passed his
lips, and he fell back lifeless on his pillow.

Calmly the girl bent down and closed the eyes, covered decently the
convulsed features, and then, shrouding her face with the mantilla,
stept forth for assistance. The next day saw the Don borne to his last
resting-place. In accordance with the custom of the nation, no female
followed the bier. It was borne by two men, and followed by some dozen
children, and perhaps as many aged Mexicans. While just in advance
strode the Padre, repeating the Latin service for the dead, and
attended by four boys--two bearing censers, one a cross, and the other
holy water. With indecent haste they pressed forward, passing through
the church, and resting the bier for a moment on the altar, while an
Ave Maria was repeated. At a sign from the Padre, the procession
moved on to the churchyard, and, without further ceremony, the body
deposited in consecrated ground. Holy water was sprinkled profusedly
around, and then all departed, leaving him to sleep undisturbed the
last dreamless sleep.

Night found Inez sitting alone by her dreary, deserted hearth. Father,
mother, sister, cousin, all had passed on before her; and the last of
her house, she mused in her lonely home. A faint fire flickering on
the hearth just revealed the form and face of the Mexican maiden.
Her mantilla lay on the floor beside her, the black hair, thick and
straight, hung to the waist, her brilliant, piercing eyes were bent
vacantly on the fire, her dark cheek perfectly colorless as clay.

"Who is there to care for Inez now? Who will smooth my pillow, and
close my eyes, and lay me to rest?"

Her desolation of heart conquered; her head sunk upon her bosom, and
a deep, bitter groan burst from her lips. Slowly she rocked herself to
and fro in the loneliness of her spirit.

She had not loved her father warmly; there was little congeniality
between them, and her hasty rejection of Mañuel's suit mutually
embittered their intercourse. For Nevarro, a sort of sisterly feeling
was entertained, no warmer affection. Yet she could love intensely. A
little sister had waked her tenderness--her heart clung to the gentle
child, so unlike herself. She sickened, and in a day went down to the
tomb: bitter was the grief of Inez, who felt little for her mother,
and soon she too took her place in the churchyard. Dr. Bryant came,
and again Inez loved--again she was disappointed; and now she sat
alone in the wide world, without one remaining tie to bind the future.

The hour of bitterness had come. She looked upon that dreary future
and her utter desolation, and no gleam of hope stole to her darkened
soul. An almost vacant expression settled on the dark countenance of
the once beautiful maiden. Softly the door was pushed ajar, and the
form of the Padre stood within. By instinct she seemed aware of
his entrance, for raising her bowed head, the black sparkling eyes
flashed, and the broad brow wrinkled into a frown dark as night. He
approached her, and they stood face to face upon the hearth.

"What do you here, in the house of death, Mio Padre?"

"Inez, my queen of beauty, I have come to take the prize for which I
toiled. There are none now between us, no, not one. You need not draw
back so proudly."

A bitter, contemptuous laugh rung out on the night air, and Inez
folded her arms upon her bosom.

"Truly, Padre, we are well mated! You have opposed me, and I thwarted
you! I am your equal: think you to intimidate me with threats? You
should know better!"

"Inez, listen! I leave this place before many days. My work is
finished here; there are none to oppose, and I go elsewhere. To Mexico
first, and then to Italy. You must go with me, my proud beauty! I
cannot leave you here!"

Again Inez laughed her mocking laugh. "Go with you, Mio Padre! No, no;
I must decline the honor. The hour of settlement has come! Alphonso
Mazzolin, for long you have plotted my destruction; and one by one
removed every obstacle in your way, and smoothed my path to ruin! I
have known this--silently I have watched you maneuver. You counseled
Mañuel; you flattered him, encouraged his hasty course and overbearing
manner, and caused the rupture between us. You knew my nature, and
foresaw the result. You thought to secure me within the walls of
yonder gloomy convent, and hoped that in time my broad lands would
bless and enrich your holy church! But, Padre, I did not fancy
the home prepared for me in San Jose. I promised to comply with my
father's wish, and fulfil the engagement, much to your surprise and
chagrin. Padre, I would have married Mañuel, sooner than second your
plans. I, too, foresaw the tempest that even now howls over us. It
was my only hope, and I said, who may predict the chances of war? The
Americans may yet number the most here, and then your power will be at
an end. Seemingly I was passive, but you are thwarted. We stand face
to face, and I scorn you, incarnate devil as you are. How dared you do
as you have done? Mine eyes are opened--you can no longer deceive me
with your lying legends and the marvelous traditions of your country.
I tell you, I hate you with an everlasting hate. You have led me far
from God, if there be a God, and may my curse follow you, even to your
grave!"

Fiercely the glowing face was bent upon him. Hate, scorn, bitterness
of heart, and utter desolation mingled strangely in the withering
glance. The Padre seized her arm, and hoarsely exclaimed:

"We know each other now: no matter, you cannot escape me: if force be
necessary to take you hence, I can command it at any moment. You know
full well my word is law; resist not, nor further rouse me--there is
no help for you save in submission. I will not leave you."

"Ere I follow you hence, yonder river shall close over my body. I tell
you now I will not accompany you."

He stepped to the door and whistled faintly. The next moment a
black-browed soldier stood before them.

"Herrara, she has broken her promise--she refuses to enter a convent,
and she defies me, and scorns our holy church. I somehow expected
this; and I charge you now, suffer her not to pass the threshold of
her own room; guard well the door, there is no window. See you,
Inez, you cannot escape me?" He whispered in the intruder's ear, and,
promising to come again the ensuing day, left the house, carefully
closing the door after him. Lighting his cigarrita, Herrara requested
Inez to seek her own apartment, that he might secure the door outside,
and then return to the fire. Without a word she ascended the stairs
to her own room. A chain was passed about the door, and then the
retreating steps of the soldier died away.

What should she do? Inez sat down to collect her thoughts, and looked
round the apartment. The walls were of solid rock, and in one corner
was a small grating of four iron bars, which admitted light and
air, but precluded all hope of escape in that quarter. The door was
secured, and no means of egress presented itself. Her eye rested on
her lamp, and a smile lit up the dark countenance of the prisoner. She
threw herself on her bed: slowly the hours rolled--midnight came at
last. She rose and listened--no stir, no sound of life reached her:
she glanced at her lamp, now dim--the light was waning, and softly
stepping across the room, she drew from a basket several bundles of
paper. These she tore in pieces, and placing them beside the door,
drew the lamp near. Inez carefully twisted up her long black hair, and
placed on her head a broad sombrero, which the Don had worn of late;
then taking his Mexican blanket, she slipped her head through the
opening, and suffered it to fall to her feet. Something seemed
forgotten, and after some little search, she found a small cotton bag,
into which she dropped a polonce, then secured it beneath the blanket.
Queerly enough she looked, thus accoutered; but apparently the oddity
of her appearance never once crossed her mind, for, stepping across
the floor, she held the pieces of paper over the lamp till ignited,
then quickly thrust them one by one between the small crack or chink
in the center of the door. It was of wood, old and dry, and caught
like tinder. She watched it burn; the door was narrow, and the
devouring element soon consumed all save the top and bottom pieces
which extended across. These quivered as their support crumbled
beneath them, and soon would fall with a crash. She watched her time,
and gathering dress and blanket closely about her, sprang through, and
though almost suffocated with smoke, hurried down to a small door at
the rear of the house. She stood without and listened: Inez fancied
she heard the crackling of the fire, yet there was no time to lose.
Just before her sat a large stone vessel, containing the soaking corn
for the morning tortillos; drawing forth her bag, she filled it with
the swollen grain, and hastened on to where a small black horse was
lassoed, having his hay scattered on the ground beside him. It was but
the work of a moment to throw on and fasten her father's saddle, which
hung on a neighboring tree, and loosing the hair lariat, she patted
the pony she had often ridden on St. ----'s day, and sprang into
the seat. Slowly she passed through the narrow yard, and entered the
street; pausing, she glanced up at her window, and perceived
through the grating the blaze and smoke now filling the vacant room.
Distinctly the clank of the chain fell on her ear, and turning into an
alley, she galloped away.

Inez knew it would be impossible to pass over the bridge, and down
the Alameda without detection, for seven hundred Mexican troops were
stationed on the outskirts of the town; and, with the celerity of
thought, she directed her way in the opposite direction, toward a
shallow portion of the river, occasionally used as a ford. Happily
the distance was short; and urging her somewhat unwilling horse, she
plunged in. The moon rose full and bright as she reached the opposite
bank; and pausing a moment, she looked back upon the sleeping town.
No sound of life fell on her ear; and avoiding the beaten track, she
turned her horse out on the grass, and hastened on toward the east,
directing her course so as to pass beyond the Powder-House, which was
dimly seen in the distance. At a quick canter it was soon passed, and
she pressed on to the Salado, some three miles distant. Full well she
knew she would be sought for when morning dawned; and with such speed
she almost flew on, that sunrise found her many miles from her home,
Inez was fearless, or she would never have dared to undertake what
lay before her. Alone, unprotected, in the guise of a man, without
possessing his ordinary means of defense, there was much to risk; for
Indian depredations were frequent, and she must traverse a wide waste
of almost interminable length ere reaching any settlement.

