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Title: East Angels
Author: Woolson, Constance Fenimore, 1840-1894
Language: English
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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.

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EAST ANGELS

A Novel

BY

CONSTANCE FENIMORE WOOLSON
AUTHOR OF "ANNE" "FOR THE MAJOR" ETC.

NEW YORK
HARPER & BROTHERS, FRANKLIN SQUARE


CONSTANCE FENIMORE WOOLSON'S WORKS.

EAST ANGELS. A Novel. 16mo,
Cloth, $1.25.

ANNE. A Novel. Illustrated. pp iv.,
540. 16mo, Cloth, $1.25.

FOR THE MAJOR. A Novelette. Illustrated.
pp. 208. 16mo, Cloth, $1.00.

CASTLE NOWHERE. Lake Country
Sketches, pp 386. 16mo, Cloth,
$1.00. (_New Edition nearly ready._)

RODMAN THE KEEPER. Southern
Sketches, pp. 340. 16mo, Cloth.
$1 00. (_New Edition nearly ready._)

PUBLISHED BY HARPER & BROTHERS, NEW YORK.

==>_Any of the above works sent by mail, postage prepaid, to any part of
the United States or Canada, on receipt of the price._

Copyright, 1884, 1885, 1886, by HARPER & BROTHERS.

_All rights reserved._



EAST ANGELS.



CHAPTER I.


"I think, more than anything else, I came to be under blue sky."

"Are you fond of sky?" said the young girl who was sitting near the
speaker, her eyes on the shimmering water of the lagoon which stretched
north and south before the house.

"I can't lay claim to tastes especially celestial, I fear," answered the
visitor, "but I confess to a liking for an existence which is not, for
six months of the year, a combat. I am mortally tired of our long
northern winters, with their eternal processions of snow, ice, and
thaw--thaw, ice, and snow; I am tired of our springs--hypocritical
sunshine pierced through and through by east winds; and I have at last,
I think, succeeded in breaking loose from the belief that there is
something virtuous and heroic in encountering these things--encountering
them, I mean, merely from habit, and when not called to it by any
necessity. But this emancipation has taken time--plenty of it. It is
directly at variance with all the principles of the country and creed in
which I was brought up."

"You have good health, Mr. Winthrop?" asked Mrs. Thorne, in a tone which
was prepared to turn with equal appreciation towards sympathy if he
were, and congratulation if he were not, the possessor of the lungs
which classify a person, and give him an occupation for life.

"Do I look delicate?"

"On the contrary, you look remarkably well," answered his hostess, sure
of her ground here, since even an invalid likes to be congratulated upon
an appearance of health: not only is it more agreeable in itself, but it
gives him the opportunity to explain (and at some length) that all is
illusory merely, a semblance; an adjustment of the balances between
resignation and heroism which everybody should admire. "Yes," Mrs.
Thorne went on, with a critical air which seemed to say, as she looked
at him, that her opinions were founded upon unprejudiced scrutiny,
"wonderfully well, indeed--does he not, Garda?"

"Mr. Winthrop looks well; I don't know that it is a wonder," replied
Edgarda Thorne, in her soft voice. "He has been everywhere, and seen
everything," she added, turning her eyes towards him for a moment--eyes
in which he read envy, but envy impersonal, concerning itself more with
his travels, his knowledge of many places, his probable adventures, than
with himself.

"Mr. Winthrop is accustomed to a largeness of opportunity," remarked
Mrs. Thorne; "but it is his natural atmosphere." She paused, coughed
slightly, and then added, "He does not come into the ports he enters
with banners flying, with rockets and cannon, and a brass band at bow
and stern."

"You describe an excursion steamer on the Fourth of July," said
Winthrop.

"Precisely. One or two of the persons who have visited Gracias-á-Dios
lately have seemed to us not unlike that," answered the lady.

Mrs. Thorne had a delicate little voice, pitched on rather a high key,
but so slender in volume that, like the pure small note of a little
bird, it did not offend. Her pronunciation was very distinct and
accurate--that is, accurate according to the spelling; they knew no
other methods in the conscientious country school where she had received
her education. Mrs. Thorne pronounced her _t_ in "often," her _l_ in
"almond," her "again" rhymed with "plain."

"Did you mean that you, too, would like to go everywhere and see
everything, Miss Thorne?" said Evert Winthrop, addressing the daughter.
"I assure you it's dull work."

"Naturally--after one has had it all." She spoke without again turning
her eyes towards him.

"We are kept here by circumstances," observed Mrs. Thorne, smoothing the
folds of her black gown with her little withered hand. "I do not know
whether circumstances will ever release us--I do not know. But we are
not unhappy meanwhile. We have the old house, with its many
associations; we have our duties and occupations; and if not frequent
amusement, we have our home life, our few dear friends, and our
affection for each other."

"All of them crowned by this same blue sky which Mr. Winthrop admires so
much," added Garda.

"I see that you will always hold me up to ridicule on account of that
speech," said Winthrop. "You are simply tired of blue. As a contrast you
would welcome, I dare say, the dreariest gray clouds of the New England
coast, and our east wind driving in from the sea."

"I should welcome snow," answered Garda, slowly; "all the country
covered with snow, lying white and dead--that is what I wish to see. I
want to walk on a frozen lake with ice, real ice over deep water, under
my feet. I want to breathe freezing air, and know how it feels. I want
to see trees without any leaves on them; and a snow-storm when the
flakes are very big and soft like feathers; and long icicles hanging
from roofs; and then, to hear the wind whistle round the house, and be
glad to draw the curtains and bring my chair close to a great roaring
fire. Think of that--to be _glad_ to come close to a great roaring
fire!"

"I have described these things to my daughter," said Mrs. Thorne,
explaining these wintry aspirations to their guest in her careful little
way. "My home before my marriage was in the northern part of New
England, and these pictures from my youth have been Garda's fairy
tales."

"Then you are not English?" said Winthrop. He knew perfectly that she
was not, but he wished to hear the definite little abstract of family
history which, in answer to his question, he thought she would feel
herself called upon to bestow. He was not mistaken.

"My husband was English--that is, of English descent," she
explained--"and I do not wonder that you should have thought me English
also, for I have imbibed the family air so long that I have ended by
really becoming one of them. We Thornes are very English; but we are the
English of one hundred and fifty years ago. _We_ have not moved on, as
no doubt the English of to-day have been obliged to move; _we_ have
remained stationary. Even in dear old England itself, we should to-day,
no doubt, Garda and I, be called old-fashioned."

Winthrop found himself so highly entertained by this speech, by her "We
Thornes," and her "dear old England," that he looked down lest she
should see the change of expression which accompanies a smile, even
though the smile be hidden. This little woman had never been in England
in her life; unmistakable New Hampshire looked from her eyes, sounded in
every tone of her voice, made itself visible in all her movements and
attitudes. She was unceasingly anxious; she had never indulged herself
in anything, or taken anything lightly since she was born; she had as
little body as was possible, and in that body she had to the full the
strict American conscience. All this was vividly un-English.

"Yes, I always regret so much the modern ways into which dear England
has fallen," she went on. "It would have been beautiful if they could
but have retained the old customs, the old ideas, as we have retained
them here. But in some things they have done so," she added, with the
air of wishing to be fully just. "In the late unhappy contest, you know,
they were with us--all their best people--as to our patriarchal system
for our servants. They understood us--us of the South--completely."

Winthrop's amusement had now reached its highest point. "Heroic,
converted little Yankee school-marm," was his thought. "What a colossal
effort her life down here must have been for her, poor thing!"

"Your husband was the first of the American Thornes, then?" he said,
with the intention of drawing out more narrative.

"Oh no. The first Edgar Thorne came out from England with Governor Tonyn
(the friend of Lord Marchmont, you know), during the British occupation
of this province in the last century; he remained here after the
retrocession to Spain, because he had married a daughter of one of the
old Spanish families of this coast, Beatriz de Duero. As Beatriz was an
only child, they lived here with her parents, and the second Edgar
Thorne, their son, was born here. He also married a Duero, a cousin
named Ines; my husband, the third Edgar, was their child. My husband
came north one summer; he came to New England. There he met me. We were
married not long afterwards, and I returned with him to his southern
home. Edgarda was but two years old when her dear father was taken from
us."

"Miss Thorne resembles her Spanish more than her English ancestors, I
fancy?" said Winthrop, looking at the handle of his riding-whip for a
moment, perhaps to divest the question of too closely personal a
character, the young lady herself being beside him. But this little
by-play was not needed. Mrs. Thorne had lived a solitary life so long
that her daughter, her daughter's ancestors, her daughter's resemblances
(the last, indeed, might be called historical), seemed to her quite
natural subjects for conversation; if Winthrop had gazed at Garda
herself, instead of at the handle of his riding-whip, that would have
seemed to her quite natural also.

"Edgarda is the portrait of her Spanish grandmother painted in English
colors," she answered, in one of her neatly arranged little phrases.

"An anomaly, therefore," commented Garda, who seemed rather tired of the
turn the conversation had taken. "But it can do no harm, Medusa-fashion,
because fastened forever upon a Florida wall."

"A Florida wall is not such a bad thing," answered Winthrop. "I am
thinking a little of buying one for myself."

"Ah, a residence in Gracias-á-Dios?" said Mrs. Thorne, her small, bright
blue eyes meeting his with a sort of screen suddenly drawn down over
them--a screen which he interpreted as a quick endeavor on her part to
conceal in their depths any consciousness that a certain desirable old
Spanish mansion was possibly to be obtained, and for a price which, to a
well-filled purse of the north, might seem almost comically small.

"No; I do not care for a house in the town," he answered. "I should
prefer something outside--more of a place, if I should buy at all."

"I cannot imagine why any one should wish to buy a place down here now,"
said Garda. "A house in Gracias-á-Dios, with a rose garden and a few
orange-trees, is all very well; you could stay there for two months or
so in the winter, and then close it and go north again. But what could
you do with a large place? Cotton and sugar are no longer worth raising,
now that we have no slaves. And as to one of the large orange groves
that people are beginning to talk about, there is no one here who could
manage it for you. You would have to see to it yourself, and that you
could never do. To begin with, the climate would kill you; and then
there are the snakes."

"Being already dead, the snakes would hardly trouble me, I suppose,
unless you refer to future torments," said Winthrop, laughing. "Allow me
to congratulate you upon your picture of the agricultural resources of
the country. They have never before been so clearly presented to me; it
is most interesting."

Garda shook her head, repressing a smile. But still she did not look at
him.

"In purchasing a place here Mr. Winthrop may not be thinking of
agriculture; he may be thinking only of climate," remarked Mrs. Thorne,
mildly, to her daughter.

"Climate--that is blue sky, I suppose," said Garda; "I acknowledge that
there is an abundance of that here. But I advise Mr. Winthrop to buy but
a small piece of ground as his standing-point, and to take his sky out
perpendicularly; he can go up to any height, you know, as high as the
moon, if he likes. That would be ever so much wiser than to have the
same amount spread out horizontally over a quantity of swamp-land which
no person in his senses could wish to own."

"But the land about here strikes me as remarkably dry," observed their
visitor, amused by the girl's opposition to an idea which he had as yet
so faintly outlined. He suspected, however, that she was not combating
him so much as she was combating the possibility of a hope in the breast
of her little mother. But poor Mrs. Thorne had been very discreet; she
had not allowed herself to even look interested.

"It is as dry as the Desert of Sahara," Garda answered, with decision,
"and it is as wet as a wet sponge. There is this dry white sand which
you see on the pine-barrens--miles upon miles of it. Then, stretching
across it here and there come the great belts of bottomless swamp.
_That_ is Florida."

"Your description is a striking one," said Winthrop, gravely. "You make
me feel all the more desirous to own a little of such a remarkable
combination of wet and dry."

Garda glanced at him, and this time her smile conquered her. Winthrop
was conscious of a pleasure in having made her look at him and smile.
For it was not a matter of course that she would do either. His feeling
about her had been from the first that she was the most natural young
girl he had ever met--that is, in the ranks of the educated. There was a
naturalness, of course, in the Indian girls, whom he had seen in the far
West, which probably exceeded Garda's; but that sort of naturalness he
did not care for. Garda was natural in her own graceful way, singularly
natural; her glance and her smile, while not so ready, nor so promptly
hospitable as those of most girls of her age, seemed to him to possess a
quality which he had come to consider almost extinct--the quality of
frank, undisturbed sincerity.

"I sometimes regret that I described to my daughter so often the aspects
of my northern home," said Mrs. Thorne. "It was a pleasure to me at the
time (it had been a great change for me, you know), and I did not
realize that they were becoming exaggerated to her, these
descriptions--more beautiful than the reality. For she has dwelt too
much upon them; by contrast she over-estimates them. The South, too, has
its beautiful aspects: that we must allow."

Winthrop fancied that he detected a repressed plaintiveness in her tone.
"She thinks her daughter cruel to keep on beating down so ruthlessly her
poor little hope," was his thought. Then he answered the spoken
sentence: "As she has never seen these things for herself, your
descriptions must have been vivid."

"No; it is her imagination that is that."

"True--I have myself had an example of her imagination in her remarks
upon agriculture."

Garda laughed. "I shall say no more about agriculture, blue sky, or
anything else," she declared.

"You leave me, then, to take care of myself?"

"You do not need my assistance, I never waste it."

"I should have pretended to be quite helpless! That's the second mistake
I have made this afternoon. If I had only let it be supposed that my
health was delicate, Mrs. Thorne would have been much more interested in
me."

"Oh no, Mr. Winthrop," said his hostess, earnestly; "you are quite
mistaken. Good health is in itself full of the deepest interest, I am
sure, and especially at the present day, when it is so singularly rare.
I am most glad you possess it--most glad indeed."

"I possess enough of it, at any rate, to go over the place, if you will
be so kind," said Winthrop. "You know you promised me that pleasure some
day, and why not this afternoon? There is a delightful breeze."

Mrs. Thorne dropped her eyes to the tips of her black cloth slippers,
visible beneath the skirt of her gown. These little shoes one could
scarcely fail to see, since the skirt, which was neatness itself in its
decent black folds, was rather scanty and short. Their age and well-worn
thinness, the skilful mending of their worst places, the new home-made
bindings, the fresh ribbon bows bravely tied, told a story to the
observers of delicate things.

But while Mrs. Thorne surveyed her slippers, her daughter was replying:
"It would hardly amuse you to go over the place, Mr. Winthrop; there is
really nothing to see but the crane."

"Let us go, then, and see the crane."

"Mamma would be so delighted, you know. But she never walks."

"Not far," corrected Mrs. Thorne. "I am not strong, not able to walk
far."

"And I should be delighted, too," continued Garda, "only I am so sleepy.
I have fallen into the habit of spending my afternoons in the hammock;
that makes me immensely drowsy just at this hour."

"I feel like an interloper," said Winthrop; "say a large mosquito."

"You needn't. It's not well to sleep so much," replied Miss Thorne,
calmly.

"Certainly you know how to console. Is that the hammock in which you
pass your happy existence?"

"Not existence; only afternoons. You really wish to go?" she added,
seeing that he had taken his hat from the chair beside him. "We will
send Raquel with you, then, as guide."

"Raquel?"

"Haven't you noticed her? She lets you in when you come. She is an
important personage with us, I assure you; her mother, grandmother, and
great-grandmother lived on the place here before her."

Winthrop recalled the portly jet-black negress who, in answer to his
knock, had opened the lower door.

"Three generations make aristocracy in America," he replied; "I am
afraid of so distinguished a guide. If doomed to go without Mrs. Thorne
or yourself, why may I not go alone?"

"You would never find the magnolias, you would come into the live-oak
avenue at the wrong end, you would look at the ruin from its commonplace
side, you would see only the back of the Cherokee roses, the crane would
not dance for you, the wild cattle would run at you, and you would
inevitably get into the swamp," answered the girl, checking off the
items one by one on her pretty fingers.

"I have confessed my fear of Raquel, and now you display before me this
terrible list of dangers. Don't you think it would be but common charity
to come with me yourself? My conversation is not exciting; you could
easily sleep a little, between-times, as we walk."

"I believe you have had your own way all your life," remarked Garda, "or
you would never persist as you do. Your humility is nothing but a
manner; in reality you expect everything to be done for you by
everybody."

"Not by everybody," Winthrop responded.

Mrs. Thorne had coughed as Garda ended her speech. Mrs. Thorne often
coughed, and her coughs had a character of their own; they did not
appear to be pulmonary. They were delicate little sounds which came
forth apologetically, shielded by her hand, never quite completed; they
were not coughs so much as suggestions of coughs, and with these
suggestions she was in the habit of filling little pauses in the
conversation, covering up the awkwardnesses or mistakes of others (there
were never any of her own to cover), or acting as hyphen for disjointed
remarks when people had forgotten what they were going to say. It was,
indeed, a most accomplished cough, all Gracias had been indebted to it.
Lately, too, she had begun to use it to veil her own little periods of
consultation with herself regarding her daughter; for she seemed by no
means certain of the direction which this daughter's thoughts or words
might take, and the uncertainty troubled her careful maternal mind.
Garda, however, though often out of sight round some unexpected corner,
was never far distant; the hurrying elderly comprehension always caught
up with her before long; but these periods of uncertainty, combined with
cares more material, had ended by impressing upon Mrs. Thorne's face the
look of anxiety which was now its most constant expression--an anxiety
covered, however, as much as possible, by the mask of minutely careful
politeness which fitted closely over it, doing its best to conceal, or,
failing in that, to at least mark as private, the personal troubles
which lay underneath.

"Mamma's cough means that I am not sufficiently polite," said Garda; "I
always know what mamma's cough means." She rose, passed behind her
mother's chair, and bending forward over her small head, lightly kissed
her forehead. "I will go, mamma," she said, caressingly. "I will be
beautifully good, because to-morrow is your birthday; it ought to be a
dear little day, about six hours long, to fit you."

"I am fortunate to have asked my favor upon the eve of an anniversary,"
said Winthrop.

"You are," answered Garda, taking her broad-brimmed hat from the nail
behind her. "It's only upon such great occasions that I am really and
angelically good--as mamma would like me to be all the time."

"I will send Raquel after you, my daughter, with the umbrellas," said
Mrs. Thorne, with a little movement of her lips and throat, as though
she had just swallowed something of a pleasant taste, which was, with
her, the expression of content.

"Surely it is not going to rain?" said Winthrop, examining the sky.

"They are sun-umbrellas; you may need them," answered his hostess, with
a certain increased primness of accentuation, which immediately brought
to his mind the idea that the carrier of these articles would represent
the duenna whom she considered necessary.

"A Spanish graft, that, on the original New England tree," was his
mental comment. "I wonder how many more there are?"

But the descendant of the Spaniards was speaking for herself. "We do not
want Raquel, mamma; we can carry the umbrellas ourselves." And she
passed into the darkened drawing-room, from which opened the little
balcony where they had been sitting.

Winthrop, after taking leave of Mrs. Thorne, followed Garda. But he had
the conviction that a duenna of some sort, though it might not be
Raquel, would be improvised from that balcony before long, and sent
after them.

He had already paid several visits to these ladies, and knew his way
through the interior dimness, but the old house still attracted him, and
he did not hurry his steps; he looked again at the rooms, which, with
their few articles of furniture, had to northern eyes an appearance of
cool shaded emptiness, the broad open spaces having been purposely left
to give place for the free passage of air. The vaulted ceilings deep in
shadow, the archways in place of the northern doors, one room panelled
to the top in dark polished wood which glimmered dimly as he passed
through--all these he liked to note. Beyond, the stone stairway made a
leisurely, broad-stepped descent. The high wainscot on the wall at its
side showed pomegranates stiffly carved in low relief, and the
balustrade of the same dark wood ended in a clumsy column, with a heavy
wreath of the fruit wound round it, the conventional outlines worn into
vagueness by the touch of time.

The old house was built of stone, the porous shell-conglomerate of that
coast. The thick blocks had been covered with an outer coat of plaster,
and painted a shadeless gray-white. The structure extended itself over a
large space of ground. Blank, unadorned, covered by a flat roof, without
so much as the projection of a cornice to break their monotony, the
walls stretched evenly round a parallelogram, and having but two stories
of height, looked low in comparison with their length. But the old house
in reality was not so large as it appeared to be, these same walls with
their lining of rooms enclosing an interior court which was open to the
sky; the windows of the inner sides looked down upon a low-curbed well,
a clump of bananas, a rose-bush, and an ancient stone seat with a hook
above it, where had hung in his cage, until he died of old age, Mrs.
Thorne's northern canary, who had accompanied his mistress southward on
her wedding journey to Florida.

Viewed from without, the gray-white abode had a peculiarly dumb aspect.
On the north side there were no windows; on the south, east, and west
the windows of the lower story, few at best, were covered by solid
wooden shutters, which, being all kept closed, and having the same hue
as the walls, could scarcely be distinguished from them. The windows of
the upper story were more numerous, but almost as jealously guarded; for
though their shutters were here and there partially open, one could see
that in a trice they could all be drawn to and barred within, and that
then the old mansion would present an unbroken white wall to all points
of the compass. But once allowed to pass the door, solidly set in the
stone, without top or side lights, the visitor perceived that these
rooms with exterior windows darkened, opened widely upon the sunny court
within. Some of them, indeed, did more. The inner walls of the
ground-floor had been cut away in four places, leaving rounded open
arches with pillars supporting the second story, and, under these
arcades, there were chairs and tables and even a sofa visible, articles
which presented to Evert Winthrop's eyes, each time he came, a picture
of tropical and doorless confidence in the temperature which struck him
as delightful. These arcades were not so unprotected as they appeared to
be. Still, as the months went by, it could be said with truth that they
remained, for five-sixths of the year, thus widely open. Evert Winthrop
had spent his childhood and youth in New England, he had visited all
parts of the great West, in later years he had travelled extensively in
the Old World; but this was his first visit to that lovely southern
shore of his own country which has a winter climate more enchanting than
any that Europe can offer; to match it, one must seek the Madeira
Islands or Algiers. In addition to this climate, Winthrop was beginning
to discover that there were other things as well--old Spanish houses
like the one through which he was now passing, a flavor of tradition and
legend, tradition and legend, too, which had nothing to do with Miles
Standish and his companions, or even with that less important personage,
Hendrik Hudson. There was--he could not deny it--a certain comparative
antiquity about this southern peninsula which had in it more richness of
color and a deeper perspective than that possessed by any of the rather
blank, near, little backgrounds of American history farther north. This
was a surprise to him. Like most New-Englanders, he had unconsciously
cherished the belief that all there was of historical importance, of
historical picturesqueness even, in the beginnings of the republic, was
associated with the Puritans from whom he was on his father's side
descended, was appended to their stately hats and ruffs, their wonderful
perseverance, their dignified orthography, the solemnities of their
speech and demeanor. And if, with liberality, he should stretch the
lines a little to include the old Dutch land-holders of Manhattan
Island, and the river up which the _Half-moon_ had sailed, that had
seemed to him all that could possibly be necessary; there was, indeed,
nothing else to include. But here was a life, an atmosphere, to whose
contemporary and even preceding existence on their own continent neither
Puritan nor Patroon had paid heed; and it was becoming evident that he,
their descendant, with all the aids of easy communication, and that
modern way of looking at the globe which has annihilated distance and
made a voyage round it but a small matter--even he, with all this help,
had not, respecting this beautiful peninsula of his own country,
developed perceptions more keen than those of these self-absorbed
ancestors--an appreciation more delicate than their obtuse one.
Winthrop's appreciation was good. But it had been turned, as regarded
historical and picturesque associations, principally towards the Old
World. He now went through a good deal of meditation upon this subject;
he was pleased, yet, on the whole, rather ashamed of himself. When
Raphael was putting into the backgrounds of his pictures those prim,
slenderly foliaged trees which he had seen from Perugino's windows in
his youth, the Spaniards were exploring this very Florida shore; yet
when he, Evert Winthrop, had discovered the same tall, thin trees (which
up to that time he had thought rather an affectation) from the
overhanging balcony of the little inn at Assisi--it had seemed to
overhang all Umbria--did he not think of Raphael's day as far back in
the past, and as completely remote from the possibility of any
contemporary history in America as America is remote from the future
great cities of the Sahara plains? And when, in Venice, he dwelt with
delight upon the hues of Titian and Veronese, was he not sure (though
without thinking of it) that in their day the great forests of his own
New World untrodden by the white man's foot, had stretched unbroken to
the sea? Because no Puritan with grave visage had as yet set sail for
Massachusetts Bay, he had not realized that here on this southern shore
had been towns and people, governors, soldiers, persecutions, and
priests.

"I presume you intend to show me everything in its worst possible
aspect," he said, as he joined Garda in the sunny court below. She was
waiting for him beside the bananas, which were here not full grown--tall
shrubs that looked, with their long-winged leaves standing out stiffly
from their stalks, like green quill-pens that a giant might use for his
sonnet-writing.

"No; I have withdrawn my guardianship--don't you remember? You must now
guard yourself."

"From the great temptations opening before me."

"They may be such to you; they are not to me. I think I have never met
any great temptations; I wonder when they will begin?"

They had crossed the court, and passed through a cool, dark,
stone-floored hall on the other side; here they went out through a low
door, which Raquel opened for them. Winthrop declined the white umbrella
which this stately handmaid offered him, and as Garda would not let him
carry the one she had taken, he walked on beside her with his hands in
the pockets of his short morning-coat, looking about him with enjoyment,
as he usually did at East Angels. The façade of the house which looked
towards the lagoon was broken by the small balcony, roofed and closely
shaded by green blinds, where they had been sitting, and where the
hammock was swung. This little green cage, hung up on the side of the
house, had no support from below; there was neither pillar nor trellis;
not even a vine wandered up to its high balustrade. The most agile Romeo
could not have climbed to it. But a Romeo, in any case, could not have
approached near enough to attempt such a feat, since a wide space of
open ground, without tree or shrub upon it, extended from the
house-walls outward to a certain distance on all sides. Winthrop had
already noticed these features--the heavy barred shutters of the lower
floor, the high-hung little balcony, the jealous open space--he had
pronounced them all very Spanish. He now looked about him again--at the
dumb old house, the silvery sheen of the lagoon, the feathery tops of
the palmettoes on Patricio opposite, the blue sky, and the sunny sea
stretching eastward to Africa. "I ask nothing more," he said at last.
"_This_ is content."

His companion glanced at him. "You do look wonderfully contented," she
commented.

"It amuses you? Perhaps it vexes you?"

"Neither. I was only wondering what there could be here to make you so
contented."

This little speech pleased the man beside her highly. He said to himself
that in the mind of a girl accustomed to the ways of the world, it would
have belonged to the list of speeches too obvious in application to be
made; while a little country coquette would have said it purposely. But
Garda Thorne had spoken both naturally and indifferently, without
thinking or caring as to what he might say in reply.

"I was remembering," he answered, "that at home all the rivers are
frozen over, not to speak of the water-pipes, and that ice-blocks are
grinding against each other in the harbor; is it any wonder, then, that
in this charming air I should be content? But there are various degrees
even in contentment, and I should reach a higher one still if you would
only let mo carry that umbrella." For she had opened it, and was holding
it as women will, not high enough to admit him under its shade, but at
just the angle that kept him effectually at a distance on account of the
points which were dangerously on a level, now with his hat, now with his
collar, now with some undefended portion of his face. He had always
admired the serenity with which women will pass through a crowded
street, raking all the passers-by as they go with an umbrella held at
just that height, the height that suits themselves; smilingly and with
agreeable countenances they advance, without the least conception,
apparently, of the wild dodging they force upon all persons taller than
themselves, of the wrath and havoc they are leaving behind them.

"No man knows how to hold a sun-umbrella," answered Garda. "To begin
with, he never has the least idea where the sun is."

"I have learned that when you say 'To begin with,' there is small hope
for us. Might I offer the suggestion, humbly, that there may be other
methods of holding umbrellas in existence, besides those prevalent in
Gracias."

Garda laughed. Her laugh was charming, Winthrop had already noticed
that; it was not a laugh that could be counted upon, it did not come
often, or upon call. But when it did ripple forth it was a distinct
laugh, merry and sweet, and not the mere magnified smile, or the two or
three shrill little shouts in a descending scale, which do duty as
laughs from the majority of feminine lips. Its influence extended also
to her eyes, which then shot forth two bright beams to accompany it. "I
see that it will not do to talk to you as I talk to--to the persons
about here," she said.

"Are there many of them--these persons about here?"

"Four," replied Garda, promptly. "There is Reginald Kirby, surgeon. Then
there is the Reverend Mr. Moore, rector of St. Philip and St. James.
Then we have Adolfo Torres, from the Giron plantation, south of here,
and Manuel Ruiz, from Patricio, opposite."

"A tropical list," said Winthrop; "discouragingly tropical."

"But I'm tropical myself," Garda responded.

She was taking him through a narrow path, between what had once been
hedges, but were now high tangled walls, overrun with the pointed leaves
of the wild smilax. The girl had a light step, but if light, it was not
quick; it could have been best described, perhaps, by the term
unhurrying, a suggestion of leisure lay in each motion, from the poise
of the small head to the way the pretty feet moved over the path or
floor. Winthrop disliked a hurried step, he disliked also a tardy one;
the step that is light but at the same time leisurely--this seemed to
him to mark the temperament that gets the most out of life as a whole,
certainly the most of pleasure, often too the most of attainment. Garda
Thorne had this step. In her case, probably, there had been more of
pleasure than of attainment. She did not indeed strike one as a person
who had given much thought to attainment, whether of scholarship or
housewifely skill, of needle-work or graceful accomplishments, or even
of that balance of conscience, that trained obedience of the mind, which
are so much to many of her sisters farther north. But these same sisters
farther north would have commented, probably, commented from the long,
rocky coast of New England, and from the many intelligent communities of
the Middle States, that no woman need trouble herself about attainment,
or anything else, if she were as beautiful as Edgarda Thorne.

For in their hearts women always know that of all the gifts bestowed
upon their sex that of beauty has so immeasurably the greatest power
that nothing else can for one moment be compared with it, that all other
gifts, of whatsoever nature and extent, sink into insignificance and
powerlessness beside it. It is, of course, to the interest of domestic
men, the good husbands and fathers who are satisfied with home comforts
and home productions, and desire nothing so much as peace at the
hearth-stone, to deny this fact, to qualify it as much as possible, and
reduce its universality. But the denials of these few, contented,
low-flying gentlemen are lost in the great tide of world-wide agreement,
and no one is deceived by them, save, in occasional instances, their own
wives, who in that case have been endowed by nature with much faith (or
is it self-complacence?), and powers of observation not much beyond
those of the oyster. But on that long New England coast already spoken
of, and in those pleasant, pretty towns of the Middle States,
observation has been keenly cultivated, and self-complacence held in
abeyance by much analysis. All the northern sisters who lived there
would probably have answered again, and with one voice, that with simply
the most ordinary good qualities in addition, a girl as beautiful as
Edgarda Thorne would carry all before her in any case.

Garda was of medium height, but her litheness made her seem tall. This
litheness had in it none of the meagre outlines of the little mother,
its curves were all moulded with that soft roundness which betrays a
southern origin. But the observer was not left to this evidence alone,
there was further and indisputable proof in her large, dark, beautiful,
wholly Spanish eyes. She had, in truth, been well described by Mrs.
Thorne's phrase--"the portrait of her Spanish grandmother, painted in
English colors." The tints of her complexion were very different from
the soft, unchanging, creamy line which had been one of the beauties of
the beautiful Ines de Duero; Garda's complexion had the English
lightness and brightness. But it was not merely pink and white; there
were browns under its warm fairness--browns which gave the idea that it
was acquainted with the open air, the sun, the sea, and enjoyed them
all. It never had that blue look of cold which mars at times the beauty
of all women who are delicately fair; it never had the fatal shade of
yellow that menaces the brunette. It was a complexion made for all times
and all lights; pure and clear, it had also a soft warmth of color which
was indescribably rich. The lustrous black braids of Ines de Duero had
been changed in her grand-daughter to braids equally thick, but in color
a bright brown; not the brown that is but golden hair grown darker, nor
that other well-known shade, neither light nor dark, which covers the
heads of so many Americans that it might almost be called the national
color; this brown had always been bright, had never changed; the head of
the little Garda of two years old had showed a flossy mass of the same
hue. This hair curled slightly through all its length, which gave the
braids a rippled appearance. It had, besides, the beauty of growing low
and thickly at the temples and over the forehead. The small head it
covered was poised upon a throat which was not a mere point of union, an
unimportant or lean angle to be covered by a necklace or collar; this
throat was round, distinct in outline, its fairness beautiful not only
in front, but also behind, under and at the edges of the hair where the
comb had lifted the thick, soft mass and swept it up to take its place
in the braids above. Garda's features were fine, but they were not of
the Greek type, save that the beautiful forehead was low; the mouth was
not small, the lips full, delicately curved. When she smiled, these lips
had a marked sweetness of expression. They parted over brilliantly white
teeth, which, with the colors in her hair and complexion, were the
direct gifts of English ancestors, as her dark eyes with their long,
curling, dark lashes, the thickness of her brown braids, her rounded
figure with its graceful unhurrying gait and high-arched little feet,
were inheritances from the Dueros.

But written words are not the artist's colors; they can never paint the
portrait which all the world can see. A woman may be described, and by a
truthful pen, as possessing large eyes, regular features, and so on
through the list, and yet that woman may move through life quite without
charm, while another who is chronicled, and with equal truthfulness, as
having a profile which is far from showing accordance with artists'
rules, may receive through all her days the homage paid to loveliness
alone. The bare catalogue of features, tints, and height does not
include the subtle spell whose fulness crowns the one, while its lack
mars the other, and a narrator, therefore, while allowing himself as
detailed a delineation as it pleases him to give, should set down
plainly at the end the result, the often mysterious and unexpected
whole, which the elements he has described have, in some occult manner,
combined to produce. "There was an enchantment in her expression,"
"There was an irresistible sweetness about her;" these phrases tell more
than the most minute record of hue and outline; they place the reader
where he would be were the living, breathing presence before him,
instead of the mere printed page.

But in the case of Garda Thorne it could have been said that she had not
only brilliant beauty, but the loveliness which does not always
accompany it. There was sufficient regularity in her face to keep from
it the term irregular; but it had also all the changing expressions, all
the spirit, all the sweetness, which faces whose features are not by
rule often possess. She had undoubtedly a great charm, a charm which no
one had as yet analyzed; she was not a girl who turned one's thoughts
towards analysis, one was too much occupied in simply admiring her. She
was as open as the day, her frankness was wonderful; it would have been
said of her by every one that she had an extraordinary simplicity, were
it not that the richness of her beauty threw over her a sort of
sumptuousness which did not accord with the usual image of pure, rather
meagre limpidity called up by the use of that word.

Evert Winthrop, beholding her for the first time in the little Episcopal
church of Gracias, had said to himself that she was the most beautiful
girl (viewing the matter impersonally) whom he had ever seen.
Impersonally, because he would have set down his personal preference as
decidedly for something less striking, for eyes of blue rather than
black, eyes which should be not so much lustrous as gentle, for smooth
hair of pale gold, a forehead and eyebrows like those of a Raphael
Madonna. He was sure, also, that he much preferred slenderness; even a
certain virginal thinness and awkwardness he could accept, it might be
part of the charm. A friend of his, a lady older than himself, upon
hearing him express these sentiments not long before, had remarked that
they shed a good deal of light backward over his past. When he asked her
what she meant, she added that a liking for little wild flowers in a man
of the world of his age, and an indifference to tea-roses, did not so
much indicate a natural simplicity of taste as something quite apart
from that--too long an acquaintance, perhaps, with the heavily perfumed
atmosphere of conservatories.

"I don't know what you are trying to make me out," Winthrop had
answered, laughing.

"I make you out a very good fellow," replied the lady. "But you are like
my husband (who is also a very good fellow); he wonders how I can go to
the theatre, plays are so artificial. I suppose they are artificial; but
I notice that it required his closest--I may almost say his
nightly--attention for something like fifteen years to find it out."

Winthrop happened to think of this little conversation--he knew not
why--as he followed his guide through her green-walled path, which had
now become so narrow that he could no longer walk by her side. As it
came up in his mind he said to himself that here was a tea-rose, growing
if not quite in the seclusion of untrodden forests where the wild
flowers have their home, then at least in natural freedom, in the pure
air and sunshine, under the open sky. There was--there could be--nothing
of the conservatory, nothing artificial, in the only life Edgarda Thorne
had known, the life of this remote southern village where she had been
born and brought up. Her knowledge of the world outside was--must
be--confined to the Spanish-tinted legends of the slumberous little
community, to the limited traditions of her mother's small experience,
and to the perceptions and fancies of her own imagination; these last,
however numerous they might be in themselves, however vivid, must leave
her much in the condition of a would-be writer of dramas who has never
read a play nor seen one acted, but has merely evolved something vaguely
resembling one from the dreaming depths of his own consciousness;
Garda's idea of the world beyond the barrens must be equally vague and
unreal. And then, as he looked at her, sweet-natured and indifferent,
walking onward with her indolent step over her own land, under the low
blue sky, it came over him suddenly that probably she had not troubled
herself to evolve anything, to think much of any world, good or bad,
outside of her own personality. And he said to himself that wherever she
was would be world enough for most men. In which class, however, he
again did not include Evert Winthrop.

The path made a sudden turn, and stopped. It had brought them to the
borders of a waste.

"This was one of the sugar fields," said Garda, with her little air of
uninterested proprietorship.

Two old roads, raised on embankments, crossed the level, one from north
to south, the other from east to west. The verge upon which they stood
had once been a road also, though now narrowed and in some places
blocked by the bushes which had grown across it. "A little farther on,
beyond that point, you will find our ruin," said Garda. "There will not
be time to sketch it, I will wait for you here."

"You are deserting me very soon."

"I am not deserting you at all, I intend to take you remorselessly over
the entire place. But there are thorns in those bushes, and thorns are
dangerous."

"I know it, I am already wounded."

"I mean that the briers might tear my dress," explained Miss Thorne,
with dignity.

This stately rejection of so small and, as it were, self-made a pun
entertained her companion highly; it showed how unfamiliar she was with
the usual commonplaces. Talking with her would be not unlike talking
with a princess in a fairy tale--one of those who have always lived
mysteriously imprisoned in a tower; such a damsel, regarding her own
rank, would be apt to have a standard which might strike the first comer
as fantastically high. His entertainment, however, was not visible as,
with a demeanor modelled upon the requirements of her dignity, he bent
back the thorny bushes of the green cape, and made a passageway for her
round its point. When his little roadway was finished, she came over it
with her leisurely step, as though (he said to himself) it and the whole
world, including his own poor individuality, belonged to her by
inherited right, whenever she should choose to claim them. He was well
aware that he was saying to himself a good many things about this girl;
but was it not natural--coming unexpectedly upon so much beauty, set in
so unfamiliar a frame? It was a new portrait, and he was fond of
portraits; in picture-galleries he always looked more at the portraits
than at anything else.

On the opposite side of the thorny cape the ruin came into view,
standing back in a little arena of its own. Two of its high stone walls
remained upright, irregularly broken at the top, and over them clambered
a vine with slender leaves and long curling sprays that thrust
themselves boldly out into the air, covered with bell-shaped, golden
blossoms. This was the yellow jessamine, the lovely wild jessamine of
Florida.

"You will look at it, please, from the other side," announced Garda; "it
looks best from there. There will not be time to sketch it."

"Why do you keep taking it for granted that I sketch? Do I look like an
artist?"

"Oh no; I've never seen an artist, but I'm sure you don't look like one.
I suppose you sketch simply because I suppose northerners can do
everything; I shall be fearfully disappointed if they cannot--when I see
them."

"Do you wish to see them?"

"I wish to see hundreds," answered Miss Thorne, with great deliberation,
"I wish to see thousands. I wish to see them at balls; I have never seen
a ball. I wish to see them driving in parks; I have never seen a park. I
wish to see them climbing mountains; I have never seen a mountain--"

"They don't do it in droves, you know," interpolated her companion.

"--I wish to see them in the halls of Congress; I have never seen
Congress. I wish to see them at the Springs; I have never seen Springs.
I wish to see them wearing diamonds; I have never seen diamonds--"

"The last is a wish easily gratified. In America, as one may say, the
diamond's the only wear," remarked Winthrop, taking out a little
linen-covered book.

Garda did not question this assertion, which reduced her own
neighborhood to so insignificant an exception to a general rule that it
need not even be mentioned. To her Florida was Florida. America? That
was quite another country.

"You are going to sketch, after all," said the girl. She looked about
her for a conveniently shaped fragment among the fallen blocks, and,
finding one, seated herself, leaning against a second sun-warmed
fragment which she took as her chair's back. "I thought I mentioned that
there would not be time," she added, indolently, in her sweet voice.

"It will take but a moment," answered Winthrop. "I am no artist, as you
have already mentioned; but, plainly, as a northerner, I must do
something, or fall hopelessly below your expectations. There is no
mountain here for me to climb, there is no ball at which I can dance.
I'm not a Congressman and can't tell you about the 'halls,' and I
haven't a diamond to my name, not one. Clearly, therefore, I must
sketch; there is nothing else left." And with slow, accurate touch he
began to pencil an outline of the flower-starred walls upon his little
page. Garda, the handle of her white umbrella poised on one shoulder,
watched him from under its shade. He did not look up nor break the
silence, and after a while she closed her eyes and sat there motionless
in the flower-perfumed air. Thus they remained for fully fifteen
minutes, and Winthrop, going on with his work, admired her passiveness,
he had never before seen the ability to maintain undisturbed an easy
silence in a girl so young. True, the silence had in it something of
that same element of indifference which he had noted in her before; but
one could pardon her that for her tranquillity, which was so charming
and so rare.

"Ah--sketching?" said a voice, breaking the stillness. "Yes--yes--the
old mill has, I suppose, become an object of antiquity; we must think of
it now as venerable, moss-grown."

Garda opened her eyes. "Jessamine-grown," she said, extending her hand.

The new-comer, whose footsteps had made no sound on the sand as he came
round the cape of thorns, now crossed the arena, and made a formal
obeisance over the little glove; then he threw back his shoulders, put
his hands behind him, and remained standing beside her with a
protecting, hospitable air, which seemed to include not only herself and
the stranger artist, but the ruin, the sky, the sunshine, and even to
bestow a general benediction upon the whole long, warm peninsula itself,
stretching like a finger pointing southward from the continent's broad
palm into the tropic sea.

But now Miss Thorne laid her white umbrella upon the heap of fallen
blocks beside her, and rose; she did this as though it were something of
a trouble, but a trouble that was necessary. She walked forward several
steps, and turned first towards the new-comer, then towards the younger
gentleman. "Let me present to you, Doctor, Mr. Evert Winthrop, of New
York," she said, formally. "Mr. Winthrop, this is our valued friend, Mr.
Reginald Kirby, surgeon, of Gracias-á-Dios." She then returned to her
seat with the air of one who had performed an important task.

Dr. Kirby now advanced and offered his hand to Winthrop. He was a little
man, but a little man with plenty of presence; he bore--if one had an
eye for such things--a general resemblance to a canary-bird. He had a
firm, plump little person, upon which his round, partly bald head
(visible as he stood with hat doffed) was set, with scarcely any
intervention of neck; and this plump person was attired in
nankeen-colored clothes. His face showed a small but prominent aquiline
nose, a healthily yellow complexion, and round, bright black eyes. When
he talked he moved his head briskly to and fro upon his shoulders, and
he had a habit of looking at the person he was addressing with one eye
only, his face almost in profile, which was most bird-like of all. In
addition, his legs were short in proportion to his body, and he stood on
his small, well-shaped feet much as a canary balances himself on his
little claws.

"I am delighted to meet you, sir," he said to Winthrop. "I esteem it a
fortunate occurrence, most fortunate, which brought me to East Angels
this evening to pay my respects to Mistress Thorne, thus obtaining for
myself, in addition, the pleasure of your acquaintance. Mistress Thorne
having mentioned to me that you were making a little tour of the place
with Miss Garda, I offered to bear you company during a portion, at
least, of your progress, for Miss Garda, though possessing an
intelligence delicately keen, may not (being feminine) remember to
present you with the statistics, the--as I may say--historical items,
which would naturally be interesting to a northerner of discrimination."
The Doctor had a fine voice; his words were borne along on it like
stately ships on the current of a broad river.

"Do not praise me too highly," said the possessor of the delicate
intelligence, from her block. "I could never live up to it, you know."

"Miss Thorne has said many interesting things," answered Winthrop, "but
she has not as yet, I think, favored me with anything historical; her
attention has perhaps been turned rather more to the agricultural side."

"Agricultural?" said Kirby, bringing to bear upon Winthrop a bright left
eye.

"He is making sport of me," explained Garda, laughing.

"Pooh! pooh!" said the Doctor, raising himself a little, first on his
toes, then on his heels, thus giving to his plump person a slightly
balancing motion to and fro. "A little more seriousness, Garda, my
child; a little more seriousness." Then, with his hands behind him, he
turned to Winthrop to present, in his full tones, one of the historical
items of which he had spoken. "These walls, Mr. Winthrop, whose
shattered ruins now rise before you, once formed part of a large
sugar-mill, which was destroyed by the Indians during the Seminole war.
This province, sir, has had a vast deal of trouble with her Indians--a
vast deal. The nature of the country has afforded them every protection,
and clogged pursuit with monstrous difficulties, which, I may add, have
never been in the least appreciated by those unfamiliar with the ground.
The records of our army--I speak, sir, of the old army," said the
Doctor, after a moment's pause, making his little explanation with a
courteous wave of the hand, which dismissed, as between himself and the
guest of Mistress Thorne, all question as to the army which was
newer--"these records, sir, are full of stories of the most harassing
campaigns, made up and down this peninsula by our soldiers, in
pursuit--vain pursuit--of a slippery, creeping, red-skinned, damnable
foe. Canebrake, swamp, hammock; hammock, swamp, canebrake; ague,
sunstroke, everglade; fever, scalping, ambuscade; and
massacre--massacre--massacre!--such, sir, are the terms that succeed
each other endlessly on those old pages; words that represent, I venture
to say, more bravery, more heroic and unrequited endurance, than formed
part of many a campaign that shines out to-day brilliantly on history's
lying scroll. Yet who knows anything of them? I ask you, who?" The
Doctor's fine voice was finer still in indignation.

"As it happens, by a chance, I do," answered Winthrop. "A cousin of my
father's was in some of those campaigns. I well remember the profound
impression which the Indian names in his letters used to make upon me
when a boy--the Withlacoochee, the Caloosahatchee, the Suwannee, the
Ocklawaha; they seemed to me to represent all that was tropical and wild
and far, far away."

"They represented days of wading up to one's waist in stiff marsh-grass
and water, sir. They represented rattlesnakes, moccasins, and adders,
sir. They represented every plague of creation, from the mosquito down
to the alligator, that great pig of the Florida waters. They represented
long, fruitless tramps over the burning barrens, with the strong
probability of being shot down at the last by a cowardly foe, skulking
behind a tree," declaimed the Doctor, still indignant. "But this cousin
of yours--would you do me the favor of his name?"

"Carey--Richard Carey."

"Ah! Major Carey, without doubt," said the little gentleman, softening
at once into interest. "Allow me--was he sometimes called Dizzy Dick?"

"I am sorry to say that I have heard that name applied to him," answered
Winthrop, smiling.

"Sir, you need not be," responded the other man, with warmth; "Dizzy
Dick was one of the finest and bravest gentlemen of the old army. My
elder brother Singleton--Captain Singleton Kirby--was of his regiment,
and knew and loved him well. I am proud to take a relative of his by the
hand--proud!" So saying, the Doctor offered his own again, and the two
men went gravely through the ceremony of friendship a second time, under
the walls of the old mill.

"Returning to our former subject," began the Doctor again--"for I hope
to have many further opportunities for conversation with you concerning
your distinguished relative--I should add, while we are still beside
this memento, that the early Spanish settlers of this coast--"

"As a last wish," interrupted Garda, in a drowsy voice, "wait for the
resurrection."

"As a last wish?" said the Doctor, turning his profile towards her with
his head on one side, in his canary-bird way.

"Yes. I see that you have begun upon the history of the Spaniards in
Florida, and as I shall certainly fall asleep, I think I ought to
protect, as far as possible beforehand, my own especial ancestors," she
answered, still somnolent; "they always have that effect upon me--the
Spaniards in Florida." And as she slowly pronounced these last words the
long lashes drooped over her eyes, she let her head fall back against
the block behind her, and was apparently lost in dreams.

In this seeming slumber she made a lovely picture. But its chief charm
to Evert Winthrop lay in the fact that it had in it so much more of the
sportiveness of the child than of the consciousness of the woman. "I am
interested in the old Spaniards, I confess," he said, "but not to the
extent of allowing them to put you to sleep in this fashion. We will
leave them where they are for the present (of course Elysium), and ask
you to take us to the crane; his powers of entertainment are evidently
greater than our own." And he offered his hand as if to assist her to
rise.

"I am not quite gone yet," replied Garda, laughing, as she rose without
accepting it. "But we must take things in their regular order, the
magnolias come next; the crane, as our greatest attraction, is kept for
the last." And she led the way along a path which brought them to a
grove of sweet-gum-trees; the delicately cut leaves did not make a thick
foliage, but adorned the boughs with lightness, each one visible on its
slender stalk; the branches were tenanted by a multitude of little
birds, whose continuous carols kept the air filled with a shower of fine
small notes.

"How they sing!" said Winthrop. "I am amazed at myself for never having
been in Florida before. The Suwannee River can't be far from here.

    "''Way down upon de Suwannee River,
        Far, far away--'

I must confess that Nilsson's singing it is the most I know about it."

"Nilsson!" said Garda, envyingly.

"You, sir, are too young, unfortunately too young, to remember the
incomparable Malibran," said Dr. Kirby. "Ah! there was a voice!" And
with recollections too rich for utterance, he shook his head several
times, and silently waved his hand.

"Oh, when shall _I_ hear something or somebody?" said Garda.

"We shall accomplish it, we shall accomplish it yet, my dear child,"
said the Doctor, coming briskly back to the present in her behalf.
"Malibran is gone. Her place can never be filled. But I hope that you
too may cross the seas some day, and find, if not the atmosphere of the
grand style, which was hers and perished with her, at least an
atmosphere more enlarging than this. And there will be other
associations open to you in those countries besides the
musical--associations in the highest degree interesting; you can pay a
visit, for instance, to the scenes described in the engaging pages of
Fanny Burney, incomparably the greatest, and I fear, from the long
dearth which has followed her, the last of female novelists. For who is
there since her day worthy to hold a descriptive pen, and what has been
written that is worth our reading? With the exception of some few things
by two or three ladies of South Carolina, which I have had the privilege
of seeing, and which exist, I regret to say, only in manuscript as yet,
I know of nothing--no one."

Winthrop glanced at Garda to see if her face would show merriment over
the proposed literary pilgrimage. But no, the young girl accepted Miss
Burney calmly; she had heard the Doctor declaim on the subject all her
life, and was accustomed to think of the lady as a celebrated historical
character, as school-boys think of Helen of Troy.

Beyond the grove, they came to the Levels. Great trees rose here,
extending their straight boughs outward as far as they could reach,
touching nothing but the golden air. For each stood alone, no neighbor
near; each was a king. Black on the ground beneath lay the round mass of
shadow they cast. Above, among the dense, dark foliage, shone out
occasional spots of a lighter green; and this was the mistletoe. Besides
these monarchs there were sinuous lines of verdure, eight and ten feet
in height, wandering with grace over the plain. Most of the space,
however, was free--wide, sunny glades open to the sky. The arrangement
of the whole, of the great single trees, the lines of lower verdure, and
the sunny glades, was as beautiful as though Art had planned and Time
had perfected the work. Time's touch was there, but Art had had nothing
to do with it. Each tree had risen from the ground where it and Nature
pleased; birds, perhaps, with dropped seeds, had been the first planters
of the lower growths. Yet it was not primeval; Winthrop, well used to
primeval things, and liking them (to gratify the liking he had made more
than one journey to the remoter parts of the great West), detected this
at once. Open and free as the Levels were, he could yet see, as he
walked onward, the signs of a former cultivation antecedent to all this
soft, wild leisure. His eye could trace, by their line of fresher green,
the course of the old drains crossing regularly from east to west; the
large trees were sometimes growing from furrows which had been made by
the plough before their first tiny twin leaves had sprouted from the
acorn which had fallen there. "How stationary things are here!" he said,
half admiringly. He was thinking of the ceaseless round of change and
improvement which went on, year after year, on the northern farms he
knew, of the thrift which turned every inch of the land to account, and
made it do each season its full share. The thrift, the constant change
and improvement, were best, of course; Winthrop was a warm believer in
the splendid industries of the great republic to which he belonged;
personally, too, there was nothing of the idler in his temperament.
Still, looked at in another way, the American creed for the moment
dormant, there was something delightfully restful in the indolence of
these old fields, lying asleep in the sunshine with the low furrows of a
hundred years before stretching undisturbed across them. Here was no
dread, no eager speed before the winter. It was, in truth, the absence
of that icy task-master which gave to all the lovely land its appearance
of dreaming leisure. Growing could begin at any time; why, then, make
haste?

"All this ground was once under cultivation," said the Doctor. "The
first Edgar Thorne (your great-grandfather, Garda) I conjecture to have
been a man of energy, who improved the methods of the Dueros; these
Levels probably had a very different aspect a hundred years ago."

"A hundred years ago--yes, that was the time to have lived," said Garda.
"I wish I could have lived a hundred years ago!"

"I don't know what we can do," said Winthrop. "Perhaps Dr. Kirby would
undertake for a while the stately manners of your Spanish ancestors; I
could attempt, humbly, those of the British colonist; I haven't the
high-collared coat of the period, but I would do my best with the
high-collared language which has been preserved in literature. Pray take
my arm, and let me try."

Garda, looking merrily at the Doctor, accepted it.

"Arms were not taken in those days," said the Doctor, stiffly. "Ladies
were led, delicately led, by the tips of their fingers." He was not
pleased with Garda's ready acceptance; but they had kept her a child,
and she did not know. He flattered himself that it would be an easy
matter to bring about a withdrawal of that too freely accorded hand from
the northerner's arm; he, Reginald Kirby, man of the world and noted for
his tact, would be able to accomplish it. In the mean while, the hand
remained where it was.

Beyond the Levels they came to the edge of a bank. Below, the ground
descended sharply, and at some distance forward on the lower plateau
rose the great magnolias, lifting their magnificent glossy foliage high
in the air. "The Magnolia Grandiflora," said the Doctor, as if
introducing them. "You no doubt feel an interest in these
characteristically southern trees, Mr. Winthrop, and if you will walk
down there and stand under them for a moment--the ground is too wet for
your little shoes, Garda--you will obtain a very good idea of their
manner of growth."

Miss Thorne made no objection to this suggestion. But neither did she
withdraw her hand from Winthrop's arm.

"I can see them perfectly from here," answered that gentleman. "They are
like tremendous camellias."

"When they are in bloom, and all the sweet-bays too, it is superb," said
Garda; "then is the time to come here, the perfume is enchanting."

"Too dense," said the Doctor, shaking his head disapprovingly; "it's
fairly intoxicating."

"That is what I mean," Garda responded. "It's as near as I can come to
it, you know; I have always thought I should love to be intoxicated."

"What is your idea of it?" said Winthrop, speaking immediately, in order
to prevent the Doctor from speaking; for he saw that this gentleman was
gazing at Garda with amazement, and divined the solemnity his words
would assume after he should have got his breath back.

"I hardly know how to describe my idea," Garda was answering. "It's a
delicious forgetting of everything that is tiresome, an enthusiasm that
makes you feel as if you could do anything--that takes you way above
stupid people. Stupid people are worse than thieves."

"You describe the intoxication, or rather, to give it a better name, the
inspiration of genius," said Winthrop; "all artists feel this
inspiration at times--musicians, poets, painters, sculptors, all who
have in them a spark, great or small, of the creative fire; even I, when
with such persons--as by good fortune I have been once or twice--have
been able to comprehend a little of it, have caught, by reflection at
least, a tinge of its glow."

"Oh, if _you_ have felt it, it is not at all what I mean," answered
Garda, with one of her sudden laughs. She drew her hand from his arm,
and walked down the slope across the lower level towards the magnolias.

As soon as her back was turned, Dr. Kirby tapped Winthrop on the back
impressively, and raising himself on tiptoe, spoke in his ear. "She has
never, sir, been near--I may say, indeed, that she has never _seen_--an
intoxicated person in her life." He then came down to earth again, and
folding his arms, surveyed the northerner challengingly.

"Of course I understood that," Winthrop answered.

When Garda reached the dark shade under the great trees she paused and
turned. Winthrop had followed her. She gave him a bright smile as he
joined her. "I wanted to see if you would come," she said, with her
usual frankness.

"Of course I came; what did you suppose I would do?"

"I did not know, that was what I wanted to find out. You are so
different, I should never know."

"Different from whom? From your four persons about here? I assure you
that I am not different, I have no such pretension; your four are
different, perhaps, but I am like five thousand, fifty thousand,
others--as you will see for yourself when you come north."

"I don't believe it," said Garda, beginning to retrace her steps. She
looked at him reflectively, then added, "I don't believe they are like
you."

"What is it in me that you dislike so much?"

"Oh, I haven't thought whether I dislike it or not," responded Garda,
with what he called in his own mind her sweet indifference. "What I
meant was simply that I do not believe there are fifty thousand, or
five thousand, or even five hundred other men, who are as cold as you
are."

"Do I strike you in that way?"

"Yes; but of course you cannot help it, it is probably a part of your
nature--this coldness," said the girl, excusingly. "It was that which
made me say that you could never have felt the feeling I was trying to
describe, you know--intoxication; it needs a certain sort of
temperament; I have it, but you haven't."

"I see you are an observer," said her companion, inwardly smiling, but
preserving a grave face.

"Yes," responded Garda, serenely, "I observe a great deal; it helps to
pass the time."

"You have opportunities for exercising the talent?"

"Plenty."

"The four persons about here?"

Garda's laugh rippled forth again. "My poor four--how you make sport of
them! But I should have said five, because there is the crane, and he is
the wisest of all; he is wiser than any one I know, and more systematic,
he is more systematic even than you are, which is saying a great deal.
His name is Carlos Mateo, and you must be careful not to laugh at him
when he dances, for a laugh hurts his feelings dreadfully. His feelings
are very deep; you might not think so from a first glance, but that will
be because you have not looked deep into his eyes--taken him round the
neck and peered in. He has a great deal of expression; you have none at
all--what has become of it? Did you never have any, or have you worn it
all out? Perhaps you keep it for great occasions. But there will be no
great occasions here."

"No, great occasions are at the North, where they are engaged in
climbing mountains, walking on frozen lakes, wearing diamonds, and
attending the halls of Congress," Winthrop answered.

Dr. Kirby was waiting for them on the bank, he had not stained his
brightly polished little boots with the damp earth of the lower level.
He had surveyed with inward disfavor the thick-soled walking shoes of
the northerner, and the rough material of his gray clothes. The
northerner's gloves were carelessly rolled together in his pocket, but
the Doctor's old pair were on.

Garda led the way westward along the bank. After they had proceeded some
distance, in single file owing to the narrowness of the path, she
suddenly left her place, and, passing the Doctor, took Winthrop's hand
in hers. "Close your eyes," she commanded; "I am going to lead you to a
heavenly wall."

Winthrop obeyed; but retarded his steps.

"How slow you are!" she said, giving his hand a little pull.

"It's a wild country for a blind man," Winthrop answered, continuing to
advance with caution. "Please take both hands."

"Let me lead him, Garda," said the Doctor, preferring to join in this
child's play rather than have her continue it alone.

But the child's play was over, the bend in the path had been but a short
one, and they were now before her "heavenly wall." Winthrop, upon being
told to open his eyes--he had perhaps kept them closed longer than was
absolutely necessary--found himself standing before a wall of verdure,
fifteen feet high, composed of a mass of shining little leaves set
closely together in an almost even expanse; this lustrous green was
spangled with white flowers widely open, the five petals laid flatly
back like a star.

"The Cherokee rose," said Dr. Kirby. He had been greatly vexed by
Garda's freak of taking Winthrop's hands and pulling him along, and as
he added, explanatorily, "the wild white rose of the South," he glanced
at him to see how he, as a northerner and stranger, regarded it.

But the stranger and northerner was gazing at the southern flowers with
an interest which did not appear to depend at all upon the southern girl
who had brought him thither.

Garda remained but a moment; while they were looking at the roses she
walked slowly on, following her heavenly wall.

"She is but a child," said the Doctor, looking after her. "We have
perhaps kept her one too long."

"On the contrary, that is her charm," replied Winthrop. "How old is
she?"

"Barely sixteen. If her father had lived, it would perhaps have been
better for her; she would have had in that case, probably, more
seriousness--a little more. Mistress Thorne's ideas concerning the
training of children are admirable, most admirable; but they presuppose
a certain kind of child, and Garda wasn't that kind at all; I may say,
indeed, the contrary. Mistress Thorne has therefore found herself at
fault now and then, her precedents have failed her; she has been met by
perplexities, sometimes I have even thought her submerged in them and
floundering--if I may use such an expression of the attitude of a
cultured lady. The truth is, her perceptions have been to blame."

"Yet I have thought her perceptions unusually keen," said Winthrop.

"So they are, so they are; but they all advance between certain lines,
they are narrow. Understand me, however--I would not have them wider; I
was not wishing that, I was only wishing that poor Edgar, the father,
could have lived ten years longer. Too wide a perception, sir, in a
woman, a perception of things in general--general views in short--I
regard as an open door to immorality; women so endowed are sure to go
wrong--as witness Aspasia. It was a beautiful provision of nature that
made the feminine perceptions, as a general rule, so limited, so
confined to details, to the opinions and beliefs of their own families
and neighborhoods; in this restricted view lies all their safety."

"And ours?" suggested Winthrop.

"Ah, you belong to the new school of thought, I perceive," observed the
Doctor, stroking his smoothly shaven chin with his plump gloved hand.

The two men had begun to walk onward again, following their guide who
was now at the end of the rose wall. Here she disappeared; when they
reached the spot they found that she had taken a path which turned
northward along a little ridge--a path bordered on each side by stiff
Spanish-bayonets.

"Garda's education, however, has been, on the whole, good," said the
Doctor, as they too turned into this aisle. "Mistress Thorne, who was
herself an instructress of youth before her marriage, has been her
teacher in English branches; Spanish, of course, she learned from the
Old Madam; my sister Pamela (whom I had the great misfortune to lose a
little over a year ago) gave her lessons in embroidery, general
deportment, and the rudiments of French. As regards any knowledge of the
world, however, the child has lived in complete ignorance; we have
thought it better so, while things remain as they are. My own advice has
decidedly been that until she could enter the right society, the society
of the city of Charleston, for instance--it was better that she should
see none at all; she has therefore lived, and still continues to live,
the life, as I may well call it, of a novice or nun."

"The young gentleman who has just joined her is then, possibly, a monk?"
observed Winthrop.

The Doctor was near-sighted, and not at all fond of his spectacles; with
his bright eyes and quickly turning glance, it humiliated him to be
obliged to take out and put on these cumbrous aids to vision. On this
occasion, however, he did it with more alacrity than was usual with him.
"Ah," he said, when he had made out the two figures in front, "it is
only young Torres, a boy from the next plantation."

"A well-grown boy," commented the northerner.

"A mere stripling--a mere stripling of nineteen. He has but lately come
out from Spain (a Cuban by birth, but was sent over there to be
educated), and he cannot speak one word of English, sir--not one word."

"I believe Miss Thorne speaks Spanish, doesn't she?" remarked Winthrop.



CHAPTER II.


The Doctor admitted that Garda could converse in Spanish. He suggested
that they should walk on and join her; joining her, of course, meant
joining Torres. The Cuban proved to be a dark-skinned youth, with dull
black eyes, a thin face, and black hair, closely cut, that stood up in
straight thickness all over his head, defying parting. He was tall,
gaunt, with a great want of breadth in the long expanse of his person;
he was deliberate in all his motions; ungainly. Yet he could not have
been described as insignificant exactly; a certain deep reticent
consciousness of his own importance, which was visible in every one of
his slow, stiff movements, in every glance of his dull, reserved eyes,
saved him from that. He bowed profoundly when introduced to the
northerner, but said nothing. He did not speak after the others came up.
When Garda addressed him, he contented himself with another bow.

They all walked on together, and after some minutes the little ridge,
winding with its sentinel bayonets across old fields, brought them to
the main avenue of the place. This old road, broad as it was, was
completely overarched by the great live-oaks which bordered it on each
side; the boughs rose high in the air, met, interlaced, and passed on,
each stretching completely over the centre of the roadway and curving
downward on the opposite side; looking east and looking west was like
looking through a Gothic aisle, vaulted in gray-green. The little party
entered this avenue; Garda, after a few moments, again separated herself
from Winthrop and Dr. Kirby, and walked on in advance with Torres. The
Doctor looked after them, discomfited.

"We should have spoken Spanish," said Winthrop, smiling.

"I do not know a word of the language!" declared the Doctor, with
something of the exasperation of fatigue in his voice.

For the Doctor was not in the habit of walking, and he did not like to
walk; the plump convexes of his comfortable person formed, indeed,
rather too heavy a weight for his small feet in their little boots. But
he was far too devoted a family friend to be turned back from obvious
duty by the mere trifle of physical fatigue; he therefore waved his hand
towards the live-oaks, and (keeping one eye well upon Garda and her
companion in front) resumed with grace his descriptive discourse. "These
majestic old trees, Mr. Winthrop, were set out to adorn the main avenue
of the place, leading from the river landing up to the mansion-house.
You will find a few of these old avenues in this neighborhood; but far
finer ones--the finest in the world--at the old places on the Ashley
and Cooper rivers, near the city of Charleston."

"But there are no trees near the house," said Winthrop; "I noticed that
particularly."

"The road goes to the door, the trees stop at the edge of the open
space; that space was left, as you have probably divined, as a
protection against surprises by Indians."

The younger man laughed. "I confess I was thinking more of the
traditional Spanish jealousy than of Indians. You are right, of course;
I must not allow my fancies, which are, after all, rather operatic in
their origin, to lead me astray down here."

"You will find, I think, very little that is operatic among us," said
Kirby, a trace of sombreness making itself felt for the first time
through the courteous optimism of his tone. Truly there had been little
that was operatic in their life at the South for some years past.

"I don't know," said Winthrop. "Isn't that rather an operatic personage
who has just stopped Miss Thorne? The Tenor himself, I should say."

The spectacles were safely in their case, and back in the Doctor's
pocket. But he now made haste to take them out a second time, he knew of
no Tenors in Gracias. When he had adjusted them, "It's only Manuel
Ruiz," he said, with both relief and vexation in his tone. He was
relieved that it was only Manuel, but vexed that he should have been
led, even for a moment, to suppose that it might be some one else, some
one who was objectionable (as though objectionable persons could
penetrate into their society!); and he asked himself inwardly what the
deuce this northerner meant by calling their arrangement of their land
"operatic," and their young gentlemen "Tenors." "Manuel Ruiz is the son
of an old friend of ours; their place is on Patricio, opposite," he
said, frigidly. "The Ruiz family were almost as well known here in the
old Spanish days as the Dueros."

He had no time for more, for, as Garda had stopped, they now came up
with the little party in front.

Manuel Ruiz was older than Torres. Manuel was twenty-one. He was a tall,
graceful youth, with a mobile face, eloquent dark eyes, and a manner
adorned with much gesture and animation. He undoubtedly cherished an
excellent opinion of Manuel Ruiz; but undoubtedly also there was good
ground for that opinion, Manuel Ruiz being a remarkably handsome young
man. That Winthrop should have called him operatic was perhaps
inevitable. He wore a short black cloak, an end of which was tossed over
one shoulder after the approved manner of the operatic young gentleman
when about to begin, under the balcony of his lady-love, a serenade; on
his head was a picturesque sombrero, and he carried, or rather
flourished, a slender cane, which might have been a rapier; these
properties, together with his meridional eyes, his gestures, and the
slight tendency to attitude visible in his graceful movements, made him
much like the ideal young Tenor of the Italian stage, as he comes down
to the foot-lights to sing in deepest confidence, to the sympathetic
audience, of his loves and his woes.

That the ideal young Tenor has often encountered wide-spreading
admiration, no one would venture to deny. Still, there have been, now
and then, those among his audiences who have not altogether shared this
feeling. They have generally been men; not infrequently they have been
men of a somewhat lighter complexion, with visual orbs paler, perhaps,
and not so expressive; a grace in attitude less evident. Evert Winthrop
cared nothing for Tenors, real or imitative. But he was a man made with
more pretensions to strength than to sinuousness; he had no gestures;
his complexion, where not bronzed by exposure, was fair; his eyes were
light. They were gray eyes, with, for the most part, a calm expression.
But they easily became keen, and they could, upon occasion, become
stern. He opposed a short, thick, brown beard to Manuel's pointed
mustache, and thick, straight hair, closely cut, of the true American
brown, to the little luxuriant rings, blue-black in color, short also,
but curling in spite of shortness, which the breeze stirred slightly on
the head of the handsome young Floridian as he stood, sombrero in hand,
beside Garda Thorne.

Manuel was not another Torres; he was an American, and spoke English
perfectly. Upon this occasion, after his introduction, he offered to
the northerner with courtesy several well-turned sentences as the
beginning of an acquaintance, and then they all walked on together up
the old road.

"I believe we have now finished our little tour, Miss Garda, have we
not?" said the Doctor, in a cheerful voice. Though very tired, he was
walking onward with his usual trim step, his toes well turned out, his
shoulders thrown back, his head erect, but having no perception of the
fact (plump men never have) that, as seen from behind, his round person
appeared to be projected forward into space as he walked with something
of an overweight in front, and his little legs and feet to have been set
on rather too far back to balance this weight properly, so that there
seemed to be always some slight danger of an overthrow.

"Oh no," answered Garda; "I have promised to take Mr. Winthrop over the
entire place, and we have still the orange walk, the rose garden, the
edge of the swamp, the wild cattle, and the crane."

"I doubt whether Mr. Wintup will find much to amuse him in the wild
cattle," remarked Manuel, laughing.

It was certainly a slight offence: Manuel had never been north, and did
not know the name; in addition, owing to the mixture of races, much
liberty of pronunciation was allowed in Gracias, Manuel himself seldom
hearing his own name in proper form, the Spanish names of Florida, like
the Huguenot names of South Carolina, having undergone more than one
metamorphosis on New World shores. Winthrop walked on without replying,
he seemed not to have heard the remark.

"You do want to see the wild cattle, don't you, Mr. Winthrop?" said
Garda. "They're beautiful--in glimpses."

"If--ah--somebody should ride one of them--in glimpses--it might be
entertaining," answered Winthrop. "Perhaps one of these young gentlemen
would favor us?"

Garda's laugh pealed forth; Manuel looked angry, Torres watched the
scene, but prudently gave no smile to what he did not understand. Even
the Doctor joined in Garda's laugh.

"What in the world are you thinking of?" he said to Winthrop.
"Bull-fighting? I am afraid we shall not be able to gratify you in that
way just now."

At this moment, round a bend in the road, appeared the small figure of
Mrs. Thorne; she was advancing towards them, accompanied by a gentleman
in clerical attire.

"Here is mamma, with Mr. Moore," said Garda. She left the others, and
went across to Winthrop. "The whole four," she murmured; "my four
persons about here."

"So I supposed," Winthrop answered, in the same tone.

The two parties now met, and it was decided that the wild cattle and the
swamp should be postponed for the present, and that they would all go
together to the rose-garden, where, at this hour, Carlos Mateo was
generally to be found disporting himself. Garda explained that he was
disporting himself with the roses--he was very fond of roses, he was
often observed gazing with fixed interest at unclosing buds. When they
were fully opened, he ate them; this, however, was not gluttony, but
appreciation; it was his only way of showing his admiration, and a very
expressive one, Garda thought.

"Remarkably," observed the Doctor. "Captain Cook was of the same
opinion."

The live-oak avenue brought them to the open space which surrounded the
house; crossing this space, they took a path that came up to its border
from the opposite direction. This second avenue was a green arched walk,
whose roof of leaves seemed, as one looked down it, sure to touch the
head; but it never did, it was an illusion produced by the stretching
vista of the long aisle. The same illusion made the opposite entrance at
the far end--a half-circle of yellow light shining in from outside--seem
so low, so near the ground, that one would inevitably be forced to creep
through it on one's hands and knees when one had reached it, there would
be no other way. This, again, was an illusion, the aisle was eight feet
in height throughout its length. This long arbor had been formed by
bitter-sweet orange-trees. Not a ray of the sunshine without could
penetrate the thick foliage; but the clear light color of the shining
leaves themselves, with the sunshine touching them everywhere outside,
made a cheerful radiance within, and the aisle was further illuminated
by the large, warm-looking globes of the fruit, thickly hanging like
golden lamps from the roof of branches. There was an indescribably
fresh youthfulness in this golden-green light, it was as different from
the rich dark shade cast by the magnolias as from the gray stillness
under the old live-oaks.

Through this orange aisle it pleased Miss Thorne to walk with Evert
Winthrop. Mrs. Thorne came next, with the Rev. Dr. Moore; Dr. Kirby
followed at a little distance, walking alone, and resting, if not his
feet, at least his conversational powers. The two younger men were last,
and some yards behind the others, Torres advancing with his usual
woodenness of joint, not indulging in much conversation, but giving a
guarded Spanish monosyllable now and then to his New World compatriot,
who, still angry, let his slender cane strike the trunks of the
orange-trees as they passed along, these strokes being carefully watched
by Torres, who turned his thin neck stiffly each time, like an
automaton, to see if the bark had received injury.

"We make quite a little procession," said Winthrop, looking back. "We
have four divisions."

"What do you think of them?" inquired Garda.

"The divisions?"

"No; my four persons about here."

"Dr. Kirby is delightful, I don't know when I have met any one so much
so."

"Delightful," said Garda, meditatively. "I am very fond of Dr. Reginald,
he is almost the best friend I have in the world; but delightful?--does
delightful mean--mean--" She paused, leaving her sentence unfinished.

"Does delightful mean Dr. Kirby?" said Winthrop, finishing it for her.
"Dr. Kirby is certainly delightful, but he doesn't exhaust the capacity
of the adjective; it has branches in other directions."

"And the others?"

"The other directions?"

"No; the other persons about here."

"I have seen Mr. Moore so few times that I have had scarcely opportunity
to form an opinion."

"You formed one of Dr. Reginald the first time you saw him. But I was
not speaking of Mr. Moore, I meant the others still."

"Those young natives? Really, I have not observed them."

"Now, there, I do not believe you," said Garda; "you have observed them,
you observe everything. You say that to put them down--why should you
put them down? You are very imperious, why should you be imperious?" And
she looked at him, not vexed but frankly curious.

"Imperious," said Winthrop; "what extraordinary words you use? I am not
imperious, as you call it, with you."

"No; but you would be if it were allowable," said the girl, nodding her
head shrewdly. "Fortunately it isn't."

"Make the experiment--allow it; I might do better than you think."

"There is room for improvement, certainly," she answered, laughing. They
had reached the end of the orange aisle, she passed under the green
archway (which proved to be quite high enough), and went out into the
sunshine beyond, calling "Carlos Mateo? Carlos, dear?" Then, in Spanish,
"Angel of my heart, come to me."

The old garden had long been left untended. It was large, but seemed
larger even than it was, because it had wandered out into the forest,
and wild growths from there had come back with it; these had jumped
boldly across the once well-guarded boundaries and overrun the
cultivated verdure with their lawless green; oleanders were lost in
thickets, fig-trees, pomegranates, and guavas were bound together in a
tangle of vines; flower beds had become miniature jungles in which the
descendants of the high-born blossoms that had once held sway there had
forgotten their manners in the crowd of lusty plebeian plants that
jostled against them. Even the saw-palmetto had pushed his way in from
the barrens, and now clogged the paths with his rough red legs, holding
up his stiff fans in the very faces of the lilies, who, being southern
lilies, longed for the sun. A few paths had been kept open, however,
round the great rose-tree, the pride of the place, a patriarch fifteen
feet high, its branches covered with beautiful tea-roses, whose petals
of soft creamy hue were touched at the edges with an exquisite pink. A
little space of garden beds in comparative order encircled this tree;
here, too, on the right, opened out the sweet-orange grove.

This grove was by no means in good condition, many of its trees were
ancient, some were dead; still, work had been done there, and the
attempt, such as it was, had been persisted in, though never
effectually. The persistence had been due to the will of Mrs. Thorne,
the ineffectualness to the will of old Pablo. His mistress, by a system
of serene determination, had been able to triumph, to a certain extent,
over the ancient and well-organized contrariness of this old man--a dumb
opposition whose existence she never in the least recognized, though its
force she well knew. Each season the obstinate old servant began by
disapproving regularly of everything she ordered; next, he carried out
her orders slowly, and with as many delays as possible--this not so much
from any reasonable objection to her ideas as from his general
principles of resistance, founded upon family pride. For Pablo, who was
Raquel's husband--a bent little negro of advanced age--could never
forget that "Marse Edgar's wife" was but an interloper after all, an
importation from New England, and not "ob de fambly c'nection," not even
of southern birth. The memory of majestic "Old Madam," Edgar Thorne's
Spanish aunt, kept her "Young Miss" still in the estimation of the two
old slaves, though "Ole Miss" had now been for a number of years safely
in her coquina tomb--"let us hope enjoying rest and peace--as that poor
little Mistress Thorne will now enjoy them too, _at last_," as an old
friend of the family, Mrs. Betty Carew, had remarked with much feeling,
though some ambiguity of phrase (the latter quite unintentional), the
day after the funeral.

"Young Miss 'lows dese yere's _yappul_-trees," Pablo said to Raquel,
with a fine scorn, as he dug objectingly round their roots. "An' 'lowing
it, '_lowing_ it, Raquel, she orders accordin'!"

But the southern trees had lived, and had even, some of them, thrived a
little under the unwonted northern methods applied to them; Mrs. Thorne,
therefore, was able to rise above old Pablo's disapprovals--a feat,
indeed, which she had been obliged to perform almost daily, and with
regard to many other things than oranges, ever since her first arrival
at East Angels, seventeen years before.

This lady now seated herself on a bench under the rose-tree. She had
tied on, over her neat little widow's cap, the broad-brimmed palmetto
hat which she usually wore in the garden; this hat had fallen slightly
back, and now its broad yellow brim, standing out in a circle round her
small face, looked not unlike the dull nimbus with which the heads of
the stiff, sweet little angels in the early Italian paintings are
weighted down. The clergyman, Mr. Moore, stood beside her.

The Rev. Middleton Moore, rector of St. Philip and St. James's,
Gracias-á-Dios, was a tall gentleman, with narrow, slightly stooping
shoulders, long thin hands, a long smooth face, and thin dry brown hair
which always looked long (though it was not), because it grew from the
top of his head down to his ears in straight flat smoothness, the ends
being there cut across horizontally. His features were delicately
moulded. His long feet were slender and well-shaped. There was a
charming expression of purity and goodness in his small, mild blue eyes.
He was attired in clerical black, all save his hat, which was brown--a
low-crowned, brown straw hat adorned with a brown ribbon. Mrs. Penelope
Moore, his wife, profound as was her appreciation of the dignity of his
position as rector of the parish, could yet never quite resist the
temptation of getting for him, now and then, a straw hat, and a straw
hat, too, which was not black; to her sense a straw hat was youth, and
to her sense the rector was young. It was in a straw hat that she had
first beheld and admired him as the handsomest, as well as the most
perfect, of men; and so in a straw hat she still occasionally sent him
forth, gazing at the back view of it and him, from the rickety windows
of her Gothic rectory, with much satisfaction, as he went down the path
towards the gate on his way to some of the gentle Gracias
entertainments. For of course he wore it only on such light, unofficial
occasions.

Dr. Kirby, meanwhile, was making the circuit of the orange grove. He
stopped and peered up sidewise into each tree, his head now on one
shoulder, now on the other; then he came back, his hands and pockets
filled with oranges, which he offered to all; seating himself on the low
curb of an old well, he began to peel one with the little silver knife
which he kept for the purpose, doing it so deftly that not a drop of the
juice escaped, and looking on calmly meanwhile as the other bird,
Carlos Mateo, went through his dance for the entertainment of the
assembled company. Carlos Mateo was a tall gray crane of aged and severe
aspect; at Garda's call he had come forward with long, dignified steps
and stalked twice round the little open space before the rose-tree,
following her with grave exactitude as she walked before him. She then
called him to a path bordered with low bushes, and here, after a moment,
the company beheld him jumping slowly up and down, aiding himself with
his wings, sometimes rising several feet above the ground, and sometimes
only hopping on his long thin legs; he advanced in this manner down the
path to its end, and then back again, Garda walking in front, and
raising her hand as he rose and fell, as though beating time. Nothing
could have been more comical than the solemnity of the old fellow as he
went through these antics; it was as if a gray-bearded patriarch should
suddenly attempt a hornpipe.

His performance ended, he followed his mistress back to the company, to
receive their congratulations.

"What can we give him?" said Winthrop. "What does he like?"

"He will not take anything except from me," answered Garda; she gathered
a rose, and stood holding it by the stem while Carlos Mateo pecked
gravely at the petals. The sun was sinking, his horizontal rays shone
across her bright hair; she had taken off her hat, which was hanging by
its ribbon from her arm; Winthrop looked at her, at the rose-laden
branches above her head, at the odd figure of the crane by her side, at
the background of the wild old garden behind her. He was thinking that
he would give a good deal for a picture of the scene.

But while he was thinking it, Manuel had spoken it. "Miss Garda, I would
give a year out of my life for a picture of you as you are at this
moment!" he said, ardently. Winthrop turned away.

He went to look at some camellias, whose glossy leaves formed a thicket
at a little distance; on the other side of this thicket he discovered a
crape-myrtle avenue, the delicate trees so choked and hustled by the
ruder foliage which had grown up about them that they stood like
captives in the midst of a rabble, broken-hearted and dumb; with some
pushing he made his way within, and followed the lost path. It brought
him to a mound of tangled shrubbery which rose like a small hill at this
end of the garden, decked here and there, in what seemed inaccessible
places, with brilliant flowers. But the places had not been inaccessible
to Torres. Winthrop met him returning from the thorny conflict with a
magnificent stalk of blossoms which he had captured there, and was now
bringing back in triumph; it was a long wand of gorgeous spurred bells,
each two inches in length, crimson without, cream-color within, the lip
of the flaring lower petal lined with purple, and spotted with gold.
Torres carried his prize to Garda, and offered it in silence. She
thanked him prettily in Spanish, and he stood beside her, his dark face
in a dull glow from pleasure.

"Perhaps it is poisonous," murmured Manuel, taking good care, however,
to murmur in English.

"Oh, my dearest child! pray put it down," said Mrs. Thorne, anxiously.

"It is quite harmless," said the clergyman, "I know the family to which
it belongs. It is not indigenous here; probably the original shrub was
planted in the garden many years ago, and has run wild."

Garda took the stalk in her right hand, extended her left rigidly, and,
stiffening her light figure in a wooden attitude, looked meekly upward.

"Bravo! bravo!" said the Doctor from his well-curb, laughing, and
beginning on a second orange.

She stood thus for a few instants only. But it was very well done--an
exact copy of a dark, grim old picture in the little Spanish cathedral
of Gracias, a St. Catherine with a stalk of lilies in her hand.

Winthrop, who had returned, was standing on the other side of the open
space. Apparently he had not noticed this little pantomime. Garda looked
at him for a moment. Then she left her place, went across, and gravely
decorated him with her stalk of blossoms, the large stem going through
three of the button-holes of his coat before it could hold itself
firmly; the brilliant flowers extended diagonally across his breast,
past his chin, and above one ear.

"Your hat will break the top buds," said Garda, surveying her handiwork.
"Please take it off."

He obeyed. "For what sacrifice am I thus adorned?" he asked.

"It's no sacrifice," answered Garda, "it's a rebellion--a rebellion
against your constant objections to everything in the world!"

"But I haven't opened my lips."

"That is the very thing; you object silently--which is much worse. I'm
not accustomed to people who object silently. Everybody here talks; why
don't you talk?"

This little dialogue went on apart, the others could not hear it.

"I do--when you give me an opportunity," Winthrop answered.

"I'll give you one now," responded Garda; "we'll go back to the house,
we'll go through the orange-walk as we came, and the others can follow
as _they_ came." Without waiting for reply, she went towards the garden
gate. Winthrop followed her; and then Carlos Mateo, stalking across the
open space, followed Winthrop. He followed him so closely that Winthrop
declared he could feel his beak on his back. When they reached the house
they paused; Carlos then took up his station a little apart, and stood
on one leg to rest himself, watching Winthrop meanwhile with a
suspicious eye.

Mrs. Thorne was crossing the level with the Rev. Mr. Moore. Following
them, at a little distance, came Dr. Kirby, with his hands behind him.
Manuel and Torres, forced to be companions a second time, formed the
rear-guard of the returning procession. But as it approached the house,
Manuel, raising his hat to Mrs. Thorne, turned away; he went down the
live-oak avenue to the river landing, where his skiff was waiting.
Manuel had his ideas, he did not care to be one of five. Torres, who
also had his ideas, and many more of them than Manuel had, was not
troubled by considerations of this sort; in his mind a Torres was never
one of five, or one of anything, but always a Torres, and alone. Left to
himself, he now took longer steps, passed the others, and came first to
the doorway where Garda was standing.

"Why do you always look so serious, Mr. Torres?" she said, in Spanish,
as he came up.

"It is of small consequence how I look, while the señorita herself
remains so beautiful," answered the young man, bowing ceremoniously.

"Isn't that pretty?" said Garda to Winthrop.

"Immensely so," replied that decorated personage.

"But he does not look half so serious as you look comical--with all
those brilliant flowers by the side of your immovable face," she went
on, breaking into a laugh.

"It is of small consequence how I look, seeing that the señorita herself
placed them where they are," answered Winthrop, in tolerable if rather
labored Spanish, turning with a half-smile to Torres as he borrowed his
phrase.

"You did not like it? You thought it childish?" said Garda. She drew the
stalk quickly from its place. She was now speaking English, and Torres
watched to see the fate of his gift; she had taken the flowers with the
intention of throwing them away, but noticing that the Cuban's eyes were
fixed upon them, she slipped the end of the stem under her belt, letting
the long brilliant spray hang down over her dark skirt.

"I am now more honored than ever," said Winthrop.

"But it is Mr. Torres whom I am honoring this time," answered the girl.

Torres, hearing his name in her English sentence, drew the heels of his
polished boots together with a little click, and made another low bow.

The rest of the party now came up, and soon after, the visitors took
leave; Winthrop rode back across the pine-barrens to Gracias. Dr. Kirby
bore him company on his stout black horse Osceola, glad indeed to be
there and off his own feet; on the way he related a large portion of
that history of the Spaniards in Florida which Garda, their descendant,
had interrupted at the mill.

As they left East Angels, and rode out on the barren, this descendant
was being addressed impressively by her mother. "That, Garda, is my idea
of a cultivated gentleman: to have had such wide opportunities, and to
have improved them; to be so agreeable, and yet so kind; so quiet, and
yet so evidently a man of distinction, of mark--it's a rare
combination."

"Very," replied Garda, giving the crane her gloves to carry in his beak.

They were still standing in the lower doorway; Mrs. Thorne surveyed her
daughter for a moment, one of her states of uncertainty seemed to have
seized her. "I hope you appreciate that Mr. Winthrop is not another
Manuel or Torres," she said at last, in her most amiable tone.

"Perfectly, mamma; I could never make such a mistake as that. Mr.
Winthrop inspires respect."

"He does--he does," said Mrs. Thorne, with conviction.

"I respect him already as a father," continued Garda. "Manuel and
Ernesto also respect him as a father. Come, Carlos, my angel, let us go
down to the landing, and see if we can call Manuel back."



CHAPTER III.


Gracias-á-Dios was a little town lying half asleep on the southern coast
of the United States, under a sky of almost changeless blue.

Of almost changeless blue. Americans have long been, in a literary way,
the vicarious victims, to a certain extent, of the climate of the
British Isles. The low tones of the atmosphere of those islands, the
shifting veils of fog and rain rising and falling over them, the soft
gray light filtered through mist and cloud--all these have caused the
blue skies and endless sunshine of Italy to seem divinely fair to
visitors from English shores; and as among these visitors have come the
poets and the romance writers, this fairness, embalmed in prose and
verse, has taken its place in literature, has become classic. The
imaginative New World student, eager to learn, passionately desirous to
appreciate, has read these pages reverently; he knows them by heart. And
when at last the longed-for day comes when he too can make his
pilgrimage to these scenes of legend and story, so dominated is he, for
the most part, by the spell of tradition that he does not even perceive
that these long-chanted heavens are no bluer than his own; or if by
chance his eye, accurate in spite of himself, notes such a possibility,
he puts it from him purposely, preferring the blueness which is
historic. The heavens lying over Venice and her palaces are, must be,
softer than those which expand distantly over miles of prairie and
forest; the hue of the sky which bends over Rome is, must be, of a
deeper, richer tint than any which a New World has attained. But
generally this preference of the imaginative American is not a choice so
much as an unconscious faith which he has cherished from childhood, and
from which he would hardly know how to dissent; he is gazing at these
foreign skies through a long, enchanting vista of history, poetry, and
song; he simply does not remember his own sky at all.

Only recently has he begun to remember it, only recently has he begun to
discover that, in the matter of blue at least, he has been gazing
through glasses adjusted to the scale of English atmosphere and English
comparisons, and that, divested of these aids to vision, he can find
above his own head and in his own country an azure as deep as any that
the Old World can show.

When this has been discovered it remains but blue sky. The other
treasure of those old lands beyond the sea--their ruins, their art,
their ancient story--these he has not and can never have, and these he
loves with that deep American worship which must seem to those old gods
like the arrival of Magi from afar, men of distant birth, sometimes of
manners strange, but bringing costly gifts and bowing the knee with
reverence where the dwellers in the temple itself have grown cold.

Compared with those of the British Isles, all the skies of the United
States are blue. In the North, this blue is clear, strong, bright; in
the South, a softness mingles with the brilliancy, and tempers it to a
beauty which is not surpassed. The sky over the cotton lands of South
Carolina is as soft as that of Tuscany; the blue above the silver
beaches of Florida melts as languorously as that above Capri's enchanted
shore. Gracias-á-Dios had this blue sky. Slumberous little coast hamlet
as it was, it had also its characteristics.

"Gracias á Dios!" Spanish sailors had said, three hundred years before,
when, after a great storm, despairing and exhausted, they discovered
this little harbor on the low, dangerous coast, and were able to enter
it--"Gracias á Dios!" "Thanks to God!" In the present day the name had
become a sort of shibboleth. To say Gracias á Dios in full, with the
correct Spanish pronunciation, showed that one was of the old Spanish
blood, a descendant of those families who dated from the glorious times
when his Most Catholic and Imperial Majesty, King of Spain, Defender of
the Church, always Victorious, always Invincible, had held sway on this
far shore. To say Gracias without the "á Dios," but still with more or
less imitation of the Spanish accent, proved that one belonged among the
older residents of the next degree of importance, that is, that one's
grandfather or great-grandfather had been among those English colonists
who had come out to Florida during the British occupation; or else that
he had been one of the planters from Georgia and the Carolinas who had
moved to the province during the same period. This last pronunciation
was also adopted by those among the later-coming residents who had an
interest in history, or who loved for their own sakes the melody of the
devout old names given by the first explorers--names now so rapidly
disappearing from bay and harbor, reef and key. But these three classes
were no longer all, there was another and more recent one, small and
unimportant as yet, but destined to grow. This new class counted within
its ranks at present the captains and crews of the northern schooners
that were beginning to come into that port for lumber; the agents of
land-companies looking after titles and the old Spanish grants;
speculators with plans in their pockets for railways, with plans in
their pockets for canals, with plans in their pockets (and sometimes
very little else) for draining the swamps and dredging the Everglades,
many of the schemes dependent upon aid from Congress, and mysteriously
connected with the new negro vote. In addition there were the first
projectors of health resorts, the first northern buyers of orange
groves: in short, the pioneers of that busy, practical American majority
which has no time for derivations, and does not care for history, and
which turns its imagination (for it has imagination) towards objects
more veracious than the pious old titles bestowed by an age and race
that murdered, and tortured, and reddened these fair waters with blood,
for sweet religion's sake. This new class called the place
Grashus--which was a horror to all the other inhabitants.

The descendants of the Spaniards, of the English colonists, of the
Georgia and Carolina planters--families much thinned out now in numbers
and estate, wearing for the most part old clothes, but old prides as
well--lived on in their old houses in Gracias and its neighborhood,
giving rather more importance perhaps to the past than to the present,
but excellent people, kind neighbors, generous and devoted friends. They
were also good Christians; on Sundays they all attended service in one
or the other of the two churches of Gracias, the Roman Catholic
cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, and the Episcopal church of St
Philip and St. James'. These two houses of worship stood side by side on
the plaza, only an old garden between them. St. Philip and St. James'
had a bell; but its Spanish neighbor had four, and not only that, but a
habit of ringing all four together, in a sort of quickstep, at noon on
Sundays, so that the Episcopal rector, in that land of open windows, was
obliged either to raise his voice to an unseemly pitch, or else to
preach for some minutes in dumb-show, which latter course he generally
adopted as the more decorous, mildly going back and giving the lost
sentences a second time, as though they had not been spoken, when the
clamor had ceased. This, however, was the only warfare between the two
churches. And it might have been intended, too, merely as a friendly
hint from the Angels to the Saints that the latter's sermons were too
long. The Episcopal rector, the Rev. Middleton Moore, had in truth ideas
somewhat behind his times: he had not yet learned that fifteen or at
most twenty minutes should include the utmost length of his weekly
persuasions to virtue. It had never occurred to the mind of this
old-fashioned gentleman that congregations are now so highly improved,
so cultivated and intellectual, that they require but a few moments of
dispassionate reminder from the pulpit once a week, that on the whole it
is better to be moral, and, likewise, that any assumption of the
functions of a teacher on the part of a clergyman is now quite obsolete
and even laughable--these modern axioms Middleton Moore had not yet
learned; the mistaken man went on hopefully exhorting for a full
three-quarters of an hour. And as his congregation were as old-fashioned
as himself, no objection had as yet been made to this course, the simple
people listening with respect to all he had to say, not only for what it
was in itself, but for what he was in himself--a man without spot, one
who, in an earlier age, would have gone through martyrdom with the same
pure, gentle firmness with which he now addressed them from a pulpit of
peace. It was in this little church of St. Philip and St. James' that
Evert Winthrop had first beheld Garda Thorne.

The next day he presented a letter of introduction which his aunt, Mrs.
Rutherford, had given him before he left New York; the letter bore the
address, "Mrs. Carew." Winthrop had not welcomed this document, he
disliked the demand for attention which epistles usually convey. How
much influence the beautiful face seen in church had upon its
presentation when he finally made it, how long, without that accident,
the ceremony might have been delayed, it would be difficult, perhaps, to
accurately state. He himself would have said that the beautiful face had
hastened it somewhat; but that in time he should have obeyed his aunt's
wish in any case, as he always did. For Winthrop was a good nephew, his
aunt had given him the only mother's love his childhood had known.

Mrs. Carew, who as Betty Gwinnet had been Mrs. Rutherford's room-mate at
a New York school forty-four years before, lived in one of the large,
old, rather dilapidated houses of Gracias; she was a widow, portly,
good-natured, reminiscent, and delighted to see the nephew of her
"dearest Katrina Beekman." It was not until his second visit that this
nephew broached the subject of the face seen in church, and even then he
presented it so slightly, with its narrow edge towards her, as it were,
that the good lady never had a suspicion that it was more than a chance
allusion on his part, and indeed always thereafter took to herself the
credit of having been the first to direct a cultivated northern
attention to this beautiful young creature, who was being left, "like
the poet's flower, you know, to blush unseen and waste her sweetness on
the desert air, though of coarse you understand that I am not literal of
course, for fortunately there are no deserts in Florida, unless, indeed,
you include the Everglades, and I don't see how you can, for certainly
the essence of a desert is, and always has been, dryness of course,
dryness to a _degree_, and the Everglades are all under water, so that
there isn't a dry spot anywhere for even so much as the sole of your
foot, any more than there was for Noah's weary dove, you know, and it's
water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink, that is, if you
should _wish_ to drink it, which I am sure I hope you wouldn't, for it's
said to be _most_ unhealthy, and even the Ancient Mariner himself
couldn't have stood it long."

Mrs. Carew was fertile in quotations, rich in simile; and if both were
rather wanting in novelty, there was at least an element of
unexpectedness in her manner of connecting them which amused her present
visitor and kept him listening. Not that Winthrop was ever inattentive.
On the contrary, he had listening powers of admirable range and calm. He
was capable of participating in any amount of conversation upon the
weather, he could accept with passiveness those advisers who are always
telling their friends what they "ought" to do, he could listen
imperturbably to little details from the people who always will tell
little details, he could bear without impatience even the narration of
dreams; he was able to continue an acquaintance unmoved with those
excellent persons who, when they have said a good thing, immediately go
back and tell it over again; in short, he betrayed no irritation in the
presence of great Commonplace. The commonplace people, therefore, all
liked him, he had not an enemy among them. And this was the more
amusing, as, in reality, he detested them.

His friends, those who knew him best, told him that he went about most
of the time in a mask. "All the world's a stage," he answered; "the only
point is that the mask should be an agreeable one. Why should I be
obliged to show my true complexion to Tom, Dick, and Harry, when Tom,
Dick, and Harry so much prefer the one I have assumed? It's good
practice for me--the mask-wearing--practice in self-control; and
besides, Tom, Dick, and Harry are right, the borrowed complexion _is_
the better one; perhaps I may be able, in time, to really acquire one
like it."

To find himself listening, therefore, without his mask, listening for
the simple entertainment of it, was always an agreeable variety to this
gentleman, who kept at least his outward attention in such strict
control; and the first time he heard Mrs. Betty Carew hold forth, he had
a taste of it.