When the sunbeams played joyously about her Inez stopped to rest, and
eating a few grains of her treasured corn, she allowed her horse to
graze a short time along the margin of a stream, where the grass
was tender and abundant; and then remounting, rode on somewhat more
leisurely than she had previously done.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

  "To die, is landing on some silent shore,
  Where billows never beat nor tempests roar!"

  GARTH.


Since morning, Mary had lain in the deep, dreamless sleep of
exhaustion: and now the leafless boughs, which waved to and fro
before her window, threw long shadows athwart the wall and across
the deserted yard. Evening was creeping slowly on. Over the wan, yet
lovely face of the sleeper had come a gradual change--agonizing, yet
indescribable. It ever appears when Death approaches to claim his
victim, and it seems as though the shadow cast by his black pinions.
Mary opened her eyes and looked silently on the sad group which
clustered around her couch. Mr. Stewart, alone able to command his
voice, asked if she was not better, as she had slept so gently.

"All is well, Mr. Stewart--I have no pain;" and her eye again
rested on Florence. Long was the look, and full of deep, unutterable
tenderness. Feebly she extended her hand.

"Florry!"

Her cousin knelt beside her, and buried her face in her hands. Mary
laid hers on the bowed head.

"Dear Florry, I have little time to stay. Do not sadden this last
hour with vain regrets. Ah! my cousin, I thank God that you will be
so happy. When you miss me from your side you will feel lonely enough,
and your heart will ache for me again. Yet, though bodily absent, I
shall not be far away, Florry. My spirit will hover round the loved
ones I leave on earth. Your dead, forming an angel-guard, will ever
linger about your earthly path, and in the hour like this will bear up
your spirit to God. Think not of me as resting in the silent grave. I
shall not be there, but ever near you. I do not say, try to forget me,
and fix your thoughts on other things. Oh! I beg you to think of me
often, and of our glorious reunion in heaven! Florry, there is one
thing which will stand between you and me. My dear cousin, conquer
your pride, cast away your haughtiness, and learn to lean on God, and
walk in accordance with his law. Oh! who would exchange the hope of a
Christian for all that worlds could offer? One may pass through life,
and do without it; but in the hour of death its claim is imperatively
urged, and none can go down to the tomb in peace without it. Florry,
you said last night it was hard that I should die. I am not merely
reconciled, but I am happy! Earth looks very bright and joyous, and if
I might stay, my future is attractive indeed. Yet I know that for some
good end I am taken, and what seems to you so hard, is but a blessing
in disguise. Oh! then, when you are summoned away, may you feel, as
I now do, that the arms of your God are outstretched to receive you."
She held out her hand to Mr. Stewart, who stood beside her: he clasped
it in his.

"Cherish Florry, and let no shadow come between you. It gives me
inexpressible joy to know that when I am gone you will be near to love
and to guide her."

"We will comfort and guide each other, dear Mary, and oh! I pray God
that we may be enabled to join you in that land of rest to which you
are hastening." He fervently kissed the thin white hand he held, and
then gently raised Florence. Mary lifted her arms feebly, and they
clasped each other in a long, last embrace.

"Mary, my angel cousin, I cannot give you up. Oh! I have never prized
you as I ought. Who will love me as you have done?"

"Hush, Florry!" whispered the sinking voice of the sufferer. "I am
very, very happy--kiss me, and say good-by."

Gently Dr. Bryant took Florence from her cousin, and then each in
turn, Mrs. Carlton and Aunt Lizzy, bent over her; as the latter turned
away, Mary took her hand, and drawing her down, murmured:

"My dear aunt, forgive what may have pained you in my past life. We
have differed on many points, but we both know there is one God. Ah!
aunt, in his kingdom may we soon meet again: think of me often, dear
aunt. When I am gone you will be very lonely, but only for a short
period are we separated."

Dr. Bryant elevated her pillow that she might rest more easily. She
lifted her eyes to his pale face. "Frank, will you turn the sofa that
I may see the sun set once more?"

He moved it to the west window, and drew aside the curtain that the
golden beams might enter: she could not look out, for the sofa was
low, and sitting down beside her, he passed his arm around her,
and lifted her head to his bosom. For a time she looked out on the
brilliant hues of the setting sun, now just visible above the tree
tops. Slowly it sank, then disappeared forever to her vision. Once Dr.
Bryant had seen her lips move, as in prayer; now the deep blue eyes
were again raised to the loved face bending over her.

"Long ago, I prayed to God that I might fade away gently, and die a
painless death. He has granted my petition. All things seem very
calm and beautiful--earth ne'er looked so like heaven before; yet how
insignificant in comparison with the glories which await me. Frank,
if aught could draw me back, and make me loth to leave this world, it
would be my love for you. Life would be so bright passed by your side.
You know the depth of my love, yet I may not remain. Frank, tell
me that you can give me up for a little while. Oh! can you not say,
'God's will-be done?'"

"Mary, it is a terrible trial to yield you up, when I looked forward
so joyously to the future. It is hard to think of the long, long
dreary years that are to come, and know that you will not be near me;
that I cannot see your face, or hear your loved tones. Oh, Mary, you
know not the bitterness of this hour; yet I can say God's will be
done, for I have conquered my own heart, but every earthly joy and
hope has passed away. To our reunion I must ever look as my only
comfort, and I pray God that it may be speedy."

He bent his head till his lips rested on the white brow, now damp in
death. Wearily she turned her face toward his; he clasped the wasted
form tightly to his heart, and kissed the pale lips; her fingers
clasped his hand gently, and she whispered, "Good-by!"

"Good-by, my darling Mary!--my own angel one, good-by!"

Again he pressed his lips to hers, and then rested her head more
easily upon his arm. The eyes closed, and those who stood watching her
low, irregular breathing, fancied she slept again.

One arm was around her, while the other supported the drooping head.
Her beautiful brown hair fell over his arm, and left exposed the
colorless face. She was wasted, yet beautiful in its perfect peace
and joy was the expression which rested on her features. Dr. Bryant,
leaning his noble brow on hers, felt her spirit pass away in the last
sigh which escaped her lips. Yet he did not lift his head. Cold as
marble grew the white fingers which lingered in his, still he clasped
her tightly. He sat with closed eyes, communing with his own saddened
heart; he was stilling the agony which welled up, and casting forth
the bitterness which mingled darkly with his grief, and he said unto
his tortured soul: "Be still! my treasure is laid up in heaven."

He lifted the hair from his arm, and gently drew his hand from hers;
yet, save for the icy coldness of her brow, none would have known
that the soul which lent such gentle loveliness to the countenance had
flown home to God.

Dr. Bryant pressed a last kiss on the closed eyes and marble brow,
softly laid her on her pillow, and left the room.



CHAPTER XXIX.


"All things are dark to sorrow," and the very repose and beauty of
nature seem to the aching heart a mockery. No violent bursts of grief
had followed Mary's death, for so peaceful and painless was her end,
it was scarce allowable. Yet now that she had been consigned to the
quiet grave, a dreary sense of loneliness and desolation crept to
the hearts of the saddened group. They stood assembled at the door
of their new home, to bid adieu to Dr. Bryant. In vain had been his
sister's tears and entreaties, and Mr. Carlton's expostulations.
Florence had clasped his hand, and asked in trembling accents, why he
left them in their sorrow, and Mr. Stewart implored him not to seek
death on the battlefield.

Firm in his purpose, naught availed. He stood upon the step ready
to depart; his noble face was very pale, and grief had touched with
saddening finger every lineament. Yet his tone and mien were calm as
usual.

"My dear sister," said he, "in times like these a man should first
regard duty--the laws and precepts of his God! then the claims of his
suffering country; and lastly, the ties of nature and the tenderer
feelings of his heart. Ellen, think how many have torn themselves from
weeping wives and clinging children, and cast their warm love far from
them. The call to patriots is imperative. I have now nothing to detain
me here: it is my duty to lend my arm toward supporting our common
liberty. Do not fear for me, Ellen, my dear sister; remember that the
strong arm of all-seeing God is ever around us, to guard in time of
danger!" He clasped her tenderly to his heart, then placed her in her
husband's arms.

"Florence, if not again in Texas, I hope we shall soon meet, in more
peaceful hours, in Louisiana; if not, I pray God that you and Stewart
may be as happy as I once hoped to be." He pressed her hand warmly,
and returning the long, tight clasp of Mr. Stewart, mounted his horse
and rode slowly away.