"Yes, that was Mistress Thorne and Garda, I reckon; on second thoughts,
I am sure of it; for they always come up from East Angels on Sunday
mornings to service, with old Pablo to row, as Mistress Thorne _has_
succeeded in getting as far as the Episcopal church, though Our Lady of
the Angels _was_ too much for her, which was quite as well, however,
because, of course, all the Thornes, being English, were Church people
of course in the old country, though poor Eddie, having been twice
diluted, as one may say, owing to his mother and grandmother having been
Spanish and Roman Catholic, was not _quite_ so strong in the real
Episcopal doctrines as he might have been, which was a pity, of course,
but could hardly, under the circumstances, have been prevented so far as
I can see, for one swallow doesn't make a summer, I reckon, any more
than one parent makes a Protestant, especially when the other's a
Duero--with the Old Madam _roaring_ on the borders, ready to raise Ned
on the slightest provocation, to come down like wolf on the fold, you
know--or was it the Assyrian? Now at East Angels--perhaps you are
wondering at the name? Well, the cathedral, to begin with, is Our Lady
of the Angels, and, in the old days, there were two mission-stations for
the Indians south of here, one on the east coast, one more to the west,
and bearing the same name. These chapels are gone; but as the Duero
house stood near one of them, it took the name, or part of it, and has
been called East Angels ever since. There was no house near the other
chapel--West Angels--and some say the very site is lost, though others
again have declared that the old bell is still there, lying at the foot
of a great cypress--that hunters have seen it. But I haven't much faith
in hunters, have you?--nor in fishermen either, for that matter. Little
Mistress Thorne must know a great deal about fish, I suppose she lived
on cod before she came down here; she belongs to Puritan stock, they
say, and there _were_ good people among them of course, though, for my
part, I have always had a horror of the way they treated the witches;
not that I approve of witchcraft, which is of course as wicked as
possible, and even the witch of Endor, I suppose, could hardly be
defended upon moral grounds, whatever you may do upon historical--which
are so much the fashion nowadays, though I, for one, can't abide
them--making out as they do that everything is a falsehood, and that
even Pocahontas was not a respectable person; I don't know what they
will attack next, I'm sure; Pocahontas was our _only_ interesting
Indian. Not that I care for Indians, don't fancy that; the Seminoles
particularly; I'm always so glad that they've gone down to live in the
Everglades, half under water; if anything could take down their
savageness, I should think it would be that. I know them very well, of
course--the Thornes, not the Seminoles--though perhaps I was never
_quite_ so intimate with them as Pamela Kirby was (she's dead now, poor
soul! _so_ sad for her!), for Pamela used to give Garda lessons; she
moulded her, as she called it, taught her to shoot--of course I mean the
young idea, and not guns. In fact, they have all had a hand in it--the
moulding of Garda; too many, I think, for _I_ believe in _one_
overruling eye, and if you get round that, there's the good old proverb
that remains pretty true, after all, I reckon, the one about too many
cooks, though in this case the broth has been saved by the little
mother, who is a very Napoleon in petticoats, and never forgets a thing;
she actually remembers a thing _before_ it has happened; Methuselah
himself couldn't do more, though, come to think of it, I suppose very
little had happened in the world before _his_ day--excepting trilobites,
that we used to read about in school. And Mistress Thorne knows all
about _them_, you may be sure, just as well as Methuselah did; for she
was a teacher, to begin with, a prim little New England school marm whom
poor Eddie Thorne met by accident one summer when he went north, and
fell in love with, as I have always supposed, from sheer force of
contrast, like Beauty and the Beast, you know--not that she was a
beast, of course, though poor Eddie _was_ very handsome, but still I
remember that everybody wondered, because it had been thought that he
would marry the sister of Madame Giron, who had hair that came down to
her feet. However, I ought to say that poor little Mistress Thorne has
certainly done her very best to acquire our southern ways; she has
actually tried to make herself over, root, stem, and branch, from her
original New England sharpness to our own softer temperament, though I
always feel sure, at the same moment, that, in the core of the rock, the
old sap burns still--like the soul under the ribs of death, you know;
not that I mean that exactly (though she _is_ thin), but simply that the
leopard cannot change his spots, nor the zebra his stripes, nor," added
the good lady--altering her tone to solemnity as she perceived that her
language was becoming Biblical--"the wild _cony_ her _young_. Just to
give you an idea of what I mean, Mr. Winthrop: for a long time after she
first came to Gracias that little creature used regularly to parse
twenty-four pages of 'Paradise Lost' every day, as a sort of mental
tonic, I reckon, against what she thought the enervating tendencies of
our southern life here--like quinine, you know; and as she parsed so
much, she was naturally obliged to quote, as a sort of safety-valve,
which was very pleasant of course and very intellectual, though I never
care much for quotations myself, they are so diffuse, and besides, with
all your efforts, you cannot make 'Paradise Lost' appropriate to all the
little daily cares of life and house-keeping, which no true woman, I
think, should be above; for though Eve _did_ set a table for the angel,
that was merely poetical and not like real life in the least, for she
only had fruits, and no dishes probably but leaves, that you could throw
away afterwards, which was _very_ different from nice china, I can
assure you, for you may not know, not being a house-keeper, that as
regards china _nowadays_--our old blue sets--our servants are not in the
_least_ careful not to nick; I don't enter here into the great question
of emancipation for the slaves, _but_--nick they _will_! Mistress Thorne
speaks like 'Paradise Lost' to this day, and, what is more, she has
taught Garda to speak in the same way--just like a book; only Garda's
book is her own, you never know what she is going to say next, she
turns about in all sorts of shapes, like those kaleidoscopes they used
to give us children when I was little, only _she_ never rattles (they
did, dreadfully)--for I am sure a softer voice _I_ never heard, unless
it was that of the Old Madam, who used to say in velvet tones the most
ferocious things you ever heard. Ah, you should have seen her!--straight
as an arrow, and they said she was ninety for over thirty years, which
of course was impossible, even if she had wished it, which I doubt, for
there is the well-known Bible age of threescore years and ten, and to
have exceeded it to _that_ extent would have been irreverent. She was
poor Eddie Thorne's aunt, the sister of his mother, a Duero and a
tremendous one, dyed in ancestors to the core; every one was afraid of
her but Garda, and Garda she took complete charge of as long as she
lived, though Mistress Thorne did what she could on the outskirts--_not_
much, I fancy, for the Old Madam declared that the child was a true
Duero and should be brought up as one, which seemed to mean principally
that she should swing in the hammock, and not learn verbs. I _think_
Mistress Thorne began to teach Garda verbs the day after the funeral; at
least when I went down there to pay a visit of condolence I found her
with a grammar in her hand, and a good deal of cheerfulness under the
circumstances--a good deal! The first Edgar Thorne, the one who came out
from England, is said to have been a man of a good deal of force of
character, for he kept a coach and four, and at that early day, on these
pine-barrens, it almost seemed as if he must have created them by magic,
which makes one think of Cinderella and her rats, doesn't it? And
indeed, in this case, the horses did turn into rats, as one may say,
before their very eyes; the poor Thornes have no horses _now_" said the
kind-hearted lady, pausing to shake her head sympathetically, and then
speeding on again. "They say that rats desert a sinking ship--though I
have always wondered how, since ships are not apt to sink at the piers,
are they?--and I never heard that rats could make rafts, though
squirrels can, they say--a bit of plank with their tails put up as a
sail, though of course rats' tails would never do for that, they are so
thin; but if rats _do_ desert their ship, Mistress Thorne will _never_
desert hers, she will keep the Thorne colors flying to the last, and go
down, if down she must, with the silent courage of the Spartan
boy--although it was a fox he had gnawing him, wasn't it? and not a rat;
but it makes no difference, it's the principle that's important, not the
illustration. Garda's name is really Edgarda, Edgarda after all the
Thornes, who, it seems, have been Edgars and Edgardas for centuries,
which I should think must have been very inconvenient, for, just to
mention one thing, they could never have signed their names in initials,
because that would have meant fathers and sons and brothers and sisters
indiscriminately, in fact all of them except the wives, who, having come
in from outside families, would be able, fortunately, to be plain Mary
and Jane. I am very fond of Garda, as indeed we all are; and I think she
has wonderful beauty, don't you?--though _rather_ Spanish perhaps. When
she was about twelve years old I was afraid that the tinge of her mother
in her was going to make her thin; but Nature fortunately prevented that
in time, for you know that once an elbow gets fixed in the habit of
being sharp, sharp it remains to the end of the chapter, though you may
have pounds and pounds both above and below it, which seems strange,
doesn't it? though of course it must serve some good purpose, as we
ought all to believe. And that reminds me to say that I hope dear
Katrina has gained flesh since she left school, for she used to be
rather too slender (though _very_ handsome otherwise), so that, in
profile view, you couldn't help thinking of a paper-cutter, and you
doubted whether she could even cast a shadow--like the man without a
shadow, you remember, who used to double his up and put it in his
pocket--only of course dear Katrina was never anything horrible like
that, and, after all, why we should _wish_ to cast shadows I am sure I
don't know; certainly there are enough of them, as it is, in this vale
of tears. If you like, I will take you down some day to call upon the
Thornes; they will be delighted to see us and we shall be like angels'
visits, few and far between, or fair as a star when only _one_; I _hope_
you like poetry--you modern young gentlemen have such a way of being
above it! But Mr. Carew was always very fond of Mrs. Hemans."

The monologues of Mr. Carew's relict could with the utmost ease be
regulated, their flowing currents turned aside into another channel
(from which they never came back to the first one), or stopped entirely,
by any one who wished to accomplish it, the lady's boundless good-nature
preventing her from even perceiving that she had been interrupted. But
Evert Winthrop had no wish to interrupt, he was enjoying the current's
vagaries; upon this occasion, therefore, it pursued its way unchecked to
the end--a thing which rarely happened, all Gracias having the habit of
damming it temporarily, turning it aside, or stopping it abruptly, in a
brisk manner which showed long usage.

To-day, when at last this easy-tempered lady paused of her own accord,
Winthrop accepted her invitation promptly; he spoke of coming for her
with a carriage the next afternoon; he should enjoy seeing something of
the interior, those singular roads across the barrens which were so old
and untouched and yet in such perfect condition--so he had been told.

When he had brought his little speech to a close, his hostess gave way
to laughter (her laugh was hearty, her whole amplitude took part in it).
"But this isn't interior," she said, "this is coast; East Angels is down
the river, south of here; when I said I would take you, I meant in a
boat."

She had in her mind Uncle Cato, and the broad, safe, old row-boat,
painted black and indefinite as to bow and stern, which that venerable
negro propelled up and down the Espiritu as custom required. But instead
of voyaging in this ancient bark, Winthrop persuaded her to intrust
herself to the rakish-looking little craft, sloop-rigged, which he had
engaged for his own use among the lagoons during his stay in Gracias, a
direct descendant, no doubt, of the swift piratical barks of the
wreckers and smugglers who, until a very recent date, had infested the
Florida keys. Once on board, Mrs. Carew adjured the man at the helm to
"keep the floor straight at any price," and then seating herself, and
seizing hold of the first solid object she could find, she tightly
closed her eyes and did not again open them, being of the opinion
apparently that the full force of a direct glance would infallibly upset
the boat. She had postponed their visit for a day, in order that she
might have time to send Uncle Cato down to East Angels, with a note
saying that they were coming. Stately Raquel, in a freshly starched
turban, was therefore in waiting to open the lower door; Mrs. Thorne's
best topics were arranged in order in her mind, as well as orange wine
and wafers upon her sideboard, and Garda also, neither asleep in the
hammock nor wandering afield with the crane, was in readiness, sitting
expectant in an old mahogany arm-chair, attired in her best gown. Poor
Garda had but two gowns to choose from, both faded, both old; but the
one called best had been lately freshened and mended by the skilful
hands of the tireless mother.

"When that little woman dies, some of her mendings ought to be enclosed
in a glass case and set up over her grave as a monument, I do declare!"
said Mrs. Carew, as, again voluntarily blinded, she sailed back to
Gracias with Winthrop over the sunset-tinted water. "Did you notice that
place on Garda's left sleeve? But of course you didn't. Well, it was a
perfect miracle of patience, which Job himself couldn't have equalled
(and certainly the Thornes are as poor as Job, and Carlos might well be
the turkey); as black silk, or even black thread, would have shone--they
_will_ shine, you know, in spite of all you can do, even if you ink
them--she had actually used ravellings, and _alpaca_ ravellings--you
know what _they_ are! Don't you think it would be nicer to have that
sail out sideways, as it was when we came down, and go straight, instead
of slanting in this way back and forth across the river?"

Evert Winthrop, thus introduced, had received from the mistress of East
Angels an invitation to repeat his visit. He had repeated it several
times. It was easy to do this, as, in addition to the piratical little
craft already mentioned, he had engaged a saddle-horse, and was now
amusing himself exploring the old roads that led southward.

Upon returning from one of these rides he found awaiting him a letter
from the North. It was from his aunt, Mrs. Rutherford, and contained the
intelligence that she was coming southward immediately, having been
ordered to a warmer climate on account of the "threatenings of
neuralgia, that tiresome neuralgia, my dear boy, that makes my life such
a burden. I am so tired of Pau and Nice that, instead of crossing that
cold ocean again, I have suddenly made up my mind to come down and join
you under the blue sky you have discovered down there--Egypt, you say,
Egypt without the ruins; but as I am a good deal of a ruin myself just
now, I shall not mind that lack; in fact, can supply it in my own
person. My love to Betty Carew; I shall be delighted to see her again
after all these years. Margaret comes with me, of course, and we shall
probably follow this letter without much delay."

Winthrop was surprised. He knew that his aunt was fond of what she
patriotically called her "own country;" but he should have said that she
would not probably consider that there was any of it worth her personal
consideration south of Philadelphia, or, at the utmost, south of
Baltimore and Washington. This amiably blind lady was, however, a great
traveller, in her leisurely way she had taken long journeys across
Europe and the East; if she did not know the Mississippi, she knew the
Nile; if Shasta was a stranger to her eyes, the Finsteraarhorn and
Vesuvius were old friends. Shasta, indeed!--where was Shasta? She had
once been to Niagara Falls.

Her nephew smiled to himself as he thought that probably, in her own
mind, her present undertaking wore much of the air of an exploring
expedition, the kind of tour through remote regions that people made
sometimes, and then wrote books about--books with a great many
illustrations.

But Mrs. Rutherford would write no books. This lady noticed but slightly
the characteristics of the countries through which she passed, she never
troubled her mind with impressions, or burdened it with comparisons. She
seldom visited "objects of interest," but was always "rather tired" when
the appointed hour came, and thought she would lie down for a while;
they could tell her about it afterwards. Yet in her easy, irresponsible
fashion she enjoyed travelling; she liked new scenes and new people,
especially new people. In the evening, after a quiet (but excellent)
little dinner, and twenty minutes or so of lady-like tranquillity after
it, Mrs. Rutherford was always pleased to see the new people aforesaid;
and it could with truth be added that the new people were, as a general
thing, equally pleased to see her. She was a handsome, stately woman,
with agreeable manners, and so well-dressed that that alone was a
pleasure--a pleasure to the eyes; it was an attire rich and quiet, which
combined with extraordinary skill the two often sadly dissevered
qualities of personal becomingness and adaptation to the fashion of the
hour.

Evert Winthrop was much attached to his aunt. Associated with her were
the happiest memories of his childhood. He knew that her strongest love
had not been given to him, it had been given to her other nephew, his
cousin Lansing Harold. But of Lansing she had had entire charge from his
birth, he had been to her like her own child, while Andrew Winthrop had
kept closely in his own care his motherless little son Evert, allowing
him to spend only his vacations with his aunt Katrina--who was spoiling
one boy (so thought the New-Englander) as fast as possible, but who
should not be permitted to spoil another. These vacations, so grudgingly
granted, had been very happy times for the little Evert, and their
memory remained with him still. As he grew older he had gradually become
conscious of some of the traits and tendencies of his aunt's mind, apart
from his boyish idea of her, as we generally do become conscious, by
degrees, of the traits (as they are estimated by others) of even those
who are nearest and dearest, save in the case of our parents, who remain
always, beautifully always, "father" and "mother" to the end, precious
beyond all analysis, all comparison. Separating itself, therefore, from
the delightful indulgence with which she had sweetened his boyhood days,
separating itself from his own unquestioning childish belief in her,
there had gradually come to Evert Winthrop (though without any
diminution of his affection for her) the consciousness that his aunt's
nature was a narrow one. Her narrowness could have been summed up
roughly in the statement that her views upon every subject were purely
personal ones. It was difficult to realize how personal they were,
Winthrop himself, well as he knew her, had only within the past five or
six years become fully conscious of the absolute predominance of the
principle. No one besides himself had had the opportunity to make the
same discovery, save possibly--so he had sometimes thought with a
smile--the departed Peter Rutherford, the lady's husband. But Peter
Rutherford, among many excellent qualities, had not been endowed with a
delicate observation, and indeed having been of a robust and simple
nature, he had had small respect for the talent, at least in a man,
associating it vaguely with a knowledge of millinery, with a taste for
spelling-games and puzzles, for cake and religious novels--things he
considered unworthy of the masculine mind. His wife's nephew, however,
though not a judge of millinery, and not interested in the mild
entertainments and literature referred to, possessed observation in
abundance, and with regard to his aunt he had not been able to keep it
from exercising itself, at least to a certain degree. He had
discovered--he had been unable to help discovering--the secret springs
that moved much of her speech; and these springs were so simple that, in
a complicated age, they seemed extraordinary. Her opinions of persons
(he knew it now) were based entirely upon the narrow but well-defined
foundation of their behavior to herself.

Concerning people with whom she had no personal acquaintance, she was
utterly without opinions; no matter how eminent they might be, they were
no more to her than so much sand of the shore. You might talk to her
about them by the hour, and she would listen approvingly, or at least
quite without contradiction. People spoke of her, therefore, as very
appreciative, and, for a woman, broad-minded. What, in truth, can be
more broad-minded in one of the sex most given to partisanship than to
be able to listen with unprejudiced attention to the admirers of the
Rev. Mr. A., the distinguished High-Church clergyman, and then the very
next day to the friends of the Rev. Mr. B., equally eminent, but Low; to
the devotees of the C. family, who trace their descent directly from old
English barons--passing over, of course, that unimportant ancestor who
happened to have been the one to cross to the New World, and who,
immediately after his arrival, engaged in blacksmithing, and became in
time the best blacksmith the struggling little colony possessed--to
listen, I say, to the partisans of this ancient race, and then to
hearken the next afternoon with equal equanimity to warm praise of the
D.'s, who, having made their great fortune so vigorously in the present
generation, are engaged in spending it with a vigor equally
commendable--what, indeed, could be broader than this? It never occurred
to these talkers that A. and B., the C.'s and the D.'s, alike, were all
non-existent bodies, nebulæ, to Mrs. Peter Rutherford so long as she was
not personally acquainted with them, so long as their names were not
upon her visiting list.

But when once this had been discovered, as Evert Winthrop had discovered
it, it made everything clear; it was perfectly easy to understand her,
easy to see how simple the opinions appeared to the lady herself, since
they had to do merely with a series of facts. If Mr. X. had been polite
to her, if he had been attentive, deferential, he was without doubt (if
at all presentable) a most delightful and praiseworthy person in every
way. If Mr. X. had been civil to a certain extent, yet on the whole
rather indifferent, he was a little dull, she thought; a good sort of a
man perhaps, but not interesting; tiresome. If Mr. X. had simply left
her alone, without either civility or incivility, she was apt to have
mysterious intuitions about him, intuitions which she mentioned,
confidentially of course, to her friends; little things which she had
noticed--indications. Of bad temper? Or was it bad habits? It was
something bad, at any rate; she was very ingenious in reading the signs.
But if Mr. X. had been guilty of actual rudeness (a quality which she
judged strictly by the standard of her own hidden but rigorous
requirements), Mr. X. was immediately thrust beyond the pale, there was
no good in him; in the way of odious traits there was nothing which she
did not attribute to him at one time or another, she could even hint at
darker guilt. She wondered that people should continue to receive him,
and to her dying day she never forgot to give, upon opportunity, her
well-aimed thrust--a thrust all the more effective because masked by her
reputation for amiability and frank, liberal qualities.

As, however, people generally were sufficiently attentive, this lady's
judgments seldom reached the last-mentioned stage, a condition of things
which she herself was the first to approve, because (this was the most
curious shade of her disposition) she believed fully in her own
opinions, and would have disliked greatly to "have anything to do with
unprincipled persons." But the world at large had no suspicion of these
intricacies; to the world at large Mrs. Rutherford was a handsome,
amiable woman, who, possessing a good fortune, a good house in New York,
a good old country-place on the Sound, and much hospitality, was
considered to be above petty criticisms--criticisms which would do for
people less pleasing, less well-endowed.

But though he read his aunt's nature, Winthrop was none the less
attached to her; it might be said, perhaps, with more accuracy, that he
was fond of her. He had been a very lonely little boy, his father while
loving him deeply had been strict with him, and had permitted him few
amusements, few companions; to go, therefore, and spend a month with his
aunt Katrina, to taste her indulgent kindness and enjoy the liberty she
allowed, to have her come and kiss him good-night, and talk to him about
his beautiful mother, to have her take him up on her lap and pet him
when he was a tired-out, drooping little fellow after immense exertions
with his big cousin Lanse, to hear her stories about his uncle Evert
(after whom he had been named)--that wonderful Uncle Evert who had gone
down to Central America to see the Aztecs--these things had been deeply
delightful at the time to the child, whose nature was reserved and
concentrated. And if the details were no longer distinct, now that he
was a man, the general remembrance at least was always there, the
remembrance of happy hours and motherly caresses. He therefore welcomed
the idea of his aunt's coming to Gracias. Though what Mrs. Peter
Rutherford would be able to find in that sleepy little hamlet in the way
of entertainment, he did not pretend to have discovered.

Five days later the party arrived, his aunt, her niece Mrs. Harold, her
maid Celestine.

As he greeted Mrs. Rutherford, Winthrop remarked to himself, as he had
remarked many times before, that his aunt was a fine-looking woman. Mrs.
Rutherford was sixty years of age, tall, erect, with a well-cut profile,
and beautiful gray hair, which lay in soft waves, like a silvery cloud,
above her fine dark eyes. The state of her health had evidently not
interfered with the arrangement of this aureola, neither had it relaxed
in any degree the grave perfection of her attire; her bonnet was a
model of elegance and simplicity, her boot, as she stepped from the
carriage, was seen to be another model of elegance and good sense. Mrs.
Rutherford loved elegance. But Mrs. Rutherford loved indolence as well,
and indolence never constructed or kept in order an appearance such as
hers; the person (of very different aspect) who followed her, laden with
baskets, cushions, and shawls, was the real architect of this fine
structure, from the soft waves of hair to the well-shaped boot; this
person was Celestine, the maid.

Celestine's real name was Minerva Poindexter. Her mistress, not liking
the classic appellation, had changed it to Celestine, the Poindexter
being dropped entirely. Mrs. Rutherford was accustomed to say that this
was her one deliberate affectation--she affected to believe that
Celestine was French; the maid, a tall, lean, yellow-skinned woman,
reticent and unsmiling, might have been French or Scotch, Portuguese or
Brazilian, as far as appearance went, tall, lean women of unmarried
aspect being a product scattered in regular, if limited, quantities over
the face of the entire civilized globe. As she seldom opened her lips,
her nationality could not be determined by an inquiring public from her
speech. There were those, however, who maintained that Celestine knew
all languages, that there was a dark omniscience about her. In reality
she was a Vermont woman, who had begun life as a country dress-maker--a
country dress-maker with great natural talent but no opportunities. The
opportunities had come later, they came when she was discovered by Mrs.
Peter Rutherford. This tall Vermont genius had now filled for many years
a position which was very congenial to her, though it would have been
considered by most persons a position full of difficulties. For Mrs.
Rutherford required in her personal attendant talents which are
generally supposed to be conflicting: esteeming her health very
delicate, she wished to be minutely watched and guarded by an
experienced nurse, a nurse who should take to heart conscientiously the
responsibilities of her charge; yet at the same time she cherished that
deep interest in the constantly changing arcana of feminine attire for
which it is supposed that only a skilful but probably immoral Parisian
can suffice.

But the keen New England eyes of Minerva Poindexter had an instant
appreciation of such characteristics of arriving fashions as could be
gracefully adopted by her handsome mistress, whose best points she
thoroughly understood, and even in a certain way admired, though as
regarded herself, and indeed all the rest of womankind, she approved
rigidly of that strict neutrality of surface, that ignoring of all
merely corporeal points, which is so striking a characteristic of the
monastic heavenly paintings of Fra Angelico. At the same moment,
however, that her New England eyes were exercising their natural talent,
her New England conscience, equally keen, made her a nurse of unmatched
qualities, albeit she was perhaps something of a martinet. But with
regard to her health Mrs. Rutherford rather liked to be domineered over.
She liked to be followed about by shawls (her shawls were always
beautiful, never having that niggardly, poverty-stricken aspect which
such feminine draperies, when reserved for use in the house, are apt to
assume); she liked to be vigilantly watched with regard to draughts; she
liked to have her pulse felt, to have cushions, handsomely covered in
rich colors, placed behind her well-dressed back. Especially did she
like to be presented, at fixed hours, with little tea-spoonfuls of
homoeopathic medicine, which did not taste badly, but which,
nevertheless, it always required some urging to induce her to take; the
urging--in fact, the whole system, regularly persevered in--could give
variety to the dullest day.

After greeting his aunt, Winthrop turned to speak to Celestine. By way
of reply Celestine gave a short nod, and looked in another direction. In
reality she was delighted with his notice, but this was her way of
showing it. The two boys, Evert Winthrop and Lansing Harold, Mrs.
Rutherford's nephews, had been her pets from childhood; but even in the
old days her manner towards them had always been so curt and taciturn
that they used to consider it a great triumph when they had succeeded in
drawing out Minerva's laugh--for they always called her Minerva behind
Mrs. Rutherford's back. It may be that this had had something to do with
her liking for them; for, in her heart, Miss Poindexter considered her
baptismal name both a euphonious and dignified one, and much to be
preferred to the French frivolity of the title to which she was obliged
to answer.

"But where is Margaret?" said Mrs. Rutherford, turning.

A third person, who had been looking at the new scene about her--the
orange-trees, the palmettoes, the blue water of the Espiritu beyond the
low sea-wall, and the fringe of tropical forest on Patricio
opposite--now stepped from the carriage.

"I was beginning to think that there had been some change of plan, Mrs.
Harold, and that you had not come," said Winthrop, going back to the
carriage to assist her.

Margaret Harold smiled. Her smile was a very pleasant one; she and
Winthrop greeted each other with what seemed like a long-established,
though quiet and well-governed, coldness.



CHAPTER IV.


Later in the evening Mrs. Rutherford was sitting with her nephew on the
piazza of her new residence, the little house he had engaged for her use
during her stay in Gracias; they were looking at the moonlight on the
lagoon.

The little residence had but one story, and that story was a second one.
It had been built above an old passageway of stone, which had led from
the Franciscan monastery down to the monks' landing-place on the shore;
the passageway made a turn at a right angle not far from the water, and
this angle had been taken possession of by the later architect, who had
rested his square superstructure solidly on the old walls at the south
and west, and had then built a light open arch below to support the two
remaining sides, thus securing an elevated position, and a beautiful
view of the sea beyond Patricio, at comparatively small expense for his
high foundation. An outside stairway of stone, which made a picturesque
turn on the way, led up to the door of this abode, and, taken
altogether, it was an odd and pleasant little eyrie on a pleasant shore.

Evert Winthrop, however, when he secured it for his aunt, had not been
thinking so much of its pleasantness as its freedom from damp, Mrs.
Rutherford having long been of the opinion that most of the evils of
life, mental, moral, and physical, and even in a great measure the
disasters of nations, could be directly traced to the condition of
cellars.

"You will observe, Aunt Katrina, that there _is_ no cellar," he remarked
as she took possession.

The eyrie had but one fault, and that was a fault only if people were
disposed to be sentimental: the old walls beneath, built by the monks
long before, had the air of performing their present duty with extreme
unwillingness. Coming up from the water, they passed under the modern
house reluctantly, supporting it under protest, as it were; their cold
disapprovals seemed to come through the floors.

Mrs. Rutherford declared that it made her feel "sacrilegious." But the
sentiments of Minerva Poindexter were of an entirely different nature.
"I _admire_ to have 'em there," said this rigid Protestant; "I admire to
know they're under my feet, so that I can tromple 'em down!" For though
she had been over the entire civilized world, though she could adapt
Paris fashions, and was called Celestine, Miss Poindexter had never in
her heart abated one inch of her original Puritan principles, and as she
now came and went over the old monks' passage, her very soles rejoiced
in the opportunity to express their utter detestation of the monastic
system, she ground them deeply into the mattings on purpose.

The little plaza of Gracias-á-Dios was near the eyrie. On one side of it
stood the rambling old inn, the Seminole House, encircled by a line of
stout ancient posts for the use of its patrons, who for the most part
had come mounted; for in that country there had been very little
driving, all rode. There had been horses of many grades, mules, and the
little ponies not much larger than sheep that browsed in the marshes. To
walk was beneath the dignity of any one; the poorest negro had his sorry
animal of some sort to save him from that. As to walking for pleasure,
that crazed idea had not yet reached Gracias.

The Seminole had agreed to send lunches and dinners of its best cooking
to the eyrie, and its best cooking, though confined to the local
ingredients, was something not to be despised; it owed its being to the
culinary intuitions of Aunt Dinah-Jim, a native artist, who evolved in
some mysterious way, from her disorderly kitchen, the dishes for which
she was celebrated at uncertain hours. But if the hours were uncertain,
the dishes were not.

The old black woman sent the results of her labors to the house on the
wall, in the charge of Telano Johnson, a tall, slender colored boy of
eighteen summers, whose spotless white linen jacket and intense gravity
of demeanor gained him the favor of even Celestine. "He has manners like
the Governor of Vermont and all his staff, I do declare!" was the secret
thought of this good woman. Telano, who had never seen a white servant
before, treated Celestine with profound respect; his inward belief was
that she was a witch, which would account for her inexplicable leanness,
and the conciseness of her remarks, the latter most singular of all to
Telano, who had the usual flowery fluency of his race. He carried a
Voudoo charm against her, and brandished it when she was not looking; in
addition, he often arranged, swiftly and furtively, in a corner of the
dining-room when he came to lay the cloth, a little pile of three minute
twigs crossed in a particular fashion, and sprinkled with unknown
substances which he also took from his pocket, the whole a protection
from her supposed incantations against him. Minerva meanwhile had no
suspicion of these pagan rites, she continued to be pleased with Telano,
and had a plan for teaching him to read. The boy sang with the charming
sweetness so common among the Africans, and once, after listening,
duster in hand, in spite of herself, for a quarter of an hour, as he
carolled over the dishes he was washing in his pantry, she went so far
as to appear at his pantry door to ask, briefly, if he knew a favorite
song of her youth, "The Draggle-tail Gypsies, Oh!" Telano did not know
it. And she said she would sing it to him some day. Whereupon Telano, as
soon as possible afterwards, took flight in his long white apron back to
the Seminole House for a fresh charm against her; he was convinced that
the singing of this strange bony woman would finish him, would be the
worst spell of all.

"That's a very good black boy we've got to wait at table and do the
chores," Celestine remarked approvingly to her mistress, as she brought
a shawl of different thickness, suitable to the dew in the air, to put
round her. "He's a deal sight more serious-minded than the
rantum-scootum boys one has to put up with in a wanderin' life like
this. He's spry, yet he's steady too; and he sings like a bobolink,
though his songs are most _dreadful_ as to words. There's one, 'O Lord,
these _bones_ of mine! O Lord, these BONES of mine! O Lord, these BONES
of mine!'"--Celestine sang this quotation in a high chanting voice, with
her eyes closed and her face screwed up tightly, which was her usual
expression when musical. "And I suppose it refers to rheumatism," she
added, descending to her ordinary tones; "but it's very irreverent. He
doesn't know 'The Draggle-tail Gypsies,' nor yet 'Barbara Allen,' nor
yet 'I'll Make You a Present of a Coach and Six;' but I'm going to sing
'em to him some day. I feel that I must do my duty by him, poor
neglected African. Have you any objections to my teaching him to read?"

"No, provided he doesn't read my books," Mrs. Rutherford answered.

"He will read in McGuffey's Third Reader," responded Celestine.

Winthrop had retained his bachelor quarters at the Seminole; the house
over the old monks' passage was not large, and Mrs. Rutherford was fond
of space. She liked open doors in all directions, she liked to have
several sitting-rooms; she liked to leave her book in one, her fan in
another, her scent-bottle or handkerchief in a third, and have nobody
disturb them.

"I don't detect in you, Aunt Katrina, any signs of the ruin you
mentioned," her nephew said, as they sat together, that first evening,
on the piazza.

The light from the room within shone across Mrs. Rutherford's face and
the soft waves of her silvery hair as, with a pink shawl thrown round
her, she sat leaning back in an easy-chair. "Celestine repairs the
breaches so cleverly that no doubt I continue to present a fair
appearance to the world," she answered, drawing the shawl more closely
round her shoulders, and then letting her hands drop on its pink
fringes.

Mrs. Rutherford's hands always took statuesque positions; but probably
that was because they were statuesque hands. They were perfect in shape
according to sculptors' rules, full and white, one ringless, its
beautiful outlines unmarred, the other heavily weighted with gems, which
flashed as she moved.

"But pray don't imagine, my dear boy," she continued, "that I enjoy my
ill health, as so many women do. On the contrary, I dislike it--dislike
it so much that I have even arranged with Margaret that she is never to
ask me (save when we are alone) any of those invalid questions--whether
I have slept well, how my cough is, if there isn't a draught, and that
sort of thing. I used to think that talking with a mother when her
children were in the room, was the most trying thing, conversationally;
she listens to you with one ear, but the other is listening to Johnnie;
right in the midst of something very pathetic you are telling her, she
will give a sudden, perfectly irrelevant smile, over her baby's last
crow, and your best story is hopelessly spoiled because she loses the
point (though she pretends she hasn't) while she rearranges the sashes
of Ethel and Tottie (they are always rearranging them), who are going
out to walk with their nurse. Still, bad as this is, I have come to the
conclusion, lately, that invalid-questions are worse, because they are
not confined to the hours when children are about; and so I have given
Margaret my directions."

"Which are to be mine too, I suppose," said Winthrop, smiling. "Mrs.
Harold looks well."

"Yes, Margaret always looks the same, I think. She has not that highly
colored, robust appearance that some women have, but her health is
absolutely perfect; it's really quite wonderful," said the aunt. She
paused; then sighed. "I almost think that it has been like an armor to
her," she went on. "I don't believe she feels little things as some of
us do, some of us who are perhaps more sensitive; she is never nervous,
never disturbed, her temper is so even that it is almost exasperating.
She thinks as well of everything, for instance, in an east wind as in
any other."

"A great gift in some climates; but here it will have less play. Gracias
air isn't easterly, it bends towards one--yields, melts."

"I wish Margaret could yield--melt," said Mrs. Rutherford, with another
sigh. "You see my mind still broods upon it, Evert; seeing you, my other
boy, brings it all back."

"I don't know, but I suppose you do, whether Lanse has made any
overtures lately?" said Winthrop, after a moment of silence.

"I know nothing, she is the most reticent woman living. But it would not
be like him; with his pride--you know his pride--he would never speak
first, never urge."

"A man might speak first to his wife, I should suppose," replied
Winthrop, a stern expression showing itself for a moment in his gray
eyes. "It need not be urging, it might be a command."

"Lanse would never do that. It would show that he cared, and--well, you
know his disposition."

"I used to think that I knew it; but of late years I have doubted my
knowledge."

"Don't doubt it, Evert," said Mrs. Rutherford, earnestly, laying her
hand on his arm, "he is just what you think, just what he always was. We
understand him, you and I--we comprehend him; unfortunately, Margaret
cannot."

"I have never pretended to judge Mrs. Harold," answered Evert Winthrop
(but he looked as if he might have, if not a judgment, at least an
opinion); "I know her too slightly."

"Yet you have seen a good deal of her since you came back from Europe,"
remarked his aunt.

"I have seen enough to know that she is, at least, a very good niece to
you," he answered.

His feeling against Margaret Harold was strong, it was founded upon some
of the deepest beliefs of his nature. But these beliefs were his own, in
their very essence they were personal, private, he could not have
discussed them with any one; especially would he never have discussed
them with his aunt, because he thought that she did not, even as it was,
do full justice to Margaret Harold, and he had no wish to increase the
feeling. On the contrary, he thought that full justice should always be
scrupulously awarded to that lady, and the more scrupulously if one did
not happen to like her; he himself, for instance, did not like her; on
that very account he was careful always, so he would have said, to keep
in clear view a just estimate of the many good qualities which she
undoubtedly possessed.

In response to his suggestion that Margaret had proved herself a good
niece, Mrs. Rutherford answered, in a voice somewhat softened, "Yes, she
is very devoted to me." Her conscience seemed to stir a little, for she
went on: "Regarding my health, my personal comfort, she is certainly
most thoughtful."

Here a door within opened, and she stopped. They heard a light step
cross the floor; then a figure appeared in the long window that opened
upon the piazza.

"Ah, Margaret, is that you? You have finished the letter?" said Mrs.
Rutherford. "She has been writing to my cousins, to tell them of my safe
arrival; I did not feel equal to writing myself," she added, to
Winthrop.

He had risen to bring forward a chair. But Margaret passed him, and went
to the piazza railing, which came solidly up as high as one's elbows,
with a broad parapet to lean upon; here she stood looking at the water.

"I believe now all I have heard of this Florida moonlight," she said,
her eyes on the broad silvery expanse of the ocean, visible beyond the
low line of Patricio. She had turned her head a little as she spoke, and
perceiving that a ray from the room within was shining across Mrs.
Rutherford's face, she stepped back through the window, changed the
position of the lamp, and returned.

"Thank you, my dear; I did not know how much it was teasing me until you
moved it," said Mrs. Rutherford. Perhaps she still felt some twinges of
conscience, for she added, "Why not go out with Evert and take a look at
the little old town by moonlight? It's not yet nine."

"I shall be most happy if Mrs. Harold is not too tired," said Winthrop.
He did not rise; but probably he was waiting for her consent.

"Margaret is never tired," said Mrs. Rutherford, making the statement
with a wave of her hand--a wave which drew a flash from all her gems.

"Yes, that is one of the things quite understood and settled--that I am
never tired," observed Mrs. Harold; she still stood by the parapet,
there was no indication in her tone whether she agreed with the
understanding or not.

"Do go," urged Mrs. Rutherford. "You have been shut up with me for six
days on those slow-moving southern trains, and you know how you enjoy a
walk."

"Not to-night, Aunt Katrina."

"You say that because you think I shall not like to be left alone in
this strange house on the first evening. But I shall not mind it in the
least; Celestine is here, and that black boy."

At this moment the door of the room within was opened by Celestine, and
there followed a quick, and what seemed to be, from the sound, a
voluminous entrance, and a hurried step across the floor. "My dearest
darling Katrina!" said Mrs. Carew, pausing at the long window (which she
filled), her arms extended in anticipative welcome, but her eyes not yet
certain which of the three figures on the piazza should properly fill
them.

Mrs. Rutherford rose, with cordial if less excited welcome. "Is that
you, Betty?" she said. And then she was folded in Betty's capacious
embrace.

Hand in hand the two ladies went within, to look at each other, they
said. Mrs. Harold and Winthrop followed.

"Now, Margaret," said Mrs. Rutherford, after the first greetings were
over, "you surely need feel no further scruples about leaving me; Betty
and I have enough to say to each other for a half-hour, I am sure."

"For a half-hour, Katrina? For days! weeks! months!" cried Betty, with
enthusiasm. And she began upon what was evidently to be a long series of
retrospective questions and replies.

"Why not go for a while, if, as you say, you are not tired?" said
Winthrop, in pursuance of his system of showing always a careful
civility to Margaret Harold.

"It was not I that said it," replied Margaret, smiling a little. "I will
go for a quarter of an hour," she added, as though compliance were, on
the whole, less trouble than a second refusal. She took a white shawl
which was lying on a chair, made a veil for her head of one corner,
while the rest of its fleecy length fell over her dark dress. They left
the room and went down the outside stairway to the street below.

It was called a street, and had even a name--Pacheco; but in reality it
was the open shore.

"It has such an odd effect to me, all this low-lying country on a level
with the water," said Margaret; "the whole land is like a sea-beach, a
sea-beach with trees growing on it."

"Do you like it? or do you think it ugly?"

"I think it very beautiful--in its own way."

"I will take you to the Benito," said Winthrop.

At the end of Pacheco lane they passed under an old stone archway into
the plaza. This little pleasure-ground was shaded by orange-trees, which
formed a thick grove; paths ran irregularly through the grove, and there
were stone benches here and there. On the north side the gray-white
façade of Our Lady of the Angels rose above the trees, conferring
architectural dignity upon the town. The main building was low and
rather dilapidated, but the front was felt to be impressive, it elevated
itself with candid majesty three stories above the roof, quite
undisturbed by a thinness of aspect in profile; the first story bore
upon its face an old clock and sun-dial, the second, which was narrower,
was punctured by three arches, each containing a bell, and the third
under the apex had also an aperture, through which the small bell
hanging there should have swung itself picturesquely to and fro, far out
against the blue; as a matter of fact, however, none of the bells were
rung, they were struck ignominiously from behind by a man with a hammer.
The point of the apex was surmounted by a broken globe and a cross.

The uncertain Gothic of St. Philip and St. James' came next, much lower
as to height, much younger as to age. But the glory of St. Philip and
St. James' lay not in its height, it lay in the flying buttresses of
which it had no less than eight, four on each side. These flying
buttresses were of course a great feature, they showed how much
imagination the architect had had; for they did not support the roof,
nor anything else, they appeared indeed to have some difficulty in
supporting themselves, so that it was always more or less of a question
as to whether, in a northerly gale, they might not take to flying
themselves--in fragments and a wrong direction. So far, however, this
had not happened; and Mrs. Penelope Moore, the rector's wife, had
trained vines over them so thickly that they looked like arbors; Mrs.
Penelope, however, had a better name for them than that; she called
them "the cloisters."

The west side of the plaza was occupied by the long front of the old
Government House, the residence of crown officials during Spanish days.
Over its low height, palmetto-trees lifted their ostrich-plumed foliage
high in the air from the large garden behind. At one end there rose
above the roof a lookout tower, which commanded a view of the harbor;
here had floated for two hundred years the flag of Spain, here also had
hung the bell upon which the watchman had struck the signal when the
beacon on Patricio opposite had flamed forth from its iron cage the
tidings that a ship was in sight, a ship from Spain. But the bell had
long been gone, and nothing floated from the old staff now save twice a
year, when on the Fourth of July and Washington's Birthday the
postmaster, who used the old Government House for his post-office,
unfurled there, with official patriotism, the Stars and Stripes of the
United States.

As Winthrop and his companion on their way across the plaza came out
from the shade of the orange-trees, some one spoke Winthrop's name. It
was Dr. Kirby, who was entering the grove by another path which
intersected theirs. Garda Thorne was with him, and a little behind them
appeared the dark countenance of Torres. The Doctor stopped and extended
his hand, it was not the Doctor's custom to pass his friends without
speech. Winthrop therefore stopped too; and then, as the Doctor seemed
to expect it, he presented him to Mrs. Harold. The Doctor paid his
respects in his best manner, and introduced his "young friend, Miss
Thorne, of Gracias-á-Dios." After that, "Mr. Adolfo Torres, of Cuba." He
had been with Miss Thorne (who was spending a day or two with his
mother, Mistress Kirby) to pay an evening visit to Mistress Carew. But
they had not found Mistress Carew at home.

"She is with my aunt," said Winthrop; "the two ladies having a past of
forty years to talk over, Mrs. Harold and I came out for a stroll."

"Ah--a first impression, I conjecture," said the Doctor, standing, hat
in hand, before the northern lady. "You find our little town, I fear,
rather old-fashioned."

"I like old-fashioned things," replied Margaret. "I have been looking at
something more old-fashioned still--the sea."

"If you like to look at the sea, you are going to the Benito, I am sure
of it," said Garda in her soft tones, tones that contrasted with those
of Mrs. Harold, which were equally low, but much more reserved, and also
more clear. She came forward and stood beside the northern lady,
scanning her face in the moonlight with her beautiful eyes. "Please let
me go with you," she said, urgently; "I want to go so much. It is so
long since I have been on the Benito by moonlight!"

Mrs. Harold smiled at her earnestness; and Garda, speaking to the Doctor
now, though without turning her head, said, "You will come, won't you,
Doctor? Do; oh, please do."

The Doctor hesitated, then sacrificed himself; in the cause of the
Thorne family pedestrianism seemed to be required of him. But Benito was
long; he made up his mind that he would not go one inch beyond a certain
old boat which he remembered, drawn up on the sand at not more than a
quarter of the distance to the end of the point.

"We will go ever so far," said Garda, taking Mrs. Harold's arm; "we will
go way out to the end!"

"Certainly," replied the Doctor.

They all walked on together through the St. Luz quarter, Torres
following. Torres had no idea where they were going, nor why the
direction of their walk had been changed. But this was a frequent
condition of things with him in Gracias, and, besides, it did not
trouble him; a Torres was not curious, he wished to go, therefore he
went.

The little streets here were not more than eight feet wide. Garda kept
her place beside Mrs. Harold, and Dr. Kirby followed with Winthrop;
Torres, joining no one, walked by himself, five or six yards behind the
others.

"That young man seems fond of acting as rear-guard," said Winthrop,
glancing back as they turned a corner, and noting the solitary figure
advancing stiffly in the moonlight.

"Garda is the only one of our present party whose conversation he can
really enjoy," answered the Doctor. "When he cannot converse with her,
he prefers, I think, to be by himself. At least I have gathered that
impression from his manner."

"His manner is his strong point," said Winthrop. "It's very
picturesque."

"It strikes you as picturesque?" said the Doctor, looking up at him with
his quick bird-glance.

"It's a little feudal, isn't it?" replied Winthrop. "But I am afraid you
will think my comparisons fantastic; I have treated you to a good many
of them."

"Sir," responded the Doctor, courteously waiving the question of
accuracy, "what I notice is your command of language. It would never
have occurred to me to say feudal, I admire your affluence."

"And I am ashamed of it," said Winthrop, "I am ashamed of myself for
staring about and applying adjectives in this way to the people and
scenery here, as though it were a foreign country; it ought to be as
much a part of me, and I of it, as though it were Massachusetts Bay."

But this view of the subject was beyond the Doctor's comprehension; to
him the difference between New England and the South was as wide,
whether considered geographically, psychologically, or historically, as
that between the South and Japan. Nothing could have made him, Reginald
Kirby, feel a sympathetic ownership in Massachusetts Bay, and he saw no
reason why this Mr. Evert Winthrop should be claiming proprietorship in
a distinctively Spanish and Carolinian shore. The singular views of
these northerners were apparently endless! But in this case, at least,
the views could do no harm, Florida would remain Florida, in spite of
northern hallucinations.

Beyond the low stone houses of St. Luz, they crossed a common, and
gained the open shore. The coast here bent sharply to the east, and went
out to sea in a long point, the beach which fringed this point was
called the Benito; the party of strollers walked down the Benito's firm
white floor, with the sea breaking in little lapping wavelets at its
edge, and the moonlight flooding land and water with its wonderful
radiance. The beach was forty feet broad; Winthrop and the Doctor joined
the ladies. But Garda kept her place beside Mrs. Harold, and talked only
to her, she seemed to be fascinated by all the northern lady said.
Winthrop could not fail to see that her interest in this new companion
was of the same sort as that which she had originally shown regarding
himself--curiosity, apparently; and that Margaret Harold excited the
feeling in a stronger degree than he had done. Meanwhile it amused him
to see how completely this Florida girl did as she pleased. It pleased
her now to forget him entirely; but he was not the only one, she forgot
the Doctor also, and the patient lonely Torres behind.

It may as well be mentioned here that the Doctor went as far as the old
boat he remembered. And that then he went farther; he went to the end of
the point, a mile away.

"Surely you have not been gone half an hour?" said Mrs. Carew, as
Margaret and Winthrop re-entered the eyrie's little drawing-room.

"Two hours, nearly," answered Winthrop, looking at his watch.

"Betty is _so_ demonstrative," said Mrs. Rutherford to her niece, in a
plaintive tone, when they were left alone. "I verily believe she has
kissed me during this one call at least twenty times. She always had the
best heart in the world--poor Betty!"

"She is very stout, isn't she?" she resumed, after a pause. "Her figure
is all gone, she's like a meal-sack with a string tied round it."

Her eyes wandered to the mirror, which gave back the reflection of her
own shapely person in its rich, perfectly fitting attire. "And how she
was dressed!--did you notice! That old-fashioned glacé silk that shines,
made with gathers, and a hem--I don't know _when_ I've seen a hem
before."

She spoke with much seriousness, her eyes were slowly measuring the gulf
that separated this friend of her youth from herself. After a while
these eyes moved up to the reflection in the mirror of her own
silver-gray locks, arranged in their graceful waves above her white
forehead.

"She has the old-time ideas, poor Betty!" she murmured. Then, gravely
and impartially, as one who chronicles a past historical epoch: "She
still colors her hair!"



CHAPTER V.


Mrs. Carew's candles, in the old candelabra hung with glass prisms, were
all lighted; in addition, her astral lamp was shining on a table in the
back drawing-room, and near this lamp she was standing.

The two rooms were large, square, separated by folding-doors which were
held open by giant sea-shells, placed upon the carpet as weights. Wide
doors led also from each room into the broad hall, which was lighted by
a hanging lamp in a pictured porcelain shade. From the back drawing-room
a second door led into the dining-room behind, which was also entered by
a broader door at the end of the hall.

"Now, Pompey," said the mistress of the house, "are you quite sure you
understand? Tell me what it is you are to do."

Pompey, a small, yellow-skinned negro, whose large, orb-like, heavily
wrinkled eyelids (underneath which but a narrow line of eye appeared)
were the most prominent features of his flat face, replied, solemnly:
"W'en eberyting's ready, I fuss slips inter de hall, steppen softly, an'
shets _dish_ yer do', de back parlo' do' inter de hall. I nex' announces
suppah at de _fron_' parlo' do'. Den, wiles de compahny's parsing inter
de hall, I hurries roun' tru _dish_ yer do'--de do' from de
_dinin_'-room--gits out dat ar lamp mighty quick, an' has it onter de
middle ob de suppah table befo' de _fuss_ head ob de compahny appeahs at
de hall do'. An' I follers de same course _ob_wersed w'en de compahny
retiahs."

"Very well," said Mrs. Carew. "Now mind you do it."

Hearing the gate-latch fall, she hurried into the front room to be ready
to receive her dearest Katrina. But it was only Mrs. Thorne, who, with
Garda, entered without knocking; the evening was warm and the hall door
stood open, the light from within shining across the broad piazza, and
down the rose-bordered path to the gate. Mrs. Carew herself accompanied
her friends up-stairs, and stood talking while they laid aside their
light wraps; these guests were to spend the night, having come up from
East Angels in their boat, old Pablo rowing.

"We shall be ten," said their hostess; "a good number, don't you think
so? I shall have whist, of course, later--whist and conversation." Here
Mrs. Thorne, having taken from her basket a small package, brought forth
from their careful wrappings two pairs of kid gloves, one white, the
other lavender; they did not appear to be new.

"You are not going to wear _gloves_?" said Mrs. Carew, interrupting
herself in her surprise. "It's only a small tea-party."

"No entertainment given by you, dear friend, can be called small; it is
not a question of numbers, but of scope, and your scope is always of the
largest," replied the mistress of East Angels, beginning to cover her
small fingers with the insignia of ceremony. "Our only thought was to do
you honor, we are very glad to have this little opportunity."

Garda put her gloves in her pocket. She had the white ones.

"My daughter," said Mrs. Thorne, admonishingly.

"But, mamma, I don't want to wear them; I don't like them."

"We are obliged, in _this_ world at least, my child, to wear many
things, gloves included, which we do not especially like," said Mrs.
Thorne, with the air of expecting to wear only the choicest garb (gloves
included) in the next. "Do not interfere with my plan for doing honor to
our dear friend."

Garda, with a grimace, took out the gloves and put them on, while the
dear friend looked on with much interest. There was not a trace of
jealousy in her glance, a Gwinnet, in truth, could not have cause for
jealousy; she was really admiring the little New England woman's
inspiration. "Gloves have never been worn here at small tea-parties,"
she said to Evert Winthrop afterwards. "But she thought that your aunt
and Mrs. Harold, coming as they do from New York, would have them, and
so she unearthed those two old pairs. There is really _no_ limit to that
woman's energy; I verily believe that if an East Indian prince should be
wrecked off Gracias, she would find an elephant to receive him with!
Her courage is inexhaustible, and if she had any money _at all_, she'd
move the world--like Archimedes, wasn't it, who only wanted a point for
his lever? To be sure, that is the great thing--the point, and Mr. Carew
used always to say that I forgot mine. I told him that he could pick
them up and put them in himself if he missed them so much, but he said
that anybody could put them in, but that it took a real genius to leave
them out, as I did." Here the good lady laughed heartily. "It was only
his joking way, of course," she added; "you see, Mr. Carew was a
lawyer."

The gloves having been duly put on, the three ladies descended to the
front drawing-room, where Mrs. Thorne seated herself in an attitude
which might have been described as suggesting a cultured expectation.
Her little figure remained erect, not touching the back of her chair;
her hands, endued with the gloves, were folded lightly; her countenance
expressed the highest intelligence, chastened by the memory of the many
trials through which she had passed; this, at least, was what she
intended it to express.

The fall of the gate-latch was now heard again.

"Had we not better be standing?" suggested their hostess, in a hurried
whisper. It was so many years since she had opened her old house for
what she called "evening company" that she felt fluttered and
uncertain--embarrassed, as imaginative people always are, by the number
of things that occurred to her, things she might do.

"I think not, dear friend," answered Mrs. Thorne, with decision. "We are
too few, it would have, I fear, the air of a tableau."

Mrs. Thorne was above flutter, a whisper she scorned. As the approaching
footsteps drew nearer, the listening silence in the drawing-room, whose
long windows stood open, became in her opinion far too apparent; she
coughed, turned to her daughter, and, in her clear little voice,
remarked, "I have always esteemed the pearl the most beautiful of
precious stones. The diamond has more brilliancy, the ruby a richer
glow, but the pearl--" Here the steps, entering the hall without
ceremony, showed that the new-comers were not the expected northern
guests, since they, of course, would have gone through the form of
raising the knocker upon the open door. It was Dr. Kirby who entered,
followed by the Rev. Mr. Moore.

The Doctor offered his salutations in his usual ceremonious fashion. He
made a compact little bow, and a formal compliment, over the hand of
each of the ladies in turn; he was dressed in black, but still looked
like a canary-bird--a canary-bird in mourning.

After some minutes, again came the sound of the gate-latch. Mrs. Carew,
who was talking, stopped short, even Dr. Kirby's attention flew to the
gravel-path; there was danger of another pause. But bravely Mrs. Thorne
came to the rescue a second time. "The emerald," she observed, to the
unlistening Kirby, "is clear, and even one may say translucent. And how
profound it is!--how deep the mysterious green which--" The new-comers
had crossed the piazza, lifted the knocker, and had then, without
waiting for Pompey's appearance, entered the hall; this showed
acquaintance, though not the familiar intimacy of the first guests; it
proved to be Manuel Ruiz, and with him Adolfo Torres.

But now came the sound of wheels, Mrs. Carew listened eagerly. "A
carriage!" she murmured, turning to the Doctor, as the sound stopped
before her house. He nodded and twirled his thumbs. This time there
could be no doubt, the strangers were coming up the path.

But silence had again attacked the little group, and Mrs. Thorne,
feeling that graceful conversation was now more than ever imperative, if
the strangers were to be impressed with the ease and distinction of
Gracias society, was again about to speak, when Garda, with a merry
gleam in her eyes, exclaimed, with sudden enthusiasm, to Manuel,
"Sapphires, oh, beautiful sapphires, how I wish I had a tiara of them!"
Manuel, though somewhat surprised by the unexpectedness of the topic,
gallantly answered that she was worthy to have her floors paved with
them if she should wish it; nay, that he himself would become a sapphire
for such a purpose. And then by the formal knock and the delay, all felt
that the strangers were at last within their gates. A few minutes later
they entered the drawing-room, Mrs. Rutherford, Margaret Harold, and
Evert Winthrop. Mrs. Thorne's eyes turned towards her daughter with one
quick single beam of triumph: the ladies wore gloves.

Mrs. Carew seated herself beside her dearest Katrina, and Dr. Kirby bore
them company; the Rev. Mr. Moore and Mrs. Thorne gave their attention to
Mrs. Harold. Evert Winthrop took a seat which had the air of being near
enough to the first group for conversational purposes, but which was in
reality a little apart. Garda and Manuel were on the opposite side of
the room, with Torres standing near them; Manuel was talking, but Garda
gave him a divided attention, she was looking at Evert Winthrop. At
length she rose and went across to his chair.

"Did you have a pleasant ride to-day?" she asked, standing with the
simplicity of a child before him, her hands clasped and hanging.

"Yes; I went down the King's Road," he answered, rising. "I like a
'King's Road;' we have no King's Roads at the North."

"Why not?" said Garda.

"We abolished kings more completely than you did perhaps; in 1776."

"What happened then? Something at the North?"

"Oh, a small matter, quite unimportant; it didn't include
Gracias-á-Dios."

"It might have, I don't pretend to know the history of Gracias-á-Dios,"
replied Garda, rather loftily; "all I know is the history of my own
family. In 1776 my grandmother Beatriz was five years old, and even
then, they say, water could run under her insteps."

"Why did they keep the poor child in such wet places? It must have been
very unhealthy. Won't you have this chair?"

"I'm so tired of chairs."

"Have you been asleep in the hammock all the afternoon?"

"Yes," she confessed. "But I hope I don't show it so plainly? It isn't
polite to look sleepy at a party."

"Let us walk up and down for a while: that will waken you," he said,
offering his arm.

"Do people walk up and down when the party is such a small one? Is that
a northern custom?"

"I am a northerner certainly; and it's my custom," he answered. As they
entered the back drawing-room, "I did not mean that you looked sleepy,"
he added, "but the contrary; the walking will be of use as a sedative."

"You need not be afraid, I shall not do anything out of the way; don't
you see that I have on white gloves?" And she extended her hands for his
inspection. "They are not mine, as you may well imagine, I never had a
pair of white gloves in my life; they are mamma's, and ever so many
years old, she wore them when she was married."

"I wish I could have seen her; she must have looked like a little
blossom of the May."

"Yes," answered Garda, "I am sure that mamma must have been very pretty
indeed when she was young." She spoke with seriousness, Winthrop
imagined that she had given the subject much consideration. They reached
the end of the second room, and turned to come back.

"I should never have asked the señorita to do that," said Torres in
Spanish to Manuel.

"Very likely not; but do at least sit down, people don't stand up
against the wall all the time at tea-parties, like wooden soldiers."

"It is my method," replied Torres; "I have always my own method about
everything."

"Change it, then; at least for this evening," suggested his New World
companion.

"If they do not, as you say, stand, it appears that they walk. And
continue to walk," remarked the Cuban, after a moment, his eyes still
upon Garda and Winthrop.

"Of course they do, if they wish to," replied Manuel, who was at heart
as much surprised by Winthrop's proceeding as Torres had been; but, if
surprised, quick also to seize and appropriate to his own use any
advantages which new codes of manners might offer. "But you cannot walk
all alone--don't try that. Take something and look at it, if you won't
sit down; a book; daguerreotypes. There's a Chinese puzzle; take that."

Thus adjured, Torres stepped forward, took the puzzle from a table, and
returned with it to his place. Here he stood still again, holding his
prize solemnly.

"Play with it," said Manuel; "I never saw such a fellow! Move the rings
up and down."

"I took it because you wished me to do so," replied the Cuban, with
dignity. "But to play with it is impossible; why should I play with an
ivory toy?--I am not a child."

Here the gray head of Pompey appeared at the front drawing-room door.
The old servant waited respectfully until he had caught his mistress's
eye; he then made a low bow, with his hands folded before him--"Miss
C'roo am serbed."

Dr. Kirby offered his arm to Mrs. Rutherford, Mr. Moore offered his to
Mrs. Harold; Mrs. Carew waved Winthrop towards Mrs. Thorne, while she
herself took the arm of Manuel Ruiz. Garda was left to Torres, who, thus
unexpectedly made happy, accompanied her into the hall, still bearing
his puzzle.

"What in the world are you carrying?" she asked, laughing.

"It is a toy of ivory which Manuel insisted that I should take. With
your permission I will now lay it aside." And he deposited it carefully
upon a chair.

The little procession now came to a pause, Mrs. Carew having asked her
dearest Katrina to look at a portrait upon the wall. "It was taken the
year after my marriage," she explained, watching for the increased glow
through the dining-room door which should proclaim to her anxious eyes
the arrival of the astral lamp in its destined place.

"I do not need a portrait, Betty; I have one in my memory," replied Mrs.
Rutherford, graciously. She could not see the picture without her
glasses, but she gazed at the gilt frame with an interested air, looking
at it with her head now a little on one side, now on the other, as if to
get the right light.

"I have never considered this portrait a faithful representation of our
friend," observed Dr. Kirby. He could not see even the frame, but he
surveyed the wall with disapprobation. "It quite fails to give her
vivacity, which is so characteristic a feature. But what painter's
brush, what limner's art, can fix upon canvas that delicate, that, I may
say, intangible charm which belongs to the fairer portion of our
humanity? It is, and must always be, a hopeless task."

Mrs. Rutherford admired the Doctor's way of expressing himself. It was
the fine old style. She herself had kept pace with the new, as she kept
pace with everything; but the old style was more stately, and she had
always preferred it; for one thing, she understood it better. Mrs.
Rutherford liked conversations to have a beginning, a middle, and an
end; the Doctor's conversations, and even his sentences, had all three.

The increased glow now showed itself through the distant door, and Mrs.
Carew moved on; the little company passed down the hall and into the
dining-room, where stood a bountifully decked table with the astral lamp
radiant in the centre, and Pompey, so dignified under his
responsibilities that he actually looked tall, in attendance. It was an
old-fashioned repast; they were all seated round the table as though it
had been a dinner. But the hostess did not place them in the order in
which they had proceeded through the hall; having paid what she
considered due acknowledgment to etiquette, she now arranged them for
the long repast in the way which she thought would please them best,
which is quite another matter. Winthrop found himself between Garda and
Mrs. Harold; Mrs. Harold had upon her left hand Manuel Ruiz, and Garda
upon her right the happy Torres, who, however, in spite of happiness,
looked more rigid and solemn than ever as the soft horizontal light of
the lamp, shining above the central plum-cake, illumined his dark face.

"You remember, of course, that he does not speak English," Garda said to
Winthrop. She was alluding to her right-hand neighbor.

"Does that mean that you intend to speak Spanish to him?" said Winthrop.
"He has quite enough as it is in being next you; you should not give too
much."

"I like generosity."

"That wouldn't be generosity, but squandering; you shouldn't give at
random."

"Poor Adolfo isn't at random! But I believe you are trying to instruct
me?" she said, surveying him frankly.

"Would it displease you if I were?"

Garda paused, as if considering the point. "You might try it," she
answered. "It would at least be new, and I generally like new things.
That is the reason, you know, that I liked you; you were new."

Manuel, meanwhile, was bringing forward his finest powers for the
entertainment of Mrs. Harold, by whose side he had been placed; and if
he talked in a somewhat more decorated strain than was prevalent in the
colder circles from which she had come, it was carried off easily by his
youth, his handsome face, his animated manner. Winthrop overheard
occasionally his fervid little speeches, he did not admire them. But it
was only occasionally, for he himself was fully occupied, Garda talked
to him, or listened to him, during the entire time they remained at the
table. And this was over two hours; there were many delicious things to
be eaten, or at least tasted, for Mrs. Carew's Cynthy, having been one
of the good cooks of the old days before the war, was still in
possession of a remnant of her former skill. As these "old days" lay but
six years back, it would seem that Cynthy must have worked hard to
forget all but a remnant, in so short a time. She had, however,
succeeded perfectly, and only upon great occasions, like the present,
would she condescend to revert to her ancient knowledge, as a favor to
"Miss Betty," whose fortunes were so sadly fallen. Cynthy and Pompey had
accompanied their young mistress from her Georgia home to the new one in
Florida many years before; they now remained with her for the excellent
reason that, owing to age and infirmities, it would have been impossible
for them to have found a home or employment elsewhere. This, however,
they never acknowledged, they spoke of their fidelity as a weakness of
which they were rather ashamed; but "dat poor Miss Betty, she nebber get
'long widout us nohow, Pomp, dat's a fac'." In reality, they adored Miss
Betty, and would have pined and died in a month if taken from her
kindly, indulgent rule, and from the old Carew kitchen, with its
disorder and comfort, where they had reigned so many years.

The superior table manners of Mrs. Thorne were never more apparent than
upon this occasion. In this lady's opinion, when one was required to
turn from intellectual occupations to the grosser employment of
supplying nourishment to the body, one could at least endeavor to
etherealize it as much as possible by confining one's self to that
refined implement, the fork. In accordance with this theory, she
scarcely touched her knife; once, under protest as it were, she
delicately divided with its aid the wing of a wild-duck, but that was
all. She encountered difficulties; slices of cold tongue betrayed a
remarkable tenacity of fibre, portions of broiled chicken manifested a
very embarrassing slipperiness under the silver tines, as she tried to
divide them or roll them up. But she persevered in her efforts to the
end, and succeeded, though her small fingers became deeply dented by the
force she was obliged to exert.

When the meal was at length over, Mrs. Carew, with a bow to Mrs.
Rutherford as her most distinguished guest, rose. Garda called
Winthrop's attention, as they also rose, to the fact that she had
scarcely spoken six sentences of Spanish during its entire continuance.
"See how well I have obeyed you," she said.

"Surely I did not venture a command?"

"I think you did. At least you came as near it as you dared, and you are
very daring."

"I? Never in the world! You are quite mistaken, Miss Thorne, I am the
exact opposite of that," he answered, laughing.

"But I should think you would like me to at least believe you so,"
responded Garda, looking at him with wonder.

"Believe me to be daring? We probably use the word in a different sense;
it isn't a word I am fond of, I confess; but I don't think you would
find me lacking in any emergency."

"Oh, emergencies!--they never come to Gracias. Now please don't say,
like the dear old Doctor, 'May they never come to _you_, my dearest
child!'"

"I will say, then--may I be present when they do."

"But you won't be," responded Garda, her tone suddenly changing; "you
will go away, Mrs. Harold will go away, everybody will go away, and we
shall be left alone again, mamma and I, on this old shore!"

"But you have seemed to me very happy here on this old shore," said
Winthrop, in a tone which was indulgent as well as comforting--she had
looked so young, so like a child, as she made her complaint.

"So I have been--until now. But now that I have seen you, now that I
have seen Mrs. Harold, I--I don't know." She looked at him wistfully.

This little conversation had gone on while they were all returning
through the hall to the front drawing-room. Manuel, however, who was
with Mrs. Harold, had a plan of his own, he turned boldly aside towards
the closed door of the back drawing-room, his intention being to
establish himself with the charming northern lady upon a certain sofa
which he remembered at the extreme end of that broad apartment; if
isolation were a northern fashion, he would be isolated too. But Mrs.
Carew (with the returning lamp on her mind) saw his hand upon the knob,
and summoned him in haste: "Mr. Ruiz! Mr. Ruiz!"

When he obeyed her call, she begged him fervently to promise to sing for
them immediately that "sweet little air" which it seemed was "such a
favorite" of hers, though when he asked her to define it more clearly,
she was unable to recall its name, the words, or any characteristic by
which he could identify it; however, by this effort of the imagination
the door of the back drawing-room was kept closed, and all her guests
were piloted safely to the front room by the way they had come. The lamp
was in position, only the retreating legs of Pompey were visible through
the dining-room door; the mistress of the house, unused to strategy,
sank into a chair, and furtively passed her handkerchief across her
brow.

Manuel was already tuning the guitar.

"Does he like to sing so soon after--after tea?" said Mrs. Rutherford.

But the handsome youth could sing as well at one time as another. He
looked about him, found a low ottoman and drew it towards the sofa where
Mrs. Harold was sitting, thus placing himself as nearly as possible at
her feet; then he struck a chord or two, and began. He had a tenor voice
(as Winthrop would have said, "of course"); and the voice had much
sweetness. He sang his little love song admirably.

Garda was standing near one of the windows with Winthrop. When the song
was ended, "How old is Mrs. Harold?" she asked, abruptly; that is,
abruptly as regarded subject, her voice itself had no abrupt tones.

"I don't know," Winthrop answered.

"Isn't she your cousin?"

"She is my aunt's niece by marriage; Mr. Rutherford was her uncle."

"But if you have always known her, you must know how old she is."

"I have not always known her, and I don't know; I suppose her to be
about twenty-seven or twenty-eight."

"She is over thirty," said Garda, with decision. "Do you think her
handsome?"

"She is considered handsome."

"But do you think her so?"

"That is rather a close question, isn't it?"

"It doesn't seem so to me; people are handsome or not handsome, it's
fact--not opinion. And what I wanted to see was whether you had any eye
for beauty, that was all. Mrs. Rutherford, for instance, is handsome,
Mrs. Carew is not. Manuel is handsome, Adolfo Torres is not."

"And Miss Thorne?"

"She hopes she is, but she isn't sure," replied the girl, laughing; "it
isn't 'sure' to be thought so by the four persons about here. And she
can't find out from the only stranger she knows, because he hasn't a
particle of expression in his face; it's most unfortunate."

"For him--yes. It's because he's so old, you know."

"How old are you?"

"I am thirty-five."

"You look younger than that," said Garda, after scanning him for a
moment.

"It's my northern temperament, that keeps me young and handsome."

"Oh, you're not handsome; but in a man it's of little consequence," she
added.

"Very little. Or in a woman either. Don't we all know that beauty fades
as the leaf?"

"The leaf fades when it has had all there was of its life, it doesn't
fade before. That is what I mean to do, have all there is of _my_ life,
I have told mamma so. I said to mamma more than a year ago, 'Mamma,
what are our pleasures? Let us see if we can't get some more;' and mamma
answered, 'Edgarda, pleasures are generally wrong.' But I don't agree
with mamma, I don't think them wrong; and I intend to take mine wherever
I can find them, in fact, I do so now."

"And do you find many?"

"Oh yes," replied Garda, confidently. "There are our oranges, which are
excellent; and Carlos Mateo, who is so amusing; and the lovely breeze we
have sometimes; and the hammock where I lie and plan out all the things
I should like to have--the softest silks, laces, nothing coarse or
common to touch me; plenty of roses in all the rooms and the garden full
of sweet-bay, so that all the air should be perfumed."

"And not books? Conversation?"

"I don't care much about books, they all appear to have been written by
old people; I suppose when I am old myself, I shall like them better. As
to conversation--yes, I like a little of it; but I like actions
more--great deeds, you know. Don't you like great deeds?"

"When I see them; unfortunately, there are very few of them left
nowadays, walking about, waiting to be done."

"I don't know; let me tell you one. The other day a young girl here--not
of our society, of course--was out sailing with a party of friends in a
fishing-boat. This girl had a branch of wild-orange blossoms in her
hand; suddenly she threw it overboard, and challenged a young man who
was with her to get it again. He instantly jumped into the water; there
was a good deal of sea, they were at the mouth of the harbor and the
tide was going out; they were running before a fresh breeze, and, having
no oars with them, they could not get back to him except by several long
tacks. He could not swim very well, and the tide was strong, they
thought he certainly would be carried out; but he kept up, and at last
they saw him land, ever so far down Patricio--he was only a black dot.
He walked back, came across to Gracias in a negro's dug-out, and just as
he was, without waiting to change his clothes, he brought her the wet
flowers."

"It is the old story of the Glove. Did he throw them in her face?"

"Throw them in her face!--is that what you would have done?" said Garda,
astonished.

"Oh, I should never have jumped overboard," answered Winthrop, laughing.

During this interval, Torres, wishing to show himself a man of
conversation, after his own method, had propounded no less than three
questions to the Rev. Mr. Moore, who understood something of Spanish. He
had first requested information as to the various methods of punishment,
other than the whip, which had been in use on the plantations in the
Gracias-á-Dios neighborhood before the emancipation, and which of them
had been considered the most effective. His next inquiry, made after a
meditative silence of some minutes, was whether, in the reverend
gentleman's opinion, the guillotine was not on the whole a more
dignified instrument for the execution of justice than the noose--one
more calculated to improve the minds of the lower classes? Finally, he
wished to know whether the clergyman supposed that a person suffered
more when an arm was amputated than he did when a leg was taken off, the
arm being nearer the vital organs; and whether either of these
operations could be compared, as regarded the torture inflicted, with
that caused by a sabre wound (such as one might receive in a duel with
swords) which had cut into the breast?

"That is a very blood-thirsty young man; his style of conversation is
really extraordinary," said the clergyman to Dr. Kirby, when Torres,
having exhausted all his topics, and not having understood one word of
the rector's Spanish in reply, returned gravely to his place on the
other side of the room.

"He is blood-thirsty because he is forced to be so dumb," answered the
Doctor, with one of his sudden little grins--grins which came and went
so quickly that, were it not for a distinct remembrance of about sixteen
very white little teeth which he had seen, the gazer would scarcely have
realized that it had been there at all. "No one here (besides yourself
and Manuel) can talk Spanish with him but Garda, and Mr. Winthrop has
kept Garda talking English every moment since he came; I don't wonder
the youth is blood-thirsty, I'm afraid that at his age I should have
called the northerner out."

But now Winthrop and Garda joined the others. Winthrop was addressed by
Mrs. Thorne.

"I have been begging Mrs. Rutherford and Mrs. Harold to pay us a visit
at East Angels some day this week; I hope, Mr. Winthrop, that you will
accompany them."

Winthrop expressed his thanks; he put forward the hope in return that
she would join them for an afternoon sail, before long, down the
Espiritu. Mrs. Thorne was sure that that would be extremely delightful,
she was sure that his yacht (she brought out the word with much
clearness; no one had ventured to call it a yacht until now) was also
delightful; and its name--_Emperadora_--was so charming!

She was perched, by some fatality, on a high-seated chair, so high that
(Winthrop suspected) her little feet did not touch the floor. She did
not look like a person who could enjoy sailing, one who would be able to
undulate easily, yield to the motion of the boat, or find readily
accessible in her storehouse of feelings that mood of serene
indifference to arriving anywhere at any particular time, which is a
necessary accompaniment of the aquatic amusement when pursued in the
lovely Florida waters. But "I enjoy sailing of all things," this brave
little matron was declaring.

"I am afraid there will be little novelty in it for you. You must know
all these waters well," observed Winthrop.

"Even if I do know them well, it will be a pleasure to visit them again
in such intelligent society," replied Mrs. Thorne. "We have lived
somewhat isolated, my daughter and I; it will be a widening for us in
every way to be with you--with Mrs. Rutherford, Mrs. Harold, and
yourself. I have sometimes feared," she went on, looking at him with her
bright little eyes, "that we should become, perhaps have already become,
too motionless in our intellectual life down here, my daughter and
myself."

"Motionless things are better than moving ones, aren't they?" answered
Winthrop. "The people who try to keep up with everything are apt to be a
panting, breathless set. Besides, they lose all sense of comparison in
their haste, and don't distinguish; important things and unimportant
they talk about with equal eagerness, the only point with them is that
they should be new."

"You console me--you console me greatly," responded Mrs. Thorne. "Still,
I feel sure that knowledge, and important knowledge, is advancing with
giant strides outside, and that we, my daughter and I, are left behind.
I have seen but few of the later publications--could you not kindly give
me just an outline? In geology, for instance, always so absorbing, what
are the latest discoveries with regard to the Swiss lakes? And I should
be so grateful, too, for any choice thoughts you may be able to recall
at the moment from the more recent essays of Mr. Emerson; I can say with
truth that strengthening sentences from Mr. Emerson's writings were my
best mental pabulum during all the early years of my residence at the
South."

"I--I fancy that Mrs. Harold knows more of Emerson than I do," replied
Winthrop, reflecting upon the picture of the New England school-teacher
transplanted to East Angels, and supporting life there as best she
could, on a diet of Mr. Emerson and "Paradise Lost."

"An extremely intelligent and cultivated person," responded Mrs. Thorne,
with enthusiasm. "Do you know, Mr. Winthrop, that Mrs. Harold quite
fills my idea of a combination of our own Margaret Fuller and Madame de
Staël."

"Yet she can hardly be called talkative, can she?" said Winthrop,
smiling.

"It is her face, the language of her eye, that give me my impression.
Her silence seems to me but a fulness of intellect, a fulness at times
almost throbbing; she is a Corinne mute, a Margaret dumb."

"Were they ever mute, those two?" asked Winthrop.

Mrs. Thorne glanced at him. "I see you do not admire lady
conversationalists," she murmured, relaxing into her guarded little
smile.

Dr. Kirby, conversing with Mrs. Rutherford, had brought forward General
Lafayette. On the rare occasions of late years when the Doctor had found
himself called upon to conduct a conversation with people from the
North, he was apt to resort to Lafayette.

The Rev. Mr. Moore, stimulated by Mrs. Carew's excellent coffee,
advanced the opinion that Lafayette was, after all, "very French."

"Ah! but Frenchmen can be _so_ agreeable," said Mrs. Carew. "There was
Talleyrand, you know; when he was over here he wrote a sonnet to my
aunt, beginning 'Aimable Anne.' And then there was little Dumont,
Katrina; you remember him?--how well he danced! As for Lafayette, when
he made his triumphal tour through the country afterwards, he grew so
tired, they say, of the satin sheets which Gratitude had provided for
him at every town that he was heard to exclaim, 'Satan de satin!' Not
that I believe it, because there are those beautiful memoirs and
biographies of all his lady-relatives who were guillotined, you know,
poor things!--though, come to think of it, one of them must have been
saved of course to write the memoirs, since naturally they couldn't have
written them beforehand themselves with all those touching descriptions
of their own dying moments and last thoughts thrown in; well--what I was
going to say was that I don't believe he ever swore in the least,
because they were all so extremely pious; he couldn't--in that
atmosphere. What a singular thing it is that when the French _do_ take
to piety they out-Herod Herod himself!--and I reckon the reason is that
it's such a novelty to them that they're like the bull in the china
shop, or rather like the new boy at the grocer's, who is not accustomed
to raisins, and eats so many the first day that he is made seriously ill
in consequence, for clear raisins _are_ very trying."

"The French," remarked Dr. Kirby, "have often, in spite of their
worldliness, warm enthusiasms in other directions which take them far,
very far indeed. It was an enthusiasm, and a noble one, that brought
Lafayette to our shores."

"_Such_ a number of children as were named after him, too," said Mrs.
Carew, starting off again. "I remember one of them; he had been baptized
Marquis de Lafayette (Marquis de Lafayette Green was his full name), and
I didn't for a long time comprehend what it was, for his mother always
called him 'Marquisdee,' and I thought perhaps it was an Indian name,
like Manatee, you know; for some people do like Indian names _so_ much,
though I can't say I care for them, but it's a matter of taste, of
course, like everything else, and I once knew a dear sweet girl who had
been named Ogeechee, after our Southern river, you remember;
Ogeechee--do you like that, Katrina?"

"Heavens! no," said Mrs. Rutherford, lifting her beautiful hands in
protest against such barbarism.

"Yet why, after all, is it not as melodious as Beatrice?" remarked Mr.
Moore, meditatively, his eyes on the ceiling.

Gracias society was proud of Mr. Moore; his linguistic accomplishments
it regarded with admiration. Mrs. Carew, divining the Italian
pronunciation of Beatrice, glanced at Katrina to see if she were
properly impressed.

Garda, upon leaving Evert Winthrop, had joined Mrs. Harold, at whose
feet Manuel still remained, guitar in hand. "Do you sing, Mrs. Harold?"
the young girl said, seating herself beside the northern lady, and
looking at her with her usual interest--an interest which appeared to
consist, in part, of a sort of expectancy that she would do or say
something before long which would be a surprise. Nothing could be more
quiet, more unsurprising, so most persons would have said, than Margaret
Harold's words and manner. But Garda had her own stand-point; to her,
Mrs. Harold was a perpetual novelty. She admired her extremely, but even
more than she admired, she wondered.

"No," Mrs. Harold had answered, "I do not sing; I know something of
instrumental music."

"I am afraid we have no good pianos here," pursued Garda; "that is, none
that you would call good.--I wish you would go and talk to Mr. Torres,"
she continued, turning to Manuel.

The young Cuban occupied a solitary chair on the other side of the room,
his method apparently having allowed him to seat himself for a while; he
had not even his ivory puzzle, but sat with his hands folded, his eyes
downcast.

"You ask impossibilities," said Manuel. "What! leave this heavenly place
at Mrs. Harold's feet--and yours--for the purpose of going to talk to
that tiresome Adolfo? Never!"

"But I wish to talk to Mrs. Harold myself; you have already had that
pleasure quite too long. Besides, if you are very good, I will tell you
what you can do; cards will be brought out presently, and then it will
be seen that there are ten persons present, and as but eight are
required for the two tables, I shall be the one left out to talk to
Adolfo, as he can neither play nor speak English; in this state of
things you can, if you are watchful, arrange matters so as to be at the
same table with Mrs. Harold; perhaps even her partner."

"I will be more than watchful," Manuel declared; "I will be determined!"

"I play a wretched game," said the northern lady, warningly.

"And if you should play the best in the world, I should never know it,
absorbed as I should be in your personal presence," replied the youth,
with ardor.

Mrs. Harold laughed. Winthrop (listening to Mrs. Thorne's remarks upon
Emerson) glanced towards their little group.

"People do not talk in that way at the North. That is why she laughs,"
said Garda, explanatorily.

"And do I care how they talk in their frozen North!" cried Manuel. "I
talk as my heart dictates."

"Do so," said Garda, "but later. At present, go and cheer up poor Mr.
Torres; he is fairly shivering with loneliness over there in his
corner."

Manuel, who, in spite of his studied attitude at the feet of Mrs.
Harold, was evidently the slave of whatever whim Garda chose to express,
rose to obey. "But do not in the least imagine that Adolfo needs
cheering," he explained, still posing a little as he stood before them
with his guitar. "He entertains himself perfectly, always; he is never
lonely, he has only to think of his ancestors. Adolfo is, in fact, a
very good ancestor already. As to his shivering--that shows how little
you know him; he is a veritable volcano, that silent one! Still, I obey
your bidding, I go."

"What do _you_ think of him?" said Garda, as he crossed the room towards
the solitary Cuban.

"Mr. Torres?"

"No; Mr. Ruiz."

"I know him so slightly, I cannot say I have formed an opinion."

Garda looked at the two young men for a moment; then, "They are both
boys," she said, dismissing them with a little wave of her hand.

"But Mr. Winthrop is not a boy," she went on, her eyes returning to the
northern lady's face. "How old is Mr. Winthrop?"

"I don't know."

"Isn't he your cousin?"

"Mr. Winthrop is the nephew of Mrs. Rutherford, who is only my aunt by
marriage."

"But if you have always known him, you must know how old he is."

"I have not always known him. I suppose he is thirty-four or five."

"That is just what he said," remarked Garda, reflectively.

"That I was thirty-four or five?"

"No; but he began in the same way. He said that he did not know; that
you were not his cousin; that you were the niece of Mr. Rutherford; and
that he supposed you to be about twenty-seven or eight."

"I am twenty-six," said Margaret.

"And he is thirty-five," added Garda.

"I suppose they both seem great ages to you," observed Margaret,
smiling.

"It's of very little consequence in a man--his age," replied the young
girl. "I confess that I thought you older than twenty-six; but it's not
because you look old, it's because you look as if you did not care
whether people thought you old or not, and generally it's only women who
are really old, you know, over thirty, like mamma and Mrs. Carew, who
have that expression--don't you think so? And I fancy you don't care
much about dress, either," she went on. "Everything you wear is very
beautiful; still, I don't believe you care about it. Yet you would carry
it off well, any amount of it, you are so tall."

"I think you are as tall as I am," said Margaret, amused by these
unconventional utterances.

"Come and see," replied Garda, suddenly. She took Margaret's hand and
rose.

"What is it we are to do?" inquired Margaret, obeying the motion without
comprehending its object.

"Come," repeated Garda.

They passed into the back drawing-room, and Garda led the way towards a
large mirror.

"But we do not wish to survey ourselves in the presence of all this
company," said Margaret, pausing.

"Yes, we do. They will not notice us, they are talking; it's about our
height, you know," answered the girl. She held Margaret's hand tightly,
and drew her onward until they both stood together before the long
glass.

Two images gazed back at them. One was that of a young girl with bright
brown hair curling low down over wonderful dark eyes. A white rose was
placed, in the Spanish fashion, on one side above the little ear. This
image in the mirror had a soft warm color in its cheeks, and a deeper
one still on its slightly parted lips; these lips were very lovely in
outline, with short, full, upward-arching curves and a little downward
droop at the corners. The rich beauty of the face, and indeed of the
whole figure, was held somewhat aloof from indiscriminate appropriation,
by the indifference which accompanied it. It was not the indifference of
experience, there was no weariness in it, no knowledge of life; it was
the fresh indifference rather of inexperience, like the indifference of
a child. It seemed, too, as if it would always be there, as if that face
would never grow eager, no matter how much expansion of knowledge the
years might bring to it; very possibly, almost certainly, this beautiful
girl would demand more of life in every way, year by year, as it passed;
but this would not make her strive for it, she would always remain as
serenely careless, as unconcerned, as now.

The mirror gave back, also, the second image. It was that of a woman
older--older by the difference that lies between sixteen years and
twenty-six. This second image was tall and slender. It had hair of the
darkest brown which is not black--hair straight and fine, its soft
abundance making little display; this hair was arranged with great
simplicity, too great, perhaps, for, brushed smoothly back and closely
coiled behind, it had an air of almost severe plainness--a plainness,
however, which the perfect oval of the face, and the beautiful forehead,
full and low, marked by the slender line of the dark eyebrows, with the
additional contrast of the long dark eyelashes beneath, could bear. The
features were regular, delicate; the complexion a clear white, of the
finest, purest grain imaginable, the sort of texture which gives the
idea that the bright color will come and go through its fairness. This
expectation was not fulfilled; the same controlled calm seemed to hold
sway there which one perceived in the blue eyes and round the mouth.

As Winthrop had said, Margaret Harold was considered handsome. By that
was meant that she was in possession of a general acknowledgment that
the shape and poise of her head were fine, that her features were
well-cut, that her tall, slender form was charmingly proportioned, her
movements graceful. Winthrop would have stated, as his own opinion, that
she was too cold and formal to be beautiful--too restricted; it was true
that in one thing she was not restricted (this was also his own
opinion), namely, in the high esteem she had for herself.

She had undoubtedly a quiet reserved sort of beauty. But other women
were not made jealous by any especial interest in her, by discussions
concerning her, by frequent introduction of her name. She was thought
unsympathetic; but as she never said the clever, cutting things which
unsympathetic women sometimes know how to say so admirably, she was not
thought entertaining as well--as they often are. Opinion varied,
therefore, as to whether she could say these things, but would not, or
whether it was the contrary, that she would have said them if she had
been able, but simply could not, having no endowment of that kind of
wit; one thing alone was certain, namely, that she continued not to say
them.

Her dress, as seen in the mirror, had much simplicity of aspect; but
this was owing to the way she wore it, and the way in which it was made,
rather than to the materials, which were ample and rich. The soft silk,
Quakerish in hue, lay in folds over the carpet which Garda's scanty
skirt barely touched; it followed the lines of the slender figure
closely, while Garda's muslin, which had been many times washed, was
clumsy and ill-fitting. The gray robe came up smoothly round the throat,
where it was finished by a little ruff of precious old lace, while the
poor Florida gown, its fashion a reminiscence of Mrs. Thorne's youth,
ended at that awkward angle which is neither high nor low.

But all this made no difference as regarded the beauty of Garda. Of most
young girls it can be said that richness of attire spoils them, takes
from their youthfulness its chief charm; but of Garda Thorne it could
easily be believed that no matter in what she might be clad, poor garb
as at present, or the most sumptuous, she herself would so far outshine
whichever it happened to be, that it would scarcely be noticed.

"You are the taller," said Garda. "I knew it!" The outline of the head
with the smooth dark hair was clearly above that crowned by the curling
locks.

"You are deceptive," said Margaret, "you look tall, yet I see now that
you are not. Are there many more such surprises about you?"

"I hope so," answered Garda, "I love surprises. That is, short ones; I
don't like surprises when one has to be astonished ever so long, and
keep on saying 'oh!' and 'dear me!' long after it's all over. But
everything long is tiresome, I have found _that_ out."

Winthrop had watched them pass into the second room. He now left his
place, and joined them.

"We came to see which was the taller," said Garda, as his face appeared
in the mirror behind them. Margaret moved aside; but as Garda still held
her hand, she could not move far. Winthrop, however, was not looking at
her, his eyes were upon the reflection of the younger face; perceiving
this, her own came back to it also.

"You two are always so solemn," said Garda, breaking into one of her
sweet laughs; "standing between you, as I do, I look like Folly itself.
There was an old song of Miss Pamela's:

    "'Reason and Folly and Beauty, they say,
      Went on a party of pleasure one day--'

Here they are in the glass, all three of them. Mrs. Harold is Beauty."

"I suppose that means that I am that unfortunate wretch, Reason," said
Winthrop. "Didn't he get a good many cuffs in the song? He generally
does in real life, I know--poor fellow!"

Garda had now released Mrs. Harold's hand, and that lady turned away.
She found herself near an interesting collection of Florida paroquets,
enclosed in a glass case, and she devoted her attention to ornithology
for a while; the birds returned her gaze with the extremely candid eyes
contributed by the taxidermist. Presently Dr. Kirby came to conduct her
to the whist-table. Pompey had arranged these tables with careful
precision upon the exact figures of the old carpet which his mistress
had pointed out beforehand; but though Pompey had thus arranged the
tables, the players were not arranged as Garda had predicted. Mrs.
Rutherford, Dr. Kirby, Mrs. Thorne, and the Rev. Mr. Moore formed one
group. At the other table were Mrs. Harold, Manuel Ruiz, and Mrs. Carew,
with a dummy. Evert Winthrop did not play.

This left him with Garda. But Torres was also left; the three walked up
and down in the broad hall for a while, and then went out on the piazza.
Here there was a hammock, towards which Garda declared herself
irresistibly attracted; she arranged it as a swing, and seated herself.
Winthrop found a camp-chair, and placed himself near her as she slowly
swayed in her hanging seat to and fro. But Torres remained standing,
according to his method; he stood with folded arms in the shadow, close
to the side of the house, but without touching it. As he stood there for
an hour and a half, it is possible that he found the occupation
tedious--unless indeed the picture of Garda in the moonlight was a
sufficient entertainment; certainly there was very little else to
entertain him; Garda and Winthrop, talking English without intermission,
seemed to have forgotten his existence entirely.

"Adolfo," said Manuel, on their way home, giving a rapier-like thrust in
the air with his slender cane, "that northerner, that Wintup, is
unendurable!"

"He is a matter of indifference to me," replied Torres.

"What--when he keeps you out there on the piazza for two hours in
perfect silence? I listened, you never spoke one word; he talked all the
time to Garda himself."

"_That_--I suffered," said Torres, with dignity.

"Suffered? I should think so! Are you going to 'suffer' him to buy East
Angels, too?"

"He may buy what he pleases. He cannot make himself a Spaniard."

"How do you know Garda cares so much for Spaniards?" said Manuel,
gloomily. "I suppose you remember that the mother, after all, is a
northerner?"

"I remember perfectly," replied the Cuban. "The señorita will always
do--"

"What her mother wishes?" (Manuel was afraid of Mrs. Thorne.)

"--What she pleases," answered Torres, serenely.



CHAPTER VI.


"I think you very wonderful," said Garda. "And I think you very
beautiful too, though no one seems to talk about it. That in itself is a
wonder. But everything about you is wonderful." She was sitting on the
floor, her hands crossed on Margaret Harold's knee, her chin resting on
her hands; her eyes were fixed on that lady's face.

"You are easily pleased," said Margaret.

"No," replied Garda, with the leisurely utterance which took from her
contradictions all appearance of opposition; "I am not easily pleased at
all, it's the contrary. I see the goodness of all my friends, I hope; I
love them very much. But they do not please me, as you please me, for
instance, just because they are good, or because I love them; to be
pleased as I am now, to admire as I admire you, is a very different
thing."

Margaret said nothing, and Garda, as if wishing to convince her, went
on; "I love my dear Dr. Reginald, I love him dearly; but don't you
suppose I see that he is too stout and too precise? I love my dear Mr.
Moore, I think him perfectly adorable; but don't you suppose I see that
he is too lank and narrow-shouldered, and that his dear good little eyes
are too small for his long face--like the eyes of a clean, thin, white
pig? Mrs. Carew is my kindest friend; that doesn't prevent me from
seeing that she is too red. Mr. Torres is too dark, Mr. Winthrop too
cold; and so it goes. But you--you are perfect."

"You have left out Mr. Ruiz," suggested Margaret, smiling.

"Manuel is beautiful; yes, in his face, Manuel is very beautiful," said
Garda, consideringly. "But you have a beautiful nature, and Manuel has
only an ordinary one. It's your having a beautiful face and beautiful
nature too which makes you such a wonder to me, because people with
beautiful natures are so apt to have ugly faces, or at least thin,
wrinkled, and forlorn ones, or else they are invalids; and if they
escape that, they are almost sure to have such dreadful clothes. But
_you_ have a beautiful nature, and a beautiful face, and beautiful
clothes--all three. I could never be like you, I don't want to be; but I
admire you more than any one I have ever known, and I hope you will let
me be with you as often as I can while you stay here; I don't know what
I shall do when you go away!"

Margaret smiled a second time; the young girl seemed to her very young
indeed as she uttered these candid beliefs.

"Mamma too admires you so much," continued Garda; "I have never known
mamma to admire any one (outside of our own family) so completely as she
admires you; for generally mamma has her reservations, you know. But it
is your intellect which mamma admires, and _I_ do not care so much for
intellect; of course it's all very well for a foundation, but one
doesn't want to be all foundation."

"Mrs. Rutherford would like to see you for a moment, Miss Margaret, if
you please," said a voice which seemed startlingly near them, though no
one was in sight.

It was Celestine; she had opened the door noiselessly the sixteenth part
of an inch, delivered her message with her lips close to the crack, and
then closed it again with the soundless abruptness which characterized
all her actions.

"That is the fourth time Mrs. Rutherford has sent a message since I
came, an hour ago," remarked Garda. "She depends upon you for
everything."

"Oh no; upon Celestine," said Margaret, as she left the room.

When she came back, fifteen minutes later, "You are mistaken," Garda
answered, as though there had been no interruption; "she depends upon
Celestine for her clothes, her hair, her medicine, and her shawls; but
she depends upon you for everything else."

"Have you been thinking about it all this time?" Margaret asked.

       *       *       *       *       *

"How good you are! Why didn't you say, '_Is_ there anything else?' But I
have noticed that you never say those things. Have I been thinking about
it all this time? No, it doesn't require thinking about, any one can see
it; what I have been thinking about is you." She had taken her former
place, her arms crossed on Margaret's knee. "You have such beautiful
hands," she said, lifting one and spreading it out to look at it.

"My dear Miss Thorne, your own are much more beautiful."

"Oh, I do very well, I know what I am; but I am not you. I don't believe
there is any one like you; it would be too much."

"Too much perfection?" said Margaret, laughing.

"Yes," answered Garda, her seriousness unbroken. "For you take
quantities of trouble for other people--I can see that. And the persons
who do so are hardly ever happy--thoroughly happy; it seems such a pity,
but it's true. Now I am always happy; but then I never take any trouble
for any one, not a bit."

"I haven't observed that," said Margaret.

"No one observes it," responded Garda, composedly; "but it is quite
true. And I never intend to take any trouble, whether they observe it or
not. But with you it is different, you take a great deal; partly you
have taught yourself to do it, and partly you were made so."

"Since when have you devoted your attention to these deep subjects, Miss
Thorne?" said Margaret, smiling down upon the upturned face of the girl
before her.

Garda rose to her knees. "Oh, don't call me Miss Thorne," she said,
pleadingly, putting her arms round her companion. "I love you so
much--please never say it again."

"Very well. I will call you Garda."

"I like it when you are cold like that--oh, I like it!" said Garda, with
enthusiasm. "All you say when I tell you I adore you is, 'Very well; I
will call you Garda;' you do not even say 'my dear.' That is beautiful,
because you really mean it; you mean nothing more, and you say nothing
more."

"Do you praise me simply because I speak the truth?" said Margaret.

"Yes; for nothing is more rare. I speak the truth myself, but my truth
is whatever happens to come into my head; your truth is quiet and real,
as you yourself are. I could never be like you, I don't want to be; but
I admire you--I admire you."

"I don't know that I am much complimented, if you keep on insisting, in
spite of it all, that you don't want to be like me," said Margaret,
laughing again.

"Well," replied Garda, "I don't; what's the use of pretending? For I
wish to be happy, and I mean to be happy. You are a sort of an angel;
but I have never heard that angels had very much of a good time
themselves, or that anybody did anything especial for _their_ pleasure;
they are supposed to be above it. But I am not above it, and never shall
be." And leaning forward, she kissed Margaret's cheek. "It's because
you're so wonderful," she said.

"I am not wonderful at all," answered Margaret, rather coldly,
withdrawing a little from the girl's embrace.

"And if you didn't answer in just that way, you wouldn't be, of course,"
said Garda, delightedly; "that is exactly what I mean--you are so cold
and so true. You think I exaggerate, you do not like to have me talk in
this way about you, and so you draw back; but only a little, because you
are too good to hurt me, or any one. But I don't want to be 'any one' to
you, Mrs. Harold. Do let me be some one."

Now came again the ventriloquistic voice at the door, "phaeton's ready,
Miss Margaret."

"Why doesn't Mr. Winthrop drive out with Mrs. Rutherford?" said Garda,
watching Margaret put on her bonnet.

"He is probably occupied."

"He is never occupied. Do you call it occupied to be galloping over the
pine barrens in every direction, and stopping at East Angels? to be
exploring the King's Road, and stopping at East Angels? to be sailing up
and down the Espiritu, and stopping at East Angels? to be paddling up
all the creeks, and stopping at East Angels?"

"I should call that being very much occupied indeed," said Margaret,
smiling.

"I don't then," replied Garda; "that is, not in your sense of the word.
It's being occupied with his own pleasure--that's all. But the truth is
Mrs. Rutherford takes you, always you, because no one else begins to
make her so comfortable; you not only see that she has everything as she
likes it, but that she has nothing as she doesn't like it, which is even
more delightful. Yet apparently she doesn't realize this in the least; I
think that so very curious."

"Do you fancy that you understand Mrs. Rutherford on so short an
acquaintance?" asked Margaret, rather reprovingly.

"Yes," responded Garda, in her calm fashion, her attention, however, not
fixing itself long upon the subject, which she seemed to consider
unimportant. "I wish you would get a palmetto hat like mine," she went
on with much more interest; "your bonnet is lovely, but it makes you
seem old."

"But I _am_ old," said Margaret, as she left the room.

She did not apologize for leaving her guest; the young girl was in the
habit of bestowing her presence upon her so often now, that ceremony
between them had come to an end some time before. She took her place in
the phaeton, which was waiting at the foot of the outside stairway, Mrs.
Rutherford, enveloped in a rich shawl, having already been installed by
Celestine. Telano, in his Sunday jacket of black alpaca, held the bridle
of the mild old horse with great firmness. He had put on for the
occasion his broad-brimmed man-of-war hat, which was decorated with a
blue ribbon bearing in large gilt letters the inscription _Téméraire_.
Telano had no idea what _Téméraire_ meant (he called it Turmrer); he had
bought the hat of a travelling vender, convinced that it would add to
the dignity of his appearance--as it certainly did. For there was
nothing commonplace or horizontal in the position of that hat; the
vender had illustrated how it was to be worn, but Telano, fired by the
new ambitions of emancipation, had practised in secret before his glass
until he had succeeded in getting the Turmrer so far back on his curly
head that it was not on the top at all, but applied flatly and
perpendicularly behind, so that the gazer's mind lost itself in
possibilities as to the methods of adhesion which he must have employed
to keep it in place. His mistresses seated, Telano sprang to the little
seat behind them, where, with folded arms, he sat stiffly erect,
conscious of the Turmrer, showing the whites of his eyes, happy.
Margaret lifted the reins, and smiling a good-bye to Garda, who was
standing on the outside stairway, drove down Pacheco Lane into the
plaza, and out of sight.