"Mother," said Elliot, "Uncle Frank has not taken the right road
toward home."

"Hush, Elliot!" she sadly answered, while her tears gushed anew; "he
has gone by his Mary's grave."

On that hour, spent at the early tomb of the "loved and lost" Mary,
we will not intrude: it is rendered sacred by its deep, unutterable
anguish.

Nearly a week passed, and Dr. Bryant had hurried on, riding through
the long, long nights, and only pausing at times to recruit his jaded
steed. He had arrived at within two days' ride of San Antonio, and
too wearied to proceed, stopped as night closed in, and picketing his
horse wrapped his cloak about him, and threw himself under a large
spreading oak to rest, and, if possible, to sleep. An hour passed
on: still he lay looking up to the brilliant sky above. Perfect quiet
reigned around, and he felt soothed inexpressibly. Overcome with
fatigue, sleep stole on, and momentary oblivion of the past was
granted. He was startled from his slumber by the neighing of his
horse; and rising lightly, drew forth his pistols, cocked one, and
turned in the direction whence came the sound of approaching hoofs.
The neighing was answered by the advancing steed, and soon the figure
of both rider and horse was dimly seen; for the moon was not yet
risen, and the pale light of the stars but faintly assisted the
vision.

"Who comes there?" asked Dr. Bryant, throwing off his cloak, and
stepping up to the stranger.

"A peaceful Mexican, in search of cows, and some twenty sheep which
strayed away. I think, from your voice, you are an Americano. I am
friendly to your people--you will not molest me, and I will not harm
you."

"My friend, I rather doubt your word. These are stormy times for a man
to venture out in search of cattle, so far from San Antonio.".

"I could tell you a piece of news that would satisfy you that I run
less risk than yourself. But, stranger, it's not civil to doubt a
man's word, and make him an enemy whether he will or not."

"I am willing to receive your proffered proof of sincerity, and hope
to find you unlike your fickle nation. Come, tell the news which
sanctions this long ramble of yours. These are dark days, and it
becomes every man to look well to his own safety, and likewise watch
his neighbor's movements."

"I will do you a kindness, stranger; turn your horse's head, and let
moonrise find you where you drank water at noon. San Antonio is no
place for Americans now. Santa Anna has taken the Alamo; and every
one of your people lie low. Not one was spared to carry the tale to
Austin--no, not one!"

Dr. Bryant groaned in spirit, and his extended arm sunk to his side.

"Oh God! hast thou forsaken us? Surely thou wilt yet listen to the
voice of justice and liberty," he murmured to himself, and there was a
pause.

"How long since the ill-fated Alamo fell?" he inquired.

"Five days ago. Hintzilopotchli came down and held his bloody feast,
and cut off many brave men."

"By what force was the fortress assaulted?"

"Seven thousand men, led by the great and victorious Santa Anna. Not
long lasted the strife: we were too many for your people, and the
fight was short."

"And was our noble Travis slaughtered with his brave band?"

"He was too brave to live. Think you he would survive his comrades?
No! he fell first, and then all followed."

"Will Santa Anna march to Austin, think you; or, content with victory,
remain in your town?"

"Truly you give me credit for few brains and a woman's tongue. I have
told you one true tale, can you expect another from a fickle Mexican?
I tell you now, stranger, push me not too closely, if you would hear
what is good for you."

"Your voice sounds strangely familiar; yet I cannot recognize it
sufficiently to know with whom I am speaking. If, as you declare,
friendly to our people, you will not object to giving your name.
Perhaps I have known you in San Antonio."

"We Mexicans can tell a friend across the prairie--but no matter. I am
thinking we be strangers, yet I am not ashamed of my name. They call
me Antoine Amedo--did you ever hear of such an 'hombre?' My ranche is
just below the mission San Jose, and I have large flocks of sheep and
cattle."

"Antoine Amedo," repeated Dr. Bryant, musingly, and striving, through
the gloom, to scan his features. "You are right; I do not know you,
though your voice is familiar."

"If you have no objection, Señor Americano, I will let my horse picket
awhile, and rest myself; for I have ridden many miles since sunrise,
and not a blessed 'barego' have I smelled."

"You are at liberty to rest as long as you please: consult your own
inclinations." And he turned away to his own horse, yet marked that
the newcomer dismounted with some difficulty.

He changed his own picket, that fresh grass might not be wanting; and
returning to the tree, leaned against its huge body, and watched
the movements of the intruder. They were very slow, as if he were
well-nigh spent with overexertion. He took off his broad hat,
smoothed his hair, then replaced it; adjusted his heavy blanket more
comfortably, and drawing forth a sort of wallet, proceeded to satisfy
the cravings of hunger. He ate but little, and returning the bag or
sack to its hiding-place in the broad girdle which was passed about
his waist beneath the blanket, stretched himself on the ground, with
not even a straggling bough between him and the deep blue vault of
heaven.

No sound broke the silence, save the cropping of the horses as they
grazed near; and, seeking again his grassy couch, Dr. Bryant closed
his eyes, and communed with his own heart. Sleep was now impossible,
and he lay so rapt in thought, that time flew on unheeded. The moon
was shining brightly now, and every object was distinctly seen. He
heard the rustling of leaves and the crush of grass. A moment he
opened his eyes, then closed them, and feigned sleep.

The Mexican had risen, and softly approaching the motionless form,
knelt on the ground beside him, and listened to his breathing. It was
low and regular, as one in quiet slumber. He bent and gazed into the
upturned face--not a muscle quivered or a feature moved. Stealthily a
hand crept round the collar of the cloak, and lifted a heavy lock of
the raven hair. Smoothing it out on the grass, he drew forth a crooked
blade, which, in accordance with the custom of his countrymen,
ever hung in the girdle passed about the waist. It glittered in the
moonlight; and with dexterous hand he cut the lock of hair: then,
returning the knife to its resting-place, rose, and noiselessly
retreating to his former position, some yards distant, threw himself
down to sleep.

Dr. Bryant, fully conscious of every movement, determined, if
possible, to solve this mystery. His pistols were in readiness, and,
had violence been attempted, he would have sprung to his feet and
defended himself. He waited awhile, then turned, stretched, yawned,
and finally rose up. He drew out his watch, the hand pointed to two.
He wound it up, and drawing his cap closer about his ears, for the
night was cold, approached his companion and stirred him with his
foot. No sound or movement indicated consciousness; he stooped and
shook him.

"Antoine, Antoine, get up my friend: you don't intend to spend the
night here, do you?"

Ameda sat upright, and rubbed his eyes with well-feigned sleepiness:
"Well, Señor Americano, what is it--Indians smelling about?"

Dr. Bryant could not repress a smile at the drowsy tone of the
ranchero, who scarce five moments before had crept from his side.

"Upon my word, you seem a match for the seven sleepers of old. Why,
man, if Indians had stumbled on you by chance, they had slung
your scalp on yonder bough. In times like these men should slumber
lightly."

"Very true, Señor; yet mine eyes are heavy, for two moons have seen me
riding on. But you are up! wherefore?"

"I proceed on my journey, and wakened you to ask advice and direction,
and request your company, if it be that we take the same route."

"Jesu Maria! One might think the man had choice! Why, turn your
horse's head, and rest for naught but grass and water."

The Mexican had risen, and in adjusting his blanket, a sudden gust
of wind lifted his hat, and it fell to the ground at his feet; he
clutched at it convulsively, but it was too late. Dr. Bryant started
back in astonishment:

"Inez!"

The head sunk on her bosom, and the hair which had been confined at
the back of her head, fell in luxuriant masses to her waist.

"Fearless, yet unfortunate girl! what has led you to this freak?"

A singular group they presented, standing on the broad and seemingly
boundless prairie--the March wind moaning through the old oaks, and
rustling the brown grass. The moon shone full upon them; Dr. Bryant,
with his large cloak wrapped closely about him, and the black cap
drawn over his brow--surprise, reproach, pity, and chagrin strangely
blended in his gaze. One arm was folded over the broad chest, the
other hung by his side. Inez stood just before him, her beautiful head
bent so that the black locks well-nigh concealed her features. Her
father's large variegated blanket hanging loosely about the tall,
slender form. At her feet lay the hat, crushed by the extended foot,
and quivering in the night wind, her hands tightly clasped.

"Inez, you crouch like a guilty being before me! Surely you have
done nothing to blush for. Yet stranger step was never taken by a
reasonable being. Inez, raise your head, and tell me what induced
you to venture in this desolate region, alone, unprotected, and in
disguise?"