Garda still leaned on the balustrade; though left alone, she did not
take her departure. After a while she sat down on a step, and leaned her
head back against the railing; her eyes were fixed indolently upon the
sea.

"Looking across to Spain?" said Evert Winthrop's voice, ten minutes
later. He had come down the lane, his step making no sound on the mat of
low, thick green.

"No," Garda answered, without turning her eyes from the water. "If I
want Spain, I have only to send for Mr. Torres; he's Spain in person."

"Are you here alone? Where are the others?"

"Gone out to drive; I wish you had never sent for that phaeton!"

Several weeks had passed since the arrival of the northern ladies; but
it seemed more like several months, if gauged by the friendship which
had been bestowed upon them. The little circle of Gracias society had
opened its doors to them with characteristic hospitality--the old-time
hospitality of the days of better fortune; its spirit unchanged, though
the form in which it must now manifest itself was altered in all save
its charming courtesy. Mrs. Rutherford was a friend of Mrs. Carew's,
that was enough; they were all friends of Mrs. Rutherford in
consequence. Mrs. Kirby, the active little mother of Dr. Reginald,
invited them to dine with her. Mrs. Penelope Moore, the rector's wife,
though seldom able to leave her sofa, did not on that account consider
herself exempt from the present privilege of entertaining them. Madame
Ruiz, the mother of Manuel, insisted upon several visits at her
residence on Patricio Point. Madame Giron, the aunt of Adolfo Torres,
came up the Espiritu in her broad old boat, rowed by four negro boys, to
beg them to pass a day with her at her plantation, which was south of
East Angels. Mrs. Thorne did what she could in the way of afternoon
visits at her old Spanish mansion, with oranges, conversation, and
Carlos Mateo. And good Betty Carew moved in and out among these gentle
festivities with assiduous watchfulness, ready to fill any gaps that
might present themselves with selections from her own best resources;
the number of times she invited her dearest Katrina to lunch with her,
to spend the day with her, to pass the evening with her, to visit the
orange groves with her, to play whist, to go and see the rose gardens,
and to "bring over her work" in the morning and "sit on the piazza and
talk," could not be counted. Mrs. Rutherford, who never had any work
beyond the holding of a fan sometimes to screen her face from the fire
or sun, was amiably willing to sit on the piazza (Betty's) and
talk--talk with the peculiar degree of intimacy which embroidery (or
knitting) and piazzas, taken together, seem to produce. Especially was
she willing as, without fail, about eleven o'clock, Pompey appeared with
a little tray, covered with a snowy damask napkin, upon which reposed a
small loaf of delicious cake, freshly baked, two saucers (of that old
blue china whose recent nicks owed their origin to emancipation), a
glass dish heaped with translucent old-fashioned preserves, and a little
glass pitcher of rich cream. Mrs. Rutherford thought this "so
amusing--at eleven o'clock in the morning!" But it was noticed that she
never refused it.

If Katrina had no work, Betty had it in abundance. It was not
embroidery--unless mending could be called by that name. But Betty did
not accomplish as much as she might have done, owing to the fact that
about once in ten minutes she became aware of the loss of her scissors,
or her spool of thread, and was forced to get up, shake her skirts, or
dive to the bottom of her pocket in search of them. For her pocket had a
wide mouth, which was not concealed by a superfluous overskirt; it was a
deep comfortable pocket going well down below the knee, its rotund
outline, visible beneath the skirt of the gown, suggesting to the
experienced eye a handkerchief, a battered porte-monnaie, a large bunch
of keys, two or three crumpled letters, a pencil with the stubby point
which a woman's pencil always possesses, a half-finished stocking and
ball of yarn, a spectacle-case, a paper of peppermint drops, and a
forgotten pair or two of gloves.

These little entertainments hospitably given for the northern ladies
succeeded each other rapidly--so rapidly that Margaret began to fear
lest, mild as they were in themselves, they should yet make inroads on
Mrs. Rutherford's strength.

"You needn't be scairt, Miss Margaret," was Celestine's reply to this
suggestion, a remote gleam of a smile lighting up for a moment her grim
face; "a little gentlemen-talk is _very_ strengthenin' to yer aunt at
times; nothin' more so."

During these weeks Garda Thorne had manifested a constantly increasing
devotion to Margaret Harold; that, at least, was what they called it in
the little circle of Gracias society, where it was considered an
interesting development of character. These good friends said to each
other that their little girl was coming on, that they should soon be
obliged to think of her as something more than a lovely child.

Mrs. Rutherford had another name for it; she called it curiosity. "That
little Thorne girl (who is quite pretty)," she remarked to Winthrop,
"seems to be never tired of looking at Margaret, and listening to what
she says. Yet Margaret certainly says little enough!" Mrs. Rutherford
never went beyond "quite pretty" where Garda was concerned. It was her
superlative for young girls, she really did not think they could be
more.

"You wish that I had never sent for that phaeton? Would you, then,
deprive my poor aunt of her drives?" Winthrop had said, in answer to
Garda's remark.

"Do you care much for your poor aunt?" she inquired.

"I care a great deal."

"Then why do you never drive out with her yourself?"

"I do; often."

"I have been here every afternoon for a week, and every afternoon
Margaret has had to leave me, because Mrs. Rutherford sends word that
the phaeton is ready."

"Well, perhaps for the past week--"

"I don't believe you have been for two; I don't believe you have been
for three," pursued the girl. "You are willing to go, probably you
suppose you do go; but in reality it is Margaret, always Margaret. Do
you know what I think?--you do not half appreciate Margaret."

"I am glad at least that you do," Winthrop answered. "Do you prefer that
step to a chair?"

"Yes; for I ought to be going back to the Kirbys, and sitting here is
more like it. Not that I mean to hurry, you know."

"It's pleasant, staying with the Kirbys, isn't it?" said Winthrop. He
was standing on a step below hers, leaning against the side of the house
in the shade.

"No," answered Garda, "it isn't; that is, it isn't so pleasant as
staying at home. I like my own hammock best, and Carlos Mateo is funnier
than any one I know. But by staying in town I can see more of Margaret,
and that is what I care for most; I don't know how I can endure it when
she goes away!"

"You had better persuade her not to go."

"But she must go, unless Mrs. Rutherford should take a fancy to stay,
which is not at all probable; Mrs. Rutherford couldn't get on without
Margaret one day."

"I think you exaggerate somewhat my aunt's dependence upon Mrs. Harold,"
observed Winthrop, after a pause.

"I was waiting to hear you say that. You are all curiously blind. Mrs.
Rutherford is so handsome that I like to be in the same room with her;
but that doesn't keep me from seeing how much has to be done for her
constantly, and in her own particular way, too, from important things
down to the smallest; and that the person who attends to it all, keeps
it all going, is--"

"Minerva Poindexter," suggested Winthrop.

"Is Margaret Harold; I cannot imagine how it is that you do not see it!
But you do not any of you comprehend her--comprehend how unselfish she
is, how self-sacrificing."

Winthrop's attention had wandered away from Garda's words. He did not
care for her opinion of Margaret Harold; it was not and could not be
important--the opinion of a peculiarly inexperienced young girl about a
woman ten years older than herself, a woman, too, whose most marked
characteristic, so he had always thought, was the reticence which kept
guard over all her words and actions. No, for Garda's opinions he did
not care; what attracted him, besides her beauty, was her wonderful
truthfulness, her grace and ease. "How indolent she is!" was his present
thought, while she talked on about Margaret, her eyes still watching the
sea. "On these old steps she has taken the one position that is
comfortable; yet she has managed to make it graceful as well; she finds
a perfect enjoyment in simply sitting here for a while in this soft air,
looking at the water, and so here she sits, without a thought of doing
anything else. At home, it would be the hammock and the crane; so little
suffices for her. But she enjoys her little more fully, she appreciates
her enjoyment as it passes more completely, than any girl of her age,
or, indeed, of much more than her age, whom I have ever known. Our
northern girls are too complex for that, they have too many interests,
too many things to think of, and they require too many, also, to enjoy
in this simple old way; perhaps _they_ would say that they were too
conscientious. But here is a girl who is hampered, or
enlarged--whichever you choose to call it--by no such conditions, who
tastes her pleasures fully, whatever they may happen to be, as they
pass. But though her pleasures are simple, her enjoyment of them is
rich, it's the enjoyment of a rich temperament; many women would not
know how to enjoy in that way. She's simple from her very richness; but
she doesn't in the least know it, she has never analyzed herself, nor
anything else, and never will; she leaves analysis to--to thin people."
Thus he brought up, with an inward laugh over his outcome. His thoughts,
however, had not been formulated in words, as they have necessarily been
formulated for expression upon the printed page; these various
ideas--though they were scarcely distinct enough to merit that
name--passed through his consciousness slowly, each melting into the
next, without effort on his own part; the effort would have been to
express them.

When Garda, after another quarter of an hour's serene contemplation of
the sea, at length rose, he walked with her down the lane and across
the plaza to Mrs. Kirby's gate. Then, when she had disappeared, he went
over to the Seminole, mounted his horse, and started for a ride on the
pine barrens.



CHAPTER VII.


He continued to think of this young girl as he rode. One of the reasons
for this probably was the indifference with which she regarded him, now
that her first curiosity had been satisfied; her manner was always
pleasant, but Manuel evidently amused her more, and even Adolfo Torres;
while to be with Margaret Harold she would turn her back upon him
without ceremony, she had repeatedly done it. Winthrop asked himself
whether it could be possible that he was becoming annoyed by this
indifference, or that he was surprised by it? Certainly he had never
considered himself especially attractive, personally; if therefore, in
the face of this fact, he was guilty of surprise, it must be that he had
breathed so long that atmosphere of approbation which surrounded him at
the North, that he had learned, though unconsciously, to rely upon it,
had ended by becoming complacent, smug and complacent, expectant of
attention and deference.

The advantages which had caused this approving northern atmosphere were
now known in Gracias. And Garda remained untouched by them. But that he
should be surprised, or annoyed, by her indifference--this possibility
was the more distasteful to him because he had always been so sure that
he disliked the atmosphere, greatly. He had never been at all pleased by
the knowledge that he inspired a general purring from good mammas,
whenever his name was mentioned; he had no ambition to attract so much
domestic and pussy-like praise. Most of all he did not enjoy being set
down as so extremely safe; if he were safe, it was his own affair; he
certainly was not cultivating the quality for the sake of the many
excellent matrons who happened to form part of his acquaintance.

But, viewed from any maternal stand-point, Evert Winthrop was, and in
spite of himself, almost ideally safe. He was thirty-five years old, and
therefore past the uncertainties, the vague hazards and dangers, that
cling about youth. His record of personal conduct had no marked flaws.
He had a large fortune, a quarter of which he had inherited, and the
other three-quarters gained by his own foresight and talent. He had no
taste for speculation, he was prudent and cool; he would therefore be
sure to take excellent care of his wealth, it would not be evanescent,
as so many American fortunes had a way of becoming. He had perfect
health; and an excellent family descent on both sides of the house; for
what could be better than the Puritan Winthrops on one hand, and the
careful, comfortable old Dutch settlers of New Amsterdam, from whom his
mother came, on the other? He had a fair amount of good looks--one did
not have to forgive him anything, physically; he had sufficient personal
presence to escape the danger of being merely the cup, as it were, for
the rich wine of his own good-luck. Though quiet in manner, rather
silent, and not handsome, he was a man whom everybody remembered. Those
who were not aware of his advantages remembered him as clearly as those
who knew them all; his individuality was distinct. He had been a good
son, he was now a good nephew; these facts were definitely known and
proved; American mothers are not mercenary, and it is but just to add
that this good sonship and good nephewship, as well as his good record
in other directions, had had as much to do with the high appreciation
that many of them had of him, as the amount of his income. He was, in
short, a bright example of a person without drawbacks, he was a rare
instance whose good points it was a pleasure to sum up; they summed him
up, therefore, joyfully; they proclaimed the total; they said everything
that was delightful about him. Going deeper, they were sure that he had
broken none of the commandments. There had been times when Winthrop had
almost felt like breaking them all, in order to get rid of this rampart
of approval, which surrounded him too closely, like a wall of down. But
there again--he could not be vicious simply to oblige these ladies, or
rather to disoblige them; he must be what it seemed good to him to be.
But he respectfully wished that they could realize how indifferent he
was to their estimation of him, good or bad.

He was a man by no means easily pleased. He could not, therefore, always
believe that other people were sincere when they were so unlike
himself--so much more readily pleased, for instance, with him, than he
was with them. For he was essentially modest at heart; though obstinate
in many of his ideas, he had not that assured opinion of himself, that
solidly installed self-approbation, which men in his position in America
(possessed of large fortunes which they have gained for the most part by
their own talent) are apt, though often unconsciously, to cherish. As he
was fastidious, it was no pleasure to him to taste the open advantages
of his position; they were too open, he did not care for things so
easily gained. And when these advantages were presented to him in
feminine eyes and smiles, or a feminine handwriting, he could not even
take a jocular view of it. For though he was a man of the world, he was
not (this was another of his secrets) in the least blasé; he had his
ideal of what the best of life should be, and he kept it like a Madonna
in its shrine. When, therefore, this ideal was pulled by force from its
niche, or, worse still, stepped down of its own accord, he was immensely
disgusted, he felt a sense of personal injury, as if the most precious
feelings of life had been profaned. He had believed in this woman,
perhaps, to the extent of supposing her sweet and womanly; yet here she
was thinking--yes, without doubt thinking (either for herself or for
some one else) of the benefits which his position could confer. That the
little advances she had made had been microscopically small, only made
the matter worse; if she had enough of refinement to make them so
delicate, she should have had enough to not make them at all. It was
characteristic of this man that he never at such times thought that the
offender might be actuated by a real liking for himself--himself apart
from this millstone of his excellent reputation and wealth; this was a
feature of the personal modesty that belonged to him. A man less modest
(that is, the great majority of men), placed in a position similar to
his, would have been troubled by no such poverty of imagination.

It must, however, be added that this modesty of Winthrop's was strictly
one of his inner feelings, not revealed to the world at large. The world
never suspected it, and had no reason for suspecting it; it had, indeed,
nothing to do with the world, it was a private attribute. To the world
he was a cool, quiet man, equally without pretensions and without
awkwardnesses. One could not have told whether he thought well of
himself--especially well--or not.

Why this man, so fully belonging to this busy, self-asserting nineteenth
century, should have preserved so much humility in the face of his
successes--success of fortune, of equilibrium, of knowledge, of
accomplishment of purpose, of self-control--this would have been,
perhaps, a question for the student of heredity. Was it a trait
inherited from Puritan ancestors, some Goodman Winthrop of gentle
disposition, a man not severe in creed or demeanor, nor firm in
exterminating Indians, and therefore of small consequence in his day and
community, and knowing it? Or was it a tendency inherited from some
Dutch ancestress on the maternal side, some sweet little flaxen-haired
great-grandmother, who had received in her maiden breast one of those
deadly though unseen shafts--the shaft of slight--from which a woman's
heart never wholly recovers?

But mental organizations are full of contradictions; looked at in
another way, this deep, unexpressed personal humility in Evert
Winthrop's nature, underneath his rather cold exterior, his keen mind
and strong will, might almost have been called a pride, so high a demand
did it make upon life. For if one has not attractive powers, love, when
it does come, when it is at last believed in, has a peculiarly rich
quality: it is so absolutely one's own!

The father of Evert Winthrop, Andrew Winthrop, was called eccentric
during all his life. But it was an eccentricity which carried with it
none of the slighting estimations which usually accompany the term.
Andrew Winthrop, in truth, had been eccentric only in being more learned
and more original than his neighbors; perhaps, also, more severe. He was
a fair classical scholar, but a still better mathematician, and had
occupied himself at various times with astronomy; he had even built a
small observatory in the garden behind his house. But most of all was he
interested in the rapid advance of science in general, the advance all
along the line, which he had lived to see; he enjoyed this so much that
it was to him, during his later years, what a daily draught of the
finest wine is to an old connoisseur in vintages, whose strength is
beginning to fail him. He once said to his son: "The world is at last
getting into an intelligible condition. My only regret is that I could
not have lived in the century which is coming, instead of in the one
which is passing; but I ought not to complain, I have at least seen the
first rays. What should I have done if my lot had been cast among the
millions who lived before Darwin! I should either have become a
bacchanalian character, drowning in stupid drinking the memory of the
enigmas that oppressed me, or I should have fled to the opposite extreme
and taken refuge in superstition--given up my intellect, bound hand and
foot, to the care of the priests. The world has been in the wilderness,
Evert, through all the ages of which we have record; now a clearer
atmosphere is at hand. I shall not enter this promised land, but I can
see its shining afar off. You, my son, will enter in; prize your
advantages, they are greater than those enjoyed by the greatest kings,
the greatest philosophers, one hundred years ago."

This Puritan without a creed, this student of science who used more
readily than any other the language of the Bible, brought up his only
child with studied simplicity; in all that related to his education,
with severity. The little boy's mother had died soon after his birth,
and Andrew Winthrop had mourned for her, the young wife who had loved
him, all the rest of his life. But in silence, almost in sternness; he
did not welcome sympathy even when it came from his wife's only sister,
Mrs. Rutherford. And he would not give up the child, though the aunt had
begged that the poor baby might be intrusted to her for at least the
first year of his motherless life; the only concession he made was in
allowing the old Episcopal clergyman who had baptized Gertrude to
baptize Gertrude's child, and in tacitly promising that the boy should
attend, if he pleased, the Episcopal Church when he grew older, his
mother having been a devoted Churchwoman. He kept the child with him in
the large, lonely New England house which even Gertrude Winthrop's
sweetness had not been able to make fully home-like and warm. For it had
been lived in too long, the old house, by a succession of Miss
Winthrops, conscientious old maids with narrow chests, thin throats, and
scanty little knobs of gray-streaked hair behind--the sort of good women
with whom the sense of duty is far keener than that of comfort, and in
whose minds character is apt to be gauged by the hour of getting up in
the morning. There had always been three or four Miss Winthrops of this
pattern in each generation; they began as daughters, passed into aunts,
and then into grandaunts, as nieces, growing up, took their first
positions from them. Andrew Winthrop himself had spent his childhood
among a number of these aunts--aunts both simple and "grand." But the
custom of the family had begun to change in his day; the aunts had taken
to leaving this earthly sphere much earlier than formerly (perhaps
because they had discovered that they could no longer attribute late
breakfasts to total depravity), so that when, his own youth past, he
brought his Gertrude home, there was not one left there; they were
alone.

The poor young mother, when death so soon came to her, begged that the
little son she was leaving behind might be called Evert, after her only
and dearly loved brother, Evert Beekman, who had died not long before.
Andrew Winthrop had consented. But he was resolved, at the same time,
that no Beekman, but only Winthrop, methods should be used in the
education of the child. The Winthrop methods were used; and with good
effect. But the boy learned something of the Beekman ways, after all, in
the delightful indulgence and petting he received from his aunt Katrina
when he went to visit her at vacation times, either at her city home or
at her old country-house on the Sound; he learned it in her affectionate
words, in the smiling freedom from rules and punishments which prevailed
at both places, in the wonderful toys, and, later, the dogs and gun,
saddle-horse and skiff, possessed by his fortunate cousin Lanse.

Andrew Winthrop was not that almost universal thing in his day for a man
in his position in New England, a lawyer; he owned and carried on an
iron-foundery, as his father had done before him. He had begun with some
money, and he had made more; he knew that he was rich (rich for his day
and neighborhood); but save for his good horses and his observatory, he
lived as though he were poor. He gave his son Evert, however, the best
education (according to his idea of what the best education consisted
in), which money and careful attention could procure; but he did not
send him to college, and at sixteen the boy was put regularly to work
for a part of the day in the iron-foundery, being required to begin at
the beginning and learn the whole business practically, from the keeping
of books to the proper mixture of ores for the furnaces--those furnaces
which had seemed to the child almost as much a part of nature as the
sunshine itself, since he had seen their red light against the sky at
night ever since he was born. In the mean time his education in books
went steadily forward also, under his father's eye--a severe one.
Fortunately the lad had sturdy health and nerves which were seldom
shaken, so that these double tasks did not break him down. For one
thing, Andrew Winthrop never required, or even desired, rapid progress;
Evert might be as slow as he pleased, if he would but be thorough. And
thorough he was. Even if he had not been naturally inclined towards it,
he would have acquired it from the system which his father had pursued
with him from babyhood; but he was naturally inclined towards it; his
knowledge, therefore, as far as it went, was very complete.

In four years he had made some progress in the secrets of several sorts
of iron and several ancient languages. In six, he could manage the
foundery and the observatory tolerably well. In the ninth year his part
of the foundery went of itself, or seemed to, under his clear-headed
superintendence, while he ardently gave all his free hours to the
studies in science, in which his father now joined, instead of
directing, as heretofore. And then, in the tenth year of this busy,
studious life, Andrew Winthrop had died, and the son of twenty-six had
found himself suddenly free, and alone.

He had never longed for his freedom, he had never thought about it; he
had never realized that his life was austere. He had been fond of his
father, though his father had been more intellectually interested in him
as a boy who would see in all probability the fulness of the new
revelation of Science, than fond of him in return. Andrew Winthrop's
greatest ambition had been to equip his son so thoroughly that he would
be able to take advantage of this new light immediately, without any
time lost in bewilderment or hesitation; the 'prentice-work would all
have been done. And Evert, interested and busy, leading an active life
as well as a studious one, had never felt discontent.

The evening after the funeral he was alone in the old house. Everything
had been set in order again, that painful order which strikes first upon
the hearts of the mourners when they return to their desolate home, an
order which seems to say: "All is over; he is gone and will return to
you no more. You must now take up the burdens of life again, and go
forward." The silent room was lonely, Evert read a while, but could not
fix his attention; he rose, walked about aimlessly, then went to the
window and looked out. It was bitterly cold, there was deep snow
outside; an icy wind swayed the boughs of a naked elm which stood near
the window. Against the dark sky to-night the familiar light was not
visible; the furnaces had been shut down out of respect for the dead.
For the first time there stirred in Evert Winthrop's mind the feeling
that the cold was cruel, inhuman; that there was a conscious element in
it; that it hated man, and was savage to him; would kill him, and did
kill him when it could. The house seemed in league with this enemy; in
spite of the bright fire the chill kept creeping in, and for the life of
him he could not rid himself of the idea that he ought to go out and
cover his poor old father, lying there helpless under the snow, with
something thick and warm. He roused himself with an effort, he knew that
these were unhealthy fancies; he made up his mind that he would go away
for a while, the under-superintendent could see to the foundery during
his absence, which would not, of course, be long. But the next day he
learned that he could remain away for as long a time as he pleased--he
had inherited nearly a million.

It was a great surprise. Andrew Winthrop had so successfully concealed
the amount of his fortune that Evert had supposed that the foundery, and
the income that came from it, a moderate one, together with the old
house to live in, would be all. Andrew Winthrop's intention in this
concealment had been to bestow upon his son, so far as he could, during
his youth, a personal knowledge of life as seen from the side of earning
one's own living--a knowledge which can never be acquired at
second-hand, and which he considered inestimable, giving to a man juster
views of himself and his fellow-men than anything else can.

In the nine years that had passed since his father's death Evert had, as
has been stated, quadrupled the fortune he had inherited.

It was said--by the less successful--that Chance, Luck, and Opportunity
had all favored him. It was perhaps Chance that had led the elder
Winthrop in the beginning to invest some hundreds of dollars in wild
lands on the shore of Lake Superior--though even that was probably
foresight. But as for Luck, she is generally nothing but
clear-headedness. And Opportunity offers herself, sooner or later, to
almost all; it is only that so few of us recognize her, and seize the
advantages she brings. Winthrop had been aided by two things; one was
capital to begin with; the other a perfectly untrammelled position. He
had no one to think of but himself.

Early in the spring after his father's death he journeyed westward,
looking after some property, and decided to go to Lake Superior and see
that land also. He always remembered his arrival; the steamer left him
on a rough pier jutting out into the dark gray lake; on the shore,
stretching east and west, was pine forest, unbroken save where in the
raw clearing, dotted with stumps, rose a few unpainted wooden houses,
and the rough buildings of the stamping-mills, their great wooden legs
stamping ponderously on iron ore. His land was in the so-called town;
after looking at it, he went out to the mine from which the ore came; he
knew something of ores, and had a fancy to see the place. He went on
horseback, following a wagon track through the wild forest. The snow
still lay in the hollows, there was scarcely a sign of spring; the mine
was at some distance, and the road very bad; but at last he reached it.
The buildings and machinery of the struggling little company were poor
and insufficient; but few men were employed, the superintendent had a
discouraged expression. But far above this puny little scratching at its
base rose "the mountain," as it was called; and it was a cliff-like
hill of iron ore. One could touch it, feel it; it was veritable, real.
To Winthrop it seemed a striking picture--the great hill of metal,
thinly veiled with a few trees, rising towards the sky, the primitive
forest at its feet, the snow, the silence, and beyond, the sullen lake
without a sail. The cliff was waiting--it had waited for ages; the lake
was waiting too.

Winthrop took a large portion of his fortune and put it into this mine.
A new company was formed, but he himself remained the principal owner,
and took the direction into his own hands. It was the right moment; in
addition, his direction was brilliant. For a time he worked excessively
hard, but all his expectations were fulfilled; by means of this, and one
or two other enterprises in which he embarked with the same mixture of
bold foresight and the most careful attention to details, his fortune
was largely increased.

When the war broke out he was abroad--his first complete vacation; he
was indulging that love for pictures which he was rather astonished to
find that he possessed. He came home, took a captain's place in a
company of volunteers, went to the front, and served throughout the war.
Immediately after the restoration of peace, he had gone abroad again.
And he had come back this second time principally to disentangle from a
web of embarrassments the affairs of a cousin of his father's, David
Winthrop by name, whom he had left in charge of the foundery which he
had once had charge of, himself. Having some knowledge of founderies,
David was to superintend this one, and have a sufficient share of the
profits to help him maintain his family of seven sweet, gentle,
inefficient daughters, of all ages from two to eighteen, each with the
same abundant flaxen hair and pretty blue eyes, the same pale oval
cheeks and stooping shoulders, and a mother over them more inefficient
and gentle and stooping-shouldered still--the very sort of a quiverful,
as ill-natured (and richer) neighbors were apt to remark, that such an
incompetent creature as David Winthrop would be sure to possess. This
cousin had been a trial to Andrew Winthrop all his life. David was a
well-educated man, and he had a most lovable disposition; but he had the
incurable habit of postponing (with the best intentions) until another
time anything important which lay before him; the unimportant things he
did quite cheerily. If it were but reading the morning's paper, David
would be sure to not quite get to the one article which was of
consequence, but to read all the others first in his slow way, deferring
that one to a more convenient season when he could give to it his best
attention; of course the more convenient season never came. Mixed with
this constant procrastination there was a personal activity which was
amusingly misleading. Leaving the house in the morning, David would walk
to his foundery, a distance of a mile, with the most rapid step possible
which was not a run; the swing of his long arms, the slight frown of
preoccupation from business cares (it must have been that), would have
led any one to believe that, once his office reached, this man would
devote himself to his work with the greatest energy, would make every
moment tell. But once his office reached, this man devoted himself to
nothing, that is, to nothing of importance; he arrived breathless, and
hung up his hat; he rubbed his hands, and walked about the room; he
glanced over the letters, and made plans for answering them, pleasing
himself with the idea of the vigorous things he should say, and changing
the form of his proposed sentences in his own mind more than once; for
David wrote a very good letter, and was proud of it. Then he sharpened
all the pencils industriously, taking pains to give each one a very fine
point. He jotted down in neat figures with one of them, little
sums--sums which had no connection with the foundery, however, but
concerned themselves with something he had read the night before,
perhaps, as the probable population of London in A.D. 1966, or the
estimated value of a ton of coal in the year 3000. Then he would do a
little work on his plan (David made beautiful plans) for the house which
he hoped some day to build. And he would stare out of the window by the
hour, seeing nothing in particular, but having the vague idea that as he
was in his office, and at his desk, he was attending to business as
other men attended to it; what else was an office for?

Evert, as a boy, had always felt an interest in this whimsical cousin,
who came every now and then to see his father, with some new enterprise
(David was strong in enterprises) to consult him about--an enterprise
which was infallibly to bring in this time a large amount of money. But
this time was never David's time. And in the mean while his daughters
continued to appear and grow. Evert, left master, had had more faith in
David than his father had had; or perhaps it was more charity; for his
cousin had always been a source of refreshment to him--this humorous,
sweet-tempered man, who, with his gray-sprinkled hair and thin temples,
his well-known incompetency, and his helpless family behind him, had yet
no more care on his face than a child has, not half so much as Evert
himself, with his youth and health, his success and his fortune, to aid
him. But, curiously enough, David was quite well aware of his own
faults; his appreciation of them, indeed, had given him a manner of
walking slightly sidewise, his right shoulder and right leg a little
behind, as though conscious of their master's inefficiency and ashamed
of it. For the same reason he chronically hung his head a little as he
walked, and, if addressed, looked off at a distance mildly instead of at
the person who was speaking to him. But though thus conscious generally
of his failings, David was never beyond a sly joke about them and
himself. It was the way in which he laughed over these jokes (they were
always good ones) which had endeared him to his younger cousin: there
was such a delightful want of worldly wisdom about the man.

Having disentangled David, refunded his losses, and set him going again
in a small way, Evert had come southward. He would have preferred to go
back to Europe for a tour in Spain; but he felt sure that David would
entangle himself afresh before long (David had the most inscrutable ways
of entangling himself), and that, unless he were willing to continually
refund, he should do better to remain within call, at least for the
present. In the early spring another relative on his father's side, a
third cousin, was to add himself to the partnership, and this young man,
Evert hoped, would not only manage the foundery, but manage David as
well; when once this arrangement had been effected, the owner of the
foundery would be free.

All this was very characteristic of Evert Winthrop. He could easily have
given up all business enterprises; he could have invested his money
safely and washed his hands of that sort of care. To a certain extent he
had done this; but he wished to help David, and so he kept the foundery,
he wished to help two or three other persons, and so he retained other
interests. This, at least, was what he said to himself, and it was true;
yet the foundations lay deeper--lay in the fact that he had been born
into the world with a heavy endowment of energy; quiet as he appeared,
he had more than he knew what to do with, and was obliged to find
occupation for it. During boyhood this energy had gone into the double
tasks of education in books and in iron which his father had imposed
upon him; in young manhood it had gone into the scientific studies in
which his father had shared. Later had come the brilliant crowded years
of the far-seeing conception and vigorous execution which had given him
his largely increased wealth. Then the war occupied him; it occupied
fifty millions of people as well. After it was over, and he had gone
abroad a second time, he had not been an idle traveller, though always a
tranquil one.

The truth was, he could not lead a purely contemplative life. It was not
that he desired to lead such a life, or that he admired it; it was
simply that he knew he should never be able to do it, even if he should
try, and the impossibility, as usual, tempted him. There must be
something very charming in it (that is, if one had no duties which
forbade it), this full, passive, receptive enjoyment of anything
delightful, a fine picture, for instance, or a beautiful view, the
sunshine, the sea; even the angler's contented quiescence on a green
bank was part of it. These pleasures he knew he could never have in
their full sweetness, though he could imagine them perfectly, even
acutely. It was not that he was restless; he was the reverse. It was not
that he liked violent exercise, violent action; he liked nothing
violent. But, instead of sitting in the sunshine, his instinct was to
get a good horse and ride in it; instead of lounging beside a blue sea,
he liked better to be sailing a yacht over it; instead of sitting
contemplatively on a green bank, holding a fishing-rod, he would be more
apt to shoulder a gun and walk, contemplatively too, perhaps, for long
miles, in pursuit of game. In all this he was thoroughly American.

He had a great love for art, and a strong love for beauty, which his
studies in mathematics and science had never in the least deadened. As
regarded determination, he was a very strong man; but he was so quiet
and calm that it was only when one came in conflict with him that his
strength was perceived; and there were not many occasions for coming in
conflict with him now, he was no longer directing large enterprises. In
private life, he was not in the habit of advancing opinions for the rest
of the world to accept; he left that to the people of one idea.

On the present occasion he rode over the pine barrens for miles, every
now and then enjoying a brisk gallop. After a while he saw a phaeton at
a distance, moving apparently at random over the green waste; but he had
learned enough of the barrens by this time to know that it was following
a road--a road which he could not see. There was only one phaeton in
Gracias, the one he himself had sent for; he rode across, therefore, to
speak to his aunt.



CHAPTER VIII.


She was returning with Margaret from her drive, and looked very
comfortable; with a cushion behind her and a light rug over her lap, she
sat leaning back under her lace-trimmed parasol.

"I enjoy these drives _so_ much," she said to her nephew in her
agreeable voice. "The barrens themselves, to be sure, cannot be called
beautiful, though I believe Margaret maintains that they have a
fascination; but the air is delicious."

"Do you really find them fascinating?" said Winthrop to Margaret.

"Extremely so; I drive over them for miles every day, yet never want to
come in; I always long to go farther."

"Oh, well, there's an end to them somewhere, I suppose," remarked Mrs.
Rutherford; "the whole State isn't so very broad, you know; you would
come out at the Gulf of Mexico."

"I don't want to come out," said Margaret, "I want to stay in; I want to
drive here forever."

"We shall wake some fine morning, and find you gone," said Mrs.
Rutherford, "like the girl in the 'Dismal Swamp,' you know:

    "'Away to the Dismal Swamp she speeds--'

I've forgotten the rest."

    "'Through tangled juniper, beds of reeds,
      And many a fen where the serpent feeds,
          And man never trod before,'"

said Winthrop, finishing the quotation. "The last isn't true of the
barrens, however, for man has trod here pretty extensively."

"You mean Indians?" said Mrs. Rutherford, rather as though they were not
men, as indeed she did not think they were. She yawned, tapping her lips
two or three times during the process with her delicately gloved hand,
as people will, under the impression, apparently, that they are
concealing the sign of fatigue. Mrs. Rutherford's yawn, however, was not
a sign of fatigue, it was an indication of sheer bodily content; the
soft air and the lazy motion of the phaeton were so agreeable to her
that, if she had been imaginative, she would have declared that the
Lotus-eaters must have yawned perpetually, and that Florida was
evidently the land of their abode.

"You look too comfortable to talk, Aunt Katrina," said Winthrop, amused
by the drowsy tones of her voice; "I think you would rather be rid of
me. I will go off and have one more gallop, and be home before you."

Mrs. Rutherford smiled an indolent good-by; Margaret Harold looked
straight before her. Winthrop turned off to the right, and was soon lost
to view.

He pulled up after a while, and let his horse walk slowly along the
trail; he was thinking of Margaret Harold. He was always seeing her now,
it could not be otherwise so long as she continued to live with his
aunt. But he said to himself that he should never really like her, and
what he was thinking of at present was whether or not she had perceived
this.

She was not easy to read. Just now, for instance, when she had begun to
speak of the pine barrens, and to speak with (for her) a good deal of
warmth, had he not perhaps had something to do with her falling into
complete silence immediately afterwards? He had answered, of course; he
had done what was necessary to keep up the conversation; still, perhaps
she had seen--perhaps---- Well, he could not help it if she had, or
rather he did not care to help it. Whatever she might be besides, quiet,
well-bred, devoted to the welfare of his aunt, she was still in his
opinion so completely, so essentially wrong in some of her ideas, and
these in a woman the most important, that his feeling towards her at
heart was one of sternest disapproval; it could not be otherwise. And
she held so obstinately to her mistakes! That was the worst of her--her
obstinacy; it was so tranquil. It was founded, of course, upon her
immovable self-esteem--a very usual foundation for tranquillity! No
doubt Lanse had required forgiveness, and even a great deal of
forgiveness; there had, indeed, been no period of Lanse's life when he
had not made large demands on this quality from those who were nearest
him. But was it not a wife's part to forgive? Lanse could have been led
by his affections, probably, his better side; it had always been so with
Lanse. But instead of trying to influence him in that way, this wife had
set herself up in opposition to him--the very last thing he would stand.
She had probably been narrow from the beginning, narrow and punctilious.
Later she had been shocked; then had hardened in it. She was evidently a
cold woman; in addition, she was self-righteous, self-complacent; such
women were always perfectly satisfied with themselves, they had
excellent reasons for everything. Of course she had never loved her
husband; if she had loved him she could not have left him so easily,
within a few months--less than a year--after their marriage. And though
seven years had now passed since that separation, she had never once, so
far as Winthrop knew, sought to return to him, or asked him to return to
her.

The marriage of Lansing Harold and Margaret Cruger had taken place while
Winthrop was abroad. When he came home soon afterwards, at the breaking
out of the war, he found that the young wife of nineteen had left her
husband, had returned to live with Mrs. Rutherford, with whom she had
lived for a short time before her marriage. She had come to Mrs.
Rutherford upon the death of her grandmother, Mrs. Cruger; this aunt by
marriage was now her nearest relative, and this aunt's house was to be
her home. To this home she had now returned, and here it was that Evert
first made her acquaintance. Lanse, meanwhile, had gone to Italy.

There had been no legal separation, Mrs. Rutherford told him; probably
there never would be one, for Margaret did not approve of them. Lanse,
too, would probably disapprove; they were well matched in their
disapprovals! It was not known by society at large, Mrs. Rutherford
continued, that there had been any irrevocable disagreement between the
two; society at large probably supposed it to be one of those cases, so
common nowadays, where husband and wife, being both fond of travelling,
have discovered that they enjoy their travels more when separated than
when together, as (unless there happens to be a really princely fortune)
individual tastes are so apt to be sacrificed in travelling, on one side
or the other. Take the one item of trains, Mrs. Rutherford went on; some
persons liked to get over the ground by night, and were bored to death
by a long journey by day; others became so exhausted by one night of
travel that the whole of the next day was spent recovering from it. Then
there were people who preferred to reach the station at the last minute,
people who liked to run and rush; and others whose day was completely
spoiled by any such frantic haste at the beginning. The most amiable of
men sometimes developed a curious obstinacy, when travelling, concerning
the small matter of which seat in a railway-carriage the wife should
take. Yes, on the whole, Mrs. Rutherford thought it natural that
husbands and wives, if possessed of strong wills, should travel
separately; the small differences, which made the trouble, did not come
up in the regular life at home. It was very common for American wives to
be in Europe without their husbands; in the case of the Harolds, it was
simply that the husband had gone; this at least was probably what
society supposed.

Mrs. Rutherford further added that her listener, Winthrop, was not to
suppose that Margaret herself had ever discussed these subjects with
her, or had ever discussed Lanse; his name was never mentioned by his
wife, and when she, the aunt, mentioned it, her words were received in
silence; there was no reply.

"I consider," continued Mrs. Rutherford, warming with her subject--"I
consider Margaret's complete silence the most extraordinary thing I have
ever known in my life. Living with me as she has done all these years,
shouldn't you suppose, wouldn't any one suppose, that at some time or
other she would have talked it over with me, given me some explanation,
no matter how one-sided--would have tried to justify herself? Very well,
then, she _never_ has. From first to last, in answer to my inquiries
(for of course I have made them), she has only said that she would
rather not talk about it, that the subject was painful to her. Painful!
I wonder what she thinks it is to me! She makes me perfectly miserable,
Evert--perfectly miserable."

"Yet you keep her with you," answered Winthrop, not taking Mrs. Harold's
side exactly, but the side of justice, perhaps; for he had seen how much
his aunt's comfort depended upon Margaret's attention, though he was not
prepared to admit that it depended upon that entirely, as Garda Thorne
had declared.

"Yes," responded Mrs. Rutherford, "I keep her with me, as you say. But
my house was really her home, you know, before her marriage, and of
course it is quite the best place for her now, as things are; if she
will not remain with her husband, at least her continuing to live always
with her husband's aunt, his almost mother, is the next best thing that
could be arranged for her. Appearances are preserved, you know; and
Margaret has a great regard for appearances."

"Possibly too great," Winthrop answered. But his sarcasm was not
intended to apply to the wife's regard for appearances--he also had a
regard for appearances--it was intended to apply to the wife herself.
His idea of her was that she had argued it all out carefully in her own
mind (she was not a person who acted on impulse), and had taken her
stand upon what she considered irrefragable grounds. In other words, she
had sat apart and judged her husband. Instead of trying to win him or to
keep him, she had made little rules for him probably, and no doubt very
good little rules of their kind; but Lanse had of course broken them, he
wasn't a man for rules; a man of his age, too, would hardly keep the
rules made by a girl of nineteen. After repeated breakage of all her
well-regulated little canons, she had withdrawn herself, and kept aloof;
she had held herself superior to him, and had let him see that she did.
Winthrop could imagine the effect of all this upon Lanse!

But no matter what Lanse had done that annoyed her (and it was highly
probable that he had done a good deal), her duty as a wife, in
Winthrop's opinion, clearly was, and would to the end of time continue,
to remain with her husband--not to leave him, unless her life or the
welfare of her children should be in actual danger; that was what
marriage meant. The welfare of children included a great deal, of
course; he held that a wife was justified in separating them from a
father whose influence was injurious. But in this case there had been no
questions of the sort, Lanse was not violent, and there were no children
to think of. There was, indeed, nothing very wrong about Lanse save that
he was self-willed, and did quite as he pleased on all occasions. But
what he did was, after all, nothing very terrible; he was willing that
other people should do as they pleased, also; he was not a petty tyrant.
But this state of things had not satisfied his wife, who wished other
people, her husband first of all, to do as _she_ pleased. Why? Because
she was always sure that she was right! This slender, graceful woman
with the dark blue eyes and clear low voice had a will as strong as her
husband's. She had found, probably, that her tranquillity and what she
called her dignity--both inexpressibly dear to her--were constantly
endangered by this unmanageable husband, who paid not the slightest heed
to her axioms as to what was "right" and "not right," what was "usual"
(Lanse was never usual) and "not usual," but strode through and over
them all as though they did not exist. His course, indeed, made it
impossible for her to preserve unbroken that serenity of temper which
was her highest aspiration; for she was exactly the woman to have an
ideal of that sort, and to endeavor to live up to it; it was not
improbable that she offered her prayers to that effect every night.

All this was a very harsh estimate. But Winthrop's beliefs on these
subjects were rooted in the deepest convictions he possessed. Such a
character as the one he attributed to Margaret Harold was to him
insufferable; he could endure easily a narrow mind, if with it there
was a warm heart and unselfish disposition, but a narrow mind combined
with a cold, unmoved nature and impregnable self-conceit--this seemed to
him a combination that made a woman (it was always a woman) simply
odious.

These things all passed through his thoughts again as he rode over the
barrens. He recalled Lanse's handsome face as he used to see it in
childhood. Lanse was five years older than the little Evert, tall,
strong, full of life, a hero to the lad from New England, who was brave
enough in his way but who had not been encouraged in boldness, nor
praised when he had been lawless and daring. Mrs. Rutherford had a
phrase about Lanse--that he was "just like all the Harolds." The
Harolds, in truth, were a handsome race; they all resembled each other,
though some of them were not so handsome as the rest. A good many of
them had married their cousins. They were tall and broad-shouldered,
well made, but inclined to portliness towards middle-age; they had good
features, the kind of very well-cut outline, with short upper lip and
full lower one, whose fault, if it has a fault, is a tendency to
blankness of expression after youth is past. Their hair was very dark,
almost black, and they had thick brown beards of rather a lighter
hue--beards which they kept short; their eyes were beautiful, dark brown
in hue, animated, with yellow lights in them; their complexions had a
rich darkness, with strong ivory tints beneath. They had an appearance
of looking over the heads of everybody else, which, among many
noticeable things about them, was the most noticeable--it was so
entirely natural. Because it was so natural nobody had tried to analyze
it, to find out of what it consisted. The Harolds were tall; but it was
not their height. They were broad-shouldered; but there were men of the
same mould everywhere. It was not that they expanded their chests and
threw their heads back, so that their eyes, when cast down, rested upon
a projecting expanse of shirt front, with the watch-chain far in
advance; the Harolds had no such airs of inflated frog. They stood
straight on their feet, but nothing more; their well-moulded chins were
rather drawn in than thrust out; they never posed; there was never any
trace of attitude. Yet, in any large assemblage, if there were any of
them present, they were sure to have this appearance of looking over
other people's heads. It was accompanied by a careless, good-humored,
unpretending ease, which was almost benevolent, and which was strikingly
different from the self-assertive importance of more nervous (and
smaller) men.

As a family the Harolds had not been loved; they were too self-willed
for that. But they were witty, they could be agreeable; in houses where
it pleased them to be witty and agreeable, they were the most welcome of
guests. The small things of life, what they called the "details," the
tiresome little cares and responsibilities, annoyances, engagements, and
complications, these they shed from themselves as a shaggy dog sheds
water from his coat--they shook them off. People who did not love them
(and these were many) remarked that this was all very pretty, but that
it was also very selfish. The Harolds, if their attention had been
called to it, would have considered the adjective as another of the
"details," and would have shaken that off also.

Mrs. Rutherford in her youth never could help admiring the Harolds
(there were a good many of them, almost all men; there was but seldom a
daughter); when, therefore, her sister Hilda married Lansing of the
name, she had an odd sort of pride in it, although everybody said that
Hilda would not be happy; the Harolds seldom made good husbands. It was
not that they were harassing or brutal; they were simply supremely
inattentive. In this case, however, there had been little opportunity to
verify or prove false the expectation, as both Lansing Harold and his
wife had died within two years after their marriage, the wife last,
leaving (as her sister, Mrs. Winthrop, did later) a son but a few days
old. The small Lansing was adopted by his aunt. Through childhood he was
a noble-looking little fellow, never governed or taught to govern
himself; he grew rapidly into a large, manly lad, active and strong,
fond of out-of-door sports and excelling in them, having the quick wit
of his family, which, however (like them), he was not inclined to bestow
upon all comers for their entertainment; he preferred to keep it for his
own.

Evert remembered with a smile the immense admiration he had felt for
his big cousin, the excited anticipation with which he had looked
forward to meeting him when he went, twice a year, to see his aunt. The
splendid physical strength of the elder boy, his liberty, his dogs and
his gun, his horse and boat--all these filled the sparingly indulged
little New England child with the greatest wonder and delight. Most of
all did he admire the calm absolutism of Lanse's will, combined as it
was with good-nature, manliness, and even to a certain degree, or rather
in a certain way, with generosity--generosity as he had thought it then,
careless liberality as he knew it now. When Evert was ten and Lanse
fifteen, Lanse had decided that his cousin must learn to shoot, that he
was quite old enough for that accomplishment. Evert recalled the mixture
of fear and pride which had filled his small heart to suffocation when
Lanse put the gun into his hands in the remote field behind Mrs.
Rutherford's country-house which he had selected for the important
lesson. His fear was not occasioned so much by the gun as by the keen
realization that if his father should question him, upon his return
home, he should certainly feel himself obliged to tell of his new
knowledge, and the revelation might put an end to these happy visits.
Fortunately his father did not question him; he seldom spoke to the boy
of anything that had happened during these absences, which he seemed to
consider necessary evils--so much waste time. On this occasion how kind
Lanse had been, how he had encouraged and helped him--yes, and scolded
him a little too; and how he had comforted him when the force of the
discharge had knocked the little sportsman over on the ground rather
heavily. A strong affection for Lanse had grown up with the younger boy;
and it remained with him still, though now not so blind a liking; he
knew Lanse better. They had been widely separated, and for a long time;
they had led such different lives! Evert had worked steadily for ten
long, secluded years; later he had worked still harder, but in another
way, being now his own master, and engaged in guiding the enterprises he
had undertaken through many obstacles and hazards towards success. These
years of unbroken toil for Evert had been spent by Lanse in his own
amusement, though one could not say spent in idleness exactly, as he
was one of the most active of men. He had been much of the time in
Europe. But he came home for brief visits now and then, when his aunt
besought him; she adored him--she had always adored him; she was never
tired of admiring his proportions, what seemed to her his good-nature,
his Harold wit, his poise of head; she was never so happy as when she
had him staying with her in her own house. True, he had his own way of
living; but it was such a simple way! He was not in the least a
gourmand--none of the Harolds were that; he liked only the simplest
dishes, and always demanded them; he wanted the windows open at all
seasons when the snow was not actually on the ground; he could not
endure questioning, in fact, he never answered questions at all.

Returning for one of these visits at home, Lanse had found with his aunt
a young girl, Margaret Cruger, a niece of her husband's. Evert smiled
now as he recalled certain expressions of the letter which his aunt had
written to him, the other nephew, announcing Lanse's engagement to Miss
Cruger; in the light of retrospect they had rather a sarcastic sound.
Mrs. Rutherford had written that Margaret was very young, to be
sure--not quite eighteen--but that she was very gentle and sweet. That
it was time Lanse should marry, he was thirty-two--though in her opinion
that was exactly the right age, for a man knew then what he really
wanted, and was not apt to make a mistake. That she hoped the girl would
make him the sort of wife he needed; for one thing, she was so young
that she would not set up her opinion in opposition to his, probably,
and with Lanse that would be important. Mrs. Rutherford furthermore
thought that the girl in a certain way understood him; she (Mrs.
Rutherford) had had the greatest fear of Lanse's falling into the hands
of some woman who wouldn't have the sense to appreciate him, some woman
who would try to change him; one of those dreadful Pharisaic women, for
instance, who are always trying to "improve" their husbands. There was
nothing easier than to get on with Lanse, and even to lead him a little,
as she herself (Mrs. Rutherford) had always done; one had only to take
him on the right side--his good warm heart. Margaret was almost too
simple, too yielding; but Lanse had wit and will enough for two. There
was another reason why this marriage would be a good thing for Lanse: he
had run through almost all his money (he had never had a very great
deal, as Evert would remember), and Margaret had a handsome fortune,
which would come in now very well. She was rather pretty--Margaret--in a
delicate sort of way. Mrs. Rutherford _hoped_ she appreciated her
good-luck; if she didn't now, she would soon, when she had seen a little
more of the world. And here one of his aunt's sentences came, word for
word, into Winthrop's memory: "But it's curious, isn't it, Evert? that
such an inexperienced child as she is, a girl brought up in such
complete seclusion, should begin life by marrying Lansing Harold! For
you know as well as I do how he has been sought after, what his career
has been." This was true. Allowance, of course, had to be made for Mrs.
Rutherford's partiality; still, Evert knew that even with allowance
there was enough to verify her words, at least in part. Lansing Harold
had never been in the least what is called popular; he was not a man who
was liked by many persons, he took pains not to be; he preferred to
please only a few. Whether or not there had been women among those he
had tried to please, it was at least well known that women had tried to
please him. More than one had followed him about, with due regard, of
course, for the proprieties (it is not necessary to include those--who
also existed--who had violated them), finding themselves, for instance,
in Venice, when he happened to be there, or choosing his times for
visiting Rome. Now Lanse had had a way of declaring that June was the
best month for Rome; it had been interesting to observe, for a long
period, that each year there was some new person who had made the same
discovery.

"We were home long before you," said Mrs. Rutherford, when Winthrop,
having brought his reflections to a close, and enjoyed another gallop,
returned to the eyrie. "Mrs. Thorne has been here," she added; "she came
up from East Angels after Garda, and took the opportunity--she generally
_does_ take the opportunity, I notice--to pay me a visit. She never
stopped talking, with that precise pronunciation, you know, one single
minute, and I believe that's what makes her so tired all the time; I
know _I_ should be tired if I had to hiss all my s's as she does! She
had ever so many things to say; one was that when her life was sad and
painful she was able to rise out of her body--out of the flesh, she
called it (there isn't much to rise from), and float, unclothed, far
above in the air, in the realm of pure thought, I think she said. And
when I asked her if it wasn't rather unpleasant--for I assure you it
struck me so--she wasn't at all pleased, not at all. She's such an
observer of nature,--I suppose that's because she has always lived where
there was nothing but nature to observe; well, I do believe she had seen
an allegorical meaning in every single tree on the shore as she came up
the river!"

"I rather think she saw her meanings more than her trees," said
Winthrop; "I venture to say she couldn't have told you whether they were
cypresses or myrtles, palmettoes or gums; such people never can. Tired?
Of course she's tired; her imagination travels miles a minute, her poor
little body can't begin to keep up with it."

"So foolish," commented Mrs. Rutherford, tranquilly--Mrs. Rutherford,
who had never imagined anything in her life. "And do you know she
admires Margaret beyond words--if she's ever beyond them! Isn't it odd?
She says Margaret _answers_ one so delightfully. And when I remarked,
'Why, we think Margaret rather silent,' she said, 'That is what I mean,
it is her silence that is so sympathetic; she answers you with it far
more effectually than most persons do with their talkativeness.'"

"I'm afraid you talked, Aunt Katrina," said Winthrop, laughing.

"I never do," replied Mrs. Rutherford, with dignity. "And she told me,
also," she went on, resuming her gossip in her calm, handsomely dressed
tone (for even Mrs. Rutherford's tone seemed clothed in rich attire),
"that that young Torres had asked her permission to 'address' Garda, as
she expressed it."

"To address Garda? Confound his impudence! what does he mean?" said
Winthrop, in a disgusted voice. "Garda's a child."

"Oh, well," replied Mrs. Rutherford, "she's half Spanish, and that
makes a difference; they're older. But I don't think the mother favors
the Cuban's suit, she prefers something 'more Saxon,' she said so. And,
by-the-way, she asked me if you were not 'more recently English' than
the rest of us. What do you suppose she could have meant?--I never quite
know what she is driving at."

Winthrop burst into a laugh. "More recently English! Poor little woman,
with her small New England throat, she has swallowed the British Isles!
You don't think the Cuban has a chance, then?"

"Oh, I don't know," replied Mrs. Rutherford, comfortably; "it doesn't
concern us, does it? It will depend upon what Garda thinks, and Garda
will think what she pleases; she isn't a girl to be guided."

"She hasn't been difficult to guide so far, I fancy," said Winthrop,
after a moment's silence.

"She will be, then," responded his aunt, nodding her head with an
assured air. "You'll see."



CHAPTER IX.


"I am not partial to it myself," said the Rev. Mr. Moore--"this
confection of oranges called marmalade. I am told, however, that the
English are accustomed to make their breakfast principally of similar
saccharine preparations; in time, therefore, we may hope to establish an
export trade."

A fresh breeze astern was blowing the _Emperadora_ down the lagoon in a
course straight enough to please even Mrs. Carew, if that lady could
have been pleased by anything aquatic. She was present, in spite of
fears, sitting with the soles of her prunella gaiters pressed tightly
against the little yacht's side under the seat (the peculiarity of the
attitude being concealed by her long skirt), with the intention,
probably, of acting as a species of brake upon too great a speed.

The position was a difficult one. But she kept her balance by means of
her umbrella, firmly inserted in a crack of the planking before her, and
did not swerve.

The broad sails were set wing and wing; the morning was divinely fair.
Down in the south the tall trees looming against the sky seemed like a
line of hills; owing to the lowness of the shores, on a level with the
water, and the smoothness of the sea stretching eastward beyond
Patricio, the comparative effect was the same. Above, the soft sky
bending down all round them, touching here the even land and there the
even water, conveyed nothing of that sense of vastness, of
impersonality, which belongs so often to the American sky further north.
This seemed a particular sky belonging to this especial neighborhood,
made for it, intimate with it; and the yacht, with those on board did
not appear like a floating atom, lost in immensity; on the contrary, it
was important, interesting; one could not rid one's self of the idea
that its little voyage was watched with friendly curiosity by this
bending personal sky, and these near low shores.

The Rev. Mr. Moore had been sent upon this pleasure-party by his wife.
Mrs. Penelope Moore was sure that a pleasure-party would do him good;
the Reverend Middleton therefore endeavored to think the same, though it
was not exactly his idea of pleasure. He was not fond of sailing; there
was generally a breeze, and a breeze he did not enjoy. There was,
indeed, something in his appearance, when exposed to a fresh wind, which
suggested the idea that a portion of it was blowing through him, finding
an exit at his shoulder-blades behind; his lank vest somehow had that
air; and the sensation (so the spectator thought) could hardly have been
an agreeable one to so thin a man, even on the warmest day.

Mrs. Penelope Moore was a brave woman. And she knew that she was brave.
Not being able, on account of her delicate health, to take part
personally in the social entertainments of Gracias, she sent her husband
in her place. And this was her bravery; for he was without doubt the
most agreeable as well as the handsomest of men, and anybody with sense
could foretell what must follow: given certain conditions, and the
results all the world over were the same. Other people might say that
quiet little Gracias was safe, Mrs. Penelope Moore knew better. Other
people, again, might be blind; but Mrs. Penelope Moore was never blind.
She knew that such a man as her Middleton passed, must pass, daily
through temptations of the most incandescent nature, all the more
dangerous because merged inextricably with his priest's office; but he
passed unscathed, he came out always, as she once wrote triumphantly to
her mother, "without so much as a singe upon the hem of his uttermost
garment." And if, on the other hand, it might have seemed that so little
(blessedly) that was inflammable had been included in this good man's
composition that he might have passed safely through any amount of
incandescence, even all that his wife imagined, here again, then, others
were most decidedly mistaken; Mrs. Moore was convinced that her
Middleton was of the fieriest temperament. Only he kept it down.

Gracias-á-Dios was certainly quiet enough. But Mistress Penelope, like
many good women before her, could believe with ease in a degree of
depravity which would have startled the most hardened of actual
participants. Having no standards by which to gauge evil, no personal
experience of its nature, she was quite at sea about it. As Dr. Kirby
once said of her (when vexed by some of her small rulings), "If people
don't come to Friday morning service, sir, she thinks it but a small
step further that they should have poisoned their fathers and beaten
their wives."

On the present occasion this lady set her husband's hat straight upon
his amiable forehead, and gave him his butterfly net; then from her
Gothic windows (the rectory of St. Philip and St. James' was of the same
uncertain Gothic as the church), she watched him down the path and
through the gate, across the plaza out of sight, going back to her sofa
with the secure thought in her heart, "I can trust him--_anywhere_!"

The party on the yacht was composed of the same persons who had taken
part in most of the entertainments given for the northern ladies, save
that Manuel and Torres were absent. Torres had not been allowed to
"address" Garda, after all, Mrs. Thorne having withheld her permission.
The young Cuban was far too punctilious an observer of etiquette to
advance further without that permission; he had therefore left society's
circle, and secluded himself at home, where, according to Manuel, he was
engaged in "consuming his soul."

"His cigars," Winthrop suggested.

Whereupon Manuel, who was not fond of the northerner, warmly took up
the cause of the absent Adolfo (though ordinarily he declared himself
tired to death of him), and with his superbest air remarked, "It is
possible that Mr. Wintup does not understand us."

"Quite possible," Winthrop answered.

Mrs. Thorne had consulted him about the request of Torres. Not formally,
not (at least it did not appear so) premeditatedly; she alluded to it
one afternoon when he had found her alone at East Angels. Winthrop was
very severe upon what he called the young Cuban's "presumption."

"Presumption--yes; that is what I have been inclined to consider it,"
said Mrs. Thorne, with her little preliminary cough. But she spoke
hesitatingly, or rather there seemed to be hesitation in her mind behind
her words, for her words themselves were carefully clear.

Winthrop looked at her, and saw, or fancied he saw, a throng of
conflicting possibilities, contingencies, and alternatives in the back
part of her small bright eyes. "Your daughter is too young to be made
the subject of any such request at present," he said, curtly. For it
seemed to him a moment when a little masculine brevity and masculine
decision were needed in this exclusively feminine atmosphere.

Mrs. Thorne accepted his suggestion. "Yes, Garda _is_ young," she
murmured, emerging a little from her hesitations. "Quite too young," she
repeated, more emphatically. Winthrop had given her a formula, and
formulas are sometimes as valuable as a life-raft.

Torres, therefore, being engaged in the consumption of his soul, and
Manuel having haughtily declined the northerner's invitation, the party
on the yacht consisted, besides Winthrop, of Mrs. Rutherford and
Margaret Harold, Mrs. Carew, Garda, Dr. Kirby, and the Rev. Mr. Moore,
Mrs. Thorne having been detained at home by the "pressing domestic
engagements" which Winthrop had been certain would lift their heads as
soon as the day for the _Emperadora's_ little voyage had been decided
upon. Wind and tide were both in their favor; they had a swift run down
the Espiritu, and landed on Patricio a number of miles below Gracias,
where there was a path which led across to the ocean beach. This path
was narrow, and the gallant Dr. Kirby walked in the bushes all the way,
suffering the twigs to flagellate his plump person, in order to hold a
white umbrella over Mrs. Rutherford, who, arm in arm with her Betty,
took up the entire track. Patricio, which had first been a reef, and
then an outlying island, was now a long peninsula, joining the main land
some forty miles below Gracias in an isthmus of sand; it came northward
in a waving line, slender and green, lying like a ribbon in the water,
the Espiritu on one side, the ocean on the other. When the ocean beach
of the ribbon was reached, Mrs. Rutherford admired the view; she admired
it so much that she thought she would sit down and admire it more. Dr.
Kirby therefore bestirred himself in arranging the cushions and rugs
which Winthrop's men had brought across from the yacht, to form an
out-of-door sofa for the ladies; for Betty, of course, decided to remain
with Katrina. The Doctor said that he should himself bear them company,
leaving the "younger men" to "fume and fluster and explore."

The Rev. Mr. Moore was, in actual years, not far from Dr. Reginald's own
age. But the Rev. Mr. Moore was perennially young; slender and light,
juvenile in figure, especially when seen from behind, his appearance was
not that of an elderly man so much as of a young man in whom the
progress of age has been in some way arrested, like the young peaches,
withered and wrinkled and yet with the bloom of youth about them still,
which have dropped to the ground before their prime. He now stood
waiting on the beach, armed with his butterfly net; as his butterfly net
was attached to a long green pole, one end of which rested on the
ground, he had the air of a sort of marine shepherd with a crook.

The Rev. Mr. Moore always carried this entomological apparatus with him
when he went upon pleasure excursions; his wife encouraged him in the
amusement, she said it was a distraction for his mind; the butterflies
also found it a distraction, they were in the habit of laughing (so some
persons declared) all down the coast whenever the parson and his net
appeared in sight.

"You are going to explore, aren't you?" said Garda to Margaret Harold;
"it's lovely, and we shall not fume or fluster in the least, in spite of
the Doctor; we shall only pick up shells. Over these shells we shall
exclaim; Mr. Winthrop will find charming ones, and present them to us,
and then we shall exclaim more; we shall dote upon the ones he gives us,
we shall hoard them away carefully in our handkerchiefs and pockets; and
then, to-morrow morning, when the sun comes up, he will shine upon two
dear little heaps of them outside our bedroom windows, where, of course,
we shall have thrown them as soon as we reached home."

Mr. Moore listened to these remarks with surprise. Upon the various
occasions when he had visited Patricio he had always, and with great
interest, picked up shells for the ladies present, knowing how much they
would value them. He now meditated a little upon the back windows
alluded to by Garda; it was a new idea.

"Oh, how _delightful_ it is to go marooning!" said Mrs. Carew, who,
beginning to recover from the terrors of the voyage, had found her voice
again. Her feet were still somewhat cramped from their use as brakes;
she furtively extended them for a moment, and then, unable to resist the
comfort of the position, left them extended. Her boots were the
old-fashioned thin-soled all-cloth gaiters without heels, laced at the
side, dear to the comfort-loving ladies of that day; her ankles came
down into their loose interiors without any diminishing curves, as in
the case of the elephant.

"Are you going, Margaret?" said Mrs. Rutherford, in her amiably
patronizing voice. "Don't you think you will find it rather warm?" Mrs.
Rutherford inhabited the serene country of non-effort, she could
therefore maintain without trouble the satisfactory position of
criticising the actions of others; for whether they succeeded or whether
they failed, success or failure equally indicated an attempt, and
anything like attempt she was above. "People who _try_" was one of her
phrases; she would not have cared to discover America, for undoubtedly
Columbus had tried.

"I like this Florida warmth," Margaret had answered. "It's not heat;
it's only softness."

"It's lax, I think," suggested Mrs. Rutherford, still amiably.

No one disputed this point. It was lax.

"Doesn't he look like a tree?" murmured Garda to Margaret, indicating by
a glance the Rev. Mr. Moore, as he stood at a little distance, gazing
at the sea--"a tall slim one, you know, that hasn't many leaves; his
arms are like the branches, and his fingers like the twigs; and his
voice is so innocent and--and vegetable."

Margaret shook her head.

"You don't like it?" said the girl; "you think I am disrespectful? I am
not disrespectful at all, I adore Mr. Moore. But you must acknowledge
that he's a mild herby sort of man; he's like lettuce--before it's
dressed. All the same, you know, he's an angel."

Dr. Kirby meanwhile was entertaining Betty and Katrina, now seated
together on the out-of-door sofa he had made. He was arranging at the
same time a seat for himself near them by piling together with careful
adjustment the scattered fragments of drift-wood which he had found in
the vicinity, in a sort of cairn; his intention was to crown this cairn,
when finished, with one of the boat cushions, which he had reserved for
the purpose. "No," he said, pursuing his theme and the dovetailing of
the drift-wood with energy, "I cannot say that I admire these frivolous
new fashions which have crept into literature. The other day, happening
to turn over the pages of one of these modern novels, I came upon a
scene in which the hero and heroine are supposed to be shaken, tortured
by the violence of their emotions, stirred to their utmost depths; and
yet the author takes _that_ opportunity to leave them there, leave them
in the midst of their agonies--and the reader's as well--to remark that
a butterfly flew in through the open window and hovered for a moment
over their heads; now he poised here, now he poised there, now he did
this, and now that, and so on through a quarter of a page. I ask
you--what if he did?" (Here he finished his cairn, and sat down to try
it.) "Who cares? Why should the whole action of the tale pause, and at
such a critical moment, in order that the flight and movements of an
insignificant insect should be minutely chronicled?"

"But the butterfly," said the Rev. Mr. Moore, who had drawn near, "can
hardly, I think, be described as an 'insignificant insect.'"

"Have you read these modern novels?" demanded the Doctor, facing him
from his cairn.

"Certainly," replied Mr. Moore; "I am familiar with 'Bracebridge Hall,'
'Swallow Barn,' and several other works of fiction of that type." And he
stood there looking at the Doctor with the peculiar mild obstinacy which
belongs to light-blue eyes, whose under-lids come up high at the outer
corners.

"But, Doctor, you are attacking there one of our most cherished modern
novelties," said Winthrop, who had now joined them, "namely, the new
copartnership between Nature and Literature. Nature is now a very
literary personage and a butterfly can mean a great deal."

"Nature has nothing to do with literature, I mean the literature we call
polite," Dr. Kirby protested, still fierily (while Mrs. Rutherford
admired his ardor). But the clergyman had nodded his head in approval, a
butterfly could certainly mean a great deal; he himself had long been of
the opinion that they possessed reasoning powers--he had so seldom been
able to capture one.

The explorers now left the sofa and cairn, and started down the beach,
Garda and Winthrop first, Mr. Moore and Margaret following. It seemed
natural to everybody that Winthrop should be with Garda, he had been
with her so much; his manner, however, had in it so little of admiration
(as admiration was understood in Gracias) that this had occasioned no
remark. Manuel (whose admiration had the local hues) cherished
resentment against this northerner, but it was not the resentment of
jealousy; Manuel, indeed, did not dream that he had occasion for
jealousy. He was sure that Mrs. Thorne yearned for him, that her highest
aspirations regarding a son-in-law could go no further; but there need
be no haste, he must see something of the world first. He had made a
beginning (so he flattered himself) by seeing something of it in that
charming though rather silent Mrs. Harold. As for Torres, that dark
youth could never have conceived the possibility of admitting any one to
a serious rivalry with himself--any one, at least, outside of Spain. Who
was this Wintup? Only an American; even Manuel was but an
American-Spaniard, as any one could see. But Garda was all Duero,
Spanish to the finger-tips; Garda understood him. And this in itself was
no small matter--to understand a Torres; many persons, even when thrown
with them daily, had lived all their lives without accomplishing that.
Garda understood herself also; she might delay, have little freaks; but
in the end it was impossible that she should be content with anything
less than a Torres, if there were one in attendance upon her graceful
steps,--as there certainly would be.

For a time the four pedestrians kept together. "See the pelicans on the
bar," said Garda. "The wish of my life has been to go out there and
chase them with a stick."

"Why should you wish to do that, my child?" said the clergyman. "Surely
there are many occupations more interesting, as well as more
instructive."

"Shouldn't you love to be a curlew?" said the girl, going to him and
putting her arm in his. "The sickle-bill, you know; he hasn't the least
realization of the faults of his profile, and that must be such a
comfort."

"Profiles," responded Mr. Moore, with a little wave of his hand, "are
quite unimportant; what is a profile, in most cases, but the chance
outline of a nose? Handsome is as handsome does, Garda; that is the best
view to take."

Winthrop listened to this little dialogue with entertainment, evidently
the good rector had no more realization of Garda's beauty than he had of
the new short length for sermons; his standard in profiles was probably
the long thin nose and small straight mouth of his excellent Penelope.

"The Bermudoes lie off in that direction," continued the clergyman,
looking over the blue water. Garda had now left him and gone back to
Winthrop. "I mean the Barbagoes," he added, correcting himself. He was
silent for a moment. "No, no, not Barbagoes; I am thinking, of course,
of the Bahamoes." Again he paused, his face began to wear a bewildered
expression; slackening his pace a little, he repeated over to himself
softly, as if trying them, "Bahamoes--Bergudas; then there is Tor--no,
_Tobaga_, isn't it? Certainly I cannot be wrong in thinking one of the
groups to be the Dry Tortugoes?" And yet it did not seem quite certain,
after all.

"A butterfly, a splendid one," called Garda.

And then the reverend gentleman, forgetting the tangled islands,
brandished his net and leaped forward in pursuit.

Garda was now with Margaret; Winthrop walked on beside them, and they
went southward at a leisurely pace, down the broad beach. To the
ordinary observer Winthrop and Margaret appeared to be on the usual
friendly terms; the only lack which could have been detected was the
absence between them of little discussions, and references to past
discussions, brief allusions where one word is made to do the work of
twenty, which are natural when people have formed part of the same
family for some time. Margaret and Winthrop talked to each other, and
talked familiarly; but this was always when other persons were present.
Garda, though she seldom troubled herself to observe closely, had
remarked these little signs. "I think you are horrid to Margaret," she
had once said to Winthrop with warmth. "And Margaret is far too good and
too gentle to you."

"Yes, Mrs. Harold has always a very gentle manner," he had answered,
assentingly.

"That is more horrid still! Of course she has. But I wish she hadn't--at
least with you; I wish she would be sharp with you--as I am."

"Are you sharp?" Winthrop had asked, smiling indulgently at the contrast
between her allegation and the voice in which it was uttered.

Garda, with her hand on Margaret's arm, was now walking onward, humming
lightly to herself as she walked. Her humming was vague, as she had no
ear for music. It was a complete lack, however; she was not one of those
persons who are haunted by tunes half caught, who afflictingly sing a
song all through a semi-note flat, and never know it.

Margaret's eyes were following the sands. "What lovely sea-weeds," she
said, as little-branching fibres, like crimson frost-work, began to dot
the silver here and there.

"Now how feminine that is!" said Winthrop, argumentatively, as he
strolled on beside them. "Instead of looking at the ocean, or this grand
beach as a whole, what does Mrs. Harold do? She spends her time admiring
an infinitesimal pink fragment at her feet. Fragments!--I am tired of
the fragmentary taste. In a picture, even the greatest, you fragmentary
people are always admiring what you call the side touches; you talk
about some little thing that has been put in merely as a decorative
feature, or if for a wonder you do select a figure, it is sure to be
one of minor importance; the effect of the whole as a whole, the central
idea to which the artist has given his best genius and power, this you
don't care for, hardly see. It is the same way with a book; it is always
some fragment of outside talk or description, some subordinate
character, to which you give your praise; never--no matter how fine it
is--the leading motive and its development. In an old cathedral, too,
you women go putting your pretty noses close to all the little things,
the bits of old carving, an old inscription--in short, the details; the
effect of the grand mass of the whole, rising against the sky, this you
know nothing whatever about."

"I am glad at least that the noses are pretty," interpolated Garda, amid
her humming.

"I think I have met a few men also who admire details," observed
Margaret.

"A few? Plenty of them. They are the men of the feminine turn of mind.
But don't imagine that I don't care for details; details in their proper
place may be admirable, exquisite. What I am objecting to is their being
pushed into a place which is not theirs by you fragmentary people, who
simply shirk (I don't know whether it is from indolence or want of
mental grasp) any consideration of a whole."

"Never mind," said Garda to Margaret; "let's be fragmentary. We'll even
pick up the sea-weeds if you like (though generally I hate to pick up
things); we'll fill your basket, and make Mr. Winthrop carry it."

"No," said Margaret. "On the contrary, let us abhor the sea-weeds; let
us give ourselves to the consideration of a whole." And, pausing, she
looked over the sea, then up at the sky and down the beach, with a slow
musing sweep of the head which became her well.

"You're not enough in earnest," said Garda; "we can see the edge of a
smile at the corners of your lips. Wait--I'll do it better." She stepped
apart from them, clasped her hands, and turned her eyes towards the sea,
where they rested with a soft, absorbed earnestness that was remarkable.
"Is this wide enough?" she asked, without change of expression. "Is it
free from details--unfragmentary? In short, is it--a Whole?"

"Yes," said Winthrop; "far too much of one! You are as universal as a
Universal Geography. Come back to us--in as many details and fragments
as you please; only come back."

"By no means; I have still the beach to do, and the sky." And slowly she
turned the same wide, absorbed gaze from the sea to the white shore.

The beach was worth looking at; broad, smooth, gleaming, it stretched
southward as far as eye could follow it; even there it did not end, it
became a silver haze which mixed softly with the sea. On the land side
it was bounded by the sand-cliff which formed the edge of Patricio; this
little cliff, though but twelve or fourteen feet in height, was
perpendicular; it cut off, therefore, the view of the flat ground above
as completely as though it had been five hundred. Great pink-mouthed
shells dotted the beach's white floor; at its edge myriads of minute
disks of rose and pearl lay heaped amid little stones, smooth and white,
all of them wet and glistening. Heaps of bleached drift-wood lay where
high tides had left them. Little beach-birds ran along at the water's
edge with their peculiar gait--many pauses, intermixed with half a dozen
light fleet steps as though running away--the gait, if ever there was
one, of invitation to pursue. There were no ships on the sea; the tracks
of vessels bound for Cuba, the Windward and Leeward islands, lay out of
sight from this low strand. And gentle as the water was, and soft the
air, the silence and the absence of all signs of human life made it a
very wild scene; wild but not savage, the soft wildness of an
uninhabited southern shore. For no one lived on Patricio, save where,
opposite East Angels, the old Ruiz house stood on its lapsed
land--lapsed from the better tilling of the century before.

The Rev. Mr. Moore had come gambolling back, striking actively hither
and thither with his net, still pursuing the same butterfly. The
butterfly--at his leisure--flew inland; and then Mr. Moore gave up the
chase, and joined Mrs. Harold calmly, seeming not in the least out of
breath, his face, indeed, so serious that she received the impression
that while his legs might have been gambolling, his thoughts had perhaps
been employed with his next Sunday's sermon; he had had an
introspective, mildly controversial air as he leaped.

Garcia and Winthrop walked on in advance. The beach waved in and out in
long scallops, and when they had entered the second they found
themselves alone, the point behind intervening between them and their
companions.

"What a dreadfully lonely place this beach is, after all!" said Garda,
pausing and looking southward with a half-appreciative, half-disturbed
little shudder.

"Not lonely; primeval," answered Winthrop. "Don't you like it? I am sure
you do; take time to think."

"Oh, I don't want any time. Yes, I like it in one way, in one way it's
beautiful. One could be perfectly lazy here forever, and I should like
that. As for the loneliness, I suppose we should not mind it after a
while--so long as we could be together."

Before Winthrop could reply to this, "Suppose we race," she went on,
looking at him with sudden animation. And she began to sway herself
slightly to and fro as she walked, as though keeping time to music.

"I think you mean suppose we dance," he answered. She had soon deserted
the mood that chimed in with his own; still, he had not misjudged her,
she had it in her to comprehend the charm of an existence which should
be primitive, far from the world, that simple free life towards which
the thoughts of imaginative men turn sometimes with such inexpressible
longing, but to whose attractions feminine minds in general are said to
be closed. The men of imagination seldom carry, are seldom able to
carry, their aspirations to a practical reality; that makes no
difference in their appreciation of the woman who can comprehend the
beauty of the dream. Here was a girl who, under the proper influences,
would be able to take up such a life and enjoy it; the vast majority of
educated women, no matter what influences they should be subjected to,
would never be able to do this in the least; they would long for--silk
lamp-shades and rugs.

"Racing or dancing," Garda had replied, "_you_ would never win a prize
in either; you are far too slow."

"And you too indolent," he rejoined.

He had scarcely spoken the words when she was off. Down the beach she
sped, and with such unexpected swiftness that he stood gazing instead of
following; the line of her flight was as straight as that of an arrow.
He was surprised; he had not thought that she would take the trouble to
run, he had not thought her fond of any kind of exertion. But this did
not seem like exertion, she ran as easily as a slim lad runs; her figure
looked very light and slender, outlined against the beach and sky. As he
still stood watching her, she reached the end of the scallop, passed
round its point, and disappeared.

He looked back, there was no one in sight; if he had a mind to revive
his school-boy feats, he could do so without being observed. It was a
beautiful day; but running might make it warmer. At thirty-five one does
not run for the pure pleasure of it, as at sixteen; if one is not an
acrobat, it seems a useless waste of energy. Garda was probably waiting
for him beyond the next point, even her desire to surprise him would not
take her farther than that; he walked onward at a good pace, but he did
not run; he reached the point, turned it, and entered the next scallop.
She was not there.

It was not a very long scallop, she had crossed it, probably, while he
was crossing the last; he went on and entered the next. Again she was
not there. But this scallop was a mile long, she had certainly not had
time to cross it; where, then, could she be? There was nothing moving on
the white beach, the perpendicular sand-cliff afforded no footing; he
walked on, thinking that there must be some niche which he could not see
from where he stood. But though he went farther than she could possibly
have gone in the time she had had, he found nothing, and retraced his
steps, puzzled; the firm white sand showed no trace of her little feet,
even his own heavier tread was barely visible.

Not far from the entrance of the scallop across which he was now
returning, there was a pile of drift-wood higher than the other chance
heaps, its base having been more solidly formed by portions of an old
wreck which had been washed ashore there. Upon this foundation of
water-logged timbers, branches and nondescript fragments, the flotsam
and jetsam of a Southern ocean, had been flung by high tides, and had
caught there one upon the other, until now the jagged summit was on a
level with the top of the sand cliff, though an open space, several feet
in width, lay between. Could it be that Garda had climbed up this
insecure heap, and then sprung across to the firm ground of Patricio
beyond? It seemed impossible; and yet, unless she had an enchanted
chariot to come at her call, she must have done so, for there was no
other way by which she could have escaped. Winthrop now essayed to
follow her. But it was not without difficulty that he succeeded in
reaching the top; for it was not so much a question of strength (of
which he had an abundance) as of lightness; it was not so much a
question of a good hold, as of no hold at all; the very place, he said
to himself, for feminine climbing, which is generally hap-hazard
clutches diversified by screams. At length, not without much fear of
bringing the whole pile toppling down upon himself, he reached the
summit, and from an insecure foothold looked across to the firm land.
Patricio at this point was covered, at a short distance back from the
edge, by a grove of wild-myrtle trees. There was no path, but the grove
was not dense, Garda could have passed through it anywhere; there was no
sign of her visible, but he could not see far. He sprang across, and
went inland through the myrtles, his course defined in a measure by the
thick chaparral which bordered the grove on each side. Suddenly he heard
the sound of voices, he pushed on, and came to a little open space,
thickly dotted with large bright flowers. On the farther side of this
space an easel had been set up, and a young man was at work sketching;
behind this young man, looking over his shoulder, stood Garda.

As Winthrop came out from the myrtles, "How long you have been!" she
said. Then, "Come and see this sketch," she went on immediately, her
eyes returning to the picture. "I've never seen anything so pretty in my
life."

As Winthrop, after a moment's survey of the scene, came towards her over
the flowers, "Oh," she said, "I forget that you don't know each other.
Mr. Winthrop, Mr. Lucian Spenser, civil engineer, from Washington, the
District of Columbia. Mr. Spenser, Mr. Evert Winthrop--he is nothing in
particular now, I believe--from the city of New York."

"It's an occupation in itself, isn't it? to be from New York," said the
artist, going on with his sketching, after the little motion, half nod,
half wave of the hand, with which he had acknowledged Garda's
introduction. Winthrop in the mean while had neither spoken nor bowed;
he had only, as slightly as possible, raised his hat.

"Why do you stop there?" said Garda. She came to him, took his arm, and
led him behind the easel. "The picture--the picture's the thing to look
at!"

The sketch--it was in water-colors--represented the little arena, which
was in itself a brilliant picture, done by Nature's hand. It was an open
oval space about fifteen feet in diameter, entirely bare of trees or
bushes, and covered with low green, through which rose lightly slender
leafless stalks, each holding up, several inches above the herbage, a
single large bright-faced flower; the flowers did not touch each other,
they were innumerable spots of gold and bright lavender, which did not
blend; on three sides the thick dark chaparral, on the fourth the dark
myrtles, enclosed this gayly decked nook, and seemed to have kept it
safely from all the world until now. The artist was making a very good
sketch, good, that is, in the manner of the new foreign school.

"Isn't it beautiful--wonderful?" insisted Garda.

"Very clever," Winthrop answered.

The artist laughed. "You hate the manner," he said. "Many people do; I
think I hate it a little myself, now and then." And he began to sing
softly to himself as he worked:

    "'Oh, de sun shines bright in my ole Kentucky home,
          'Tis summah, de darkies are gay--'"

"'Twas his singing, you know, that attracted my attention," said Garda
to Winthrop, under cover of the song. She did not seem to be explaining
so much as repeating a narrative that pleased herself. "I had climbed up
here to hide myself from you, when I heard singing; I followed the
sound, and--here he was!"

"You have met him before, of course?" was Winthrop's reply.

"Never in the world--that is the beauty of it; it's so delightful to
meet people you have never met before. And then to find him here in the
woods, where I didn't expect to see anybody, save perhaps you, later,
coming slowly along. And isn't it nice, too, that we shall have a new
person to add to our excursions, and parties! For they were getting to
be a little dull,--don't you think so? always the same people. He is a
cousin of Mr. Moore's," she added, "or rather his mother was; he has
just been telling me about it." She did not bring out this last fact as
though it were the most important. Important?--the only important point
was that she should be pleased. She had kept Winthrop's arm during this
time; now she relinquished it, and turned back to the easel.

    "'De corn-tops ripe, an' de meddars all abloom,
          In my ole Kentucky home far away,'"

sang the stranger; and this time he let out his voice, and sang aloud.
It was a very good voice. But Winthrop did not admire it.

"The others have probably no idea what has become of us," he said to
Garda; "shall we go and look for them?"

"Yes," answered Garda; "of course they must be wondering. You go; I will
wait here; go and bring Mr. Moore to see his cousin."

"It will be quite easy for Mr.---- for this gentleman--"

"Spenser," said the artist, good-humoredly, as he painted on.

"--to see Mr. Moore at any time in Gracias," continued Winthrop, without
accepting the name. For the life of him he could not put full confidence
in this impromptu relationship which Garda had discovered, any more than
he could in this, as one might say, impromptu man, whom she had also
unearthed, miles from any inhabited point, on a wild shore. If the
stranger were indeed a cousin of the Rev. Mr. Moore's, why had he not
made himself known to him before this? He must have come through
Gracias; Gracias was not so large a place that there could have been any
difficulty in finding the rector of St. Philip and St. James'; nor was
it so busy a place that one could have been pressed for time there.

"The truth is," answered Spenser, after he had completed a bit of work
which seemed much to his mind--"the truth is," he repeated, looking at
it critically, with his head on one side, "that I have, so far at least,
rather shirked my good cousin; I am ashamed to say it, but it is true.
You see, I only faintly remember him; but he will very clearly remember
me, he will have reminiscences; he will be sure to tell me that he knew
me when I was a dear little baby! Now I maintain that no man can really
welcome that statement, it betokens recollections into which he cannot
possibly enter; all he can do is to smirk inanely, and say that he fears
he must have been a bad little boy."

"I know Mr. Moore will say it," said Garda, gleefully; "I know he will!
Do go and call him," she said to Winthrop; "he will walk down to Jupiter
Inlet if you don't stop him."

But Winthrop stood his ground; Mr. Moore's cousin or not Mr. Moore's
cousin, he did not intend to leave Garda Thorne alone again with this
chance, this particularly chance acquaintance. True, this was a very
remote place, to which city rules did not apply; but the very seclusion
had been like a wall, probably the girl had never made a chance
acquaintance in all her life before.

"I will go myself, then," said Garda, seeing that he did not move. She
did not seem annoyed, she was, in truth, very seldom ill-tempered. On
the present occasion Winthrop might have been better pleased if she had
showed some little signs of irritation; for she was simply not thinking
of him at all, she was thinking only of Mr. Moore's cousin.

She crossed the flower-decked space quickly, and entered the myrtle
grove; Winthrop followed her. When they reached the verge, "There they
are," she said, looking southward.

"I don't know how I am to get you down," said Winthrop. "You could jump
across from the drift-wood, but you cannot jump back upon it; it's not
steady."

"I don't want to go down," said Garda. "They must come up." And she
called, in a long note, "Mar--garet!" "Mar--garet!"

Mrs. Harold heard her and turned.

"There! I've called her Margaret to her face!" exclaimed the girl.

"To her back, you mean."

"I never did it before. But I was sure to do it some time; we always
call her Margaret when we talk about her, mamma and I; and we talk about
her by the hour."

"Mr. Moore and I together can perhaps get you down," said Winthrop,
trying the edge of the sand-cliff to see if a niche could be trodden
out.

"How odd you are--when I tell you I'm not going down! The others are to
come up. Mr. Moore will be enchanted to see his cousin; I am sure _I_
was--though he isn't mine."

Winthrop asked himself whether he should take this opportunity to give
this beautiful Florida girl a first lesson in worldly wisdom. Then he
reflected that what he had admired the most in her had been her frank
naturalness, the freedom with which she had followed her impulses,
without pausing to think whither they might lead her. So far, her
impulses had all been child-like, charming. As regarded this present
one, though it was child-like also, he would have liked, with it, a
little more discrimination; but discrimination is eminently a trait
developed by time, and time, of course, had not yet had a chance to do
much for Edgarda Thorne.

He decided to leave her to herself, and to return for the moment to his
old position (from which he had rather departed of late), the position
of looking on, without comment, to see what she would do or say next.
What she did was simple enough. She directed, with much merriment, the
efforts of the Rev. Mr. Moore, as in response to her request he climbed
up the jagged pile of drift-wood first, in order to show Mrs. Harold the
best footholds, his butterfly pole much in his way, but not
relinquished; for had not that butterfly flown inland? When he was
safely landed on Patricio, Margaret Harold followed him. Winthrop, in
spite of the difficulties of descent, wished to come down and assist
her; but this she would not allow, and assistance, indeed, was plainly
worse than useless in such a place. Nor did she betray any need of it;
she climbed with an ease which showed a light foot and accurate balance,
and was soon standing by Garda's side.

When they reached the little flower cove it immediately became apparent
that the mother of this singing, painting stranger had really been (she
had been dead many years) a cousin of Middleton Moore's, Winthrop
himself, unless he was prepared to believe in an amount of plotting for
which there seemed no sufficient motive, being forced to acknowledge the
truth of the story. The conversation between the clergyman and Spenser
went on with much animation. Mr. Moore was greatly interested, he was
even excited; and they talked of many things. At last he said, with
feeling, "I remember you _so_ well, Lucian, as a baby; I was in the same
house with you once for a whole week when you were just able to walk
alone."

"Ah, yes! I am afraid I was rather a bad little boy," Spenser answered.

"You _were_ rather--rather animated," the clergyman admitted, mildly.

Garda, who, as usual, had her arm in Margaret's, leaned her head on
Margaret's shoulder and gave way to soft laughter.

Middleton Moore talked, enjoying his adventure greatly. But though he
talked, he did not question, he was too complete a southerner for that;
he leaned on his butterfly pole, and regarded Lucian with the utmost
friendliness, not thinking, apparently, of the fact that he had come
upon this interesting young relative quite by chance, and that this same
young relative must have passed through Gracias (if indeed he were not
staying there) without paying him a visit, though he knew that his
cousin was rector of St. Philip and St. James'; he had confessed as
much. Lucian, who had left his easel, now moved towards it again, and
stood scanning his work with the painter's suddenly absorbed gaze--as
though he had forgotten, for the moment, everything else in the world
but that; then he sat down, as if unable to resist it, and began to add
a touch or two, while (with his disengaged faculties) he was good enough
to give to his cousin, of his own accord, a brief account of himself in
the present, as well as the past. It seemed that he was by profession a
civil engineer (as he had already told Garda), and that the party of
which he was chief were engaged in surveying for a proposed railway,
which would reach Gracias-á-Dios (he thought) in about seventy-five
years. However, that was nothing to him; there was undoubtedly a company
(they had got an English lord in it), and he, Lucian, was willing to
survey for them, if it amused them to have surveying done; that part of
the scheme, at least, was paid for. His party were now some distance
north of Gracias, they had reached one of the swamps; it had occurred to
him that it was a good time to take a day or two, and come down and see
the little old town on the coast; and as he was a dabbler in
water-colors, he had not been able to resist doing some of the little
"bits" he had found under his hand. "I was coming to see you, sir,
to-morrow," he concluded. "The truth is, I had only these rough clothes
with me; I have sent back for more."

"To the swamp?" said Garda.

"To the swamp--precisely; I keep them there very carefully in a dry
canoe."

"You must not only come and see us, Lucian, you must come and stay with
us," said the clergyman, cordially; "Penelope will hear of nothing
else," he added, bending in his near-sighted way to look at the picture,
and putting his nose close to Lucian's pinks and blues. "Isn't it
rather--rather bright?" he asked, blinking a little as he drew back. Mr.
Moore's idea of a picture was a landscape with a hill in the background,
a brook and willows in front, a church spire peeping out somewhere in
the middle distance, and a cow or two at the brook's edge, all painted
in a dark, melancholy--what he himself would have called a
chaste--green, even the cow partaking in some degree of that decorous
hue.

"It's not brighter than the reality, is it?" said Lucian.

"I--don't--know," answered Mr. Moore, straightening himself, and looking
about him as if to observe the reality, which he evidently was now
noting for the first time. "You have put in a butterfly," he added,
returning to his inspection; "that is--if it isn't a bird? There are no
butterflies here now; has there been one here?"

"There should have been; it's the very place for them," Lucian declared.

"I don't think, Lucian, that there's any certainty about that; I myself
have often searched for them in places where it seemed to me they
_should_ be; they are never there."

Garda again gave way to merriment, hiding it and her face on Margaret's
shoulder.

"Hasn't your sky rather too vivid a blue, Lucian?" Mr. Moore went on,
his face again close to the picture.

"Well, sir, that's as we see it; _I_ see that color in the sky, you
know."

"How can you see it if it is not there?" demanded his relative, with his
temperate dwelling upon his point. And he transferred his gaze from the
sketch to the young man.

"But it _is_ there for me. It's the old question of the two kinds of
truth."

"There are not two kinds, I think, Lucian," responded the clergyman, and
this time he spoke with decision.

"There are two ways of seeing it, then. We state or believe a thing as
we see it, and we do not all see alike; you see the hues of a sunset in
one way, Turner saw them in another; he painted certain skies, and
people said there were no such skies; but Turner saw them."

"The fault was still there, Lucian; it was in his vision."

"Or take another instance," continued Spenser. "A man has a wife whom he
loves. She has grown old and faded, there is no trace of beauty left;
but he still sees her as she was; to him she does not merely seem
beautiful, she is beautiful."

The eyes of Garda and Margaret met, one of those rapid exchanges of a
mutual comprehension which are always passing between women unless they
happen to be open enemies; even then they are sometimes forced to
suspend hostilities long enough for one of these quick passwords of
intelligence;--men are so slow! The mutual thought of the two women now
was--Mrs. Penelope. Certainly she was old and faded, and very certainly
also her husband regarded her as much of a Venus as it was proper for a
clerical household to possess. Their entertainment continued as they saw
that the clergyman made no personal application of Spenser's comparison,
but merely considered the illustration rather an immoral one.

As if to change the subject, this good man now demanded, in his equable,
unresonant voice, "How do you return to Gracias, Lucian?"

"There's a contraband with a dug-out waiting for me over on the Espiritu
side," answered Spenser; "I walked across."

"Ah! _we_ are sailing," remarked the clergyman, in a gently superior
tone; little as he himself enjoyed maritime excursions, he felt that
this was the proper tone to take in the presence of his host, the owner
of the _Emperadora_. "We shall reach home, probably, much earlier than
you will," he went on, looking off at the chaparral with an abstracted
air.

Winthrop, smiling at this innocent little manoeuvre, invited Spenser to
return to Gracias with them; he could send one of his men across to tell
the contraband of the change of plan. Spenser accepted the offer
promptly. He packed his scattered belongings into small compass, and
slung them across his shoulder; his easel, under his manipulation,
became a stout walking-stick.

"That is a very convenient arrangement," said the clergyman.

"Yes; I am rather proud of it. I invented it myself."

"Ah, that's your father in you," said Mr. Moore, unconsciously betraying
something that was almost disapproval; "your father was a northern man.
But your mother, Lucian, was a thorough southerner; _she_ had no taste
for invention."

"She wouldn't have had it even if she had been a northern woman, I
fancy," responded Spenser; "women are not inventors. I don't mind saying
it before Mrs. Harold and Miss Thorne, because they haven't the air of
wishing to be; it's a particular sort of air, you know."

"Is your invention strong?" asked Winthrop. "I don't know how we are
going to get the ladies down to the beach, unless we make a perch for
them by driving that stick of yours and Mr. Moore's butterfly pole into
the sand-drift half-way down. From there, with our help, they might
perhaps jump the rest of the distance; we should have to tread out some
sort of footing for ourselves."

Mr. Moore involuntarily glanced at his green pole, and then at Margaret
and Garda, as if estimating their weight.

"We shall certainly snap it in two," exclaimed Garda, gayly. "Snip,
snap, gone!"

"But there's a descent not so very far above here," said Spenser; "I've
found it once, and I think, if you will trust me, I can find it again."
He led the way into the chaparral, and the others followed.

The chaparral, a thicket of little evergreen oaks, rose, round the
flower cove, to a height of ten feet. But soon it grew lower, and they
came out upon a broad stretch of it not much over four or four and a
half feet in height, very even on the top, extending unbroken to the
south as far as they could see, and rising gently on the west, in the
same even sweep, over the small ridge that formed Patricio's backbone;
their heads were now well above the surface of this leafy sea.

"There's my track," said Spenser.

It was a line which had been made across the foliage by his passage
through it; the leaves had been rippled back a little, so that there was
a trail visible on the green surface like that left by a boat which has
passed over a smooth pond; they made their way towards this trail.

The little oaks were not thorny, but their small stubborn branches grew
as closely at the bottom as at the top, so that it was necessary to push
with the ankles as well as with the shoulders in order to get through.

"Deep wading," said Lucian, who led the way.

"Wading?" said Garda. "Drowning! These leaves are like _waves_. And I'm
sure that fishes are biting my ankles. Or else snakes! I shall sink
soon; you'll hear a gurgle, and I shall have gone."

Spenser, laughing, turned and made his way back to her from the front at
the same moment that Winthrop, who was last, pushed his way forward from
behind; they reached her at the same moment, and placed themselves, one
on each side, so that they could make her progress easier.

The Rev. Mr. Moore, who had been calling back a careful explanation that
the Florida snakes, that is, the dangerous ones, were not found in
chaparral, was now left at the head of the party, to keep the course for
them by the line of rippled leaves. This duty he performed with much
circumspection, lifting the long butterfly pole high in the air every
now and then, and stretching it forward as far as he could to tap the
line of rippled leaves, as much as to say, "There you are; _quite_
safe." He had the air of a magician with his wand.

"I shall have to stop for a moment," said Margaret Harold, after a
while, speaking for the first time since their entrance into the
chaparral; she was next to Mr. Moore in their little procession, but a
distance of ten or fifteen feet separated them, while Garda, with
Spenser and Winthrop, was at a still greater distance behind. Winthrop
waited only an instant after she had spoken (long enough, however, to
give Spenser and the clergyman the opportunity, in case they should
desire it); he then made his way forward and joined her.

"Here--lean on me," he said, quickly, as soon as he saw her face; he
thought she was going to faint.

Margaret, though she was pale, smiled, and declined his help; she only
wished to rest for a moment, she said; the chaparral had tired her. She
stood still, embosomed in the foliage, her eyes closed, the long dark
lashes lying on her checks. Winthrop could see now more clearly how
delicate her face was; he remembered, too, that though she was tall, she
was a slender woman, with slender little hands and feet; her grace of
step, though remarkable, had probably not been of much use in forcing a
way through chaparral. But her cheeks were growing whiter, he was afraid
she would fall forward among the bristling little branches; he pushed
his way nearer and supported her with his arm. Garda meanwhile, her
fatigue forgotten, had started to come to her friend, Spenser helping
her, while Mr. Moore, his pole carefully held out over the trail (as
though otherwise it would disappear), watched them with anxiety from the
front.

But now Margaret was recovering, the color had come back to her face in
a flood; she opened her eyes, and immediately began to push her way
forward again, as if she wished to show Winthrop that he need have no
further fears. He stayed to aid her, nevertheless.

"Why didn't you go to her?" said Garda to Lucian Spenser, as they
resumed their former pace after Margaret's recovery. "I mean why didn't
you start before Mr. Winthrop did? There was time."

"He had the better right; he knows her."

"It wasn't a question of knowing, but of helping. As to knowing--you
don't know me."

"Oh yes, I do!" answered Spenser.

"But you have never seen me until to-day. Now please don't tell me that
I am so much like some one else that you feel as if you had known me for
ages."

"You are like no one else, your type exists only in dreams--the dreams
of artists mad on color. It's in my dreams that I have seen you," he
went on, surveying her with the frankest, the most enjoying admiration.
"Aren't you glad you're so beautiful?"

"Yes," responded Garda, with serene gravity. "I am very glad indeed."

They came before long to the descent of which he had spoken; it was a
miniature gorge, which led down to the beach in the scallop where Garda
had begun her race. As soon as they reached the lower level, Garda went
to Margaret and took her hands. "Do you really feel better!" she said.
"We'll stay here a while and rest."

Margaret refused, saying that the feeling of fatigue had passed away.

"You _have_ got more color than usual," said Garda, scanning her face.