Inez lifted slowly the once beautiful face, now haggard and pale.
Anguish of spirit had left its impress on her dark brow, wrinkled by
early care. Mournful was the expression of the large dark eyes raised
to his face:

"Dr. Bryant, I am alone in the wide, wide world--there are none to
protect--none to care for me now! My father sleeps by Mañuel's side,
in the churchyard, and I am the last of my house. The name of De
Garcia, once so proud and honored, will become a byword for desolation
and misery! I have said cursed was the hour of my birth! and I now say
blessed is the hour of my last sleep! You see me here from necessity,
not choice, for all places would be alike to me now; but I have been
driven from my lonely hearth--I dared not stay, I flew to this dreary
waste for peace--for protection! There is no rest, no peace for me,
Not one is left to whom I can say, guard and keep me from harm! Alone,
friendless, in this wide, bitter world!"

"Your language is strangely ambiguous, Inez! Can you not explicitly
declare what danger threatens, and believe that all I can do to avert
evil will gladly be done?"

"Dr. Bryant, the Padre is my most inveterate enemy! Is not this
sufficient to account for my presence here?"

"Unfortunate girl! how have you incurred that man's hatred?"

"It is a long tale, and needless to repeat: enough, that he plotted
my ruin--that the strong, silent walls of a far-off convent was my
destination. And why?--That my flocks and lands might enrich his
precious church. You look wonderingly upon me; strange language,
this, I think you say, for a lamb of his flock. How dare you speak so
irreverently of the holy man, consecrated priest of Rome as he is? Dr.
Bryant, I am no Catholic, nor have I been since you have known me.
It was my policy to appear passive. I attended mass, and sought the
confessional, and all the while cursed him in my heart. I watched him,
and saved your people from destruction. Would you know how? I heard
whispered promises to meet at dead of night. I followed; I saw the
meeting between an emissary of Santa Anna and my godly Padre. At
imminent risk I listened to their plot. You were to be kept in
ignorance of the powerful force hurrying on to destroy you. Santa
Anna was to burst suddenly upon the town, and, ere you could receive
reinforcements, capture the Alamo at a blow. Once in his possession,
more than one of your people were to be handed over to the tender
mercies of my holy confessor. I warned you of your danger, and happily
you heeded the signs of the time; else you, too, would now molder
beneath the walls of the Alamo. His prey escaped him, and with
redoubled eagerness he sought to consummate my destruction. I was made
a prisoner in my own home, ere the sod settled on my father's grave!
I fled in the midnight hour, and you see me here! Dr. Bryant, I
well-nigh cut short the knotted thread of my life; but one thing saved
me, else my body would even now whirl along the channel of the river.
When I parted from the blue-eyed, sainted Mary, she gave me this book,
and asked me not only to read but follow its teachings. She clasped my
hand, and told me to remember God, and the eternity which awaited me,
and the judgment of that other, final world. Oh! if there be a heaven
and a purgatory! a God and a judge! if I sink to perdition, one alone
is to blame. He told me he had power to forgive my sins; that the
more completely I obeyed him on earth, the more blessed I should be in
heaven. Yet I have heard him lie, and seen him set aside the rules of
humanity and the laws of God! Mary's Bible tells me 'to keep holy the
Sabbath day.' Yet, from my childhood, I have seen our Priests at mass
on Sabbath morning, and at monte and cock-fights on the evening of the
same day! And I have seen them take from the widow, as the burial-fee
of her husband, the last cow she possessed. I saw these things, and
I said, there is no God, or he would not suffer such as these to
minister as his chosen servants upon the earth. I said in my heart,
purgatory is but a lie made to keep pace with their marvelous legends
and frequent miracles! There is not a purgatory, or they would fear
the retribution in store for them. I had none to teach me aright.
I mocked at the thought of religion. I said there is none on the
earth--it is merely a system of gain, and all that constitutes the
difference is, that some are by nature more of devils, and others
gifted with milder hearts. But I saw Mary--pure angel that she is--I
saw her with the sick and the dying: she railed not at our priest, as
he at her. She carried her Bible to the bed of death, and told them to
look to God for themselves. She bade them leave off saint-worship, and
cling to Jesus as their only Mediator. Peace followed her steps, and
much good she would have done, but my Padre interfered, peremptorily
ordered all good Papists to shun her as they would an incarnate demon,
and frightened many into submission with his marvelous tales and
threats of purgatory. I said to myself, if there be truth in God and
religion, this Mary walketh in the right path, for like an angel
of mercy and light she ever seems. She was the hope, the joy, the
blessing of all who knew her. Oh! I will come to you, Mary, and learn
of you, and die near, that you may be with me in the hour of rest."

Inez sank on the ground, and burying her face in her arms, rocked
herself to and fro. Dr. Bryant had listened to her rambling,
incoherent language, like one in a dream, till the name of Mary passed
her lips, and then his head sank upon his chest, and he groaned in the
anguish of his tortured spirit.

Inez held in one hand the small Bible given at parting; his eye fell
upon it, and he stepped nearer to her:

"Inez, the Mary you have loved rests no longer on earth. She has
passed away, and dwells in heaven. She was true to God, and his holy
law, and great is her reward. Scarce a week since I laid her in her
quiet grave, yet not there either, but yielded her up to the arms of
God!"

He paused, for his deep tone faltered. Inez rose quickly to her feet
as he spoke, and gazed vacantly on his face.

"Mary gone forever! Mary in heaven! Shall I never again see her, sweet
angel of truth and purity, with her soft blue eyes, so full of holy
love and gentleness? Oh, Mary, thou art blessed! thou art at rest!
When shall I, too, find eternal rest? Ere long, Mary, I, too, will
sleep the last, unbroken, dreamless sleep!"

Dr. Bryant laid his hand on the sacred volume, and would have drawn
it from her clasp; but tightening her hold, she shook her head, and
mournfully exclaimed:

"No, no; it is mine! When I die, it shall be my pillow; while I live,
it rests near my heart, and in the churchyard I will not let it go.
You have no right to claim it: you have not loved her as I have done.
She loved you, yet you heeded not the jewel that might have, even now,
been your own!"

"Inez, I have loved--I do love her, as none other can! Too late I
found my love returned. Had God spared her to me, she would have been
my wife. Oh, Mary, Mary! my own cherished one! May thy spirit hover
round me now, as in life thou wert my guardian angel! Inez, I, too,
have suffered, and severely. I have little to anticipate in life,
yet I am not desponding as you; my faith in God and his unchanging
goodness is unshaken. Let us both so live that we may join my Mary in
glory."

Inez answered not, but passed her hand wearily across her brow.

"Inez, which will you do? retain your disguise, and go with me, or
return to your old home? I am not going to Austin, but to Goliad, to
join the Texans there; will you accompany me, and claim the protection
of our banner? All that a brother could, I will gladly do; with me you
are safe, at least for a time; and when the storm of war has passed, I
doubt not your home will again be happy."

"I know you, Dr. Bryant, and I know that you are true to God, and keep
his law. I will go with you to Goliad, and there we will decide what I
must do. Oh! I am weary and sick at heart, and not long will I burden
you."

She stooped, and picking up the hat, replaced it on her head, and
turned toward her horse.

Frank kindly took her hand.

"Inez, do not despond. I trust all may yet be well with you, and rest
assured it gives me heartfelt pleasure to be enabled to render you
a service, and take you to a place of safety. But your hand is
hot--burning: it is feverish excitement from which you suffer. When we
have reached Goliad, and you can rest, I doubt not your strength and
spirits will return; meantime take one of my pistols, it is loaded,
and, in case of danger, will render good service."

She took the proffered weapon, and having secured it in the
girdle, turned to mount her horse. Frank assisted in arranging the
accouterments, and, springing upon his own recruited steed, they
turned their faces southward.



CHAPTER XXX.

  "Our bosoms we'll bare to the glorious strife,
    And our oath is recorded on high,
  To prevail in the cause that is dearer than life,
    Or crushed in its ruins to die.

         *       *       *       *       *

  And leaving in battle no blot on his name,
  Look proudly to heaven, from the death-bed of fame."

  CAMPBELL.


A bloody seal was set upon thee, oh! Goliad. A gory banner bound
around thy name; and centuries shall slowly roll ere thou art blotted
from the memory of man. The annals of the dim and darkened past afford
no parallel for the inhuman deed, so calmly, so deliberately committed
within thy precincts; and the demon perpetrator escaped unpunished!
A perfect appreciation of the spirit of the text--"Vengeance is
mine, saith the Lord; I will repay," alone can sanction the apathy
manifested by one to whom the world looked as the avenger of his
murdered countrymen.

Rumors of the fall of the Alamo, the overwhelming force of Santa Anna,
and his own imminent danger, had reached Colonel Fanning. In vain he
entreated reinforcements, in vain urged the risk hourly incurred. The
Texan councils bade him save himself by flight. "Retreat, fly from the
post committed to my keeping!" The words sounded like a knell on the
ear of the noble man to whom they were addressed. He groaned in the
anguish of his spirit, "I will not leave this fortress--Travis fell
defending with his latest breath the Alamo! Oh, Crocket! Bowie! can
I do better than follow thy example, and give my life in this true
cause?"