"A sure sign that I am perfectly well again," answered Margaret,
smiling.

"A sure sign that you are very tired," said Evert Winthrop.

Margaret made no reply, she began to walk northward, with Garda, up the
beach; Lucian Spenser kept his place on the other side of Garda; but
Winthrop joined the Rev. Mr. Moore, who was alone.

Mr. Moore improved the occasion, he related the entire history of the
Spenser, or rather the Byrd family, the family of Lucian's mother
(connections of the celebrated Colonel Byrd). That is, their history in
the past; as to the present and its representative, he seemed quite
without information.

The present representative spent several days at the rectory; and
probably imparted the information which was lacking. During his visit he
formed one, as Garda had anticipated, of the various little parties
which Betty still continued to arrange and carry out for the
entertainment of her dearest Katrina; then he took leave of the rector
and his wife, and returned to the camp in the swamp.

Three days later he came back to remain some time; he took a room at the
Seminole, saying that his hours were quite too uncertain for a
well-regulated household like that of the Moores.

His hours proved to be uncertain indeed, save that a certain number of
them were sure to be spent with Garda Thorne. A few also were spent in
bringing Torres out of his seclusion. For Lucian took a fancy to the
young Cuban; "I don't think you half appreciate him," he said, in his
easy, unattached way--unattached to any local view. "He's a perfect mine
of gold in the way of peculiarities and precious oddities; he repays you
every time."

"I was not aware that oddities had so much value in the market,"
remarked Dr. Kirby, dryly.

"My dear sir, the greatest!" said Lucian, still in his detached tone.

The Doctor was not very fond of Lucian. The truth was, the Doctor did
not like to be called "my dear sir;" the possessive pronoun and the
adjective made a different thing of it from his own Johnsonian mode of
address.

"_I_ appreciate Mr. Torres," Garda remarked, "I always have appreciated
him. He's like a thunder-cloud on the edge of the sky; you feel that he
could give out some tremendous flashes if he pleased; some day he will
please."

"I'll tell him that," said Spenser, who, among his other
accomplishments, had that of speaking Spanish.

Whether he told or not, the young Cuban at any rate appeared among them
again. He was tired, possibly, of the consumption of his soul. But there
was this advantage about Torres, that though he might consume his own,
he had no desire to consume the soul (or body either) of any one else;
whereas Manuel appeared to cherish this wish to an absolutely sanguinary
degree. The dislike he had had for Evert Winthrop was nothing compared
with the rage with which he now regarded Lucian Spenser. To tell the
truth, Lucian trespassed upon his own ground: if Manuel was handsome,
Lucian was handsomer still. "A finer-looking young man than Lucian
Spenser," Mrs. Rutherford had more than once remarked, "is _very_ seldom
seen." And Kate Rutherford was a judge.

Lucian having no horse, as Winthrop had, could not, as Garda expressed
it, ride over the pine barrens in every direction and stop at East
Angels; but he had a fisherman's black boat, with ragged sail, and
though it was not an _Emperadora_, it could still float down the
Espiritu with sufficient swiftness, giving its occupant an opportunity
to stop at the same old Spanish residence, where there was a convenient
water-landing as well as an entrance from the barrens. The occupant
stopped so often, and his manner when he did stop was so different from
that of their other visitors, that Mrs. Thorne felt at last that duty
demanded that she should "make inquiries." This duty had never been
esteemed one of the principal ones of life at Gracias-á-Dios; Mrs.
Thorne's determination, therefore, showed that her original New England
maxims were alive somewhere down in her composition still (as Betty
Carew had always declared that they were), in spite of the layer upon
layer of Thorne and Duero traditions with which she had carefully
overlaid them. She was aware that it was a great inconsistency on her
part to revert, at this late day, to the methods of her youth. But what
could she do? The Thornes and Dueros were dead, and had left no
precedents for a case like this; and Lucian Spenser was alive
(particularly so), and with Garda almost all the time.

"She asked me," said the Rev. Mr. Moore to his wife, "what I knew, that
was 'definite,' about Lucian, which seemed to me, Penelope, a very
singular question, Lucian being so near and dear a relative of ours. I
did not, however, comment upon this; I simply gave her a full account of
the Spenser family, or rather of the Byrds, his mother's side of the
house, going back (in order to be explicit) through three generations.
Strange to say, this did not appear to satisfy her; I will not say that
she interrupted me, for she did not; but she had nevertheless, in some
ways, an appearance of--of being perhaps somewhat impatient."

"Oh, _I_ know!" said Mrs. Moore, nodding her head. "She coughed behind
her hand; and she shook out her handkerchief, holding it by the exact
middle between her forefinger and thumb; and she tapped on the floor
with the point of her slipper; and she settled her cuffs; and then she
coughed again."

"That is exactly what she did! You have a wonderful insight, Penelope,"
said her husband, admiringly.

"Give me a _woman_, and I'll unravel her for you in no time--in no time
at all," answered Penelope. "But men are different--_so_ much deeper;
you yourself are very deep, Middleton."

The clergyman stroked his chin meditatively; his eyes wandered, and
after a while rested peacefully on the floor.

"There! I know just what you're thinking of now," resumed his wife from
her sofa; "I can tell you every word!"

Her husband, who at that moment was thinking of nothing at all, unless
it might be of a worn place which he had detected in the red and white
matting at his feet, raised his eyes and looked at her with amiable
expectancy. He had long ago learned to acquiesce in all the discoveries
respecting himself made by his clever Penelope; he even believed in them
after a vague fashion, and was much interested in hearing the latest.
But he was so unmitigatedly modest, he took such impersonal views of
everything, including himself, that he could listen to her eulogistic
divinations by the hour without the least real appropriation of them, as
though they had been spoken of some one else. He thought them very
wonderful, and he thought her almost a sibyl as she brought them forth;
but no glow of self-appreciation followed, this frugal man was not
easily made to glow. At present, when his wife had unrolled before him
the interesting thoughts which she knew he was thinking (and the rector
himself was always of the opinion that he must be thinking them
somewhere, in some remote part of his mind which for the moment he had
forgotten), she concluded, triumphantly, as follows: "I can always tell
what you are thinking of from the expression of your face, Middleton;
it's not in the _least_ necessary for you to speak." Which was on the
whole, perhaps, fortunate for Middleton.

Mrs. Thorne, not having succeeded in obtaining "definite" information
from the Rev. Mr. Moore, addressed herself, at length, to Evert
Winthrop. Something that was almost a friendship had established itself
between these two; Mrs. Thorne found Winthrop very "satisfying," she
mentioned that she found him so; she mentioned it to Margaret Harold,
with whom, also, she now had an acquaintance which was almost intimate,
though in this case the intimacy had been formed and kept up principally
by herself. "Yes, extremely satisfying," she repeated; "on every subject
of importance he has definite information, or a definite opinion, and
these he gives you--when you ask for them--with the utmost clearness.
Touch him anywhere," continued the lady, tapping her delicately starched
handkerchief (which she held up for the purpose) with her little
knuckle, "anywhere, I say," she went on, still tapping, "and--he
_resounds_."

"Dear me, mamma! is he hollow?" said Garda, while Margaret gave way to
laughter. But Mrs. Thorne liked even Margaret's laughs; Margaret too she
found "very satisfying," she said.

When she spoke to Winthrop about Lucian Spenser, however, she found him
perhaps not so satisfying as usual.

"I know nothing whatever about Mr. Spenser," he answered.

"We are seeing a good deal of him at present," remarked the little
mother, in a conversational tone, ignoring his reply. "It's rather
better--don't you think so?--to know something--_definite_--of those one
is seeing a good deal of?"

"That is the way to learn, isn't it--seeing a good deal of them?"
Winthrop answered.

Mrs. Thorne coughed in her most discreet manner, and looked about the
room for a moment or two. Then, "Do _you_ like him, Mr. Winthrop?" she
said, her eyes on the opposite wall.

"My dear lady, what has that got to do with it?"

"Much," responded Mrs. Thorne, modestly dropping her eyes to the carpet.
"A man's opinion of a man, you know, may be quite different from a
woman's."

"There is his cousin, Mr. Moore."

"I have already asked Mr. Moore; he knows only Mr. Spenser's
grandfathers," replied Mrs. Thorne, dismissing the clergyman, as
informant, with a wave of her dry little hand.

"Dr. Kirby, then."

"Dr. _Kirby_" said the lady, with an especial emphasis on the name, as
though there were a dozen other doctors in Gracias--"Dr. _Kirby_ speaks
well of Mr. Spenser. But we should not count too much upon that, for
Dr. _Kirby_ looks upon him, as I may say, medically."

"Good heavens! does he want to dissect him?" said Winthrop.

Mrs. Thorne gave her guarded little laugh. "No; but he says that he is
such a perfect specimen, physically, of the Anglo-Saxon at his best. He
may be; I am sure I am willing. But we are not all ethnologists, I
suppose, and something more definite in the way of a background than
ancient Saxony, or even Anglia, would be, I think, desirable, when, as I
remarked before, one is seeing so much of a person."

There was a short silence, which Winthrop did not break. Then he rose,
and took up his hat and whip; he had been paying one of his afternoon
visits at the old house. "Don't be uneasy," he said, in the
half-protecting tone which he often adopted now when speaking to the
little mistress of East Angels; "if you are seeing much of this Mr.
Spenser, you and your daughter, you must remember that you are also
seeing much of others as well; of Manuel Ruiz, of young Torres, even of
myself; there's safety in numbers."

"Mr. Spenser is not in the least like any of you; that is my trouble,"
Mrs. Thorne declared, with emphasis. "I do not mean," she added, with
her anxious particularity, "that _you_ are in the least like Manuel or
Adolfo, Mr. Winthrop; of course not."

Winthrop did not reply to this beyond a smile. He took leave, and went
towards the door.

Mrs. Thorne's gaze followed him; then with her quick step she crossed
the room, and stopped him on the threshold. "Mr. Winthrop, do _you_ like
to see my little girl showing such an interest in this Lucian Spenser?"
Her voice was almost a whisper, but her bright eyes met his bravely.

For a moment he returned her gaze. Then, "I like it immensely," he said,
and went down the stairs.

Soon after this, however, there was what Mrs. Thorne called "definite"
information about Lucian Spenser in circulation in Gracias; it was even
very definite. He might have the background of honorable grandfathers
which Mr. Moore attributed to him, but for the foreground there was only
himself, himself without any of the adjuncts of wealth, or a fixed
income of any kind, even the smallest. He was a civil engineer
(apparently not a very industrious one); he had whatever emoluments that
profession could bring in to a man who painted a good many pictures in
water-colors; and he had nothing more. This he told himself, with the
utmost frankness.

"Nothing more?" commented Mrs. Rutherford, with appreciative emphasis.
"But he has always his wonderful good looks; that in itself is a
handsome fortune."

"His good looks, I confess, _I_ have never seen," answered Mrs. Thorne,
who was paying a morning visit at the eyrie. Garda was at that moment on
the eyrie's east piazza with Lucian, and the mother knew it; true,
Margaret Harold, Dr. Kirby, and Adolfo Torres were there also; but Mrs.
Thorne had no difficulty in picturing to herself the success with which
Lucian was engrossing Garda's attention.

"You've never seen them? You must be a little blind, I should think,"
said Mrs. Rutherford, pleasantly. Mrs. Rutherford was not fond of Mrs.
Thorne.

"I am blind to the mere sensuous delights of the eye," responded the
little mother, the old Puritan fire sparkling for a moment in her own
blue ones. Then she controlled herself. "I cannot admire his
expression," she explained. "His nature is a very superficial one; I am
surprised that Mrs. Harold should listen to him as she does."

"Oh, as to that," remarked Mrs. Rutherford, "he amuses her, you know;
Margaret and I are both very fond of being amused. However, we do not
complain; we find a vast deal of amusement in Gracias; it's a very funny
little place," added the northern lady, with much tranquil entertainment
in her tone, paying back with her "funny" her visitor's "sensuous."
(Mrs. Rutherford could always be trusted to pay back.)

That evening she announced to her niece, "Little Madam Thorne has
designs upon Evert."

Margaret looked up from her book. "Isn't she rather old for that sort of
thing?"

"_That_ sort of thing? Do you mean designs? Or attractions? Attraction
is not in the least a matter of age," answered Mrs. Rutherford, with
dignity. She disposed her statuesque hands upon her well-rounded arms,
and looked about the room as though Margaret were not there.

"I meant her feelings," replied Margaret, smiling. "There's such a thing
as age in feelings, isn't there?"

"Yes; and in manner and dress," said Mrs. Rutherford, accepting this
compromise. "Certainly Mrs. Thorne is a marked example of all three. I
don't think any one of _our_ family _ever_ looked so old as she does,
even at ninety! But how could you suppose I meant that she had designs
upon Evert for herself? For Garda, of course."

"Garda is very young."

"Why don't you say she's a child! That is what they all say here, I
think they say it too much. To be sure, she is only sixteen, barely
that, I believe, and with us, girls of that age are immature; but Garda
Thorne isn't immature, she talks as maturely as I do."

"She does--in some ways," admitted Margaret.

"She talks remarkably _well_, if you mean that," responded Mrs.
Rutherford, who always felt called upon to differ from her niece. "And
she is certainly quite pretty."

"She is more than pretty; she is strikingly beautiful."

"Oh no, she isn't," replied Mrs. Rutherford, veering again; "you
exaggerate. It's only because you see her here in this dull little
place."

"I think it would be the same anywhere, Aunt Katrina."

"Well, we shall not have to compare, fortunately. She will stay here, of
course, where she belongs, she will probably marry that young Torres.
But that little ill-bred mother's designs upon Evert--that is too
amusing. Evert, indeed! Evert has more coolness and discrimination than
any man I have ever known."

The man of discrimination was at that moment strolling slowly through
the St. Luz quarter, on his way to the Benito; he reached it, and walked
out its silver floor. The tide was coming in. On that low coast there
were no rocks, the waves reached the shore in long, low, unbroken
swells, like quiet breathing; they had come evenly in from deep water
outside, and now flowed softly up the beach a little way and then back
again, with a rippling murmurous sound that was peace itself. Warm as
was the land, still dreaming of the sun, the ocean was warmer still;
the Gulf Stream flowed by not far from shore, and the air that came from
the water was soft on the cheek like a caress. From the many orange
groves of the town dense perfume was wafted towards him, he walked
through belts of it. At last, at the point's end, he found himself
bathed in it; he threw the light overcoat he had been carrying down upon
the sand, and stretched himself upon it, with his back against an old
boat; lying there, he could look down the harbor and out to sea.

He was thinking a little of the scene before him, but more of Garda--her
liking for the new-comer. For she had confessed it to him herself;
confessed, however, was hardly the term, she had no wish apparently to
conceal anything; she had simply told him, in so many words, that she
had never met or known any one so delightful as Lucian Spenser. This was
innocent enough, Garda was, in truth, very childlike. True, she was not
shy, she was very sure of herself; she talked to him and to everybody
with untroubled ease. Her frankness, indeed, was the great thing; it had
an endless attraction for Evert Winthrop. His idea had been (and a very
fixed belief it had grown to be) that no girl was frank after the age of
long clothes; that the pretty little creatures, while still toddling
about, developed the instinct to be "good" rather than outspoken; and
that the "better" they were, the more obedient and docile, the less
outspoken they became. He could not say that he did not admire
obedience. But the flower of frankness had come to seem to him the most
fragrant of the whole bouquet of feminine virtues, as it certainly was
the rarest. He had told Mrs. Thorne that he liked to see Garda show her
preference for Spenser, and this had been true, to a certain extent; he
knew that he had felt a distinct pleasure in the swiftness with which
she had turned from him to the younger man as soon as she found that the
younger man pleased her more. For it showed that she was not touched by
the attractions of a large fortune, that they were not attractions to
her; and Winthrop held (he knew that many persons would not agree with
him) that young girls are more apt to be influenced by wealth, more apt
to be dazzled by it, to covet it, than older women are. The older women
know that it does not bring happiness in its train, that it may bring
great unhappiness; the young girls do not know, and, from their very
ignorance, they do not care, because they have not learned as yet what a
cruel, torturing pain unhappiness may be. Garda Thorne was poor, and
even very poor; she had a strong natural taste for luxury. Yet her
passing amusement was evidently far more to her than anything else; she
simply did not give a thought to the fortune that lay near. And even her
amusement was founded upon nothing stable; Lucian, though she considered
him so delightful, was by no means devoted to her. He openly admired her
beauty (Winthrop thought too openly), he preferred her society to that
of any one in Gracias; but all could see that Gracias was probably the
limit, that in other and larger places he would find others to admire;
that he was, in short, a votary of variety. In spite of this, Garda
found him supremely entertaining, and that was enough for her; she
followed him about, always, however, in her indolent way, in which there
was no trace of eagerness. But if she were not eager, she seemed to
consider him her own property; she always wished to be near him, so that
she could hear all he was saying, she laughed far oftener when with him
than she did when with any one else.

Winthrop was always attracted by Garda's laugh; he seemed to hear it
again as he lay there in the moonlight, breathing the dense perfume from
the groves, and looking at the warm, low, glittering sea. "There isn't a
particle of worldliness about her," he said to himself. "What a contrast
to Margaret!"

He did not leave the perfumed point until it was midnight and high tide.



CHAPTER X.


Lucian Spenser's good looks were of the kind that is conspicuously
attractive while the youth, which accompanies them, lasts, his face and
figure being a personification of radiant young manhood at its best; the
same features, the same height and bearing, would have had quite a
different aspect if robbed of the color, the sunniness--if one may so
express it--which was now the most striking attribute of the whole. He
was tall and broad-shouldered, but slender still, he had a bearing which
was graceful as well as manly; his hair of a bright golden color had a
burnished look, which came from its thick mass being kept so short that
the light could find only an expanse of crisped ends to shine across.
His eyes were blue, the deep blue which is distinguishable as blue, and
not gray or green, across a room; this clear bright color was their
principal beauty, as they were not large. They were charming eyes, which
could turn to tenderness in an instant; but though they could be tender,
their usual expression was that of easy indifference--an expression
which, when accompanied by a becoming modesty and frankness, sits well
upon a strong, handsome young man. He had a well-cut profile, white
teeth gleaming under a golden mustache, a pleasant voice, and a
frequent, equally pleasant laugh. No one could resist a certain amount
of admiration when he appeared; and the feeling was not dimmed by
anything in his manner, for he was good-humored and witty, and if, as
has been said, he was rather indifferent, he was also quite without
egotism, and quite without, too, that tendency to underrate others which
many excellent persons possess--a tendency which comes oftenest from
jealousy, but often, too, from a real incapacity to comprehend that
people may be agreeable, and happy, and much admired, and even good,
with tastes and opinions, appearance and habits, which differ totally
from their own. Lucian Spenser underrated nobody; on the contrary, he
was apt to see the pleasant side of the people with whom he was thrown.
He took no trouble to penetrate, it was not a deep view; probably it was
a superficial one. But it was a question--so some of his friends had
thought--whether this was not better than the strict watch, the sadly
satisfactory search for faults in the circle of their own families and
acquaintances, which many conscientious people keep up all their lives.

A day or two after his midnight musings on the beach, Evert Winthrop was
coming down Pacheco Lane towards the eyrie when he heard, in a long,
sweet, distant note, "Good-by." It came from the water. But at first he
could not place it; there were two or three fishermen's boats passing,
but the fishermen of Gracias were not in the habit of calling "good-by"
in clear English accents to each other; their English was by no means
clear, it was mixed with Spanish and West Indian, with words borrowed
from the not remote African of the Florida negro, and even with some
from the native Indian tongues; it was a very patchwork of languages.
Again came the note, and Winthrop, going forward to the edge of the low
bank, looked over the water. The course of one of the boats, the
smallest, had brought it nearer, and he now recognized Lucian Spenser in
the stern, holding the sail-rope and steering, and Garda Thorne, facing
him, seated in the bottom of the boat. Garda waved her hand, and called
again "Good-by." They glided past him, and he raised his hat, but did
not attempt conversation across the water; in a few minutes more Lucian
had tacked, and the boat turned eastward down the harbor, the sail,
which had swung round, now hiding their figures from his view. Winthrop
left the bank, crossed the green-carpeted lane, and went up the outside
stairway to the eyrie's drawing-room. It was inhabited at present by
tea-leaves. Celestine, loathing, as Minerva Poindexter, the desultory
methods of Cindy, the colored girl who was supposed to act as
parlor-maid, was in the habit of banishing her at intervals from the
scene, and engaging personally in an encounter with the dust according
to her own system. The system of Celestine was deep and complicated,
beginning with the pinning of a towel tightly over her entire head in a
compact cap-like fashion of much austerity, followed, as second stage,
by an elaborate arrangement of tea-leaves upon the carpet, and
ending--but no one knew where it ended, no one had ever gone far enough.
It was at the tea-leaf stage that Winthrop found her.

"She's gone out with Mrs. Carew," Celestine replied, in answer to his
inquiry for Mrs. Rutherford. "You see she got her feet all sozzled last
night coming home across the plazzer from _church_ with that there Dr.
Kirby, and so she took cold, _of course_. And there's nothin' so good
for a cold as half an hour outside in this bakin' sun, and so I told
her."

"You don't speak as though you altogether approved of evening service,
Minerva?" Winthrop answered, amused by her emphasis.

"Well, I don't, and that's a fact, Mr. Evert. In the _mornin_' it's all
very well; but in the _evenin_', I've noticed, the motive's apt to be
mixed, it's pretty generally who you come home with. My mother used to
say to Lovina (that was my sister) and me, 'Girls, in the evenin's I
_don't_ like to have you go loblolloping down to meetin' and straddlin'
up the aisle. It ain't real godliness; it's just purtense, and everybody
knows it.' And she was quite right, Mr. Evert--quite." And having thus
expressed herself at much greater length than was usual with her,
Celestine resumed her labors, and raised such a dust that the man (whom
she still considered quite a young lad) was glad to beat a retreat.

He went to the east piazza, and seated himself with a book in his hand;
but his eyes followed the sail which was moving slowly down the harbor
towards Patricio. Fifteen minutes later Margaret Harold, coming through
the long window, found him there. By this time the sail was gone, only
the bare mast could be seen; Lucian and his companion had landed on
Patricio.

"They are going to see Madam Ruiz," said Margaret.

"No," replied Winthrop; "if they had been going there, they would have
stopped this side, at the landing."

"It would amuse Garda more to stop on the ocean side. It's the only
thing she plans for--amusement."

"I can see no especial entertainment in it; it will simply be that he
will have hard work to get the boat off."

"That is what will amuse her--to see him work hard."

"He won't enjoy it!"

"But she will."

"You knew they were going?" said Winthrop, taking up his book again.

"I was passing the plaza landing, and happened to see them start."

"Did they tell you they were going to see Madam Ruiz?"

"They were too far off to speak to me, they were just passing the end of
the pier. No; but when I saw they had landed (I have been watching them
from my window) I knew of course that they were going there."

"There's no 'of course' with Lucian Spenser!" answered Winthrop. He got
up, took the glass which was hanging on a nail behind him, and turned it
towards the point of Patricio. "They're not going towards the Ruiz
plantation at all," he said; "they're walking southward, down the
beach." He put the glass back in its case, closed it, replaced it on the
nail, and sat down again.

"I am surprised that Mrs. Carew should have allowed Garda to go," he
went on, after a moment. "She's staying with Mrs. Carew, isn't
she?--she's always staying with some one now."

"She is staying with Mrs. Carew till to-morrow only. Mrs. Carew likes
Lucian Spenser immensely, she tells every one how much she likes him."

"I don't think that has anything to do with it--Mrs. Carew's
admirations," responded Winthrop. "He's an irresponsible sort of
fellow," he added, speaking with moderation. He was not moderate, but he
often spoke with moderation. On the present occasion he felt that he
might have said much more.

"Yes, I think he is rather irresponsible," assented Margaret. "I suppose
he would say why shouldn't he be, if it pleases him."

"No reason in the world, I don't imagine any one cares. But they ought
not to permit Edgarda Thorne to go about with him as she does; she has
never been in the habit of walking or sailing with Manuel Ruiz, or that
young Cuban--I mean walking or sailing with them alone."

"Probably they have never asked her."

"That is very likely, I suppose they wouldn't dream of it. And that is
what I am referring to; she has been brought up here under such a
curious mixture of freedom and strictness that she is not at all fitted
to understand a person like Spenser."

"Shall I speak to Mrs. Thorne?" said Margaret. She was standing by the
piazza's parapet, her hand resting on its top, her eyes fixed on
Patricio, though the two figures were no longer in sight. Winthrop's
chair being behind her and on one side, he could see only her profile,
outlined against the light.

"Mrs. Thorne is already awakened to it," he answered; "she has spoken to
me on the subject."

"There was your opportunity. What did you say?"

"I told her--I told her not to be uneasy," he replied, breaking into a
laugh over his own inconsistencies. "But it isn't Mrs. Thorne who is to
blame--I mean Mrs. Thorne alone; it is Mrs. Carew, the Kirbys, the
Moores, and all the rest of them."

"In other words, the whole society of Gracias. Do you think we ought to
corrupt them with our worldly cautions?"

"We're not corrupting, it's Spenser who's corrupting; we should never
corrupt them though we should stay here forever. They're idyllic, of
course, it's an idyllic society; but we can be idyllic too."

Margaret shook her head. "I'm afraid we can only be appreciative."

"It's the same thing. If we can appreciate little Gracias, with its
remoteness and simplicity and stateliness, its pine barrens and beaches
and roses, I maintain that we're very idyllic; what can be more so?"

Margaret did not reply. After a while she said, "If you will take Aunt
Katrina to drive to-morrow afternoon, I will have Telano row me down to
East Angels."

"You think you will speak in any case? I suppose you know with what
enthusiastic approval Mrs. Thorne honors all you say and do?"

"Yes, something of it."

"But you don't care for her approvals," he said, half interrogatively.

"Yes, I care," Margaret answered. "In this case I care a great deal, as
it may give me some influence over her."

"What shall you say to her?--not that I have any right to ask."

"I am very willing to tell. I had thought of asking whether she would
let Garda go back with me when we go home--back to New York; I had
thought of having her go to school there for six months."

"I can't imagine her in a school! But it's very kind in you to think of
it, all the same."

"She could stay with Madame Martel, and take lessons; it wouldn't be
quite like a school."

"That might do. Still--I can hardly imagine her away from Gracias, when
it comes to the point."

"Neither can I. But, as you say, irresponsible people have made their
way in here, they will do so again; we shall not be able to keep the
place, and Garda, idyllic simply to please ourselves."

"Well, then, I wish we could!" responded Winthrop. "But I don't believe
the little mother could stand the separation," he went on.

"I shouldn't ask her to, at least not for long; I should ask her to come
herself, later. New York might amuse her."

"Never in the world, she wouldn't in the least approve of it," said
Winthrop, laughing. "It wouldn't be Thorne and Duero; it wouldn't even
be New Bristol, where she spent her youth. She would feel that she ought
to reform it, yet she wouldn't know how; she would be dreadfully
perplexed. She has a genius for perplexity, poor little soul. But I
can't express how good I think it is of you to be willing to give them
such a delightful change as that," he went on--"to take a whole family
on your shoulders for six long months."

"A family of two. And it would be a pleasure."

"I suppose you know that people don't often do such things, except for
their relatives. Not very often for them."

"I know it perfectly; I have always wondered why they did not--provided,
of course, that they had the ability," answered Margaret.

Winthrop in his heart had been much astonished by her plan. He looked at
her as if in search of some expression that should throw a gleam of
light upon her motives. But she had not moved, and he could still see
only her profile. After a while she lifted her eyes, which had been
resting with abstracted gaze upon the water, and, for the first time,
turned them towards him. A faint smile crossed her face as she met his
inquiring look, but her expression under the smile seemed to him sad;
she bent her head slightly without speaking, as if to say good-by, and
then she went back through the long window into the house. Winthrop,
left behind, said to himself that while he had no desire as a general
thing for long conversations with Margaret Harold, he wished this time
that she had not gone away so soon. Then it came to him that she almost
always went away, that it was almost always she who rose, and on some
pretext or other left him to himself; she left him--he did not leave
her; on this occasion she had gone without the pretext; she had not
taken the trouble to invent one, she had simply walked off. Of course
she was quite free to come and go as she pleased. But he should have
liked to hear more about her plan for Garda.

The next day she did not go down to East Angels. Her proposed visit had
had to do with Lucian Spenser, and Lucian Spenser had taken his
departure from Gracias that morning--a final departure, as it was
understood; at least he had no present intention of returning. It was
very sudden. He had had time to say good-by only to his cousin, Mr.
Moore. To Mr. Moore he had intrusted a little note of farewell for
Edgarda Thorne, who had returned to East Angels at an earlier hour,
without seeing Lucian or knowing his intention. Mr. Moore said that
Lucian had not known his intention himself until that morning; he had
received a letter, which was probably the cause of his departure (this
"probably" was very characteristic of the clergyman). He, Lucian,
intended to go directly north to Washington, and from there to New York;
and then, possibly, abroad.

"Dear me!--and his surveying camp, and the swamp, and those interesting
young bears he had there?" said Mrs. Rutherford, who, having once
arranged this very handsome young man's background definitely in her
mind, was loath to change it, "even," as she remarked, with an unusual
flight of imagination,--"even for the White House!"

"It would hardly be the Executive Mansion in any case, I fancy,"
explained Mr. Moore, mildly, "Lucian has, I think, no acquaintance with
the President. But Washington is in reality his home; though it is
perhaps apparent that he has not been there very often of late years."

These rather vague deductions regarding his young cousin's movements
were satisfactory to Middleton Moore; he had evidently asked no more
questions of Lucian on the occasion of his unexpected departure than he
had upon the occasion of his equally unexpected arrival; his interest in
him (which was great) had no connection with the interrogation point.

"What shall you do now?" said Winthrop to Margaret, after the clergyman
had taken leave. They were alone in the little drawing-room, Mrs.
Rutherford having gone to put herself in the hands of Celestine for the
elaborate change of dress required before her daily drive.

Margaret had risen; but she stopped long enough to answer: "Of course
now I need not speak to Mrs. Thorne about Mr. Spenser."

"No. But about Garda's going north? Do you still think of that?"

"Yes; that is, I should like very much to take her. But I don't think I
shall speak of it immediately, there need be no hurry now." She paused.
"I should like first to talk it over more clearly with you," she said,
as if with an effort.

"Whenever you please; I am always at your service," replied Winthrop,
with a return of his formal manner.

That afternoon he rode down to East Angels. Mrs. Thorne received him;
there was excitement visible in her face and manner--an excitement which
she held in careful control; but it manifested itself, in spite of the
control, in the increased brightness of her eyes, which now fairly
shone, in the round spot of red on each little cheek-bone, and in the
more accentuated distinctness of her speech, which now came as nearly as
possible to a pronunciation of every letter. She asked him how he was;
she inquired after the health of Mrs. Rutherford, after the health of
Mrs. Harold; she even included Celestine. She spoke of her own health,
and at some length. She then branched off upon the weather. All her T's
were so preternaturally acute that they snapped like a drop of rain
falling into a fire; when she said "we" or "week," she brought out the
vowel-sound so distinctly that her thin lips widened themselves flatly
over her small teeth, and her mouth became the centre of a sharp
triangle whose apex was the base of the nose, and the sides two deep
lines that extended outward diagonally to the edge of the jaws. So far,
she was displaying unusual formality with the friend she had found so
satisfying. The friend betrayed no consciousness of any change, he saw
that she wished to keep the direction of the conversation in her own
hands, and he did not interfere with her desire; he was sure that she
had something to say, and that in her own good time she would bring it
forth. And she did. After treating him to twenty minutes of
pronunciations, she folded her hands closely and with the same crisp
utterance remarked: "My daughter is in the rose garden, I should like to
have you see her before you go. I shall not accompany you, I shall ask
you to do me the favor of seeing her alone."

He could not help smiling a little, in spite of the repressed tragedy of
the tone. "Favor?" he repeated.

"Yes, favor," responded Mrs. Thorne, in a slightly higher key, though
her voice remained musical, as it always was. "Favor, indeed! Wait till
you see her. Listen, Mr. Winthrop; I want you to be very gentle with
Edgarda now." And, leaning forward, she touched his arm impressively
with her finger.

Winthrop always felt an immense pity for this little mother, she was
racked by so many anxieties of which the ordinary world knew nothing,
the comfortable world of Mrs. Rutherford and Mrs. Carew; that these
anxieties were exaggerated, did not render them any the less painful to
the woman who could not perceive that they were.

"Of course I shall be gentle," he said, taking her hand cordially. As he
held it he could feel the hard places on the palm which much household
toil, never neglected, though never mentioned, had made there.

"But when you see her, when you hear her talk, it may not be so easy,"
responded Mrs. Thorne, looking at him with an expression in her eyes
which struck him as containing at the same time both entreaty and
defiance.

"It will always be easy, I think, for me to be gentle with Garda,"
responded Winthrop; and his own tone was gentle enough as he said it.

Tears rose in Mrs. Thorne's eyes; but she repressed them, they did not
fall. "I depend greatly upon you," she said, with more directness than
she had yet used. She drew her hand from his, took up his hat, which was
lying on a chair near her, and gave it to him; she seemed to wish him to
go, to say no more.

He obeyed her wish, he left the house and went to the rose garden. Here,
after looking about for a moment, he saw Garda.



CHAPTER XI.


She was under the great rose-tree. Dressed in an old white gown of a
thick cotton material, she was sitting on the ground, with her crossed
arms resting on the bench, and her head laid on her arms; her straw hat
was off, the rose-tree shading her from the afternoon sun. Carlos Mateo,
mounting guard near, eyed Winthrop sharply as he approached. But though
Garda of course heard his steps, she did not move; he came up and stood
beside her, still she did not raise her head. He could see her face in
profile, as it lay on her arm; it was pale, the long lashes were wet
with tears.

"Garda," he said.

"Yes, I know who it is," she answered without looking up;--"it is Mr.
Winthrop. Mamma has asked you to come and talk to me, I suppose; but it
is of no use." And he could see the tears drop down again, one by one.

"I should be glad to come on my own account, without being asked, if I
could be of any use to you, Garda."

"You cannot," she murmured, hopelessly.

His speech had sounded in his own ears far too formal and cold for this
grieving child--for the girl looked not more than fourteen as she sat
there with her bowed head on her arms. He resisted, however, the impulse
to treat her as though she had been indeed a child, to stoop down and
try to comfort her.

"I am very sorry to find you so unhappy," he went on, still feeling that
his words were too perfunctory.

"I don't believe it; I wish I did," answered Garda, who was never
perfunctory, but always natural. "If I did, perhaps I could talk to you
about it, and then it wouldn't be _quite_ so hard."

"Talk to me whether you believe it or not," suggested Winthrop.

"I cannot; you never liked him."

A frown showed itself on Winthrop's face; but Garda could not see it,
and he took good care that his voice should not betray irritation as he
answered: "But as I like you, won't that do as well? You ought to feel
safe enough with me to say anything."

"Oh, why won't you be good to me?" said the girl, in a weeping tone,
abandoning the argument. "I shall die if everybody is so cruel when I am
suffering so."

"I am not cruel," said Winthrop. He had seated himself on the bench near
her, he put out his hand and laid it for a moment on her bright brown
hair.

The touch seemed very grateful to Garda; instantly she moved towards
him, put her arms on his knee, and laid her head down again, in much the
same attitude she often assumed when with Margaret Harold, save that she
did not look up; her eyes remained downcast, the lashes heavy with
tears. "I cannot bear it--he has gone away," she said, letting her
sorrow come forth. "I liked him so much--so much better than I liked any
one else. And now he has gone, and I am left! And there was no
preparation--it was so sudden! Only yesterday we had that beautiful walk
on Patricio beach (don't you remember?--I called to you as we passed),
and he said nothing about going. I can never tell you how long and
dreadful the time has been since I got his note this morning."

"Don't try," said Winthrop. "Think of other things. Some of us are left,
make the best of us; we are all very fond of you, Garda." He felt a
great wrath against Lucian Spenser; but he could not show any indication
of it lest he should lose the confidence she was reposing in him, the
confidence which made her come and lay her crossed arms on his knee and
tell him all her grief. This confidence had other restrictive aspects,
it showed that she regarded him as a species (somewhat younger, perhaps)
of Mr. Moore or Dr. Kirby; Winthrop was acutely conscious that he could
not play that part in the least; it certainly behooved him, therefore,
to do the best he could with his own.

"Yes, you are all kind, I know," Garda had answered. "But Lucian was
different, Lucian _amused_ me so."

"Amused? Was that it?" said Winthrop, surprised by the word she had
chosen.

"Of course," answered Garda, in the same dejected tone. "Is there
anything better than to be amused? I am sure I don't know anything. I
was so dull here, and he made everything delightful; but now--" Her
tears rose again as the contrast came over her.

"Perhaps, now that you have called our attention to it, the rest of us
might contrive to be more amusing," said Winthrop, with a tinge of
sarcasm in his tone.

But Garda did not notice the sarcasm. "No," she answered, seriously,
"you could not. You might try; but no, you could not," she repeated,
with conviction. "For it wasn't anything he did, it was Lucian himself.
Besides, I liked so much to look at him--he was so beautiful. Don't you
remember the dimple that came when he threw back his head and laughed?"
She moved a little so that she could rest her chin on her clasped hands,
and look up into Winthrop's face; her eyes met his dreamily; she saw
him, but she was thinking of Spenser.

"Torres has a dimple too," answered Winthrop, rather desperately. For
between the beauty of the girl herself, made more appealing as it was
now by her sorrow, her confiding trust that he was prepared to play on
demand the part of grandfather or uncle--between this and her
extraordinary, frank dwelling upon the attractive points of Lucian
Spenser, together with the wrath he felt against that accomplished young
engineer--he was not, perhaps, so fully in possession of his accustomed
calmness as usual. But she was a child, of course; he always came back
to that; she was nothing but a child.

It was true that poor Torres had a dimple, as Winthrop had said. It was
in his lean dark cheek, and everybody was astonished to see it there;
once there, everybody wondered where it found space to play. It did not
find it in depth, and had to spread itself laterally; it was a very thin
dimple on a bone.

But Garda paid no attention to this attempt at a diversion. "Did you
ever see such eyes as Lucian's, such a deep, deep blue?" she demanded of
Winthrop's gray ones.

"Very blue," he answered. He was succeeding in keeping all expression
out of his face (if there had been any, it would not have been of the
pleasantest). He felt, however, that his tone was dry.

But acquiescence was enough for Garda, she did not notice his tone; she
continued the expression of her recollections. "When the light shone
across his hair--don't you remember the color? It was like real gold. He
looked then like--like a sun-god," she concluded, bringing out the word
with ardor.

"What do you know of sun-gods?" said Winthrop, endeavoring to bear
himself agreeably in these intimate confidences. "How many of the
warm-complexioned gentlemen have you known?"

"I mean the Kirbys' picture," answered Garda, with much definiteness,
rejecting sun-gods in general as a topic, as she had the dimple of poor
Torres; "you must remember the one I mean."

Winthrop did remember; it was a copy of the Phoebus Apollo of Guido's
"Aurora" at Rome.

"Oh," continued Garda, without waiting for reply, "what a comfort it is
to talk to you! Mamma has been so strange, she has looked at me as
though I were saying something very wrong. I have only told her how much
I admired him--just as I have been telling you; is that wrong?"

"Not the least in the world," answered Winthrop, who had at last decided
upon the course he should pursue. "But it won't last long, you know,
it's only a fancy; you have seen so few people, shut up in this one
little place. When you have been about more, your taste will change."

Garda did not pay much heed to these generalities arrayed before her,
nor did he expect that she would. But this was the tone he intended to
take; later she would recall it. All she said now was, "Oh, please stay
ever so long, all the evening; I cannot let you go, now that you are so
good to me." And taking his hand with a caressing little motion, she
laid her soft cheek against it.

"Suppose we walk a while," suggested Winthrop, rising. He said to
himself that perhaps he should feel less like a grandfather if he were
on his feet; perhaps, too, she would treat him less like one.

Garda obeyed him directly. She was as docile as possible. When they
were a dozen yards off, Carlos Mateo began to follow them slowly, taking
very high steps with his thin legs, and pausing carefully before each
one, with his upheld claw in the air, as if considering the exact point
in the sand where he should place it next. They went to the live-oak
avenue. "How long do you think it will hurt me so, hurt me as it does
now--his going away?" the girl asked, sadly.

"Not long," replied Winthrop, in a matter-of-course tone. "It's always
so when we are parted from our friends; perhaps you have never been
parted from a friend before?"

"That is true, I have not," she answered, a little consoled. "But no,"
she went on, in a changed voice, "it's not like that, it's not like
other friends; I cared so much for him! You might all go away, every one
of you, and I shouldn't care as I do now." And with all her figure
drooping, as though it had been struck by a blighting wind, she put her
hand over her eyes again.

"Take my arm," said Winthrop; "we will go down to the landing, where you
can rest on the bench; you are tired out, poor child."

Again she obeyed him without opposition, and they walked on; but her
breath came in long sobs, and she kept her little hand over her eyes,
trusting to his arm to guide her. He felt that it was better that she
should talk of Spenser than sob in that way, and, bracing himself with
patience, he began.

"How was it that he entertained you so? what did he do?" he asked. There
was no indefiniteness about that "he;" there was only one "he" for
Garda.

She took the bait immediately. "Oh, I don't know. He always made me
laugh." Then her face brightened as recollection woke. "He was always
saying things that I had never thought of--not like the things that
other people say," she went on; "and he said them, too, in a way that
always pleased me so much. Generally he surprised me, and I like to be
surprised."

"Yes, I see; it was the novelty."

"No," answered Garda, with a reasonable air, "it couldn't have been the
novelty alone, because, don't you see, there were you. You were
novel--nothing could have been more so; and yet you never _began_ to
give me any such amusement as Lucian did."

Evert Winthrop remarked to himself that a girl had to be very pretty,
very pretty indeed, before a man could enjoy such comparisons as these
from her lips. But Garda Thorne's beauty was enchanting, sometimes he
had thought it irresistibly so; to be wandering with this exquisite
young creature on his arm, in this soft air, on this far southern
shore--yes--one could put up with a good deal for that.

They reached the landing; she seated herself on the bench that stood at
the bank's edge, under the last oak, and folded her hands passively. A
little dilapidated platform of logs, covered with planks, ran out a few
yards into the water; the old boat of the Thornes lay moored at its end.
Winthrop took a seat on the bench also. "Tell me, Garda," he said, "have
you ever thought of going north?"

"I have thought of it to-day. But there's no use, we cannot go."

"Don't you remember that you wanted to see snow, and the great winter
storms?"

"Did I?" said Garda, vaguely. "I should like to go to Washington," she
added, with more animation. "But what is the use of talking about it? We
cannot go." And she relapsed again. "We cannot ever go anywhere, unless
we should be able to sell the place, and we shall never be able to sell
it, because nobody wants it; nobody _could_ want it."

"It's a pleasant old place," remarked Winthrop.

A sudden light came into Garda's eyes. "Mr. Winthrop," she said,
eagerly, "I had forgotten your odd tastes; perhaps you really do like
East Angels? I remember I thought so once, or rather mamma did; mamma
thought you might buy it. I told her I did not want you to feel that it
was urged upon you; but everything is different to me now, and I wish
you _would_ buy it. I suppose that you are so rich that it wouldn't
matter to you, and it would make us so happy."

"Us?"

"Oh yes, to sell it has long been mamma's hope. I won't say her only
one, because mamma has so many hopes; but this has been the principal
one, the one upon which everything else hung. So few people come to
Gracias--people of our position, I mean (for of course we wouldn't sell
it to any one else)--that it has seemed impossible; there have been only
you and Lucian, and Lucian, you know, has no money at all. But you have
a great deal, they all say, and I almost think you really do like the
place, you look about you so when you come."

"I like it greatly; better than any other place I have seen here."

"He likes it greatly; better than any other place he has seen here,"
repeated Garda, in a delighted tone. She rose and began to walk up and
down the low bank, clapping her hands softly, and smiling to herself.
Then, laughing, she came back to him, her pretty teeth shining beneath
her parted lips. "You are the kindest man in the whole world," she
announced, standing before him. Winthrop laughed also to see how
suddenly happy and light-hearted she had become. "Let us go and tell
mamma," continued Garda. "Poor mamma--I haven't been nice to her. But
now I will be; I shall tell her that you will buy the place, there's
nothing nicer than that. _Then_ we can go to Washington."

"It will take some time, you know," Winthrop suggested.

Her face fell. "Much?" she asked.

"I hardly know; probably a good deal could be done in the course of the
summer. There may be difficulty about getting a clear title;
complications about taxes, tax claims, or the old Spanish grants." He
thought it was as well she should comprehend, in the beginning, that
there would be no going to Washington, for the present at least.

"But in our case there can be no complications, we are the old Spaniards
ourselves," said Garda, confidently.

He was silent.

"It would be very hard to have to wait long," she went on, dejected by
his manner.

"Yes. But it's something to have it sold, isn't it?"

"Of course it is, it's everything," she responded, taking heart again.
"And even if it is long, I am young, I can wait; Lucian is young too;
and--I don't think he will forget me, do you?"

"I want to advise one thing--that you should not talk so constantly
about Spenser," suggested Winthrop.

"Not talk about him? It's all I care for." She drew her arm from his,
and moved away. Stopping at a little distance, she gazed back at him
with a frown.

"I know it is," answered Winthrop, admiring the beauty of her face in
anger. "My suggestion is that you talk about him only to me."

"Then I shall have to see you _very_ often," she answered, breaking into
smiles, and coming to take his arm again of her own accord. They went
back through the avenue towards the house.

They found Mrs. Thorne in the drawing-room. She appeared to have dressed
herself afresh from head to foot, her little black gown was exquisitely
neat, her hair under her widow's cap was very smooth; she had a volume
of Emerson in her hand. She looked guardedly at Winthrop and her
daughter as they came into the room; her face was steady and composed,
she was ready for anything.

Garda kissed her, and sat down on the edge of her chair, with one arm
round her small waist, giving her a little hug to emphasize her words.

"Oh, mamma, think of it! Mr. Winthrop wants to buy the place."

Mrs. Thorne turned her eyes towards Winthrop. They still had a guarded
expression, her face remained carefully grave.

"I have long admired the place, Mrs. Thorne," he began, in answer to her
glance. "I have thought for some time that if you should ever feel
willing to sell it--"

"Willing? Delighted!" interpolated Garda.

"--I should be very glad to become the purchaser," he concluded; while
Garda laughed from pure gladness at hearing the statement repeated in
clear, business-like phrase.

Mrs. Thorne gave her little cough, and sat looking at the floor. "It
would be a great sacrifice," she answered at last. "There would be so
many old associations broken, so many precious traditions given up--"

"Traditions?" repeated Garda, in her sweet, astonished voice. "But,
mamma, we cannot live forever upon traditions."

"We have done so, or nearly so, for some time, and not without
happiness, I think," replied Mrs. Thorne, with dignity. "Take one thing
alone, Edgarda, one thing that we should have to relinquish--the family
burying-ground; it has been maintained here unbroken for over two
hundred years."

"Mamma, Mr. Winthrop would leave us that."

"Even if he should, there's not room for a house there that I am aware
of," replied Mrs. Thorne, funereally.

Winthrop with difficulty refrained from a laugh. But he did refrain. He
saw that the relief of having her daughter returned to her, freed from
the incomprehensible grief that had swept over her so strangely, this,
combined with the suddenly expanding prospect of a fulfilment of her
long-cherished dream of selling the place, had so filled her constantly
anxious mind with busy plans, pressing upon each other's heels, that
beyond them she had only room for a general feeling that she must not
appear too eager, that she must, as a Thorne, say something that should
seem like an objection--though in reality it would not be one.

But if Winthrop refrained from a laugh, Garda did not. "Oh, mamma, how
funny you are to-day!" she said, embracing her again with a merry peal.

"I am not aware that I am funny," replied Mrs. Thorne, with solemnity.

"Why, yes, you are, mamma. Do we _want_ to live in the burying-ground?"
said Garda, with another peal.

But Mrs. Thorne preserved her composed air. It almost seemed as if that
indeed might be her wish.

Winthrop took leave soon afterwards, in spite of Garda's entreaty that
he should stay longer. He had administered a good deal of comfort, it
may have been, too, that he had come to the end of his capacity to hear
more, that day at least, about Lucian Spenser. He had reached the bottom
of the old stairway, and gone some distance down the stone-flagged
corridor towards the door, when he heard Garda's voice again:

"Mr. Winthrop?" He looked up. She had come half-way down the stairs, and
was standing with one hand on the carved balustrade, her white figure
outlined against the high dark panelling of the other side. "I shall
never be able to keep silence as you wish, unless I see you _very_ soon
again," she said.

He smiled, without making answer in words, for Raquel had now appeared,
coming from her own domain to open the lower door. Raquel always paid
this attention, though no one asked her to do it. Mrs. Thorne, indeed,
disapproving of it and her, never rang to let her know that her guests
were departing. This made no difference to Raquel, or rather it gave her
the greater insistence; when guests were in the house she now made a
point of giving up all work while they remained, in order to be in
readiness for this parting ceremonial. Raquel had a high regard for
ceremonials; she had been brought up by the Old Madam.

Winthrop carried out his project. Asking the good offices of Dr. Kirby
as appraiser, he took the first steps towards the purchase of East
Angels. It soon became apparent that the steps would be many. The Dueros
having been, as Garda had said, "the old Spaniards" themselves, there
was no trouble in this case about the Spanish grants; theirs was a _bona
fide_ one. But there were other intricacies, and in studying them
Winthrop learned the history of the place almost back to the landing of
Ponce de Leon. The lands had been granted in the beginning by the crown
of Spain (of course over the heads of the unimportant natives) to
Admiral Juan de Duero in 1585. They had been regranted (over the heads
of the Dueros), seventy years later, by the crown of England, to an
English nobleman, who, without taking possession, had sold his grant,
and comfortably enjoyed the profits; the buyer meanwhile had crossed the
ocean only to lose his life by shipwreck off the low Florida coast, and
his descendants had, it appeared, sent an intermittent cry across from
England that they should assuredly come over, and take possession. They
never did, however; and the Dueros of course considered their claim as
merely so much unimportant insanity. Later, at the beginning of the
British occupation in 1763, the Dueros themselves had transferred part
of their domain to other owners. Then, upon the return of the Spaniards,
twenty years afterwards, they had calmly taken possession of the
property again, without going through the form of asking permission, the
new owners meanwhile having gone north, to cast their fortunes with the
raw young republic called the United States; the descendants of these
new owners had also at intervals sent up a cry, which echoed through the
title rather more clearly than the earlier one from England. The place
had been three times pillaged by buccaneers, who at one period were fond
of picnic-parties on Florida shores; it had been through several attacks
by Indians, in one of which the stone sugar-mill had been destroyed.
Since the long warm peninsula had come into the possession of the United
States these same lands had suffered several partitions (on paper) from
forced sales (also on paper), owing to unpaid taxes, the confusion
having been much increased by the late war. Tax claims in large numbers
lifted their heads, like a crop of quick-growing malodorous weeds, at
the first intimation that a _bona fide_ purchaser had appeared, a man
from the North who had the eccentricity of wishing, in the first place,
for such a worn-out piece of property as East Angels, and, in the
second, for a clear title to it; this last seemed an eccentricity
indeed, when the Dueros themselves had lived there so long without one.
Evert Winthrop persevered; he persevered with patience, for he was
amused by the local history his researches unearthed. Dr. Kirby
persevered also, but he persevered with impatience; he was especially
incensed against the attorney who represented a portion of the later tax
titles. This attorney, a new-comer in Gracias, was a tall,
narrow-chested young man from Maine, who had hoped to obtain health and
a modest livelihood in the little southern town; it was plain that he
would obtain neither, if long opposed to Reginald Kirby.

"Sir," said the Doctor, who had been especially exasperated by a tax
title which stood in the name of a certain Increase Kittredge, described
as a resident, "there is collusion in this evidently. There is no such
person in Gracias-á-Dios, and I venture to say there is no such person
in the State; it is some northern _freebooter_ who is acting through
you. Kittredge," he repeated, putting on his spectacles to read the name
again. "And Increase!" he added, throwing back his head and looking
about the room, as if calling the very furniture to witness. "No
southerner, high or low, sir, had ever such a name as that since the
universe was created; it's Yankee, Yankee to the core, as--if you will
kindly allow me to mention it--is your own also."

The youthful attorney, whose name was Jeremiah Boise, sat looking at his
pen-holder with a discouraged air; he was very young, and he admired the
Doctor profoundly, which made it worse.

"And I am surprised," continued the Doctor, changing his tone to one of
simple gravity, "that you should be willing to lend yourself to these
plots and jobs" (the Doctor brought out these two words with rich round
utterance), "which must, of course, act more or less upon the nerves,
you who are so far from robust, who have so evidently a tendency"--here
the Doctor paused, surveying Jeremiah from head to foot--"a tendency to
weakness of the breathing powers."

The poor young man, who knew that he had, looked so pallid,
nevertheless, under this professional statement of his case that the
kind-hearted Doctor instantly repented. He put out his hand, "There,
there," he said; "don't look so disheartened. Come to my office and let
me see you, I venture to say I can set you up in no time--in no time at
all. I presume you haven't the least idea how to take care of yourself,
it's extraordinary how people go about the world one mass of imprudence.
Have the kindness to stand up for a moment. Now draw a long breath.
Hum--hum--I thought so; no absolute harm done as yet." And the Doctor
tapped and listened, and tapped and listened again, with as much
interest as though the suspected chest had belonged to a southern Kirby
instead of to a Jeremiah from Maine. "That will do; thank you. You must
come and see me this very afternoon; come about five. I shall give you
some rules to follow. One of the first will be that you live more
generously, enjoy yourself more (you northerners don't seem to know
how). Never fear, man; we'll build you up in a few months so that you
won't know yourself!" And cordially shaking his hand, the Doctor took
leave--only to come back and remark, standing upon the threshold, with a
full return of his majestic manner, "But I should advise you, sir--I
should most seriously advise you to relinquish all connection with the
scandalous claims masquerading under that fraudulent name--that name of
Increase Kittredge!"

He departed, and returned again briskly, to say in his pleasantest
voice: "Oh, by-the-way, I'm going to send you some sound wine--port; I
have a little left. Be good enough to take it according to the
directions." And this time he was really gone.

In the mean while all Gracias congratulated Mrs. Thorne. That lady bore
herself with much propriety under the altered aspect of her affairs.
There were advantages in it, she said with a sigh, which of course she
appreciated; still, it was impossible for her to think without sadness
of "the severing of old associations" which such a change must bring
about. Gracias agreed with her there--the severing would be difficult;
old associations, indeed, had always been Gracias's strong point. Still,
a good deal of breakage could be borne--it was, indeed, a duty to bear
it--when such an equivalent was to be rendered ("equivalent" was the
term they had decided upon). The equivalent--that is, the sum which
Winthrop was to pay for the plantation--was not large. But to Gracias in
its reduced state it seemed an ample fortune; Gracias wondered what Mrs.
Thorne would do with it. That lady kept her own counsel; but in private
she covered sheets of paper with her small careful figures, and pondered
over them.

To Garda the hoped-for sum represented but one word--Washington!
Winthrop had again dwelt upon the advice that she should not speak that
word too audibly. "So long as I can whisper it to you, I can be dumb to
the others," she answered, laughing.

But it did not seem to him that she whispered.

The conditions of their friendship at present were remarkable. Garda was
restless unless she could see him every day; if he came on horseback,
she had espied him from afar, and was at the edge of the barren to meet
him; if he sailed down the lagoon in the _Emperadora_, she had
recognized the sail, and was in waiting on the landing. Once there, she
wished to have him all to herself, she grudged every moment he spent
with her mother. This did not prevent him from spending a good many with
the little mistress of East Angels, who now received him with a subdued
resignation which was his delight. This was the man who was about to
dispossess them of their home, the home of her daughter's forefathers;
he meant no harm, he wished for the place, sad misfortune compelled them
to part with it; but naturally, naturally, they could not quite welcome
him with undiluted feelings; naturally their feelings were, must be,
charged with--retrospect. All this, especially the retrospect, was so
reluctantly yet perfectly expressed in her voice and manner that
Winthrop was never tired of admiring it, and her; she was practising the
tone she intended to take about him; he could not deny that it was a
very perfect little minor note. Garda's feelings, however, did not seem
to be diluted with anything; she received him with unmixed joy. As soon
as she could get him to herself she carried him off to the live-oak
avenue, whose high arches and still gray shade had now become her
favorite resort; here she strolled up and down with him and talked of
Lucian, being contented with his mere presence as reply. Often Carlos
Mateo stalked up and down behind them; for he lived in the live-oak
avenue now, Garda declared that he danced by himself there on moonlight
nights. Sometimes Adolfo Torres performed similar sentinel duty. For
Garda had become almost tender in her manner to the young Cuban since
her own interest in Lucian had developed itself. "He feels as I do," she
said to Winthrop, with conviction.

"Never mind _his_ feeling. What is yours for him?" suggested Winthrop,
who was perhaps rather tired of the sentinels, bird and man.

"Pity," answered Garda, promptly. "A nice, kind pity."

"He must be a poor stick to keep coming here for that."

"Oh, he doesn't think it's pity, he would never comprehend that, though
you should tell him a dozen times. He's satisfied; Adolfo is always
satisfied, I think."

"Couldn't he enjoy his satisfaction at home, then?--it doesn't seem to
depend at all upon your talking to him?"

"I talk to him when you are not here. You cannot always be here, you
know, but he almost can, he lives so near. Lucian was always going to
see him--don't you remember? He said he was like a mediæval finger-post;
you must remember that."

Winthrop felt that he was sometimes required to remember a good deal.

He did not, however, have to remember Manuel, at least at present;
Lucian not having discovered mediæval qualities in that handsome youth,
Garda was content to let him remain where he was; this was the San Juan
plantation, twenty miles away. He had been there some time. His mother
said he was hunting.

"Yes, there are a number of pretty girls about there," remarked Dr.
Kirby.

But Torres, who was jealous of no one, and whose patience and courteous
certainty remained unmoved, continued to accompany Garda and Winthrop in
their strolls up and down the live-oak avenue. He generally walked a
little behind them; that gave him his sentinel air. Several yards behind
him came Carlos Mateo; but Carlos affected not to belong to the party,
he affected to be taking a stroll for his own amusement, like any other
gentleman of leisure; he looked about him, and often stopped; he
appeared to be admiring the beauties of nature.

And Garda talked on, never rapidly, her topic ever the same. Torres, of
course, understood nothing of her monologues. And Winthrop? Winthrop
suffered them.



CHAPTER XII.


Of his reasons for pursuing this course, Margaret Harold knew more than
any one else. For as Garda's devotion to Margaret remained unchanged,
she talked to her as freely as she talked to Winthrop. She saw Winthrop
oftener; but whenever she could pay a visit to Margaret, or whenever
Margaret came down to East Angels, Garda's delight was to sit at her
feet and talk of Lucian. The girl, indeed, had made an express
stipulation with Winthrop that Margaret should be excepted from his
decree of silence. "I must talk to Margaret," she said, "because I am so
fond of her. The reason I like to talk to you is because you are a man,
and therefore you can appreciate Lucian better."

"I should think it would be just the other way," observed Winthrop.

"Oh no; Margaret doesn't even _see_ how beautiful he is, much less talk
about it."

"And I like to talk about it so much!"

"You do it to please me," said Garda, gratefully. "I appreciate that."

"She tells me she talks to you--I mean, of course, about Lucian
Spenser--just as she does to me," he said to Margaret one day; "she has
chosen to confide her little secrets to you and me alone." Margaret was
standing by a table in the eyrie's dining-room, arranging in two brown
jugs a mass of yellow jessamine which she had brought in from the
barrens. "Rather a strange choice," he went on, smiling a little as he
thought of himself, and then of Margaret, reserved, taciturn, gentle
enough, but (so he had always felt) cold and unsympathetic.

"Yes," assented Margaret. "What do you think the best way to receive
it?" she added, going on with her combinations of green and gold.

"Not to bluff her off--to let her talk on. It is only a fancy, of
course, a girl's fancy; but it needs an outlet, and we are a safe one,
because we know how to take it--know what it amounts to."

"What does it amount to?"

"Nothing."

"Oh," murmured the woman at the table, rather protestingly.

"I mean that it will end in nothing, it will soon fade. But it shows
that the child has imagination; Garda Thorne will love, some of these
days; a real love."

"Yes; that requires imagination."

"My sentences were not connected, they did not describe each other. What
I meant was that the way the child has gone into this--this little
beginning--shows that she will be capable of deep feelings later on."

Margaret did not reply.

"There are plenty of excellent women who are quite incapable of them,"
pursued Winthrop, conscious that he had, as he expressed it to himself,
taken the bit in his teeth again, but led on by the temptation which,
more and more this winter, Margaret's controlled silences (they always
seemed controlled) were becoming to him. "And the curious point is that
they never suspect their own deficiencies; they think that if they
bestow a prim, well-regulated little affection upon the man they honor
with their choice, that is all that is necessary; certainly it is all
that the man deserves. I don't know what we deserve; but I do know that
we are not apt to be much moved by such affection as that. They are
often very good mothers," he added, following here another of his
tendencies, the desire to be just--a tendency which often brought him
out at the end of a remark where people least expected.

"Don't you think that important?" said Margaret.

"Very. Only let them not, in addition, pretend to be what they are not."

"I don't think they do pretend."

"You're right, they're too self-complacent. They're quite satisfied with
themselves as they are."

"If they are satisfied, they are very much to be envied," began
Margaret.

"She's going to defend herself," thought Winthrop. "It's a wonder she
hasn't done so before; to save my life, I don't seem to be able to
resist attacking her."

But Margaret did not go on. She took up the last sprays and looked at
them. "Then you think I had better let her talk on, without checking
her," she said, returning to the original topic between them. "You think
I had better not try to guide her?"

"Refused again!" thought Winthrop. "Guide her to what?" he said, aloud.

"Not _to_ anything. Away--away from Lucian Spenser."

"Then you don't like him?" he said, questioningly.

"He is very handsome," answered Margaret, smiling.

"But that isn't what we're discussing, that isn't advice."

"Let her talk as she pleases--that is my advice; let her string out all
her adjectives. My idea is that, let alone, it will soon exhale;
opposition would force it into an importance which it does not in
reality possess. Are you going?"

"Yes, I have finished. But I shall remember what you say." And she left
the room, carrying the flowers with her.

Mrs. Thorne came up to Gracias, and called upon Mrs. Rutherford at the
eyrie. Her visits there had always been frequent, but this one had the
air of a visit of ceremony; it seemed intended as a formal expression of
her chastened acquiescence in the northern gentleman's projects
concerning East Angels.

"I have reserved the memories," she said, with expression.

"Yes, indeed; fond Memory brings to light, and so it will be with you,
Mistress Thorne," said Betty, who was spending the afternoon with her
Katrina; "you can always fall back on that, you know."

"Have you reserved old Pablo?" inquired Mrs. Rutherford. "He is a good
deal of a memory, isn't he?"

"I have reserved Pablo, and also Raquel; they will travel with us,"
replied Mrs. Thorne. "Raquel will act as my maid, Pablo as my
man-servant."

"They're _very_ southern," remarked Betty, shaking her head. "I doubt
whether they would get on well, living at the North. Raquel, you know,
has no system; she would as soon leave her work at any time and run and
make a hen-coop--that is, if you should happen to have hens, and I am
sure I hope you would, because at the North, they tell me--"

But here Mrs. Thorne bore down upon her. "And did you suppose,
Betty--were you capable of supposing--that Edgarda and I were thinking
of _living_ at the North?"

"I don't know what I'm capable of," answered Betty, laughing
good-humoredly; "Mr. Carew never knew either. But you're really a
northerner after all, Mrs. Thorne; and so it didn't seem so unlikely."

Mrs. Thorne had called her Betty, but she did not address Mrs. Thorne as
Melissa in return. No one had called Mrs. Thorne Melissa (Melissa
Whiting had been the name of her maiden days) since she had entered the
manorial family to which she now belonged. Her husband had called her
"Blue-eyes" (he had admired her very much, principally because she was
so small and fair); the Old Madam had unfailingly designated her by the
Spanish equivalent for "madam my niece-in-law," which was very
imposing--in the Old Madam's tone. To every one else she was Mistress
Thorne, and nothing less than Mistress Thorne; the title seemed to
belong to every inch of her straight little back, to be visible even in
the arrangement of her bonnet-strings.

Madam my niece-in-law now addressed herself to answering Betty. "When I
married my dear Edgar, Betty, I became a Thorne, I think I may say,
without affectation, a thorough one; no other course was open to me,
upon entering a family of such distinction; Edgarda, therefore is Thorne
and Duero, she is nothing else. Gracias-á-Dios will continue to be our
home; we could not permanently establish ourselves anywhere, I think,
save on the--the strand, where her forefathers have lived, and died,
with so much eminence and distinction."

"Well, I'm sure I am very glad to hear it," answered Betty, cordially.
"We are all so fond of Garda that we should miss her dreadfully if she
were to be away long, though of course we can't expect to monopolize her
so completely as we have done; she'll be going before long, you know, to
that bourne from which--"

"Oh, Betty," interrupted Mrs. Rutherford, throwing up her white hands,
"what horrors you _do_ say!"

"I didn't mean it," exclaimed Betty, in great distress, the tears rising
in her honest eyes; "I didn't mean anything of the sort, dear Mistress
Thorne, I beg you to believe it; I meant 'She stood at the altar, with
flowers on her brow'--indeed I did." And much overcome by her own
inadvertence, Betty produced her handkerchief.

"Never mind, Betty; _I_ always understand you," said Mrs. Thorne,
graciously.

But it soon became evident that though she might understand Betty she
did not understand Melissa, at least not so fully as she supposed she
did, for, not long after her visit at the eyrie, she fell ill. On the
fifth day it was feared that her illness had taken a dangerous turn; the
delicate little cough with which they had been acquainted so long, in
the various uses she put it to, that they had almost come to consider it
a graceful accomplishment, this cough had all the time had its own
character under the assumed ones, and its own character was simply an
indication of a bronchial affection, which had now assumed a serious
phase, sending inflammation down to the lungs.

"Her lungs have never been good," said Dr. Kirby to Winthrop; the Doctor
was much affected by the danger of his poor little friend. "She has
never had any chest to speak of, none at all." And the Doctor tapped his
own wrathfully, and brought out a sounding expletive, the only one
Winthrop had ever heard him use; he applied it to New-Englanders,
New-Englanders in general.

The Doctor went back to East Angels. And in the late afternoon Winthrop
himself rode down there. The little mistress of the house was very ill;
besides Garda, the Doctor, his mother, and Mrs. Carew were in
attendance. He saw only Mrs. Carew. She told him that Mrs. Thorne was
very much disturbed mentally, as well as very ill, that she seemed
unable to allow Garda out of her sight; when she did not see her at the
bedside, she kept calling for her in her weak voice in a way that was
most distressing to hear; Garda therefore now remained in the room day
and night, save for the few moments, now and then, when her mother fell
into a troubled sleep. The Doctor was very anxious. They were all very
anxious.

Winthrop rode back to Gracias, he went to the eyrie. Mrs. Rutherford was
out, she was taking a short stroll with the Rev. Mr. Moore. Margaret was
on the east piazza; she was bending her head over some fine knitting.

"I'll wait for Aunt Katrina," said Winthrop, taking a chair near her.
"Knitting for the poor, I suppose. Do you know, I always suspect ladies
who knit for the poor; I suspect that they knit for themselves--the
occupation."

"So they do, generally. But this isn't for the poor; don't you see that
it's silk?"

"You could sell it. In the Charity Basket."

"What do you know of Charity Baskets?" said Margaret, laughing. "But I'm
afraid I am not very good at working for the poor; the only thing I ever
made--made with my own hands, I mean--was a shirt for that eminent Sioux
chieftain Spotted Tail, and he said it did not fit."

"They don't want shirts, they want their land," said Winthrop. "We
should have made them take care of themselves long ago, but we shouldn't
have stolen their land. I'm not thinking of Lo, however, at present, I
am thinking of that poor little woman down at East Angels. I am afraid
she is very ill. Do you know, I cannot help suspecting that the sudden
change in her prospects has had something to do with her illness; I mean
the unexpected vision of what seems to her prosperity. She has kept up
unflinchingly through years of struggle, and I think she could have kept
up almost indefinitely in the same way, for Garda's sake, if she had had
the same things to encounter; but this sudden wealth (for, absurd as it
is, so it seems to her) has changed everything so, has buried her so
almost over her head in plans, that the excitement has broken her down.
You probably think me very fanciful," he concluded, realizing that he
was speaking almost confidentially.

"Not fanciful at all; I quite agree with you," answered Margaret, her
head still bent over her knitting.

"She has asked for you a number of times, Mrs. Carew tells me," he said,
after a moment or two of silence.

"Has she?" said Margaret, this time raising her eyes. "I should have
gone down to East Angels before this if I had not feared that I should
be only in the way; all their friends have been there, I know; it is a
very united little society."

"Yes, Madam Ruiz and Madam Giron were there yesterday taking care of
her; Mrs. Kirby and Mrs. Carew are there to-day. Everything possible is
being done, of course. Still--I don't know; from something Mrs. Carew
said, I fear the poor woman is suffering mentally as well as physically;
she is constantly asking for Garda, cannot bear her out of her sight."

"If I thought I could be of any service," said Margaret.

"I am sure you could; the greatest," he responded promptly, his voice
betraying relief. "Mrs. Thorne is an odd little woman; but she has a
very genuine liking for you; I think she feels more at home with you,
for some reason or other, than she does with any of these Gracias
friends, long as she has known them. And as for Garda, I am sure you
could do more for her than any other person here could--later, I
mean--she is so fond of you." He paused; what he had said seemed to come
back to him. "Both of them, mother and daughter, appear to have selected
you as their ideal of goodness," he went on; "I hope you appreciate the
compliment." This time the slight, very slight indication of sarcasm
showed itself again in his tone.

"Is it possible that you think the poor mother really in danger?" said
Margaret, paying no heed, apparently, to his last remark.

"She has evidently grown very weak, and I have never thought she had any
strength to spare. But it is only my own idea, I ought to tell you, that
she is--that she may not recover."

"I will go as soon as possible; early to-morrow morning," said Margaret.
"But if I do--" She hesitated. "I am afraid Aunt Katrina will be lone--I
mean I fear she might feel deserted if left alone."

"Alone--with Minerva and Telano and Cindy, and the mysterious factotum
called Maum Jube?"

"There would still be no companion, no one for her to talk to."

"How you underrate the conversation of Celestine! I should, of course,
come in often."

"I think that if you should stay in the house, while I am gone, it would
be better," answered Margaret.

"To try and make up, in some small degree, for what she loses when she
loses you?"

"Whatever you please, so long as you come," she responded.

The next morning she went down to East Angels. Garda received her
joyously. "Oh, Margaret, mamma is better, really better."

It was true. The fever had subsided, the symptoms of pneumonia had
passed away; the patient was very weak, but Dr. Kirby was now hopeful.
He had taken his mother back to Gracias, but the kind-hearted Betty
remained, sending by the Kirbys a hundred messages of regret to her
dearest Katrina that their separation must still continue.

Later in the day Margaret paid her first visit to the sick-room. Mrs.
Thorne was lying with her eyes closed, looking very white and still; but
as soon as she perceived who it was that had entered, a change came over
her; she still looked white, but she seemed more alive; she raised
herself slightly on one arm, and beckoned to the visitor.

"Now don't try to talk, that's a dear," said Mrs. Carew, who was sitting
on the other side of the bed, fanning the sick woman with tireless hand.

Mrs. Thorne slowly turned her head towards Betty, and surveyed her
solemnly with eyes which seemed to have grown during her illness to
twice their former size. "Go--away," she said, in her whispering voice,
which preserved even in its faintness the remains of her former clear
utterance.

"What?" said the astonished Betty, not sure that she had heard aright.

"I wish--you would go--away," repeated Mrs. Thorne, slowly. And with her
finger she made a little line in the air, which seemed to indicate, like
a dotted curve on a map, Betty's course from the bed to the door.

Betty gave her fan to Margaret. Incapable of resentment, the good soul
whispered to Garda, as she passed: "They're very often so, you
know--sick people; they get tired of seeing the same persons about them,
of course, and I am sure it's _very_ natural. I'll come back later, when
she's asleep."

"I was not tired of seeing her, that wasn't it," murmured Mrs. Thorne,
who had overheard this aside. "But I wanted to see Margaret Harold
alone, and without any fuss made about it; and the first step was to get
_her_ out of the room. Now, Edgarda, you go too. Go down to the garden,
where Mrs. Carew will not see you; stay there a while, the fresh air
will do you good."

"But, mamma, I don't think I ought to leave you."

"Do as I tell you, my daughter. If I should need anything, Margaret will
call you."

"You need not be afraid, Garda, that I shall not know how to take care
of her," said Margaret, reassuringly. "I am a good nurse." She arranged
Mrs. Thorne's pillows as she spoke, and gently and skilfully laid her
down upon them again.

"Of course," whispered Mrs. Thorne. "Any one could see that." Then, as
Garda still lingered, "Go, Garda," she said, briefly. And Garda went.

As soon as the heavy door closed behind her, Mrs. Thorne began to speak.
"I have been so anxious to see you," she said; "the thought has not
been once out of my mind. But I suppose my mind has not been perfectly
clear, because, though I have asked for you over and over again, no one
has paid any attention, has seemed to understand me." She spoke in her
little thread of a voice, and looked at her visitor with large, clear
eyes.

Margaret bent over her. "Do not exert yourself to talk to me now," she
answered. "You will be stronger to-morrow."

"Yes, I may be stronger to-morrow. How long can you stay?"

"Several days, if you care to have me."

"That _is_ kind. I shall have time, then. But I mustn't wait too long;
of one thing I am sure, Margaret: I shall not recover."

"That is a fancy," said Margaret, stroking the thin little hand that lay
on the white coverlet; "Dr. Kirby says you are much better." She spoke
with the optimism that belongs to the sick-room, but in her heart she
had another opinion. A change had come over Mrs. Thorne's face, the
effect of which was very striking; it was not so much the increase of
pallor, or a more wasted look, as the absence of that indomitable spirit
which had hitherto animated its every fibre, so that from the smooth
scanty light hair under the widow's cap down to the edges of the firm
little jaws there had been so much courage, and, in spite of the
constant anxiety, so much resolution, that one noticed only that. But
now, in the complete departure of this expression (which gleamed on only
in the eyes), one saw at last what an exhausted little face it was, how
worn out with the cares of life, finished, ready for the end.

"Yes, I am better, it is true, for the present," whispered Mrs. Thorne.
"But that is all. My mother and my two sisters died of slow consumption,
I shall die of the rapid kind. I shall die and leave Garda. Do you
comprehend what that is to me--to die and leave Garda?" Her gaze, as she
said this, was so clear, there was such a far-seeing intelligence in it,
such a long experience of life, and (it almost seemed) such a prophetic
knowledge of death, that the younger woman found herself forced to make
answer to the mental strength within rather than to the weakness of the
physical frame which contained it. "Why am I taken now, just when she
will need me most?" went on the mother's whisper, which contrasted so
strangely in its feebleness with the power of her gaze. "Garda had only
me. And now I am called. What will become of her?"

"You have warm friends here, Mrs. Thorne; they are all devoted to Garda.
It has seemed to me that to each one of them she was as dear as an own
child."

"Yes, she is. They would do anything in the world they could for her.
But, I ask you, what can they do? The Kirbys, the Moores, Betty Carew,
and Madam Giron, Madam Ruiz--what can they do? Nothing! And Garda--oh,
Garda needs some one who is--different."

Margaret did not reply to this; and after a moment Mrs. Thorne went on.

"When Mr. Winthrop buys the place," she said, with the touching Gracias
confidence that a few thousands would constitute wealth, "my child need
not be a charge, pecuniarily. But of course I know that in other ways
she might be. And I cannot leave her to them, these people here; I
_cannot_ die and do that. Garda is not a usual girl, Margaret--you must
have seen it for yourself. I only want a little oversight of the proper
kind for her; that would be all that I should ask; it would not be a
_great_ deal of care. From the very first, Margaret, I have liked you so
much! You have no idea how much." Her voice died away, but her eyes were
full of eloquence. Slowly a tear rose in each, welled over, and dropped
down on the white cheek below, but without dimming the gaze, which
continued its fixed, urgent prayer.

Margaret had remained silent. Now she covered her face with her hand,
the elbow supported on the palm of the other. Mrs. Thorne watched her,
mutely; she seemed to feel that she had made her appeal, that Margaret
comprehended it, was perhaps considering it; at any rate, that her place
now was to wait with humility for her answer.

At length Margaret's hand dropped. She turned towards the waiting eyes.
"Before your illness, Mrs. Thorne," she said, in her tranquil voice, "I
had thought of asking you whether you would be willing to let me take
Garda north with me for some months. I have a friend in New York who
would receive her, and be very kind to her; she could stay with this
lady, and take lessons. I should see her every day, it would not be
quite like a school."

"That is what I long for--that she should be with you," said Mrs.
Thorne, not going into the details of the plan, but seizing upon the
main fact. "That _you_ should have charge of her, Margaret--that is now
my passionate wish." She used the strongest word she knew, a word she
had always thought wicked in its intensity. But it was applicable to her
present overwhelming desire.

"And I had thought that perhaps you would follow us, a little later,"
pursued Margaret; "I hope you will do so still."

Mrs. Thorne made a motion with her hand, as if saying, "Why try to
deceive?" She lay with her eyes closed, resting after her suspense. "You
are so good and kind," she murmured. "But not kinder, Margaret, than I
knew you would be." Her voice died away again, and again she rested.

"I have asked and accepted so much--for of course I accept instantly
your offer--that I feel that I ought not to ask more," she began again,
though without opening her eyes. "But I have got to die. And I _trust_
you so, Margaret--"

"Why do you trust me?" interposed Margaret, abruptly. "You have no
grounds for it; you hardly know me. It makes me very uncomfortable, Mrs.
Thorne."

But Mrs. Thorne only smiled. She lifted her hand, and laid it on
Margaret's arm. "My dear," she said, simply (and it was rare for Mrs.
Thorne to be simple; even now, though deeply in earnest, she had had the
old appearance of selecting with care what she was about to say), "I
don't know why any more than you do! I only know that it is so; it has
been so from the beginning. I think I understand you," she added.

"Oh no," said the younger woman, turning away.

"At any rate, I understand your steadfastness, Margaret. You have
steadfastness in the supreme degree. Many women haven't any, and they
are much the happiest. But you, Margaret, are different. And it is your
steadfastness that attracts me so--for my poor child's sake I mean. Yes,
for hers I must say a little more--I must. If you could only see your
way to letting her remain under your care as long as she is so
young--you see I mean longer than the few months you spoke of just
now,--it would make my dying easier. For it's going to be very hard for
me to die. Perhaps you think I'm not going to. But I know that I am. All
at once my courage has left me. It never did before, and so I know it is
a sign."

Margaret sat listening, she looked deeply troubled. "You wish to intrust
to me a great responsibility," she began.

"And it seems to you very selfish. Of course I know that it is selfish.
But it is desperation, Margaret; it is my feeling about Garda. Let me
tell you one thing, I am relying a little upon your having suffered
yourself. If you had not, I should never have asked you, because people
who haven't suffered, women especially, are so hard. But I saw that you
had suffered, I saw it in the expression of your face before I had heard
a word of your history."

"What do you know of my history?" asked Margaret, the guarded reserve
which was so often there again taking possession of her voice and eyes.

"In actual fact, very little. Only what Mrs. Rutherford told Betty
Carew."

"What did she tell her?"

"That her nephew, your husband, was travelling abroad--that was all. But
when I learned that the travelling had lasted seven years, and that
nothing was said of his return or of your joining him, of course I knew
that inclination, his or yours, was at the bottom of it. And I imagined
pain somewhere, and probably for you. Because you are good; and it is
the good who suffer."

"In reality you know nothing about it," replied Margaret to these
low-breathed sentences. "I think I ought to tell you," she went on, in
the same reserved tone, "that both Mrs. Rutherford and Mr. Winthrop
think I have been much to blame; it may make a difference in your
estimation of me."

"Not the least. For Mrs. Rutherford's opinions I care nothing. As to Mr.
Winthrop, Mr. Winthrop--"

"Agrees with Mrs. Rutherford."

"He will live to change his opinion; I think very highly of Mr.
Winthrop, but on this subject he is in the wrong. Do you know why I
think so highly of him?"

But Margaret's face remained unresponsive.

"I think highly of him because he has had such a perfect, such a
delicate comprehension of Garda--I mean lately, through all this fancy
of hers--such a strange one--for that painter." Mrs. Thorne always
called Lucian a "painter," very much as though he had been a decorator
of the exterior of houses. His profession of civil engineer she steadily
ignored; perhaps, however, she did not ignore it more than Lucian
himself did.

"Mr. Winthrop likes Garda so much that it is easy for him to be
considerate," Margaret answered.

"On the contrary," murmured Mrs. Thorne; "on the contrary. While I am
most grateful to him for his consideration, I have feared that it was in
itself a proof that he did not really care for her. If he had cared,
would he have been so patient with her--her whim? Would he have let her
talk on by the hour, as I know she has done, about Lucian Spenser? Men
are jealous, extremely so; far more so than women ever are. They don't
call it jealousy, of course; they have half a dozen names for
it--weariness, superiority, disgust--whatever you please. You don't
agree with me?"

"It's a general view, and I've given up general views. But of one thing
I am certain, Mrs. Thorne--Evert admires Garda greatly."

The mother raised herself so that she could look at Margaret more
closely. "Do you think so?--do you really think so?" she said, almost
panting.

"Yes, I think so."

"Then, Margaret, I will have no concealments from you, not one. If Mr.
Winthrop should ever care enough for my poor child--some time in the
future--to wish to make her his wife, I should be _so_ happy, I am sure
I should know it wherever I was! I could trust her to him, he is a man
to trust. He is much older. But if she should once begin to care for
him, that would make no difference to her, nothing would make any
difference; she will never be influenced by anything but her own liking,
it has always been so. And if--she could once--begin to care--" The
short sentences, which had been eager, now grew fainter, stopped; the
head sank back upon the pillows again. "If she were to be with you,
Margaret, she would have--more opportunity--to begin."

"About that I could promise nothing," said Margaret, with decision. "I
could take no step to influence Garda in that way."

"I don't ask you to. I myself wouldn't _do_ anything, that would be
wrong; on such subjects all must be left to a Higher Power," replied
Mrs. Thorne, with conviction. For, in spite of her efforts to be Thorne
and Duero, she had never departed a hair's-breadth from her American
belief in complete liberty of personal choice in marriage. Love, real
love, was a feeling heaven-born, heaven-directed; it behooved no one to
meddle with it, not even a mother. "I could never scheme in that way,"
she went on, "I only wanted you to know all my thoughts. The great thing
with me, of course, is that she is to be in your charge."

Here the door at the other end of the large room opened, and Dr. Kirby
came in; he had returned as soon as possible, putting off all other
engagements. "You look better," he said to his patient, with his hand on
her pulse. "Come, this is doing well."

"I am better," murmured Mrs. Thorne, looking gratefully at Margaret.
Mrs. Carew soon followed the Doctor; Margaret went down to the garden to
find Garda, the girl who was to become so unexpectedly her charge. For
she shared the mother's feeling; the illness might advance slowly, but
it would conquer in the end.

Garda was in the garden, lying at full length under the great rose-tree,
on a shawl which she had spread upon the ground; her hands were clasped
under her head, and she was gazing up into the sky. Carlos, standing
near, with his neck acutely arched, his breast puffed out and his beak
thrust in among the feathers, looked like a gentleman of the old school
in a ruffled shirt, with his hand in the breast of his coat.

"Does mamma want me?" asked Garda, as Margaret came up.

"Dr. Kirby and Mrs. Carew are there. No, I do not think she wants you at
present."

"Come down on the shawl, then, and look up into the sky," pursued Garda.
"I've never tried it before--looking straight up in this way--and I
assure you I can see miles!"

"I'm not such a sun-worshipper as you are," answered Margaret, taking a
seat on the bench in the shade.

"The sun's almost down. No, it isn't the sun, it's because you never in
the world could stretch yourself out full length on the ground, as I'm
doing now. The ground's nice and warm, and I love to lie on it; but
you--you have always sat in chairs, you have been drilled."

"Yes, I have been drilled," answered Margaret, sombrely, looking at the
graceful figure on the shawl.

Garda did not notice the sombre tone, her attention was up in the sky.
After a while she said, "Mr. Winthrop hasn't been here to-day; I wonder
why?"

"He won't be able to come so often while I am here, he will have to see
to Aunt Katrina."

"Mist' Wintarp desiahs to know whedder you's tome, Miss Gyarda," said
the voice of old Pablo. "I tole him I _farnsied_ you was in de gyarden."
Pablo recognized Garda as a Duero; he treated her therefore with
respect, and benignant affection.

Winthrop now appeared at the garden gate, and Margaret rose.

"Perhaps I had better go in, too?" said Garda.

"No, stay as long as you like; I will send word, if your mother asks for
you," Margaret responded.

She left the garden by another way. When she had gone some distance, she
looked back. Garda had changed her position; she was still looking at
the sky, though she was no longer lying at length; she had curled
herself up, and was leaning against a dwarf tree. Winthrop was in
Margaret's place on the bench, and Garda had evidently spoken to him of
the sky, for he, too, was looking up.

But he did not look long; while Margaret stood there, his eyes dropped
to the figure at his feet. This was not surprising. There was nothing in
the sky that could approach it.



CHAPTER XIII.


Mrs. Thorne improved. She was still very weak, confined to her bed, and
the cough continued at intervals to rack her wasted frame. But there was
now no fever; she slept through the nights; she had always been so
delicate in appearance that she did not seem much more fragile now.
These at least were the assertions of her Gracias friends; her Gracias
friends were determined to believe that time and good nursing would
restore her. The nursing they attended to themselves, and with devoted
care, one succeeding the other day after day. Mrs. Thorne appreciated
their good offices; but she no longer concealed her preference for the
companionship, whenever it was to be obtained, of Margaret Harold.

"I have pretended so long!" she said to Margaret, when they were alone
together. "I am so tired of pretending! and with you I can be myself. It
isn't really necessary now to be any one else--now that I shall so soon
have to go; but I have got into such a habit of it with the others that
I shouldn't know how to stop. With you I can talk freely, and you are
the only one."

"So long as it doesn't tire you," Margaret answered.

"It tires me a great deal more to be silent," responded Mrs. Thorne.

Often, therefore, when Margaret came down to East Angels, Mrs. Thorne
would send Garda into the open air to stroll about, or rest under the
rose-tree, and then, while Madam Ruiz, or Mrs. Carew, or whoever
happened to be in attendance, was sleeping to make up for the broken
rest of the coming night, she would talk to her northern friend, talk
with an openness which was in itself a sign that the many cautions of a
peculiarly cautious life were drawing to a close. One reason for this
freedom was that in spite of the apparent improvement, there were no
illusions between these two regarding the hoped-for recovery. "We are
northerners, Margaret, and _we_ know," Mrs. Thorne had said one day,
when Margaret had raised her so that she could cough with less
difficulty. "Consumption--_our_ kind--these southerners cannot grasp!"
She did not wish to die, poor woman; she clung to life with desperation;
nevertheless, she found a momentary satisfaction in a community of
feeling with Margaret over this southern lack.

"Oh, these southern lacks--how Garda would have been part of them!" she
went on. "If I had had to leave her here, if you had not promised to
take her, how inevitably she would have been sunk in them, lost in them!
she would never have got out. Oh! I so hate and loathe it all--the idle,
unrealizing, contented life of this tiresome, idle coast. They amounted
to something once, perhaps; but their day is over, and will never come
back. They don't know it; you couldn't make them believe it even if you
should try. That is what makes you rage--they're so completely mistaken
and so completely satisfied! Every idea they have is directly contrary
to all the principles of the government under which they exist But what
is that to them? They think themselves superior to the government. I'm
not exaggerating, it's really true; I can speak from experience after my
life with that"--she paused, then chose her word clearly--"with that
devilish Old Madam!"

It seemed to Margaret as if this poor exile were imbibing a few last
draughts of vitality from the satisfaction which even this late
expression of her real belief gave her; she had been silent so long!

Her Thorne and Duero envelope was dropping from her more and more. "Oh
yes, I have stood up for them," she said, another time. "Oh yes, I have
boasted of them, I knew how! I knew how better than any of them; I made
a study of it. The first Spaniards were blue-blooded knights and
gentlemen, of course; _they_ never worked with their hands. But the
Puritans were blacksmiths and ploughmen and wood-choppers--anything and
everything; I knew how to bring this all out--make a picture of it.
'Think what their _hands_ must have been!' I used to say" (and here her
weak voice took on for a moment its old crispness of
enunciation)--"'what great coarse red things, with stiff, stubby
fingers, gashed by the axe, hardened by digging, roughened and cracked
by the cold. Estimable men they were, no doubt; heroic--as much as you
like. But _gentlemen_ they were not.' I have said it hundreds of times.
For those idle, tiresome, wicked old Dueros, Margaret (the English
Thornes too, for that matter), were Garda's ancestors, and the right to
talk about them was the only thing the poor child had inherited;
naturally I made the most of it. They were the feature of this
neighborhood, of course--those Spaniards, I knew that; I had imagination
enough to appreciate it far more, I think, than the very people who were
born here. I made everything of it, this feature; I learned the history
and all the beliefs and ideas. I always hoped to get hold of some
northerners to whom I could tell it, tell it in such a way that it would
be of use to us, make a background for Garda some time. That's all
ended; I have never had the proper chance, and now of course never
shall. But at least I can tell _you_, Margaret, now that it is all over,
that in my heart I have always hated the whole thing--that in my heart I
have always ranked the lowest Puritan far, far above the very finest
Spaniard they could muster. They didn't work with their hands, these
knights and gentlemen; and why? Because they caught the poor Indians and
made them work for them; because they imported Human Flesh, they dealt
in negro slaves!" It was startling to see the faded blue eyes send forth
such a flash, a flash of the old abolitionist fire, which for a moment
made them young and brilliant again.

Margaret tried to soothe her. "It is nothing," said Mrs. Thorne, smiling
faintly and relapsing into quiet.

But the next day Melissa Whiting blazed forth anew. "I detest every
vestige of those old ideas of theirs; I hate the pride and shiftlessness
of all this land. I am attached to our friends here, of course; they
have always been kind to me. But--it is written! They will go down,
down, they and all who are like unto them; already they belong to the
Past. Their country here will be opened up, improved; but not by them.
It will be made modern, made rich under their very eyes; but not by
them. It will be filled with new people, new life; but they will get no
benefit from it, their faces will always be turned the other way. They
will dwindle in numbers, but they will not change; generations must
pass before the old leaven will be worn out. _Could_ I leave Garda to
that? Could I die, knowing that she would live over there on Patricio,
on that forlorn Ruiz plantation, or down the river in that tumble-down
house of the Girons--that Manuel with his insufferable airs, or that
wooden Torres with his ridiculous pride, would be all she should ever
know of life and happiness--my beautiful, beautiful child? I could not,
Margaret; I could not." Her eyes were wet.

"But she is not to be left to them," said Margaret.

"No; you have saved me from that," responded the mother, gratefully. She
put out her hand and took Margaret's for a moment; then relinquished it.
The brief clasp would have seemed cold to their southern friends; but it
expressed all that was necessary between these two northerners.

Another day the sick woman resumed her retrospect, she spoke of her
early life. "I was a poor school-teacher, you know; I had no near
relatives, no home, I was considered to have made a wonderful match when
I married as I did. Everybody was astonished at my good luck--perfectly
astonished; they couldn't comprehend how it had happened. When they
knew, in New Bristol, that I was to marry Mr. Edgar Thorne, of Florida;
that I was to be taken down to an old Spanish plantation which had been
in his family for generations; that I was to live there in luxury, and
'a tropical climate'--they all came to see me again, to look at me; they
seemed to think that I must have changed in some way, that I couldn't be
the same Melissa Whiting who had taught their district school. At New
Bristol the snow in the winter is four feet deep. At New Bristol
everybody is busy, and everybody is poor. But I was to live among
palm-trees in a place called Gracias-á-Dios; I was to go down by sea;
roses bloomed there at Christmas-time, and oranges were to be had for
the asking. Gracias-á-Dios _is_ very far from New Bristol, Margaret,"
said Melissa Whiting, pausing. "It's all the distance between a real
place and an ideal one. I know how far that is!"

She was silent for some minutes; then she went on. "My elevation--for it
seemed that at New Bristol--was like a fairy story; I presume they are
telling it still. But if I hadn't you behind me, Margaret, I would put
Garda back there in all the snow, I would put her back in my old red
school-house on the hill (only she wouldn't know how to teach, poor
child!)--I would do it in a moment, I say, if I had the power, rather
than leave her here among the 'roses,' the 'oranges,' and the 'palms.'"
(Impossible to give the accent with which she pronounced these words.)
"I don't say my husband wasn't kind to me; he was very kind; but--the
Old Madam was here! He only lived a short time; and then, more than
ever, the Old Madam was here! Well, I did the best I could--you must
give me that credit: there was Garda to think of, and I had no other
home. It's so unfortunate to be poor, Margaret--have you ever thought of
it?--unfortunate, I mean, for the disposition. So many people could be
as amiable and agreeable and yielding as any one, if they only had a
little more money--just a little more! I could have been, I know. But
how could I be yielding when I had everything on my hands? Oh! you have
no idea how I have worked! We had no income to live upon, Garda and I,
there hasn't been any for a long time; we have had the house and
furniture, the land, Pablo and Raquel,--that's all. We have lived on the
things that we had, the things that came off the place, with what Pablo
has been able to shoot, and the fish and oysters from the creeks and
lagoon. The few supplies which one is obliged to buy, such as tea and
coffee, I have got by selling our oranges; I have taken enormous pains
with the oranges on that account. The same way with Garda's shoes and
gloves; I couldn't make shoes and gloves, though I confess I did try.
Then, if any one broke a pane of glass, that took money; and there were
a few other little things. But, with these exceptions, I have tried to
do everything myself, and manage without spending. I have kept all the
furniture in repair; I have painted and varnished and cleaned with my
own hands; I learned to mend the crockery and even the tins. I have made
almost everything that Garda and I have worn, of course; I braid the
palmetto hats we both wear; I have dyed and patched and turned and
darned--oh! you haven't a conception! Some of the table-cloths are
nothing _but_ darns. I could put in myself the new panes of glass, after
they were once bought. And, every month or two, I have had to mend the
roof, to keep it from leaking; generally I did that at sunrise, but I
have done it, too, on moonlight nights, late, when no one was likely to
come. Then, every single day, I have had to begin all over again with
Pablo and Raquel. Three times every week I have had to go out myself and
stand over Pablo to see that he did as I wished about the orange-trees.
Always the very same things; but we have been at it in this way for
years! Every day of my life I have had to go out and see with my own
eyes whether Raquel had wiped off the shelves; three hundred and
sixty-five times each year, for seventeen years, she has pretended to
forget it."

She lay silent, as if reviewing it all. "Perhaps I have been
over-thorough," she resumed. "But somehow I couldn't help it,
thoroughness has always been my mania. It has taken me to great
lengths--I see it now; it has made burdens where there needn't have been
any. Still, I couldn't have helped it, Margaret; I really don't think I
could. After sweeping, I always used to go down on my hands and knees
and dust the carpets with a cloth. And I used to pick up every seed that
Dick, my canary, had dropped. Dear little Dick, how I cried when he
died!--he was the last northern thing I had left; yet, would you believe
it? I pretended I didn't care for him, that I was tired of his singing.
I pretended I preferred the mocking-birds. Mocking-birds!" repeated
Melissa Whiting, with whispered but scathing contempt.

She came back to the subject of her thoroughness when Margaret paid her
next visit. "It has been a hard task-master; I have been thinking it
over," she said. "Still, without it, should I have got on as well even
as I have? I don't believe I should. Take the way I have made myself
over--made myself a Thorne. I couldn't have lived here at all as I was,
there was no room for Melissa Whiting. I saw that; and so, while I was
about it, I made the change complete. Oh yes, I was very complete! I
swallowed everything. I even swallowed slavery,--I, a New England
girl,--what do you say to that?--a New England girl, abolitionist to the
core! It was the most heroic thing I ever did in my life. Very likely
you don't think so, but it was. For, never for one instant were my real
feelings altered, my real beliefs changed--I couldn't have changed them
if I had tried. And I could have died for them at any moment, if I had
been called upon to do so, though I _was_ playing such a part. But I
wasn't called upon, and so I made them stay down; I covered every inch
of myself with a southern skin. But if any one thinks that it was easy
or pleasant, let him try it--that's all!"

"When the war began," she went on, "I remember how much more clearly
reasoned out were _my_ views of the southern side of the question than
were those of the southerners themselves about here. They were as warm
as possible in their feelings, of course, but they hadn't studied the
subject as I had, got their reasons into shape; so it ended in their
borrowing my reasons! But every night through all that time, Margaret,
on my knees I prayed for my own people, and I used to read the accounts
of the northern victories--when I could get them--with an inward shout;
never once, never once, had I a doubt of the final success."

"It's a curious story, isn't it?" Margaret said to Winthrop, when she
repeated to him some of these confidences. "She wished me to tell you,
she asked me to do so; she said she should like to have _you_ understand
her life."

"Does she expect me to admire it?" said Winthrop, rather surprised
himself to feel how quickly the old heat could rise in his throat again
when confronted with a tale like this. For the southern women, who had
everywhere suffered so much, given so much, and lost their all, he had
nothing but the tenderest pity. But a northern woman who had joined
their cause--that seemed to him apostasy. That the apostasy had been but
pretence only made it worse.

"She expects you to remember her motive for it, after she is gone,"
Margaret answered.

"Her motive can't make me like it. Even in the midst of her mistakes,
however, she has been a wonderful little creature. But you say 'after
she is gone'--do you think her worse, then? I thought she was so much
better."

"So she is better. But she will fail again; at least that is what she
thinks herself, and I cannot help fearing she is right."

"I am very sorry to hear it." He seemed to have the idea that she would
say more; and he waited. But she did not speak.

"I suppose, then, you have had some further talk about Garda?" he said
at last, breaking the pause.

"Yes."

"You would rather not tell me?"

"I will tell you later."

At this moment Mrs. Rutherford came into the room. But her nephew
remained silent so long, his eyes resting absently on Margaret's dusky
hair as she bent her head over a long seam (she seemed to like long
seams!), that at last the aunt asked him if he knew that he was growing
absent-minded.

"Absent-minded--impossible! No one has ever accused me of that before. I
have always been too present-minded; viciously so, they say."

"People change," remarked Mrs. Rutherford, with dignity. "There have
been many changes here lately."