An untimely death--the separation and misery of his darling family,
weighed not an atom! "Patria infelici fidelis!" was ever his motto,
and unfaltering was his own step. There came a messenger from
headquarters--"Abandon Goliad, and retreat!"

"Colonel, you will not sound a retreat?" and Dr. Bryant laid his hand
upon his commander's arm.

"My God! it is a fearful thing to decide the destinies of four hundred
brave men! Bryant, if we remain it is certain death--the tragedy of
San Antonio will be reacted in our case!"

"Colonel, you must remember the old saw--'He that fights and runs
away, lives to fight another day,'" said a timeworn ranger, settling
his collar with perfect nonchalance.

"Why, Furgeson, do you counsel flight? My brave comrade, bethink
yourself!"

"Well, Colonel, it is something strange for me to say run; but when I
do say it, I am in earnest. The most hot-headed fellow in our company
dare not say I lack courage: you know as well as I do what they call
me--'Bulldog Furgeson,' but who feels like fighting the grand devil
himself, and his legion of imps to boot? I am a lone man and have
nothing in particular to live for, it's true; but it is some object
with me to do the most service I can for our Lone blessed Star! I
should like a game with old 'Santy' in a clear ring, and fair play;
but I am thinking we had best take French leave of this place, and
join the main body where we can fight with some chance ahead. Now
that's my opinion, but if you don't believe that doctrine, and want to
take the 'old bull right by the horns,' I say let's at him."

A smile passed over the face of his commander.

"Thank you, Furgeson, and rest assured I shall not doubt your stanch
support in time of need."

Again the broad brow contracted, and, linking his arm in that of Dr.
Bryant, he paced to and fro, engrossed in earnest, anxious thought.
Pausing at length, he pointed to his troops, awaiting in silence his
commands.

"Bryant, at least half those brave fellows have wives and children,
and bright homes, beckoning them away, yet see them calmly trust to
me in this trying hour. Should my order go forth to man the fort, and
meet the worst, I know full well not a murmur would be heard. Still it
is equally certain that, if we brave the conflict, not one of us
shall survive to tell the tale. What am I to do? Make this a second
Thermopylæ?"

"Peculiarly painful, I know full well, is the situation in which you
are placed. Yet one strong argument remains to be urged. Colonel, if
we desert Goliad, and sound a retreat, we cannot escape. The force of
the enemy is too powerful, their movements too rapid, to allow us to
retire to a place of safety without a desperate encounter. Is it not
better policy to remain here, and meet the shock?"

"If we fight at all it must be at fearful odds; four hundred to six
thousand! Yet, should I follow the dictates of my own heart, I would
not give one inch!--no, not one! Dearly they should buy the ground on
which I stand!"

"Colonel, shall we not meet them on this spot and lay down our lives,
as did our brethren of the Alamo?"

"No, by Jove! I shall have to leave, whether I will or not!" And
crumpling the note of orders, he tossed it to the ground, and pressed
it with his heel.

He stepped forth, and drawing his military cap about his eyes, folded
his arms upon his broad chest, and addressed his troops:

"Comrades! Retreat is no test of an army's bravery, neither the
courage of its commander. In every age and nation, circumstances have
occurred in which the cause of liberty, or the general welfare of
the state, has been promoted by timely flight rather than desperate
engagements. 'The Swamp Fox' often retired to his island of refuge,
safe from invading bands--the daring Sumter was forced at times to
retreat; and even our great Washington fled from superior forces, and
waited till a more convenient season. Fellow-soldiers: there is one of
two steps to be immediately taken. We will stand to our post, and fall
to a man, like Travis and his noble band, and our names will go down
to posterity as did the Spartans of old,

  'Wreathed with honor, and immortal fame;'

or else we set out at once for headquarters, consolidate our forces,
and march united to oppose Santa Anna.

"Comrades, which will ye do?"

No sound was heard along the ranks, each bent his head and communed
with his own spirit; and the image of their distant, yet cherished
homes, rose up and murmured--"Remember thy weeping wife and thy
fair-browed boy; who will guard them when thou art gone?"

The eagle eye of their brave leader was piercingly bent on the
mute assemblage; the momentary gleam of hope that lighted his noble
countenance faded away. There came a faint sound of rising voices--it
swelled louder, and louder still:

"God bless our noble Colonel! our brave Fanning! With him is the
issue. Say but the word, and we will follow!"

"Bryant, I cannot sign their death-warrant!" he said in a low, subdued
tone, sinking his head upon his breast. He lifted himself up, and
raising his voice, calmly replied:

"Had I not received orders to retreat, and if I were not fully aware
that lingering here insured our total destruction, I should scorn to
turn my back upon Goliad! Oh! gladly I would die in its defense;
but your fate is too entirely in my hands to admit of following
my individual wishes! None know the pang it causes me to sound a
'Retreat,' yet it may be, that the success of our cause demands it
at my hands, and therefore I say, 'Retreat, comrades!'--at dawn
to-morrow, we move from Goliad."

The decree went forth, and the ensuing day saw the doomed band moving
eastward toward headquarters they were destined never to reach.

On arriving at Goliad, Dr. Bryant had immediately enlisted, after
placing Inez in safety at the house of an aged Señora of her nation;
and no sooner was it decided to leave the town the following day than
he sought his Spanish friend.

She was sitting alone when he entered, and quickly rising, placed a
seat for him.

"Thank you, Inez, I have only a moment to remain--I come to say
good-by."

"Which way do your people go now?" she hoarsely asked.

"Santa Anna is marching with overwhelming forces toward us, and
Colonel Fanning thinks it advisable to retire to headquarters. We set
out at dawn to-morrow."

"You cannot escape by flight: it were better to remain here. I tell
you now, if you leave Goliad, you will be cut off to a man."

"Inez, my own feelings would strongly incline me to follow your
advice, but it has been decided otherwise!'

"Then, if you must go, I go with you!"

"Impossible, Inez, impossible! you know not what you say! For you to
venture from this place under existing circumstances, beset as we are
on every hand with dangers seen and unseen,--would be the height of
madness."

"I know not fear! of that you must have been convinced long ere this.
Danger cannot intimidate me; what you meet and suffer, that will I
encounter."

"Bethink yourself, Inez! What can you hope to accomplish by this
strange step? You have nothing to fear here from your own nation: what
can you gain by seeking a home among my people? Strange, mysterious
being! I wish for your own sake you were timid--that fear might
strengthen your sense of prudence!"

Inez had bent her head while he spoke, as in humiliation, now she
lifted herself and said, in a low, determined tone:

"I am alone in the wide world, and I have but one hope, but one
pleasure; to be with you while life remains, and to die near, that you
may close my eyes and lay me down to rest." She paused a moment,
and then clasping her hands, approached him, and continued in a more
passionate tone:

"Oh, if you knew how I have loved you, you could not look down so
coldly, so calmly upon me! you could not refuse the favor I ask! Oh,
Dr. Bryant, do not scorn me for my love!--'tis not a common love; for
it I have lost every earthly comfort and blessing; for this struggled
and toiled, and braved numberless dangers. I have loved you better
than everything beside! Turn not from me, and think contemptuously of
the worship given unsought! If you cannot love me, do not, oh, do not
despise me! Let me a little while longer be with you, and see you;
I will not trouble or incommode any one--do not leave me. Oh, Dr.
Bryant, do not leave me!"

The large black eyes were raised entreatingly to his, and an
expression of the keenest anguish rested on her colorless, yet
beautiful face.

Sadly he regarded her as she hurried on: no glance of scorn rested
even for a moment upon her. Yet a stern sorrow settled on his broad
brow, and around the firmly compressed lips.

"Inez, I do not, cannot love you, other than as the kind friend of
other days. I have never loved but one--I never shall. Mary, my own
angel Mary, ever rests in my heart. I cannot forget her--I can never
love another. I do not even thank you for your love, for your avowal
gives me inexpressible pain! I have suspected this, Inez, for long,
and your own heart will tell you I gave no ground to hope that I could
return your affection. I have striven to treat you like a sister of
late, yet this painful hour has not been averted. Equally painful to
both. Inez, your own words make it more than ever necessary that we
should part forever. I cannot return your love--I will not encourage
it. You must, as soon as safety allows, return to your old home.
Inez, do not cherish your affection for me, it can only bring pain and
remorse; forget me, and remember that you have imperative duties of
your own to perform. This is your darkest hour, and believe me, in
time you will be happy, and a blessing to your people. Remember Mary's
words, and her parting gift, and I pray God that we may so live that
we shall all meet in a happier home."

"Then I shall never see you again?" she said, in a calm and
unfaltering voice.

"For your sake, Inez, it is best that we should not meet again. If I
survive this war I go to Europe, and you will probably never see me
more. Inez, I pain you--forgive me. Your own good requires this candor
on my part."