Her voice had an undertone that suggested displeasure; the lady was
indeed in the fixed condition of finding nothing right. The state
appeared to have been caused by the absences of her niece at East
Angels. The household wheels had apparently moved on with their usual
smoothness during that interval; Mrs. Rutherford herself had appeared to
be in the enjoyment of her usual agreeably weak health; her attire had
been as becoming as ever, her hair as artistically arranged. But in
spite of all this there was the undertone. Nothing was as it should
be--that might have been the general summing up. If she leaned back in
her chair, that was not comfortable; if she sat erect, that was not
comfortable either; there were draughts everywhere, it was
insupportable--the draughts; the floors were cold; they were always
cold. She was convinced that the climate was damp; it must be, "with all
this water" about. Then, again, she was sure that it was "feverish;" it
must be, "with all this sand." The eyrie had become "tiresome," the
fragrance of the orange flowers "enervating;" as for pine barrens, she
never wished to see a pine barren again.

These things were not peevishly said, Mrs. Rutherford's well-modulated
voice was never peevish; they were said with a sort of majestic
coldness by a majestic woman who was, however, above complaints. She was
as handsome as ever; but it was curious to note how her inward
dissatisfactions had deepened lines which before had been scarcely
visible, had caused her fine profile to assume for the first time a
little of that expression to which regular profiles, cut on the majestic
scale, are liable as age creeps on--a certain hard, immovable
appearance, as though the features had been cut out of wood, as though
the changing feelings, whatever they might be, would not be able to
affect their rigid line.

"She's missed you uncommon," Celestine confided to Margaret, when she
returned; "_nothin's_ ben right. 'Most every mornin' when she was all
dressed I sez to her, 'Mrs. Rutherford,' sez I, 'what's the preposition
for now?' And there never warn't any preposition, or, ruther, there was
so many we couldn't begin to manage 'em! Mr. Evert--he's ben down to the
Thornes' a good deal, you know, an' Dr. Kirby--_he_ hasn't ben in at
all. Even Mrs. Carew's ben gone. An' so she's rather petered out. Glad
you're back, Miss Margaret; dear me suz! yes. A person needn't be a
murderer to make a house almighty uncomfortable by just sheer
grumpiness. But she'll pick up now."

Celestine had been right when she said that the lady's mental condition
would improve now that her niece had returned. Gradually, as Margaret's
touch on the helm brought the household back into the atmosphere she
loved, the atmosphere of few questions and no suggestions, suggestions
as to what she had "better" do (Mrs. Rutherford hated suggestions as to
what she had "better" do), of all her small customs silently furthered,
her little wishes remembered without the trouble of having to express
them, her remarks listened to and answered, and conversation (when she
wished for conversation) kept up--all this so quietly done that she
could with ease ignore that it was anything especial to do, maintain the
position that it was but the usual way of living, that anything else
would have been unusual--gradually, as this congenial atmosphere
re-established itself, Mrs. Rutherford recovered her geniality, that
geniality which had been so much admired. Her majestic remarks as to the
faults of Gracias and everything in Gracias became fewer, the
under-note of cold displeasure in her voice died away; her profile grew
flexible and personal again, it was less like that of a Roman matron in
a triumphal procession--a procession which has been through a good deal
of wind and dust.

This happy revival of placidity at the eyrie (to which possibly the
reappearance of Dr. Kirby had added something) was sharply broken one
morning by bad news from East Angels. Mrs. Thorne was worse--"sinking"
was the term used in the note which Betty Carew had hastily scribbled;
she was anxious to see Mrs. Harold.

It had come, then, the end, and much sooner than even she herself had
expected. She had suffered severely for twenty-four hours; the suffering
was over now, but she had not the strength to rally.

"It's because she's always worked _so_ hard--I can't help thinking of
it," said Betty, who sat in the outer room, crying (she had been up all
night, but did not dream of taking any rest); "she _never_ stopped. We
all knew it, and yet somehow we didn't half realize it, or try to
prevent it; and it's too late now."

All the Gracias friends were soon assembled at East Angels; even Mrs.
Moore, invalid though she was, made the little journey by water, and was
carried up to the house in an arm-chair by her husband and old Pablo.
Recovering, if not more strength, then at least that renewed command of
speech which often comes back for a time just before the end, Mrs.
Thorne, late in the afternoon, opened her eyes, looked at them all, and
then, after a moment, asked to be left alone with Garda, Margaret, and
Evert Winthrop. Margaret thought that she had spoken Winthrop's name by
mistake.

"She doesn't mean you, I think," she said to him, in a low tone.

"Yes, I mean Mr. Winthrop," murmured Mrs. Thorne, with a faint shadow of
her old decision.

Her Gracias friends softly left the room. Even Dr. Kirby, after a few
whispered words with Winthrop, followed them.

When the door was closed, Mrs. Thorne signified that she wished to take
Margaret's hand. Then, her feeble fingers resting on it, "Garda," she
said, in her husky voice, "Margaret--whom I trust entirely--has
promised--to take charge of you--for a while--after--I am gone. Promise
me--on your side--to obey her--to do as she wishes."

"Do not make her promise that," said Margaret. "I think she loves me;
that will be enough."

Garda, crying bitterly, kissed Margaret, and then sank on her knees
beside the bed, her head against her mother's arm. The sight of her
child's grief did not bring the tears to Mrs. Thorne's eyes--already the
calm that precedes death had taken possession of them; but it did cause
a struggling effort of the poor harassed breath to give forth a sob. She
tried to stroke Garda's hair, but could not. "How can I go--and leave
her?" she whispered, looking piteously at Margaret, and then at
Winthrop, as he stood at the foot of the bed. "She had--no one--but me."
And again came the painful sound in the throat, though the clogged
breast had not the strength to rise.

"If I could only know," she went on, desolately, to Margaret, the slow
turning of the eyes betraying the approach of that lethargy which was
soon to touch the muscles with numbness. "You have said--for a while;
but you did not promise for longer. If I could only know, Margaret, that
she would be under your care as long as she is so alone in the world,
then, perhaps, it would be easier to die."

These words, pronounced with difficulty one by one, separated by the
slow breaths, seemed to Winthrop indescribably affecting. It was the
last earthly effort of mother-love.

Margaret hesitated. It was only for a moment that she was silent. But
Evert took that moment to come forward, he came to the side of the bed
where she was standing. "Give _me_ your permission, Mrs. Thorne," he
said to the dying woman. "Trust _me_, and I will fill the trust. Garda
shall have every care, my aunt shall take charge of her." He was
indignant with Margaret for hesitating.

But Margaret hesitated no longer. "I think I am the better person," she
interposed, gently. Then, bending forward, she said, with distinctness,
"Mrs. Thorne, Garda shall live with me, or near me under my charge, as
long as she is so young and alone, as long as she needs my care. You
have given me a great trust, I hereby accept it; and I will keep it
with all the faithfulness I can." Her voice took on an almost solemn
tone as the last words were spoken.

Winthrop, glancing at her as she bent forward beside him, perceived that
though she was holding herself in strict control, she was moved by some
deep emotion; he could feel that she was trembling. Again, even then and
there, he gave an instant to the same conjecture which had occupied his
thoughts before. Why should she show emotion? why should her voice take
on that tone? She was not excitable; he had had occasion to know that
she was not afraid of death, she had stood beside too many death-beds in
her visits among the poor (not that he admired her philanthropy); it
could not be that she had suddenly become so fond of poor Mrs. Thorne.
But he left his conjectures unsolved. A faint but beautiful smile was
passing strangely over the mother's face, strangely, because no feature
stirred or changed--she was beyond that--and yet the smile was there;
the eyes became so transfigured that the two who were watching stood
awe-struck; for it seemed as if she were beholding something, just
behind or above them, which was invisible to them, something which had
lifted from her all the pains and cares of her earthly life, and set her
free. For some moments longer the beautiful radiance shone there. Then
the light departed, and death alone was left, though the eyes retained a
consciousness. They seemed to try to turn to Garda, who was still
kneeling with her head hidden against her mother's shoulder.

"Take her in your arms, Garda," whispered Margaret; "your face is the
last she wishes to see."

Winthrop had summoned Dr. Kirby; the other friends came softly in. For
twenty minutes more the slow breaths came and went, but with longer and
longer intervals between. Garda, lying beside her mother, held her in
her arms, and the dying woman's fixed eyes rested on her child's for
some time; then consciousness faded, the lids drooped. Garda put her
warm cheek against the small white face, and, thus embraced, the
mother's earthly life ebbed away, while in the still room ascended, in
the voice of the clergyman, the last prayer--"O Almighty God, with whom
do live the spirits of men after they are delivered from their earthly
prisons, we humbly commend to Thee the soul of this thy servant, our
dear sister--" Our dear sister; they were all there, her Gracias
friends--Mrs. Kirby, Mrs. Carew, Mrs. Moore, Madam Giron, Madam
Ruiz--and they all wept for her as though she had been a sister indeed.
In the hall outside, at the open door, stood handsome Manuel, not
ashamed of his tears; and near him, more devout as well as more
self-controlled, knelt Torres, reverently waiting, with head turned
away, for the end.

Dr. Kirby laid the little hand he had been holding, down upon the
coverlet. "She has gone," he said, in a low voice. And, with a visible
effort to control his features, he passed round to the other side of the
bed, and lifting Garda tenderly, tried to draw her away. But Garda clung
to the dead, and cried so heart-brokenly that all the women, with fresh
tears starting at the desolate sound--that sound of audible sobbing
which first tells those outside the still room that the blow has
fallen--all the women came one by one and tried to comfort her. But it
was not until Margaret Harold took her in her arms that she was at all
quieted.

"Come with me, Garda," she said. "You are not leaving your mother alone,
your mother is not here; she has gone home to God. Come with me;
remember she wished it." And Garda yielded.

They buried Mrs. Thorne in the family burying-ground at East Angels (the
one of which she had spoken), her daughter and her friends following, on
foot, the coffin, borne on the shoulders of eight of their former
slaves. Thus the little procession crossed the Levels to the secluded
enclosure at the far end, Mr. Moore in his surplice leading the way. A
high hedge of cedar-trees set closely together like a wall, their dark
branches sweeping the ground, encircled the place; across the narrow
opening which had been left for entrance, was a low paling-gate. Within,
ranged in a circle, were a number of oblong coquina tombs, broad and
low, without inscriptions; here slept all the Dueros, the first
Englishman, Edgar Thorne, and the few American-born Thornes who had
succeeded him. Into the presence of this company was now borne Melissa
Whiting.

Her coffin was covered with the beautiful flowers of the South; but
within, hidden on her breast, there was a faded spray of arbutus, the
last "May-flowers" which had been sent to her, years before, from her
northern home; she had given them to Margaret, and asked her, when the
time came, to place them there. Thus was she lowered to her rest. All
who were present came one by one, according to Gracias custom, to cast
into the deep grave the handful of white sand which, in Florida,
represents the "earth to earth"--that sound which, soft though it be,
breaks the heart. Garda, shivering, clung to Margaret and hid her face.
Then rose Mr. Moore's voice among them: "I heard a voice from heaven
saying unto me, 'Write. From henceforth blessed are the dead--for they
rest from their labors.'"

Beautiful words, unmeaning to the young and happy, more and more do they
convey to many of us a dear comfort, for ourselves as well as for those
already gone--blessed are the dead, for they rest from their labors. For
they _rest_.

That evening the negroes of the neighborhood assembled at East Angels,
and, standing outside in the darkness, under the windows, sang their own
funeral hymn; their voices rose with sweetness in the wildly plaintive
minor strains; then grew softer and softer, as, still singing sweetly,
they marched quietly away.

And so night closed down over the old southern house. But the little
mother, who had toiled there so long, was gone. She was away in that far
country where we hope we shall no more remember the cares and pain, the
mysteries and bitter griefs of this.



CHAPTER XIV.


The next day it was arranged that Garda should, for the present, remain
where she was; she wished to do this, and Mrs. Carew, unselfish always,
had offered to close her own house (so far as Cynthy and Pompey would
permit), and stay with her for a while.

It was known now that Mrs. Harold was to have charge of Garda. The
Gracias friends were grieved by this tidings; they had supposed that
Garda would be left to them. But they all liked Margaret, and when, a
little later, they learned that she had asked Dr. Kirby to fill the
office of guardian, they welcomed with gladness this guarantee that they
were not to be entirely separated from the child whom they had known and
loved from her birth, that one of them was to have the right, in some
degree, to direct her course, and watch over her. These unworldly
people, these secluded people, with their innocently proud, calm belief
in their own importance, never once thought of its being possibly an
advantage to Garda, this opportunity to leave Gracias-á-Dios, to have
further instruction, to see something of the world. They could not
consider it an advantage to leave Gracias-á-Dios, and "further
instruction," which, of course, meant northern instruction, they did not
approve; as for "the world," very little confidence had they in any
world so remote from their own. That, indeed, was the Gracias idea of
New York--"remote." Nor did the fact that Mrs. Harold had a fortune (a
very large one it would have seemed to them had they known its amount)
make any especial impression. They would each and all have welcomed
Garda to their own homes, would have freely given her a daughter's share
in everything they possessed; that, from a worldly point of view, these
homes were but poor ones, and a daughter's share in incomes which were
in themselves so small and uncertain, a very limited possession--these
considerations did not enter much into their thoughts. Their idea was
that for a fatherless, motherless girl, love was the great thing; and of
love they had an abundance.

Before he had had his interview with Margaret, before he knew of her
intention to ask him to be guardian, Dr. Kirby had gone about silent;
with a high color; portentous. Much as he admired Mrs. Rutherford, he
did not present himself at the eyrie; his mirror told him that he had
not the proper expression. But Margaret did not delay; on the third day
she made her request; and then the Doctor went home stepping with all
his old trimness, his toes well turned out, his head erect.

"It's very fortunate, ma" (the Doctor's _a_ in this word had a sound
between that of _a_ in "mare" and in "May"), "that she _has_ asked me,"
he said to his mother; "I doubt whether I could have kept silence
otherwise. I admire Mrs. Rutherford highly, as you know; she is a lady
of the finest bearing and presence. And I admire Mrs. Harold too. But if
they had attempted--if Mrs. Harold had attempted to take Garda off to
the North, and keep her there, without any link, any regularly
established communication with us, I _fear_" (the Doctor's face had
grown red again)--"I fear, ma, I should have balked; I should have just
set my feet together, put down my head, and--raised the devil behind!"

"Why, my son, what language!" said his mother, surprised; though she
felt, too, the force of his comparison, as she lived in the country of
the mule.

"Excuse me, ma; I am excited, or rather I have been. But Garda is one of
us, you know, and we could not, _I_ could not, with a clear conscience
allow them to separate her from us entirely, hurry her off into a
society of which we know little or nothing, save that it is totally
different from our own--modern--mercantile--hurrying" (the Doctor was
evidently growing excited again)--"all that we most dislike. You are
probably thinking that there are Mrs. Rutherford, Mrs. Harold, yes, and
Mr. Winthrop too (if he would only dress himself more as a gentleman
should), to answer for it, to serve as specimens. Those charming ladies
would grace, I admit, any society--any society in the world! But I am
convinced that they are not specimens, they are exceptions; I am
convinced that society at the North is a very different affair. And,
besides, Garda belongs here. Her ancestors have been men of
distinction,--among the most distinguished, indeed, of this whole coast;
I _may_ be mistaken, of course, ma; I _may_ be too severe; but still I
cannot help thinking that at the North this would fall on ignorant ears;
that the people there are too--too ignorant of such matters to
appreciate them."

"I reckon you are right," replied Mrs. Kirby. "Still, Reginald, we must
not forget that it was the mother's own wish that Mrs. Harold should
take charge of Garda."

"Yes, ma, I know. Poor little Mistress Thorne, to whom I was most
sincerely attached"--here the Doctor paused to give a vigorous
cough--"was, we must remember, a New-Englander by birth, after all; and
in spite of her efforts (most praiseworthy they were too), she never
_quite_ outgrew that fact. It couldn't, therefore, be expected that she
should comprehend fully the great advantages (even taking merely the
worldly view of it) of having her daughter continue to live here--here
where such a descent is acknowledged, and proper honor paid to ancestors
of distinction."

"True, my son," said the neat little old lady, knitting on. "But still a
mother has a good deal to do with the 'descent!' I'm not sure that she
hasn't even more than an ancestor--ahem."

On the whole, as matters were now arranged, with Dr. Kirby appointed as
guardian, it could be said that Gracias accepted the new order of things
regarding Garda's future. Not thankfully or gratefully, not with inward
relief; it was simply an acquiescence. They felt, too, that their
acquiescence was magnanimous.

The only discordant element was Mrs. Rutherford. And she was very
discordant indeed. But as she confined the expression of her feelings to
her niece, the note of dissonance did not reach the others.

"It's beyond belief," she said. "What possible claim have these Thornes
upon you? The idea of her having tried to saddle you with that daughter
of hers! She took advantage of you, of course, and of the situation; I
am really indignant for you, and feel that I ought to come to your
rescue; I advise you to have nothing to do with it. You can be friendly,
of course, while we are here; but, afterwards, let it all drop."

"I can hardly do that when I have promised, Aunt Katrina," answered
Margaret. And she answered in the same way many times.

For Mrs. Rutherford could make a very dexterous use of the weapon of
iteration. She was seldom betrayed into a fretful tone, there was always
a fair show of reason in what she said (its purely personal foundation
she was skilful in concealing); her best thrust was to be so warmly on
the side of the person she was trying to lead, to be so "surprised" for
him, and "angry" for him (as against others), that he was led at last to
be "surprised" and "angry" himself, though in the beginning he might
have had no such idea. By these well-managed reiterations she had gained
her point many times during honest Peter's lifetime; he never failed to
be touched when he saw how warmly she was taking up "his side," though
up to that moment, perhaps, he had not been aware that he had a "side"
on that particular subject, or that anybody was on the other.

But if she gained her point with Peter, she did not gain it with Peter's
niece.

"Garda, I hope, will not be a trouble to you, Aunt Katrina. For the
present she is to remain at East Angels; when we go north, I shall place
her with Madame Martel."

"It's really pitiful to think how unhappy she will be," said Mrs.
Rutherford, the next day, shaking her head prophetically. "Poor
child--poor little southern flower--to take her away from this lovely
climate, and force her to live at the cold North--to take her away from
a real home, where they all love her, and put her with Madame Martel!
You must have a far sterner nature than _I_ have, Margaret, to be able
to do it."

To this Margaret made no answer.

"I really wish you would tell me why you rate your own influence over
that of everybody else," remarked Mrs. Rutherford on another occasion.
She spoke impersonally, as though it were simply a curiosity she felt.
"Have you had some experience in the management of young girls that I
know nothing about?"

"No," replied Margaret.

"Yet you undertake it without hesitation! You have more confidence in
your powers than I should have in mine, I confess. How do you know what
she may do? Depend upon it, she won't have our ideas at all. You are a
quiet sort of person, but she may be quite the reverse, and then what a
prospect! She will be talked about, such girls always are; she may even
get into the papers."

"Not for a year or two yet, I think," answered Margaret, smiling.

The next day, "It would be so _easy_ to do it now," observed the
handsome aunt; "it almost seems like a tempting of Providence to neglect
such an opportunity." (Mrs. Rutherford always lived on intimate terms
with Providence.) "You could keep up your interest in her, send her down
books, and even a governess for six months or so, if you wished to be
very punctilious; all the people here want Garda to stay--they cannot
bear to give her up; you would be doing them a kindness by yielding.
They are really fond of her, and she is fond of them; of course you
can't pretend that she cares for _you_ in that way?"

"Oh no, I don't pretend," replied Margaret.

"You carry her off without it!"

The next advance was on another line. "What are you going to do when she
is through school, Margaret?" demanded the inquirer, with interested
amiability. "She'll have to see something, go somewhere--you can't shut
her up; and who is going to chaperon her? I am an invalid, you know, and
you yourself are much too young. You must remember, my dear, that you
are a young and pretty woman." (Aunt Katrina had evidently been driven
to her best shot.)

But though this, or a similar remark, would have been certain to bring
down Peter, and place him just where his wife wished him to be, it
failed to bring down Peter's niece.

Mrs. Rutherford saw this. And concluded as follows: "However, it doesn't
make much difference; with the kind of beauty Garda Thorne has, no one
would look at _you_, you might be any age; she has the sort of face that
simply extinguishes every one else."

"Having no radiance of my own to look after, I can see her all the
better, then," replied Margaret. "She'll be the lighted Bank, and I the
policeman with the dark lantern."

Mrs. Rutherford did not like this answer, she thought it flippant. It
was true, however, that Margaret was very seldom flippant.

"It does seem to me so _weak_ to keep an extorted promise," she began
another day. "I suppose you won't deny that it was extorted?"

"It was very much wished for."

"And you gave it unwillingly."

"Not unwillingly, Aunt Katrina."

"Reluctantly, then."

"Yes, I was reluctant."

"You were reluctant," repeated Mrs. Rutherford, with triumph. "Of course
I knew you must be. But whatever possessed you to do it,
Margaret--induced you to consent, extortion or no extortion--that passes
me!"

Margaret gave no explanation. So the aunt attempted one. "It _almost_
seems as though you were influenced by something _I_ am ignorant of,"
she went on, making a little gesture of withdrawal with her hand, as if
she found herself on the threshold of mysterious regions of double
motive into which she should prefer not to penetrate.

This was a random ball. But Margaret's fair face showed a sudden color,
though the aunt's eyes did not detect it. "She is alone, and very young,
Aunt Katrina; I have promised, and I must keep my promise. But I shall
do my best to prevent it from disturbing you, with me you will always be
first; this is all I can say, and I do not think there is any use in
talking about it more." She had risen as she said these words, and now
she left the room.

In addition to her niece's obstinacy, this lady had now to bear the
discovery that her nephew Evert did not share her views respecting Garda
Thorne--views which seemed to her the only proper and natural ones; he
not only thought that Mrs. Harold should keep her promise, but he even
went further than she did in his ideas as to what that promise included.
"She ought to keep Garda with her, and not put her off at Madame
Martel's," he said.

"I see that _I_ am to be quite superseded," remarked Mrs. Rutherford, in
a pleasant voice, smoothing her handkerchief, however, with a sort of
manner which seemed to indicate that she might yet be driven to a
use--lachrymose--of that delicate fabric.

"My dear aunt, what can you be thinking of?" said Winthrop. "Nobody is
going to supersede you."

"But how _can_ I like the idea of sharing you with a stranger, Evert?"
Her tone continued affectionate; she seldom came as far as ill temper
with her nephew; she seldom, indeed, came as far as ill temper with any
man, a coat seemed to have a soothing effect upon her.

"There's no sharing, as far as I am concerned," Winthrop answered. "_I_
have nothing to do with Garda; it's Margaret."

"Yes, it _is_ Margaret. And very obstinate, too, has she been about it.
Now, if the girl had been left to me," pursued the lady, in a reasonable
way, "there would have been some sense in it. I have had experience, and
_I_ should know what to do. I should pick out an excellent governess,
and send her down here with all the books necessary--perhaps even a
piano," she added, largely; "in that way I should keep watch of the
child's education. But I should never have planned to take her away from
her home and all her friends; that would seem to me cruelty. My idea
would have been, and still is, that she should live here, say with the
Kirbys; then she would have the climate and life which she always has
had, to which she is accustomed; and in time probably she would marry
either that young Torres, or Manuel Ruiz, both quite suitable matches
for her. But what could she do in _our_ society, if Margaret should
persist, later, in taking her into it? It would be quite pitiable, she
would be so completely out of her element, poor little thing!"

"So beautiful a girl is apt to be in her element wherever she is, isn't
she?" remarked Winthrop.

"Is it possible, Evert, that you really admire her?"

"I admire her greatly."

The tears rose in Mrs. Rutherford's eyes at this statement. They were
only tears of vexation, but the nephew did not know that; he came and
stood beside her.

She had hidden her face in her handkerchief. "If you should ever marry
that girl, Evert, my heart would be broken!" she lamented from behind
it. "She isn't at all the person for you to marry."

Winthrop burst into a laugh. "I'm not at all the person for _her_ to
marry. Have you forgotten, Aunt Katrina, that I am thirty-five, and
she--barely sixteen?"

"Age doesn't make any difference," answered Mrs. Rutherford, still
tearful. "And you are very rich, Evert."

"Garda Thorne doesn't care in the least about money," responded
Winthrop, shortly, turning away.

"She ought to, then," rejoined Mrs. Rutherford, drying her eyes with a
soft pressure of the handkerchief, so that the lids should not be
reddened. "In fact, that is another of her lacks: she seems to have no
objection to imposing herself upon Margaret in a pecuniary way as well
as in others. She has nothing, there isn't literally a cent of income,
Betty Carew tells me; only a pile of the most extraordinarily darned old
clothes and house-linen, a decayed orange grove, and two obstinate old
negro servants, who don't really belong to anybody, and wouldn't obey
them if they did. That you should buy the place, that has been their one
hope; it was very clever of them to give you the idea."

"Garda didn't give it, I wanted the place as soon as I saw it. She _is_
ignorant about money; most girls of sixteen are. But what is it that
really vexes you so much in this affair, Aunt Katrina? I am sure there
is something."

"You are right," replied Mrs. Rutherford, with dignity. "But 'vexes' is
not the word, Evert. It is a deeper feeling." She had put away her
handkerchief, and now sat majestically in her chair, her white hands
extended on its cushioned arms. "_Hurt_ is the word; I am hurt about
Margaret. Here I have done everything in the world for her, opened my
home and my heart to her, in spite of _all_; and now she deserts me for
a totally insignificant person, a stranger."

"Margaret has always been very devoted to you, and I am sure she will
continue to be--she is conscientious in such things--no matter what
other responsibilities she may assume," said Winthrop, with warmth.

Mrs. Rutherford noticed this warmth (Winthrop noticed it too); but, for
the moment, she let it pass. "That is just it--other responsibilities,"
she answered; "but why should she assume any? Before she promised to
give that girl a home, she should have remembered that it was _my_ home.
Before she promised to take charge of her, she should have remembered
that she had other things in charge. I am an invalid, I require (and
most properly) a great deal of her care; not to give it, or to give it
partially, would be, after all I have done for her, most ungrateful; she
should have remembered that she was not free--free, that is, to make
engagements of that sort."

Winthrop had several times before in his life come face to face with the
evidence that his handsome, agreeable aunt was selfish. He was now face
to face with it again.

"As regards what you say about a home, Aunt Katrina, Margaret could at
any time have one of her own, if she pleased," he answered; "her income
fully permits it."

Mrs. Rutherford now gave way to tears that were genuine. "It's the first
time, Evert, I've known you to take _her_ part against me," she
answered, from behind her shielding handkerchief.

Winthrop recalled this speech later--after he had made his peace with
his afflicted relative; it _was_ the first time. He thought about it for
a moment or two--that he should have been driven to defend Lanse's wife.
But that was it, he had been driven. "She was so confoundedly unjust,"
he said to himself, thinking of his aunt. He knew that he had a great
taste for justice.

A few days after this he came to the eyrie one morning at an hour much
earlier than his accustomed one; he sent Celestine to ask Mrs. Harold to
come for a moment to the north piazza, the one most remote from Mrs.
Rutherford's rooms. Margaret joined him there immediately; her face wore
an anxious expression.

"I see you think I bring bad news--sending for you in this mysterious
way," he said, smiling. "It isn't bad at all; under the circumstances I
call it very good, the best thing that could have happened. Mr. Moore
has had a letter; Lucian Spenser was married last week. Something
sudden, I presume; probably it was that that took him north."

Margaret's eyes met his with what he called their mute expression. He
had never been able to interpret it, he could not now.

"It hasn't, of course, the least interest for us, except as it may touch
Garda," he went on. "I don't apprehend anything serious; still, as we
are the only persons who have known her little secret--this fancy she
has had--perhaps it would be better if one of us should go down to East
Angels and tell her before any one else can get there--don't you think
so? And will you go? or shall I?"

"You," Margaret answered.

"I don't often ask questions, you must give me that credit," he said,
looking at her. "But I should really like to know upon what grounds you
decide so quickly."

"The grounds are unimportant. But I am sure you are the one to go."

Winthrop, on the whole, wished to go. He now found himself telling his
reasons. "I can go immediately, that is one thing; you would have to
speak to Aunt Katrina, make arrangements, and that would take time. Then
I think that Garda has probably talked more freely to me about that
youth than she has to you; it's a little odd that she should, but I
think she has."

"It's very possible."

"On that account it would come in more naturally, perhaps, if she should
hear it first from me."

Again Margaret assented.

"And then it won't make her think it's important, my stopping there as I
pass; your going would have another look. I'm a little curious to see
how she will take it," he added.

"That is your real reason, I think," said Margaret.

"She has just lost her mother," he went on, without taking up this
remark. "Perhaps the real sorrow may make her forget the fictitious one;
I am sure I hope so. I will go down, then. But in case I am mistaken, in
case she should continue to--fancy herself in earnest, shall I come back
and tell you?"

"I suppose so, she is in my charge. But if I should have to go down
there myself, Aunt Katrina would take it rather ill, I am afraid,--that
is just now."

"You are very good to Aunt Katrina, I want to tell you that I appreciate
it; I am afraid she has rather a way of treating you as an appendage to
herself, not as an independent personage."

"That is all I am--an appendage," said Margaret. She paused. "Feeling as
she does," she continued, "she yet allows me to stay with her. That has
been a great deal to me."

Winthrop's face changed a little; up to this time his expression had
been almost warmly kind. "Feeling as she does!" Yes, Aunt Katrina might
well feel as she did, with her favorite nephew, her almost son,
wandering about the world (this was one of the aunt's expressions, he
used it in his thoughts unconsciously), without a home, because he had
a wife so Pharisaic, so icily unforgiving.

"You make too much of it," he answered, coldly; "the obligation is by no
means all on one side." Then he finished what he had begun to say before
she made her remark. "I had occasion to remind my aunt, only the other
day, that if at any time you should wish to have a home of your own, she
ought not to object. She would miss you greatly, of course; I,
however--and I am glad to have this opportunity of saying it--should
consider such a wish very natural, and I should be happy to do
everything possible towards furthering it."

"I have no such wish; but perhaps you think--perhaps you prefer that I
should leave Mrs. Rutherford?" She had turned away, he could not see the
expression of face that accompanied the words.

"It would be impossible that I should prefer such a thing; I don't think
you can be sincere in saying it," responded Winthrop, with a tinge of
severity. "We both know perfectly well what you are to Aunt Katrina;
what is the use of pretending otherwise?" His voice softened. "Your
patience with her is admirable; as I said before, don't think I don't
see it. I spoke on your own account, I thought you might be tired."

"I am tired--sometimes. But I should be tired just the same in a house
of my own," answered Margaret Harold.

He left her, and rode down to East Angels.

But his visit was short; before three o'clock he was again at the eyrie.
"I think you had better go down," he said to Margaret, as soon as he
could speak to her unheard. "She is taking it most unreasonably; she is
crying almost convulsively, and listens to nothing. So far, Mrs. Carew
thinks it the old grief for her mother; a revival. But she won't think
so long; for Garda, you know, never conceals anything; as soon as she is
a little calmer she will be sure to say something that will let out the
whole."

"You do not want it known?"

"I thought we were agreed about that. How can any one who cares for the
girl want it known? It's so"--he hesitated for a word, and then fell
back upon the useful old one--"so childish," he repeated.

"I will go down, then," said Margaret.

"The sooner the better. I hope that you will be able to bring her to
reason."

"But if you didn't--"

"I didn't because I lost my temper a little. It seemed to me that the
time had come to speak to her plainly."

"Plainly generally means severely. I think severity will never have much
effect upon Garda; if you are severe, you will only lose your
influence."

"My influence!--I don't know that I have any. What is your idea of
Edgarda Thorne?" he said, suddenly. "I don't know that I have ever asked
you. Very likely you won't tell."

"I will tell exactly, so far as I know it myself--my idea," replied
Margaret. "One cannot have a very definite idea of a girl of sixteen."

"I beg your pardon; to me she seems a remarkably definite person."

"She is, in one way. I think she is very warm-hearted. I think she is
above petty things; I have never seen any girl who went so little into
details. Mentally, I think her very clever, though she is also indolent.
Her frankness would be the most remarkable thing about her were it not
for her beauty, which is more remarkable still; it is her beauty, I
think, that makes her, young as she is, so 'definite,' as you call it."

"We seem to have much the same idea of her," said Winthrop. "I shouldn't
have thought it possible," he added.

"That we should agree in anything?" said Margaret, with a faint smile.

"No, not that; but a woman so seldom has the same idea of another woman
that a man has. And--if you will allow me to say it--I think the man's
idea often the more correct one, for a woman will betray (confide, if
you like the term better) more of her inner nature, her real self, to a
man, when she knows him well and likes him, than she ever will to any
woman, no matter how well she may know and like her."

Margaret concurred in this.

"So you agree with me there too? Another surprise! What I have said is
true enough, but women generally dispute it."

"What you have said is true, after a fashion," Margaret answered. "But
the inner feelings you speak of, the real self, which a woman confides
to the man she likes rather than to a woman, these are generally her
ideal feelings, her ideal self; what she thinks she feels, or hopes to
feel, rather than the actual feeling; what she wishes to be, rather than
what she is. She may or may not attain her ideal; but in the mean time
she is judged, by those of her own sex at least, according to her
present qualities, what she has already attained; what she is
practically, and every day."

"So you think it is her ideals that Garda has confided to me? What sort
of an ideal was Lucian Spenser!"

"Garda is an exception; she has no ideals."

"Oh! don't make her out so disagreeable."

"I couldn't make her out disagreeable even if I should try," answered
Margaret. "All I mean is that her nature is so easy, so sunny, that it
has never occurred to her to be discontented; and if you are contented
you don't have ideals."

"Now you are making her out self-complacent."

"No, only simple; richly natural and healthy. She puts the rest of us
(women, I mean) to shame--the rest of us with our complicated motives,
and involved consciences."

"I hope you don't mean to say that Garda has no conscience?"

Margaret looked up; she saw that he was smiling. "She has quite enough
for her happiness," she answered, smiling too.

But in spite of the smile he detected a melancholy in her tone. And this
he instantly resented. For he would never allow that it was owing to her
conscientiousness--her conscience, in short--that Margaret Harold's
married life had been what it was; that sort of conscientiousness was
odious.

"Don't imagine that I admire conscience," he remarked. "Too much of it
makes an arid desert of a woman's life. A woman of that sort, too, makes
her whole family live in the desert!"

Margaret made no reply to this. She left him and went to find Mrs.
Rutherford.

"Of course if it is Garda, little Garda," that lady replied, with a sort
of sardonic playfulness which she had lately adopted, "I couldn't dream
of objecting." She had given up open opposition since Winthrop's
suggestion that Margaret could have, if she should wish it, a home of
her own. The suggestion had been very disagreeable, not only in itself
(the possibility of such a thing), but also because it cut so completely
across her well-established position that it was an immense favor on her
part to give Margaret a home. The favor implied, of course, a following
gratitude; and Margaret's gratitude had been the broad cushion upon
which Mrs. Rutherford had been comfortably seated for seven years. Take
it away, and she would be reduced to making objections--objections (if
it should really come to that) to Margaret's departure; and what
objections could she make? She would never admit that her niece's
presence had become necessary to her comfort; and to say that she was
too young and attractive to be at the head of a house of her own, this
would not accord at all with her accustomed way of speaking of her--a
way which had carried with it the implication (though not in actual
words) that she was neither. For some reason, the youth of other women
was always an offence to Mrs. Rutherford.

However, she was skilful in reducing that attraction. Up to twenty,
girls, of course, were "silly," "uninteresting." After that date, they
all sprang immediately, in her estimation, to be "at least twenty-five,"
and well on the road, both in looks and character, to old-maidhood. If
they married, it was even easier; for in a few months they were sure to
become "so faded and changed, poor things," that one would scarcely know
them; and, with a little determination, this stage could be kept along
for fifteen or twenty years. Only when they were over forty did Mrs.
Rutherford begin to admit the possibility of their being rather
attractive; in this lady's opinion, all the really "superb" women were
several years even beyond that.

"I shall not be long away this time," Margaret had responded.

"Oh, enjoy your new plaything; it won't last!" said the aunt, still
sportive.

Margaret reached East Angels before sunset. Mrs. Carew told her that
Garda was down at the landing.

"I've been down there three times myself; in fact, I've just got back,"
said Betty, who looked flushed by these excursions. "The truth is, I
fancy she doesn't want to talk--she's cried so; and so of course I don't
stay, of course. And then, no sooner do I get back here, than I think
perhaps she's lonely, and down I go again. I don't mind the walk in the
_least_, though it _is_ a little warm to-day, but Carlos Mateo seems to
have taken a spite against me, for every single time, both going and
coming, he has chased me the whole length of the live-oak avenue--just
as soon as we were out of Garda's sight; and I'm _so_ afraid he'll reach
down and nip my ankles, that I _run_. However, I don't mind it at all,
_really_; and when I came up this last time I thought the best thing I
could do would be to try and get up something nice for Garda's supper;
she's touched nothing since morning, and so much crying is dreadfully
exhausting, of course. I'm right glad you've come, you'll be such a
comfort to her; and now _I_ will devote my time (I reckon it'll take it
all) to that Raquel, who certainly is the most tiresome; the only manner
of means, Mrs. Harold, by which I can get what I want this evening is to
keep going out to the kitchen and pretend to be merely looking in for a
moment or two in a friendly sort of way, as though she were an old
servant of my own, and talk about other matters, and then just allude to
the supper at the end casually, as one may call it; by keeping this up
an hour and a half _more_ (I've already been out three times) I _may_
get some faint approach to what I'm after. You see I'm only a Georgian,
not a Spaniard! And to think of what poor little Mistress Thorne must
have gone through with her--she, not even a Southerner! Oh dear! she
must have suffered. But a good many of us have suffered," continued
Betty, suddenly breaking down and bursting into tears. "I'm sure I don't
know why I cry now, Mrs. Harold, any more than any other time; I'm
ashamed of myself, really I am. But--sometimes--I--cannot--help it!" And
for a few moments the stout, ruddy-faced woman sobbed bitterly. In
truth she had suffered; she had seen her brothers, her husband's
brothers, her young nephews, her own fortune and theirs, swept off by
war, together with the hopes and beliefs which had been as real to her
as life itself. She had never reasoned much, or argued, but she had
felt. The unchangeable sweetness of her disposition, which had kept her
from growing bitter, had not been a sign of quick forgetfulness; poor
Betty's heart ached often, and never, never forgot.

"I didn't think you could be so sympathetic, my dear," she said,
naïvely, to Margaret, as she wiped her eyes. "Thank you; I can see now
why Garda's so fond of you." She pressed Margaret's hand, kissed her,
and, still shaken by her sudden emotion, went out for another encounter
with Raquel.

Margaret found Garda on the bench at the landing. She looked pale and
exhausted, and was glad to lay her head on her northern friend's
shoulder and tell her all her grief. It was a surprising sort of
sorrow--she expressed it freely as usual; there was no manifestation of
wounded pride in it, no anger that she had been so soon forgotten, or
jealousy of the person whom Lucian had married; she seemed, indeed,
scarcely to remember the person whom Lucian had married. All she
remembered was that now she should probably not see him again, or soon
again; and this was the cause of all her tears--disappointment in the
hope of having the pleasure, the entertainment, of his presence. For it
all came back to that, her amusement; the rich share of enjoyment that
had been taken from her; even Lucian himself she did not dwell upon save
as he was associated with this, save as he could give her the delight of
looking at him (she announced this as a great delight), could charm her
with the versatility of his talk. "I have never seen any one half so
beautiful"--"Nobody _ever_ made me laugh so"--these two declarations she
repeated over and over again; Margaret could have laughed herself had
the grief which accompanied them been less real. But there was nothing
feigned in the heavy eyes, and the sobs which came every now and then,
shaking the girl's whole frame.

She remained at East Angels two days. During this time, while she was
very gentle with Garda, she did not try to "bring her to reason," as
Winthrop had suggested; but she did try the method of simple listening,
and found it very efficacious.

Garda, unrebuffed, unchilled, and frank as always, let out all her
thoughts, all her feelings; she said some very astonishing
things--astonishing, that is, to her hearer; but then she was herself an
astonishing girl, an unusual girl. The end of it was that the unusual
girl clung more closely than ever to her friend, and that she soon
became calmer, passive if not happy. Winthrop, coming down to East
Angels on the second day, found her so, and took counsel with Margaret,
after she had returned home, over the change; he expressed the opinion
that very soon she would have forgotten all about it. In this he was
mistaken; the days passed, and Garda remained in the same passive
condition. She was gentle with every one; to Margaret and Winthrop she
was affectionate. But in spite of her bloom--for her color came back as
soon as the tears ceased--in spite of her rich youthfulness, she had the
appearance of a person who has stopped, who does not care, who has lost
interest and lets the world go by. This could not make her look older;
but it did give her a strange expression.

"A mourning child is worse than a mourning woman," said Winthrop to
Margaret, emphatically. "It's unnatural."

"Garda isn't a child," she answered.

"Since when have you come to that conclusion?"

She hesitated. "I think, perhaps, I have never fully understood her. I
don't know that I understand her even now."

"Oh, 'understand'--as if she were a sphinx, poor little girl! One thing
is certain," he added, rather contradictorily, "if she loses her
simplicity, she loses all her charm."

"Not all, I think."

"Yes, all to me."

"You cannot see what she finds to admire in Lucian Spenser; that is what
vexes you."

"I am not in the least vexed. She fancied her own fancy, her own
imagination; that was all."

"Garda has very little imagination."

"How you dislike her!" said Winthrop, looking straight into her eyes.

To his surprise he almost thought he saw them falter. "On the contrary,
I am much attached to her," she answered, letting her glance drop; "I
shall grow very fond of her, I see that. It was nothing against her to
say that she has little imagination. If she had had more, would she have
been so contented here? I think it has been very fortunate."

"Yes, she has certainly been contented," said Winthrop. "I like that."

"As to what you say about her losing her simplicity, I don't think she
has lost it in the least. Why, what could be a greater evidence of it
than the open way in which she has shown out to me, but more especially
to you, all she has felt about Mr. Spenser?"

"Yes, to me--I should think so! I might have been her grandfather,"
responded Winthrop, flapping his hat with his gloves, which he had just
discovered in some unremembered pocket.

In the mean time the dark Torres, lean and solemn, had haunted East
Angels ever since Mrs. Thorne's death. Twice a day, with deep reverence
for affliction, he came to inquire after Garda's health; twice a day,
walking almost on tiptoe, he withdrew. His visits never exceeded ten
minutes in length. So great was his respect that he never sat down. But
underneath all this quietude the feelings, which Manuel had described as
volcanic, were surging within; if they did not show on the surface, that
was the misfortune (or advantage) of having a profound sense of dignity,
and a yellow skin. Garda was now alone in the world, and she was in
great trouble; like the other Gracias friends, Torres believed that all
the recent grief, together with the change in her, had been caused by
her mother's death--Margaret and Winthrop had at least succeeded in
that. But even if all Gracias had known the truth, Torres would never
have known it; he would never have known it because he would never have
believed it. A Torres believed only what was credible, and such a tale
about a Duero would be incredible. In the same way, he had never given
the least credit to the story that Garda was going north--to New York.
Why should Garda go to New York, any more than he, Torres, to Japan? No;
what Garda needed now was not wild travelling about the world with
promiscuous people, but safeguards that were not promiscuous; safeguards
that should be embodied in a single and distinct Arm, a single and
distinguished Name; in short, what he himself could give her--an
Alliance; an Alliance suited to her birth.

So when the visits of affliction had been all accomplished, he started
one morning in his best attire, and his aunt's black boat, rowed by
eight negroes, for Gracias-á-Dios, to ask permission from Reginald
Kirby, guardian, to "address," with reference to an Alliance, the
Dueros' daughter.

The Giron fields, meanwhile, lay idle and empty behind him; he had swept
them of every man.

"Dear Adolfo," said his aunt, who, as a widow with six little children,
was trying hard (for a Giron) to raise something on her plantation that
year, "must you have them all? They are very much needed to-day, we are
so behindhand with everything."

"My aunt, what is sugar compared with our name?"

Madam Giron immediately agreed that it was nothing, nothing.

"Look out, my aunt, as we start; that will be compensation," said
Adolfo.

Madam Giron not only looked out, but she came down to the landing. She
was a handsome woman still, though portly; she had dark eyes of a
charming expression, and shining black hair elaborately braided. When
she was dressed for a visit she had a waist. On ordinary occasions it
lapped over the band more or less. She was good-nature itself, and now
stood on the bank smiling, wearing a gown of rather shapeless aspect,
which was, however, short enough to show a pair of very pretty Spanish
feet incased in neat little black slippers. She had already forgotten
the idle fields in her pride at the fine appearance of the rowers. "A
good voyage!" she said.

The boat, with the eight negroes sitting close together, was low in the
water as it started off. The stern seemed higher; any place where Torres
sat always seemed higher.

Reaching Gracias, he landed at the water-steps of the plaza, and leaving
the boat waiting below, went to the residence of the Kirbys--an old
white house in a large garden. Dr. Reginald, for the moment, was out.
Torres signified that he would return, and making his way with his stiff
gait to one of the side streets, he walked up and down for twenty
minutes, beguiling the time (as all his phrases for the interview were
definitely arranged, and he did not wish to disturb them) by trying to
translate a sign which was nailed on a low coquina house near.

         CHRISTOBAL REY,

        TONSORIAL ARTIST.

N.B.--CLEAN TOWELS. SATISFACTION
           GUARANTEED.

Having thus employed the interval (and still at "Tonsorial" in his
attempted translation), he returned to the Kirby homestead.

The Doctor was now in, and received him courteously. Torres, standing in
the centre of the room, hat in hand, his feet drawn together at the
heels, made (after several opening sentences of ceremony which he had
constructed with care at home) his formal demand.

The Doctor had always got on very well with Torres by replying to him in
English; any chance remark would do. Torres listened to the remark with
respect, understanding no more of it than the Doctor had understood of
the Spanish sentence which had preceded it. Then, after due pause, the
Cuban would say something more in his own tongue. And the Doctor would
again reply in English. In this way they had had, when they happened to
meet, quite long conversations, which appeared to be satisfactory to
both. The Doctor now reverted to this method; the boy had evidently come
to pay him a visit of ceremony in acknowledgment of several invitations;
he would not probably stay long. So, in answer to Torres' request for
permission to "address" Garda, with reference to an "Alliance," he
replied that on the whole he thought the oranges would be good this
year, though--and here followed a little disquisition on the effects
respectively of wet and dry seasons, to which Torres listened with
gravity unmoved. He then advanced to his second position: he hoped the
Doctor, as guardian, cherished no personal objections to his suit; this
was the courtesy of ceremony on his part, of course; the Doctor
naturally could cherish no objection.

The Doctor replied that he had never cared much for mandarins; for his
own part, he preferred the larger kinds. However, that was a matter of
taste--each one to his own; he believed in letting everybody have what
he liked. And, having the third time pushed a chair in vain towards his
visitor, he waived further ceremony and seated himself; he had already
been kept standing unconscionably long.

Torres, who had understood at least the gesture, responded with
deference, pointing out that to be seated would not accord with his
present position as most humble of suitors for the Doctor's favor.

And then the Doctor responded that, to please his mother, he had planted
a few mandarins after all.

So they went on. The Doctor thought his visitor would never go. From his
comfortable chair he watched him standing in his fixed attitude,
producing his Spanish phrases, one after the other, with grave
regularity, whenever there was a pause. Finally the Doctor, who had a
gleam of fun in him, folded his arms and recited to him two hundred
lines from "The Rape of the Lock," which was one of his favorite poems;
he emphasized the parts which he liked, and even gesticulated a little
as he went on, not hurrying at all, but finishing the whole in round
full tones, with excellent taste and elocution. "There!" he said to
himself; "let us see how he likes that."

But Torres, apparently, liked it as well as anything else; he listened
to the whole without change of expression, and then, after the proper
pause, brought out another of his remarks. The Doctor glanced at the
clock; the visitor had been there over half an hour. "Look here, Torres,
what _is_ it you are talking about?" he said, convinced at last that the
Cuban had really something to say, and that their usual tactics would
not do this time. He had understood not a word of the long Spanish
sentences, for Garda's name, which might have thrown some light upon
them, had been scrupulously left unspoken by this punctilious suitor,
who had used the third person throughout, alluding to her solely as the
descendant of her ancestors, and, as such, a "consort" who would be
accepted by his own.

Torres watched while the Doctor walked about the room, trying to think
of something which should act as interpreter; he paused at pen and paper
on the writing-table; but written Spanish was no clearer to him than
spoken. At last, with a sudden inspiration, he took down a dictionary.
"Here," he said, "find the words you want." And he thrust the Spanish
half upon the grave young man.

But Torres recoiled; he could not possibly make a "school exercise," he
declared, of his most sacred aspirations.

The Doctor, exasperated, pried the words out of him one by one, and then
himself, with spectacles on, looked them out, or tried to, in the
dictionary. But progress was slow; Torres' sentences contained much
circumlocution, and he would not give the infinitives of his verbs when
the Doctor asked for them, considering it beneath his dignity to lend
himself in any way to such a childish performance. At length, after much
effort, suddenly the Doctor got at his meaning. "You ridiculous idiot!"
he said, throwing the dictionary down with a slam (for he had had to
work hard, and the print was fine), "you make 'an Alliance,' indeed!
Alliance! Why, you're two years under age yourself, and haven't done
growing yet, not to speak of your having nothing in the world to offer a
wife that I know of--except your impudence, which is colossal, I grant!
Go home and play with your top. When you're a man, you can come back and
talk of it--if you like; at present face about, go home and play with
your top!"

Torres, of course, could not comprehend these injunctions. But he could
comprehend the Doctor's opening the door for him; and, with respect
unbroken, he formally took leave. He walked down the side street, and
looked mechanically at the sign again; but he could not translate it any
more than he could the Doctor's last sentence, whose words he carried
carefully in his memory. He went back to his boat, and was rowed in
state again down the shining water.

"My aunt," he said, when he had arrived, drawing Madam Giron apart from
the small Girons who encompassed her, "what is
'Co--ome--oonplay--weetyer--torp?'"

But Madam Giron could not tell him; her English was not imaginative
enough to enable her to comprehend her nephew's pronunciations. Torres
decided that he would go and ask Manuel, and rowed himself across to
Patricio for the purpose; this not being a state occasion, it was
allowable to ply the oars.

"Manuel, what is 'Co--ome--oonplay--weetyer--torp?'" he said, appearing
on the piazza of Manuel's room, which formed one of the wings of the
rambling old house.

But Manuel was in a desperate humor; he was putting on his hat, then
dragging it off again, and rushing up and down the room with a rapid
step; he glared at his friend, but would not reply.

"I asked you, Manuel, what is 'Co--ome--oonplay--weetyer--torp?'"
repeated Torres. "It is what the Gracias-á-Dios doctor said to me, as
answer, when (after very long stupidity on his part; I can say it to
you, Manuel--doltishly long) he at last comprehended that I was
requesting his permission to address the Señorita Duero. Naturally, as
you will now understand, I desire a careful translation."

Manuel laughed bitterly. "So you've got it too! But _I_ went to the girl
herself, as you would have done if you hadn't been such a ninny; but
you're always a ninny. What do you suppose she said to me--yes, Garda
herself?" he went on, furiously, dropping, in the recital of his wrongs,
even the pleasure of abusing his friend. "Here I only went to her
because she is so alone now, so unhappy, it was pure compassion on my
part; I made sacrifices, _sacrifices_, I tell you, and poignant ones!--I
intended to see the world first. Am I not in the flower of my youth--I
ask you that? Am I not keenly pleasing? But--everybody knows! Well, was
she grateful? I leave you to judge! She deliberately said--yes, in so
many words--that she had never cared for me, when the whole world knows
she has cared to distraction, to frenzy. And she had the effrontery to
add that the only person she cared for--and for him she cared 'day and
night'--was that--that--" In his rage Manuel could not speak the name,
but he seized a great knife with a sharp edge, and cut straight through
a book which was lying on the table. "There!" he cried, throwing the
severed leaves in handfuls about the room, "that is how I will serve
him--Spenser-r-r-r! Let him come on!" And he continued to throw the
papers wildly.

Torres was shocked. Not at the sight of his friend displaying his
vengeance in that childish fashion; he had long considered Manuel
hopelessly undignified. His shock came from the idea of a Señorita Duero
having been spoken to on such a subject, spoken to directly! Of course
she had rejected Manuel (it would always be of course that she should
reject Manuel), but the idea of her having been forced to do so by word
of mouth--being deprived of the delicate privilege of expressing herself
through her proper guardian! As to the story that she was thinking of
some one else, "day and night," he paid no heed to it; that was plainly
Manuel's fiction. No one could for a moment believe that the señorita
thought of any one long after sunset--say half-past seven or eight;
anything else would be clearly improper.

"If you had given the subject a deeper consideration, Manuel--" he
began.

But Manuel was still engaged with the book; he was now slicing the
cover. "Spenser-r-r-r-r!"

Torres went towards him, and put out his forefinger with an impressive
gesture. "I say if you had given the subject a deeper consideration,
Manuel--"

"Scat!" said Manuel.

"What?" said the Cuban.

"Scat! scat! You're no better than an old tabby."

Torres looked at him solemnly. Then he put up his finger again. "It was
_not_ the proper course, Manuel," he began, a third time. "If you had
given--"

"Oh, _go_ to the devil!" cried Manuel, with a sort of howl, leaping
towards him with the knife.

Torres thought he had better go.

He was not in the least afraid of Manuel; Torres had never been afraid
in his life. But Manuel was a little excited (he had the bad habit of
excitement); it was, perhaps, better to leave him to himself for a
while. So he went back to the main-land; and meditated upon the Doctor's
words. They remained mysterious, and the next day he made another
progress up the Espiritu to Gracias, having decided to intrust his
secret to the good rector of St. Philip and St. James', and profit by
his knowledge of both languages.

The Rev. Mr. Moore was not only good, but he had not been troubled by
nature with too large an endowment of humor--often an inconvenient
possession. He listened to his visitor's story and the quoted sentence
with gravity; then, after a moment's meditation, he put his long hands
together, the tip of each delicately finished finger accurately meeting
its mate, and made a discreet translation as follows: "You are still
young; it would be better, perhaps, to remain at home until you are
somewhat older." "Somewhat" was Mr. Moore's favorite word; everything
with him was somewhat so; nothing (save wickedness) entirely so. In this
way he escaped rashness. Certainly Reginald Kirby had put no "somewhat"
of any sort in his answer to the Cuban. But Mr. Moore was of the opinion
that he intended to do so (being prevented, probably, by that same
rashness), and so he gave his guest the benefit of the doubt.

Torres reflected upon the translation; he had accepted a chair this
time, but sat hat in hand, his heels drawn together as before. "With
your favor, sir," he said at last, raising his eyes and making the
clergyman a little bow, "this seems to me hardly an acceptance?"

"Hardly, I think," replied the clergyman, with moderation.

"At the same time, it is not a rejection. As I understand it, I am
advised--for the present at least--simply to wait?" And he looked at the
clergyman inquiringly.

"Exactly--very simple--to wait," assented Mr. Moore.

The Cuban rose; and made ceremonious acknowledgments.

"You return?" asked the clergyman, affably.

"I return."

"There is, no doubt, much to interest you on the plantation," remarked
Mr. Moore, in a general way.

"What there is could be put upon the point of the finest lance known to
history, and balanced there," replied Torres, with a dull glance of his
dull dark eyes.

"I fear that young man has a somewhat gloomy disposition," thought the
clergyman, when left alone.

Torres went down the lagoon again; and began to wait.



CHAPTER XV.


"Man alive! of all the outlandish!" This was the unspoken phrase in
Minerva Poindexter's mind as she watched a little scene which was going
on near by. "I suppose it's peekin', but I don't care. What in the name
of all _creation_ are they at?"

Behind one of the old houses of Gracias there was a broad open space
which had once been a field. On the far edge of this sunny waste stood
some negro cabins, each brilliant with whitewash, and possessing a
shallow little garden of its own, gay with flowers; in almost every
case, above the low roof rose the clear green of a clump of bananas. A
path bordered by high bushes led from the town to this little
settlement, and here it was that Celestine, herself invisible, had
stopped to look through a rift in the foliage. A negro woman was coming
down the dusty track which passed in front of the cabins; on her head
she carried a large bundle tied up in a brightly colored patchwork
counterpane. As she drew near the first house she espied her friend Mrs.
Johnson sitting on her front step enjoying the air, with the last young
Johnson, Nando, on her knee. The first woman (Celestine knew that she
was called Jinny) stopped, put one arm akimbo, and, steadying her bundle
with the other hand, began to sway herself slightly from side to side at
the hips, while her bare feet, which were visible, together with a space
of bare ankle above, coming out below her short cotton skirt, moved
forward in a measured step, the heel of the right being placed
diagonally against the toes of the left, and then the heel of the left
in its turn advanced with a slow level sweep, and placed diagonally
across the toes of the right. There was little elevation of the sole,
the steps, though long, being kept as close as possible to the ground,
but without touching it, until the final down pressure, which was deep
and firm. There seemed to be no liberty allowed, it was a very exact
measure that Jinny was treading; the tracks made by her heel, the broad
spread of her foot, and the five toes in the white dust, followed each
other regularly in even zigzags which described half circles. Thus
swaying herself rhythmically, turning now a little to the right, now a
little to the left, Jinny slowly approached Mrs. Johnson, who regarded
her impassively, continuing to trot Nando without change of expression.
But when Jinny had come within a distance of fifteen feet, suddenly Mrs.
Johnson rose, dropped her offspring (who took it philosophically), and
began in her turn to sway herself gently from side to side, and then,
with arms akimbo, her bare feet performing the same slow, exact
evolutions, she advanced with gravity to meet Jinny, the two now joining
in a crooning song. They met, circled round each other three times with
the same deliberate step and motion, their song growing louder and
louder. Then Mrs. Johnson shook her skirts, flung out her arms with a
wild gesture, and stopped as suddenly as she had begun, walking back to
her door-step and picking up Nando, while Jinny, advancing and taking up
a comfortable position on one broad foot (idly stroking its ankle
meanwhile with the dust-whitened sole of the other), the two fell into
conversation, with no allusion either by word or look to the mystic
exercises of the moment before.

"Howdy, Mis' Johnson?" said Jinny, as though she had just come up.
"How's Mister Johnson dis mawnin'? Speck he's bettah; I year he wuz."

"Yessum, Miss Jinny More, yessum. He's bettah, dat's a fac'; he's mighty
nigh 'bout well agin, Mister Johnson is, tank de Lawd!"

"Save us! what mistering and missussing!" said Celestine to herself. She
watched them a moment longer, the colored people being still a profound
mystery to her. Then she emerged from her bush-bordered path, and making
her way to Mrs. Johnson, hurriedly delivered her message: Mrs. Harold
would like to have her come to the eyrie for a while, to act as nurse
for Mrs. Rutherford.

For that lady had met with an unfortunate accident; while stepping from
her phaeton she had fallen, no one knew how or why, and though the
phaeton was low and the ground soft, she had injured one of her knees so
seriously that it was feared that she would not be able to walk for some
time. Once fairly in bed and obliged to remain there, other symptoms had
developed themselves, so that she appeared to have, as the sympathetic
Betty (who had hurried up from East Angels) expressed it, "a little,
just a _little_, you know, of pretty much everything under the sun." In
this condition of affairs Katrina Rutherford naturally required a good
deal of waiting upon. And after the time had been divided between
Margaret and Celestine for several days and nights, Dr. Kirby
peremptorily intervened, and told Margaret to send for Looth Johnson,
"the best nurse in Gracias--the best, in fact, south of the city of
Charleston." Looth was Telano's mother: this was in her favor with
Celestine. But when the poor Vermont spinster was actually face to face
with her, it was difficult to believe that a person who danced with bare
black legs in the dusty road in the middle of the day could be either
the mother of the spotlessly attired Telano, or the sort of attendant
required by Mrs. Peter Rutherford. Dr. Kirby's orders, peremptory as
they were, Celestine would have freely disobeyed; but she did not dare
disobey them when they had been repeated by Margaret Harold.

"It's where your son is," she explained, desperately, forcing herself to
think of Telano's snowy jackets as she caught another glimpse of his
mother's toes.

"I knows whar 'tis," replied Looth, who had risen and dropped a
courtesy. And then, as Celestine departed, hurrying away with an almost
agitated step, "Telano 'lows she's a witch," she said to Jinny, in a low
voice, as the two looked after the spare erect figure in its black gown.
"_I_ 'lows, howsumebber, it's juss ribs an' bones an' all knucklely up
de back; nubbuddy 'ain't nebber _seed_ so many knucklelies! I say,
Jinny, 'tain't much honeyin' roun' _she's_ eber been boddered wid, I
reckon." And the two women laughed, though restraining themselves to low
tones, with the innate civility of their race.

Meanwhile it was taking Minerva Poindexter the entire distance of the
walk home to compose herself after that dancing, and more especially
after the unseemly amplitude of the two large, comely black women, an
amplitude which she would have confined immediately, if she had had the
power, in gowns of firm fibre made after a straight fashion she knew, in
which, by means of a system of restrictive seams in unexpectcd places,
the modeller was able to neutralize the effect of even the most
expansive redundancy.

At present Mrs. Rutherford was absorbing the time of Margaret,
Celestine, Evert Winthrop; of Betty Carew, who, sending Garda to stay
with the Moores, remained with dear Katrina; of Dr. Kirby, who paid
three visits a day; of Telano, Cyndy, Maum Jube, and Aunt Dinah-Jim, who
had transferred herself and her disorderly skill to the kitchen of the
eyrie. During the only other serious illness Katrina Rutherford had
known, one of her friends had remarked, "Oh, she's _such_ a
philanthropist!"

"Philanthropist?" said another, inquiringly.

"Yes; she has such a wonderful talent for employing people. That's
philanthropy nowadays, you know, and I _think_ Katrina could employ the
whole town."

Looth arriving, still redundant but spotlessly neat in a loose white
linen short-gown over a brilliant yellow cotton skirt, a red
handkerchief arranged as a turban, white stockings, and broad, low shoes
(which were soundless), supplied an element of color at the eyrie, as
well as abundant tact, a sweet, cooing voice, and soft strong arms for
lifting. She called Mrs. Rutherford "honey," and changed her position
skilfully and sympathetically twenty times a day. Mrs. Rutherford liked
the skill; even better she liked the sympathy; she had often complained
that there was very little true sensibility in either Margaret or
Celestine. To hear and see Looth persuade her patient to eat her dinner
was a daily entertainment to Winthrop. It was the most persuasive
coaxing ever heard, and Mrs. Rutherford, while never once losing her
martyr expression, greatly enjoyed it; there was some different method
of tender urging for each dish. Celestine, who was not a jealous person,
looked on with deep though concealed interest, never failing to be in
the room, apparently engaged with something else, when Looth appeared
with the tray. Though she understood her mistress's foibles perfectly,
she was at heart fond of her (she had dressed her too long not to be),
and would have felt her business in life at an end if separated from
her; yet she could no more have called her "my dove," and cooed over her
with soft enthusiasm when she had eaten a slice of venison, than she
could have danced at noon barelegged in the dusty road.

But in spite of all these helpers, Mrs. Rutherford did not improve; if
she did not grow worse, she did not grow better. At last she declared
that she should never grow better so long as she must hear, day and
night, the wash of the water on the beach; now it was only a teasing
ripple, which still she must listen for, now a long regular swell, to
which she found herself forced mentally to beat time. As they could not
take away the sea--even Looth could not coo it away--there was some
uneasiness at the eyrie as to what the result would be; they decided
that it was but a fancy, and that she would forget it. But Katrina
Rutherford did not forget. At length there came three nights in
succession during which she did not sleep "a moment;" she announced to
Winthrop that she should soon be in need of no more sleep, "save the
last long one." Dr. Kirby, who still profoundly admired her--she
continued to look very handsome after Celestine had attired her for the
day in a dressing-gown of delicate hue, covered with white lace, a
dainty little lace cap lightly resting on her soft hair--Dr. Kirby said
to Winthrop that unstrung nerves were a serious matter; and that though
her idea about the water was a fancy, of course, the loss of three
nights' sleep was anything but fanciful. They could not move the sea;
but they could move her, and they must. The next question was--where?
The Seminole being as near the water as the eyrie, there was nothing to
be gained by going there. Betty promptly offered her house, she was full
of plans for taking in their whole party under her hospitable roof. But
Mrs. Rutherford confided to her nephew that the constant sighing of the
pines round Betty's domicile would be as "maddening" as the water, if
not worse. "I'd much rather they'd howl!" she said.

Then came old Mrs. Kirby in her black silk visite, her parasol held high
above her head, and with mathematical precision directly over it, though
the afternoon sun, slanting from the west, shone steadily into her eyes
underneath, so that she was kept winking and blinking all the way. She
came to offer their residence; the full half of it stood empty, and,
needless to say that she and Reginald would be "right glad" if the
ladies would accept it. But Mrs. Rutherford confided, to Margaret this
time, that nothing would induce her to go there. "She would be sure to
come in every day with cookies hidden somewhere about her, and then
_nibble_."

"They're wafers, I think," said Margaret, laughing.

"Wafers or cookies, she crunches when she eats them; I've heard her,"
Mrs. Rutherford declared. "It's all very well for you to laugh,
Margaret; _you_ have no sensitiveness. I wish I had a cooky now," she
went on, irrelevantly--"a real one; or else a jumble, or a cruller, or
an oley-koek. But there's no getting anything in this desolate place;
their one idea is plum-cake--plum-cake!"

Mrs. Kirby was followed by Mr. Moore, who brought a note from his wife,
cordially placing at the disposal of the northern party "five pleasant
rooms at the rectory," which could be made ready for them at any time
upon shortest notice.

"They haven't more than six in all," commented Winthrop. "Does this
mean, do you suppose, that they intend to shut themselves up into one,
and give up to us all the rest?"

"Very probably," Margaret answered.

But the Moores were not obliged to make good their generous offer. Mrs.
Rutherford said that she could not possibly live in the house with an
invalid. "Always little messes being carried clinking up-stairs on
waiters, or left standing outside of doors for people to tumble
over;--cups, with dregs of tea in them, set into each other. Horrid!"

"But there are no stairs at the rectory," suggested Winthrop.

"Don't be owlish, Evert; one is even more apt to step into them on a
ground-floor," replied the aunt.

Meanwhile the sea still washed the beach under the eyrie, and now, too,
the nerves of almost everybody in it, for neither Margaret nor Celestine
could sleep when Mrs. Rutherford could not; even Winthrop, at the
Seminole, found himself wakeful, listening to the little soft sound,
and thinking of his suffering aunt. For in spite of her fancies and her
fairly good appetite, in spite of her rich dressing-gowns and carefully
arranged hair, Aunt Katrina undoubtedly did suffer. Already her eyes had
begun to have something of a sunken look; to Margaret and Winthrop she
appeared sometimes to be seeing them through a slight haze, and to be
trying, though ineffectually, to pierce it. "That dreadful water on the
beach! that dreadful water!" was still her constant complaint.

"Do you think she would like to go down to East Angels?" suggested Dr.
Kirby to Margaret one morning. "The motion of a carriage she couldn't
bear at present, but she could go down very well in the _Emperadora_."

But Margaret thought she would not like it at all.

"How do you know, without asking, what I shouldn't like at all?" Aunt
Katrina demanded when Margaret repeated to her this little conversation.
Aunt Katrina liked to have the little conversations repeated. "Don't
imagine, Margaret, I beg, that you know all my feelings by intuition."

Later in the day came Evert. "Dr. Kirby has a fantastic plan for your
going down to East Angels to stay for a while, Aunt Katrina. But I told
him that you didn't like East Angels."

"Where did you get that idea? But of course from Margaret, who thinks
she knows everything. East Angels is a charming old place."

"Oh!" said her nephew, rather astonished, remembering various adjectives
she had applied to it; "decayed" had been a favorite one.

"I have always thought it charming," pursued the lady. And then she
began to enumerate its good points. It was too far from the lagoon to be
troubled by that tiresome sound of the water; it had no pines near it to
tease people to death with their sighing; there would be no old ladies
to drop in with cookies, and nibble; and there were no invalids, with
teacups being sent clinking up-stairs (Mrs. Rutherford herself drank
chocolate). The one objection was that Dr. Reginald would have a long
ride every morning to get to her. But Dr. Reginald, coming in at this
moment, gallantly volunteered, in case she should go down there, to
spend a week with them by way of beginning; in the evenings they could
play cribbage until she should feel drowsy, for she certainly would feel
drowsy down there among the--he had almost said "pines," but stopped in
time; then he thought of live-oaks, but remembered that she considered
them "dreary." Among the--he had nearly brought out "magnolias," but
recollected that she disliked their perfume. "Among the andromedas," he
concluded at last, pronouncing the word firmly, determined not to
abandon it.

"Oh, andromedas. Aromatic?" inquired the patient, languidly.

"Immensely so," replied the Doctor. "Im--_mensely_!"

The next day, coming in again and finding that the poor lady had passed
another bad night, and that at half-past nine in the morning she had
burst into tears, and called Looth her "only friend," as that turbaned
handmaid was feeding her with toast and the softest sympathy, he took
Winthrop to the north piazza and seriously advised the change.

"But East Angels is still Garda's," said Winthrop. "I don't see how we
can go there."

"She will be delighted to have you. I don't think Garda is happy at
present when long separated from Mrs. Harold," went on the speaker,
candidly; "Mrs. Harold has had a wonderfully cheering influence over
her, poor child, since her mother's death. Garda has been so unlike
herself--I hardly know what to call it--passive, perhaps; I presume you
have not noticed the change, but ma and I have."

Winthrop thought he had noticed. But all he said was: "We should have to
send down the servants, and--and a good many other things, I'm afraid.
The party would be large, it would be like taking possession--so many of
us."

"Don't let that trouble you," said the Doctor, balancing himself in his
old way. "In the matter of guests, our feeling here has always been that
the more we had under our roof the better; yes, the better."

"It is true that the place is to be mine as soon as I can get a title.
You are the guardian; perhaps you will allow us to rent it until then?"

"Sir," said the Doctor, stopping his balancing, "we will not speak of
rent." (And in truth rent was not a word esteemed in Gracias. Nobody
"rented" there, and nobody "boarded;" each man lived in his own house,
and sat at his own table; the roof might be in need of repairs, and the
table bare, but they were at least his own.) "As you have remarked, I am
Miss Thorne's guardian, and as such I can assure you that she will be
right glad to entertain you all at East Angels, and for as long a time
as it will be agreeable to you to so favor her."

Thus it was arranged; they were all to pay Garda a visit. It was to be
ignored that workmen were to be sent down to the old house, and the
resources of Gracias-á-Dios strained to the utmost to make the rooms
accord with the many requirements of Mrs. Rutherford; it was to be
ignored that six servants and supplies of all kinds were to be added.
Garda appeared at the eyrie and gave her invitation. She seemed to think
of it in the same way that the Doctor did--it was a visit; she had all
the air of a hostess, though rather a listless one.

Nothing in this young girl had Margaret Harold admired more than the
untroubled way in which she had accepted her new friend's assistance.
Mrs. Rutherford, who was industrious in prodding for motive (she
considered it a praiseworthy industry), had long ago announced that
Garda's affection for Margaret was based upon her own pennilessness and
Margaret's fortune. If this were so, there was at least no eagerness
about it; the girl accepted all that Margaret did, simply; sweetly
enough, but as a matter of course. The funeral expenses had been paid by
the Gracias friends, they had claimed this as their privilege; but since
then Margaret had provided for everything, from Garda's new mourning
garb to the money for the daily house-keeping at East Angels--sums which
Betty Carew had disbursed with her nicest care, which was yet a mad
expenditure when compared with the economies of Mrs. Thorne. The lean,
clean larder of East Angels had had a sense of repletion that was almost
profligate, and had felt itself carried wildly back to the days of Old
Madam--who had spent the last of the Duero capital in making herself
comfortable, smiling back wickedly at the blue eyes of Melissa Whiting
when the latter had tried to save some of it.

Margaret could not but contrast Garda's simple way with the scruples,
the inward distress, which she herself should have been a victim to if
she had been placed at that age in such a situation, thrown entirely
upon the care of a comparative stranger, at best a new friend. But here
was a nature which could accept unreservedly; it seemed to her a noble
trait; she said this to Mrs. Rutherford in answer to one of that lady's
attacks.

"If the positions were to be reversed, Aunt Katrina, I am sure she would
be just the same, she would give in the way in which she now accepts;
she would share everything with me with the same unreserve, and without
a second thought."

"Give _me_ the second thoughts, then!" said Aunt Katrina. "I must say I
cannot see the nobility in it that you and Evert see." (This was quite
true; Aunt Katrina never saw nobility.) "The girl has always had what
she wanted, and she's got it now; that's all there is of it. Evert talks
about her being so contented; most of us are contented, I suppose, when
every wish is gratified, and if you would look at it fairly, without all
this decoration you have added to it, you would see that hers have
always been. Evert brings up their poverty--it has all come out, of
course, since the mother's death. But, poor or not poor, _Garda_ at
least always had what she wanted; there were always honey-cakes and
oranges for her, and those old servants would wait upon her when they
would not speak to her mother. She has never lifted her hand to do
anything in her life but swing in her hammock, smell her roses, and play
with that crane. Evert keeps harping--what simple things they were to
give her so much pleasure. But _somebody_ had to work to keep up even
the 'simple things;' and that somebody was her mother. Simple--of course
they were simple, she has been brought up in the country, and she is
only sixteen; she has had no opportunity to see anything else. But it
seems to me that the laziness which is shown by that hammock, and the
epicureanism which comes out in the honey-cakes and oranges, yes, and
the roses too, and the frivolity which makes her find amusement by the
hour in playing with that dreadful crane--all these are a very pretty
development of temperament in a girl of that age."

Over this dark picture Margaret was unable to resist a laugh.

"Laugh on," said Aunt Katrina, ominously. "You will live to come to my
opinion."

But Margaret continued to think Garda's free acceptance the sign of a
generous nature; the girl judged her benefactress by herself; if she had
been the one to bestow the kindness, she would not have liked effusive
thanks; Margaret therefore would not like them either.

But if Garda did not turn the conversation towards Margaret's material
gifts, she did turn it, and warmly, upon the delight it was to her that
her friend was to be at East Angels; upon that point she was effusive
enough. "_Now_ I can live," she said.

"There's something so tiresome in being with Aunt Betty Carew day after
day," she added, meditatively. "Don't you think so?"

"She has been extremely kind to you," Margaret answered.

"Yes, she's very kind, there's nobody kinder. That doesn't make her any
the less wandering in her conversation, does it? or any the less
flushed. Do you remember how pretty my dear little mother was? She had
such a nice straight little nose it was a pleasure to look at her. You
have a lovely nose too, Margaret; I wonder if I should have liked you so
well without it? Oh, won't you stay at East Angels until it is time to
go north? In that way, as I am to go with you, we shouldn't be separated
at all."

"Aunt Katrina may tire of East Angels in two days," Margaret answered.

"We won't allow it We'll amuse her!" Garda declared, with soft energy.

But something else was to amuse poor Aunt Katrina. She made the little
journey comfortably, one beautiful morning, on the _Emperadora_,
surrounded by her retinue, of which Betty was one; she enjoyed her
installation, and the novelty of the new rooms; she enjoyed the
congratulations of Dr. Kirby, when, later in the day, he came down for
his week's visit; and she played cribbage with him for a little while in
the evening. Her nephew too was there; she had required his presence.
"You must come, of course, Evert," she said; "I couldn't possibly stay
way down in that lonely place without you." So Evert had been obliged to
install himself as well as his aunt; he took up his abode not
unwillingly in the old house which he expected some day to own.

After the cribbage, Aunt Katrina went to bed, and passed a night of
blessed oblivion, unteased by the whining water: that had been her
latest term for it--that it whined. But after a few days of this
delightful rest, a fresh assortment of pains lifted their heads. The
Doctor at first alluded to them as rheumatic. But Aunt Katrina would not
accept that suggestion. He then called them "suppressed gout." This was
better; Aunt Katrina had always had a certain esteem for gout. Besides,
suppressed gout had no fixed habitation; Aunt Katrina, having very
shapely feet, took the opportunity, the very day she accepted the name,
to have herself lifted to the sofa, where these same members, in
delicate slippers, reposed upon a bear-skin, only half concealed by an
India shawl.

But these little vanities could be forgiven, they could even be
encouraged (and were by the quick-witted Looth), if they had the power
to make her forget her pain. This pain was of the kind she herself
described as "wearing." Fortunately it was not constant, there were many
free intervals; but during these intervals she was often tired, and
Katrina Rutherford had lived such an easy, comfortable life that she had
almost never been tired before. This fatigue after pain sometimes
extended to her mind, and made her irritable. On these days no one could
soothe her but Margaret, and it was soon discovered that no one must
try. Margaret must read to her, read her to sleep; Margaret must sit in
a certain place, and sit still; she must not leave the room; nobody must
speak to her but Margaret--the others could say what was necessary
through her. During one of her free intervals she explained to Winthrop
that it was Margaret's voice that soothed her; "it's so hard," she said.

"I shouldn't think that quality would be particularly soothing,"
Winthrop answered.

"On the contrary, it's the very one--that is, for me. I only need her
when I've been reduced to a pulp--like the pulp in the paper mills--by
pain; at such times that hard voice of hers is the first firm thing I
can take hold of; I crystallize round it by degrees, don't you know, and
gradually get back _some_ shape again."

Margaret's voice was not in the least hard; it was low and clear; when
it took on certain intonations, very sweet. But Winthrop did not remind
his aunt of this. She could crystallize round any adjectives that
pleased her in her moments of rest; her nephew's usual championship of
justice was postponed until she should be better.

During this time Celestine and Looth were often obliged to be
companions; there were certain things they each did which no one else
could do as well, and therefore neither one could be spared. To
Celestine it was a weird experience, this sitting up at night in the
large bare room of a strange old Spanish house (a house which had been
inhabited for generations by Papists), opposite a great black woman in a
red turban, who was in the habit of dancing barelegged in the roads in
the middle of the day; and all this on a winter night with roses
blooming outside in the garden, and the perfume of orange blossoms
coming in through the half-closed windows--a winter night which seemed
to have gone astray from some other world. The absence of cold in winter
climates abroad Celestine had accepted without opposition; it was only
part of their general outlandishness. But that such foreign
eccentricities should exist in the United States of America, under the
Stars and Stripes, this she by no means approved; like many other
persons, she could not help believing that frost-tipped noses were an
accompaniment of republican simplicity and virtue, and that a good
conscience and east wind could not be long separated without danger to
morals.

She had never alluded to the dance. But one night Looth herself alluded
to it. "Specks yer seen us, Miss Selsty, dat day you wuz firs' down dar
fur to ax me to come up yer to nuss--specks yer seen me an' Jinny?"

Celestine nodded grimly: a confession was evidently on the way.

"Yessum, Miss Selsty, I reckoned yer seen us. We wuz _shoutin_'," Looth
went on, with gentle satisfaction. "I's a very rilligeous 'oman, Miss
Selsty, yessum. An' so's Jinny too."

All the Gracias friends came down often to East Angels to inquire after
Mrs. Rutherford; Madam Ruiz and Madam Giron came over from their
respective plantations. Adolfo Torres, however, did not come; he
remained at home, and sent his respectful inquiries by his aunt. Neither
the Doctor nor Mr. Moore had betrayed his secret; these two gentlemen
were not in the habit of betraying anybody. Torres did not altogether
like their reticence upon this particular occasion, he could not see
that it was a subject upon which reticence was required. In the old days
(the only days he cared about) the position of suitor, devoted suppliant
for his lady's hand, was an honorable one, one distinctly recognized; he
should like to be recognized as occupying it now. But if these friends
would not tell, he could not; to tell would not accord with his present
posture. "Posture" was his own word, no one else would have dreamed of
applying it to anything connected with this self-controlled young man.
Gracias, too, was having veritable postures of another kind to look at.
These were the attitudes of Manuel Ruiz, which were very new and
surprising. After that first burst of fury (which Torres had witnessed)
he had taken to riding over the barren at headlong speed on his large,
thin black horse, with several knives stuck in his belt--a belt whose
presence (in itself brigandish) he had further emphasized by tying over
it a crimson sash. Next he had suddenly appeared as a man of
dissipations, a scoffer; he haunted the two small, rather sleepy
bar-rooms of Gracias, smoking large cigars, wearing his sombrero much on
one side, and in public places--the plaza for instance--made cynical
remarks about "the fair sex." This was worse even than the knives and
the galloping, and Gracias was considering what had better be done,
when, lo! Manuel appeared among them playing a third part. He was not
only himself, but more mellifluous even than he had ever been before;
his manner, indeed, when he met any of these ladies, had in it such a
delicate yet keenly personal admiration, such an appreciation of what
they had been as well as of what they were, that all of them, even
stout, honest Betty, and little Mrs. Kirby herself, under her high-held
parasol, were set to blushing a little, without knowing why, and to
vaguely adjusting their front hair with a touch or two, only to become
conscious of it later, and say to themselves, angrily, that that boy
ought to have a good horsewhipping! Manuel called upon all his friends
and all his mother's friends (except Garda at East Angels), and could
hardly sit in a chair. Upon seeing him, the idea was that he had been
accustomed to a divan; he seemed to have come from the sipping of
nectar, and to have touched nothing but rose-leaves. Having thus thrown
dust in the eyes of the town, he took his departure; as he had long
threatened, he was going to see the world. He mentioned to Mrs. Harold
that he should try to "take in" New York; and then he sailed on a
coasting schooner for Key West, with four dollars and twenty five-cents
in his pocket.

Gracias knew nothing of the real cause of all this. Madam Ruiz, Manuel's
broad-shouldered and martial-looking, but in reality sighingly gentle,
sentimental step-mother, was not in his confidence with regard to Garda.
But she would not have credited the story, even if she had been, for she
firmly believed her handsome step-son to be invincible from the
Everglades to the Altamaha. During the long, warm, mid-summer
afternoons, when flat Patricio, low in the blue sea, had not a shadow,
this lady, in her thick white house, the broad rooms darkened by the
closed shutters, was in the habit of amusing herself with many romances
about this; for your warm, still countries are ever the land of the
storyteller. Madam Ruiz now and then told her stories to her husband.

"Yes, yes," said that gentleman; "he inherits it all from me." He was
partially paralyzed, and sat all day in his chair; he did not like to
have Manuel about much, he envied him so. He took more comfort in the
children of this second marriage--a flock of brown-skinned, chattering
little girls, who would be sure to grow up dark, lovely, and gentle,
with serene, affectionate eyes, and the sweetest voices in the world, in
which to call him their "dearest papa."

Adolfo Torres meanwhile kept his friend's secret punctiliously, as it
was not to his credit; it was terribly against his credit to have gone
as he did to Garda herself,--so Adolfo thought.

As for Garda, she said, afterwards, that she did not mention it because
it was so much trouble; she did not like to tell things, she was not a
narrator (one of her mother's phrases); besides it was not interesting.
The girl had a very decided idea about what was and what was not
interesting. But she stopped there, she did not explain her idea to
others; she had the air of not even explaining it to herself.



CHAPTER XVI.


Evert Winthrop was very fond of the pine barrens. They seemed to him to
have a marked character of their own; their green aisles were as unlike
the broad roll of the prairie as they were unlike the usual growth of
the American forest farther north. The pines of the barren stood apart
from each other, they were not even in clusters or pairs. To a
northerner, riding or walking for the first time across the broad
sun-barred spaces under them, the feeling was that this separated growth
was the final outer fringe of some thick forest within, that it would
soon come to an end, widen out, and disappear. But it never did
disappear, the single trees went on rising in the same thin way from the
open ground, they continued to rise for miles; and when the new-comer
had once got rid of the idea that they would soon stop, when he had
become accustomed to the sparse growth, it seemed beautiful in a way of
its own; as slender girls will sometimes seem more exquisite in their
fair meagreness than the maturer women about them with their sumptuous
shoulders and arms.

For one thing, the barrens were the home of all the breezes; winds from
the four quarters of the heavens could sweep through their aisles as
freely as though no trees were there, the foliage was so far above. But
though the winds could blow as they liked, they yet had to take
something of the influences of the place as they passed, and the one
they took oftenest was the aromatic odor, odor sun-warmed through and
through, never chilled by ice or snow. These odors they gathered up and
bore along, so that if it was a breeze from the south, one felt like
sitting still and breathing the soft fragrance forever; and if it was a
north wind, careering down the vistas, the resinous tang it carried gave
a sort of excitement which could find its best expression in the gallop
of a fast horse over the levels. At least so Winthrop thought. And he
had often been guilty of riding for miles at a speed which he would not
have acknowledged at the North; it seemed boyish to ride at that rate
for the mere sake of the glow and the spicy wind in one's face.

The barrens were always green. But it was not the green of the northern
forest; it was the dark, tranquil, unchanging hue of the South. The
ground was covered thickly with herbage and little shrubs. Here and
there flower stalks made their way through, pushing themselves up as
high as they could in order to get their heads out in the sunshine;
there they swung merrily to and fro, and looked about them--violets so
broad and bright that one could recognize their blueness at a distance,
red bells of the calopogon, the yellow and lavender of pinguiculas
rising from their prim little rosettes of leaves down below; near the
pools the pitcher-plants; nearer still, hiding in thickets, the ferns.
These pools were a wonder. How came they there in so dry a land? For the
barrens were pure white sand; each narrow road, where the exterior mat
of green had been worn away, was a dry white track in which the foot
sank warmly. The pools were there, however, and in abundance. Though
shallow, their clear water had a rich hue like that of dark red wine.
Those on horseback or in a cart went through them, the little
silver-white descent on one side to get to them, and the ascent on the
other, forming the only "hills" the barrens knew; for those on foot, a
felled pine-tree sometimes served as a bridge.

The trails, crossing in various directions, were many, they all appeared
to be old. One came upon them unexpectedly, often they were not visible
in the low shrubbery three feet away. Once found, they were definite
enough; they never became merged in the barren, or stopped; they always
went sleepily on and on, they did not appear themselves to know whither.
And certainly no one else knew, as Winthrop found when occasionally, he
being more lost than usual (on the barrens he was always lost to a
certain degree, and liked it), he would stop his horse to ask of a
passing cracker in what direction some diverging trail would take him,
in case he should follow it. The cracker, astride his sorry pony, would
stare at him open-mouthed; but he never knew. Packed into the
two-wheeled cart behind him, all his family, with their strange
clay-colored complexions and sunburnt light hair, would stare also; and
they never knew. They were a gentle, mummy-like people, too indolent
even to wonder why a stranger should wish to know; they stared at him
with apathetic eyes, and then passed on, not once turning their heads,
even the children, for a second look. But as a general thing Winthrop
rode on without paying heed to the direction he was taking; he could
always guide himself back after a fashion by the pocket-compass he
carried.

One afternoon Winthrop, out on the barren, saw in the distance a horse
and phaeton. There was no phaeton in all that country but his aunt's. He
rode across to see who was in it. To his surprise it was Garda; she was
leaning indolently back on the cushioned seat, the reins held idly in
her hand, an immense bunch of roses fastened in her belt. The horse was
one he did not know.

"Garda!--this you!" he said.

"Yes," she answered, laughing at his astonishment. "Everything was so
dull at the house that I thought I _must_ do something. So I did this."

"I wasn't aware that you knew how to drive?"

"This isn't driving."

"No, I hardly think it is," he answered, looking at her reclining figure
and the loose reins. "Where are you going?"

"Oh, I don't know."

"Whose horse have you?--if I may ask another question."

"Madam Giron's; I sent Pablo to borrow it, as I did not like to take
your aunt's."

"Then they know what you are doing?"

"Pablo knows."

"And Margaret?"

"No, Margaret doesn't know. I should have told her, of course, if I
could have seen her, or rather, if I could have seen her, I should not
have come out at all. But that was the trouble--I couldn't see her; she
has been shut up in Mrs. Rutherford's room ever since early this
morning, and there's no prospect, according to Looth, of seeing her
until to-morrow."

"Yes, I feared my aunt was going to have one of her bad days."

"Of course I'm sorry, but that doesn't make the hours any shorter, that
I know of; there was no one to speak to; even you were away. _You_ have
the advantage of being able to leave the house whenever you like, and
staying out forever."

"Well, I've turned up now."

"I don't want you now; I've 'turned up' myself. Where are you going, may
I ask in my turn?"

"Going to drive you home."

"Not if you intend to tie that horse of yours at the back of the
phaeton, where he will nibble my shoulders all the way. But I'm not
going home yet; haven't I told you how dull it was there? I'm going on."

"I don't know about letting you go on; I'm not satisfied with the look
of that horse."

"Yes, he's the wildest one Madam Giron has; but that isn't very wild,"
said Garda, in a tone of regret.

"You are already over four miles from East Angels--"

"Delightful!"

"--and if you won't turn round, I shall have to follow you on horseback;
I shouldn't have a clear conscience otherwise."

"Oh, have a clear conscience, by all means."

But she did not long like this arrangement; the sound of another horse
behind made Madam Giron's horse restless, so that she could not keep the
reins lying idle, as she liked.

"Let your horse go, and come and drive me," she said.

"Let him go? Where?"

"Home, I suppose."

"He wouldn't go; he's an animal of intelligence, and of course has
observed that he could lead a nomadic life here perfectly, with constant
summer, and water, and--but I can't say much for the grass. I think,
however, that I can arrange it so that he shall not trouble you." And
dismounting, he changed and lengthened some straps; then seating
himself in the phaeton beside her, he took the reins, his own horse
trotting along docielly at his side of the phaeton, fastened by a long
line.

"It's caravanish," said Garda. "But I'll allow it because I want you to
drive; it's more amusing than driving myself."

"More lazy, you mean."

"Yes; I ran away to be lazy."

"For a variety?"

She did not take this up, but, leaning back still further, half closed
her eyes.

"Have you often been out in this way on the barrens, driving yourself?"
he went on.

"This is the first time I have ever driven--on the barrens or anywhere
else."

"Yet you come out alone, and with this restless horse! I never knew you
to do such a thing before."

"That only shows how short a time you have known me; I always like to do
things I have never done before."

The phaeton rolled on towards the west--on and on, as she would not let
him turn. But he did not wish to turn now; they had reached a part of
the barren which he had not visited, though he had ridden to much
greater distances both towards the north and the south. Here were wider
pools; and here also was a sluggish narrow stream; far off on the left
rose the long dark line of the great cypresses on the edge of a swamp.
The sluggish stream at length crossed their road, or rather their road
essayed to cross the sluggish stream; but the dark water looked deep,
there were no tracks of wheels on the little descent to show that any
one had tried the ford lately--say within the last twenty years.
Winthrop hesitated.

"Go on," said Garda.

"But I might have to swim with you to the other shore."

"Nothing I should like better."

"To see me soaked?"

"To see you excited."

"That wouldn't excite me; I should only be wet and depressed. In any
case it is time for us to turn back."

"No, I've set my heart upon going at least as far as that ridge." And
she indicated a little rise of land on the other side of the stream,
whose summit was covered thickly with Dr. Kirby's andromedas, and
shining laurel, sprays of yellow jessamine, bright with flowers, pushing
through the darker green and springing into the air. "There's a bridge,"
she added.

Winthrop turned; a felled pine-tree, roughly smoothed, crossed the
stream a short distance below the ford.

"You can tie the horses here, and we will walk over," pursued Garda.

"Then will you come back?" he asked, amused by her taking it as a matter
of course, always, that she was to have her own way.

"Then I will come back."

He tied the horses to two pine-trees, some distance apart from each
other. Then he tried the bridge. It seemed firm. Garda, refusing his
offers of assistance, crossed lightly and fearlessly behind him. Some of
the twigs still remained on the old trunk, and she lifted her skirt so
that they should not catch upon it and cause her to stumble; when they
had gone nearly three-quarters of the distance, Winthrop, turning his
head to speak to her, saw that she wore low slippers, thin-soled papery
little shoes fit only for a carpeted floor. "You must not go among the
bushes in those shoes," he said. "The bushes over there are sure to be
wet; all that ground is wet."

"Don't stop on the bridge," said Garda, laughing.

But he continued to bar the way. "I will bring you the flowers," he
said.

"I don't want the flowers, I want to go myself to the top of that ridge,
and look down on the other side."

"There's nothing to see on the other side."

"That makes no difference. Go on. Go on."

He turned round; cautiously, for the bridge was slippery and narrow.
They were now face to face.

"I shall never yield," Garda declared, gayly. "But I shall make _you_
yield. Easily."

"How?"

"By telling you that if you do not go on, I shall jump into the water,
and get to the other bank in that way."

He laughed. But as he did so he suddenly felt a conviction come over
him, owing to an expression he saw in her eyes, that she was capable of
carrying out her threat. He seized her hands; but she wrested them from
his grasp; and as she did so he had a vision of her figure in the water
below. He could easily rescue her, of course; but it would be a
situation whose pleasures he should fail to appreciate, both of them wet
through, and many miles from home. She had no sooner freed her hands,
therefore, than he took a firmer hold of her, so that she could not
stir.

But she still openly exulted; her face, close to his, was brilliant with
light and mirth. "That's of no use," she said. "You cannot possibly walk
backward on this narrow tree, even if you could carry me--which I
doubt."

It was true that his back was towards the bank which was near, the one
they had been approaching, and that he could not make his way thither on
that narrow surface without seeing where he was going. He had flushed a
little at her taunt. "I can carry you back to the side we started from,"
he said.

"No, you cannot do that, either. For I could easily blind you with my
hands, and make you stumble."

"Garda!--how absurd!"

"Yes; but it's _you_ who look so," she answered, bursting into a peal of
irrepressible glee.

Winthrop had the feeling that she might be right. He knew that he was
flushed and angry; no man likes to be laughed at, even by a girl of
sixteen. Her eyes, though over-flowing with mirth, had still an
unconquerable look in them. Suddenly he released her. "Your actions are
ridiculous," he said; "I can only leave you to yourself." And turning,
he crossed to the near bank. He had successfully resisted his impulse,
which had been to take her, mocking and mirthful as she was, and carry
her back to the bank from which they had started; he felt sure that he
could have done it in spite of any resistance she might have offered.

Garda ran after him, and put her arm in his. "Are you vexed with me?"
she said, looking up coaxingly in his face.

"Don't you think you are old enough now, Garda, not to act so much like
a child?"

"It isn't a child," she answered, as it seemed to him rather strangely.
"I shall always be like this."

"Do you mean that you never intend to be reasonable?"

"Oh, I don't know what I intend, I don't think I intend anything;
intending's a trouble. But don't be angry with me," she went on; "you
and Margaret are all I have now." And she looked up at him still
coaxingly, but this time through a mist of tears.

"I am not vexed," answered Winthrop, quickly. "Will you have the
kindness to glance at your feet?" he added, by way of diversion into
another channel.

They had been standing among the low bushes on the further shore, and
Garda was again holding her skirt slightly lifted; her thin slippers
were seen to be as completely drenched as though they had been in the
stream. "Yes, they're wet," she assented, lifting first one, and then
the other, so as to get a good view; "they're quite wet through, soles
and all. And, do you know, my feet are already very cold."

"And we have still the long drive home! You must acknowledge that you
are wise."

At this moment they heard a sound, and turned; Madam Giron's horse had
broken his fastenings, and started down the barren, the phaeton gently
rolling along behind him. Winthrop ran across the pine-tree bridge and
after him, as swiftly yet as noiselessly as he could, so that the sound
of pursuit should not increase his speed. But Madam Giron's horse
enjoyed a run on his own account, and after trotting for a while, he
broke into the pace which suited him best, a long-stepped easy gallop;
thus, with the phaeton bounding at his heels, he took his way down the
broad green vista, faster and faster, yet still with a regular motion,
which was doubly exasperating because it seemed so much more like an
easy gait for the saddle (which it was) than a demoralized running away.
At length, when Winthrop himself had run half a mile, in the vain hope
that he would stop or turn, Madam Giron's steed disappeared in the
distance, having reached and gone down, Garda said, the curve of the
earth, as a ship does at sea.

"Isn't it funny? What are we going to do now?" she asked. She had come
back across the bridge while he was vainly pursuing the chase.

"If it were not for your wet feet I should put you on my horse and start
towards home, hoping to meet some one with a cart. As it is, I think you
had better try to walk for a while."

"It would be very uncomfortable in these wet things. No; I couldn't."

"I hardly know what we can do, then, unless you will take off your
stockings and those silly slippers, and wrap your feet up in something
dry. Then I could put you on the horse."

"But there's nothing to wrap them up in."

"Yes; my coat."

Garda laughed. "To think of seeing _you_ without one!"

But at length this was done; the pretty little feet, white and cold, she
dried with her handkerchief, and then wrapped up as well as she could in
his coat, securing the wrapping with the black ribbon which had been her
belt. Thus protected he lifted her, laughing at her own helplessness, on
the horse, where she sat sidewise, holding on; she had fastened all the
roses which had been in her belt on her palmetto hat, so that she looked
like a May-queen. Winthrop walked on in advance, leading the horse by
the bridle, and carrying her slippers dangling from his arm by a string,
in the hope, he said, of at least beginning the drying. For some time
Garda amused herself making jests at their plight. But after a while the
uneasy posture in which she was obliged to sit began to tire her; she
begged him to stop and let her rest.

"We shouldn't reach home then until long after dark," he answered. "As
it is, at this rate, it will be very late before we can get there."

"Never mind that; of what consequence is it? I'm _so_ tired!"

He came back, and walking by her side, guiding the horse by the rein, he
told her to put her hand on his shoulder, and steady herself in that
way; this bettered matters a little, and they got over another long slow
mile. The sun had sunk low in the west; his horizontal rays lit up the
barren with a flood of golden light. "My poor slippers are no drier,"
said Garda, lifting the one that hung near her.

"If we had had time we could have made a fire, and dried them with very
little trouble."

"Oh, let us make a fire now! I love to make a fire in the woods. You
could get plenty of dry cones and twigs and it wouldn't take fifteen
minutes; then, if they were once dry, I could walk, you know."

"Your fifteen minutes would be an hour at least, and that is an hour of
daylight very precious to us just now. Besides, I am afraid I doubt your
walking powers."

"Yes," answered Garda, with frankness; "I hate to walk."

"Yet you can run," he suggested, referring to her escapade on Patricio
beach.

Garda took up this memory, and was merry over it for some time. Then,
growing weary again, she told him despotically that he must stop. "I
cannot bear this position and jolting a moment longer, with my feet
fettered in this way," she said, vehemently. "You couldn't either."

He turned; though she was smiling, he saw that she had grown pale. "I
shall have to humor you. But I give you fifteen minutes only." He lifted
her down, and mounting the horse, rode off to a distance, first in one
direction, then in another, hoping to discover some one whom he could
send in to Gracias for a carriage or wagon. But the wide barren, growing
rapidly dusky, remained empty and still; there was no moving thing in
sight.

When he came back he found that Garda had put on her stockings and
slippers again, wet as they were. She was trying to walk; but the soft
sand of the track clung to each soaked shoe so that she lifted, as she
said, a mountain every time she took a step. In spite of this, "I'm
going on," she announced.

"You must, now that you have put on those wet things again; it's the
only way to keep from taking cold."

So they started, Garda leaning on his arm, while he held the bridle with
his other hand. "I might ride, and carry you behind me," he suggested.
"Like Lochinvar."

"Who's Lochinvar? See; there's somebody!"