An ashy paleness overspread the cheek and brow of his companion as he
spoke, and the small hands clutched each other tightly, yet no words
passed the quivering lips.

"Good-by, Inez! my kind and valued friend, good-by!" He held out his
hand. She raised her head, and gazed into the sad yet noble face of
the man she had loved so long. She clasped his hand between both hers,
and a moan of bitter anguish escaped the lips.

"My love will follow you forever! A woman of my nature cannot forget.
I shall sink to eternal rest with your name on my lips--your image
in my heart. Yet I would not keep you here--go, and may your God ever
bless you, and--and--may you at last meet your Mary, if there be a
heaven! We part now, for you have said it; good-by, and sometimes,
when all is joy and gladness to you, think a moment on Inez! the
cursed, the miserable Inez! sitting in bitter darkness by her lonely
hearth! Good-by!" She pressed her lips to his hand, and without a
tear, shrouded her face in her mantilla and turned away.

"God bless you, Inez, and keep you from all harm!" and Dr. Bryant left
the house, and returned to his commander.

       *       *       *       *       *

Colonel Fanning had led his troops but a few miles when the vanguard
halted, and some excitement was manifested. Spurring forward, he
inquired the cause of delay.

"Why, Colonel, if we ain't 'out of the frying-pan into the fire,' my
name is not Will Furgeson. Look yonder, Colonel, it takes older and
weaker eyes than mine to say them ain't Santy Anna's imps marching
down upon us thick as bees just swarmed, too!"

"You are right, Furgeson; it is the entire Mexican force! let us form
at once and meet them!"

Quick and clearly his orders rung out, and his little band, compact
and firm, waited in silence the result. With an exulting shout the
Mexicans charged. Desperately the doomed Texans fought, heaping up the
slain at every step. The wily Santa Anna changed his tactics. There
came a momentary cessation as the crowding thousands were furiously
driven back. And, seizing the opportunity, he spurred forward, offered
honorable terms, and besought Fanning to surrender and save the lives
of his brave followers.

"We will only surrender on condition that every privilege of prisoners
of war be guaranteed to us," replied Colonel Fanning.

"I, Santa Anna, commander-in-chief of the Mexican forces, do most
solemnly pledge my word, that all the privileges consistent with your
situation as prisoners of war, shall be extended to yourself and men.
And hereby swear, that on these conditions you may lay down your arms
in safety, without further molestation on our part."

Is there one of my readers who for a moment would attach blame to the
noble Fanning? The lives of his men were of far more importance to him
than the renown of perishing, like Travis, in a desperate struggle.
With the latter there was no alternative, for the cry of even seven
exhausted men for "quarter" was disregarded, and the garrison fell
to a man. But honorable terms were offered Fanning: he remembered
his men, and surrendered. Santa Anna! can there be pardon for such a
hardened wretch as you? Does not sleep fly your pillow? In the silent
watches of the night, do not the specter forms of your victims cluster
about your couch, and the shambles of Goliad rise before you? Can you
find rest from the echoing shrieks of murdered thousands, or shut your
eyes and fail to perceive the mangled forms stiffening in death,
and weltering in gore? If you are human, which I much doubt, your
blackened soul will be tortured with unavailing remorse, till Death
closes your career on earth, and you are borne to the tribunal of
Almighty God, there to receive your reward....

Night found the Texans again in Goliad, and they sought sleep secure
from evil; for had not Santa Anna's word been given that further
molestation would not be allowed? and they believed! Soundly they
slept, and dreamed of far-off homes and fireside joys.

  "That bright dream was their last!"

Sunrise came, and they were drawn out upon the Plaza. Their leader was
retained in custody, and, unsuspicious of harm, they each maintained
their position. Dr. Bryant raised his eyes--they rested but a moment
on Santa Anna's face. Turning quickly, he shouted aloud,

"Turn, comrades, let us not be shot in the back!"

Another moment the signal was given, and a deadly fire poured
upon four hundred unresisting prisoners of war, to whom honorable
conditions had been granted by the brave and noble generalissimo of
the Mexican forces.

Not one of many noble forms was spared. Dr. Bryant sank without
a struggle to the earth; and his spirit, released from sorrowing
mortality, sprung up to meet his Mary and his God!

The deed was done; and Santa Anna, the mighty chief who mowed down
four hundred unarmed men, was immortalized! Fear not, brave heart,
that posterity will forget thee! Rest assured that the lapse of time
cannot obliterate the memory of thy mighty deeds!

Fanning survived but a few hours, and then a well-aimed ball laid low
forever his noble head. Who among us can calmly remember that his
body was denied a burial? Oh, thou martyr leader of a martyr band, we
cherish thy memory! dear to the heart of every Texan, every American,
every soldier, and every patriot. Peace to thee, noble Fanning! and
may the purest joys of heaven be yours in that eternity to which we
all are hastening.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was noon! Still and cold lay the four hundred forms upon the Plaza.
Even as they sank, so they slept. No disturbing hand had misplaced
one stiffened member. The silence of death reigned around the murdered
band. A muffled figure swiftly stole down the now deserted streets,
and hurrying to the Plaza, paused and gazed on the ruin and wreck that
surrounded her. Pools of blood were yet standing, and the earth was
damp with gore. One by one Inez turned the motionless forms, still
the face she sought was not to be found. She had almost concluded her
search, when her eye fell on a prostrate form, closely wrapt in a long
black cloak; she knelt and gazed into the upturned face, and a low cry
of bitter anguish welled up and passed her colorless lips. Gently she
lifted the cloak, clasped by one icy hand: the ball had pierced his
side, and entered the heart. So instantaneous had been his death that
not a feature was convulsed. The dark clustering hair was borne back
from the broad white brow, the eyes closed as in deep sleep, the
finely-cut lips just parted. Pallid was the cheek, yet calm and noble
beyond degree was the marble face on which Inez gazed. She caught the
cold hand to her lips, and laid her cheek near his mouth, that she
might know and realize that his spirit had indeed joined Mary's in the
"land of rest." The icy touch extinguished every gleam of hope,
and calmly she drew the cloak over the loved face, concealing every
feature, then dropped her handkerchief upon the covered head, and
drawing her mantilla like a shroud about her, went her way to wait for
night and darkness.

Stretched on a couch in the home of the kind-hearted Señora who had
received her, Inez noted the moments and hours as they passed. An
eternity seemed comprised in the time which elapsed from noon till
dusk. Again and again she raised her bowed head, and looked out on the
slowly sinking sun. It passed at length beyond her vision. She rose
and sought her friend, an aged dame, whom God had gifted with a gentle
heart, keenly alive to the grief and sufferings of another.

"Well, Señorita Inez, what will you have?"

"I have a great favor to ask, yet it is one I doubt not will be
granted. Señora, among yonder slain is one who in life was ever kind
to me and to our people. Since morning he has lain in his own blood!
To-morrow will see them thrown into heaps, and left with scarce sod
enough to cover! I cannot, will not see him buried so! I myself will
lay him down to rest, if Santa Anna claims my life for it to-morrow!
I have caused a grave to be dug in a quiet spot, but I cannot bear him
to it unassisted. My strength is gone--I am well-nigh spent: will you
help me to-night? They will not miss him to-morrow, and none will know
till all is at rest! Señora, will you come with me?"

"Tell me first, Inez, if it is he who brought you here; who acted so
nobly to me, and bade adieu to you but two days since?"

"Yes, the same! will you refuse to assist me now?"

"No, by our blessed Virgin! I will do all an old woman like me can do;
yet united, Inez, we shall be strong."

Wrapping their mantillas about them, they noiselessly proceeded to
the Plaza. Darkness had closed in, and happily they met not even
a straggling soldier, for all, with instinctive dread, shunned the
horrid scene. They paused as Señora Berara stumbled over a dead body,
and well-nigh slipped in blood:

"Jesu Maria! my very bones ache with horror! this is no place for me.
Señorita, how will you know the body? Oh! let us make haste to leave
here!"

"Hush! do you see a white spot gleaming yonder? Nay, don't clutch my
arm, it is only my handerchief. I laid it there to mark the place.
Come on, step lightly, or you will press the dead."

With some difficulty they made their way along the damp, slippery
ground, now and then catching at each other for support. Inez paused
on reaching her mark, and bent down for several moments; then raising
herself she whispered:

"Señora, I have wrapped his cloak tightly about him, lift the corners
near his feet, while I carry his head. Be careful, lift gently, and do
not let the cloak slip."

Slowly they lifted the motionless form, and steadily bore it away:
Inez taking the lead, and stepping cautiously. She left the Plaza
and principal streets, and turned toward a broad desolate waste,
stretching away from the town, and bare, save a few gnarled oaks that
moaned in the March wind. The moon rose when they had proceeded some
distance beyond the last house, and Inez paused suddenly, and looked
anxiously about her.