He looked towards the point she indicated, and saw the figure of a man
going in another direction, and at a good distance from them. He jumped
on his horse again, and rode across to speak to him. The man proved to
be a tall young negro of eighteen or nineteen; he was ready to do
anything that Winthrop should desire, but he had also the disappointing
tidings to communicate that they were even farther from East Angels and
Gracias than they had supposed; they were still ten miles out.

"Why, it's Bartolo," said Garda, as they came back together. She had
seated herself, and was looking at her clogged feet gravely.

"Yessum," said Bartolo, removing his fragmentary straw hat.

"He's Telano's cousin," pursued Garda, inspecting the wrinkled kid at
the heel of the left slipper. "Do you know, they are beginning to
shrink; and they hurt me."

Winthrop stood still, deliberating. There was no house or cabin of any
kind within a number of miles, Bartolo said; if he should send the boy
in to Gracias on foot for a carriage, and keep on advancing with Garda
in the same direction at their present slow rate, they should not
probably reach East Angels until midnight; to go in himself on
horseback, and leave Garda with only Bartolo as protector--no, he could
not do that. This last would have been the southern way, and Garda
herself suggested it. "Ride in to Gracias as fast as you can, and come
back with a carriage, or something, for me; I shall not be afraid if
Bartolo can stay."

Bartolo showed his white teeth. "I ken stay, sho," he said. He was
blacker and jollier than his cousin Telano, he had not the dignified
manners of a Governor of Vermont; he was attired in a light costume of
blue cotton shirt and butternut trousers, his sleeves rolled up, his
feet bare.

Winthrop still deliberated. "Perhaps it would be better," he said at
last, "if Bartolo should go in, on my horse; I could wait here with
you." And he looked at Garda with eyes which asked the question--was
Bartolo to be trusted so far as that?

She understood. "Bartolo will carry your message as well as any one
could, I know," she answered.

Bartolo gave his head a lurch to one side in acknowledgment of her
compliment. He slapped his leg resoundingly;--"I _tell_ yer!" he said.
It was his way of affirming his capabilities.

There was really nothing else to be done, unless Winthrop should essay
to ride, as he had suggested, with Garda behind him; and Garda had
declined to try this mode of progression. Bartolo offered the statement
that he could reach Gracias, and have a carriage back, before dark.

"That's impossible," said Winthrop, briefly.

"'Twon' be more'n de edge of de ebenin', den, marse," said Bartolo, with
his affable optimism.

"Be off, in any case; the sooner you are back, the more dimes you will
have."

Bartolo flung himself in a heap upon the saddle, disentangling his legs
after the horse was in motion; then, his bare feet dangling and flapping
without use of the stirrup, he galloped across the barren, not by the
road, but taking a shorter cut he knew. Winthrop stood watching him out
of sight; but he could not see far, as the light was nearly gone.

"Now make a fire," said Garda.

"Don't you think you could walk on--if we should go very slowly? We
might shorten the distance by a mile or two."

"I don't think I could take a step. These slippers are tightening every
minute, in the wrong places; they hurt me even as I sit still."

"Try my shoes."

"I couldn't carry them, my feet would slip out at the top."

This was true; her little feet looked uselessly small, now that they
were needed for active service. "You are very inconvenient," he said,
smiling.

"The next thing--you will be asking me to go in to Gracias barefoot,"
continued Garda. "But I never could, never; one step on this sand would
make me all creepy."

"Well," said Winthrop at last, accepting his fate, "I suppose I might as
well make a fire."

"It's what I wanted you to do in the first place," answered Garda,
serenely.

He made a fire that leaped high towards heaven. He made it
systematically, first with twigs and pine cones which he collected and
piled together with precision before applying the match; then he added
dry branches, which he searched for and hauled in with much patience and
energy.

"When I asked you to make a fire, I did not suppose you would be away
all night," remarked Garda, as he returned from one of these
expeditions, dragging another great load behind him.

"All night? Twenty minutes, perhaps."

"At least an hour."

He looked at his watch by the light of the blaze and found that she was
right; he had been at work an hour. As he had now collected a great heap
of branches for further supply, he stood still, watching his handiwork;
Garda was sitting, or rather half reclining, on his coat, her back
against a pine, her slippers extended towards the glow.

"You look sleepy," he said, smiling to see her drowsy eyes. "But I am
glad to add that you also look warm."

"Yes, I am extremely comfortable. But, as you say, I am sleepy; would
you mind it if I should really fall asleep?"

"The best thing you could do."

She put her head down upon her arm, her eyes closed; it was not long
before he could perceive that sleep had come. He took off his soft felt
hat, and, kneeling down, raised her head gently and placed it underneath
as a pillow. She woke and thanked him; but fell asleep again
immediately. He drew the little mantle she wore--it was hardly more than
a scarf--more closely round her shoulders, added to it the only thing he
had, his silk handkerchief. And then, coatless and hatless, he walked up
and down beside the fire and her sleeping figure, keeping watch and
listening for the distant sound of wheels. But it was too early to
listen, he knew that. Night had darkened fully down upon the barren, the
fire, no longer leaping, burned with a steady red glow; a warm breeze
stirred now and then in the pine-trees; but except that soft sound it
was very still. And the aromatic odors grew stronger.



CHAPTER XVII.


The next morning, about eight o'clock, the only covered carriage of
which Gracias could boast drove up to the door of East Angels. From it
descended (it really was a descent, for the carriage had three folding
steps) Evert Winthrop, then Garda, then Mrs. Carew, to meet, gathered in
the lower hall near the open door, Dr. Kirby and his mother, the Rev.
Middleton Moore, Madam Ruiz, Madam Giron, and, in the background, Pablo
and Raquel. Margaret was not there, nor Celestine; but Looth's head
peeped over the old carved railing at the top of the stairway, and
outside, gathered at the corner of the house, were Telano, Aunt
Dinah-Jim, Maum Jube, and Cyndy, furtively looking on. Dr. Kirby's face
was dark. Mr. Moore, who always preferred that everything should be as
usual, was doing his best (in opposition to the Doctor) to keep it usual
now; of course they had been anxious; but Garda was found, he did not
see why they should continue to be distressed. Little Mrs. Kirby, in her
neat brown bonnet with little brown silk cape, looked apprehensive.
Madam Giron (with some hastily donned black lace drapery over her head)
and Madam Ruiz appeared much more reserved than was usual with them.

The arriving Betty alone was radiant; but she shone for all. She half
fell out of the carriage in her haste, and almost brought Evert
Winthrop, who was assisting her, to the ground. Garda, while waiting a
moment for these two to disentangle themselves, glanced at the assembled
group within, and, smiling at their marshalled array, waved a gay little
salutation to the Doctor, who was advancing to meet them. But the Doctor
was in no mood for such light greetings; in majestic silence he came
forth, representing the others, representing Gracias-á-Dios,
representing himself.

Winthrop detested scenes, he was much annoyed that these people had (as
he said to himself) thought it necessary to make one. But he saw that he
could not prevent it, they had made up their minds to take it in that
way; if he did not speak, the Doctor would, and it was better to speak
first and speak lightly, and by ignoring their solemnity, break it up,
than be put through a catechism on his own account.

"Ah, Doctor," he said, "good-morning; we have had an accident, as you
see, and are rather late. But it isn't of as much consequence as it
might have been, because Garda has given me the right to take care of
her; she has promised to be my wife."

It was out--the great news! Betty Carew fell to kissing everybody in her
excitement, and saying, tearfully, "Isn't it--_isn't it_ beautiful?"
Old Mrs. Kirby walked back, and meekly sat down on the bottom stair; she
was pleased, but she was also extremely tired, in the reaction she was
becoming conscious of it; though deeply interested, her principal hope
now was that somebody would think of breakfast. Madam Giron (generously
unmindful of her missing horse) and Madam Ruiz came forward together to
offer their congratulations; at heart they were much astonished, for
they both thought Winthrop far too old for Garda; they tried not to show
their surprise, and said some very sweet things. But Mr. Moore was the
most startled person present, Winthrop's speech had seemed to him the
most unusual thing he had ever heard. He walked up and down several
times, as if he did not quite know what to do. Then he tried to present
a better appearance in the presence of all these friends, and stood
still, rubbing his hands and saying every now and then, in a
conciliating tone (apparently as much to himself as to any one else),
"Why yes, of course. Why yes."

These little flurries of words, movement, and embraces had gone on
simultaneously; and Winthrop had all the time been trying to lead the
way towards the stairs. Dr. Kirby had not spoken a syllable, either in
answer to Winthrop's first speech, or Betty's tearful "_Isn't_ it
beautiful?" or Mr. Moore's "Why yes." But now he found his voice, and
drawing Garda--who had kept on laughing to herself softly--away from the
women who were surrounding her, "Come up-stairs, Garda," he said; "this
open hall is no place for a serious conversation."

It occurred to Winthrop that he might have thought of this before.

Meanwhile the large heavy Looth had gone on a thunderous run through the
whole length of the upper hall, on her way to a back staircase, in order
to get down first and tell the news to Telano, Aunt Dinah, and the
others. For Pablo and Raquel held themselves aloof from the new servants
(though kindly allowing them to do the work of the household), and it
gave Looth joy to forestall them. Pablo and Raquel were of the old
_régime_, they held their heads high because they were not receiving
wages, but "b'longed to de place;" they had small opinion of "free
niggahs" still, and were distinctly of the belief that "man's payshin"
was an invention of the Yankees, which would soon come to an end. "_Den_
we'll see squirmin'--ki!"

When the friends were re-assembled in the drawing-room up-stairs, Dr.
Kirby said, with gravity, "Let some one inform Mrs. Harold."

Winthrop repressed a movement of impatience; the little Doctor with his
magisterial air, the tall, lank clergyman trying to conciliate his own
surprise, Mrs. Carew with her ejaculations and handkerchief, the two
Spanish ladies, who, as it was a sentimental occasion, stood
romantically holding each other's hands, even poor tired little Mrs.
Kirby, folded up quiet and small as a mouse in her chair--they all
seemed to him tedious, unnecessary. Then his glance reached Garda, who
was looking at him over the low bulwark of the Doctor's shoulder. His
face softened, and he smiled back at her, evidently they must let these
good people have their way.

But Garda was less patient. "I shall go myself to find Margaret," she
said; and slipped from the room before the Doctor could stop her.

"I don't think she will come back immediately," said Winthrop, smiling a
little with recovered good-humor at the solemn face the Doctor turned
towards him. "If these friends will kindly excuse me, I should like to
go to my room for a while, as I have been up all night; perhaps you will
come with me?" he added to the Doctor;--"for a moment or two."

It was not at all the Doctor's idea, this easy "moment or two," of the
formal interview which should take place between the suitor and the
guardian. But neither had it been at all to his taste--Winthrop's first
remark that they were "rather late." Rather late--he should think so,
indeed! About fifteen hours. However, his genuine fondness for Garda
induced him to waive ceremony, and he prepared to follow the northerner
who, with a courteous bow to the others, was turning to leave the room.

But they would not let him go so, they must all shake hands with him
again. Madam Ruiz and Madam Giron turned their lovely eyes upon him, and
said some more enchanting things; Betty, taking his hand in both of
hers, gave him her blessing. Mr. Moore's clasp was more limp; he was a
very sincere man, and did not know yet whether he was pleased or not. He
did not think Penelope would know. When Winthrop and Dr. Kirby had left
the room, he took leave of the ladies, mounted his pony, and started on
his return to Gracias; perhaps, after all, Penelope _would_ know. Madam
Ruiz and Madam Giron went next, not aware that the tidings they carried
would bring another access of that terrific rage to Manuel when he
should hear it (in Key West), and a heavy conviction that the world's
last days were certainly near to poor stiff Torres. Betty Carew was to
remain; to her, when they were alone together, Mrs. Kirby, waiting for
Reginald, confided her need for breaking her fast.

"And _I'm_ famished too," said Betty, wiping her eyes decisively for the
last time, and putting away her handkerchief; "only one doesn't remember
it now, of course, at such a time as _this_." (But Mrs. Kirby thought
she did remember.) "We had a little something before we started, at my
house--where dear Evert in the _sweetest_ way brought Garda, as soon as
they reached Gracias; but it was only a little, and I'll go directly out
now myself and speak to Aunt Dinah, as Mrs. Harold and Garda are
talking, I reckon--yes, _indeed_, they've got something to talk about,
haven't they? and _what_ a comfort this will be to Mrs. Harold, coming
so _soon_ after her taking charge of the dear, dear child, and making
her more than ever one of the family, of course; and Katrina too, what a
comfort it will be to her to have her dear nephew so _delightfully_
married! But there, I'll go out and speak to Aunt Dinah; 'twon't be
long, Mistress Kirby; 'twon't be long."

Mrs. Kirby hoped it would not be; she sat very still in her low chair,
it seemed to help her more if she sat still. She was seventy-five years
old, and a very delicate little woman; her last meal had been taken at
five o'clock of the afternoon, or, as she would have said, of the
evening, before. She had been up all night, having started with her son
for East Angels soon after Telano had appeared at their door late in the
evening, saying that Garda had not come home, and Mrs. Harold wished to
know if she were with them; Reginald, though in his mental perceptions
so keen, was very blind at night as regarded actual vision; in
consequence they had missed their way, and after long meandering
wanderings over the level country in various directions through the soft
darkness, behind their old horse June on a slow walk (her white back was
the only thing they could either of them see), they had found themselves
at dawn far away from East Angels, so that they had only been able to
arrive there half an hour before Garda herself appeared. They had found
several of their friends already assembled, and had learned from them
that word had been sent down from Gracias that Garda had reached Mrs.
Carew's house in safety, with Evert Winthrop; and that all three would
soon be at East Angels.

This news had occasioned much relief. Also some conjecture. But Reginald
Kirby did not conjecture when they told him the tale, he maintained an
ominous silence. Too ominous, Mr. Moore thought: let ominousness be kept
for one's attitude towards crime. The truth was that Mr. Moore, much as
he admired Dr. Reginald (and he admired him sincerely), thought that he
had just one little fault: he was disposed at times to be somewhat
theatrical. So he spoke in his most amiable way of Garda's adventure
being "idyllic," and turning to the Doctor, added, pleasantly, "Why so
saturnine?" And then again (as it seemed to him a good phrase), "Why so
saturnine?" And then a third time, and more playfully, as though it were
a poetical quotation, "Why?--tell me why?"--which was indeed imitated
from one of Penelope's songs, "Where, tell me where,"--referring to a
Highland laddie.

The Doctor glared at him. Then he took him by the button and led him
apart from the others. "Sir," he said, frowning, "you can take what
stand you like in this matter, _you_ are a clergyman, and a certain
_oatmealish_ view of things becomes your cloth; but I, sir, am a man of
the world, and must act accordingly!" And leaving the parson to digest
that, he returned to his post at the door.

When Betty came back from her interview with Aunt Dinah she brought with
her a piece of hot corn-bread; "I thought you might like a taste of it,"
she said. Mrs. Kirby was very glad to get it; she sat breaking off small
fragments and eating them carefully--Mrs. Rutherford would have said
that she nibbled. "Yes, the _sweetest_ thing!" continued Betty, seating
herself broadly in an arm-chair, and searching again for her
handkerchief. "Let me see--you and the Doctor started down here about
midnight, didn't you? Well, of course we didn't feel like going to bed,
of course, not knowing _where_ our poor dear child might be, and so I
went over and sat with Penelope Moore; and Mr. Moore _very_ often went
down to the gate, and indeed a good deal of the time he stayed out on
the plaza; Telano's coming up from here had let everybody know what had
happened, and many others sat up besides ourselves, and some of the
servants got together with torches and went out on the barren to look,
only Mr. Moore wouldn't organize a _regular_ search, because he supposed
that was being done here under the Doctor's directions, he never dreamed
you hadn't got here at all! At length, when it was nearly three, Mr.
Moore came in and said that he thought we had better go to bed and get
what sleep we _could_; that we should only be _perfectly_ useless and
exhausted the next day if we sat up all night" (here little Mrs. Kirby
heaved a noiseless sigh); "and so I went home, and _did_ go to bed, but
more to occupy the time than anything else, for of course it was simply
_impossible_ to sleep, anxious as I was. But I must have dropped off,
after all, I reckon, because it was just dawn when Cynthy came up to
tell me that Mr. Moore was down-stairs; I _rushed_ down, and he said
that Marcos Finish, the livery-stable man, had been to the rectory to
say that Bartolo Johnson had come to his house a short time before,
knocked him up, and told him that the northern gentleman and Garda were
ten miles out on the barren, and that he had been sent in to bring out a
carriage for them. He confessed--Bartolo--that he ought to have been
there _hours_ before, as the gentleman had sent him in on his own horse
not much past eight in the evening. But, on the way, he had to pass the
cabin of one of his _friends_, he said--a nice friend, that wild,
drinking Joe Tasteen!--and Joe stopped him, and he intended to stay only
a moment, of course, which soon became many minutes as the foolish boy
lay on the floor in a drunken sleep, while two of Joe's hangers-on,
though not actually Joe himself, I believe, made off with the horse. Of
course it was a regular plot, and I'm afraid Mr. Winthrop will never
see _that_ horse again! When Bartolo _did_ at last wake up, he came in
to Gracias as fast as he could scamper, and went straight to Marcos's
place and told all about it--the only redeeming feature in _his_ part of
the affair--and Marcos got out his carriage, and sent one of his best
men as driver, with Bartolo as guide, and then he went over to your
house to tell the Doctor, and not finding him, came on to the rectory,
and Mr. Moore told him that he did wrong not to come to him _before_
sending the carriage (but Marcos said Bartolo wouldn't wait), because he
himself would have gone out in it after Garda, of course. This was the
first _we_ knew, in Gracias, of Mr. Winthrop's being with the dear
child, and it _did_ seem so fortunate that if they were to be lost at
all, they should happen to be lost _together_. Mr. Moore thought, and so
did Marcos Finish, that they would drive directly here, without stopping
in Gracias, and so he rode down at once; and I was coming down myself,
later, only they did that _sweet_ thing, they stopped after all, and
came to _me_. There they were in the drawing-room when I hurried down,
Garda laughing, oh, _so_ pretty, the dear! As soon as I knew, I took her
in my arms and gave her a true _mother's_ blessing. Oh, Mistress Kirby,
how such days as this take us back to our _own_ spring-time, to the
first buddings and blossomings of our _own_ dear days of love! I am
sure--I am sure," continued Betty, overcome again, and lifting the
handkerchief, "that we _cannot_ but remember!"

Mrs. Kirby remembered; but not with her lachrymal glands; it was not
everybody who was endowed with such copious wells there, suitable for
every occasion, as Betty had been endowed with. She nodded her head
slowly, and looked at the floor; she had finished the corn-bread, and
now sat holding the remaining crumbs carefully in the palm of her hand,
while, in a secondary current of thought (the first was occupied with
Garda and her story), she wished that Betty had brought a plate. "Do
what I can," she said to herself, "some of them _will_ get on the
carpet."

Garda, escaping from the Doctor, had gone to Margaret's room; she had
not much hope of finding her; her not having been present to greet them
seemed to indicate that she was with Mrs. Rutherford, and "with Mrs.
Rutherford" was a hopeless bar for Garda. But Margaret was there.

Garda ran up to her and kissed her. "The only thing I cared about,
Margaret, was you--whether _you_ were anxious."

"How could I help being anxious?" Margaret answered. "It was the
greatest relief when we heard that you had reached Gracias." She was
seated, and did not rise; but she took the girl's hand and looked at
her.

Garda sat down on a footstool, and rested her elbows on Margaret's knee.
"You are so pale," she said.

"I am afraid we are all rather pale, we haven't been to bed; we were
very anxious about you, and then Aunt Katrina has had one of her bad
nights."

But Garda never had much to say about Aunt Katrina. She looked at
Margaret with an unusually serious expression in her dark eyes; "I have
something to tell you, Margaret. You know how wrong you have thought me
in liking Lucian as I did; what do you say, then, to my liking somebody
who is very different--Mr. Winthrop? What do you say to my marrying him?
Not now; when I am two or three years older. He has always been so kind
to me, and I like people who are kind. Of course you are ever so much
surprised; but perhaps not more so than I am myself. I hope you won't
dislike it; one of the pleasantest things about it to me is that it will
keep me near you."

Margaret did not say whether she was surprised or not. But she took the
girl in her arms, and held her close.

"How much you care about it!--I believe you care more than I do," said
Garda, putting her head down on Margaret's shoulder contentedly.

"No," answered Margaret, "that is impossible, isn't it? It is only that
those who are older always realize such things more."

"Well, I don't want to realize anything more just at present," said
Garda. She left her friend, and standing long enough to lift her rounded
arms above her head in a long stretch, she threw herself down on a low
couch. "_Oh_, I'm so sleepy! And I'm hungry too. I wish you would let me
have my coffee in here, Margaret; then I could talk to you and tell you
all about it. Don't you want to hear all about it?"

Margaret had risen to ring for Telano. "Of course," she said, as she
crossed the room.

"Let me see," began Garda, in a reviewing tone. "I went to sleep. Then I
woke up; and after a while I got frightened." She put her hands under
her head and closed her eyes. Presently she began to laugh. "That's all
there is to tell; yes, really. I got frightened--the barren was so dark
and so large behind me."

She said no more. As she had once remarked of herself, she was not a
narrator.

Margaret did not question her; she was clearing one of the tables for
the coffee.

After a while Garda, still with her eyes closed, spoke again:
"Margaret."

"Well?"

"You will have to tell me all the things I mustn't say and do."

"You will know them without my telling."

"Never in the world."

A few minutes more of silence, and then Garda's voice a second time:
"Margaret."

"Well?"

"Tell me you are pleased, or I won't go on with it."

"Oh, Garda, that's not the tone--"

"Yes, it is. The very one! Don't be afraid, we like each other, he likes
me in his way, and that will do; that is, it will do if you will tell me
how to please him."

"You must ask him that."

"Oh, _he'll_ tell; his principal occupation for a long time is going to
be the discovery of my faults." But as she looked up at Margaret,
re-awakened and laughing, it did not seem to the latter woman that he
would be able to find many.

In any case, he had not set about it yet. As he went through the hall
towards his room, accompanied by the Doctor, "I take it that it's hardly
necessary, Doctor," he said, "to formally ask your consent."

The Doctor waited until they had reached the room, and the door was
closed behind them. "I think it _is_ necessary, Mr. Winthrop," he
answered, gravely.

"Very well, then. I ask it," said the younger man. And his voice, as he
spoke, had a pleasant sound.

The Doctor had liked Evert Winthrop. There were two or three things
which he should have preferred to see changed; still, faults and all, he
had liked him. And he liked his present demand (though by no means the
manner of it); the Northerner was taking the proper course, he had taken
it promptly. Nevertheless the idea was impossible, perfectly impossible,
that Garda, the child whom they all loved, the daughter of Edgar Thorne
and all the Dueros, could be carried off by this stranger without any
trouble to himself, at an hour's notice! And that he, Reginald Kirby,
should be asked to give his consent to it in that light way! Give his
consent? Never!

The Doctor's feelings were conflicting. And growing more so. He looked
at Winthrop, and thought of twenty things; at one instant he felt a
strong desire to knock him down; the next, he was grateful. He said to
himself, almost with tears, that at least it should not be so easy,
there should be obstacles, and plenty, of them; if there was no one else
to raise them, he, Reginald Kirby, would raise them. He found it
difficult to know what he really did think with any clearness.

But Winthrop was waiting, he must say something. "Edgarda is very
young," he began, in rather a choked voice.

"I know it. I should, of course, wait until she was older--at least
eighteen."

"Two years," said the Doctor, mechanically.

"Yes, two years."

"And in the mean time?"

"In the mean time we should, I hope, go on much as we are going now; she
is in Mrs. Harold's charge, you know."

The southerner thought that this also was spoken much too lightly.
"Would your intention be to--to educate her further?" he asked, bringing
out the question with an effort. It seemed to him that he never could
consent to that, to have their child carried off, while still so young
and impressible, and subjected to the radical modern processes that
passed as education for girls at the high-pressure North.

"No," Winthrop answered, divining the Doctor's thought, and smiling over
it, "I have no intentions of that kind, how could I have? If Garda
should choose to study for a while, that would be her own affair, and
Mrs. Harold's. She will be entirely free."

"Do you mean that you will exercise no authority?"

"None whatever."

"Then you do not consider it an engagement?" said the Doctor, drawing
himself up belligerently.

"As much of an engagement as this: she has said that she would be my
wife at the end of two years, if, at the end of two years, she should
find herself in the same mind."

"For God's sake, sir, don't smile, don't take it in that way! At what
are you laughing? It cannot be at Garda, it must be therefore at myself;
I am not aware in what respect I am a subject for mirth." The Doctor was
suffocating.

"You don't do me justice," said Winthrop, this time seriously enough. "I
ask you, and with all formality, since you prefer formality, for your
permission, as guardian, to make Edgarda Thorne my wife, if, at the end
of two years, she should still be willing."

"And if she shouldn't be? She is a child, sir--a child."

"That is what I am providing for; if she shouldn't be, I should not hold
her for one moment."

"And in the mean time do you hold yourself?" The Doctor was still fiery.

"I hold myself completely."

"Do I understand, then, that you consider yourself engaged to her, but
that she is not to be engaged to you?"

"That is what it will amount to. And it should be so, on account of the
difference in our ages."

There was a silence. Then, "It is an honorable position for you to
take," said Kirby.

He had forced himself to say it. For, now that he was sure of this man
(he had really in his heart been sure of him all along, but now that he
had it in so many words), and his anxieties of one sort were set at
rest, he could allow himself the pleasure of freely hating him, at least
for a few moments. It was not a violent hate, but it was deep--the
jealous dislike, the surprised pain, which a father who loves his young
daughter has to surmount before he can realize that she is willing to
trust herself to another man, even the man she loves; what does she know
of love? is his thought--his fair little child.

Winthrop did not appear to be especially impressed by the Doctor's
favorable opinion of him--of him and his position. He went on to define
the latter further. "I think it would be more agreeable for us all now,
Garda herself included, if she could be made independent, even if only
in a small way, as regards money. I had not intended, as you know, to
buy all the outlying land of East Angels; but now I will do so; it is
just as well to have it all. The money will be in your charge, of
course; but perhaps you will allow me to see to the investment of it, as
I have good opportunities for that sort of thing? I think it is probable
that we can secure for her, between us, a tolerable little income."

"As you please," said the Doctor. Then he tried to be more just. "Very
proper," he said.

This was the only allusion between them to the fact that the suitor was
a rich man. And Winthrop, often as Kirby's unnecessary (as he thought)
ceremonies had wearied him, forgave it all now in the satisfaction it
was to him to be considered purely for himself--himself alone without
his wealth; yes, even by an unknown little doctor down in
Gracias-á-Dios. He felt quite a flush of pleasure over this as he
realized that the interview was coming to an end without one word more
on this subject, apparently not one thought. He shook hands with the
Doctor warmly; and he felt that all these people would talk and care far
more about what he was personally than about what he possessed. It was
very refreshing.

The Doctor allowed his hand to be shaken; but his feeling of dislike was
still enjoying its season of free play. He looked at the younger man and
felt that he detested him, he had a separate (though momentary)
detestation for his gray eyes, for his white teeth, his thick hair, his
erect bearing, he wanted to strike down his well-shaped hands. This
stranger (stranger, indeed; a few months ago they had never heard of
him) was to have Garda, carry her off, and make what he chose of her;
for that was what it would come to. He, as guardian, might raise as many
obstacles as he pleased; but if the child herself consented, what would
they amount to? And the child had consented--this stranger! A mist rose
in his eyes. He turned quickly towards the door.

"I am afraid you have had no breakfast," said Winthrop, courteously, as
he followed him.

The Doctor had not thought of this, he seized it as an excuse. "I will
go and ask for something now," he said, and, with a brief bow, he left
the room. In the hall outside, in a dark corner, he was obliged to stop
and wipe his eyes. Poor Doctor! Poor fathers all the world over! They
have to, as the phrase is, get over it.

Before Gracias had been formally apprised of Garda's engagement, Mr. and
Mrs. Moore came down to East Angels to see Margaret; they came, indeed,
the morning after Winthrop's interview with Dr. Kirby, and explained
that they should have come on the previous afternoon if they had been
able to secure old Cato and his boat. It was no small thing for Mrs.
Moore to make such a journey; and Margaret expressed her
acknowledgments.

"It is, in fact, an especial matter that has brought me down to-day,"
answered Penelope. "_Would_ you allow Middleton to go out and look at
the roses? It is a long time since he has had an opportunity of seeing
them." When Middleton had departed, his wife, who was established in an
easy-chair with her own rubber cushion, disguised in worsted-work,
behind her, went on as follows: "I have come, Mrs. Harold, about this
reported engagement between our little Garda and your cousin Mr.
Winthrop" (Winthrop and Margaret had ceased to disclaim this
relationship which Gracias had made up its mind to establish between
them). "When Middleton returned from here yesterday, he told me what Mr.
Winthrop had said--when they first reached here, you know--and we talked
it over. Middleton was pleased, of course" (Penelope _had_ known,
then)--"I mean with the general idea; as he has the highest esteem for
your cousin. But while we were still talking about it--for anything that
so nearly touches Garda touches us too--we thought of something, which,
I confess, troubled us. Edgarda is lovely, but Edgarda is a child, or
nearly so; what is more, we remember that your cousin has always treated
her as one. Now a man doesn't care for a child, Mrs. Harold, in the way
he cares for a wife, and Middleton and I are both firmly of the opinion
that only a love that is inevitable, overwhelming" (Penelope emphasized
these adjectives with her black-gloved forefinger), "should be the
foundation of a marriage. Look at us; _we_ are examples of this. I
couldn't have lived without Middleton; Middleton couldn't have lived
without me--I mean after we had become aware of the state of our
feelings towards each other. And we both think this should be the test:
can he _live_ without her?--can she _live_ without him? If they can,
either of them, they had better not marry. Of course, as to what may
happen _afterwards_" (Penelope had suddenly remembered to whom she was
talking), "that is another matter; things may occur; we may not be
responsible for differences. But, as a _beginning_, this overmastering
love is, we are convinced, the only real foundation. Now, does your
cousin care for Garda in this way? That is what we ask. And if he does
not, is there any reason that could have influenced him in making such
an engagement? At this point of our conversation, Middleton repeated to
me a remark of Dr. Kirby's--which I will not particularize further than
to say that it contained the _Kirbyly_ coined word--_oatmealish_. But it
was that very epithet that made us think that he had the--the _worldly_
idea that what had happened would cause remark in Gracias, unless it
could be said, by authority, that the two persons concerned were
formally engaged to each other. Now, Mrs. Harold, that is a complete
mistake. You and your cousin, all of you, in fact, are strangers, you do
not know either Gracias-á-Dios, or Reginald Kirby, as we do. Gracias
will _not_ remark; Gracias has no such habits; and Reginald Kirby's
views must not be taken in such a serious matter as this. Much as we
like Reginald Kirby, indisputable as is his talent--and we consider him,
all Gracias considers him, one of the most brilliant men of the time--he
is in some of his judgments--I regret to say it--but he _is_ light! When
he speaks on certain subjects, one might almost think that he was" (here
Penelope lowered her voice) "_French!_ And so Middleton and I have come
down to-day to say that your cousin must not be in the least influenced
by anything he may have suggested. Gracias will _not_ comment;
Middleton, speaking (through me) as rector of the parish, assures you of
this; and he knows our people. I hope you will not think us forward;
but we could not possibly stand by and see Garda so terribly
sacrificed--married to a man who does not love her in the only _true_
way. And all on account of a misconception!"

"I don't think Evert was influenced by anything Dr. Kirby said,"
Margaret answered.

"Or would say?"

"Or would say."

"You think, then, that the idea of possible comment in Gracias had
nothing to do with it?"

"I don't know anything about that, Mrs. Moore. But I do think that Evert
has long been interested in Garda."

"Oh, interested. We are all interested."

"I mean he has cared for her."

Mrs. Moore shook her head, and folded her hands decisively. "That is not
enough," she answered. "The question is--does he _love_ her?" And she
drew in her small lips so tightly that there was scarcely any mouth
visible; only a puckered line.

"You'll have to ask him that," said Margaret, rising. "I am going to get
you a glass of wine."

"Now that is the only unkind thing I have ever heard you say, Mrs.
Harold. Of course we cannot ask him; his position forces him to say yes,
and we should know no more than we did before. But _could_ you sit by--I
ask you as a woman--and see Garda sacrificed?"

"It wouldn't be such a sacrifice--marrying Evert Winthrop," said Mrs.
Harold, in a tone which was almost sharp.

"It makes no difference _who_ it is, if he doesn't love her," responded
Penelope, solemnly; and she believed with all her heart in what she
said. She looked at Margaret; but Margaret's back was towards her. She
rose, and with her weak step crossed the room to where Margaret was
standing, taking some cake from Mrs. Thorne's shining old mahogany
sideboard.

This champion of love, as she made her little transit, was seen to be
attired in a gown of figured green delaine, the plain untrimmed skirt,
which was gathered at the waist, touching the floor. The upper part of
this garment had the appearance of being worn over a night-dress. But
this was because Penelope believed in all persons presenting themselves
"exactly as Nature made them." She therefore presented herself in that
way; and it was seen that Nature had made her with much shoulder-blade
and elbow, a perfectly flat chest, over which the green gown was tightly
drawn, to expand below, however (with plenty of room to show the
pattern), over one of those large, loose, flat waists concerning which
the possessors, for unexplained reasons, always cherish evident pride.
In the way of collar, Penelope had a broad white ruffle, which, however,
in spite of broadness, was loose enough in front (though fastened with a
large shell-cameo breastpin) to betray, when she turned, two
collar-bones and an inch of neck below. An edge of black lace, upon
which bugles had been sewed, adorned her sleeves; she wore a black silk
bonnet with a purple flower, and black kid gloves with one button. Her
black shawl, with a stella border, lay on a chair.

"Dear Mrs. Harold," she said, when she reached the sideboard, "we are
thinking only of Garda. Do content us if you can,--relieve our anxiety;
we have the most complete confidence in you."

"There's no reason why you should have it."

But the southern woman took her hands. "Something has vexed you, of
course I don't know what; we should be very fond of you, Margaret, if
you would let us; perhaps some day you will let us. But this, meanwhile,
is another matter, _this_ is about Garda."

"Yes, it's another matter," answered Margaret. She drew her hands away,
but her voice took on its old sweetness again. "Don't feel in the least
troubled, Mrs. Moore; there's no cause for it. If you want my opinion,
here it is: I think he loves her; I think he has loved her, though
possibly without knowing it, for some time."

And, ringing for Telano, she gave her orders about the wine, and sent
for Mr. Moore--in case he had completed his inspection of the roses.



CHAPTER XVIII.


One beautiful morning towards the last of November three skiffs were
making their way up a tide-water creek which led into Patricio towards
its southern end. The little boats were each propelled by one person,
who stood erect facing the prow, and using, now on one side, now on the
other, a single light paddle; the stream, though deep, was not wide
enough to allow the use of two oars, and it wound and doubled so
tortuously upon itself that the easiest way to guide it was to stand up
and paddle in the Indian fashion. At the stern of each boat, seated on
the bottom on cushions, leaning back in the shade of a white parasol,
was a lady; Margaret Harold, Garda Thorne, Mrs. Lucian Spenser.

Mr. Moore was propelling the boat in which Mrs. Spenser was reclining;
Lucian's skiff held Garda; Torres had the honor of piloting Mrs. Harold.
The skiffs were advancing together, though in single file, and the
voyagers talked.

"How delightful it is that one never has to speak loud here!" said
Margaret; "the air is so still that the voice carries--all out-doors is
like a room. I believe it's our high skies at the North, as much as the
clatter of our towns, that make us all public speakers from our
cradles."

"I don't agree with you; that is, I don't if you mean that you prefer
the southern articulation," said Mrs. Spenser.

"Yet I'm sure you prefer mine, Rosalie," said her husband, laughing.

"You're not a real southerner, Lucian."

"Oh yes, I am. But even if I'm not, here's Miss Thorne; she certainly
is."

"Miss Thorne is Spanish," answered Mrs. Spenser, briefly; "she doesn't
come under the term southerner, as I use it, at all; she is Spanish--and
she speaks, too, like a New-Englander." Then feeling, perhaps, that this
statement had been rather dry, she turned her head and gave Garda a
little bow and smile.

"You have described it exactly," said Garda, who was letting the tips of
her fingers trail in the water over the skiff's low side. "Try this,
Margaret; it makes you feel as if you were swimming."

"The southern pronunciation," went on Mrs. Spenser, in a general way,
"_I_ do not admire." (She spoke as though combating somebody.) "And they
have, too, such a curious habit, especially the women, of talking about
their State. 'We Carolinians,' 'We Virginians,' they keep saying; and
when they are excited, they will call themselves all sorts of
names--'daughters of Georgia,' for instance. Imagine northern women
speaking of themselves seriously (and the southern women are as serious
as possible about it) as 'We daughters of Connecticut,' 'We daughters of
Nebraska.' We care about as much, and think about as much of the
especial State we happen to live in, as the county."

"The more's the pity, then," said Lucian. "That State-feeling you
criticise, Rosalie, is patriotism."

"The northern women are quite as patriotic, I think," said Margaret.
"But it's for their country as a whole, not for the State. And for their
country as a whole, Mrs. Spenser, haven't you heard them use fine
language, occasionally? I have; 'Columbia,' and the 'Starry Mother,' the
'Home of the Free,' and so forth."

Margaret had made remarks of this sort a good many times since the
arrival of Lucian and his wife, three weeks before; she compared them in
her own mind to the cushions in bags of netting which sailors are
accustomed to let down by ropes over a ship's side as she enters port,
to prevent too close a grazing against other ships. Not that Lucian and
his wife quarrelled, a quarrel requires two persons, and Lucian
quarrelled with no one; he had possessed a charming disposition when he
first visited Gracias, he possessed a charming disposition still. Nor
did it appear that his wife thought otherwise, or that she wished to
quarrel with him; on the contrary, any woman could have detected
immediately that she adored him, that she had but the one desire,
namely, to please him; her very irritations--and they were many--came
from the depth of this desire.

She was a tall woman, rather heavy in figure, though not ill made; she
had a dark complexion, a good deal of color, thick low-growing dark
hair, heavy eyebrows that almost met, very white teeth, and fairly good,
though rather thick, features. With more animation and a happier
expression--an occasional smile, for instance, which would have revealed
the white teeth--she might have passed as handsome in a certain way. As
it was, she was a woman who walked with an inelastic tread, her eyes had
a watchful expression, her brow was often lowering; her rather long
upper lip came down moodily, projecting slightly over the under one,
which was not quite so full. She had stout white hand, with square
fingers. Her large shoulders stooped forward a little. She was always
too richly dressed.

When Rosalie Bogardus had insisted upon marrying Lucian Spenser the
winter before, all her relatives had shaken their heads; they were
shaking them still. The sign of negation had signified that, to their
minds, Lucian was a fortune-hunter. Not that they had meant to insinuate
that Miss Bogardus had not sufficient personal charm to attract for
herself; on the contrary, they all thought Rosalie a "handsome woman;"
but the fact still remained that she had a good deal of money, while the
young engineer had not one cent--a condition of things which they could
have pardoned, perhaps, if he had shown any activity of mind in relation
to obtaining the lacking coin. But here was where Lucian, so active
(unnecessarily) in many other matters, seemed to them singularly inert.
The truth of the case was not what the relatives supposed; money had had
nothing to do with this marriage, and love had had everything.

Rosalie had been a silent, rather dull-looking girl, with a brooding
dark eye which had a spark slumbering at the back of it; she had a
deep-seated pride which never found its outlet in speech, and she had
led always a completely repressed life among her relatives, who were
kind enough in their way, but who did not in the least understand her.
The girl had the misfortune to be an orphan. Her disposition was
reserved, jealous in the extreme; but, as is often the case with
reserved women, there was an ocean of pent-up tenderness surging below,
which made her sombre and unhappy; for indiscriminate friendship she had
no taste, while as to the more intimate ones, she had always found
herself forced, sooner or later, to share them with some one else, and
the pain her jealousies had given her upon these occasions had been so
keen that she had learned to abstain from them entirely; it was easier
to live quite alone. When, therefore, at last she believed that she was
loved, loved for herself, these long-repressed feelings burst forth;
like the released spirit of the magician's vial, they expanded and
filled her whole life, they could never be put back in their prison
again.

Five years before, Miss Bogardus had met Lucian Spenser at the White
Mountains. For a number of weeks they had been thrown together almost
daily in excursions and mountain walks, and the young engineer, with his
easy, happy temper, his wit and his kindness, had seemed to her the most
agreeable person she had ever met. There happened to be no one else
there at the moment whom Lucian cared to talk to; still, it was really
his good qualities rather than this mere accident of there being no one
else that led him on. For he had divined the unhappiness under the
pride, he could not resist the charity (as well as the small
entertainment to himself, perhaps, in the absence of other diversions)
of drawing a smile from that dark reserved face, a look of interest from
those moody eyes; yes, it even gave him pleasure to put some animation
into that inert figure, so that the step grew almost light beside his.
For Lucian had endless theories about the possible good points of the
people he met; he was constantly saying of plain women that if they
would only be a little more this or a little less that, they would be
positively handsome. And he fully believed in these possibilities;
perhaps that was one of the reasons why he was so agreeable; it is such
a charming talent--the divining the best there is in everybody. At any
rate, he was so genuinely kind-hearted, so proselytingly so, if the
phrase may be used, that it gave him real pleasure to make people happy,
even if it were only for the moment. Of possible reactions he never
thought, because he never had reactions himself; if one thing had come
to an end, was it not always easy to find another? Easy for him.

He cared nothing about Miss Bogardus's money, as in reality he cared
nothing for Miss Bogardus herself. But when the weeks of their mountain
life were over, Miss Bogardus found that she was caring for him, though
(as he would have honestly and earnestly maintained if he had known it)
he had never in the least tried to make her. He had only tried to make
her happier; but with Rosalie Bogardus that was the same thing, she had
passed, owing to him, the one interesting summer of her dull rich life.
She did not know that she could be so light-hearted, she did not know
that any one could be; she had had the vague idea that all persons must
go more or less unsatisfied, and that this was the reason why so many
women (if they had not children to bring up) took to good works and
charitable societies, and so many men to horses and wine. Her life had
been extremely dull because the people she lived with and those she saw
frequently (as has been said, she had never been a woman who made many
acquaintances) were all dull; and she had not had among them even the
secondary importance which money often bestows, because they were all
rich themselves. In addition, there were in the same circle younger
cousins much handsomer than she had ever been. The summer she had first
met Lucian she was twenty-seven years old; her relatives had become
accustomed to the unexciting round of her life--at home in the winter,
at the mountains in the summer; a few concerts, some good works; they
looked for nothing new from her; she was "only Rosalie" to them. She had
every comfort, of course, every luxury; it never occurred to their minds
that she might like also a taste of the leading _rôle_ for a time, a
taste of life at first hand; families are very apt to make this mistake
regarding the left-over sisters and daughters whom they shelter so
carefully, perhaps, but also so monotonously, under their protecting
wing.

That summer Lucian was twenty-three; but, tall, handsome, and in one way
very mature, he had looked quite as old as he did now, five years later.
He was always sunny, always amusing; he had not been in the least afraid
of her, of her age, her moodiness, or her money, but had joked with her
and complimented her with an ease which had at first disconcerted her
almost painfully. He had noticed and criticised her reserve; he had
discovered and praised her one little talent, a contralto voice of
smallest possible compass, but some sweetness in a limited range of old
English songs; he had teased her to make him a pocket pin-cushion, and
then when her unaccustomed hands had painfully fashioned one (on her own
behalf she never touched a needle), he had made all manner of sport of
it and of her. He had helped her dry-shod over brooks (unexpectedly she
had a pretty foot), standing ankle-deep in water himself; he had gone
miles for some dark red roses, because one of them would "look so well"
(as it did) in her hair; he had laughed at her books, and made her feel,
though without the least approach to saying so, that she was ignorant;
made her realize, simply through her own quickened sense of comparison,
that she, Rosalie Bogardus, who belonged among the "best people," and
who had enjoyed what is vaguely but opulently summed up as "every
advantage," was yet an uncultivated and even a stupid sort of person, by
the side of a certain young idler, one who had no background whatever
(so her relatives would have said), no connections, no ambitions or
industry of the tangible sort, and no money; no appreciable baggage, in
short, with which to go through life, save a graceful little talent for
painting in water-colors, and the most delightful disposition in the
world. Her relatives would have added--an immense assurance. But Rosalie
did not call it that; to her it seemed courage--courage indomitable, was
the term in her mind.

She over-estimated this trait in Lucian, as she did one or two other
traits; he himself would never have dreamed of being so brave as she
supposed him to be. He was brave enough, physically he had never known a
fear; but that it was indomitable courage which made him smile so
light-heartedly in the face of fortunes so modest--that it was a
splendid defiance--this was where the slow, silent, passionate-hearted
Rosalie was entirely mistaken. It was temperament more than anything
else. But it was natural that she should fall into this error, brought
up as she had been among people who were immovably set in all their
ideas, proud of their mediocrity (they called it conservatism), who had
inherited their wealth through several generations, and who, while
close and careful in all their ways, enemies to everything in the least
like extravagance, were yet fully of the opinion that respectability as
well as happiness depended upon an unassailable foundation of fixed
income; having always lived in this atmosphere, and possessing small
talent for remarking anything outside of her own narrow little world, it
was impossible for Rosalie Bogardus to grasp at once a plan of life
which differed so widely from the only one she knew. She could not
conceive the idea at first of a person like Lucian living on with
contented enjoyment, day after day, without any fortune, any hope of
inheriting one, or any effort towards obtaining one. She knew people, of
course, who had no fortunes; but if young, as he was, they were all
engaged in either planning for them, waiting for them, or working for
them, with more or less eagerness and energy. Lucian appeared to be
neither waiting nor working, and the only plan he had with regard to
such matters was to go back to the office of the company that employed
him (because he must), when his summer should be ended; so long as he
was earning his mere living from year to year (not a difficult task, as
he had no very extravagant tastes, and only himself to provide for), he
seemed to think that he was doing sufficiently well as regarded material
things--always to him subordinate: a state of mind which Rosalie's
relatives, if they had known it, would have deemed either a negligence
that was almost criminal, or downright idiocy, one or the other. Rosalie
herself, not conceiving such an unambitious creed in a nature so rich,
idealized what she did not understand. She dressed up this lack of
energetic acquisitiveness, and made of it fortitude; in her long
reveries she grew at last to think of it in unspoken words which, if
written down, would have been almost poetry.

But though she thus idealized his bravery, she did not have to idealize
his kindness; that had been real. He had not cared about her money, she
had divined that; what he did had been done for herself alone. When,
therefore, they met again, as they did in the winter, the acquaintance
continued to grow because she fostered it; she had had time to think
everything over, to realize what it would be to live without it, during
the four months that had passed since they parted. Lucian, responsive
and delightful as ever, and never so conceited (this is what he would
have called it) as to bring that pretentious thing, conscience, into
such a simple matter as this, lent himself, as it were, to her liking
for the time being, whenever he happened to see her. With him it was a
temporary and even a local interest, and he supposed it to be the same
on her side; when he thought of the part of the city in which she lived,
he thought of her: "Second Avenue--oh yes, Miss Bogardus;" but he did
not think of it or of her for days together, he was a man who had a
thousand interests, who roamed in many and widely differing fields.
Meanwhile Miss Bogardus thought of him without ceasing; she lived upon
his visits, going over in her own mind the last one, and all that he had
said, or failed to say, upon that occasion, until he had come again; she
dwelt upon every look and gesture, and made the woman's usual mistake of
giving a significance to little acts and phrases which they were very
far from having. Lucian did not in the least realize that he was the
subject of so much reverie; nor did he in the least realize the
absorbed, concentrated nature with which he had to do. His life moved on
with its usual evenness; for three-quarters of the day he occupied
himself in a third-story office, then he sallied forth to see what the
remaining hours held for him in the way of entertainment. It is but just
to say that generally they held an abundance; other people liked him
besides Rosalie Bogardus, he was a man who, from first to last, was dear
to very many. About once in so often he went to see his friend of the
summer; he no longer thought of her as a person who needed his help
especially; but he knew that a visit pleased her, and, when other things
were not over-amusing, he would go for a while and give her that
trifling pleasure. He never dreamed that it was a great one.

Long afterwards the character of Lucian Spenser was summed up as follows
by a man of his own age who had a taste for collecting and classifying
characteristics; he even ventured to think such collections almost as
interesting as old china. "He was the most delightful and lovable fellow
I have ever known; and a great many persons thought so besides myself.
But he never was hampered with, he never took, a grain of
responsibility in his whole life. This not from selfishness, or any
particular plan for evading it; he simply never thought about _that_ at
all."

This was true. Even in the case of so serious a thing as his marriage,
the responsibility was all assumed by Rosalie.

How she came to have the idea that he loved her, she herself alone could
have told. Probably she was deceived by his manner, which was often
intangibly lover-like simply through the genius for kindness that
possessed him; or by the tones which his voice fell into now and then
when he was with any woman he liked, even in a small degree. All this
was general, for women in general; but poor concentrated Rosalie, who
seldom saw him with other women, thought that it was for one. However
her belief had been obtained, it was a sincere one; and she accounted
for his silence by saying to herself that he would not speak on account
of her fortune. Here again she completely misjudged him; southerner as
he was, Lucian's thoughts did not dwell upon money; southerner as he
was, too, twenty fortunes would not have kept him from the woman he
loved. But, once convinced in her own heart, Rosalie no longer fought
against her love for him--why should she? It was the one bright spot of
her life. It was possible, after all, then, for life to be happy!

She worshipped every glance of his eye, every word that he spoke; it was
pathetic to see the adoration which that repressed nature was lavishing
upon a nature so different from its own. But no one saw the adoration
save Lucian, she concealed it from all the world besides. For a long
time even he did not see it--he was so accustomed to being liked. When
suddenly he did become aware of it (long after the evil was done), he
left her and left New York. There had never been a word of explanation
between them.

Rosalie did not yield; she knew her own heart, she knew that she loved
him, she believed that he loved her; she trusted to time. And meanwhile
she kept up the acquaintance.

Here, again, Lucian's invincible habit of kindness kept him from telling
her the truth, his invincible habit of not taking responsibility made
him avoid the responsibility of telling her. He, too, trusted to time.

And there was time enough, certainly; that is, it would have been enough
for any one but Rosalie Bogardus. Five years passed, five years of all
the torture intermixed with delight which a woman who loves goes
through. Now and then they met, and she always wrote to him; she tried
to write lightly, as she knew he liked that; she anathematized herself
for taking everything in such a ponderous way. She composed long letters
about books, about Spanish and Italian, both of which she was studying,
about music, and about pictures; she went to see every picture she could
hear of, because he painted, not realizing, poor soul, that those who
paint themselves, especially those who paint "a little," do not as a
general rule care much for pictures, or at least care only for those of
a few of their immediate contemporaries, that interest being principally
curiosity. Who fill the great galleries of Europe day after day? Who are
the people that go again and again? Almost without exception the people
who do not paint; for the people who do, it is noticed that one or two
visits amply suffice.

But nature will out--at least some natures will. At the end of these
five years of a fictitious existence Rosalie Bogardus fell seriously
ill; her life was threatened. Then she wrote three trembling lines to
Lucian, at Gracias-á-Dios. Her one wish now was to marry him, in order
to be able to leave him her fortune; she did not allude to this, but she
said that she was probably dying, and hoped to see him soon. Lucian,
kind as always, hurried north to Washington, where she was staying with
some friends--much more independent now, as regarded her relatives, than
she had been before the growth of her love. He married her; it was as
well that he had been perfectly sincere, when he did so, in not thinking
about her money, because her money did not come to him; she did not die,
but improved rapidly; in two months she was well.

Mrs. Lucian Spenser, as has been said, was not a quick or a clever
woman, but she had the clairvoyance of love. A year had not passed since
her marriage; but it does not take a year for a wife to discover that
her husband is not, and never has been, in love with her, and this wife
had no longer any illusions on that subject. Lucian's manner towards her
was invariably gentle, his temper was always sweet; she could say to
herself, miserably enough, but truthfully too, that he did not in the
least dislike her. If she had known it, this was something, as things
stood. But she did not know it; how should she, without a grain of
experience, and with her passionate nature, comprehend and endure the
necessity, as well as the great wisdom, of holding on simply to the fact
that she was his wife, and that no one on earth could rout her from that
position, and that in time his heart might come round to her? She did
know, however, she had learned, that such love as their marriage was to
have at present must be supplied principally by herself, and she had
accustomed her mind to accept this idea; if she was ever discontented,
she had only to recall the dreary void of her life before she knew him,
and she was reconciled. But while she was still arranging her existence
upon these foundations, a new element rose; her jealousy was excited,
and it was the strongest passion she had. She discovered that Lucian was
very apt to be more or less in love with every attractive woman, every
lovely young girl, he happened to meet. True, it was only a temporary
absorption; but it was real enough while it lasted. To this the jealous
wife could not accustom herself, this she found herself unable to take
"lightly." All the moodiness came back to her eyes, she grew suspicious
and sharp; such good looks as she had were obscured, in her unhappiness
she seemed larger and more round-shouldered than ever.

She was too proud to appeal to her husband, to tell him that he was
torturing her. So they lived on. He was wholly unconscious of the extent
of her sufferings, though he knew that she had a jealous nature; he felt
that he was a good husband, he had really married her more to please her
than to please himself; she had not so much as one unkind word, one
unkind look, with which to reproach him. He never neglected her, she
could not say that he did. She did not say it; her only wish was that he
would neglect some other persons. She preferred this condition of
things, however, racked though she often was, to any open discussions
between them, any explanations; her instinct warned her that
explanations might be worse than the reality. A woman who loves is
capable of any cowardice; or is it--any courage?

Margaret's little conversational cushion had brought to Mrs. Spenser's
mind the thought that she had perhaps been speaking acrimoniously. She
did not mean to be acrimonious; but she was not a southerner, as Lucian
was, by birth at least, and he was making a great deal of this southern
origin of his whenever he was with Garda Thorne. He was with her every
day; true, his wife was present, and other persons; and Garda herself
was engaged to Mrs. Rutherford's nephew, Evert Winthrop, who had gone
north for three weeks or so on business just before they came. But there
might be fifty wives and five hundred other persons present, poor
Rosalie thought, Lucian would look at that beautiful girl and talk to
that beautiful girl, engaged or not engaged, whenever he pleased. She
accused him in her heart of not having told her that there was any such
person in Gracias. But the truth was (and she knew it) that, as she had
never been able to respond with sympathy to allusions on his part to
such acquaintances, much less to any recitals concerning them, he had
learned (as he had not a grain of malice) not to make them. As for
Gracias, she herself had proposed their coming there; she had not cared
to spend the winter in New York or Washington, and see her husband
cajoled by society; she had never loved society, and now she hated it;
Lucian's content was not in the least dependent upon it, fortunately. He
had described this little Florida town to her with a good deal of
amusing decoration, she had thought that she should like to see it for
herself; in her painstaking, devoted way she had studied the sketches he
had made while there until she was much better acquainted with them than
he was himself. There had been no sketch of Garda Thorne, no sketch in
words or water-colors; but perhaps if her jealousies had been less
evident, there might have been. She knew that her jealousies were a
weakness. That did not make them any the less hard to bear; it was, each
separate time, as if Lucian and the person he was for the moment
admiring were engaged in stabbing her to the heart; only, in some
miraculous way, she lived on.

On the present occasion she said no more about southern patriotism, but
gazed in silence at the near shores as the skiffs glided round the next
bend. They were in a wide salt-marsh, a flat reedy sea; the horizon
line, unbroken by so much as a bush, formed an even circle round them.
It was high tide, the myriad little channels were full, the whole marsh
was afloat; the breeze fanning their faces had a strong salty odor, the
sedges along shore were stiff with brine. Tall herons waded about, or,
poised on one leg among the reeds, gazed at them, as they passed, with
high-shouldered indifference; now and then a gray bird rose from the
green as they approached, and with a whir of wings sped away before
them, sounding his peculiar wild cry. The blue seemed to come down and
rest on the edge of the marsh all round them, like the top of a tent; it
was like sailing through a picture of which they could always see
(though they never reached it) the frame.

The stream they were following was not one of the marsh channels; it was
a tide-water creek which penetrated several miles into Patricio, and
after a while they came to the solid land.

"The odor of Florida--I perceive it," said Lucian; "the odor of a
pitch-pine fire! And I don't know any odor I like better." The stream
wound on, the banks grew higher, palmettoes began to appear; they all
leaned forward a little in the golden air, they formed the most graceful
groups of curiosity. At length as the skiffs turned the last bend, a
house came into sight. It was a ruin.

But the pitch-pine fire was there, all the same; it had been made on the
ground behind a small out-building. This out-building had preserved
three of its sides and the framework of its roof; the roof had been
completed by a thatch of palmetto, the vanished façade had been gayly
replaced by a couple of red calico counterpanes suspended from the
thatch. Here lived a family of "poor whites"--father, mother, and six
children; their drawing-room was the green space before the kitchen;
their bedchambers were behind the calico façade; their kitchen was an
iron pot, at this moment suspended over the fragrant fire. The father
had just come home in his roughly made cart, drawn by the most wizened
of ponies, with a bear which he had killed in a neighboring swamp; the
elder boys were bringing up fish from their dug-out in the creek; the
mother, her baby on her arm, lifted her bed-quilt wall to smile
hospitably upon the visitors. They did not own the land, these people;
they were not even tenants; they were squatters, and mere temporary
squatters at that. They had nothing in the world beyond the few poor
possessions their cart could hold; they were all brown and well, and
apparently perfectly happy.

"They look contented," said Margaret, as, after accepting the
hospitalities of the place, which the family hastened to offer--the best
in their power--a clean gourd with water from the mansion's old well, a
look at the bear, the baby, and the pet alligator of tender years
confined in a pen near by, they took their way along an old road leading
down the island towards the south.

"They _are_ contented," said Lucian. "For one thing, they are never
cold; poor people can stand a great deal when winter is taken out of
their lives. Here, too, they can almost get their food for the
asking--certainly for the hunting and fishing. Yes, yes: if I had to be
very poor--if _we_ had to be very poor, Rosalie--I should say, with all
my heart, let it be in Florida!"

These sallies of Lucian's fancy were always rather hard for his wife;
she admired them, of course--she admired everything Lucian said; but she
could not see any reasonable connection between their life, under any
emergencies that could come to it, and the life of people who lived
behind a façade of counterpane, who caught bears, and ate them from an
iron pot. However, there must be one, since Lucian saw it; she smiled
assent, therefore, and did her best to answer warmly, "Oh _yes_, in
Florida!"

"But I suppose they have very little chance to improve here--to rise,"
began Margaret.

"I don't want them to rise," said Lucian, in his light way; "too much
'rising,' in my opinion, is the bane of our American life. The ladder's
free to all, or rather the elevator; and we spend our lives, the whole
American nation, in elevators."

Rosalie fully agreed with her husband here. This was a subject upon
which she had definite opinions. She thought that every one should be as
charitable as possible, and she herself lived up to this belief by
giving away a generous sum in charity every year. Her ideas were
liberal; she thought that "the poor" should have plenty of soup and
blankets in the winter, as well as coals (somehow, in charity, it seemed
more natural to say "coals"); there should be a Christmas-tree for every
Sunday-school, with a useful present for each child; she would have
liked, had it been possible, to reintroduce May-poles on May-day;
May-day would come at the North about the last of June. She had a
dislike for the free-school system; she thought school-girls should not
have heels to their shoes; she thought there should be a property
qualification attached to the suffrage. She looked at Torres, who was by
her side, wondering if he would understand these ideas if she should
explain them; and she thought that perhaps he might. She was doing her
best, as Lucian's wife--she had been doing it ever since she arrived in
Gracias--to discover the "gold mine" which he saw in this young man; so
far (as she had but little sense of humor) she had not succeeded. Once
she asked Lucian what it was that he found so amusing in the Cuban.

"Oh, well, he has so many fixed ideas, you know," Lucian answered.

His wife said nothing, she, too, had fixed ideas; she could not see,
though she tried to, humbly enough, how any one could help having them.
Torres could now speak a little English; but as Rosalie could talk in
Spanish in a slow, measured sort of way, their conversations, which were
never lively, were carried on in the last-named language; it was
understood in Gracias that they were "great friends."

Torres had been brought from his retirement by Lucian. Lucian, who told
everybody that he delighted in him, had gone down to the Giron
plantation to find him on the very day of his arrival in Gracias; and
Torres, yielding to his friend's entreaties, had consented to appear
again in "society."

In his own estimation, the Cuban had never swerved from his original
posture, of waiting. He had not believed one word of his aunt's story of
Garda's engagement; women were credulous where betrothals were
concerned; they were, indeed, congenitally weak in all such matters.
Manuel--a masculine mind though unregulated--was still absent, engaged
in seeing the world (at Key West); but he had been able to obtain a
good deal of consolation from the society of the Señor Ruiz, who had not
credited the ridiculous tale any more than he himself had.

He had first heard of the señor's disbelief through Madam Giron; he
immediately went over to Patricio to pay his respects to him. Since then
he had paid his respects regularly on Wednesdays and Fridays, just
before sundown. The two never alluded to the story when they were
together, they would have considered it ill-bred to speak familiarly of
such private matters. True, the Señor Ruiz, having been confined for a
long time to his arm-chair, had grown a little lax in the strict
practice of etiquette, and it may have been that he would have enjoyed
just a trifle of conversation upon the rumor in question. But Torres was
firm, Torres kept him up to the mark; the subject had never once been
put into actual words, though the Señor Ruiz skirted all round it,
talking now about Winthrop, now about East Angels, now about the
detention of the northern party all summer, owing to the long illness of
Mrs. Rutherford, "that majestic and distinguished lady."

The Señor Ruiz had had time to skirt round every subject, he knew,
Torres having paid his biweekly respects regularly now for eight long
months. Torres said that there was much "hidden congeniality" between
them; on the Señor Ruiz's side the congeniality was extremely well
hidden, so much so, indeed, that he had never been able to discover it.
But on Torres' side it was veritable, he had found that he could think
of Garda with especial comfort over there on quiet Patricio, in the
presence of a masculine mind so much resembling his own; and think of
her he did by the hour, answering with a bow and brief word or two now
and then the long despairing monologues of the Señor Ruiz, who, impelled
by his Spanish politeness to keep up the conversation, was often driven
into frenzy (concealed) by the length of time during which his visitor
remained seated opposite to him, stiff as a wooden statue, and almost
equally silent.

Because the poor señor could not move his legs very easily, Torres (on
much the same principle which induces people to elevate their voices
when speaking to a foreigner, as though he were deaf) always sat very
near him, so that their knees were not more than two inches apart. This
also enraged the Señor Ruiz, and on more than one occasion, when
fingering the cane which always stood beside him, he had come near to
bringing it down with violence upon the offending joints; the
unconscious Adolfo little knew how near he had come to a bone-breaking
occurrence of that sort.

"Two years," Torres was in the habit of saying to himself during these
Patricio meditations; "they were safe enough in putting off the
verification of their impossible gossip until then." The matter stood
arranged in his mind as follows: Mr. Wintup was an old man, he was older
than they knew; he was probably nearly forty. It was a pastime for him,
at that dull age, to amuse himself for a while with the _rôle_ of
father. And he filled it well, Torres had no fault to find with him
here; to the Cuban, Winthrop's manner fully took its place in the class
"parental;" it was at once too familiar and too devoid of ardor to
answer in the least to his idea of what the manner of "a suitor" should
be. The most rigid and distant respect covering every word and look, as
the winter snow covers Vesuvius; but underneath, all the same, the gleam
of the raging hidden fires below--that was his idea of the "manner."
Owing to the strange lack of discrimination sometimes to be observed in
Fate, Garda had had a northern mother (an estimable woman in herself, of
course); on account of this accident, she had been intrusted for a while
to these strangers. But this would come to an end; these northerners
would go away; they would return to their remote homes and Gracias would
know them no more. Garda, of course, would never consent to go with
them; it was but reasonable to suppose, therefore (they being amiable
people), that they would be pleased to see her make a fit Alliance
before their departure; and there was but one that could be called fit.
It was not improbable, indeed, that the whole had been planned as a test
of his own qualities; they wished to see whether he had equanimity,
endurance. One had to forgive them their ignorance--the doubting whether
or not he possessed these qualities--as one had to forgive them many
other things; they should see, at any rate, how triumphantly he should
issue from their trial.

He now walked down the old road with his usual circumspect gait; he was
with Lucian's wife, whom he always treated with the respect due to an
elderly lady.

Lucian was first, with Garda; he had gathered for her some sprays of
wild blossoms, and these she was combining in various ways as she
walked. She scarcely spoke. But her silence seemed only part of a
supreme indolent content.

Mrs. Spenser was behind with Torres--close behind. Margaret, too, did
not linger; Mr. Moore, who was with her, would have preferred, perhaps,
a less direct advance, a few light expeditions into the neighboring
thickets, for instance; he carried his butterfly pole, and looked about
him scrutinizingly. They were going in search of an old tomb, which
Lucian was to sketch. It was a mysterious old tomb, no one had any idea
who lay there; the ruined mansion they had passed had its own little
burial-ground, standing in a circle of trees like the one at East
Angels; but this old tomb was alone in the woods, isolated and
unaccounted for; there was no trace of a house or any former cultivation
near. Its four stone sides were standing, but the top slab was gone, and
from within--there was no mound--grew a cedar known to be so ancient
that it threw back the lifetime of the person who lay beneath to
unrecorded days; for he must have been placed at rest there before the
old tree, as a baby sapling, had raised its miniature head above the
ground.

They had advanced about a mile, when Mrs. Spenser stopped, she found
herself unable to go farther; she made her confession with curt speech
and extreme reluctance. They all looked at her and saw her fatigue; that
made her more curt still. But it could not be helped; she was flushed in
an even dark red hue all over her face from the edge of her hair to her
throat; she was breathing quickly; her hands shook. The heat had
affected her; she was always affected by the heat, and it was a warm
day; she had never been in the habit of walking far.

"You must not go another step, Rosalie," said Lucian, who had come back
to her; "the others can go on, and I will wait here with you. When you
are quite rested we will go slowly back to the shore; there will still
be time, I presume, for me to get in my sketch."

But Rosalie never could bear to give her husband trouble. "I will wait
here," she said, "but you need not. Please go with the others, as you
first intended; you will find me here on your way back."

"I shall stay with you," repeated Lucian.

She looked so tired that they all busied themselves in preparing a seat
for her; they made it of the light mantles which the ladies had been
carrying over their arms, spreading them on the ground under a large
tree where there was a circle of shade. Here she sat down, leaning
against the tree's trunk. "If you don't go on with the others, Lucian, I
shall be perfectly wretched," she said. "There's nothing in the world
the matter with me; you have seen me in this way before, and you know it
is nothing--I have only lost my breath."

"Yes, I know it's nothing," Lucian answered, kindly. "But I cannot leave
you here alone, Rosalie; don't ask it."

Mr. Moore, who had been standing with his hands patiently folded over
his butterfly pole, now had an inspiration; it was that he himself
should remain with "Cousin Rosalie." "I have no talent for sketching,"
he said, looking round upon them; "really none whatever, I assure you;
thus it will be no deprivation. And I _have_ observed some interesting
butterflies in this neighborhood, which I should like to obtain, if
possible."

"Why shouldn't we all desert Mr. Spenser?" said Margaret. "I have no
doubt his sketch will be much more picturesque than the reality. It's
very warm; I don't think any of us (those not inspired by artistic
intentions) care to go farther."

Mrs. Spenser watched her husband's face, she was afraid he would not be
pleased. But under no circumstances was Lucian ever ill-natured. He now
made all manner of sport of their laziness, singling out Torres
especially as the target for his wit. Torres grinned--Lucian was the
only person who could bring out that grin; then he repressed his
unseemly mirth by passing his hand over his face, the thumb on one side,
all the fingers on the other, and letting them move downward and come
together at the chin, thus closing in the grin on the way. Restored to
his usual demeanor, he bowed and was ready for whatever should be the
ladies' pleasure. Their pleasure, after Lucian's departure, was simply
to recline under the large tree; Mr. Moore had already begun his search
in the neighboring thickets, and was winding in and out, now in sight,
now gone again, with alert step and hopeful eye.

The three ladies sat idly perforating the ground with the tips of their
closed parasols. "What are we going to do to amuse ourselves?" said
Garda.

"You think a good deal of your amusement, don't you, Miss Thorne?" said
Rosalie. She spoke in rather an acid tone; Lucian, too, thought a good
deal of his amusement.

But Garcia never noticed Rosalie's intonations; acid or not, they never
seemed to reach her. "Yes; I hate to be just dull, you know," she
answered, frankly. "I'd much rather be asleep."

Torres was standing at the edge of their circle of shade in his usual
taut attitude.

"Oh, Mr. Torres, do either sit down or lie down," urged Garda; "it tires
me to look at you! If you won't do either, then go and lean against a
tree."

Torres looked about him with serious eyes. There was a tree at a little
distance which had no low branches; he went over and placed himself
close to it, his back on a line with the trunk, but without touching it.

"You're not leaning," said Garda. "Lean back! Lean!"

Thus adjured, Torres stiffly put his head back far enough to graze the
bark. But the rest of his person stood clear.

"Oh, how _funny_ you always are!" said Garda, breaking into a peal of
laughter.

Torres did not stir. He was very happy to furnish amusement for the
señorita, inscrutable as the nature of it might be; it never occurred to
Torres that his attitudes were peculiar.

But Garda was now seized with another idea, which was that they should
lunch where they were, instead of at the shore; it was much prettier
here, as the shore was sandy; the squatter's boys would be delighted to
bring the baskets. Torres, no longer required to make a Daphne of
himself, was detached from the bark and sent upon this errand, he was to
convoy back baskets and boys; obedient as ever, he departed. And then
Garda relapsed into silence; after a while she put her head down on
Margaret's lap, as if she were going to try the condition that was
better than being "just dull, you know." It was true that they were a
little dull. Mr. Moore had entirely disappeared; Rosalie was never very
scintillant; Garda was apparently asleep; Margaret, whatever her gifts
might have been, could not very well be brilliant all alone. After a
while Garda suddenly opened her eyes, took up her hat, and rose.

"I think I will go down, after all, and join Mr. Spenser," she said. "I
like to watch him sketch so much; I'll bring him back in an hour or so."

Rosalie's eyes flashed. But she controlled herself. "Aren't you afraid
of the heat?" she asked.

"Don't go, Garda," said Margaret. "It's very warm."

"You forget, you two, that I was born here, and like the heat," said
Garda, looking for her gloves.

"Surely it cannot be safe for you to go alone," pursued Rosalie. "We are
very far from--from everything here."

"It's safe all about Gracias," answered Garda. "And we're not very far
from Lucian at least; I shall find him at the end of the path, it goes
only there."

It was a simple slip of the tongue; she had talked so constantly of him,
and always as "Lucian," to Margaret and Winthrop the winter before, that
it was natural for her to use the name. She would never have dreamed of
using it merely to vex Mrs. Spenser; to begin with, she would not have
taken the trouble for Mrs. Spenser, not even the trouble to vex her.

"I fear Lucian, as you call him, will hardly appreciate your kindness,"
responded Rosalie, stiffly. "He is fond of sketching by himself; and
especially, when he has once begun, he cannot bear to be interrupted."

"I shall not interrupt him," said Garda. "I hardly think he calls _me_
an interruption."

She spoke carelessly; her carelessness about it increased Mrs. Spenser's
inward indignation.

"Do you sanction this wild-goose chase, Mrs. Harold?" she said, turning
to Margaret, with a stiff little laugh.

"No, no; Garda is not really going, I think," Margaret answered.

"Yes, Margaret, this time I am," said Garda's undisturbed voice.

Mrs. Spenser waited a moment. Then she rose. "We will all go," she said,
with a good deal of dignity; "I could not feel easy, and I don't think
Mrs. Harold could, to have you go alone, Miss Thorne."

"I don't know what there is to be afraid of--unless you mean poor
Lucian," said Garda, laughing.

Mrs. Spenser rested her hands upon her arms with a firm pressure, the
right hand on the top of the left arm, the left hand under the right arm
as a support. In this pose (which gave her a majestic appearance) she
left the shade, and walked towards the path.

"I'm afraid you will suffer from the heat," said Garda, guilelessly. It
really was guileless--a guileless indifference; but to a large, dark,
easily flushed woman it sounded much like malice.

They had gone but a short distance when Garda's prophecy came true; the
deep red hue re-appeared, it was even darker than before. Margaret was
alarmed. "Do go back to the shade," she urged.

Mrs. Spenser, who had stopped for a moment, glanced at her strangely. "I
am perfectly well," she answered, in a husky whisper.

Margaret looked at Garda, who was standing at a little distance,
waiting. The girl, who was much amused by this scene, mutely laughed and
shook her head; evidently she would not yield.

"I will go on with Garda," Margaret said; "but I beg you not to attempt
it, Mrs. Spenser."

"Oh, if _you_ are going," murmured Rosalie, her eyes still shining
strangely from her copper-colored face.

"Yes, I am going," answered Margaret, with decision.

Rosalie said something about its being "much better," as the road was
"so lonely;" and then, turning, she made her way back to the tree.

"It's not like you, Garda, to be so wilful," said Margaret, when was out
of hearing.

"Why, yes, it is. _Your_ will is nice and beautiful, so I don't come
into conflict with it; hers isn't, so I do. _I_ don't weigh one hundred
and eighty pounds, and _I_ don't mind the heat; why, then, should I sit
under a tree forever because she has to?"

"I wish you would sit under it to oblige me."

"It isn't to oblige you, it's to oblige Mrs. Rosalie; I can't possibly
take the trouble to oblige Mrs. Rosalie. You don't really mind the sun
any more than I do, you slim fair thing! it's all pretence. Let red
people sit under trees; you and I will go on." She put her arm round
Margaret and drew her forward. "Don't be vexed with me; you know I love
you better than anything else on earth."

"Yet never wish to please me."

"Yes, I do. But I please you as I am. Is that impertinent?"

"Yes," said Margaret, gravely.

"It's your fault, then; you've spoiled me. When have you done one thing
or said one thing through all this long summer which was not
extraordinarily kind? Nobody in the world, Margaret, has ever dreamed of
being as devoted to me as you have been. And if that's impertinent
too--the saying so--I can't help it; it's true."

Margaret made no reply to this statement, which had been made without
the least vanity; it had been made, indeed, with a detached impartiality
which was remarkable, as though the girl had been speaking of some one
else.

Rosalie watched their two figures go down the path out of sight. A few
minutes later Mr. Moore made a brief appearance, flying with extended
pole across the glade like a man possessed. But he had seen that she was
alone, and he therefore returned, after he had not succeeded in catching
his prey; he sat down beside her, and asked her if she had read the
Westover Manuscript.

Margaret and Garda reached the path's end--it ended in a wood--and found
Lucian sketching.

"Ah-h-h! curiosity!" he said, as they came up.

"Yes," answered Garda, seating herself on the ground beside him, and, as
usual, taking off her hat; "I never was so curious in my life. Show me
your sketch, please."

He held it towards her.

She looked at him as he bent from his camp-stool, she did not appear to
be so curious as her previous statement had seemed to indicate. She
smiled and fell into her old silence again as he returned to his work,
that silence of tranquil enjoyment, leaving Margaret to carry on the
conversation, in case she should wish for conversation.

Apparently Margaret wished for it. She, too, was resting in the shade;
she spoke of various things--of the white bird they had seen sitting on
its nest, which had been constructed across the whole top of a small
tree, so that the white-bosomed mother sat enthroned amid the green; of
the song of the mocking-birds, which had made a greater impression upon
her than anything in Florida; and so on.

"Excuse my straying answers," said Lucian, after a while. "However,
painting is not so bad as solitaire; did you ever have the felicity of
conversing with a friend (generally a lady) while a third person is
engaged at the same table with that interesting game? Your lady listens
to you with apparent attention, you are led on, perhaps, to talk your
best, when suddenly, as you least expect it, her hand gives a swoop down
on her friend's spread-out cards, she moves one of them quickly, with a
'There!' or else an inarticulate little murmur of triumph over his
heedlessness, and then transfers her gaze back to you again, with an
innocent candor which seems to say that it has never been abstracted. I
don't know anything pleasanter than conversation under such
circumstances."

Margaret laughed. "Come, Garda, let us go and have a nearer look." For
Lucian had placed himself at some distance from the tomb; he was giving
a view of it at the end of a forest vista.

But Garda did not care for a nearer look. She had seen the old tomb many
times.

"Let us make a wreath for it, then, while Mr. Spenser is sketching. So
that it can feel that for once--"

"It's too old to feel," said Garda.

Margaret gathered a quantity of a glossy-leaved vine which was growing
over some bushes near. "I shall make a wreath, even if you don't," she
said. And she sat down and began her task.

"I think this will do," said Lucian, after another ten minutes,
surveying his work. "I can finish it up at home."

Margaret threw down her vines, and began to help him collect his
scattered possessions.

"Don't go yet; it's so lovely here," said Garda. "Make a second sketch
for me."

"I will copy you one from this," he answered.

"No, I want one made especially for me, even if it's only a beginning;
and I want it made here."

"But we really ought to be going back, Garda," said Margaret.

"I _never_ want to go back," Garda declared. She laughed as she said it.
But she looked at Lucian with the same serene content; it was very
infectious, he sank down on his camp-stool, and began again.

Margaret stood a moment as if uncertain. Then she sat down beside Garda,
and went on with her wreath.

"How perfectly still it is here!" said Lucian. "Florida's a very still
land, there are no hot sounds any more than cold ones; what's your idea
of the hottest sound you know, Mrs. Harold?"

Margaret considered. "The sound--coming in through your closed green
blinds on a warm summer afternoon when you want to sleep--of a
stone-mason chipping away on a large block of stone somewhere, out in
the hot sun."

"Good! Do you know the peculiar odor made by summer rain on those same
green blinds you speak of? Dusty ones?"

"They needn't be dusty. Yes, I know it well."

"I'm afraid you're an observer; I hope you don't turn the talent towards
nature?"

"Why not?"

"Because people who observe nature don't observe their fellow-man; the
more devoted you are to rocks and trees, and zoophytes and moths, the
less you care for human beings; bless you! didn't you know that? You get
to thinking of them in general, lumping them as 'humanity.' But you
always think of the zoophytes in minutest particulars."

"Never mind sketching the tomb; sketch me," said Garda.

Margaret and Lucian looked up; she appeared to have heard nothing that
they had been saying, she was sitting with her hands clasped round one
knee, her head thrown back.

"Sketch you?" Lucian repeated.

"Yes," she answered. "Please begin at once."

"In that attitude?"

"You may choose your attitude."

"Oh, if I may choose!" he said, springing up. He stood for a moment
looking at her as she sat there. Unrepressed admiration of her beauty
shone in his eyes.

"I didn't know you could paint portraits, Mr. Spenser," remarked
Margaret.

"I can now; at least I shall try," he answered, with enthusiasm. "Will
you give me all the sittings I want, Miss Thorne?"

"Yes. This is the first."

"To-morrow--" began Margaret.

"Do you want me to keep this position?" said Garda.

"Yes--no. It shall be an American Poussin--'I too have been in' Florida!
Come over to the tomb, please." In his eagerness he put out his hands,
took hers, and assisted her to rise; they went to the tomb. Here he
placed her in two or three different positions; but was satisfied with
none of them.

Margaret had made no further objections. She followed them slowly. Then
her manner changed, she gave her assistance and advice. "She should be
carrying flowers, I think," she suggested.

"Yes; branches of blossoms--I see them," said Lucian.

"But as for the attitude--perhaps we had better leave it to her. Suppose
yourself, Garda, to be particularly happy--"

"I'm happy now," said the girl. She had seated herself on the old tomb's
edge, and folded her hands.

"Well, more joyous, then."

"I'm joyous."

"I shall never finish my legend if you interrupt me so," said Margaret,
putting her hand on Garda's shoulder. "Listen; you are on your way home
from an Arcadian revel, with some shepherds who are playing on their
pipes, when you come suddenly upon an old tomb in the forest. No one
knows who lies there; you stop a moment to make out the inscription,
which is barely legible, and it tells you, 'I too lived in--'"

"Florida!" said Lucian.

"I am to do that?" asked Garda, looking at him.

He nodded. She went back, took Margaret's nearly finished wreath and all
the rest of the gathered vines, and returning to the tomb, one arm
loaded with them, the long sprays falling over her dress, she laid her
other hand on Lucian's shoulder, and drawing him near the old stones,
clung to him a little as if half afraid, bending her head at the same
time as though reading the inscription which was supposed to be written
there. The attitude was extremely graceful, a half-shrinking,
half-fascinated curiosity. "This it?" she asked.

"Not the least in the world! What has Mr. Spenser to do with it?" said
Margaret.

"He's the Arcadian shepherds."

"Let me place you." And Margaret drew her away.

Garda yielded passively. Nothing could have been sweeter than the
expression of her face when Margaret had at length satisfied herself as
regarded position. The girl stood behind the tomb, which rose a little
higher than her knees; she rested one hand on its gray edge, holding the
wreath on her other arm, which was pressed against her breast.

"You ought to be looking down," said Margaret.

But Garda did not look down.

"She is supposed to have read the inscription, and to be musing over
it," suggested Lucian.

He fell to work immediately.

"We have been here an hour and a half, and we promised to be back in an
hour--remember that, Mr. Spenser," said Margaret, who had seated herself
near him.

"The bare outlines," murmured Lucian.

He did not appear to wish to speak. As for Garda, she looked as though
she should never speak again; she looked like a picture more than a real
presence--a picture, but not of nineteenth-century painting. She did not
stir, her eyes were full of a wonderful light. After a while it seemed
to oppress Margaret--this glowing vision beside the gray tomb in the
still wood. She rose and went to Lucian, watching him work, she began to
talk. "It's fortunate that you have already sketched the tomb," she
said; "you can use that sketch for the details."

He did not reply, Garda's softly fixed eyes seemed to hold him bound.

Margaret looked at her watch; then she went to Garda, took the wreath
from her, and, putting her arm in hers, led her back towards the path.
"I am obliged to use force," she said. "The sitting is declared over."

"Till the next, then," said Garda to Lucian.

As he began to pack up his sketching materials, Margaret went back and
hung her wreath upon the old stones. "In some future world, that shade
will come and thank me," she said.

Then they left the wood, and started down the path on their way back to
the shore.

They found Mrs. Spenser with both complexion and temper improved; her
greatest wish always was to hide her jealousies from Lucian, and this
time she succeeded. Mr. Moore had made a fire at a distance, and boiled
their coffee; he was now engaged in grilling their cold meat by spearing
each slice with the freshly peeled end of one of the long stiff
leaf-stalks of the saw-palmetto. These impromptu toasting-forks of his,
four feet in height, he had stuck in the ground in an even circle all
round the fire, their heads bending slightly towards the flame; when one
side of the range of slices was browned, he deftly turned each slice
with a fork, so as to give the other side its share.

Torres had made no attempts as regarded grilling and boiling, he and
Rosalie had spent the time in conversation. Rosalie had, in fact,
detained him, when, after bringing the boys and baskets safely to her
glade, he had looked meditatively down the road which led to the old
tomb. "What do you think of the Alhambra?" she asked, quickly.

The Alhambra and the Inquisition were her two Spanish topics.

"I have not thought of it," Torres mildly replied.

"Well, the Inquisition, then; what do you think of the Inquisition? I am
sure you must have studied the subject, and I wish you would give me
your _real_ opinion." (She was determined to keep him from following
Garda.)

Torres reflected a moment. "It would take some time," he observed, with
another glance down the road.

"The more the better," said Rosalie. This sounded effusive; and as she
was so loyal to Lucian that everything she did was scrupulously
conformed to that feeling, from the way she wore her bonnet to the
colors she selected for her gloves, she added, immediately and rather
coldly, "It is a subject in which I have been interested for years."

Torres looked at her with gloom. He wished that she had not been
interested in it so long, or else that she could be interested longer,
carrying it over into the future. The present he yearned for; he wanted
to follow that road.

But Rosalie sat there inflexible as Fate; and he was chivalrous to all
women, the old as well as the young. He noticed that she was very
strongly buttoned into her dress. And then he gave her the opinion she
asked for; he was still giving it when the sketching party returned.

Lucian was in gayest spirits. He seized the coffee-pot. "No one should
be trusted to pour out coffee," he said, "but a genuine lover of the
beverage. See the people pour out who are not real coffee-drinkers
themselves; they pour stingily, reluctantly; they give you cold coffee,
or coffee half milk, or cups half full; they cannot understand how you
can wish for more. Coffee doesn't agree with them very well; they find
it, therefore, difficult to believe--in fact they never do believe--that
it should really agree with you. It may have been all talked over in the
family circle, and a fair generosity on the part of the non-loving
pourer guaranteed; but I tell you that in spite of guarantees, she
_will_ scrimp."

Mr. Moore, a delicate pink flush on his cheeks, now came up with his
grilled slices, which proved to be excellent.

"My cousin, you are a wonderful person," said Lucian.

Mr. Moore made a little disclaiming murmur in his throat; "Er-um,
er-um," he said, waving his hand in a deprecatory way.

"--But you ought to have been a Frenchman," pursued Lucian.

Mr. Moore opened his eyes.

"Because then your goodness would have been so resplendent, my cousin.
As it is, it shines on an American background, and eight-tenths of
native-born Americans are good men."

"Yes, we have, I think, a high standard of morality," said Mr. Moore,
with approbation.

"And also a high standard of splendor," continued Lucian; "we are, I am
sure, the most splendid nation in the world. Some years ago, my cousin,
a clergyman at the West was addressing his congregation on a bright
Sunday morning; he was in the habit of speaking without notes, and of
preaching what are called practical sermons. Wishing to give an example
of appropriate Christian simplicity, he began a sentence as follows:
'For instance, my friends, none of you would think of coming to the
house of the Lord in'--here he saw a glitter from diamond ear-rings in
several directions--'of coming to the house of the Lord, I say,
in'--here he caught the gleam from a number of breastpins--'in'--here
two or three hands, from which the gloves had been removed, stirring by
chance, sent back to him rays from wrists as well as fingers--'in
_tiaras_ of diamonds, my friends,' he concluded at last, desperately.
His congregation had on there, before his eyes, every other known
arrangement of the stone."

Mr. Moore smiled slightly--just enough not to be disagreeable; then he
turned the conversation. Mr. Moore was strong at that; he thought it a
great moral engine, and had often wondered (to Penelope) that it was not
employed oftener. For instance, in difficult cases: if violent language
were being used in one's presence--turn the conversation; in family
quarrels and disagreements--the same; in political discussions of a
heated nature--surely there could be no method so simple or so
efficacious.

It proved efficacious now in the face of Lucian's frivolity. "Our next
course will consist of oysters," he remarked.

"Where are they?" demanded Lucian, hungrily.

"For the present concealed; I conjectured that the sight of two fires
might prove oppressive. The arrangements, however, have been well made;
they are in progress behind that far thicket, and the sons of the
squatter are in charge."

The sons of the squatter being summoned by what Mr. Moore called
"yodeling," a pastoral cry which he sounded forth unexpectedly and
wildly between his two hands, brought the hot rocks to the company by
the simple process of tumbling them into a piece of sackcloth and
dragging them over the ground. They were really rocks, fragments broken
off, studded with small oysters; many parts of the lagoon were lined
with these miniature peaks. Mr. Moore produced oyster-knives; and, with
the best conscience in the world, they added another to the shell-heaps
of Florida for the labors of future antiquarians.

And then, presently, they embarked. The sun was sinking; they floated
away from the squatter's camp, down the winding creek between the
leaning palmettoes, across the salt-marsh, over which the crows were now
flying in a long line, and out upon the sunset-tinted lagoon. The
_Emperadora_ was waiting for them; it was moonlight when they reached
home.



CHAPTER XIX.


The next afternoon Margaret was strolling in the old garden of East
Angels. The place now belonged to Evert Winthrop; but it had not pleased
him to make many changes, and the garden remained almost as much of a
blooming wilderness as before. When at home (and it was seldom that she
was absent for any length of time, as she had been the previous day)
Margaret was occupied at this hour; it was the hour when Mrs. Rutherford
liked to have "some one" read to her. This "some one" was always
Margaret.

Poor Aunt Katrina had been a close prisoner all summer; an affection of
the hip had prostrated her so that she had not been able to leave East
Angels, or her bed. Everything that care or money could do for her had
been done, Winthrop having sent north for "fairly _ship-loads_ of every
known luxury," Betty Carew declared, "so that it makes a _real_ my ship
comes from India, you know, loaded with everything wonderful, from brass
beds down to verily _ice-cream_!" It was true that a schooner had
brought ice; and many articles had been sent down from New York by sea.
The interior of the old house now showed its three eras of occupation,
as an old Roman tower shows its antique travertine at the base, its
mediæval sides, and modern top. In the lower rooms and in the corridors
there remained the original Spanish bareness, the cool open spaces
empty of furniture. Then came the attempted prettinesses of Mrs. Thorne,
chiefly manifested in toilet-tables made out of wooden boxes, covered
with paper-cambric, and ruffled and flounced in white muslin, in a very
large variety of table mats, in pin-cushions, in pasteboard brackets
adorned with woollen embroidery. Last of all, incongruously placed here
and there, came the handsome modern furniture which had been ordered
from the North by Winthrop when Dr. Kirby finally said that Mrs.
Rutherford would not be able to leave East Angels for many a month to
come.

The thick walls of the old house, the sea-breeze, the spaciousness of
her shaded room, together with her own reduced condition, had prevented
the invalid from feeling the heat. Margaret and Winthrop, who had not
left her, had learned to lead the life which the residents led; they
went out in the early morning, and again at nightfall, but through the
sunny hours they kept within-doors; during the middle of the day indeed
no one stirred; even the negroes slept.

The trouble with the hip had declared itself on the very day Winthrop
had announced his engagement to the group of waiting friends at the
lower door. The news, therefore, had not been repeated in the sick-room;
Mrs. Rutherford did not know it even now. Her convalescence was but just
beginning; throughout the summer, and more than ever at present, Dr.
Kirby told them, the hope of permanent recovery for her lay in the
degree of tranquillity, mental as well as physical, in which they should
be able to maintain her, day by day. Winthrop and Margaret knew that
tranquillity would be at an end if she should learn what had happened;
they therefore took care that she should not learn. There was, indeed,
no occasion for hurry, there was to be no talk of marriage until Garda
should be at least eighteen. In the mean time Aunt Katrina lived, in one
way, in the most complete luxury; she had now but little pain, and
endless was the skill, endless the patience, with which the six persons
who were devoted to her--Margaret, Winthrop, Dr. Kirby, Betty Carew,
Celestine, and Looth--labored to maintain her serenity unbroken, to vary
her few pleasures. Betty, it is true, had to stop outside the door each
time, and press back almost literally, with her hand over her mouth,
the danger of betraying the happiness of "dear Evert" and "darling
Garda" through her own inadvertence; but her genuine affection for
Katrina accomplished the miracle of making her for the time being almost
advertent, though there was sure to be a vast verbal expansion
afterwards, when she had left the room, which was not unlike the
physical one that ensued when she released herself, after paying a
visit, from her own tightly fitting best gown.

To-day Aunt Katrina had felt suddenly tired, and the reading had been
postponed; Margaret had come out to the garden. She strolled down a path
which had recently been reopened to the garden's northern end; here
there was a high hedge, before which she paused for a moment to look at
a sensitive-plant which was growing against the green. Suddenly she
became conscious that she heard the sound of low voices outside; then
followed a laugh which she was sure she knew well. She stepped across
the boundary ditch, full of bloom, and looked through the foliage.
Beyond was an old field; then another high hedge. In the field, a little
to the right, there was a thicket, and here, protected by its
crescent-shaped bend, which enclosed them both in its half-circle, were
Garda and Lucian; Lucian was sketching his companion.

Only the sound of their voices reached Margaret, not their words. She
looked at them for a moment; then she stepped back over the ditch,
passed through the garden, and returned to the house, where she seated
herself on a stone bench which stood near the lower door. Here she
waited, she waited nearly an hour; then Garda appeared, alone.

Margaret rose, went to meet her, and putting her arm in hers, turned her
towards the orange walk. "Come and stroll a while," she said.

"You are tired, Margaret; I wish you didn't have so much care," said
Garda, affectionately, as she looked at her. "Mrs. Rutherford isn't
worse, I hope?"

"No; she is sleeping," Margaret answered. After a pause: "You heard from
Evert this morning, I believe?"

"Yes; didn't I show you the letter? I meant to. I think it's in my
pocket now," and searching, she produced a crumpled missive.

Margaret took it. Mechanically her fingers smoothed out its creases, but
she did not open it. "You have been out for a walk?" she said at last,
with something of an effort.

But Garda did not notice the effort; she was enjoying her own life very
fully that afternoon. "No," she answered. Then she laughed. "You could
not possibly guess where I have been."

"I am afraid I couldn't make the effort to-day."

"And you shall not--I'll tell you; I've been in the green studio.
Fortunately you haven't the least idea where that is."

"Have you taken to painting, then?"

"No; painting has taken to me. Lucian has been here."

"When did he come?"

"About two hours ago, I should say. You didn't see him because he did
not come to the house; I met him in--in the green studio, of course; I
gave him another sitting."

"Then you expected him?" said Margaret, looking at her.

"Yes; we made the arrangement in the only instant you gave us
yesterday--when you went to hang your wreath on that old tomb."

"Why was it necessary to be so secret about it? Am I such an ogre?"

"No; you're a fairy godmother. But you would have objected to it, and
spoiled it all beforehand; you know you would," said Garda, with gay
accusation.

Margaret's eyes were following the little inequalities of the ground
before them as they advanced.

"Perhaps you could have brought me round," she answered. "At any rate,
you must admit me to the next sitting."

"No, that I cannot do, Margaret; so don't ask me. I love to be with you,
and I love to be with Lucian. But I don't love to be with you two
together--you watch him so."

"I--watch Mr. Spenser? Oh no!"

"Well, then--and it's the same thing--you watch me."

"Is that the word to use, Garda? You are under my charge--I have hoped
that it was not disagreeable to you; I have tried--"

Garda stopped and kissed her. "It isn't disagreeable; it's beautiful,"
she said, with impulsive warmth. "But there's no use in your trying to
keep me from seeing Lucian," she added, as they walked on; "I can't
imagine how you should even think of it, when you know so well how much
I have always liked him. Oh, what a comfort it is just to _see_ him here
again!"

"You must remember that he has other things to think of now."

"Only his wife; he needn't take long to think of her."

"He took long enough to leave Gracias last winter and go north and marry
her."

"Yes; and wasn't it good of him? I couldn't bear to have him go at the
time; but I've forgotten all about that, now that he's back again."

"But not alone this time."

"Lucian's always alone for me," responded Garda. "But why do you keep
talking about Mrs. Rosalie, Margaret? Isn't it enough that we have to
talk _to_ her? She isn't an object of pity in the least; she's got
everything she wants, and six times more than she deserves; I detest
people who, when they're cross, are all upper lip."

A vision of Rosalie's face rose in Margaret's mind. But she did not at
present discuss its outlines with Garda, she simply said, "I must come
to the next sitting. And don't choose for it the exact hour when I'm
reading to Aunt Katrina."

"I chose that hour on purpose, so that you shouldn't know."

"Yes, because you thought I should object. But if I don't object--"

"You do," said Garda, laughing; "you're only pretending you don't. Very
well, then. Only--you mustn't keep stopping me."

"Stopping you? What do you mean?"

"Oh, stopping, stopping--I mean just that; there's no other word. I want
to look at Lucian and talk to him exactly as I please."

"I'm not aware that I've blinded or gagged you," said Margaret, smiling.

"No, but you have a way of saying something that makes a change; you
make him either get up, or turn his head away, or else you stop what
he's saying. You see, _he_ follows your lead."

"Though you do not."

"He does it from politeness--politeness to you," Garda went on.

"Yes, he has very good manners," said Margaret, dryly.

"Haven't I good manners too?" demanded the girl, in a caressing tone,
crossing her hands upon her friend's arm.

"Very bad ones, sometimes. Now, Garda, don't you really think--"

"I never really think, I never even think without the really. What is
the use of getting all white with thinking?--you can't set anything
straight by it. _You_ are sometimes so white that you frighten me."

"Never mind my whiteness; I never have any color," said Margaret, a
nervous impatience showing itself suddenly. Then she controlled herself.
"Are you thinking of having another sitting to-morrow?"

"Perhaps; it isn't quite certain yet. I don't know whether you know that
Lucian is trying to persuade Madam Giron to take him in for a while?"

"To take _him_ in?"

"Them-m-m," said Garda, "since you insist upon it."

"I can't imagine Madame Giron consenting," said Margaret. She was much
surprised by this intelligence.

"She wouldn't unless it were to please Adolfo; if he should urge her to
do it. And I think he will urge her, because--because he and Mrs.
Spenser are such great friends."

"They're nothing of the sort. You know as well as I do that she only
talks to him because her husband likes him."

"Well, then, Adolfo will urge because I told him to."

"You told him?"

"Yes," said Garda, serenely; "I told him we could make so many more
excursions if they were staying down here. And so we can, I hope--Lucian
and I, at any rate; _we're_ light on our feet."

"If Madam Giron should consent, when would the Spensers come down?" said
Margaret, pursuing her investigations.

"To-morrow at twelve," Garda answered, promptly.

"Mrs. Spenser knew nothing of it yesterday."

"Oh yes, she did; a little."

"She didn't speak of it."

"She didn't speak of it because she's not pleased with the idea. At
least not much."

"Then it's Mr. Spenser who is pleased?"

"Yes; still, I am the most pleased of all; I suggested it to him, he
would never have thought of it himself. You see, he was losing so much
time in coming and going. If he were at Madam Giron's, too, I could hope
to see him sometimes in the evening; for instance, to-morrow evening."

"Do you mean that he is coming to see us then?"

"He is coming to see me; that is, if they are down there. I shall not
let him see any of the rest of you. It isn't a sitting, you know, we
don't have sittings by moonlight; I shall send him word where to come,
and then I shall slip out and find him."

Margaret stopped. "Garda," she said, in a changed tone, "you told me
yesterday that I had been very kind to you--"

"So you have been."

"Then I hope you won't think me unkind--I hope you will yield to my
judgment--when I tell you that you must not send any such message to Mr.
Spenser."

"Didn't I tell you you would try to stop it?" said Garda, gleefully.

"Of course I shall try. And I think you will do as I wish."

Garda did not answer, she only looked at her friend with a vague little
smile. She seemed not to be giving her full attention to what she was
saying; and at the same moment, singularly enough, she seemed to be
admiring her, taking that time for it--admiring the delicate moulding of
her features, her oval cheeks, which had now a bright flush of color.
The expression of her own face, meanwhile, remained as soft as ever,
there was not a trace of either opposition or annoyance.

"Isn't there some one else, too, who would not like to have you do
such--such foolish thing?" Margaret went on. "Shouldn't you think a
little of Evert?"

"Evert's too far off to think of. He's a thousand miles away."

"What difference does that make?"

"You're right, it doesn't make any," said Garda. "I should do just the
same, I presume, if he were here." She spoke in a matter-of-fact tone.

Margaret looked at her, and seemed hardly to know what to say next.

In the position in which they were standing, Garda was facing the
entrance of the orange walk. Her eyes now began to gleam. "Isn't this
funny?" she said. "Here he is himself!"

Margaret turned, expecting to see Lucian. But it was Evert Winthrop who
was coming towards them.

"You didn't expect me?" he said as he took their hands, Garda's in his
right hand, Margaret's in his left, and held them for a moment. "But I
told you in the postscript of my last letter, Garda, that I might
perhaps follow it immediately."

"I haven't had time to get to the postscript yet," Garda answered. "The
letter only came this morning; and Margaret has it now."

"You know I haven't opened it, Garda," said Margaret, hastily returning
it.

"No; but I meant you to," said the girl. Something in this little scene
seemed to strike her as comical, for she covered her face with both
hands and began to laugh. "What a bad account you will give of me!" she
said.

"You will have to give it yourself," replied Margaret. "I must go; Aunt
Katrina must be awake by this time."

"Isn't she well?" said Winthrop, looking after her as she left them.

"She had color enough before you came," said Garda, smiling, then
laughing at recollections he could not share. "Have you come back as
blind as you went away?"

"How blind is that?"

"Blind to all my faults," she responded, swinging her hat by its
ribbons.

"Don't spoil your hat. No, I'm not blind to them, but we're going to
cure them, you know."

"I'm so glad!"

He had taken a case from his pocket, and was now opening it; it held a
delicate gold bracelet, exquisitely fashioned, which he clasped round
her arm.

"How pretty!" said Garda. Her pleasure was genuine, she turned her hand
so that she could see the ornament in every position.

"You prefer diamonds, I know," said Winthrop, smiling. "But you're not
old enough to wear diamonds yet."

She continued to look at her bracelet until she had satisfied herself
fully. Then she let her hand drop. "Will you give me some very beautiful
diamonds by-and-by?" she asked, turning her eyes towards him.

"To be quite frank, I don't like them much."

"But if _I_ like them?" She seemed to be curious as to what he would
reply.

"You may not like them yourself, then."

She regarded him a moment longer. Then her eyes left him; she looked off
down the long aisle. "I shall not change; no, not as you seem to think,"
she said, musingly. And she stood there for a moment very still. Then
her face changed, her light-heartedness came back; she took his arm,
and, as they strolled slowly towards the house, talked her gayest
nonsense. He listened indulgently.

"Why don't you ask me what I have been doing all these weeks while you
have been away?" she said at last, suddenly.

"I suppose I know, don't I? You have written."

"You haven't the least idea. I have been _amused_--really amused all the
time."

"Is that such a novelty? I've always thought you had a capital talent
for amusing yourself."

"That's just what I mean; this time I've _been_ amused, I didn't have to
do it myself. Oh, promise me you won't stop anything now you've come.
We've had some lovely excursions, and I want ever so many more."

"When did I ever stop an excursion in Florida?" said Winthrop.

"Yes, you've been very good, very good always," answered Garda, with
conviction. "But this time you must be even better, you must let me do
exactly as I please."

"Oh, I don't pretend to keep you in order, you know; I leave that to
Margaret."

"Poor Margaret!" said Garda, laughing.

The next day Lucian and his wife came down to the Giron plantation;
Madam Giron had consented to take them in.

       *       *       *       *       *

Three nights afterwards, Margaret, awake between midnight and one
o'clock, thought she heard Garda's door open; then, light steps in the
hall. She left her bed, and opening the door between their two rooms,
went through into Garda's chamber. It was empty, the moonlight shone
across the floor. She returned to her own room, hastily threw on a white
dressing-gown, twisted up her long soft hair, and put on a pair of low
shoes; then she stole out quietly, went down the stone staircase and
through the lower hall, and found, as she expected, the outer door
unfastened; she opened it, closed it softly after her, and stood alone
in the night. She had to make a choice, and she had only the faintest
indication to guide her--a possible clew in a remembered conversation;
she followed this clew and turned towards the live-oak avenue. Her step
was hurried, she almost ran; as she drew the floating lace-trimmed robe
more closely about her, the moonlight shone, beneath its upheld folds,
on her little white feet. She had never before been out alone under the
open sky at that hour, she glanced over her shoulder, and shivered
slightly, though the night was as warm as July. Her own shadow, keeping
up with her, was like a living thing. The moonlight on the ground was so
white that by contrast all the trees looked black.

The live-oak avenue, when she entered it, seemed a shelter; at least it
was a roof over her head, shutting out the sky. The moonlight only came
at intervals through the thick foliage, making silver checker-work on
the path.

There were two or three bends, then a long straight stretch. As she came
into this straight stretch she saw at the far end, going towards the
lagoon, a figure--Garda; behind Garda, doubly grotesque in the changing
shade and light, stepped the crane.

Margaret's foot-falls made no sound on the soft sand of the path; she
hurried onward, and passing the crane, laid her hand on the girl's
shoulder. "Garda," she said.

Garda stopped, surprised. But though surprised, she was not startled,
she was as calm as though she had been found walking there at noonday.
She was fully dressed, and carried a light shawl.

"Margaret, is it you? How in the world did you know I was here?"

Margaret let her head rest for a moment on Garda's shoulder; her heart
was beating with suffocating rapidity. She recovered herself, stood
erect, and looked at her companion. "Where are you going?" she asked.

"I am going to try and find Lucian; but it may be only trying. He was to
start from the Giron landing at one, when the tide would serve, he said;
but you heard him, so you know as much as I do."

"No. For I don't know what _you're_ going to do."

"Why, I've told you; I'm going to try to go with him, if I can. I'm
going to stand out at the edge of the platform, and then, when he comes
by, perhaps he will see me--it's so light--and take me in. I want to
sail through that thick soft fog he told us about (when it comes up
later), with the moonlight making it all queer and white, and the gulls
fast asleep and floating--don't you remember?"

"Then he doesn't expect you?"

"Oh no," said Garda; "it's my own idea. I knew he would be alone,
because Mrs. Rosalie can't go out in fogs, she's afraid of rheumatism."

"And you see nothing out of the way in all this?"

"No."

"--Stealing out secretly--"

"Only because you would have stopped it if you had known."

"--At night, and by yourself?"

"The night's as good as the day when there's moonlight like this. And I
shall not be by myself, I shall be with Lucian; I'd rather be with him
than anybody."

"And Evert?"

"Well," said Garda, "the truth is--the truth is I'm _tired_ of Evert."

"You'd better tell him that," said Margaret, with a quick and curious
change in her voice.

"I will, if you think best."

"No, don't tell him; you're not in earnest," said Margaret, calming
himself.

"Yes, I am in earnest. But I shall miss Lucian if I stay here longer."

"Garda, give this up."

"I don't see how you happened to hear me come out," said the girl,
laughing and vexed.

"Have you been out in this way before?"

"No; how could I? Lucian has only just come down here. I should a great
deal rather tell you everything, Margaret, as fast as I think of it, and
I would--only you would be sure to stop it."

"I want to stop this. Give it up--if you care at all for me; I make it a
test."

"You know I care; if you put it on that ground, of course I shall have
to give it up," said Garda, disconsolately.

"Come back to the house, then," said Margaret, taking her hand.

"No, I'm not going back, I'm going down to the landing," answered the
girl. She appeared to think that she had earned this obstinacy by her
larger concession.

"But you said you would give up--"

"If we keep back under the trees he cannot see us; I mean what I say--he
_shall_ not. But I want to see him, I want to see him go by."

She drew Margaret onward, and presently they reached the shore. "There
he comes!" she said--"I hear the oars." And she held tightly to
Margaret's hand, as if to keep herself from running out to the
platform's edge.

The broad lagoon, rippling in the moonlight, lay before them; the night
was so still that they heard the dip of the oars long before they saw
the boat itself; Patricio, opposite, looked like a country in a dream.
The giant limbs of the live-oak under which they stood rose high in the
air above them, and then drooped down again far forward, the dark shade
beneath concealing them perfectly, in spite of Margaret's white robe.
Now the boat shot into sight. Its sail was up, white as silver, but as
there was no wind, Lucian was rowing. It was a small, light boat, almost
too small for the great silver sail; but that was what Lucian liked. He
kept on his course far out in the stream; he was bound for the mouth of
the harbor.

Garda gave a long sigh. "I ought to be there!" she murmured. "Oh, I
ought to be there!" She stood motionless, watching the boat come nearer,
pass, and disappear; then she turned and looked at Margaret in silence.

"We can go out to-morrow evening, if you like," said Margaret, ignoring
the expression of her face.

"Yes, at eight o'clock, I suppose, with Evert, and Mrs. Rosalie!"

"Would you prefer to go in the middle of the night?"

"Infinitely. And with Lucian alone."

"I should think that might be a little tiresome."

"Oh, come, don't pretend; you don't know how," said Garda, laughing. "At
heart you're as serious as death about all this--you know you are.
Tiresome, did you say? Just looking at him, to begin with--do you call
_that_ tiresome? And then the way he talks, the way he says things! Oh,
Margaret, I give you my word I _adore_ being amused as Lucian amuses
me." She turned as she said this and met Margaret's eyes fixed upon her.
"You can't understand it," she commented. "You can't understand that I
prefer Lucian to Evert."

Margaret turned from her. But the next instant she came back. "There are
some things I must ask you, Garda."

"Well, do stay here a little longer then, it's so lovely; we'll sit down
on the bench. But perhaps you'll be chilled--you're so lightly dressed.
What have you on your feet? Oh Margaret! only those thin shoes--no more
than slippers?" She took her shawl, and kneeling down, wrapped it round
Margaret's ankles. "What little feet you have!" she said, admiringly.
"It reminds me of my wet shoes that night on the barren," she added,
rising; and then, standing there with her hands clasped behind her, she
appeared to be meditating. "Now that time I was in earnest too!" she
said, with a sort of wonder at herself.

"What do you mean?" asked Margaret.

"Oh, nothing of consequence. Are you sure you're not cold?"

"I'm quite warm; it's like summer."

"Yes, it's warm," said Garda, sitting down beside her. "Oh, I wish I
were in that boat!" And she put her head down on Margaret's shoulder.

After a moment Margaret began her interrogatory. "You consider yourself
engaged to Evert, don't you?"

"Yes, after a fashion. He doesn't care about it."

"Yes, he does. You don't comprehend him."

"Don't you think he ought to _make_ me comprehend, then? It seems to me
that that's his part. But no, the real trouble is that he doesn't in the
least comprehend _me_. He has got some idea of his own about me, he has
had it all this time. But I'm not like his idea at all; I wonder how
long it will be before he will find it out?"

"Don't you care for him, Garda?"

"No, not any more. I did once; at least that night on the barren I
thought I did. But if I did, I am sure I don't know what has become of
the feeling! At any rate it has gone, gone entirely; I only care for
Lucian now."

"And would you give up Evert, engaged to him as you are, with your own
consent and the consent of all your friends, for a mere fancy like
this?"

"Mere fancy? I shall begin to think, Margaret, that you don't know what
'mere fancies,' as you call them, are!"

"And what view do you take of the fact that Lucian is a married man?"
Margaret went on, gravely.

"A horribly melancholy one, of course. Still, it's a great pleasure just
to see him; I try to see him as often as I can."

"And you're willing to follow him about as you do--let him see how much
you like him, when, in reality, he doesn't care in the least for you? If
he had cared he would never have left you, as he did last winter, at a
moment's notice and without a word."

"No, I know he doesn't care for me as I care for him," said Garda. "But
perhaps he will care more in time; I have thought that perhaps he would
care more when he found out how I felt towards him; that is what I have
been hoping."

Margaret got up, she made a motion with her hands almost as if she were
casting the girl off. "Garda," she said, "you frighten me. I have tried
to speak with the greatest moderation, because I have not thought you
realized at all what you were saying; but you are so calm, you speak in
such a tone!--I cannot understand it."

"Well, Margaret, I've never tried to understand it myself. Why, then,
should you try?" said Garda, in her indolent way.

Then, as she looked at Margaret, she became conscious of the marked
change in her face, and it seemed to startle her. She rose and came to
her. "One thing I know," she said, quickly, "if you are vexed with me,
so vexed that you will have nothing more to do with me, I don't know
what will become of me. You are the only woman I care for. _Don't_ throw
me over, Margaret. There's one thing that may happen," she added,
looking at her friend with luminous gaze, "I may stop caring for Lucian
of my own accord before long; you know I stopped caring for Evert."

"Oh, Garda! Garda!" murmured Margaret, putting her hand over her eyes.

"You are shocked because I tell you the exact truth. I believe you would
like it better if I should dress it up, and pretend to have all sorts of
reasons. But I never have reasons, I only know how I feel; and you can't
make me believe, either, that it isn't better to be true about your
feelings whatever they are, than to tell lies just to make people think
well of you."

"Garda, promise me not to see Lucian in this way again; that is, not to
plan to see him," said Margaret, with a kind of desperation in her tone.

"Why, how can you suppose I would ever promise that?" asked Garda,
astonished.

"Very well. Then I shall speak to him myself." And as she stood there,
her tall slender figure outlined in white, her dark blue eyes fixed on
the girl, Margaret Harold looked almost menacing.

"No, I don't think you would do that," answered Garda; "because as he
doesn't care for me, it would be like throwing me at his head; and that
you wouldn't like because you have a pride about it--for Evert's sake, I
mean. Why don't you tell Evert instead of Lucian? I've thought of
telling Evert myself. The idea of his needing to be told!"

"It's because he has such a perfect belief in you," began Margaret. "He
would never dream that you could--" She stopped, her lips had begun to
tremble a little.

But Garda was not paying heed to what Margaret was saying. "No, you'll
never speak to Lucian," she repeated, "I know you never will; you
couldn't."

"You're right, I couldn't. And the reason would be because I should be
ashamed--ashamed for you."

But Garda was not moved by this. "I don't see why we should be ashamed
of our real feelings," she said again, with a sort of sweet stolidity.

"We go through life, Garda, more than half of us--women, I mean--obliged
always to conceal our real feelings."

"Then _that_ I never will do;" said Garda, warmly. "And you shall see
whether I come out any the worse for it in the end."

"You intend to do what you please, no matter who suffers?"

"They needn't suffer, it's silly to suffer. They'd better go and do what
_they_ please."

"And you think that right? You see nothing wrong in it?"

"Oh, right, wrong--I think it's right to be happy, as right as possibly
can be; and wrong to be unhappy, as wrong as possibly can be; I think
unhappy people do a great deal of harm in the world, besides being so
very tiresome! I was a goose to be as unhappy as I was last winter; I
might have known that I should either get over caring for him, or else
that I should see him again. In this case both happened."

After this declaration of principles the girl walked down the slope and
out to the edge of the platform, where she stood in the moonlight
looking northward up the lagoon.

"I can just make out his sail," she said, calling back to Margaret,
excitedly, and evidently having entirely forgotten her reasoning mood of
the moment before. "The fog is rising. Come quick and look."

But Margaret did not come. When the sail finally disappeared, Garda came
back, bright and happy. Then, as she saw her friend's face, her own face
changed to sudden sympathy.

"Margaret," she said, taking her hands, "I cannot bear to see you so
distressed."

"How can I help it?" murmured Margaret. She looked exhausted.

"You wouldn't care about all this as you do--care so deeply, I mean--if
it were not for Evert," Garda went on; "it's that that hurts you so.
Don't care so much about Evert; throw him over, as I have done."

"It's true that I care about Evert--about his happiness," answered
Margaret, in the same lifeless tone; "I have missed happiness myself, I
don't want him to miss it." Here she raised her eyes, she looked at
Garda for a long moment in silence.

The girl smiled under this inspection; she leaned forward, and put her
soft cheek against Margaret's, and her arm round Margaret's shoulders
with a caressing touch.

A revulsion of feeling swept over the elder woman, she took the girl's
face in both her hands, and looked at it.

"Promise me to say nothing to Evert, not one word--I mean about this
renewal of fancy you have for Lucian," she said, quickly.

"You call it fancy--"

"Never mind what I call it. Promise."

"Why, that's as you choose, I left it to you," Garda answered.

"I choose, then, that you say nothing. You're not really in earnest, you
don't know what you're talking about. It's a girl's foolishness; you
will come to your senses in time."

"Is that the way you arrange it? Any way you like. Perhaps you really do
know more about me than I know about myself," said Garda, with a
momentary curiosity as to her own characteristics.

"We must go back," said Margaret, her fatigue again showing in her
voice.

Garda put her arm round her as a support, and, thus linked, they walked
back through the long avenue over the silver lace-work cast by the moon
upon the path. Carlos Mateo, who had been off on unknown excursions,
joined them again, issuing in a ghostly manner from the Spanish-bayonet
walk, and falling into his usual place behind them. The linked figures
crossed the open space, which was again as white as snow with black
trees at the edges, and went softly in through the unfastened door.

"I'm going to get you a glass of wine," Garda whispered.

Margaret declined the wine, and they separated, each going noiselessly
to her own room.

But, half an hour later, Garda stole in and leaned over her friend.
"You're crying," she said--"I knew it! Oh, Margaret, Margaret, why do
you suffer so?"

"Don't mind," said Margaret, controlling herself. "I have my own
troubles, Garda, and must bear them as I can. Go back to your room."

But Garda would not go. As there was no place for her in Margaret's
narrow white bed, she got a coverlet and pillows and lay down on a
lounge that was near; here, almost immediately, though she said she
should not, she fell asleep. The elder woman did not sleep, she lay
watching the moonlight steal over the girl, then fade away. Later came
the pink flush of dawn; it touched the lounge, but Garda slept on; she
slept like a little child; her curling hair fell over her shoulders, her
cheek was pillowed on her round arm.

"So much truthfulness--such absolute truthfulness!" the elder woman was
thinking; "there must be good in it, there _must_."



CHAPTER XX.


"It's the most absurd thing--my being caught here in this way," said
Lucian Spenser. "But who would ever have imagined that Madam Giron could
turn into a tourist! As well imagine Torres a commercial traveller."

"I think he felt rather like one," answered Margaret, smiling; "he
seemed to consider it an extraordinary state of affairs to be closing
houses and taking journeys at a lawyer's bidding."

It was the 19th day of December. The thermometer outside stood at
sixty-eight Fahrenheit. In the drawing-room of East Angels were Mrs.
Carew, Margaret, Garda, Lucian Spenser, and Dr. Kirby. Lucian and his
wife had left Gracias within a week after that sail through silver fog
which had tempted Garda. Their departure had been sudden, it was due to
a telegraphic despatch which had come to Rosalie from her uncle in New
York; he was seriously ill, and wished to see her. This was the uncle
under whose roof she had spent her childhood and youth. She had not been
especially attached to him, she had never supposed that he was attached
to her. But all who bore the Bogardus name (save perhaps Rosalie
herself) reserved to themselves the inalienable right of being as
disagreeable to each other personally, year in, year out, as they chose
to be, while remaining, nevertheless, as a family, indissolubly united;
that is to say, that though as Cornelia and John, Dick and Alida, they
might detest each other, and show not the slightest scruples about
evincing that feeling, designated by their mutually shared surname their
ranks closed up at once, like a line of battle under attack, presenting
to the world an unbroken front. Dying, old John Bogardus had wished to
see Rosalie--Rosalie, his brother Dick's child, who had made that
imprudent marriage; he felt it to be his duty to advise her about
certain investments. In answer to his despatch, Lucian had taken his
wife north.

When they reached New York, Rosalie found her uncle better; the
physicians gave no hope of recovery, but they said that he might linger
in this way for two months or more. In this state of affairs Lucian
suggested to his wife that he should leave her there, and take a flying
trip to New Orleans; he had always wished to make that journey in the
winter, and this seemed as good an occasion as any, since, naturally,
"Uncle Giovanni" could have no very burning desire to see him, Lucian,
day after day. Rosalie, anxious always to put herself in accord with her
husband's ideas, gave her consent; the separation, even for a few weeks,
would be hard for her, but that she would bear to give Lucian
entertainment.

He left her, therefore, a little before the middle of December. And if
he arrived at Gracias-á-Dios instead of at New Orleans, this was because
he was taking in Gracias on the way; was it not as easy to come first to
Florida, and then cross the southern country westward to the beautiful
city on the Louisiana shore, as to follow the long course of the
Mississippi down? If it was not as easy, in any case he preferred it,
and the course Lucian Spenser preferred he generally followed.

It was fortunate, therefore, that he preferred nothing very evil. In the
present instance his preference held intentions quite without that
element; he should spend four or five days in Gracias; he should collect
various small possessions, which, owing to his hasty departure, he had
left scattered about there, at East Angels, at Madam Giron's, at the
rectory; he should finish two or three sketches in which he felt an
interest; and he should say good-by in a more leisurely way to his
relatives, the Moores, as well as to the other people there whom he
liked so well, for he had the feeling that a long time might elapse
before he should see the little coast hamlet again. He had hoped to stay
with Madam Giron, as before. But when he arrived at her door, late in
the afternoon of the 19th, he found it barred and that lady absent:
evidently his letter had not reached her.

Madam Giron had seemed to him like one of those barges which lie moored
far up some quiet bay, with their masts removed and a permanent plank
walk made from the deck to the shore. The idea that this stationary
craft could have gone to sea, that this sweet-tempered lady, with her
beautiful eyes, redundant figure, many children, and complete
non-admiration for energy, could have started suddenly on her travels,
had never once occurred to him.

Until five days before, it had never occurred to Madam Giron herself.

At that date she had received a letter from Cuba telling her that a
share in some property was awaiting her there; a long-contested lawsuit
having at length been decided in favor of her mother's family. Madam
Giron consulted her friends: was it an occasion when duty demanded that
she should make the great effort of going in person to Cuba for the sake
of "these dear angels," her children (the lawyer having written that her
presence would be necessary), or was it not? Gracias discussed this
point. It _was_ an effort for a lady to make; a lady was not in the
habit of leaving the cherished seclusion of her own circle, to rush
about the world at a lawyer's request, exposing herself in public
conveyances to association with all sorts of people; some of her
friends, notably the Señor Ruiz and her own nephew, Adolfo Torres, were
decidedly of the opinion that she should not go.

"It's so characteristic--their discussing it as they are doing,"
Winthrop remarked to his aunt--"discussing whether or not to take a
short journey in order to secure an inheritance."

"It's a very small inheritance, isn't it!" asked Aunt Katrina,
languidly.

"About fifteen hundred dollars, I believe. But you must remember that
without it those children, probably, will have nothing but that
mortgaged land."

"I don't think the people here know or care whether they've got money or
not," said Aunt Katrina, in a disgusted tone.

"No, they don't. Probably that is one of the reasons why I like them so
well."

"Yet _you_ have a clear idea of the value of property, Evert."

"I should think I had! I've worked for it--my idea."

"Tell me one thing," pursued Aunt Katrina, whose mind was now on her
nephew's affairs. "When you went north last month, wasn't it on account
of something connected with that cousin of yours, or rather of your
father's, David Winthrop?"

"Well, David has great capacity: he is really wonderful," answered
Winthrop, coming out of his reverie to smile at the remembrance of the
ineffectual man. "In spite of the new partnership, he _had_ managed to
tangle up everything almost worse than before."

"Yet people call you hard!" commented Aunt Katrina, plaintively.

"I am hard, I spend half my time trying not to be," responded her
nephew, in what she called one of his puzzling tones. Aunt Katrina
sometimes found Evert very puzzling.

Madam Giron had finally decided to follow the advice of Dr. Kirby, which
was, and had been unwaveringly from the beginning, to go. For she could
not but be aware that the Doctor had a very extensive acquaintance with
life, that he was more truly a man of the world than any one they had in
Gracias; she mentioned this during a confidential interview she had with
his mother. The Doctor, of course, was not surprised by her statement;
he could not help knowing that he was.

Madam Giron, therefore, had left her children with Madam Ruiz, closed
her house, and started, accompanied by the disapproving Torres, three
days before Lucian's arrival at her locked door.

The wagon which had brought him was well on its way back towards
Gracias; he had walked up the long, winding path which led to the house,
leaving his luggage piled at the distant gate. He turned and stood a
moment on the piazza, meditating upon what he should do. Then he left
the piazza and went towards the branch, where was the cabin of old Cajo,
Madam Giron's factotum. Cajo's wife, Juana, was cook at the "big house,"
and the two old servants were delighted to extend the hospitality which
their mistress, they knew, would have immediately ordered had she been
at home. In half an hour, therefore, the guest was seated at the "big
house" table, before an impromptu but excellent meal, his old room was
ready for him up-stairs, and there were even lights in the drawing-room,
which, however, he extinguished as he passed by on his way to the hall
door. He locked this door behind him, and put the key in his pocket; the
two servants were not to wait for him, they were to go back to their
cabin as soon as their work was done, taking with them the key of
another entrance.

Lucian was going to East Angels. He went through the fields, still
lighted by the after-glow, then passed into the dimness of the wood;
reaching East Angels' border, he crossed the Levels, and approached the
house through the orange walk. As he had written only to Madam Giron,
and the letter had followed her to Cuba, no one knew that he was coming.
He entered the drawing-room. And there was a cry of surprise.

The evening that followed was enlivened by animated conversation, Dr.
Kirby thought it almost a brilliant occasion. The brilliancy without
doubt had been excited by Lucian's unexpected arrival, and he had
brought his own gay spirits with him; still, they had all contributed
something, the Doctor felt; his own sentences, for instance, had
displayed not a small degree of "perspicuity." The Doctor had his own
descriptive terms, he had no idea that they had grown old-fashioned.
Garda's remarks he designated as "sprightly," Margaret's way of talking
he characterized as "most engaging;" the Doctor still praised a young
man for possessing "sensibility;" he could even restore the lost
distinction to that fallen-from-grace word "genteel." When, after one of
his visits at East Angels, he said to his little mother--he described
everything to her, partly because he liked to describe, but principally
because he was a devoted son, and did all he could to entertain
her--"The conversation, ma, during the evening was easy, animated, and
genteel," it must have been a coarse-grained person indeed who could not
appreciate the delicate aroma of that last word as used by him.

On the present occasion the conversation had been even more than this;
and when at last it was brought to a close, and the Doctor, having
indulged in a general mental review of it (especially his own share),
which made him, as glory is apt to do, extraordinarily thirsty, was
compounding a glass of orangeade to drink before going to bed, he could
not resist remarking to Winthrop, as the latter passed through the empty
room on his way to the balcony for a final cigarette, "Quite a brilliant
little occasion, wasn't it?"

"Thanks to you," Winthrop answered.

"Softly, softly," said the Doctor, much pleased, but still considerate.
"I am old, and can no longer be a leader. But that young Spenser, now--"

"Yes, that young Spenser now--thanks to him too," said Winthrop,
disappearing.

The Doctor could not but think that his host was sometimes a little dry.

The next day Lucian finished one of his sketches, went up to Gracias to
pay some visits, and returned at sunset; he again spent the evening at
East Angels. He announced, when he came in, that he had decided to
remain a week longer in his solitary quarters; after that he should
spend a day with the Moores, and then start westward towards New
Orleans.

"Eight days more," said Garda, counting.

"Yes. See how agreeable you will have to be! Everything fascinating you
know, I beg you to say, so that my last hours may be made harrowingly
delightful; for it's very uncertain whether I ever see Gracias again."

"I don't care about 'evers,'" said Garda; "'evers' are always far off.
What I care about is to get every instant of those eight days." She left
her chair and went across to Winthrop. "Are you going to be nice?" she
asked, in a coaxing tone. "_Do_ be nice; arrange so that we can go
somewhere every day." She spoke so that he alone could hear her.

"Do you call that being nice? I thought you did not like to go out."

"When there's nobody but ourselves I don't; that is, not often, for it's
always the same people, the same thing. But when there's somebody else,
somebody I _really_ want to talk to, that's different; there are a great
many more chances to talk and say what you like when everybody is
walking about in the woods or on beaches, than you ever get in a parlor,
you know."

Winthrop had never lost his enjoyment of Garda's frankness. He did not
admire Lucian Spenser, but he did admire the girl's coming to ask him to
secure for her as many opportunities as possible for being with that
fascinating guest.

"All very well for the present," he answered. "But we cannot forever
keep you supplied with a new Punch and Judy."

"What's Punch and Judy?"

He altered his sentence. "With new Lucian Spensers."

"Let me have the old one, then, as long as I can," responded Garda.

They made two or three excursions from East Angels. And she probably had
the "chances" which she had so appreciatively outlined. Nevertheless,
early in the afternoon of the fourth day, Lucian came over to say
good-by to them, he had made up his mind to start westward sooner than
he had at first intended; he should not go again to Gracias, he had been
up that morning to take leave of the Moores; he should drive from Madam
Giron's directly across to the river. There was a moon, he should
probably start about nine that night.

"On Christmas-eve?" said Betty, in astonishment. "And be travelling on
Christmas-day? Why, Mr. Spenser, that seems to _me_ downright
heathenish."

Lucian did not contradict Betty's view of the case; and he gave no
reason for his sudden departure. There was no change in him in any way,
no appearance of determination or obstinacy; yet they could not make him
alter his decision, though they all tried, Betty with remonstrance, Dr.
Kirby with general Christmas hospitality, Winthrop and Mrs. Harold with
courtesy. Garda did not say much.

Dr. Kirby was again at East Angels, Mrs. Rutherford having sent for him
on account of a peculiar sensation she felt in a spot "about as large as
a dime" under her collar-bone. She had improved since his arrival--she
always improved after the Doctor's arrivals; but it had been arranged
that he should spend his Christmas there, his mother coming down the
next morning to join the party.

Lucian remained an hour; then he bade them all good-by, left his
farewells for Mrs. Rutherford, and departed; he had still his packing to
do, he said. It was not yet four o'clock; it seemed as if he had
reserved for that process a good deal of time.

Garda had received the tidings of his going with dilated eyes. But the
startled expression soon left her, she laughed and talked, and, under
the laughter, her mood was a contented one; Margaret, watching her,
perceived beyond a doubt that the contentment was real. After Lucian had
gone, the little party in the drawing-room broke up, and Margaret went
to give Lucian's good-by to Aunt Katrina. Aunt Katrina was only "so-so,"
she was inclined to find fault with her niece for not having brought
Lucian in person to take leave of her instead of his message; she was
lying on a lounge, and there was an impression of white lace and
wood-violets. No, she did not care for any reading that afternoon; Dr.
Kirby was coming to play backgammon with her. Betty now entered, and
Margaret went to her own room. Presently Garda, who had heard her step,
called; Margaret opened the door of communication between their two
chambers and looked in. The girl was swinging in her hammock.

"Going out?" she said, as she saw Margaret's garden-hat.

"Yes."

"To the garden?"

"Farther; out on the barren."

"I know where,--to take the medicine to that sick child. Why don't you
send somebody?"

"I like to go."

"No, you don't," said Garda, laughing. "You're as good as gold,
Margaret, but you don't really like to go, you don't really like the
negroes, personally, one bit. You would do anything in the world for
them, give them all your money and all your time, teach school for them,
make clothes for them, and I don't know what all; but you would never
understand them though you should live among them all the rest of your
life, and never see a white face again. Now _I_ wouldn't take one grain
of the trouble for them that you would, because I don't think it's in
the least necessary. But, personally, I _like_ them, I like to have them
about, talk to them and hear them talk; I am really attached to all the
old servants about here. And I venture to say, too, that they would all
prefer me forever, though I didn't lift a finger for them, prefer me to
you, no matter what sacrifices you might make to help them, because they
would see and feel that _I_ really liked them, whereas _you_ didn't. But
I really think you like to be busy just for the sake of it; when there's
nothing else you can do, you go tramping all over the country until I
should think your feet would spread out like a duck's. I should like to
know when you have given yourself an hour or two of absolute rest--such
as I am taking now?"

"I can't sleep in the daytime," was Margaret's answer to this general
southern remonstrance; "and a duck's feet are very useful to the duck."

"Oh, of course I know your feet are lovely. But I shouldn't think they
could stay so, long."

"There seems to be no end at least to _your_ powers of 'staying so,'
especially when you get into a hammock," remarked Margaret. But she
spoke with a smile on her lips, she was well satisfied to see the girl
swinging there contentedly, her eyes already misty with sleep.

"Good-by," she said, closing the door. Then she put on her hat and
gloves, and started on her mission. The sick child, for whom Dr. Kirby
had prepared the medicine, lived in a cabin two miles and a half from
East Angels, on the barren. In addition to the taste for unnecessary
philanthropy which Garda had attributed to her, as well as that for
unnecessary exercise, Margaret appeared to have a taste for solitude:
she generally took her long walks alone. That is, she took them whenever
she had the opportunity. This was not so often as it might have been,
because of Aunt Katrina's little wishes, which had a habit of ramifying
through all the hours of the day. It was not that Aunt Katrina expected
you to occupy yourself in her behalf the whole afternoon, she would have
exclaimed at the idea that she made such exactions as that; she only
wished you to do some one little thing for her at two; and then
something else "a little before three;" and then again possibly she
might "feel like" this or that later, say, "any time" (liberally)
"between half-past four and five." In this way she was sure that you had
almost the whole time to yourself.

In addition Margaret was house-keeper, and with the heterogeneous
assemblage of servants at East Angels, the position required an almost
hourly exercise of diplomacy. Celestine, so excellent in her own sphere,
could not be relied upon in this, because, pressed by her desire to
"educate the black man," she was constantly introducing primers "in
words of one syllable" into the sweeping, dusting, and bed-making; she
had even been known to suspend one open on the crane in the kitchen
fireplace for the benefit of Aunt Dinah-Jim during the process (for
which she was celebrated) of roasting wild-turkey. But "the black man,"
including Aunt Dinah, would have been much more impressed by primers in
words of six.

For the rest of this afternoon, however, Margaret was free; she had
several hours of daylight still before her. She walked on across the
barren, and had gone about half the distance, when she was overtaken by
Joe, the elder brother, the sixth elder brother, of the little Jewlyann
for whom the medicine was intended. Joe, a black lad in a military cap,
and a pair of his father's trousers which were so well strapped up over
his shoulders by fragmentary braces that they covered his breast and
back, and served as jacket as well, took the vial from the lady who was
so kind to them; and then Margaret, promising to pay her visit another
day, turned back. As she approached East Angels again, she made a long
detour, and entered on the southern side at the edge of the Levels.
Here, pausing, she looked at her watch; it was not yet half-past five,
she turned and entered the south-eastern woods, which came up at this
point to the East Angels border. Once within the shaded aisles, she
walked on, following no path, but wandering at random. Any one seeing
her then would have said that the expression of her face was singularly
altered; instead of the composure that usually held sway there, it was
the expression of a person much agitated mentally, and agitated by
unhappiness. She walked on with irregular steps, her hands interlocked
and hanging before her, palms downward, her eyes on the ground. After
some time she paused, and seemed to make an effort to press back her
troubles, not only a mental effort, but a physical one, after the manner
of people whose sensibilities are keen; she placed her hands over her
forehead and eyes, and held them there with a firm pressure for several
minutes; then she let them drop, and looked about her.

She had wandered far, she was near the eastern boundary of the wood;
Madam Giron's house was in sight--only a field lay between. She was
sufficiently acquainted with the forest to know that one of the paths
must be near; three paths crossed it, leading from East Angels to the
Giron plantation and beyond, this should be the most easterly of the
three; she turned to look for it.

It was not distant, and before long she came upon it. But at the moment
she did so she caught a glimpse of Evert Winthrop's figure; he was on
the other side of the path, at some distance from her; in the wood, but
nearer its edge than she was. Seated on a camp-stool, he was apparently
using the last of the daylight to finish a sketch. For he had taken to
sketching during his long stay at East Angels, producing pictures which
were rather geometrical, it is true; but he maintained that there was a
great deal of geometry in all landscape.

Margaret had now entered the path, and was walking towards home.

It happened that Winthrop at this moment looked up; but he did not do so
until her course had carried her so far past him that it was not
necessary for her to give sign of having seen him. He was too far off to
speak; there was, in fact, a wide space between them, though they could
see each other perfectly. But though, by the breadth of a second, he had
failed to look up in time to bow to her, he was in time to see that she
had observed him--her eyes were in the very act of turning away. In that
same instant, too, Margaret perceived that he saw she had observed him.

She passed on; a minute later a sharp bend in the path took her figure
out of his sight. He looked after her for a moment, as though hesitating
whether he would not follow her. Then he seemed to give up the idea; he
returned to his sketch.

Margaret, meanwhile, walking rapidly along the path on the other side of
the bend, came upon some one--Garda.

"Garda! you here?" she said, stopping abruptly.

"I might rather say _you_ here," answered Garda. "I thought you were out
on the barren." She spoke in her usual tone.

"I didn't go far on the barren," Margaret answered; "I met one of the
boys and gave him the vial, then I came round this way for a walk. But
it's late now, we must both go home."

Garda gave a long sigh, which, however, ended in a smile. "Oh _dear_!
it's too bad I've met you at this moment of all others, for of course
now I shall have to tell you, and you'll be sure to be vexed. I'm not
going home, I'm going over to Madam Giron's to see Lucian."

Margaret looked at her, her eyes for one brief instant showed
uncertainty. But the uncertainty was immediately replaced by a decision:
no, it was, it must be, that this girl did not in the least realize what
she was doing. "It is foolish to go, Garda," she said at last, putting
some ridicule into her tone; "Lucian has said good-by to you, he doesn't
want to see you again."

Garda did not assert the contrary. And she remained perfectly unmoved by
the ridicule. "But _I_ want to see him," she explained.

"We can send for him, then--though he will laugh at you; there is plenty
of time to send."

"No," replied Garda. "For I want to see him by myself, and that I
couldn't do at the house; there'd be sure to be somebody about; you
yourself wouldn't be very far off, I reckon. No, I've thought it all
over, and I would rather see him at Madam Giron's."

"Absurd! You cannot have anything of the least importance to say to
him," said Margaret, still temporizing. She took the girl's hand and
drew it through her arm.

"Oh, the important thing, of course, is to _see_ him," answered Garda.

Winthrop was so far from the path that the low sound of their voices,
speaking their usual tones, could not reach him. But the bend was near;
let Garda once pass it, and he would see her plainly; he would not only
see her pass through the wood, but, from where he sat, he commanded the
field which she would have to cross to reach Madam Giron's. All this
pictured itself quickly in Margaret's mind, she tightened her hold on
the girl's hand, and the ridicule left her voice. "Don't go, Garda," she
said, beseechingly.

"I must; it's my last chance."

"I shouldn't care much for a last chance which I had had to arrange
entirely myself."

"Well, that is the difference between us--_I_ should," Garda answered.

"I shall have to speak more plainly, then, and tell you that you must
not go. It would be thought extremely wrong."

"Who would think so?"

"Everybody."

"You know you mean Evert," said Garda, amused.

"I mean everybody. But if it should be Evert too!"

"I shouldn't care."

"If he were somewhere about here now, and should see you, shouldn't you
care for that?" asked Margaret, a change of expression, in spite of her
effort to prevent it, passing over her face.

But Garda did not see the change; her eyes had happened to fall upon a
loosened end of her sash, she drew her hand away in order to retie the
ribbons in a new knot, while she answered: "Do you mean see me going
into Madam Giron's? No, provided he didn't follow me. I give you my
word, Margaret, that I should really like to have Evert see me, I
believe I'd go half a mile out of my way on purpose; he is so
exasperatingly sure of--"

"Of what?"

"Of everything," answered Garda, making a grimace; "but especially of
me." Having now adjusted the knot to her satisfaction, she raised her
eyes again. "But _you_ are the one that cares," she said, looking at her
friend. "I can't tell you how sorry I am that you have met me here," she
went on, in a tone of regret. "But how was I to imagine that you would
change your mind, and come way round through this wood? It's too late
now." And she walked on towards the bend.

Margaret stood still for a moment. Then she hurried after her. "Garda,"
she said, "I beg you not to go; I beg you here on my knees, if that will
move you. Your mother left you to me, I stand in her place; think what
she would have wished. Oh, my dear child, it would be very wrong to go,
listen to me and believe me."

Garda, struck by her agitation, had stopped; with a sort of soft outcry
she had prevented her from kneeling. "Margaret! _you_ kneel to
_me_?--you dear, good, beautiful Margaret! You care so much about it,
then?--so _very_ much?"

"More than anything in the world," Margaret answered, in a voice unlike
her own.

With one of her sudden impulses, Garda exclaimed, "Then I won't go! But
somebody must tell Lucian," she added.

"Do you mean that he expects you?"

"Not at the house. When he came over to say good-by, of course I made up
my mind at once that I should see him again in some way before he
started; so when you had gone out on the barren (as I supposed), I wrote
a note and sent Pablo over with it."

"Oh, Garda! trust a servant--"

"Why, Pablo would let himself be torn to pieces before he would betray a
Duero; I verily believe he thinks he's a Duero himself--a Duero a little
sunburnt! To show you how much confidence I have in him--in the note I
asked Lucian to take this path, and come as far as the pool, where I
would meet him at a certain hour. Then, after it was scaled, I
remembered that I had not said clearly enough which path I meant (there
are three, you know), and so I told Pablo to say to Mr. Spenser that I
meant the eastern one. If I hadn't been afraid he would forget some of
it, I should have trusted the old man with the whole message, and not
taken the trouble to write at all. Well, after the note had gone I went
to sleep. And then, when I woke, it came over me suddenly how much nicer
it would be to see Lucian in the house instead of in the woods--for one
thing, we could have chairs, you know--and so I came over earlier than I
had at first intended, in order to get to Madam Giron's before he would
be starting for the pool. But you have kept me so long that he must be
starting now."

"Let us go home at once," said Margaret.

"No, I can't let him go to the pool, and wait and wait there all for
nothing.--Who's that?" she added, in a startled voice.

They both looked westward. In this direction, the direction of East
Angels, the path's course was straight for a long distance; the wood had
grown dimmer in the slowly fading light, and the figure they now saw at
the far end of this vista, coming towards them, was not yet clearly
outlined; yet they both recognized it.

"Dr. Kirby!" whispered Garda. "He _knows_--he is coming after _me_. He
would never be here at this hour unless it were for that." She seized
Margaret's hands. "Oh, what shall I do? It isn't for myself I care, but
he mustn't meet Lucian."

"Come into the woods. This way." And Margaret hurried her from the path,
in among the trees on the south side of it.

But Garda stopped. "No--that leaves him to meet Lucian. And he _mustn't_
meet Lucian. He _mustn't_ meet Lucian."

From the point in the forest to which Margaret had brought her, the
southern end of Madam Giron's house was in sight. At this instant Lucian
himself appeared; he opened the door, walked across the piazza, and
stood there looking about him.

The sight of him doubled Garda's terror. "I must go and warn him," she
said; "there's time."

"What is it you are so afraid of?" Margaret asked.

"The Doctor will shoot him."

"Nonsense! The Doctor won't do anything of the sort." The idea struck
the northern woman as childish.

"That only shows how little you know him," responded Garda, still in a
whisper. "He thinks, of course, that Lucian has been to blame."

Her white lips convinced Margaret even against her own beliefs; she knew
that the girl had not a grain of the coward in her nature.

"I can't wait." And Garda broke from her friend's hold, and ran towards
the path and the bend.

Margaret was almost as quick as she was, she stopped her before the bend
was reached. But though she stopped her, she felt that she could not
detain her for more than an instant; the girl was past restraint now,
her eyes had flashed at Margaret's touch.

"Listen, Garda: go back up the path, and meet Dr. Kirby yourself. Tell
him anything you like to keep him away from here, while _I_ warn
Lucian." The bend was now not more than three yards distant, and, as she
spoke, she looked at it, her eyes had a strange expression.

"Will you go to the very house and take him in?" Garda demanded.
"Because if you won't do that, I shall go myself."

"Yes, I will take him in."

"And will you stay there?"

"As long as it's necessary."

The implicit confidence which Garda had in her friend's word prevented
her from having any misgivings; she turned and ran up the path towards
Dr. Kirby, who was still at some distance (for these words and actions
of the two women had been breathlessly swift), and who, owing to his
near-sightedness, could not yet see her. When she thought he might be
able to distinguish her figure she stopped running, and walked forward
to meet him with her usual leisurely grace. The running had brought the
color to her cheeks, and taken away the unwonted look of fear; all that
was left of it was the eager attention with which she listened to what
he said.

This was harmless enough. "Ah! you have been out taking the air?" he
remarked, pleasantly.

In the mean while Margaret had passed the bend with rapid step, and
followed the path down to the wood's border; reaching it, she did not
pause, and soon her figure was clearly outlined crossing the open field
towards Madam Giron's. She opened the gate in the low hedge, and went up
to the door; as it happened, Lucian had gone within for a moment,
leaving the door open; now he re-appeared, coming out. But at the same
instant Margaret, crossing the piazza, laid her hand on his arm and drew
him in. As he came forth in his strong youth and sunny beauty, she had
felt herself unexpectedly and singularly seized by Garda's terror; she
had never liked him, but now it rose before her, horrible and
incredible--the vision of so much splendid physical life being suddenly
brought low. She forgot that she had not believed in the reality of this
danger, she was possessed by a womanish panic; swayed by it, she quickly
drew him within and closed the door. Yet though with a sudden shiver she
had done this, in reality her whole soul was at the moment absorbed by
another feeling compared with which the dread was as momentary as a
ripple passing over a deep lake; it lasted no longer.

She had drawn Lucian within, and she had closed the door. But from where
Evert Winthrop sat in the shade, with his eyes fixed upon their two
figures, it looked as though Lucian had played the active part in this
little scene; as though Lucian had taken her hand and led her within;
and had then closed the door behind them.



CHAPTER XXI.


Mrs. Rutherford had dismissed Margaret for the remainder of that
afternoon, saying that Dr. Kirby was coming to play backgammon with her.
Soon after Margaret had started to cross the barren with the vial of
medicine for the sick child, the Doctor came. They played a number of
games, Mrs. Rutherford liked backgammon; and certainly nothing could be
better for a graceful use of beautiful hands. After the board had been
put away, "there was conversation," as Betty would have said; Betty
herself was present and took part in it. Then the Doctor left the two
ladies and went to his own room.

On the way he was stopped by Pablo, who had come up-stairs for the
purpose. "Please, sah, ter step down en see Sola; seems like he look
mighty kuse."

Osceola had a corner of his own in his master's heart. At the first
suggestion that any ill had befallen him, the Doctor seized his hat and
hastened out to the stables, followed by the old negro, who did not make
quite so much haste. The stout black horse, comfortable and glossy,
seemed to be in the possession of his usual health. "There's nothing the
matter with him, Pablo," the Doctor said.

"Looks sorter quare ter me," Pablo answered; "'pears dat he doan git
nuff exercise. Might ride 'em little ways now, befo' dark; I done put de
saddle on on puppus." And Osceola in truth was saddled and bridled.

"I don't want to ride now," said the Doctor.

He had a great regard for Pablo, and humored him as all the former
masters and mistresses of Gracias-á-Dios humored the decrepit old family
servants who had been left stranded among them behind the great wave of
emancipation. Pablo, on his side, had as deep a respect for the Doctor
as he could have for any one who was not of the blood of the Dueros.

"Do Sola lots er good ter go," he persisted, bending to alter one of the
straps of the saddle; "he _not_ well, sho. Might ride 'em long todes
Maddum Giron's, cross de Lebbuls en troo de wood by de eastymose
nigh-cut."

The Doctor was listening now with attention. Pablo went on working at
the strap. "De _eastymose_ nigh-cut," he repeated, as if talking to
himself.

"Perhaps you are right," said the Doctor, after a moment, his eyes
sharply scanning the withered black face which was bending over the
strap. "And I suppose if I go at all, I might as well go at once, eh? So
as not to have him out in the dew?"

"Yes, sah," answered Pablo. "De soonah de bettah, sah."

"Very well," said the Doctor.

Pablo led out the horse, and the Doctor mounted. "Mebbe, sah, if you's
_gwine_ as fur as Maddum Giron's, you'd be so good as ter kyar' dish
yer note, as I wuz gwine fer ter kyar it myse'f, on'y my rheumatiz is so
bad," said the old man. He held up an envelope, which he had carefully
wrapped in brown paper, so that it should not become soiled in his
pocket.

The Doctor's face showed no expression of any kind; and Pablo's own
countenance remained stolidly dull. "I hope you'll skuse me, sah, fer
askin'," he said, respectfully; "it's my bad rheumatiz, sah."

"Yes, Pablo, I know; I can as well carry the note as not," said the
Doctor, carelessly.

Pablo made a jerk with his head and hand, which was his usual
salutation, and the Doctor rode off.

When at a distance from the house, and among the trees where no one
could see him, he took out the package and opened it. It contained a
sealed envelope with an address; holding it out at a distance from his
eyes in order to be able to read it without his glasses, he found that
the name was Lucian Spenser; and the handwriting was Garda's. The Doctor
sat for a moment staring at it; then he put the note back in his pocket
and rode on; even there, where there was no one to see him but the
birds, his face betrayed nothing.

He went towards the Levels. Reaching them, he crossed to the point where
the south-eastern wood came up to their border, and, dismounting, tied
his horse and entered the wood by the easterly path. Passing the pool,
which glimmered dimly in the shade, he came to the long straight vista
which led to the bend; here, when half-way across, he saw a figure
coming towards him, and a moment later he recognized it--Garda.

He doffed his hat with his usual ceremony. "Ah, you have been out taking
the air?" he said, pleasantly.

"Yes," replied Garda. "But I'm going back now."

"Did you go far?" He spoke with his customary kindly interest. While
speaking he put on his glasses and looked down the path; there was no
one in sight.

"No," Garda answered; "only a little way beyond here. I had thought of
going over to Madam Giron's to bid a second good-by to Lucian Spenser;
then I changed my mind. I'm going home now without seeing him; that is,
I've _started_ for home," she added, half smiling, half sighing; "I
don't know whether I shall get there!"

"We will go together," said the Doctor, offering her his arm; "I shall
give myself the pleasure of accompanying you, if you will permit it, I
think I have had walk enough for to-day." He stopped a moment, however,
to admire the size of the oaks, he delivered quite an eloquent
apostrophe to Nature, as she reveals herself "in bark;" then he turned,
and they went back towards East Angels, walking slowly onward, and
talking as they went.

That is, the Doctor talked. And his conversation had never been more
delightful. He spoke of the society of the city of Charleston in
colonial times; he described the little church at Goose Greek, now
buried in woods, but still preserving its ancient tombs and hatchments;
he enumerated the belles, each a toast far and wide, who had reigned in
the manor-houses on the Ashley and Cooper rivers. Coming down to modern
times, he even said a few words about Lucian Spenser. "You find him
agreeable; yes--yes; he _has_ rather an engaging wit of the light modern
sort. But it's superficial, it has no solidity; it has, as I may say, no
proper _form_. When you have seen more of the world, my child, you will
know better how to estimate such qualities at their true worth. But I
can well understand that they amuse you for the present--the young man
is, in fact, very amusing; in the old days, Garda, your ancestors would
have enjoyed having just such a person for their family jester."

Garda looked off through the woods to hide her smile. If the Doctor
could have seen that smile, he might not have been so well content with
his jester comparison; but he could not see it, and he remained
convinced that his idea had been a particularly happy one. "A
feather's-weight touch," he said to himself, with almost grateful
self-congratulation; "but masterly! I doubt whether even Walpole could
have done it better."

As they approached the Levels he made a little turn through the wood in
order to look at a tree with a peculiarly curved trunk--another form of
Nature as manifested in bark--and this brought Garda out at some
distance from Osceola, who was hidden by an intervening thicket. They
walked across the Levels, and at length reached the house, the Doctor
going in with his ward, accompanying her up-stairs, still talking
cheerfully, and leaving her at her door; he then went on with leisurely
step to his own room. But this apartment possessed two entrances; coming
in at the first, the Doctor, after closing this door behind him, merely
crossed his floor and went out through the second, which opened upon a
corridor leading to another stairway; in two minutes he was on his way
back to the Levels.

Having crossed them again, he found Osceola standing meditatively where
he had left him; Osceola was a patient beast. He mounted him, and rode
into the wood, following the same path which he had just traversed with
Garda; he intended to follow it to the end. On the way he met no one. At
the house he found no one. His two long journeys on foot across the
Levels had taken time; he was not a rapid walker, he could not be with
such neatly finished steps. When, therefore, he drew rein at Madam
Giron's, all was closed and dark, there was no one about.

The moon was rising; by its light he made his way back to Cajo's cabin
near the branch.

"Cajo?"

Cajo came out. He was astonished to see the Doctor.

"I came over to speak to Mr. Spenser a moment, Cajo. Has he gone, then?"

"Yes, sah; went haffen 'nour ago."

"Ah, earlier than he intended, I conjecture. But I dare say some one
else has been over from East Angels this evening?" The Doctor used the
word "evening" as "afternoon."

"No, sah; no one." And Cajo spoke the truth; neither he nor Juana had
been at the "big house" when Margaret came, and they had not seen her go
away. But the Doctor of course was not thinking of Margaret.

"Ah,--very possibly Mr. Spenser strolled over again in our direction,
then; I was occupied, and shouldn't have seen him."

"No, sah, he ain't gwine nowhar; he come home befo' fibe, en here he
stay twel he start."

"It's of no consequence, though I thought I should have been in time. I
hope you have persevered, Cajo, in the use of that liniment I sent you
for your lame arm?"

And after a few more words with the old couple, who stood bowing and
courtesying at their low door, the Doctor rode Osceola on a walk down
the winding path which led from Madam Giron's to the water road. This
water road ran southward from East Angels, following the edge of the
lagoon; it was comparatively broad and open, and, though longer, the
Doctor now preferred it to that dark track through the wood, since it
had become evident that there was no one in the wood at present with
whom it was necessary that he should hold some slight conversation.

Reaching East Angels in safety, he entered the drawing-room half an hour
later, very tired, but freshly dressed, and repressing admirably all
signs of his fatigue. He found Mrs. Carew engaged in telling Garda's
fortune in solemn state with four packs of cards, as an appropriate rite
for Christmas-eve; the cards were spread upon a large table before her,
and Garda and Winthrop were looking on. Upon inquiring for Margaret (the
Doctor always inquired for the absent), he was told that she was
suffering from headache, and would not be able to join them.

Garda was merry; she was merry over the fact that a certain cousin of
Madam Ruiz, whom they had never any of them seen, kept turning up (the
card that represented him) through deal after deal as her close
companion in the "fortune," while the three other named cards--Winthrop,
Manuel, and Torres--remained as determinedly remote from her as the
table would allow.

"I don't see what ever induced me to put him in at all," said Betty, in
great vexation, rubbing her chin spitefully with the card she was
holding in her hand. "I suppose it's because Madam Ruiz has kept talking
about him--Julio de Sandoval, Julio de Sandoval--and something in his
name always reminded me of sandal-wood, you know, which is so nice,
though some people _do_ faint away if you have fans made of it, which is
dreadful at concerts, of course, because then they have to be carried
out, and that naturally makes everybody think, of course, that the house
is on fire. Well, the _real_ trouble was, Garda, that I had to have four
knights for you, of coarse, because that's the rule, and there are only
_three_ unmarried men in Gracias--Mr. Winthrop, Manuel (_he's_ away),
and Adolfo (_he's_ away too)--which I must say is a _very_ poor
assortment for anybody to choose from!"

This entirely unintended disparagement made Winthrop smile. In spite of
his smile, however, the Doctor thought he looked preoccupied. The Doctor
had put on his glasses to inspect Betty's spread-out cards, and, having
them on, he took the opportunity to glance across, two or three times,
at their host, who had now left the table, and was seated with a
newspaper near a lamp on the opposite side of the room. Their host, for
such in fact he was, though everything at East Angels went on in Mrs.
Rutherford's name, seemed to the furtively watching Kirby to be at
present something more than preoccupied; his face behind the paper (he
probably thought he was not observed) had taken on a very stern
expression. Having established this point beyond a doubt, the Doctor
felt his cares growing heavier; he crossed the room to a distant window,
and stood there looking out by himself for some time.

It troubled him to see Winthrop with that expression, and the reason it
troubled him was because he could not tell what sternness with him might
mean. It might mean--and then again it might not mean--he confessed to
himself that he had not the least idea what interpretation to give it,
he had never really understood this northerner at all. Garda was engaged
to him, of course, there was no doubt of that; he wished with all his
heart that the engagement had never been formed. But he recognized that
wishes were useless, the thing was done; to the Doctor, an engagement
was almost as binding as a marriage. He stared out into the darkness in
a depressed sort of way, and his back, which was all of him that could
be seen by the others, had a mournful look; the Doctor's back was always
expressive, but generally it expressed a gallant cheerfulness that met
the world bravely. Winthrop's purchase, at a high price, not only of
East Angels with its empty old fields, but also of all the outlying
tracts of swamp and forest land owned by the Dueros, to the very last
acre, had made Garda's position independent as regarded money; but in
his present mood the Doctor cursed the independence as well as the
wealth that had produced it. Independence? what does a young girl want
with independence? Garda had needed nothing; they were able to take care
of her themselves, and they wanted no such gross modern fortunes
invading and deteriorating Gracias-á-Dios! But it was too late now;
their little girl was not their own any more, she was engaged.

As to her imprudence of to-day--that was owing to her taste for
amusement, or rather for being amused; they had not, perhaps, paid
sufficient attention to this trait of hers. But, in any case, it was, on
her side, nothing but thoughtlessness. The person who had been to blame
was Lucian Spenser! He (the Doctor) had been too late in his pursuit of
Lucian. But perhaps Winthrop would not be too late. For of course
Winthrop would wish---- But there, again--would he wish?--the Doctor
felt, with bewildered discomfiture, that he had not sufficient knowledge
of this man's opinions to enable him to form any definite conclusions on
this subject, plain and simple as the matter appeared to his own view.

And then, in order to wish anything, Winthrop must first know; and who
was to tell him? And when he had been told, would he take their view,
his (the Doctor's) view--the only true one--of Garda's taste for being
amused? The Doctor felt that he should like to see him take any other!
Still, he did not own Evert Winthrop, and he could not help asking
himself whether any of that sternness now visible on the face behind the
newspaper would be apt to fall upon Garda, in case the possessor of the
face should have a different opinion from theirs as to her little
fancies. He clinched his fist at the mere thought.

Garda's voice broke in upon his reverie, she summoned him to the table
to see the conclusion of her "fortune." And as he obeyed her summons,
his cares suddenly grew lighter: a girl with such a frank voice as that
could not possibly have a secret to guard. In the midst of this
reasoning, the Doctor would have knocked down anybody (beginning with
himself) who had dared to suggest that she had.

That night, before going to bed, the Doctor burned upon the hearth of
his own room Garda's sealed note just as it was; and he took the
precaution, furthermore, to wrap it in an old newspaper, in order that
he should not by chance see any of its written words in the momentary
magnifying power of the flames. A limp flannel dressing-gown of orange
hue, and an orange silk handkerchief in the shape of a tight turban,
formed his costume during this rite. But no knight of old (poet's
delineation) was ever influenced by a more delicate sense of honor than
was this flannel-draped little cavalier of Gracias, as he walked up and
down his room, keeping his eyes turned away from the hearth until the
dying light told him that nothing was left but ashes.

Then he sat down and meditated. If he should make up his mind to speak
to Winthrop, there must be of course some mention of Garda, even if but
a word. To the Doctor's sense it was supremely better that there should
be no mention. There was no reason for mentioning her on her own
account--not the slightest; it was on account of Lucian. Yes, Lucian! If
he had met that young man in the woods, or if he had found him at Madam
Giron's, he could not tell; he might--he _might_---- And now, in case he
did not speak to Winthrop, Lucian would escape, he would escape all
reckoning for his misdeeds, a thing which seemed to the Doctor
insupportable! Still, he was gone, his place among them was safely empty
at last; and here the thinker could not but realize that it was better
for everybody that the place should be empty from a voluntary departure
than from one which might have resounded through the State, and been
termed perhaps--involuntary! And with a flush of conscious color over
his own past heat, the fiery little gentleman sought his bed.

The next morning it was discovered that Mrs. Harold's headache had meant
an attack of fever. The fever was not severe, but it kept her confined
to her bed for eight days; Mrs. Carew took her place at the head of the
household, and Mrs. Carew's dear Katrina had a course of severer mental
discipline than she had been afflicted with for many months, finding
herself desperately uncomfortable every hour without Margaret and
Margaret's supervision of affairs.

Garda did all she could for Margaret. But there was something in illness
that was extremely strange to her; she had never been ill for a moment
in all her recollection; and her delicate little mother had held
illness at bay for herself by sheer force of determination all her life,
until the very last. Though Garda, therefore, could not be called a good
nurse, she was at least an affectionate one; she came in often, though
she did not stay long, and she was so radiant with life and health when
she did come that it seemed as if the weary woman who looked at her from
the pillow must imbibe some vigor from the mere sight of her.

The fever was soon subdued by Dr. Kirby's prompt remedies. But
Margaret's strength came back but slowly, so slowly that Mrs. Rutherford
"could not understand it;" Aunt Katrina never "understood" anything that
interfered with her comfort. However, on the eleventh day her niece came
in to see her for a few moments, looking white and shadowy, it is true,
but quite herself in every other way; on the fourteenth day she took her
place again at the head of the house, and Betty, with her endless
kind-heartedness and her disreputable old carpet-bag, with a lion
pictured on its sides, no lock, and its handles tied together with a
piece of string, returned to her home.

That night--it was the 7th of January--there was a great storm; a high
wind from the north, with torrents of rain. Mrs. Rutherford, having, as
she complained, "nothing to amuse her," had fallen asleep just before it
began, and, strange to say, slept through it all. When she said she had
"nothing," she meant "nobody," and her "nobody" was Dr. Reginald. For
the Doctor was not at East Angels that night; he had remained there
constantly through the first five days of Margaret's illness, and he now
felt that he must give some time to his patients in Gracias. Winthrop
also was absent.

For to the astonishment and indignation of Betty, Winthrop had started
early on Christmas morning on a journey up the St. John's River; when
she and Garda had come in to breakfast he was not there, and Dr. Kirby,
entering later, had informed them that Telano had given him a note which
said that he (Winthrop) had suddenly decided to take this excursion
immediately, instead of waiting until the 1st of February, his original
date.

"Suddenly decided--I should think so!" said Betty. "Between bedtime and
daylight--that's all. And on Christmas morning too! I never heard of
such a thing! Lucian went off on Christmas-eve. All the men have gone
mad." But here her attention was turned by the entrance of Celestine
with the tidings of Margaret's fever.

Before he had joined the ladies at the breakfast-table that morning, the
Doctor, contrary to his usual custom, had been out. He had been greatly
startled by Winthrop's note, which Telano had brought to him as soon as
he was up; hurrying his dressing, he had hastened forth to make
inquiries. The note had stated that its writer was going to the Indian
River. But the Doctor did not believe in this story of the Indian River.
He learned that Winthrop had started at six o'clock, driving his own
horses (he had a pair besides his saddle-horse), and taking his man Tom,
who was to bring the horses back. The Doctor began to make estimates:
Lucian had got off about eight the evening before, he was therefore ten
hours in advance of Winthrop; still, if he had been kept waiting at the
river (and the steamers were often hours behind time), Winthrop, with
his fast horses, might reach the landing before he (Lucian) had left. In
any case Winthrop could follow him by the next boat; the Doctor had
visions of his following him all the way to New Orleans!

How it was possible that Winthrop could have known of an intention of
Garda's which she had not carried out (for of course it was that
intention which had made him follow Lucian), how it was possible that
Winthrop could have known of a note which he himself had reduced,
unread, to ashes upon his own hearth, the Doctor did not stop to ask;
neither did he stop to reflect that if Winthrop had been bent upon
following Lucian, it was probable that he would have started at once,
instead of waiting uselessly ten hours. He prescribed for Margaret; then
he rode hastily over to Madam Giron's to make further inquiries.

The horse and wagon that had taken Lucian across the country had
returned, and the negro boy who had acted as driver said that Mr.
Spenser had not been delayed at all at the landing; the _Volusia_ was
lying there when they drove up, and Mr. Spenser had gone on board
immediately, and then, five minutes later, the boat had started on her
course down the river--that is, northward. But, in spite of this
intelligence, the Doctor remained a prey to restlessness; he battled
all day with Margaret's fever, almost in a fever himself; he was
constantly thinking that he heard the gallop of a messenger's horse
coming to summon him somewhere; but nothing came, save, late in the
afternoon, Winthrop's own horses, and they went modestly round to the
stables without pausing. The Doctor went out to see Tom.

Tom said that his master had been obliged to wait two hours at the
landing; he had then taken the slow old _Hernando_ when she touched
there on her way up the river, going, of course, southward. The Doctor
went off to the garden, and walked up and down with a rapid step; he was
passing through a revulsion of feeling. He knew those two boats and
their routes, he knew that one had as certainly taken Lucian northward
as that the other had carried Evert Winthrop in precisely the opposite
direction. And this was not a country of railways, neither man could
make a rapid detour or retrace his steps by train; there was only the
river and the same deliberate boats upon which they were already
voyaging--in opposite directions! He was relieved, of course (he kept
assuring himself of this), that there was to be no encounter between the
two men. But he could not keep back a feeling of anger against
himself--hot, contemptuous anger--for ever having supposed for one
moment that there could be; could be--with Evert Winthrop for one of the
men! Or, for that matter, with Lucian Spenser for the other. The present
generation was a very poor affair; he was glad, at least, that nobody
could say _he_ belonged to it. And then the Doctor, who did not know
himself exactly what it was he wanted, kicked a fragment of coquina out
of his path so vindictively that it flew half-way across the garden,
and, taking out his handkerchief, he rubbed his hot, disappointed face
furiously. Since then a letter had come from Winthrop; he was hunting on
the Indian River.

When, therefore, the storm broke over East Angels on the evening of the
day upon which Margaret had taken again the reins of the household, she
and Garda were alone. After her visit to Mrs. Rutherford, whom she had
found quietly sleeping, with Celestine keeping watch beside her,
Margaret came back to the drawing-room, closing the door behind her.
Garda had made a great blaze of light-wood on the hearth, so that the
room was aglow with the brilliant flame; she was sitting on the rug
looking at it, and she had drawn forward a large, deep arm-chair for
Margaret.

"I am pretending it's a winter night at the North," she said, "and that
you and I have drawn close to the fire because it's so _cold_. Come and
sit down. I wonder if you're really well enough to be up, Margaret?"

"I am perfectly well," Margaret answered, sinking into the chair and
looking at the blaze.

The rain dashed against the window-panes, the wind whistled. "Isn't it
like the North?" demanded Garda.

Margaret shook her head. "Too many roses." The room was full of roses.

"They might have come from a conservatory," Garda suggested.

"It isn't like it," said Margaret, briefly.

"Margaret, what did you say to Lucian? It's two whole weeks; and this is
the very first chance I've had to ask you!"

Margaret's face contracted for an instant, as though from a sudden pain.
"Yes, I know," she said; "you have had to wait."

"You don't want to talk about it--is that it?" said Garda, who had
noticed this. "Because you think it was so dreadful for me to be going
there?"

Margaret did not tell what she thought on this point. "Of course you
want to know what I said," she answered. "For one thing, I said nothing
whatever about you, I made no allusion to your proposed meeting at the
pool, or----"

"That's fortunate, since Lucian knew nothing about it."

"Nothing about it? Didn't you ask him in your note--?"

"He never got the note. I've been thinking about it, and I'm convinced
of that. I'll tell you afterwards; please go on now about what you
said."

"I said as little as I could, I had no desire for a long conversation. I
told Mr. Spenser that it would be well if he could start immediately, as
I had reason to fear that Dr. Kirby, who, as he knew, had many
old-fashioned ideas, might think it necessary to come over, and take
him to task in---- in various ways. It would be better, of course, to
avoid so absurd a proceeding."

"And then did he go?"

"Yes. He said, 'Anything you think best, Mrs. Harold, of course,' and
made his preparations immediately."

"Didn't he ask any questions?"

"No; as I told you, I had no desire to talk, and I presume he saw it. I
waited until he was ready, and it was time to call Cajo and order the
wagon; then I slipped out through one of the long windows on the east
side of the house, as I didn't care to have the servants see me. I went
through the grove that skirts the water, and as I came into the main
avenue again, just at the gate, the wagon passed me, and he was in it;
he did not see me, as I had stepped back among the trees when I heard
the sound of wheels. Then I came home."

"Yes--and went to bed and had a fever!"

"It's over now."

"Didn't Lucian think it odd--your coming?" Garda went on.

"Very likely. I don't know what he thought."

"And you don't care, I suppose you mean. Well, Margaret, I know you
don't think there was any real danger; but I can assure you that there
was. You may call Dr. Kirby absurd. But absurd or not, _I_ was horribly
frightened when I saw him coming, and you cannot say that I am
frightened easily; I don't think there is any doubt as to what he would
have done if he had met Lucian!"

"I can't agree with you about that, Garda, though I confess that for a
moment, when I first came upon Mr. Spenser at the door, I was as
frightened as you were. But it didn't last, there was no ground for it."

Garda shook her head. "You don't understand--"

"Perhaps I don't," answered Margaret, with rather a weary intonation.
"If Lucian didn't get your note, where is it?"

"The Doctor got it. That is the way he knew, don't you see? Pablo gave
it to him."

"Pablo--the servant who could not betray you?"

"You mean that for sarcasm; but there's no cause," Garda answered. "Poor
old Pablo was never more devoted to me, according to his light, than
when he went to the Doctor; he knew he could trust the Doctor as he
trusted himself. You don't comprehend our old servants, Margaret; you
haven't an idea how completely they identify themselves with 'de
fambly,' as they call it. Well, Pablo didn't tell the Doctor anything in
actual words, and in fact he had nothing to tell except 'the eastern
path;' I told him that myself, you remember. I presume he suggested in
some roundabout way that the Doctor should take an evening walk through
that especial 'nigh-cut.'" And Garda laughed. "And of course he gave him
the note--nothing less than that would have brought the Doctor out there
at that hour; Pablo probably pretended that he couldn't take the note
himself on account of his rheumatism, and asked the Doctor to send
somebody else with it; and then the Doctor said he would take it
himself. And, through the whole, you may be sure that neither of them
made the very least allusion to _me_. The Doctor had the 'eastern path'
to guide him, and the certainty that I had written to Lucian--for of
course he saw the address; with that he started off."

"You think that he did not open the note?"

"Open it? Nothing could have made him open it."

"But he is your guardian, and as such, under the circumstances--"

"He might be twenty guardians, and under a thousand circumstances, and
he would never do it," said Garda, securely. "I presume he burned it
just as it was; I have no doubt he did. Margaret, I wonder if you
remember how strange and cold you were to me that night when you came
home? Of course I knew that the Doctor would go straight back to Madam
Giron's as soon as he had seen me safely inside my own door, and I
couldn't help being dreadfully anxious. I waited, and waited. And at
last you came. But you were so silent! you scarcely spoke to me; you
wouldn't tell me anything except that Lucian was safely gone."

"I couldn't; I was ill," Margaret answered. She put her hand over her
eyes.

"Yes, I understood; or if I didn't that night, I did the next morning,
when the fever appeared. You are a wonderful woman, Margaret," the girl
went on. She had clasped her hands round her knees, and was looking at
the blaze. "How you did go and do that for me without a moment's
hesitation, when you hated to, so! I was going to tell you something
more," she went on. "But I don't dare to; I am afraid." And she laughed.

Margaret's hand dropped. "What is it you were going to say?" She sat
erect now. Her eyes showed a light which appeared like apprehension.

"I should like you to know it first," said Garda, her gaze still on the
hearth. "Evert is coming home to-morrow, and I want to tell you
beforehand: I am going to break my engagement. I don't care for him;
why, then, should I stay engaged?"

"You mean that you think it's wrong?"

"I mean that I think it's tiresome. I have only let it go on as long as
it has to please you; you must know that. I should have told him long
ago, only you wouldn't let me--don't you remember? You have made me
promise twice not to tell him."

"Because I thought you would come to your senses."

"I have come to them--now! The difficulty with you is, Margaret, that
you think it will hurt him. But it won't hurt him at all, he doesn't
care about it. He never did really care for me in the least."

"And if you don't care for him, as you say, may I ask how your
engagement was formed?"

Garda laughed. "I don't wonder you ask! I'll tell you, I _did_ care for
him then. For some time before that night on the barren I had been
thinking about him more and more, and I ended by thinking of nothing but
just that one idea--how queer it would be, and how--how exciting, if I
could only make him change a little; make him do as _I_ wanted him to
do. You know how cool he is, how quiet; I think it was that that tempted
me, I wanted to see if I could. And, besides, I _did_ care for him then;
I liked him ever so much. I can't imagine what has become of the
feeling; but it was certainly there at the time. Well, when you're lost
on a barren all night, everything's different, you can say what you
feel. And that's what I did; or at least I let him see it, I let him see
how much I had been thinking about him, how much I liked him. I am
afraid I told him in so many words," added the girl, after a moment's
pause. "I only say 'afraid' on your account; on my own, I don't see any
reason why I shouldn't say it if it was true."

Then, in answer, not to any words from Margaret, but to some slight
movement of hers, "You don't believe it," she went on; "you don't
believe I cared for him. _He_ believed me, at any rate; he couldn't help
it! At that moment I cared for him more than I cared for anybody in the
world, and he saw that I did; it was easy enough to see. So that was the
way of it. We came back engaged. And I _did_ like him so much!--isn't it
odd? I thought him wonderful. I don't suppose he has changed. But I
have. He is probably wonderful still; but I don't care about him any
more. And that is what I cannot understand--that he has not seen in all
this time how different I am, has not seen how completely the feeling,
whatever it was, that I had for him has gone. It seems to me that
anybody not blind ought to have seen it long ago, for it didn't last but
a very little while. And then, too, not to have seen it since Lucian
came back!"

"He wouldn't allow himself to think such things of you."

"Now you are angry with me," said Garda, not turning her head, but
putting up one hand caressingly on Margaret's arm. "Why should you be
angry? What have I done but change? Can I help changing? _I_ don't do
it; it does itself; it _happens_. You needn't try to tell me that one
love, if a true one, lasts forever, because it's nothing of the kind.
Look at second marriages. I really cared for Evert. And now I don't care
for him. But I don't see that I am to blame for either the one or the
other; people don't care for people because they _try_ to, but because
it comes in spite of them; and it's the same way when it stops. I
acknowledge, Margaret, that _you_ are one of the kind to care once and
forever. But there are very few women like you, I am sure."

She turned as she said this, in order to look up at her friend; then she
sprang from her place on the rug and stood beside her, her attitude was
almost a protecting one. "Oh," she said, "how I hate the people who make
you so unhappy!"

"No one does that," said Margaret. She rose.

"Are you going?"

"Yes; I am tired."

"I suppose I oughtn't to keep you," said Garda, regretfully,
"Well,--it's understood, then, that I tell Evert to-morrow."

Margaret, who was going towards the door, stopped. She waited a moment,
then she said--"Even if you break the engagement, Garda, it isn't
necessary to say anything about Lucian, is it?--this feeling that you
think you have for him; I wish you would promise me not to speak of
Lucian at all."

"Think I have!" said Garda. "_Know_ is the word. But I'm afraid I can't
promise you that, because, don't you see" (here she came to her friend,
who was standing with one hand on the door)--"don't you see that I shall
_have_ to speak of Lucian?--I shall have to say how much I like him.
Because, after what I let Evert think that night on the barrens, nothing
less will convince _him_ that I don't care for _him_ any more, that I've
got over it. For he believed me then--as well he might! and he has never
stopped believing. And he never will stop--he wouldn't know how--until I
tell him in so many words that I adore somebody else; perhaps he will
stop then; he knew what it was when I adored _him_."

Margaret looked at her without speaking.

"Dear me! Margaret, don't _hate_ me," said Garda, abandoning her
presentation of the case and clinging in distress to her friend.

"Promise me at least not to tell Evert anything about that last
afternoon before Lucian left--your plan for meeting him at the pool,
your going on towards the house and coming upon me, our seeing Dr.
Kirby, and your fear--in short, all that happened. Promise me
faithfully."

"I suppose I can promise that, if you care about it. But you mustn't
hate me, Margaret."

"What makes you think I hate you?" asked Margaret, forcing a smile.

"A look 'way back in your eyes," Garda answered, the tears shining in
her own.

"Never mind about looks 'way back; take those that are nearer the
front," responded Margaret. She drew herself away, opened the door, and
went down the hall towards her own room.

Garda followed her. But at her door Margaret stopped; "Good-night," she
said.

"Are you going to shut yourself up? Mayn't I go through your room to
mine? Mayn't I have the door open between?" said Garda. "I'm so afraid
of the storm!" The rain was still beating against the windows, the wind
was now a gale. "I shall keep thinking of the sea."

"The sound of the storm is as loud in my room as in yours."

"Well, I won't tease," said Garda; "I see you want to be alone." She
kissed her friend, and went mournfully down the hall towards her own
door. Then her mood seemed to change, for she called back, "I shall keep
my lamp burning all night, then."

This was a small hanging lamp of copper, of which Garda was very fond.
It had once been thinly coated over with silver, and it had every
appearance of having been made to hang before a shrine; there was a
tradition, indeed, that though it had been at East Angels longer than
even the Old Madam could remember, it had come originally from that East
Mission of Our Lady of the Angels which had given the Duero house its
name; the lamp remained, though the little coquina shrine, built for the
red-skins, had vanished.

Raquel knew how to make a particular kind of oil, highly perfumed with
fragrant gums; she made this, in small quantities at a time, for Garda,
who burned it in this lamp in her own room, and greatly enjoyed the
aromatic odor it gave out. Margaret had remonstrated with her for the
fancy. "I cannot think it is wholesome," she said, "to sleep in such a
heavily perfumed atmosphere."

"I sleep a great deal better in it than I ever do in your plain, thin,
_whitewashed_ sort of air," Garda had responded, laughing.

To-night, after lighting her candle, she lighted this lamp also.

"It's burning!" she said, calling through the closed door between their
two rooms with childlike defiance. But she got no answer.



CHAPTER XXII.


That same evening Evert Winthrop was watching the storm on the St.
John's River. It had begun to darken the north-western sky before
sunset; rising higher and higher, at length it had come sweeping down
the broad stream. First the broken lurid edge (like little puffs of
white smoke) of the blackness that followed behind; and that was the
wind. Then the blackness itself, pierced here and there by lightning.
Then, last, in perpendicular columns extending from the sky to the
smooth water below (water that had been pressed flat by wind that had
gone on before), the rain falling straight downward densely and softly;
the line across the river made by the advancing drops on one side and
the smooth water which they had not yet reached on the other, was as
distinct as one made across a piece of velvet when one half of its nap
has been turned sharply back, while the other remains undisturbed.

The old white house, once a private residence, where Winthrop was
spending the night, was now a reluctant hotel; that is, inmates were
received there, and allowed to find their way about, to sit round a
brilliant light-wood fire on the broad hearth of the pleasant old parlor
on cold evenings, to bask in the sunshine on the piazzas during the day,
or wander under the magnificent trees, which, draped in silver moss,
formed long avenues on the river-bank north and south. They were also
allowed to partake of food in the dining-room, where the mistress of the
house, a dignified old lady, poured out her coffee herself at the head
of her table, the cups being carried about by half-grown negro boys,
whose appearance was not in the least an indication of the quality of
the beverage, that quality being excellent. This old house, when it had
thus changed itself, rather half-heartedly, into a hotel after the war,
had been obliged to put out a dock; a sign it could dispense with; it
could dispense with many things; but an inn of any sort it could not be
on the St. John's without a dock, since the river was the highway, and
its wide shallows near shore made it necessary for the steamers to land
their passengers far out in the stream. All these "docks" on the St.
John's were in reality long narrow piers, formed by spiles driven into
the bed of the stream, over whose tops planks had been nailed down; and
if a plank was missing here and there, was it not always easy to jump
over.

Near the end of the pier belonging to Winthrop's present abode there was
a little building about six feet square. This was the United States
post-office; any one who should doubt its official character, had only
to look at the legal notices written in ink and tightly tacked up on the
outside. Generally these notices had been so blurred by the rain that
all the "men" who were required to "know" the various matters written
underneath by this proclamation thereof, could have made out a good
defence for themselves in case of prosecution for failure to comply,
since how could they "know" what they could not decipher? But even if
the notices had been printed in fairest type, it is hardly probable that
the inhabitants would have "known" them any better; they had always
hunted and fished wherever and whenever they pleased; it was not likely
that a piece of paper tacked up on a shanty a quarter of a mile out in
the St. John's was going to change these rights now. The only
proclamation they felt any interest in was that which offered bounties
for the scalps of wild-cats, a time-honored and sensible ordinance, by
which a little money could always be secured.

Winthrop had come down the river that afternoon; his steamer had left
him here, as she did not touch at the Gracias landing, which was farther
down-stream on the opposite shore; the next morning a boat would pass
which did touch there, he must wait for that. The steamer that brought
him had also brought the United States mails from the up-river country;
the postmaster, a silent man in a 'coon-skin cap, received the bag with
dignity; Winthrop watched the distribution of its contents; one limp
yellow-enveloped letter and a coffee-pot. When he came down to the
pier's end again at sunset the 'coon-skin-crowned official had gone
home; but, in a friendly spirit, he had left the post-office
unlocked--there was a chair there which some one might like to borrow.
Winthrop borrowed it now--of the United States; he brought it outside
and sat there alone, watching the approach of the storm. The beautiful
river with its clear brown water lay before him, wide as a lake; on the
opposite shore the soft foliage of palmettoes, like great ostrich
plumes, rose against the sky. But he was not thinking of the river, he
was not even thinking of the black cloud, though his eyes were
apparently fixed upon it; he did not stir until the wind was fairly upon
him, then he retreated to the post-office, placed his chair inside, and
sat there under cover at the open door. For a moment he did think of the
storm, for it seemed as if the little house over him would be carried
off the pier, and sent floating up the stream like a miniature ark; but
after the wind had passed on, his mind returned to the old subject, the
subject which had engrossed him ever since he left East Angels fourteen
days before.

His brief letters had stated that he was hunting, fishing, and sailing,
that he had been through the Dummit orange grove. It was true that he
had been engaged in all the ways he described, and it was probable also
that his various guides and chance companions had not perceived any lack
of interest, or at least of energy, in the northerner who had
accompanied them; an active life was necessary to Winthrop, and never
more necessary than when he was perplexed or troubled; not once during
those two weeks had he sat down to brood, as he was apparently brooding
now.

But though he had thus occupied himself from daylight to bedtime, though
he had talked and listened to the talk of others, there had been always
this under-consciousness, which had not left him. At times the
consciousness had taken form, if not in actual words, then at least in
thoughts and arguments that followed each other connectedly. Generally,
however, it had been but a dull realization, like an ache, vivified at
intervals by sudden heats of anger, which, he was sure--though he might
be talking on other subjects at the moment--must bring the color to his
face. Man-like, he preferred the anger, it was better than the ache; he
should have liked to be angry all the time.

The ache and the anger had been caused by what he had with his own eyes
beheld, namely, the secret visit of Margaret to Lucian Spenser. For it
was secret. Lucian had said good-by to her before them all, it had been
left clearly to be supposed that they were not to see each other again;
this, then, had been a clandestine meeting. Margaret was no school-girl,
she was not ignorant of the rules of the world. And she was not an
exception, like Garda Thorne, full of sudden impulses, with an
extraordinary openness in following them; he had never thought Margaret
impulsive in the least. Yet there she was; she had slipped away without
the knowledge of any one, to go over to that solitary house for a
farewell interview with its occupant. Of course her being there at that
last moment, woman of deliberate intentions as she was, proved that an
acquaintance which she had not acknowledged existed between them; for
she had never shown any especial interest in Lucian in the presence of
others; on the contrary, she had appeared indifferent to him, she had
acted a part; they had both acted a part, and they had acted it so well
that he (Winthrop) had never once suspected them. A wrath rose within
him as he thought of this.

He had always disapproved of Margaret in one way; but at least--so he
kept telling himself--at least he had thought her entirely without
traits of this kind. He had thought her cold; but he had thought, too,
that she had principles, and strong ones. It was probably her
principles, more than anything else, that had made her leave Lanse in
the beginning; she might even be said to have been something of a martyr
to them, because, with her regard for appearances, she would have
infinitely preferred, of course, to have remained under the same roof
with Lanse, had it been possible, to have avoided the comment which is
roused by any long separation between a husband and wife, even though
but that comparatively mild degree of it which follows a separation as
carefully guarded and as undefined in duration as hers had been. For
nothing was ever said about its being a permanent one; people might
conclude, and they easily did conclude, that before long they should see
Lansing Harold back again, and established somewhere with his wife as
docilely as though he had never been away; this had happened in a
number of cases when the separation had been even longer. Europe was
full of American wives spending winters here and summers there, wives
whose husbands had remained at home; it might almost be called an
American method for infusing freshness into the matrimonial atmosphere,
for of course they would be doubly glad to see each other, all these
parted ones, when the travels should at last be over, and the
hearth-fire re-established again. In this instance it was the husband
who had gone. And in the mean while how well-ordered was the life led by
Mrs. Harold! there was not, there never could be, a breath of reproach
or comment concerning her.

Thus the world. And the world's opinion had been Winthrop's in so far
that he had fully shared its belief in the irreproachableness of
Margaret's life as regards what is sometimes defined as "a taste for
society," or, arranged in another form, as "a love of gayety," or, with
more frankness, "a love of admiration." Of course he had approved of
this. But he had not realized how deeply he had approved of it
(underneath disapprovals of another sort) until now, when, like a
thunder-clap, the revelation had come upon him: he and the world had
been mistaken! This Margaret, with her fair calm face, with her
studiedly quiet life, had a capacity for the profoundest deceptions; she
had deceived them all without the slightest difficulty, she was
deceiving them now. The very completeness with which she had disguised
her liking for Lucian showed what an actress she must be; if she had
allowed her liking to come out in a natural way, if she had even let it
be known that she intended to see him again, instead of going through
that form of bidding him good-by before them all, it would have had
another aspect; the present one, given the manner she had always
maintained with him in public, and given the fact that she was the most
unimpulsive of women, was ominous. In the moment of discovery it had
given him a sick feeling,--he had been so sure of her!

The sick feeling had come back often during the two weeks that followed.
Each time he had taken himself sharply to task for caring so much. But
it was because he had cared that he had left East Angels.

As he sat there in the wood, staring at Madam Giron's house after she
had entered it--as it seemed to him drawn in by Lucian--his first
feeling, after the shock of surprise, had been one of indignation, he
had started up with the intention of following her. Then he remembered
that he had no possible authority over her, even though she was his
cousin's wife; if he should go over there and confront her, could she
not very well turn and ask him what any of it was to _him_? It would
make a scene which could now benefit no one; for it was too late to
prevent imprudences on her part; and with Lucian he should prefer to
deal alone. Then, in another minute, he felt that he could not in any
case endure seeing her openly discomfited; for of course if he and
Lucian should exchange words in her presence, no matter how few, it
would amount to publicity of a certain sort, publicity which it had not
yet attained. At present Lucian had no idea that he, Winthrop, had
discovered their meeting; of her own accord Margaret would never tell
him, and it would be easier for her through all the future if Lucian
should never know; it was this thought that made him go homeward instead
of crossing the field to Madam Giron's, it drove him away. It was not
until he was safe in his own room that his vision grew clearer, that he
remembered that he need not have been so considerate of Margaret's
feelings, since (what he had not thought of with any distinctness in the
first shock of surprise) had she not deliberately braved him? For she
had seen him sitting there when she passed the first time, he had
clearly perceived that she had seen him. Yet, knowing that he was there,
she had passed him that second time in full view; she had crossed the
field knowing that he could see her plainly, had met Lucian on the
piazza and entered the house with him, without the least attempt at
concealment or disguise. It was true that no one else had seen her. But
he had seen her; and she had known it, and had not cared.

This last reflection gave his mood a sharp turn in the other direction;
he thought--he thought a thousand things. Chief among them came now the
remembrance that he should see her at table, she would be obliged to
appear there, she would be obliged to speak to him. But when in answer
to Telano's summons he went to the dining-room, hardly knowing how he
should bear himself towards her, she was not present; Garda brought word
that she was suffering from headache, and could not appear.

That night Winthrop was awake until a late hour, he found himself unable
to sleep. He was conscious of the depth of the disturbance that swayed
him, but though he did his best to conquer it, he made no progress; dawn
found him still under its influence. He decided to go away for a few
days; he had been shut up at East Angels too long, the narrow little
round of Gracias life was making him narrow as well. The evening before,
he had felt a strong wish to see Margaret, to note how she would appear;
but now his one desire was to get away without seeing her, if possible.
Curiosity--if curiosity it had been--had died down; in its place was
something that ached and throbbed, which he did not care to analyze
further.

Lucian had really gone--he had ascertained that; East Angels was
therefore safe for the present, as far as he was concerned. Winthrop
remained very indifferent to Lucian personally, even now; he consigned
his good looks to the place where the good looks of a strikingly
handsome man are generally consigned by those of his less conspicuously
endowed brethren who come in contact with him, and he felt that immense
disgust which men of his nature are apt to feel in such cases, with no
corresponding realization, perhaps, of the effect which has been
observed to be produced sometimes by--item, a pair of long-lashed eyes;
item, a pink young cheek; item, a soft dimpled arm--upon even the most
inflexible of mankind. No, he did not care about Lucian. He said to
himself that if it had not been Lucian, it would have been somebody
else; he made himself say that.

Now, as he sat there at the end of the long pier, with the dense rain
falling all round him, he went over again in his own mind all these
things. Two states of feeling had gradually become more absorbing than
the rest; one of these was a deep dumb anger against Margaret for the
indifference with which she had treated him, was still treating him.
What rank must he hold in her mind, then?--one which could leave her so
untroubled as to his opinion of her. What estimation must she have of
him that made her willing to brave him in this way? She had not written
during his absence, expressing--or disguising--apprehension; making
excuses; she had not even written (a woman's usual trick) to say that
she knew it was not necessary to write, that she was safe with him, and
that she only wrote now to assure him that she felt this. Was he such a
nonentity in every way that she could remain unconcerned as to any fear
of danger from him? Did she suppose him incapable of action?--too
unimportant to reckon with, too unimportant to trouble, even if he
should try, the well-arranged surface of her unperturbed life? Very
possibly she might not like him, but he was at least a man; it seemed to
him that she ought to have some regard for any man's opinion; even some
fear of it, in a case of this kind.

Yes, he was very angry. And he knew that he was.

Then, adding itself to this anger, there came always a second, came
against his will; this was a burning resentment against her personally,
for falling so far below the idea he had had of her. He had thought her
narrow, self-righteous,--yes; but he had also thought her life in other
respects as pellucid (and cold) as a mountain brook; one of those
brooks, if one wanted a comparison, that flow through the high valleys
of the Alps, clear, cold, and dreary; he had had time to make
comparisons in abundance, if that were any entertainment!

But it was not. And he found it impossible, too, to think of Margaret in
any other than this his first way; the second, in spite of what he had
with his own eyes beheld, remained unreal, phantasmagoric. This seemed
to him folly, and he was now going back to East Angels to break it up;
it would break it up to find her defiant. And it would amount to
defiance--her looking at him and talking to him without giving any sign,
no matter how calmly or even timidly she might do it; in his actual
presence perhaps she would be timid. In all cases, in any case, he now
wished to see her; the desire to find himself face to face with her had
taken possession of him again.

He reached East Angels the next day at two o'clock. Betty Carew was the
first to greet him, she had herself arrived from Gracias only an hour
before. She was full of the intelligence she brought, and immediately
repeated it to the new-comer: Mr. Moore had that morning received a
letter, or rather a note of six lines; Rosalie Spenser was dead. Her
illness had been brief, and she had not suffered; they thought it was
the heart. Fortunately Lucian had been able to get to her; he had found
the despatch at New Orleans, and had started immediately; they had had
the last three days together, and she was conscious to the end. And then
followed the good Betty's regrets, which were sincere; she had always
liked Lucian, and, when he married, her affectionate, easily expanding
heart had made room for Rosalie as well; "Lucian's wife" would have had
to be a very disagreeable person indeed to have made Betty dislike her.
For Betty's liking included the relatives of all her friends, simply
because they were relatives. The relationship made them a whole, she
accepted them in a body as one accepts "the French," "the Portuguese;"
they did not present themselves to her as objects for criticism.

Winthrop had lunch alone, the others had had theirs. While he was still
at the table, Garda came in. He had already seen her, as well as Betty,
and he had been in to say a word of greeting to his aunt; but Margaret
he had not yet seen.

"I should like to speak to you," Garda said. "Could you come out after
lunch to the orange walk for a few moments?" There was nothing unusual
in her tone.

When he entered that leafy aisle, later, she came to meet him.

"I am sorry to have made you take this trouble," she said, "when you are
only just back from your journey. But I wanted to tell you at once, it
seems unfair to wait; I wonder if you will be surprised? I don't care
for you any more; don't you think it would be as well, then, to break
our engagement?"



CHAPTER XXIII.


Winthrop had literally made no answer to Garda's speech; he only looked
at her.

After a moment the girl went on, gently enough: "If I don't care about
you, I think I ought to tell you; you will feel more free. Don't you
think it is better that I should tell you?"

"Certainly; if it is true."

After her first greeting, Garda had moved away a step or two; she now
stood leaning back against the firm little trunk of one of the
orange-trees, playing with a small spray of the bright leaves as she
talked. At this answer of his, her gentleness turned to exasperation.
"If it is true! And why shouldn't it be true?--do you think it
impossible for anybody to stop caring for you? _I_ have stopped, and
very completely. I care no more for you now than I do for that twig."
And she tossed it away with a little gesture of disdain.

Winthrop's eyes followed the motion. But he did not speak.

"_Still_ don't you believe it?" she asked, in surprise; "you look as
though you didn't. I think that rude."

"On the contrary, it seems to me that my being slow to believe it,
Garda, is the best honor I can pay you."

"Oh, how could I ever have liked you!--how disagreeable you can be when
you try!" Tears shone in her eyes. "Everybody in the world seems to tell
lies but me," she went on, hotly. "And everybody else seems to prefer
it. You yourself would like it a great deal better, and think it nicer
in me, if I should tell lies now, pretend that this was the beginning of
a change instead of the end, make it more gradual. Whereas I tell you
simply the truth; and then you are angry."

"I am not angry."

"You are ever so much surprised, then, and that's worse. I call it
almost insulting for you to be so much surprised by what seems to me
perfectly natural. Have you never heard of people's changing? That is
what has happened to me--I have changed. And I tell you the truth about
it, just as I told you the truth when it was different--when I cared for
you. For I did care for you once, ever so much; didn't you believe it?
Didn't you _know_ that I cared for you that night on the barren?"

A red rose in Winthrop's cheeks. After a moment he answered, humbly
enough, "Yes, I thought you did."

"Of course you thought I did. And why? Because I _did_; that night, and
for some time afterwards, I adored you, Evert. But I don't see why you
should color up about it; wasn't it natural that I should be delighted
to be engaged to you when I adored you? and isn't it just as natural
that I should wish to break it off when I don't? You can't want me to
_pretend_ to care for you when it's all over?"

"No, no," said Winthrop, his eyes turning from her.

"I do believe you are embarrassed," said Garda, reverting to her usual
good temper again. Then she broke into smiles. "You ought to thank me,
for, really, you never cared for me at all." She leaned back against her
tree again, and folded her arms. "I dare you to tell me that you ever
really cared for me, even when I cared so much for you," she continued,
in smiling challenge. "What you would answer if you spoke the truth (as
I do), would be--'I did my duty, Garda.' As though I wanted duty! You
ought to fall down on your knees in the sand this moment and thank me
for releasing you; for you are much too honorable ever to have released
yourself, you are the soul of honor. Just supposing we had been
married--that we were married now--where should we be? I should have got
over caring for you, probably (you see I have got over it without being
married), and you never did really care for me at all; I think we've had
a lucky escape."

"Perhaps we have," Winthrop answered.

"No 'perhaps,' it's a certainty. And yet," she went on, slowly, looking
at him with musing eyes, "it might have had a different termination. For
I adored you, and you could perhaps have kept it along if you had tried.
But you never did try, the only thing you tried to do was to 'mould'
me; you made me read things, or, if you didn't, you wanted to; you have
treated me always as if I were a child. You have had an idea of me from
the first (I don't know where you got it) that wasn't like me, what I
really am, in the very least. And you never found out your mistake
because you never took the trouble to study me, myself; you only studied
your Idea. Your Idea was lovely, of course," pursued the girl, laughing;
"so much the worse for me, I suppose, that I am not like her. Your Idea
would have been willing to be moulded; and she would have read
everything you suggested; and then in due course of time--_when she
should be at least eighteen_"--interpolated the girl, with another burst
of laughter, "she would have gratefully thanked you for admitting her to
the privileges of being 'grown up.' Why--you didn't even want me to care
for you as much as I did, because your Idea wouldn't have cared so much
for anybody, of course, 'when she was only sixteen.'"

Winthrop flushed fiercely, as her mocking eyes met his, full of mirth.
Then he controlled himself, and stopped where he was; he did not answer
her.

"You are the best man in the world," said Garda, coming towards him and
abandoning her raillery. "With your views (though I think them all
wrong, you know), you could say the most dreadful things to me; yet you
won't, because--because I'm a woman. You engaged yourself to me in the
first place because you thought I cared for you (I did, then); and now,
when I tease you because you have made the mistake of not understanding
me--of having, that is, a higher idea of me than I deserve--you don't
answer back and tell me that, or anything else that would be true and
horrid. That's very good of you. I _wish_ I could have gone on caring
for you! But I don't, I can't; isn't it a pity?" She spoke with perfect
sincerity.

Winthrop burst into a laugh.

"Don't laugh in that way," Garda went on; "I assure you I know perfectly
that--that the person I care for now isn't what you are in many ways.
But if I do care for him (as I cared for you once--you know what that
was) shouldn't I be true to it and say so?"

"The--the person?" said Winthrop, looking at her inquiringly, a new
expression coming into his face.

"Yes, Lucian, of course."

"Lucian!"

"Oh, very well, if you take _that_ tone! And after I have said, too,
that I knew he wasn't as--that he wasn't like you. It seems to me that I
have been very honest."

"Very," replied Winthrop. Then his voice changed, it grew at once more
serious and more gentle. "I hardly know, Garda, how to take what you
say, I don't think you know what you are saying. You stand there and
tell me that you care so much for Lucian Spenser--a married man--"

"He isn't married now," said Garda.

Winthrop gave her a look which made her rush towards him. "I didn't mean
it--that is, I didn't mean that I was thinking about Rosalie's death; I
wasn't thinking about that at all, I have never thought about Rosalie.
Very likely I shall not see Lucian for ever and ever so long, and very
likely he won't care for me when I do. He has never given the least sign
that he cared--don't think that." And, clasping her hands round his
wrist, she looked up in his face in earnest appeal. "Nothing has ever
been said between us--not one word; it is only how _I_ have felt."

"Whom are you defending now?" asked Winthrop, as coldly as a man may
when a girl so beautiful is clinging to him pleadingly.

"Lucian," responded Garda, promptly.