"Sacra Dio! I trust you have not lost your way! Holy Mother, preserve
us if we have gone wrong."

"I knew we must be near the place: it is under yonder tree; fear
nothing Señora, come on:" and a few more steps brought them to the
designated spot.

A shallow excavation had been made, sufficient to admit with ease the
body of a full-grown man; and on its margin they softly laid their
burden down. Every object shone in the clear moonlight, and stranger
scene never moon shone upon. A dreary waste stretched away in the
distance, and sighingly the wind swept over it. Inez knelt beside the
grave, her wan yet still beautiful features convulsed with the secret
agony of her tortured soul; the long raven hair floating like a black
veil around the wasted form. Just before her stood the old woman,
weird-like, her wrinkled, swarthy face exposed to full view, while the
silver hair, unbound by her exertion, streamed in the night breeze.
Loosely her clothes hung about her, and the thin, bony hands were
clasped tightly as she bent forward and gazed on the marble face of
the dead. Wonder, awe, fear, pity, all strangely blended in her dark
countenance.

Inez groaned, and rocked herself to and fro, as if crushed in body and
spirit. She could not lay him to rest forever without the bitterest
anguish, for in life she had worshiped him, and in death her heart
clung to the loved form. Again and again she kissed the cold hand she
held.

"Señorita, we must make haste to lay him in, and cover him closely.
Don't waste time weeping now; you cannot give him life again. Have
done, Señorita Inez, and let us finish our work."

"I am not weeping, Señora! I have not shed a single tear; yet be
patient: surely there is yet time."

Inez straightened the cloak in which Frank Bryant was shrouded, placed
the hands calmly by his side, and softly smoothed the dark hair on his
high and noble brow. She passionately kissed the cold lips once, then
covered forever the loved, loved features, and they carefully lowered
the still form into its last resting-place.

They stood up, and the old dame pointed to the earth piled on either
side. Inez shuddered and closed her eyes a moment, as if unequal to
the task.

Her companion stooped, and was in the act of tossing forward a mass of
earth; but Inez interposed: "Señora, softly! I will do this: remember
there is no coffin."

Fearfully calm was her tone as she slowly pushed in the earth. There
was no hollow echo, such as ofttimes rends the heart of the mourner,
but a heavy, dull sound of earth crushing earth. Gradually she filled
the opening even with the surface, then carefully scattered the
remaining sod.

"I will not raise a mound, for they would tear him up, should they
know where I have laid him." Inez walked away, and gathering a
quantity of brown, shriveled leaves, and also as much grass as she
could draw from the short bunches, sprinkled them on the grave and
along the fresh earth.

"Think you, Señora, they will find him here?"

"No, no, Señorita! none will know that we have buried him. But the
night is already far gone, why do you linger?"

For a moment longer Inez gazed down upon the new-made grave: "But a
few more hours, and I shall sleep here by your side; farewell till
then."

She turned away, and silently they retraced their steps to the town,
reaching without inquiry or molestation their own home.



CHAPTER XXXI.

  "So live, that when thy summons comes to join
  The innumerable caravan, that moves
  To the pale realms of shade, where each shall take
  His chamber in the silent halls of death,
  Thou go not, like the quarry slave, at night
  Scourged to his dungeon; but sustained and soothed
  By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
  Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
  About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams."

  BRYANT.


A bright day in April drew near its close, and the golden rays of the
spring sun poured joyously through the open casement into the chamber
of death. Yes, the "King of Terrors" drew nigh, and the cold damp,
which his black pinions swept on, settled upon the brow of Inez. A
few days after the massacre at Goliad, a raging fever crimsoned her
cheeks, and lent unwonted brilliance to the large black eyes. Delirium
ensued, and wildly the unfortunate girl raved of the past--of her
former love, her hopelessness, her utter desolation. The dreamless
sleep of exhaustion followed this temporary madness: long she lay in
the stupor so near akin to death, and now, consciousness restored, she
awaited in silence her hour! In vain the kind-hearted Señora entreated
her to see a priest--steadfastly she refused. At length Madame Berara
assumed the responsibility of calling in her own confessor, and
silently quitting the room, went in quest of him. Inez suspected
the cause of her usual absence, and too feeble to concentrate her
thoughts, turned her face to the wall, and wearily closed her eyes.
Yet one hand felt along the cover and beneath the pillow. For what was
she searching on the bed of death? The thin fingers rested on a
small and well-worn Bible, and a tiny package, wrapped in paper and
carefully tied. The sacred volume was feebly pushed beneath her head,
and mechanically she undid the knot, and drew forth a glossy lock
of black hair. Wearily she pressed it to her lips several times, and
again folding it away, her hands sank powerless upon her bosom.

Inez, Inez! are there none near to clasp thy cold hand and tenderly
lift thy weary head? Alas, thou desolate one, Thou art left alone
in the bitter hour of thy trial! When all things seem shrouded in
impenetrable gloom, and thy darkened soul turns from the tortured past
to the dim, uncertain future, no loved one is nigh to dash away the
gathering mists, and point to that celestial home "of which it hath
not entered into the heart of man to conceive."

Oh, Inez! thy short life has been dark and tempestuous; it is hard
that a calm and peaceful end is denied to thee, thou suffering
one, longing for rest, oblivion of the past, utter unconsciousness!
Struggle on, proud maiden! but a few moments, and thy tones will
vibrate no longer, thy firm step cease forever, and thy memory pass
away like the shadows of night!

Señora Berara re-entered the silent chamber, accompanied by a priest,
clad in the vestments of his order. They approached the bed, and the
aged dame, bending over Inez, whispered audibly:

"I could not find my own Padre, but I bring one who will confess and
absolve thee? Make haste to prepare for heaven."

"I want neither confession nor absolution! Begone! and let me die in
peace," she answered, without unclosing the lids, which lay so heavily
upon the sunken eyes.

"Leave us together! I will call thee when thou art wanted," whispered
he of the Order of Jesus. The matron immediately withdrew, repeating
an Ave Maria; and they were left alone.

"Inez!"

A shudder crept through the wasted form, and, with a start, she looked
upon the face of the intruder. Even in death, hatred was strong; the
dim eye flashed, and the cold, damp lips wreathed into a smile of
utter scorn:

"Well, Padre! you have tracked me at last. It is a pity, though, you
had not set out one day later; you would have altogether missed your
prey! But I am content, for I am far beyond your reach!" She gasped
for breath, yet ghastly was the mocking smile which lit up the face.

"Not so, Inez! you escaped me once; I have you now! You have defied me
in health; but in death I conquer. You cannot die in peace without my
blessing. Remember, remember, one sin unconfessed will sink you into
everlasting perdition! Think you I will absolve you! Never! Never!"

"What brings you here? Think you the approach of death will terrify
me?--that I shall claim your intercession and absolution? Have you
come hoping to make a bargain, and receive my order for a hundred
sheep, or as many cattle, on condition that you pray me out of
purgatory? I tell you now, if there be such a place, you will surely
follow me ere long. We shall not be separated long, my godly Padre!"

Large drops rolled from her brow, and, gasping, she continued more
indistinctly:

"There is one to stand between us now, even blackbrowed Death! and
now, as I speak, I see his shadow flung over me. I am dying, and if
I am lost, you are to blame! you, and you only! You a man of God! You
forgive my sins, and give me a passport to heaven! Padre, I know you,
in all your hypocrisy, and I know that, if there be a God, you have
outraged His every law! You have led me astray! You have brought me
to this! Padre, I am sinful, full well I know it; for this is an hour
when the barrier which hides the secret soul is thrown down, and every
deed and thought stands up boldly for itself. I have not served God!
But oh! I would not change places with you, leader, teacher, guide,
consecrated priest, as you are--for you have mocked him! Yes, mocked
him! set aside his written word, and instead of Bible truths you told
me of Saints, and Relics, and Miracles! You bade me worship the cross,
and never once mentioned Him who consecrated it with his agony and
blood! In my childhood I believed your legends and miracles, and
trusted to such as you to save me. A dreadful curse will rest upon
your head, for you came in sheep's clothing, and devoured many
precious souls! Padre, I--I--" In vain she strove to articulate,
further utterance was denied her. The ghastly hue of death settled
upon her face. She lifted her eyes to heaven as in prayer; vacantly
they wandered to the face of the Padre, now well-nigh as pale as her
own; then slowly closed forever. A slight quiver passed over the lips,
a faint moan, and Inez was at rest. For long her wearied spirit had
cried "Peace! peace!" and now she laid herself down and slept the
long, unbroken sleep of death.

  "Oh! you have yearned for rest,
  May you find it in the regions of the blest."

As she had died without the pale of the church, they refused the
lifeless form a narrow bed in consecrated ground. Even the ordinary
service for the dead was entirely omitted; and, without a prayer, they
committed her to the silent tomb. The kind old dame, remembering her
grief at the secret burial of her noble friend, obtained permission to
lay her by his side, and, with the fierce howlings of the tempest for
her funereal dirge, they consigned Inez--the proud, beautiful, gifted,
yet unfortunate Inez--to rest. Peace, Inez, to thy memory, and may the
sod lie lightly on thy early grave!



CHAPTER XXXII.

  "There's a bliss beyond all that the minstrel has told,
     When two, that are linked in one heavenly tie,
   With heart never changing, and brow never cold,
     Love on through all ills, and love on till they die!"

  MOORE.


"Come, Florence, put on your bonnet; we land in a few moments," said
Mr. Stewart, entering the splendidly furnished saloon of a Mississippi
steamer, where she sat, book in hand. Quietly the young wife, for such
she now was, complied with his request, and taking her husband's arm,
they advanced to the bow of the boat. It was a bright, sunny morning
in early May, and the balmy breath of the opening summer wafted
gladness to many a weary, aching heart. The margin of the river was
fringed with willow, poplar, cotton-wood, and cypress, the delicate
fresh green foliage contrasting beautifully with the deep azure sky,
and the dark whirling waters of the turbid stream. It was such a day
as all of us may have known, when nature wore the garb of perfect
beauty, and the soothing influence is felt and acknowledged
gratefully--joyfully acknowledged by every one accustomed from
childhood duly to appreciate, admire, and love the fair and numberless
works of God, who,

          --"Not content
  With every food of life to nourish man.
  Makes all nature beauty to his eye
  And music to his ear."

Florence was gazing intently, as each object receded from her view.
They turned an angle in the stream, and drew near a landing, with
only a solitary warehouse visible. She started, and her clasped hands,
resting on her husband's arm, pressed heavily. He looked down into the
flushed face, and said with a smile:

"Well, Florence, what is it? Why do you tremble so?"

"Mr. Stewart, I cannot be mistaken: this is my father's old landing!
Why do you look so strangely? Oh! if you knew what painful memories
crowd upon my mind, you could not smile so calmly!" and her voice
faltered.

Laying his hand tenderly on hers, he replied:

"You once asked me whereabouts on the river my plantation was
situated. I evaded your question. You are aware that I inherited it
from a bachelor uncle. He purchased it from your father, and to your
old home, my dear Florence, we have come at last. It is yours again,
and I should have told you long ago, but feared you might be impatient
of the journey; and then it is pleasant to surprise you."

Ere Florence could speak the mingled emotions of her heart, the boat
stopped, and the jangling bells warned them to lose no time.

Mr. Stewart placed her on the bank, and beckoning to a coachman
mounted on a large heavy carriage, opened the door, assisted her
in, and then cordially shaking the outstretched hand of the servant,
inquired if all were well at home?"

"Oh yes, sir! all well except your mother. She has had the asthma, but
is better. But ain't you going to let me look at your wife? You put
her in as if I wan't to see my new mistress."

Mr. Stewart laughed, and opening the door, bade Florence look out; she
threw back her long mourning veil, and bent forward; their eyes met,
and both started with surprise:

"Isaac!"

"Miss Florry! sure as I am alive!" and he grasped the white hand
heartily.

"I cannot understand this at all! Isaac, how came you here?"

"Why you see, when the plantation was sold, we were sold with it;
that's how I come to be here."

"My dear Florence, it is strange, very strange, that I never once
thought of your recognizing the servants, though I should have known
you could not forget them. In what capacity did Isaac formerly serve?"

"He was always our coachman; and many a ride in childhood I owe to his
kindness and wish to make me happy. Isaac, I am very glad to see you
again." And her smile confirmed her words.

Mr. Stewart took the seat by her side, and was closing the door, when
the old man interfered.

"Miss Florry, I know old master is dead--we heard that sometime ago;
but where is Miss Mary? that blessed good child, that never gave a
cross word to one on the plantation. Why didn't she come home with
you?"

Florence could not reply, and the tears rolled silently over her
cheeks.

"Isaac," said Mr. Stewart, in a low, saddened tone, "Mary has gone to
a brighter home in heaven! She is happier far than she could be even
here with us! She died about a month ago."

There was a pause, and then, wiping his rough sleeve across his eyes,
Isaac slowly said--"And Miss Mary is dead! Well, she has gone to
heaven, if ever anybody did! for she was never like common children.
Many's the time when my poor little Hannah was burnt, and like to die,
that child has come by herself of dark nights to bring her a cake, or
something sweet and good! God bless her little soul! she always was
an angel!" and again wiping his eyes he mounted the box and drove
homeward.

Ah! gentle Mary! no sculptured monument marks thy resting-place! No
eulogistic sermon, no high-flown panegyric was ever delivered, on
thy life and death! Yet that silent tear of old Isaac's outspoke a
thousand eulogies! It told of all thy kindness, charity, love, angelic
purity of heart, and called thee "Guardian Angel" of the house of
Hamilton.

Night found Florence sitting alone in the parlor of her old and dearly
loved home. The apartment was much as she had left it five years
before, and old familiar articles of furniture greeted her on
every side. She sat down to the piano, on which in girlhood she had
practised, and gently touched the keys. The soft tones, waking the
"slumbering chord of memory," brought most vividly back the scenes of
other days. Again she stood there an only cherished daughter, and her
father's image, as he used to stand leaning against the mantel-piece,
rose with startling distinctness before her. And there, too, stood her
cousin, with the soft blue eyes and golden curls of her girlhood; and
she fancied she heard, once again, the clear, sweet voice, and felt
the fond twining of her arms about her. Long forgotten circumstances
in primitive freshness rushed upon her mind, and unable to bear the
sad associations which crowded up, Florence turned away from
the instrument, and seating herself on the sofa, gave vent to an
uncontrollable burst of sorrow--

  "Oh! what a luxury it is to weep,
  And find in tears a sad relief!"

And calmly Florence wept, not bitterly, for she had had much of sorrow
to bear, and schooled her heart to meet grief and sadness. Yet it was
hard to come back to her cherished home and miss from her side the
gentle playmate of her youth, the parent she had almost idolized, and
feel that she had left them in far distant resting-places. She heard
her husband's step along the hall, and saw him enter--she strove to
repress her tears and seem happy, but the quivering lips refused to
smile. He sat down, and drawing his arm around her, pressed her face
to his bosom, and tenderly said:

"My mother had much to say, after my long absence, and I could not
leave her till this moment My own heart told me that you suffered, and
I longed to come to you and sympathize and cheer."

"Do not think me weak, Mr. Stewart, because you find me weeping. It is
seldom I give vent to my feelings, but to-night I am overwhelmed with
recollections of the past. Oh! now, for the first time, I realize that
Mary has indeed gone forever. Mary! Mary! my heart aches already for
you, and your warm unchanging love! Oh! how can I look forward to the
long coming years, and feel that I shall never see her again?"

"Florence, my own Florence, I would not have you repress a single
tear. I know how sadly altered all things are, and what a dreary
look your home must bear. All I ask is, that when you feel lonely and
unhappy, instead of hiding your grief, come to me, lay your weary head
upon my shoulder, and I will strive to cheer you my precious wife! Let
nothing induce you to keep aught from me--let perfect confidence reign
between us: and do not, for a moment, doubt that I wish you other
than you are. The past is very painful both to you and to me, and the
memory of Frank and Mary constantly saddens my spirit. Yet we will
look forward to a happier future, and strive to guide and cheer each
other." He kissed the broad brow as he spoke, and drew tighter the arm
which encircled his wife, as though no danger could assail while he
was near.

"Of late, Mr. Stewart, I have wondered much how you ever learned to
love me; for I am much changed, and in my girlhood I was cold, proud,
and often contemptuous in my manner. Ah, Mary, how different from you!
If I have higher aims in life, and purer joys, I owe it all to her,
for she led me to love the law of God, and exemplified in her daily
life the teachings of Christ! But for her, I shudder to think what I
should now have been! O God, I thank thee that I am saved even as a
burning brand from the fire! I have hope of happiness on earth, and
at last a joyful reunion with the loved ones that have gone on home
before me. And you, my husband, help me to conquer myself to break
down my pride, and to be more like Mary. Oh, forgive my weaknesses,
and ever love me as you now do!"

He clasped her to his heart, and whispered--"Fear not, Florence, that
I will ever love you less! I, too, have faults which you may be called
on to excuse, yet all is bright for us, and I trust no common share of
happiness will be our portion through life!"

  "Oh, sweet reward of danger past!
    How lovely, through the tears
  That speak her heart's o'erflowing joy,
    The young wife's smile appears.
  The fount of love for her hath gushed,
    Life's shadows all have flown,
  Joy, Florence! thou a heart hast found
    Responding to thine own!"

THE END.





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