The mention of his name seemed to give her thoughts a new direction;
disengaging herself, she came round to stand in front of her companion
in order to have a good position while she told her story. "Don't you
remember that I began caring for Lucian first of all? you must remember
that? Then I got over it. Next I cared for you. Then, when he came back,
I began to care for him again--you have no idea how delightful he is!"
she said, breaking off for a moment, and giving him a frank smile.
"Well, I should have told you all about it long ago, only Margaret
wouldn't let me; she has made me promise her twice, and faithfully, not
to tell you. You see, Margaret thinks you care for me; therefore it
would hurt you to know it. I have told her over and over again that you
don't care at all, and that I don't care any longer for you. But it
doesn't make any difference, she can't understand it; she thinks that if
I cared once, it must last still; because that is the kind that Margaret
is herself; if _she_ cared, it _would_ last. So she can't believe that I
have really changed, she thinks (isn't it funny?) that I am mistaken
about myself, that I don't know my own mind. And then, too, to change
from you to Lucian--_that_ she could never understand in a thousand
years."

Winthrop had had his hands deep in the pockets of his morning-coat
during this history. He stood looking steadily down, perhaps to keep her
from seeing his expression.

But she divined it. "You needn't have such a stern face, I am sure
everybody's very good to _you_. Here I've released you from an
engagement you didn't desire, and Margaret, the sweetest woman in the
world, cares so much for your feelings--what she supposes them to
be--that she has done her best to hold me to you just because she thinks
_you_ would mind. Of course, too, on my own account a little--because
she thinks it would be well for me to marry you, that it would be safe.
Well, you know you _are_ safe, Evert." And the rippling laugh broke
forth again, meeting this time decided anger in Winthrop's gray eyes as
he raised them to meet hers.

"There, you needn't crush me," Garda resumed. "And you needn't mind me,
either me, or my laughing. For, of course, I know that if I could have
cared for you, that is, gone on caring, and if in the end you could have
cared for me, it would have been better for me than anything that could
possibly happen; you ought not to be angry with a girl who tells you
that?" And taking his arm, she looked up in his face very sweetly. "But
the trouble was that you didn't care for me, you don't now. Yet you kept
to your engagement, you took me and made the best of me; and I think
that was very good. Well, it's over now." She had kept his arm, and now
she began to stroll down the aisle towards the rose-garden. "There's
something else I want to speak to you about, now that we've got through
with our own affairs; and that's Margaret. Why have you such a wrong
idea of her?--she is so noble as well as so sweet. She promised my
mother to be like a sister to me; but, Heaven knows, few real sisters
would have been as patient as she has been. I have never seen any one
that could approach her. I didn't know a woman could be like that--so
unchangeable and true. For we are not true to each other--women, I mean;
that is, not when we care for somebody. Then we pretend, we pretend
awfully; we tell things, or keep them back, or tell only half, just as
we choose; and we always think that we have a perfect right to do it.
But Margaret's different, Margaret's _wonderful_. Yet none of you, her
nearest relatives, do her the least justice; it is left to _me_ to
appreciate her. Leaving Mrs. Rutherford out, this is more stupidity than
I can account for in _you_."

"Men are all stupid, of course," Winthrop answered.

"What makes all she has done for me the more remarkable," Garda went on,
not heeding his tone, "is the fact that she doesn't really like me, she
cannot, I am so different. Yet she goes on being good to me just the
same."

Winthrop made an impatient movement. "Suppose we don't talk any more
about Mrs. Harold," he said.

"I must talk about her, when I love her and trust her more than
anything."

"Don't trust her too much."

She drew her arm from his, indignantly. "One night she came way down the
live-oak avenue after me, with only slippers on her poor little feet, to
keep me from going out in the fog with Lucian--sailing, I mean. What do
you think of that?"

"I don't think anything."

"Yes, you do; your face shows that you do."

"My face shows, perhaps, what I think of the extraordinary duplicity of
women," said Winthrop.

"Duplicity? Do you call it duplicity for me to be telling you every
single thing I think and feel, as I have done to-day?"

"I was speaking of Mrs. Harold."

"Duplicity and Margaret!" exclaimed Garda.

They had reached the end of the orange aisle, and she no longer had his
arm. "I can't discuss her with you, Garda," he said. And he went out
into the sunshine beyond.

But Garda followed him. She came round, placed her hands on his
shoulders, and pushed him with soft violence back into the shade. "Why
do you speak so of her? you _shall_ tell me. Why shouldn't I trust her?
But I do and I will in spite of you!"

"Do you mean to marry that man, Garda?" asked Winthrop, at last, as she
stood there holding him, her eyes on his, thinking of her no longer as
the young girl of his fancy, but as the woman.

"I don't know," answered Garda, her tone altering; "perhaps he won't
care for me."

"But if he should care?"

"Oh!" murmured the girl, the most lovely, rapturous smile lighting up
her face.

Winthrop contemplated her for a moment. "Very well, then, I think I
ought to tell you: she cares for Lucian herself."

Garda's hands dropped. "It isn't possible that you believe that--that
you _have_ believed it! Margaret care for Lucian! She doesn't care a
straw for him, and since _I_ have begun to care for him again, I verily
believe that she has detested him; he knows it too. Margaret care for
him! What are you thinking of? _I_ care, not Margaret; I've done nothing
but try to be with him, and meet him, and I've seen him more times than
she knows. Why--it gave her that fever just because she had to do
something for him; that last afternoon before he went away (I promised
her I wouldn't tell you; but I don't care, I shall), I had asked Lucian
to meet me at the pool in the south-eastern woods, and then I thought
that I should rather see him at the house after all, and so I started a
little earlier, and was on my way to Madam Giron's, when I came upon
Margaret. I had to tell her, because she wanted me to go home with her
and of course I couldn't. And then, suddenly, we saw Dr. Kirby coming,
and I knew it must be for me--he had found out in some way my plan--and
I knew, too, that it would be dreadful if he should meet Lucian; I was
sure he would shoot him! And I was going to run over and warn
Lucian--there was just time--when Margaret said she would do it, and
that _I_ had better go back up the path and stop the Doctor, keep him
away from there entirely, if possible, which was, of course, much the
best plan. So I did. And she went to Madam Giron's. And I am convinced
that it was the cause of her illness--it was so disagreeable to her to
be mixed up in _anything_ connected with Lucian."

Garda had poured out this narrative with all the eloquence of the warm
affection she had for her friend. Now she stopped. "She doesn't like
Lucian because she doesn't understand him," she said. Then she repented.
"No, it isn't that, he isn't the person for _her_. Lucian will do for
me; but not for Margaret." And she looked at Winthrop with one of her
sudden comprehending glances, clear as a beam of light.

But he did not respond to this. "When you met her that afternoon, Garda,
where was she?" he asked; he seemed to be thrusting Garda and her
affairs aside now.

"I told you; in the south-eastern woods."

"Yes. But where?"

"In the eastern path, at the end of that long straight stretch beyond
the pool--just before you get to the bend."

"And then?"

"Then I went back up the path to meet the Doctor. And Margaret went down
the path and across the field to Madam Giron's."

At this instant appeared Celestine. She had gone to the entrance of the
aisle which was nearest the house, and looked in; then, seeing that they
were at the far end, she had left it and come round on the outside.

For something forbade Celestine to walk down that long vista alone. They
would probably hear her and turn; and then there would be the necessity
of approaching them for fully five minutes step by step, with the
consciousness that they were looking; she could not stare back at them,
and yet neither could she look all the time at the sand at her
feet--which would be dizzying. Celestine always took care of her dignity
in this way; she had a fixed regard for herself as a decent Vermont
woman; you could see that in the self-respecting way in which her large
neat shoes lifted themselves and came down again when she walked.

"Mrs. Rutherford would like to see you, Mr. Evert, if you please; she
isn't so well, she says."

"Nothing serious, Minerva, I hope?"

"I guess there's no occasion to be scairt, Mr. Evert. But she wants
you."

"I will come immediately."

Celestine disappeared.

Garda and Winthrop turned back towards the house through the orange
aisle.

"Mrs. Rutherford has never known, has she, that we have been engaged?"
asked Garda.

"No."

"There is no need that she should ever know, then; she isn't fond of me
as it is, and she would detest me forever if she knew there had been a
chance of my becoming in reality her niece. I don't want to trouble her
any longer with even my unseen presence; I want to go away."

"Where?"

"It doesn't make much difference where. It is only that I am restless,
and as I have never been restless before, I thought that perhaps if I
should go away for a while, it would stop."

"Yes, you wish to see the world," said Winthrop, vaguely. His mind was
not upon Garda now.

"I don't care for 'the world,'" the girl responded. "_I_ only care for
the people in it."

Then, in answer to a glance of his as his attention came back to her,
"No, I am not going after Lucian," she said; "don't think that. I am
almost sure that Lucian will go abroad now; he was always talking about
it,--saying that he longed to spend a summer in Venice, and paint
everything there. No--but I think I might go to Charleston--the Doctor
could take me; he has a cousin there, Mrs. Lowndes; I could stay with
her. Margaret will oppose it. But the Doctor is my guardian too, you
know; and I hope _you_ will take my part. Of course I should rather go
with Margaret anywhere, if she could only go; but she cannot, you know
Mrs. Rutherford would never let her. So she will feel called
upon--Margaret--to oppose it."

They had now come to the end of the aisle. "Promise me to take my part,"
said Garda. Then, perceiving that his attention had left her again, "See
what I am reduced to!" she confided to the last orange-tree.

Winthrop brought himself back. "I don't see any reason why you shouldn't
go to Charleston if the Doctor will take you," he said; "you must speak
to him about it."

"Well, I won't keep you; I see you want to go.--All the same, you know,
I liked you," she called after him as he went out in the sunshine.

He glanced back, smiling.

But Garda looked perfectly serious. She stood there framed in the light
green shade; "I should like _ever_ so much to go back to the time when I
first cared for you!" she said, regretfully.

Winthrop found Mrs. Rutherford much excited. Betty, tearful and
distressed, met him outside the door, and in whispered words confessed
that she had inadvertently betrayed the fact of his engagement, to dear
Katrina; "I can't imagine, though, why she should feel about it as she
does--as though it was something terrible," concluded the friend,
plucking up a little spirit at the end of her confession, and wiping her
eyes.

"She won't feel so long," said Winthrop,--"you can take comfort from
that; my engagement is broken."

"BROKEN?"

"Yes; by Garda herself, ten minutes ago." And leaving Betty to digest
this new intelligence, he went in to see his aunt.

His aunt had had herself put into an arm-chair: an arm-chair was more
impressive than a bed. "I feel very ill, Evert," she began, in a faint
voice; "I never could have believed that you would deceive me in this
way."

"Let me undeceive you, then. My engagement--for I presume it is that you
are thinking of--is broken."

"Did _you_ break it, Evert?" pursued Aunt Katrina, still in affliction.

"No, Miss Thorne broke it. Ten minutes ago."

"A forward minx!" said the lady, veering suddenly to heat.

"It is done, at any rate. I suppose you are glad."

"Of course I am glad. But I should be gladder still if I thought I
should never see her face again!"

"That is apropos--she is anxious to go to Charleston."

"Let her go," said Aunt Katrina, with majesty.

"She is afraid Margaret will object."

"_I_ shall object if she stays! But oh, Evert, how could you have been
caught in such a trap as that, by a perfectly unknown, shallow,
mercenary girl?"

"Unknown--for the present, yes; shallow--I am not prepared to say; but
mercenary? If she were mercenary, would she have let me off? Would she
have broken the engagement herself, as she did ten minutes ago?"

"I wish you wouldn't keep repeating that 'ten minutes,'" said Aunt
Katrina, irritably. "Who cares for ten minutes? I wish it were ten
years." Then her mind reverted to Garda. "She has some plan," she said.

"I don't think she plans. And now that this trouble is off your mind, my
dear aunt, will you excuse me if I leave you? I have still only just
arrived, and I was up at dawn. Shall I send Celestine to you?"

"Celestine is busy; she is refolding some lace--Flemish church."

"Your Betty, then."

"My Betty has behaved in the most _traitorous_ way."

"When she was the one to tell you?"

"She should have told me long before."

"Why she, more than any of the rest of us?" asked Winthrop, rising.

"Because _she_ must have made a superhuman effort not to; because _she_
must have fairly kept herself in a strait-jacket to prevent it--in a
strait-jacket night and day; for eight long months has Elizabeth Gwinnet
done that!"

"Don't you think, then, that you ought to have some pity for her?"
suggested Winthrop.

He went out. And then Betty, who was sitting, dazed and dejected, on the
edge of a chair outside the door, hurried in, handkerchief in hand, to
make her peace with dearest Kate, her long limp black skirt (all Betty's
skirts were long) trailing in an eager, humble way behind her.

Winthrop had said that he wished to go to his room. The way to it was
not through the drawing-room; yet he found himself in the latter
apartment.

Margaret sat there near one of the windows sewing, sewing with that
even motion of hand, and absorbed gaze bent on the long seam, which he
had told himself more than once that he detested. The heavy wooden
shutter was slightly open, so that a beam of light entered and shone
across her hair; the rest of the room was in shadow.

Winthrop came towards her; he had closed the door upon entering. She
gave him her hand, and they exchanged a few words of formal
greeting--inquiry and reply about his journey and kindred matters.

"Garda has broken her engagement to me; I presume you know it," he said.

"I knew she intended to do it."

"She tells me that you have tried to dissuade her?"

"Yes; I thought she did not, perhaps, fully know her own mind."

"We must give up the idea that she is a child," he said. "We have been
mistaken, probably, about that all along."

Margaret sewed on without answering.

"You are very loyal to her; you don't let me see that you agree with
me."

"I didn't suppose that you meant any disparagement, when you said it."

"She tells me that she doesn't care for me any more." He took a book
from the table beside him, and looked absently at its title. "We must
allow that she has a great facility as regards change."

"She has a great honesty."

Winthrop sat down--until now he had been standing; he threw aside the
book. "You certainly can't approve of it," he said,--"such a
disposition?"

He did not pay much heed to what he was saying, he was absorbed in the
problem before him; face to face with Margaret, he was asking himself,
and with more inward tumult than ever, why she had been so willing to
have him think of her, as, after what he had seen, he must think? During
his two weeks of absence--the evening before on that long pier in the
rain--he had felt a hot anger against her for the unconcern with which
she was treating him. But now that he knew the real history of that last
afternoon, now that he knew that it was Garda who had planned the
meeting with Lucian, Garda, not Margaret, who had been on her way to
that solitary house, the problem was more strangely haunting even than
before. She had saved Garda from compromising herself in the eyes of the
man to whom she was engaged--yes; but she had done it at the expense of
compromising herself, Garda, meanwhile, remaining ignorant of the
greatness of the sacrifice, since she did not know, as Margaret did,
that he, Winthrop, was sitting there in the wood beyond the bend.

Certainly it was an immense thing for one woman to have done for
another; you might say, indeed, that there was nothing greater that a
woman could do.

Then came again the galling thought that Margaret had not found the task
so difficult, simply because she was indifferent as to what his opinion
of her might be; _she_ knew that she had not been in any sense of the
word to blame--that was enough for her; what he knew, or thought he
knew, troubled her little.

But no, that could not be. Margaret Harold was a proud woman--you could
see that, quiet as she was, in every delicate line of her face; it was
not natural, therefore, that she should willingly rest in the eyes of
any one under such an imputation as that. Surely, now that Garda had, of
her own accord, broken off her engagement, and confessed (only Garda
never "confessed," she merely told) that her old liking for Lucian had
risen again, surely _now_ Margaret would throw off the false character
that rested upon her, would hasten to do so, would be glad to do so;
there was no necessity to shield Garda further. She had made the girl
promise not to tell him the real version of the events of that last
afternoon; didn't this mean that, if the circumstances should ever
change so that it was possible to give the real version, she wished to
give it to him herself? The circumstances had changed; and now, wouldn't
she take advantage of it? Wouldn't she be glad to explain, at last, the
reasons that took her to Madam Giron's that day? Of course she supposed
that still he did not know; it would not occur to her that Garda might
break her promise.

But still her hand came and went above the white seam. And still she
said nothing.

He waited a long time--as long as it was possible to sit there without
speaking. Then he went back to his last remark--which she had not
answered; annoyed by her silence, he went from bad to worse. "I shall be
surprised if you approve of it;--you have such a regard for
appearances."

She colored. "I am not very successful in preserving them then, even if
I have a regard."

"Oh, you don't mind _me_," answered Winthrop, in a tone which in spite
of himself was openly bitter.

She looked up, he could see that she was much moved. "We must do
everything we can for Garda now," she said, rather incoherently, her
eyes returning to her work.

"You have done altogether too much for her as it is; I don't think you
need trouble yourself so constantly about Garda, you might think for a
moment of your other friends."

He was absolutely pleading--he could scarcely believe it of himself. But
he wanted so to have her set him right! He wanted her to do it of her
own accord--show that she was glad to be able to do it at last. There
was no longer any question of saving Garda; Garda had, in her own eyes
at least, saved herself. He waited for his answer.

She had given him a frightened glance as he spoke, the expression of his
face seemed to take her by surprise, and break down her self-possession.
She rose, murmuring something about being obliged to go.

"You are sure you have nothing to say to me, Margaret?" he asked, as she
went towards the door.

"Say? What do you mean?"

"I am giving you a chance to explain, I long to have you explain. I find
myself unable to believe--" He stopped. Then he began again. "I am sure
there is some solution--If I have not always liked your course in other
matters, at least I have never thought _this_ of you. You know what I
witnessed that afternoon, as I sat there in the woods; one word will be
enough--tell me what I must think of it--and of you." He was trying her
to the utmost now.

A painful red flush had darkened her face, but, except for that, she did
not flinch. "You must think what you please," she answered.

Then she escaped; she had opened the door, and now she went rapidly down
the hall towards her own room.

He stood gazing. If he had not known she was innocent, he should have
set down her tone to defiance; it was exactly the sort of low-voiced
defiance which he had expected from her when he had supposed--what he
_had_ supposed.

But his suppositions had been entirely false. Did she still wish him to
believe that they were true!

It appeared so.



CHAPTER XXIV.


Garda Thorne went to Charleston. Margaret gave her consent only after
much hesitation; but Dr. Kirby was from the first firmly in favor of the
plan. He himself would take his ward to the South Carolina city (for
Garda, the Doctor would draw upon his thin purse whether he were able to
afford it or not), she should stay with his accomplished cousin Sally
Lowndes; thus she would have the best opportunity to see the cultivated
society of that dear little town.

This last sentence was partly the Doctor's and partly Winthrop's; the
Doctor had spoken thus reverentially of Charleston society, and Winthrop
thus admiringly of Charleston itself, which had seemed to him, the first
time he beheld it, the prettiest place on the Atlantic coast, a place of
marked characteristics of its own, many of them highly picturesque; his
use of the word "little" had been affectionate, not descriptive. He had
found a charm in the old houses, gable end to the street; in the jealous
walls and great gardens; in St. Michael's spire; in the dusky library,
full of grand-mannered old English authors in expensive old bindings; in
the little Huguenot church; in the old manor-houses on the two rivers
that come down, one on each side, to form the beautiful harbor; in the
rice fields; in the great lilies. The Battery at sunset, with Fort
Moultrie on one hand, the silver beaches round Wagner and the green
marsh where the great guns had been on the other, and Sumter on its
islet in mid-stream--this was an unsurpassed lounging-place; there was
nothing fairer.

The Doctor had been much roused by the breaking of Garda's engagement.
Garda had told him that Evert had not been to blame. But the Doctor was
not so sure of that. He felt, indeed, that he himself had been to blame,
they had all been to blame; ma, Betty Carew, the Moores, Madam Ruiz and
the Señor Ruiz, Madam Giron--they had all been asleep, and had let this
worst of modern innovations creep upon them unawares. For surely the
foundations of society were shaken when the engagement of a young lady
of Garda's position could be "broken." "And broken, ma," as he repeated
solemnly to his little mother a dozen times, "_without cause_."

"Well, my son, would you rather have had it broken _with_?" asked ma at
last.

The Doctor had had an interview with Winthrop. And he had been obliged
to confess (still to ma) that the northerner had borne himself with
courtesy and dignity, had given him nothing to take hold of; he had
simply said, in a few words, that Garda had asked to be released, and
that of course he had released her.

The Doctor himself had fervently desired that she should be freed. But
this made no difference in his astonishment that the thing could really
be done, had already been brought about. Garda had wished it; he himself
had wished it; and Winthrop had obeyed their wish. Nevertheless,
Reginald Kirby was a prey to rage, he was sure that somebody ought to be
severely handled. In the mean while it seemed a wise course to take
Garda to other scenes.

Adolfo Torres returned from Cuba before Garda's departure. He bade her
good-by with his usual gravity; then, exactly three hours later, he
started for Charleston himself. He kept punctiliously just that amount
of time behind her, it was part of his method; on this occasion the
method caused some discomfort, since, owing to the small number of
trains in that leisurely land, it obliged him to travel with the freight
all the way.

A week later a letter came to Evert Winthrop. It was a letter which gave
him a sharp surprise.

It bore the postmark of the little post-office out in the St. John's
where he had sat in the rain, and the contents were as follows:

     "DEAR OLD LAD,--I am here--on the river. Could you come over for a
     day? I am very anxious to see you.

     "LANSING HAROLD."

At the last intelligence, Lanse had been in Rome.

There was a scrawled postscript:

"Say nothing, I write only to you."

Winthrop's relations with Margaret since they had parted, on the day of
his return, at the drawing-room door, had been of the scantiest; they
had scarcely exchanged a word. She avoided him; he said to himself that
she had turned into ice; but this was not a truthful comparison, for ice
does not look troubled, and Margaret looked both troubled and worn. When
he was present she was impassive; but her very impassiveness showed--but
what did it show? He could think of no solution that satisfied him any
more than he could think of a solution of the mystery of her apparent
desire that he should continue to believe of her what he had believed.

And now, to make things more complicated, Lanse had dropped down upon
them!

Winthrop made a pretext of another hunting expedition, drove over to the
river, and embarked again upon the slow old _Hernando_, which brought
him in due course to the long pier; here, sitting in the United States
chair, was Harold.

It was a long time since Winthrop had seen Lanse. He thought him much
altered. His figure had grown larger; though he was still but forty-one,
none of the outlines of youth were left, there was only an impression of
bulk. His thick dark hair was mixed with gray, as also his short beard;
and the beard could not conceal the increased breadth of the lower part
of the face, the slight lap-over of the cheeks above the collar. His
dark eyes, with the yellow lights in them, were dull; his well-cut mouth
was a little open, giving him a blank expression, as though he were half
asleep.

But when this expression changed, as it did when the silent postmaster
suggested, by a wave of the hand, that his guest should move the
government chair a little in order not to be in the way of the
passengers who might land, the alteration was so complete, though not a
feature stirred, that Winthrop laughed; Lanse serenely stared at the
'coon-skin-hatted man as though he did not exist; his gaze restored
perfectly, for himself at least, the space of light and air which that
public servant was mistakenly filling.

All this Winthrop witnessed from the deck, as the _Hernando_ was slowly
swinging her broad careening side towards the pier. Lanse had not
recognized his figure among the motley crowd of voyagers collected at
the railing; it was not until the ropes had been made fast by the
postmaster (who was also wharf-master, showing much activity in that
avocation), and the plank put out, that the lessening crowd brought
Winthrop's figure more into relief. He waved his hand again to Lanse;
and then Lanse, springing up, responded, and all the old look came back;
the dulness vanished, the heaviness became subordinate to the
brightening eyes and the smile, he waved his hand in return. They met
with gladness; Lanse seemed delighted to see his cousin, and Winthrop
had never forgotten his old affection for the big, good-natured,
handsome lad of his boyhood days.

The pier was soon left to them; every one else departed, and the two
men, strolling up and down, talked together.

At length Lanse said: "Well, I'm glad Margaret's as you describe" (but
Winthrop had not described her); "for I might as well tell you at once
what I'm down here for--I want her to come back."

"Come back?"

"Yes. I have her promise to come; but women are so insufferably
changeable."

"She isn't."

"Isn't she? So much the better for me, then; for she knew the worst of
me when she made that promise, and if by a miracle she _has_ remained in
the same mind, my road will be easy."

"I don't mean to push myself into your confidence, Lanse," said
Winthrop, after a moment's silence; "but I think I will say here that I
have always as strongly as possible disapproved of her course in
leaving you." He made himself say this. It was true, and say it he
would.

Lanse laughed, and turned down the brim of his soft hat to keep the sun
from his eyes. "I'm not going to lie about it," he answered. "I would
have told you at any time if you had asked me; she couldn't help leaving
me."

Winthrop stared.

"It's a funny world," Lanse went on. "Come along up and get something to
eat; then we'll go off in the canoe, and I'll tell you the whole story;
you've got to hear it if you're to help."

An hour later the two men were floating away from the pier in a small
boat built upon the model of the Indian's birch-bark canoe. Lanse, an
expert in this as in almost all kinds of out-door exercise, wielded the
paddle with ease, while Winthrop faced him, reclining in the bottom of
the boat; it could only hold two. Lightly it sped out towards deep
water, the slightest motion sent it forward; its sides were of such
slender thickness that the two men could feel the breathing of the great
soft stream, which had here a breadth of three miles, though in sight,
both above and below, it widened into six. These broad water stretches
were tranquil; from shore to shore the slow, full current swept
majestically on; and even to look across the wide, still reaches, with
the tropical forests standing thickly on their low strands, was a vision
of peace for the most troubled human soul.

Kildee plover flew chattering before the canoe while they were still
near land. Far above in the blue a bald-headed eagle sailed along. Lanse
chose to go out to the centre of the stream--Lanse never skirted the
edge of anything; reaching it, he turned southward, and they voyaged
onward for nearly an hour.

He did not appear disposed to begin his narrative immediately; and
Winthrop asked no questions. Every now and then each indulged in a
retrospective remark; but these remarks concerned themselves only with
the days of their boyhood, they brought up the old jokes, and called
each other by the old names. Winthrop, after a while, branching off a
little, suggested that this warm brown tide, winding softly through the
beautiful low green country, was something to remember--on a January
day, say, in a manufacturing town at the North, when a raw wind was
sweeping the streets, when the horse-cars were bumping along between
miniature hills of muddy ice, when all complexions were dubious and
harassed, and the constantly dropping flakes of soot from myriad
chimneys failed to convey a suggestion of warmth, but rather brought up
(to the initiated) a picture of chill half-heated bedrooms, where these
same harassed complexions must undergo more torture from soap and water
in the effort to remove the close-clinging marks of the "black snow."

"Oh, confound your manufacturing town!" Lanse answered.

"I can't; I'm a manufacturer myself," was Winthrop's response.

At length Lanse turned the canoe towards the western shore. A creek
emptied into the river at this point, a creek which had about the
breadth of the Thames at Westminster; Lanse entered the creek. Great
ragged nests of the fish-hawks crowned many of the trees here, making
them resemble a group of light-houses at the creek's mouth. They met an
old negro on a raft, who held up a rattlesnake which he seemed to think
they would admire. "Fibe foot en eight inch, boss, en ferteen rattles."

"That's African Joe," said Lanse. "I've already made his acquaintance;
he was born in Africa.--You old murderer, what do you want for showing
us that poor reptile you have put an end to?"

Old Joe, a marvel of negro old age, grinned as Lanse tossed him a
quarter. "'Gater, massa," he said, pointing.

It was a black lump like the end of a floating log,--an alligator
submerged all but that inch or two of head.

"That's the place I'm looking for, I think," said Lanse; "I was up here
yesterday."

And with two or three strong strokes of the paddle he sent the canoe
round a cape of lily-pads, into the mouth of a smaller creek which here
came, almost unobserved, into the larger one. It was a stream narrow but
deep, which took them into the forest. Here they floated over
reflections so perfect of the trees draped in silver moss on shore that
it was hard to tell where reality ended and the picture began. Great
turtles swam along down below, water-moccasins slipped noiselessly into
the amber depths from the roots of the trees as the canoe drew near;
alligators began to show themselves more freely; the boat floated
noiselessly over one huge fellow fifteen feet long.

Lanse was aroused. "I tell you, old lad, this isn't bad," he said.

"I don't care about it," Winthrop answered; "it's sensational."

Over this remark Lanse indulged in a retrospective grin. "Old!" he said.
"You've been getting that off ever since you were twenty. Who was it
that called Niagara 'violent?' The joke is that, at heart, you yourself
are the most violent creature I know."

"Oh--talk about hearts!" said Winthrop.

The trees now began to meet overhead; when their branches interlaced so
that the shade was complete, Lanse tied the boat-rope to a bough,
stretched himself out in his end of the boat, lit a cigarette, and
looked at his companion. "Now for the story," he said. "I tell you
because I want your help; I am sure that Margaret has the highest
opinion of you."

"She has none at all. She detests me."

"No!" said Lanse, using the word as an exclamation. "How comes that? You
must have been very savage to her?"

"I have always been against her about you."

"Has Aunt Katrina been savage too?"

"She has given her a home, at any rate."

"And a pretty one it must have been, if she has looked, while about it,
as you look now," Lanse commented.

"Never mind my looks. I don't know that your own are any better. What
have you to say?"

"One thing more, first. How much has Margaret told?"

"Nothing. That is, nothing to me."

"I meant Aunt K."

"How should I know?" said Winthrop, shortly. Then he made himself speak
with more truth. "Aunt Katrina complains that Margaret has never said a
word."

"Yet you've all been disapproving of her all this time! Now I call that
a specimen of the fixed injustice so common among nice people," said
Lanse, musingly. He was sorry for the nice people.

"Before you criticise, let us see how well _you_ have behaved,"
suggested his companion.

"Oh, _I_ don't pretend to be a well-regulated character. Let me see--I
shall have to go back to the beginning to make you understand. I don't
know whether you know how Margaret was brought up? She had always lived
in the country; not a village--the old Cruger place was three miles from
everywhere; there she lived with her grandmother and her grandmother's
friends, not a young person among them; she hadn't even been to
school--always a governess at home. She was only seventeen when I first
saw her; we were there in the house together--Aunt Katrina's--and I was
at the time more in the dumps than I had ever been in my life. I had
just come back from abroad, as you know; and the reason I had come back,
which you don't know, was because some one (never mind who--not an
American) had gone off and married under my nose a man with a
million--several of them if you count in French. As I had expected to
marry her myself, you may imagine whether I enjoyed it. Feeling pretty
well cut up, smarting tremendously, if I must confess it, it seemed to
me, after a while, that it wouldn't be a bad idea to marry Margaret
Cruger. I couldn't feel worse than I did, and maybe I might feel better,
she was very sweet in her way; I don't pretend that I was ever in love
with her, but I liked her from the first. I have always had a fancy for
young girls," pursued Lanse, taking off his hat and putting it behind
his head as a pillow; "when they're not forward (American girls are apt
to be forward, though without in the least knowing it), they're
enchanting. The trouble is that they can't stay young forever; they
don't know anything, and of course they have to learn, and _that_
process is tiresome; it would be paradise if a girl of seventeen could
sit down like a woman of thirty, and paradise isn't intended, I suppose,
to come just yet."

"Don't talk your French to me," said Winthrop; "I don't admire it."

"That's another of your shams. Yes, you do. But it's perfectly true
that a young girl can no more sit down with grace than she can listen
with grace."

"Yes; you want to talk."

"On the contrary, I don't want to, I want to be silent; but I want them
to know how to listen to my silence. Well, I won't go into the details.
She was so young--Margaret--that I easily made her believe that I
couldn't live without her, that I should go to the bad direct unless she
would take charge of me--a thing that is apt to succeed with young girls
when they're conscientious (as Margaret was), unless they happen to care
for some one else; Margaret didn't care for any one else, and so she was
caught. We were married; and I give you my word I fully intended to
treat her as well as I knew how. But--ill luck got mixed with it."

Here Lanse changed his position again, and clasping his hands under his
head, gazed up at the dense green above. "Let's hope a moccasin won't
take a walk out on one of those branches and fall down; they do it
sometimes, I know. We had not been married long, Margaret and I, when
the other one wrote to me."

"Nice sort of person."

"Precisely. But I cared more about her than I did about any one in the
world, and that makes a difference. I thought she wrote to me because
she couldn't help it--in short, because she cared so much for me. That's
taking. And now here's where ill luck took a hand. Did I intend to let
any of this in the least touch Margaret--interfere with _her_? As far as
possible from it; my intention was that she should never know or dream
of it, it was all to be kept religiously from her. Why--I wouldn't have
had her know it for anything, first on her own account, then on mine;
the wife of Lansing Harold," went on Lanse, smiling a little at himself,
yet evidently meaning exactly what he said, "must be above suspicion, by
which I intend the verb, not the noun; up to thirty, she must be too
innocent to suspect. But what do you suppose came next? By the most
extraordinary chance in the world Margaret herself got hold of one of my
letters to--to the other person. She came upon the loose sheets by
accident, and thought it was something that I must have been writing
some time to her; she never imagined that it was to any one else, or
she wouldn't have read it, she was punctiliousness itself in such
matters; but her eyes happened to fall first upon the middle sheet,
where there was no name, and the--'the language,' as she afterwards
expressed it, made her believe that it was addressed to herself; a man
could only write in that way to his wife, she supposed. But at the end
she was undeceived, for there she found the other name. Of course we had
a scene when I came home. I was horribly annoyed by what had happened,
but I did my best to be nice to her. I told her that it was a miserable
accident in every way, her coming upon that letter, that I could never
forgive myself for having left it where I did; I told her that I could
perfectly understand that it had been a great shock to her--a shock that
I was more sorry for than she could possibly be. But as it had happened,
we must both make the best of it, and her 'best' was simply to forget
all about it as soon as she could,--it was wonderful how much one could
forget if one tried; I could assure her that nothing should ever touch
her position as my wife, there should be no breath upon that; always I
should give her in the eyes of all the world the first honor, the first
place. You see, it was the best I could do. I couldn't deny the letter;
it was in my own handwriting, it even had a date; and it wasn't a
letter, either, that you could explain away. But I couldn't do anything
with her. I don't mean that she argued or combated, she seemed all
broken to pieces; she sat there looking at me with a sort of wonder and
horror combined. Before night she was ill--a fever. She was ill three
weeks, and I was as nice to her all that time as I possibly could be, I
brought her lovely flowers every day. As she grew better, I hoped we
were going to go on in peace; certainly the last thing I wanted was a
quarrel with her. But--women are bound to be fools! no sooner was she
able to sit up than she took the first chance to ask me (there had been
a nurse about before) whether I had abandoned that dreadful affair. I
suppose I could have lied to her, if I was going to do it, that was the
time. But, as it happens, I don't lie, it has never been one of my
accomplishments. So I told her that she ought to treat such things as a
lady should,--that is, not descend to them; and I told her furthermore
that she ought to treat this one as _my wife_ should. When I said that,
I remember she looked at me as if she were in a sort of stupor; you see,
to _her_ sense, she _was_ treating it as my wife should," commented
Lanse, telling his own story, as he felt himself, with much impersonal
fairness. "All this time, of course, I had had to postpone everything;
she continued to improve, and I took the ground of saying nothing. When
another month had passed, and she was perfectly well again, I mentioned
one day, carelessly, and before some one else, that I thought I should
try a little summer trip of thirty days or so across the ocean and back;
I shouldn't take her, because she wasn't as fond of the sea as I was,
and twenty of the thirty days would be spent afloat; she would be much
more comfortable at home--we had taken a pretty house at New Rochelle
for the year. She didn't make any especial comment then, but as soon as
she could get me alone I saw that it had all been of no use--my patience
and my waiting; she was determined to talk. Her point was that I must
not go. I am not very yielding, as you know; but she was even more
obstinate than I was; it was owing to the ideas she had about such
things, she wasn't a Roman Catholic, but she thought marriage a
sacrament--almost. I got in a few words on that side myself, I told her
that she seemed to have a singular idea of a wife's duties; one of them
was generally supposed to be to guard her husband's name, which was also
her own; but, that while _I_ wished to occasion no talk, no scandal, she
was doing her very best to stir up both by having an open quarrel with
me. And then I asked her what she proposed to do? I suppose I looked
ugly. She got up and stood there, holding on to the back of a chair; 'I
must go with you,' she said. 'I can't take you,' I told her. And then
she said that she could _follow_ me. That, I confess, put me in a rage,
I was never angrier in my life. I imagined her appearing upon the scene
there in Paris! A pretty spectacle I should be, followed about and
tracked down by a wife of that age--a wife, too, who was acting solely
from a sense of duty; with her school-girl face, that was a combination
rather too ridiculous for any man to stand. To cut the story short, I
left her then and there. That night I slept at a hotel, and the next day
I sailed; I had changed my plan of travel, in order that she should not
know for some time where I was; but I think I frightened her
sufficiently about following me before I left her. I not only expressly
forbade it, but I told her that she wouldn't be received in case she
should try it; there would be standing orders to that effect left with
the servants. I should never touch any more of her money, I told her (I
never have to this day); she could set going any story she pleased about
me, and I wouldn't contradict it; that would leave her very easy; on my
side I should simply say nothing, and I should cause no scandal, she
might be sure of that So I went off. On the other side I found a letter
from her--she didn't know my address, but she had sent it to my lawyer;
I've brought that letter along for you to see, it will give you a better
idea of her, as she was at the time, than any of my descriptions." And
he took from his pocket-book an old envelope, and tossed it across.

Winthrop opened the envelope; it contained a small sheet of paper, upon
which, in a youthful immature handwriting, these words were written:

     "MY DEAR LANSE,--I have stayed here by myself all day. And I have
     been very unhappy. I have not let anybody know that you were gone.

     "I feel as though I must have done wrong, and yet I don't know how.

     "Perhaps you will come back. I shall hope that you will. I will
     wait here for your answer.

     "I will come to you at any time if--you know what. And I hope you
     will soon send for me.

     "Your affectionate wife,

     "MARGARET."

"You see there's no trace of jealousy," Lanse commented, in his
generalizing way; "she wasn't jealous, because she wasn't in love with
me--never had been. Of course she _thought_ she loved me--she never
would have married me otherwise; but the truth was that at that time she
had no more conception of what real love is than a little snow image:
that was one of the reasons why I had first liked her. I've no doubt she
_was_ horribly miserable when she wrote that letter, as she says she
was. But there was no love in her misery, it was all duty; I grant you
that with her that was a tremendously strong feeling. Well, I answered
her letter, I told her she had better go and live with Aunt Katrina as
before, that that was the best place for her. I told her that I should
stay where I was for the present, and on no account was she to try to
follow me; that was the one thing I would not endure; I had to frighten
her about that, because she had so much obstinacy--steadfastness if you
like--that if I had not done so, and effectually, she would certainly
have started in pursuit--prayer-book in hand, poor child! She wrote to
me once more, repeating her offer to come whenever I should wish it; but
I didn't wish it then, and didn't answer. Eight years have passed, and I
haven't answered yet. But now I think I shall try it."

Winthrop had sat gazing at the little sheet, with the faded girlish
handwriting. Hot feelings were surging within him, he felt that he must
take a firm hold of himself; this made his manner calm. "What do you
want of her?" he said. "Aunt Katrina couldn't get on a day without her."

"Aunt Katrina would give her up to me," said Lanse, securely. (And
Winthrop knew that this was true.) "What do I want of her? I want to
have a home of my own again, a place where I can be comfortable; I want
to have a place where I can keep all my shoes. I am not as young as I
once was; I don't mind telling _you_ that I've had one or two pretty
serious attacks--rheumatism threatening the heart. It's time to be old,
to take in sail; I'm a reformed character, and I don't see why Margaret
shouldn't come and carry on the good work--especially as she has
promised. The one danger is that she may have begun to--But I hardly
think that."

"That she may have begun to hate you?" said Winthrop. "Yes, I should
think that highly probable." He still held the poor little letter, the
childlike, bewildered appeal of the deserted young wife.

"No, I didn't mean that," Lanse answered; "I meant that she might have
begun to care for some one else; really care, you know. But I don't
believe it. If it were only that she had begun to hate me, that would be
nothing; she would think it very wrong to hate me (though she might not
be able to help it), and that would make her come back to me all the
quicker."

Winthrop looked at him from under his tilted hat--he had tilted it
forward over his eyes. "I should think it would make you sick to ask
her," he said--"sick with shame!"

"It isn't the least shameful, it's the right thing to do," responded
Lanse. "But which side are you on, Ev? You seem to be all over the
field."

"Never mind which side I'm on. You can't take her up and drop her in
that way."

"You've got it mixed. I dropped her eight years ago; _now_ I'm taking
her up again. And if she is as I think she is, she will be glad to
come."

"Oh!" said Winthrop, with angry scorn.

"She'll be glad, because she's my wife--she's a stickler for that sort
of thing. She is a very good woman; that's the advantage of having a
really good woman for your wife--you can rely upon her whether she likes
you or not--likes you very much, I mean. But I begin to think you don't
know her as well as I do, in spite of the time you have had."

"Know her? I don't know her in the least! I have never known her--I see
that now."

At this moment they heard the dip of an oar, and stopped. Coming down
the narrow stream behind them, appeared a rude craft manned by a very
black boy and a very white baby. The boat was a long, rough dug-out, and
the boy was paddling; his passenger, a plump child of about three, had
the bleached skin of the Florida cracker, and flaxen hair of the palest
straw-color. An immense calico sun-bonnet lay across its knee, and,
after a slow stare with twisted neck at the two strangers, it lifted and
put on this penthouse; to put it on was probably its idea of "manners."
The penthouse, in fact, represented the principal part of its attire,
there was nothing else but a little red petticoat.

But if the passenger was dignified, the oarsman was not; delighted to
see anybody, the little darky had showed his white teeth in a perpetual
grin from the moment the canoe had appeared in sight.

Lanse always noticed children. "Where have you been, Epaminondas?" he
said, with pretended severity. "What are you doing here?"

Epaminondas, at the first suggestion of conversation, had stopped
paddling. He accepted with cheerfulness the improvised name. "Ben atter
turkles, boss. But I 'ain't fin' none."

"What is the name of that young lady you have with you?"

"Gin," answered Epaminondas, with an even more extensive smile than
before.

"The whole of it, I mean; I know there's more."

"Trufe, boss, der sholy is," responded Epaminondas, impressed by this
omniscience. "Gin's wat dey calls her mosely; but Victoryne John
Mungumry Gin--dat's de hull ob it. Victoryne en John Mungumry is folks
wat her ma knew whar she come fum, up in Alabawm, en she wanted to
membunce 'em someways, so she called Gin atter 'em. En Gin--dat's
_Virginny_--wuz de name ob her daddy's folks, dey tole me."

"I am surprised that her family should allow Miss Montgomery to be out
without her nurse," Lanse went on.

"She 'ain't got no nuss," Epaminondas answered. "En _I_ hev to tote her
mos' er der time, en she's hebby--she am dat! En so _ter-day_ I 'lowed
I'd rudder take her in de boat a wiles." He looked anxiously at Lanse as
he made this explanation; he was a thin little fellow of about ten, and
Miss Montgomery was decidedly solid.

"I'm inclined to think, my man, that you're out without leave; I advise
you to go home as fast as you can. And mind you keep the boat straight."

"Yas, boss," answered Epaminondas, glad to escape, and plying his paddle
again.

He gave a "Ki!" of delight as a silver coin fell at his feet. "Don't
stop to pick it up now," said Lanse. "Go on with Miss Montgomery;
restore her to her parents as soon as possible."

Epaminondas bent to his oar; the two men looked after him as the boat
went on its way towards the outer creek.

Suddenly, "Good God!" cried Lanse, springing to his feet.

He had to unloose the rope; but he did that in an instant, and, seizing
the paddle, he sent the canoe flying down-stream after the dug-out.

Epaminondas, toiling at his oar, had not gone thirty feet when Lanse had
seen a large moccasin drop from a branch above directly into the long
narrow boat as it passed beneath; the creature fell midway between the
children, who occupied the two ends.

Quick as a flash the little negro had jumped overboard. But that was
instinct; he would not desert the white child, and swam on, holding by
the boat's side and screaming shrilly.

Meanwhile Miss Montgomery sat composedly in her place; she did not
appear at all disturbed.

Winthrop had no oar, so he could not help. Lanse, standing up, forced
the canoe through the water rapidly; but before he could bring it up
where he could seize the child, the little darky, who had not ceased to
swim round and round the drifting craft, announced with a yell, as his
curly black head peered for one instant over the side, that the snake
was coiling for a spring.

Then Lanse gave a mighty plunge into the stream, and, keeping himself up
with one hand, snatched the girl and dragged her overboard by main force
with the other, handing her in safety to Winthrop, who had taken the
paddle and kept the canoe along. Lanse and the little darky then swam
ashore, and stepped into the canoe again from the roots of a large tree,
which served them for a landing.

They were both wet through, of course. But Epaminondas was amphibious,
his single garment, a pair of trousers, could be as well dried upon his
small person as upon a bush. With Lanse it was different. But at present
Lanse was excited, nothing would do but to go after that snake which was
now luxuriously voyaging down the stream in a boat of its own; taking
the paddle, he sent the canoe in chase.

Standing up as he drew near, he announced that the moccasin was
motionless in the bottom of the dug-out.

His next announcement was that it was "rather a pretty fellow."

Then, still standing up and gazing, "_I_ can't kill the poor creature,"
he said; "I don't suppose he meant any harm when he dropped--had no idea
there was a boat there." Sending the canoe towards the land again, he
went ashore and found, after some search, a long branch; with this he
paddled back, and then, brandishing it at arm's-length, he tilted the
dug-out, by its aid, so far over on one side, that the moccasin,
perceiving that the element he preferred was conveniently near, with
silent swiftness joined it. Through all this scene, Miss Montgomery,
plump and dry--Lanse had held her above the water--remained serenely
indifferent; she sat in her sun-bonnet on Winthrop's knee, and preserved
her dignity unbroken.

"Shucks!" said Epaminondas (now that the enemy had departed),
expectorating, with an air of experience, into the stream; "I is seed
'em twicet ez bigger lots er times!"

Lanse, resuming his seat, wiped his forehead. His leap had been a strong
exertion, and already his face showed the fatigue; he was a heavy man,
and out of practice in such gymnastics.

"Have you any more notions to carry out?" inquired Winthrop. "I've been
spinning back and forth in this boat about as long as I care for."

"Come, now, wasn't that a good deed?" asked Lanse (Lanse always wanted
praise). "I call it brutal to kill a poor creature simply because he's
got no legs."

"You didn't happen to have your revolver with you, I suppose," Winthrop
answered, refusing to bestow the applause.

"Never carried one in my life; cowardly things!" responded Lanse, in a
disgusted tone. He was hard at work paddling, in order to keep off a
chill.

Epaminondas was put ashore at his own landing on the outer creek, and
departed up a sandy path, leading Miss Montgomery, his pockets
unwontedly heavy with coin. He looked back as long as he could see them,
throwing up and waving his ragged straw hat.

But Miss Montgomery never turned; she plodded steadily homeward on her
fat white legs--all of her that could be seen below the sun-bonnet.

Lanse's efforts to avoid a chill were apparently successful that night.
But the next morning he sent for Winthrop at an early hour. Winthrop
found him with a strange pallor on his face, he said he was in great
pain. A physician staying in the house was summoned; it was the
rheumatism Lanse had spoken of; but this time it did not merely threaten
the heart, it had attacked it.

For twelve hours there was danger. Then there was a lull. The lull was
followed by something which had the appearance of a partial paralysis of
the lower limbs. Lanse's head was now clear, but he was helpless. The
physician said that he could not be moved at present; in two weeks or so
he should be better able to name a day for that.

To Winthrop, in confidence, he said that in two weeks or so he should be
better able to tell whether there was a chance that the present benumbed
condition would wear off; it _might_ be that Lanse would never be able
to sit erect again.

"A pretty fix, isn't it?" Lanse said, on the morning of the second day,
as, opening his eyes, he found himself alone with his cousin.
"Apparently I'm in for it this time; not going to die, but laid up with
a vengeance. Well, the ship's fast in port at last. I suppose _now_
you've no objection to bringing Margaret over--provided, of course, she
will come?"

Great was Katrina Rutherford's joy and triumph when she heard that her
"boy," her Lanse, was so near her; "only over on the river, a short
day's journey from here." She had "always known" that he would come, and
now it was proved that she had been right; she _hoped_ they appreciated
it (Her "they" meant Winthrop and Margaret.) Spare Margaret? Of course
she could spare her. Margaret's place was with her husband; and
especially now was it her place if he were not well (Aunt Katrina had
not been told how ill Lanse was). It was a great mistake, besides, to
suppose that Margaret was so necessary to her; Margaret was not in the
least necessary, that was one of their fancies; Celestine was much more
useful; Looth too. But the point now was, not to talk about who was
useful, the point was to have Margaret _go_; what was she waiting for,
Aunt Katrina would like to be informed.

Winthrop, upon reaching East Angels, had asked for Margaret.

"I want to speak to you," he said; "it won't take long, but we mustn't
be interrupted. Any empty room will do."

His manner had changed; he did not wait for her answer, but led the way
himself across the hall to the "boudoir" of the Old Madam, now never
used; nothing had been altered there since the Old Madam's departure,
even Mrs. Thorne, with her persistent desire to make everything serve
some present use, had left this room untouched.

Winthrop closed the door, they stood there among the Old Madam's stiff
chairs; everything was covered with embroidery, her own work; there was
a fierce-looking portrait of her on the wall.

"Lanse is here," said Winthrop; "I mean over on the river. He is ill. He
wants you to come to him."

At his first words Margaret had given a great start. For a moment she
did not speak. Then she stammered, "Did you say--did you say he was
ill?" She spoke almost inaudibly.

"It's something like paralysis. I don't know whether it's really that;
but at any rate he's helpless."

"Has he asked for me?"

"He has sent me to bring you."

"Did he give you a letter--a note?"

"No; he told me to bring you."

"Are you _sure_ he told you that?"

"Good heavens! if I were _not_ sure I should be a great deal better off.
Why do you keep asking me? Isn't it bad enough for me to have to say it
at all? But he _is_ ill, and that makes everything different. I couldn't
have stood it otherwise."

"Stood--"

"Stood your going to him."

"I must go to him if he is ill."

"Ill--yes; that's the only thing that--" He stopped, and stood looking
at her.

"I am afraid he is very ill."

"Yes, he is very ill. But I'm not thinking about Lanse now. I know
everything, Margaret--everything except why you have wished, why you
have been determined, that I should think of you in the way I
have,--that is, with such outrageous, such cruel wrong. Lanse has told
me the whole story of his leaving you, _not_ your leaving him. And
before that, Garda had told me what really happened that afternoon in
the woods. Why have you treated me in this way! Why?"

Margaret, whiter than he had ever seen her, stood before him, her hands
tightly clasped. She looked like a person strained up to receive a blow.

"If you could only know how I feel when I think what you have been
through, and what the truth really was," Winthrop went on; "when I
remember my own stupidity, and dense obstinacy, all those years. I can
never atone for that, Margaret; never."

Lanse's wife put out her hand, like a person who feels her way, as she
went towards the door. "Don't stop me," she said; "I cannot talk now."

Her voice was so strained and husky that he hardly knew it.

She went hastily out.



CHAPTER XXV.


Lansing Harold was unable to move from his bed, or in his bed, for a
number of weeks. During much of this time, also, he suffered from severe
pain.

Dr. Kirby assured Aunt Katrina that the pain was a favorable symptom; it
indicated that there was no torpor; and with time, patience, and
self-denial, therefore, there would be hope of a cure.

"Lanse isn't patient," Aunt Katrina admitted. "But I have always thought
him extremely self-denying; see how he has allowed Margaret, for
instance, to do as she pleased." For Aunt Katrina now regarded the
Doctor as an intimate personal friend.

The Doctor went over to see Lanse three times a week, Winthrop's horses
taking him to the river and bringing him back. On the other days the
case was intrusted to the supervision of the local practitioner, or
rather to his super-audition, for as Lanse, after the first interview,
refused to see him again (he called him a water-wagtail), Margaret was
obliged to describe as well as she could to the baffled man the symptoms
and general condition of his patient--a patient who was as impatient as
possible with every one, including herself.

But save for this small duty, Margaret had none of the responsibilities
of a nurse; two men were in attendance. She had sent to Savannah for
them, Lanse having declared that he infinitely preferred having men
about him--"I can swear at them, you know, when the pain nips me. I
can't swear at you yet--you're too much of a stranger." This he brought
out in the scowling banter which he had used when speaking to her ever
since her arrival. The scowl, however, came from his pain.

He was able to move only his head; in addition to the suffering, the
confinement was intolerably irksome to a man of his active habits and
fondness for out-door life. Under the course of treatment prescribed by
Dr. Kirby he began to improve; but the improvement was slow, and he made
it slower by his unwillingness to submit to rules. At the end of two
months, however, he was able to use his hands and arms again, they could
raise him to a sitting position; the attacks of pain came less
frequently, and when they did come it was at night. This gave him his
days, and one of the first uses he made of his new liberty was to have
himself carried in an improvised litter borne by negroes, who relieved
each other at intervals, to a house which he had talked about, when able
to talk, ever since he was stricken down. This house was not in itself
an attractive abode. But Lanse violently disliked being in a hotel; he
had noticed the place before his illness, and thinking of it as he lay
upon his bed, he kept declaring angrily that at least he should not feel
"hived in" there. The building, bare and solitary, stood upon a narrow
point which jutted sharply into the river, so that its windows commanded
as uninterrupted a view up and down stream as that enjoyed by the little
post-office at the end of the pier; it had the look of a signal-station.

It had not always been so exposed. Once it was an embowered Florida
residence, shaded by many trees, clothed in flowering vines.

But its fate was to be purchased at the close of the war by a
northerner, who, upon taking possession, had immediately stripped the
old mansion of all its blossoming greenery, had cut down the stately
trees which stood near, had put in a dozen new windows, and had then
painted the whole structure a brilliant, importunate white. This process
he called "making it wholesome."

This northerner, not having succeeded in teaching the southern soil how
to improve itself, had returned to the more intelligent lands of colder
climates; he was obliged to leave his house behind him, and he
contemplated with hope the possibility of renting it "for a water-cure."
Why a water-cure no one but himself knew. He was a man haunted by
visions of water-cures.

Lansing Harold had no intention of trying hydropathy, unless the wide
view of the river from all his windows could be called that. But he said
that if he were there, at least he should not feel "jostled."

Jostled he certainly was not, he and his two attendants, Margaret and
the colored servants she had with some difficulty obtained, had much
more the air of Robinson Crusoes and Fridays on their island; for the
hotel, which was the nearest house, was five miles distant, and not in
sight, and the river was so broad that only an occasional smoke told
that there were abodes of men opposite on the low hazy shore.

Once established in his new quarters, Lanse advanced rapidly towards a
more endurable stage of existence. He was still unable to move his legs;
but he could now bear being lifted into a canoe, and, once in, with a
cushion behind him, he could paddle himself over the smooth water with
almost as much ease as ever. He sent for a canoe which was just large
enough to hold him; boat and occupant seemed like one person, so
perfectly did the small craft obey the motion of his oar. One of his men
was always supposed to accompany him; the two boats generally started
together from the little home pier; but Lanse soon invented a way of
ordering his follower to "wait" for him at this point or that, while he
took "a run" up some creek that looked inviting. The "run" usually
proved the main expedition of the day, and the "waiting" would be
perhaps five hours long,--the two attendants could not complain of
overwork; they soon learned, however, to go to sleep comfortably in the
bottom of the boat. Oftenest of all, Lanse and his canoe went up the
Juana; the Jana came from the Monnlungs Swamp; as the spring deepened,
and all the flowers came out, Lanse and his little box went floating up
to the Monnlungs almost every day.

Mrs. Rutherford had not seen her "boy;" he could not yet endure the
motion of any carriage, even the easiest, across the long miles of
pine-barren that lay between the river and East Angels, and it would
require a brigade or two of negroes, so he said, to carry him all that
distance in his litter. As soon as he should feel himself able to
undertake so long a journey, he promised to go by steamer to the mouth
of the St. John's; here the _Emperadora_ could meet him and take him
southward by sea to the harbor of Gracias, thence down the lagoon to the
landing of East Angels itself.

Aunt Katrina was therefore waiting. But this was a condition of things
which somebody was very apt to be enjoying where Lanse was concerned.
Lanse had a marked contempt for what he called a "panting life." Under
these circumstances, as he never panted himself, there was apt to be
somebody else who was panting; by a little looking about one could have
found, almost every day, several persons who had the reverse side of his
leisurely tastes to bear.

Aunt Katrina, in bearing hers, at least had her Betty; now that Margaret
was absent, this good soul remained constantly at East Angels, not
returning to her home at all. She led a sort of camping-out existence,
however, for dear Kate never asked her to bring down a trunk and make
herself comfortable; dear Kate always took the tone that her friend
would return home, probably, "about the day after to-morrow." Betty,
therefore, had with her only her old carpet-bag, which, though
voluminous, had yet its limits; she was constantly obliged to contrive
secret methods of getting necessary articles down from Gracias. She
lived in this make-shift manner for a long stretch of weeks, heroically
wearing her best gown all the time, because to have sent for the second
best would have appeared to dear Kate like preparation for a longer
visit than she seemed to think she should at present require.

Every day dear Kate wrote a little note of affectionate inquiry to
Lanse. These notes were piled up in a particular place in the house on
the river; after the first three or four, Lanse never read them. About
twice a week Margaret would take it upon herself to reply; and then Mrs.
Rutherford would say, "As though I wanted Margaret _Cruger's_ answers!"
She explained to Betty that Margaret purposely kept Lanse from writing.
And then Betty would shake her head slowly with her lips pursed up, but
without venturing further answer; for she had already got herself into
trouble with Katrina by expatiating warmly upon the "great comfort" it
must be to "poor Mr. Harold" to have his wife with him once more.

"Nothing of the sort!" had been Katrina's brief response.

"Such a comfort to _her_, then, poor dear, to be _able_ to devote
herself to him in this time of trial."

"_Margaret_ devote herself!"

"Well, at least, dear Kate, it must be a great comfort to _you_ to have
them together again, as they ought to be, of course," pursued Betty,
hopefully. "It may be--who knows?--probably it _will_ be without doubt,
the beginning of a _true_ reconciliation, a _true_ home."

"True fiddle-sticks! It shouldn't be, then, in my opinion, even if it
could be; Margaret Cruger has been _much_ too leniently dealt with.
After deserting her husband as she has done entirely all these years,
she shouldn't have been taken back so easily, she should have been made
to go down on her _knees_ before he forgave her."

"Dear me! do you really think so?" said Betty, dismayed by this picture.
"And Mrs. Harold has so much sweet dignity, too."

"It should be stripped from her then, it's all hum; what right has
Margaret _Cruger_ to such an amount of dignity? Is she Alexandra,
Princess of Wales, may I ask?"

"Do you know, I have _always_ thought she looked quite a _deal_ like
her," exclaimed Betty, delighted with this coincidence.

But Katrina's comparison had been an impersonal one, she was not
thinking of the fair graceful Princess of the Danes. "My patience!
Elizabeth Gwinnet, how dull you are sometimes!" she exclaimed, closing
her eyes with a groan.

Elizabeth Gwinnet agreed that she was dull, agreed with an unresentful
laugh. Katrina's epithets were a part of the vagaries of her illness, of
course; if she, Betty, was sure of anything in this world, she was sure
that she was an enormous comfort to her poor dear Kate. And under those
circumstances one could agree to anything.

While helpless and in pain, Lansing Harold had been entirely absorbed in
his own condition; even Margaret's arrival he had noticed but slightly.
This strong, dark man took his illness as an extraordinary dispensation,
a tragic miracle; he was surprised that Dr. Kirby was not more agitated,
he was surprised that his two attendants, when they came, did not evince
a deeper concern. Surely it was a case unprecedented, terrible; surely
no one had ever had such an ordeal before. Not once did he emerge from
his own personality and look upon his condition as part of the common
lot; Lanse, indeed, had never believed that he belonged to the common
lot.

He announced to everybody that Fate was treating him with frightful
injustice. Why should _he_ be maimed and shackled in this way--he, a man
who had always led a wholly simple, natural life? _He_ had never shut
himself up in an office, burned his eyes out over law papers, or
narrowed his chest over ledgers; _he_ had never sacrificed his liberty
in the sordid pursuit of money-getting. On the contrary, he had admired
all beautiful things wherever they were to be found, he had breathed the
fresh air of heaven, had seen all there was of life and nature, and
enjoyed it all in a full, free, sane way. It was monstrous, it was
ridiculous, to strike at _him_; strike, and welcome, at the men who kept
their windows down! Thus he inveighed, thus he protested, and all in
perfectly good faith; Lanse believed of himself exactly what he said.

But once established in a house of his own, and able to float about on
the river, promptly his good-humor came back to him; for Lanse, while
not in the least amiable, had always had an abundance of good-humor. He
began to laugh again, he began to tell Margaret stories connected with
his life abroad; Lanse's stories, though the language was apt to be as
condensed as that of telegraphic despatches, were invariably good.

There had been no formal explanations between these two, no serious
talk. Lanse hated serious talk; and as for explanations, as he had never
in his life been in the habit of giving them, it was not likely that he
was going to begin now. When Margaret first arrived, and he could
scarcely see her from pain, he had managed to say, "Oh, you're back?
glad to see you"--as though she had left him but the week before--and
this matter-of-course tone he had adhered to ever since; it was the
easier since his wife showed no desire to alter it.

He required no direct services from her, his men did everything. As he
grew better, he gave her the position of a comrade whom it was a
pleasure to meet when he came (in his wheeled chair) to the parlor in
the evening; he thanked her gallantly for being there. In this way they
lived on, Margaret had been for nine or ten weeks under the same roof
with him before he made any allusion to their personal relations; even
then it was only a remark or two, uttered easily, and as though he had
happened to think of it just then. The remarks embodied the idea that
the "interruption" (that was what he called it) which had occurred in
their life together should be left undiscussed between them; it had
happened, let it therefore remain "happened;" they couldn't improve it
by chattering about it (an illusion of weak minds), but they could take
up the threads again where they had left them, and go on without any
"bother."

Later, he added a few words more; they were not taking up the threads,
after all, just where they had left them, but in a much better place;
for now they were relieved from any necessity for being sentimental. He
admired her greatly, he didn't mind telling her that she had grown
infinitely more interesting, as well as handsomer; but his having
remained away from her as long as he had, and of his own accord,
debarred him, of course, from expecting personal affection from her, at
least at present; he certainly didn't expect it, she might rest secure
about that; on the other hand, he didn't believe, either--no, not in the
least--that she had broken her heart very deeply about _him_. There was
no better foundation than this state of affairs for the most comfortable
sort of years together, if she would look at it in the right way. What
was the cause of most of the trouble between husbands and wives
nowadays?--by "nowadays" he meant in modern times, since women had been
allowed to complain. Their being so foolish, wasn't it? on one side or
the other, as to wish to absorb each other, control each other, in a
petty, dogmatic, jealous sort of way. Now in their case there would not
be any clashing of that sort; when people had lived apart as they had,
voluntarily and contentedly, for eight years, they must at least have
got out of the habit of asking prying questions, of expecting a report
of everything that happened, of trying to dictate and govern; as to
jealousy, it would be rather late in the day to begin that.

These were the only approaches Lanse had made towards a discussion of
intimate topics. The reserve was not so remarkable in him as it might
have been in another man, for Lanse seldom talked on intimate topics
with anybody; his principle, so far as it could be gathered from his
life, appeared to have been to allow himself, in actual fact (quiet
fact), the most radical liberty of action, while at the same time in
speech, in tastes, in general manner, he remained firmly, even
aggressively, a conservative; Lanse's "manner" had been much admired.
Always, so he would have said, he behaved "as a gentleman should," which
had seemed to mean (according to his own idea of it) that he had no
local views of anything, that he was fond of the fine arts and good
guns, that he had a taste for ablutions and fresh air, for laced shoes
and shooting-jackets, and that he never (it had not happened since his
early youth, at least) lost control of himself through drink. All this
went perfectly with his apparent frankness. It also went perfectly with
his real reserves.

On the occasions when he had said his few words to Margaret, he had
given her no chance to reply; he had made his remarks as he took up a
book. Lanse was sure that he read a great deal, that he was very fond
of reading; in reality he read almost nothing, he only turned to reading
as a last resort; he was barbarically ignorant regarding the authors of
his day, he liked best personal memoirs and letters of the last century;
when these failed him, he reread Fielding--fortunately Fielding was
inexhaustible.

He was in the habit of saying this. But one evening even Fielding
palled.

It was when they had been for nearly two months in the house on the
river. He had been out during most of the afternoon in his canoe; his
two attendants had now established him upon his sofa, placed everything
which they thought he might want within his reach, had adjusted his
reading lamp (he had announced that he was going to read), and had then
left him. They were to return at ten o'clock and help him to bed; for
Lanse was obliged to keep early hours, the night was the dangerous time,
and one of the men always slept on a cot bed in the room with him, so as
to be within call.

Margaret was sitting near the larger table, where there was a second
lamp; she was sewing. Having thrown down his volume, with the sudden
realization (it came to him occasionally) that he knew every word of it
before beginning, Lanse sat among his cushions, watching her hand come
and go.

"You are always sewing on such long things!" he said. "What is the use
of your doing that sort of work nowadays, when there are
sewing-machines?"

"That's like the American who asked, in Venice, what was the use of
people's sketching there nowadays, when there were photographs?"

"Oh, your seam is a work of art, is it?" said Lanse. He was silent for a
moment. Then he took up an old grievance. "Evert is abominably selfish
not to come over here oftener. He might just as well come over and stay;
do you know any earthly reason why he shouldn't?"

"I suppose he thinks he ought not to leave Aunt Katrina--I mean for any
length of time."

"He comes for no length, long or short. Aunt Katrina? I thought you said
she'd got a lot of people?"

"Only Mrs. Carew."

"Mrs. Carew and five or six servants; that's enough in all conscience. I
shouldn't care in the least about Evert if it weren't for the evenings,
they're confoundedly long, you must admit that they are--for a person
who doesn't sew seams; if I had Ev here I could at least beat him at
checkers,--that would be something."

Checkers was the only game Lanse would play, he hated games generally.
His method of playing this one was hopelessly bad. That made no
difference in his being convinced that it was excellent. He blustered
over it always.

Margaret had not answered. After a while, still idly watching her hand
come and go, Lanse began to laugh. "No, I'll tell you what it really is,
Madge; I know it as well as if he had drawn up a formal indictment and
signed his name; he's all off with me on account of the way I've treated
you."

She started; but she kept on taking her stitches.

"Yes. What do you say to my having told him the whole story--just what
really happened, and without a shade of excusing myself in any way?
Don't you call that pretty good of me? But I found out, too, what I
didn't know before--that you yourself have never said a word all this
time either to him or to Aunt Katrina; that you have told nothing. I
call that pretty good of _you_; I dare say, in the mean while, Aunt
Katrina has led you a life!"

"I haven't minded that--she didn't know--"

"It was really very fine of you," said Lanse, appreciatively, after a
moment or two of silence, during which he had seemed to review her
course, and to sincerely admire it. "It would have been so easy to have
considered it your duty to tell, to have called the telling 'setting
yourself right;' everybody would have been on your side--would have
taken your part. But I can't say, after all, that I'm surprised," he
went on. "I have always had the most perfect confidence in you, Madge.
If I hadn't, I shouldn't have been so easy, of course, about going away;
but I knew I could leave you, I knew I could trust you; I knew you would
always be the perfect creature you have shown yourself to be."

"I'm not perfect at all," answered Margaret, throwing her work down
with a movement that was almost fierce. "Don't talk to me in that way."

"There! no need to flash out so; remember I'm only a cripple," responded
Lanse, amiably. He sat there stroking his short beard with his strong,
well-shaped hand, looking at her, as he did so, with some curiosity.

She rose. "Is there anything I can do for you before I go?" And she
began to fold up her work.

"Oh, don't go! that's inhuman; it's only a little after nine--there's
nearly an hour yet before the executioners come. I didn't mean to vex
you, Madge; really I didn't. I know perfectly that you have done what
you did, behaved as you have--so admirably (you must excuse my saying it
again)--to please yourself, not me; you did it because you thought it
right, and you don't want my thanks for it; you don't even want my
admiration, probably you haven't a very high opinion of my admiration. I
don't condole with you--you may have noticed that; the truth is, you
have had your liberty, you have been rid of me, and there has been no
disagreeable gossip about it. If you had loved me, there would have been
the grief and all that to consider. But there has been no grief; you
probably know now, though you didn't then, that you never seriously
cared for me at all; of course you _thought_ you did."

Margaret was standing, her folded work in her hand, ready to leave the
room. "I should--I should have tried," she answered, her eyes turned
away.

"Tried? Of course you would have tried, poor child," responded Lanse,
laughing. "I should have had that spectacle! You were wonderfully good,
you had a great sense of duty; you really married me from duty--because
I told you that I should go to the bad without you, and you believed it,
and thought you must try; and you mistook the interest you felt in me on
that account for affection--a very natural mistake at your age. Never
mind all that now, I only want you to admit that I might have been
worse, I might have been brutal, tyrannical, in petty ways, I might have
been a pig; instead of leaving you as I did, I might have stayed at
home--and made you wish that I _had_ left! Even now I scarcely touch
your personal liberty; true, I ask you to keep house for me, set up a
home and make me comfortable again; but outside of that I leave you very
free, you shall do quite as you please. Luckily we've got money
enough--that is, you have--not to be forced to sacrifice ourselves about
trifles; if you want your breakfast at eight o'clock, and I mine at
eleven, why, we can have it in that way; it won't be necessary for us to
change our customs in the very least for each other, and I assure you in
the long-run that tells. It's possible, of course, that you may hate me;
but I don't believe you do; and, in case you don't, I see no reason why
we shouldn't lead an easy life together. Really, looking at it in that
way, it's a very pretty little prospect--for people of sense."

As he concluded with these words, genially uttered, Margaret dropped
suddenly into a chair which was near her and covered her face with her
hands.

Lanse looked at her, there was genuine kindness in his beautiful dark
eyes with the yellow lights in them. "There's one question I might ask
you, Margaret--but no, I won't; it's really none of my business. You
will always _act_ like an angel; your thoughts are your own affair."

Margaret still sat motionless, her face covered.

"I'm very sorry you feel so; I meant to be--I want to be--as considerate
as possible. Great heavens!" Lanse went on, "what a fettered, restricted
existence you women--the good ones--do lead! I have the greatest
sympathy for you. When you're wretched, you can't do anything; you can't
escape, and you can't take any of the compensations men take when they
want to balance ill luck in other directions; all you can do is--sit
still and bear it! I wonder you endure it as you do. But I won't talk
about it, talking's all rot; short of killing myself, I don't know that
there's anything I can do that would improve the situation; and that
wouldn't be of any use either, at least to you, because it would leave
you feeling guilty, and guilt you could never bear. Come, hold up your
head, Madge; nothing in this stupid life is worth feeling so wretched
about; life's nothing but rubbish, after all. Get the checker-board and
we'll have a game."

Margaret had risen. "I can't to-night."

"But what am I to do, then?" began Lanse, in a complaining tone. He was
as good as his word, he had already dismissed the subject from his mind.
"Well, if you must go," he went on, "just hand me that book of poor
Malleson's, first."

This was a book of sketches of the work of Mino da Fiesole, the loving,
patient studies of a young American who had died in Italy years before,
when Lanse was there. Lanse had been kind to him, at the last had closed
his eyes, and had then laid him to sleep in that lovely shaded cemetery
under the shadow of the pyramid outside the walls of Rome--sweet last
resting-place that lingers in many a traveller's memory. The book of
sketches had been left to him, and he was very fond of it.

As Margaret gave it to him he saw her face more clearly, saw the traces
of tears under the dark lashes. "Yes, go and rest," he said,
compassionately; "go to bed. I should reproach myself very much if I
thought it was waiting upon me, care about me, that had tired you so."

"No, I have very little to do; the men do everything," Margaret
answered. "I haven't half as much to attend to here as I have at home."
She seemed to wish to reassure him on this point.

"At home?" said Lanse, jocularly. "What are you talking about? This is
your home, isn't it?--wherever I happen to be."

But evidently his wife's self-control had been rudely shaken when her
tears had mastered her, for now she could not answer him, she turned and
left the room.

"Courage!" he called after her as she went towards the door. "You should
do as I do--not mind trifles; you should shake them off."

She went with a swift step to her own room, and threw herself face
downward upon a low couch, her head resting upon her clasped hands; the
sudden movement loosened her hair, soon it began to slip from its
fastenings and drop over her shoulders in a thick, soft, perfumed mass;
then, falling forward, lock by lock, the long ends touched the floor.

As she lay thus behind her bolted doors, fighting with an unhappiness so
deep that her whole heart was sobbing and crying, though now she did
not shed outwardly a tear, her husband, stroking his brown beard
meditatively, was getting a great deal of enjoyment out of poor
Malleson's book. Lanse had a very delicate taste in such matters; he
knew a beautiful outline when he saw it, from a single palmetto against
the blue, on a point in the St. John's, to these low reliefs of the
sweetest sculptor of the Renaissance. Long before, he had told Margaret
that he married her for her profile; slim, unformed girl as she was,
there had been, from the first moment he saw her, an immense
satisfaction for his eyes in the poise of her head and the clearness of
her features every time she entered the room.

Whether he would have found any satisfaction in these same outlines,
could he have seen them prone in their present abandonment, only himself
could have told.

He would have said, probably, that he found no satisfaction at all.
Lansing Harold, as has been remarked before, had a great deal of
benevolence.



CHAPTER XXVI.


"I don't know how to tell you, Mrs. Harold, what has happened," began
Dr. Kirby. "I cannot explain it even to myself." The Doctor was
evidently very unhappy, and much disturbed.

He was in the sitting-room of the house on the river--a place not so
desolate after eight months of Margaret's habitation there. She could
not restore the blossoming vines to the stripped exterior, she could not
bring to life again the old trees; but within she had made a great
change; the rooms were fairly comfortable now, green blinds gave a
semblance of the former leafy shade.

But more than the rooms was the mistress of them herself transformed.
The change was not one of manner or expression; it was the metamorphosis
which can be produced by a complete alteration of dress. For Lanse had
objected to the simplicity of his wife's attire, and especially to the
plain, close arrangement of her hair. "You don't mean it, I know," he
said, "but it has an appearance of affectation, a sort of 'holier than
thou' air. I hate to see women going about in that way; it looks as if
they thought themselves so beautiful that they didn't mind calling
attention to it--with sanctimonious primness, of course; it's the most
conspicuous thing a woman can do."

"It's not a matter of principle with me; it's only my taste," Margaret
answered. "I have always liked simplicity in others, and so I have
dressed in that way myself."

"Alter it, then; with your sort of face you couldn't possibly look
flashy; and you might look prettier--less like a saint. There, don't be
enraged, I know you haven't a grain of that kind of pose. But it seems
to me, Margaret, that you might very well dress to please me, since I
regard you as a charming picture, keeping my hands off." And he laughed.

The next steamer that touched at the long pier (it was not two hours
afterwards) took from there half a dozen hastily written letters to
carry north.

"What in the world--why, I hardly _knew_ you," Aunt Katrina said, ten
days later, when her niece came over to East Angels to see her; now that
Lanse was better, she could come oftener.

"Lanse wished it," Margaret answered as she took her seat.

"And very properly. You certainly had a most tiresome way of having your
things made--so deadly plain; it looked as if you wanted people to think
you either very Quakerish or very miserable, I never knew which."

"If I had been miserable I shouldn't have paid so much attention to it,
should I? It takes a great deal of attention to dress in that way." She
spoke, if not smilingly, then at least in the even tone which people now
called "always so cheerful."

"Oh, I don't know what you really _were_, I only meant how you looked. I
am glad, at least, that you acknowledge that it takes a great stock of
vanity to go against all the fashions. Well, you don't look Quakerish
now!"

"You like the dress, then?"

"It's _lovely_," said Aunt Katrina, scanning every detail from the hat
to the shoe. "Expensive, of course?"

"Yes."

"And Lanse likes that?"

"He wishes me to dress richly; he says it's more becoming to me."

"I think that's so nice of him, he wants you to look, I suppose, as well
as you _can_" said Aunt Katrina, magnanimously. "And certainly you do
look a great deal better."

Whether Margaret looked better was a question whose answer depended upon
the personal taste of those who saw her; she looked, at least, very
different. The sumptuous wrap with its deep fringes, the lace of the
scarf, the general impression of costly fabrics and of color in her
attire, brought out the outlines of her face, as the curling waves of
her hair over her forehead deepened the blue of her eyes. On her white
arms now, at home in the evenings, bracelets gleamed, the flash of rings
came from her little hands; her slender figure trailed behind it rich
silks of various light hues.

"You are a beautiful object nowadays, Margaret," Lanse said more than
once. "Fancy your having known how, all this time, without ever having
used your talent!"

"It's my dress-maker's talent."

"Yes; she must have a great deal to carry out your orders."

He was especially pleased one evening. She came in, bringing his
newspaper, which had just arrived by the steamer; she was dressed in a
long gleaming gown of satin, with long tight sleeves; she wore a little
ruff of Venetian lace, there was a golden comb in her dark-hair. A fan
made of the bright plumage of some tropical bird lay against the satin
of her skirt; it hung by a ribbon from the broad satin belt, which,
fastened by a golden buckle, defined her slender waist.

"You look like a fine old engraving," he said.

She stood holding the paper towards him. But for a moment he did not
take it, he was surveying her critically; then he lifted his eyes to her
face, there was a smile in them. "You did it--do it--to please me?" he
said.

She did not answer.

"Because you think it your duty to do what I wish. And because, too, you
are a trifle afraid of me!" He laughed. "It would have an even better
effect, though, if you wouldn't take it quite so seriously; couldn't
you contrive to get a little pleasure out of it on your own account?--I
mean the looking so handsome."

She gave him the paper, and went across to her work-table. "I am
delighted to look handsome," she said.

"No, you're not. It was probably easier for you to dress as you used
to--plainly; more in accordance with your feelings, women like to be in
accordance. When they're completely satisfied, or very unhappy, they
brush their hair straight back from their faces. Well, yours curls
enough now!"

"The truth is, Madge, you're too yielding," he resumed after a short
silence. "I take advantage of it, of course--I always shall; but you
would get on a great deal better yourself, you might even have had more
influence over me (if you care about that), if you had been, if you were
now, a little less--patient."

"I suppose there's no use in my repeating that I'm not patient at all,"
answered Margaret. She was taking some balls of silk from the drawer.

"You want me to think it's self-control. Well, perhaps it is. But then,
you know, unbroken self-control--"

"Would you mind it if I should ask you not to discuss it--my
self-control?" Her hands were beginning to tremble.

"Put your hands in your pocket if you don't want me to see them," said
Lanse, laughing; "they always betray you--even when your voice is
steady. What a temper you've got--though you do curb it so tightly! At
least you're infinitely better off than you would have been if you had
happened to care for me. That's been the enormous blessing of your
life--your not caring; just supposing you _had_ cared! You ought to be
very thankful; and you ought to reckon up your blessings every now and
then, for fear of forgetting some of them; we ought all to do that, I
think."

He said this with great gravity. Not that he felt in the least grave;
but it was a way Lanse had of amusing himself, once in a while,--to make
remarks of this sort with a very solemn face.

He looked at her for a moment or two longer as she sat with her eyes
bent upon her knitting. "You're in the right chair," he said at length,
"but you're sitting too straight. Won't you please take that footstool,
put your feet on it, and then lean back more? You long lithe women look
better that way."

She did not move.

"Come," he said, "you're furious; but you know you ought to humor me.
It's only that I want my picture more complete--that's all."

And then, with nervous quickness, she did what he asked.

It was upon the morning following this little conversation that Dr.
Kirby made his appearance at the house on the river and declared that he
could not "explain."

"Tell me without explaining," Margaret suggested.

But this at first seemed to the Doctor even more difficult than the
other alternative; it would have been so much more in accordance with
his sense of the fitness of things to ascend this stumbling-block which
had fallen in their path by means of a proper staircase, carpeted steps
of probabilities, things he had foreseen--intuitions. But in fact he had
foreseen nothing; he felt that he could not make a staircase. So he gave
one great hard bound.

"Garda is engaged," he announced. "To Lucian Spenser."

Margaret was greatly astonished. "I didn't know he was back," she said.

"He has only just come. She went up to Norfolk with my cousin, Sally
Lowndes"--here the Doctor stopped, gazing at Margaret inquiringly.

"Yes, I left it to you to decide about her going--don't you remember?"

"I decided wrongly. Sally was obliged to go, and anxious to take
Garda--I was in Charleston, and I allowed it. I had no business to!"
said the Doctor, slapping his knee suddenly and fiercely. "I distinctly
disapprove of much travelling for young girls--mere aimless gadding
about. But I have been corrupted, to a certain degree, by the new
nor--the new modern ideas that are making their way everywhere at
present; I could bury my head in a hay-stack! When did you hear from her
last?"

"I had a letter from Norfolk immediately after her arrival."

"Before she had met him. And nothing since?"

"Nothing."

"Yes, she said she should rather have me tell you than write herself."

"She thought you would be on her side."

"No, madam, no; she couldn't have thought that--that would be
impossible. But she was good enough to say that I should, in the
telling, be certain to make you laugh. And that was what she wanted."

Moisture glittered suddenly in his eyes as he brought this out. He
pretended it was not there, and searching for his handkerchief, he
coughed gruffly, complaining of "a cold."

"I certainly don't laugh," said Margaret. "But perhaps we need not be
so--so troubled about it, Doctor. The first thing now is to have her
come home."

"She's back in Charleston."

"Oh!"

"Yes. As soon as I received Sally's letter--she wrote at once--I started
immediately for Norfolk. I saw Mr. Spenser--in my quality of guardian it
was proper that I should see him. And I brought the two ladies home."

"And not Mr. Spenser too?"

"I don't know anything about Mr. Spenser!" Then, after a moment, "I
reckon he will follow," the Doctor murmured, dejectedly.

"And I--who thought he was in Venice!"

"He was in Venice until a few weeks ago. I don't know in the least what
brought him home. And I don't know in the least what brought him to
Norfolk, unless it was, as I was told, some insane fancy for sketching
the Dismal Swamp;--of all places in the world the miry old Dismal! And
to think that I should have let Garda go there, at just that moment!
It's a combination of fortuitous chances which seems to me absolutely
infernal!--I beg your pardon, madam"--here the Doctor rose, bowing
ceremoniously, with his hand on the broad expanse of beautifully
starched linen, which kept its place unmoved over his disturbed breast.
"It is not often that I am betrayed into language unsuited to a lady's
presence. I ask you to excuse me."

"You do not like Mr. Spenser," said Margaret.

The Doctor stared. "Do you?"

"I suppose it is not so much whether we like him, as whether we approve
of him for Garda. But I am afraid she would not listen to us even if we
should disapprove."

"I think you are in error there," said the Doctor, beginning to walk to
and fro with quick short steps. Much as he liked Margaret, it was with
anger that he answered her now.

"I must tell you what I think, mustn't I?" said the other guardian,
gently. "And I think she has cared for him a long time."

"It is impossible for me to agree with you. Long time? Permit me to ask
how long you mean? In the mean while she has been engaged to another
man--Evert Winthrop. Do you forget that?"

"I don't think she realized fully--she was very young; she is extremely
impulsive always," answered his colleague, wandering rather helplessly
for a moment among her phrases. Then she spoke more decidedly. "But now
she knows, now she is sure; she is sure it is Lucian she cares for."

"She is fanciful, and this is only another fancy. Sally, too, has been
much to blame."

"I do not think Garda is fanciful," said Margaret. "And--it is not a
childish feeling, her liking for Lucian Spenser."

The Doctor stopped on the other side of the room. Then he came back and
stood gazing at Margaret in silence. "You are a woman, and you are
good," he said at last. "She is very fond of you, she tells you
everything, and you _must_ know. If therefore you say that she--"

"Yes," answered Margaret, "I do know. I am sure she cares for him very,
very much." Here some of Garda's extraordinarily frank expressions about
Lucian, and the delight it gave her to even look at him, coming suddenly
into her memory, over all her fair face there rose a sweet deep blush.

The Doctor turned away and dropped into a chair.

"There is nothing against Mr. Spenser, I believe," Margaret began again,
after a short pause.

"It isn't that. No, I believe there is nothing." He sat there, his
figure looking unusually small, his eyes turned away.

Margaret asked some questions. By degrees the Doctor answered them. He
said that Lucian was possessed of "a genteel income." He had not
accepted his wife's large fortune; she had left everything to him, but
he had immediately given the whole back to her relatives, retaining only
the profits of some investments which she had made, since their
marriage, under his advice; this sum the Doctor described as "a
competence."

"When is Garda coming home?" Margaret asked.

"She says she isn't coming; she says she knows you have no place for her
here--no time; and she doesn't wish to stay with any one but you."

"She does not mean that. I think she should come, she has been in
Charleston a long time; Mrs. Lowndes has been wonderfully kind."

"Oh, as to that, Sally likes to have her there. She says it has made her
'young again' to see Garda. And to admire (I don't know what she meant
by that) Adolfo Torres."

"Is he there still?"

"He is there still. He doesn't believe in the least in Garda's
engagement."

"He didn't believe in the other one," said Margaret. And then she was
sorry she had said it, for the Doctor jumped up and seized his hat; it
was still insupportable to him, the thought of those two engagements.

"He's a hallucinated idiot!" he said, violently. Then, controlling
himself, he took leave of Margaret, bowing over her hand with his old
stately ceremony. Mr. Harold was in the garden? He would go out and see
him there. It was most satisfactory, certainly, the improvement in Mr.
Harold.

On the present occasion the Doctor found Lanse on a couch which he had
had carried out to the garden; here he lay contentedly smoking, and
looking at the river. Lanse liked the Doctor; it was an ever-fresh
amusement to him to realize that his large, long, muscular self was
committed to the care of that "pottering little man." The Doctor was not
in the least "pottering." But Lanse really thought that all short men
with small hands, who were without an active taste for guns, were of
that description. The sad Doctor made but a brief visit this time; then
he started homeward. He had still the news about Garda to tell in
Gracias. At present it was known only to ma.

Garda did not comply with the wish of her friends, and return to them.
She wrote a dozen letters about it, but in actual presence she remained
away. Most of these epistles were to Margaret. As time went on she wrote
to Margaret every day.

But her letters were not letters at all, in the usual sense of the word;
they were brief diaries, rapidly jotted down, of the feelings of the
moment; they were pæans, rhapsodies, bubbling exclamations of delight;
none of them ever exceeded in length a page.

They seemed to Margaret very expressive. She did not know what Garda
might be writing to the Kirbys, the Moores, and Mrs. Carew; but what
Garda wrote to her she kept to herself.

This was the girl's first letter after Margaret's note urging her to
return:

     "Margaret, I _can't_ come--don't ask me; for none of them there
     would sympathize with me--not even you. It isn't that I want
     sympathy--I never even think of it. But I don't want the least
     disagreeable thing now when I am so _blissful_--bliss is the only
     word. Lucian comes in every morning on the train. The Doctor said
     that of course he would not stay all the time in Charleston. So to
     satisfy him Lucian stays four miles out.

     "Oh, Margaret, everything is so enchanting!

     "GARDA."

     "DEAR MARGARET,--Every morning I watch until he opens the gate"
     (she wrote a day later), "and then I run down to meet him in the
     hall. We don't stay in the house, we go into the garden. Mrs.
     Lowndes says she loves to have him come, because he reminds her so
     much of Mr. Lowndes--'Roger,' she calls him. And she says it makes
     her young again in her heart to see us. And perhaps it does in her
     heart, but the change hasn't reached the outside yet. I am
     expecting him every minute, there he comes now.

     "GARDA."

     "DEAR MARGARET,--If I could stay with you, I would come back
     to-morrow," she wrote in answer to a second letter from Margaret,
     which urged her strongly to return. "But I know you don't want me
     now--that is, you can't have me--and where else could I stay? The
     Doctor _hates_ Lucian--he may pretend, but he _does_. If I should
     stay at the rectory, Mrs. Moore would be sure to say, how
     _pleasant_ for Lucian and I to read poetry on the veranda, because
     that is what she and Middleton used to do when they were engaged.
     But Lucian and I don't want to read any poetry on verandas.

     GARDA."

     "DEAR MARGARET,--Lucian has gone for the night, and there's nothing
     else to do, so I thought I would write to you. Mrs. Lowndes has
     just been in. She brought a daguerreotype of Mr. Lowndes, taken
     when he was young, and she says she knows exactly how I feel,
     because she used to feel just the same; when she was at the window,
     and saw 'Roger' coming down the street, the very calves of her legs
     used to quiver, she says. Roger must have been stout--at least he
     is in the daguerreotype, and he wore glasses.

     "Lucian is painting me; but I only wish I could paint _him_. Oh,
     Margaret, he _is_ so beautiful!

     GARDA."

     "DEAREST MARGARET,--I'm so glad I am alive, it's so nice to be
     alive. People say life's dreadful, but to me it's perfectly
     delicious every single minute. I thought I would tell you how happy
     I was before going to bed,--I love to _write it down_.

     GARDA."

The Doctor went up to Charleston again. He was much displeased with the
course things were taking, he spoke with a good deal of severity to
Sally Lowndes.

Sally, who was soft-bodied as well as soft-hearted (her figure was a
good deal relaxed), shed tears. Then, recovering some spirit, she wished
to know what the Doctor had expected _her_ to do? It was true that that
sweet Garda had left off her lessons (up to this time she had "had
instruction," that is, teachers had arrived at fixed hours); but Sally
was decidedly of the opinion that a girl who was so soon to be married
should be relieved at least of "_school-room_ drudgery."

"Nothing of the sort," said the Doctor; "she should be kept even more
closely to her books. Your ideas are provincial and ridiculous, Sally; I
don't know where you obtained them."

"From my mother," answered Sally, with a pink flush of excitement in her
faded cheeks. "From my grandmother too--who was yours also. It is _you_
who are changed, Reginald; it has never been the custom in our family to
keep the girls down at their books after sixteen."

This was true. But the very truth of it made the Doctor more angry. "I
shall take her back with me," he said.

"She doesn't wish to go."

"That makes no difference."

And then Sally "supposed" that it was not his intention to drag her back
"in chains?" Mrs. Lowndes was evidently much displeased with Cousin
Reginald.

The Doctor took Garda to a remote part of the garden. Here he placed
before her in serious words the strong wish he had that she should
return with him to Gracias.

Garda laughed out merrily. Then she came and kissed him. "Don't ask me
to do anything so horribly disagreeable," she said, coaxingly.

"Would it be disagreeable?" asked the Doctor, his voice changing to
pathos.

"Of course. For you're not nice to Lucian, you know you're not; how can
I like that?"

"I will be--nice," said the Doctor, borrowing her word, though the use
of it in that sense was to him like turning a somersault.

"Would you really try?" said Garda. She came behind him, putting her
arms round his neck and resting her head on his shoulder. "You never
could," she said, fondly. And then, as though he were some big
good-natured animal, a magnanimous elephant or bear, she let him feel
the weight of her little dimpled chin.

"I am weak because I have loved you so long, my child. I might insist;
you are my ward. But it seems to me that you ought to care more about
doing a little as we wish, Mrs. Harold agrees with me in thinking this."

"Margaret is _sweet_; I love her dearly. But, do you know"--here she
disengaged herself, and began with a sudden inconsequent industry to
gather flowers--"it's so funny to me that you should think, either of
you, for one moment, that I would leave Lucian now."

"He could come too. A little later." The Doctor was driven to this
concession.

"But I shouldn't see him as I do here, you know I shouldn't. Here we do
quite as we please; no one ever comes to this part of the garden but
ourselves; we might be on a desert island--only it would have to be an
island of flowers."

"And you care more for this than for our wishes?" began the Doctor. Then
he took a lighter tone. "Of course you don't; you will come home with
me, my child; we will start this afternoon." Watching her move about
among the bushes as she gathered her roses, he had fallen back into his
old belief; this young face where to him were still so plainly visible
the childish outlines of the little girl he had been used to lead about
by the hand--even of the dimpled baby he remembered so well--he could
not bring himself to realize that it had gained older expressions,
expressions he did not know.

"I'm very sorry, dear," Garda answered, generally. And then she knelt
down to peer through a bush which might perhaps be holding its best buds
hidden.

The Doctor, completely routed by the word which she had without the
least effort used--the maturity of that "dear," addressed her at last,
though unconscious that he was doing so, in the tone of equality. "It
isn't as though you had anything to bear, like the prospect of a long
engagement, as though there were any difficulties in the way; your
marriage is to come so soon," he pleaded.

"Soon?" said Garda. "Six long months! Do you call that 'soon?'" She
stopped gathering roses, and sat down on a garden bench. "Six months! I
must see him every day, and for a long while every day; that will be the
_only_ way to bear it." Then her words ceased; but her splendid eyes,
meeting the Doctor's (she had forgotten that he was there), grew fuller
and fuller of the loveliest dreaming expression, until the poor
guardian--he realized that she would not perceive his departure--could
not stand there and watch it any longer. He turned abruptly and went
away.

     "DEAR MARGARET,--The Doctor has gone" (Garda wrote the next day).
     "And I am afraid he is displeased. Apparently we please no one but
     ourselves and Sally Lowndes! Margaret, when my wedding-day really
     comes at last, nobody must touch me but you; you must dress me, and
     you must put on my veil, and the orange-blossoms (from the old East
     Angels grove--I won't have any others). And then, just before we go
     down-stairs, you must say you are _pleased_. And you must forgive
     me all I have done--and been too--because I _couldn't_ help it. I
     shall come over from Gracias, and go down on my knees to Mr. Harold
     to beg him to let me be with you, or rather to let _you_; he must,
     he shall say yes."

But Lanse was not called upon to go through this ordeal.

He had already said, "_You_ go!" in rather a high-noted tone of
surprised remonstrance when Margaret suggested, some time before, that
she should go herself to Charleston and bring Garda back. "And leave me
shut up alone here!" he added, as if to bring home to her the barbarity
of her proposal.

"The servants do very well at present."

"They don't look as you do," Lanse answered, gallantly. "I must have
something to look at."

"But I think I ought to go."

"You can dismiss that 'ought' from your mind, there are other 'oughts'
that come nearer. In fact, viewing the matter impartially, you should
never have consented in the beginning, Madge, to take charge of that
girl, without first consulting me." Lanse brought out this last touch
with much judicial gravity. "Fortunately your guardianship, such as it
is, will soon be over," he went on; "she will have a husband to see to
her. Apparently she needs one."

"That won't be for six months yet."

"Call it two; as I understand it, there's nothing but dogmatic custom
between them, and as Florida isn't the land of custom--"

"Yes, it is."

"Well, even grant that; the girl is, from all accounts, a rich specimen
of wilfulness--"

"Of naturalness."

"Oh, if they're guided by naturalness," said Lanse, "they won't even
wait two."

And it was not two, when early one morning, in old St. Michael's Church
in Charleston, with Sally Lowndes, excited and tearful, as
witness--their only one save an ancient little uncle of hers, who had
come in from his rice plantation to do them the favor of giving the
bride (whom he had never seen before) away, Edgarda Thorne and Lucian
Spenser were married.

The Rev. Batton Habersham, as he came robed in his surplice from the
vestry-room, could not help being conscious, even then and there, that
he had never seen so beautiful a girl as the one who now stood waiting
at the chancel-rail--not in the veil she had written about, or the
orange-blossoms from East Angels, but in an every-day white frock, and
garden hat covered with roses. The bridegroom was very handsome also.
But naturally the clergyman was not so much impressed by Lucian's good
points as by Garda's lovely ones. Sally Lowndes was impressed by Lucian,
she gazed at him as one gazes at a portrait; Lucian looked very
handsome, very manly, and very much in love--a happy combination, Sally
thought. And then, with fresh sweet tears welling in her eyes, she knelt
down for the benediction (though it was not given to her), and thought
of "Roger," and the day when she should see him again in paradise.

The Rev. Batton Habersham, who was officiating in St. Michael's for a
week only, during the absence of the rector, was a man unknown to fame
even in his own diocese. But it is possible to do a great deal of good
in the world without fame, and Batton Habersham did it; his little
mission chapel was on one of the sea islands. Always thereafter he
remembered the early morning marriage of that beautiful girl in the dim,
empty old Charleston church as the most romantic episode of his life.
Fervently he hoped that she would be happy; for even so good a man is
more earnest (unconsciously) in his hopes for the happiness of a bride
with eyes and hair like Garda's than he is for that of one with tints
less striking. Though the relation, all the same, between the amount of
coloring matter in the visual orbs or capillary glands, and the degree
of sweetness and womanly goodness in the heart beneath, has never yet
been satisfactorily determined.

An hour later the northward-bound train was carrying two supremely happy
persons across the Carolinas towards New York--the Narrows--Italy.

"Well, we have all been young once, Sally," the little old rice planter
had said to his weeping niece, as the carriage drove away from the
hospitable old mansion of the Lowndes'. Garda had almost forgotten that
they were there, Sally and himself, as they had stood for a moment at
the carriage door; but she had looked so lovely in her absorbed felicity
that he forgave her on the spot, though of course he wondered over her
choice, and "couldn't imagine" what she could see in that "ordinary
young fellow." He went back to his plantation. But he was restless all
the evening. At last, about midnight, he got out an old miniature and
some letters; and any one who could have looked into the silent room
later in the night would have seen the little old man still in his
arm-chair, his face hidden in his hand, the faded pages beside him.

"It is perhaps as well," said Margaret Harold. She was trying to
administer some comfort to Dr. Kirby, when, two days later, he sat, a
flaccid parcel of clothes, on the edge of a chair in her parlor, staring
at the floor.

Mrs. Rutherford was triumphant. "A runaway match! And _that_ is the girl
you would have married, Evert. What an escape!"

"_She_ has escaped," Winthrop answered, smiling.

"What do you mean? Escaped?--escaped from what?"

"From all of us here."

"Not from me," answered Aunt Katrina, with dignity. "_I_ never tried to
keep her, _I_ always saw through her perfectly from the very first. Do
you mean to say that you understand that girl even now?" she added, with
some contradiction.

"Yes, I think I do--_now_," Winthrop answered.

"I don't envy you your knowledge! _Poor_ Lucian Spenser--what could have
possessed him?"

"He? He's madly in love with her, of course."

"I'm glad at least you think he's a fool," said Aunt Katrina, applying
her vinaigrette disdainfully to her well-shaped nose.

"Fool? Not at all; he's only tremendously happy."

"The same thing--in such a case."

"I don't know about that. The question is, is it better to be
tremendously happy for a little while, and unreasonable; or to be
reasonable all the time, and never tremendously happy?"

"Oh, if you're going to talk _rationalism_--" said Aunt Katrina.

Immediately after her return from Norfolk, in the interval before Lucian
came, Garda sent for Adolfo Torres. When he appeared she begged him to
do her a favor, namely, to leave Charleston for the present.

"Is it that you wish me to return to Gracias?" asked Adolfo. "The place
is a desperation without you."

"You need not go to Gracias if you don't want to; but please go away
from here. Go to the Indian River," she suggested, with a sudden
inspiration.

"I will go to the Indian River certainly--if that is your wish," replied
the Cuban; "though I do not know"--this he added rather longingly--"what
harm I do here."

"No harm at all. But I want you to go." She smiled brightly, though
there was also a good deal of sympathy in her eyes as she surveyed his
lack-lustre countenance.

"That is enough--your wish. I go--I go at once." He took leave of her.

She called him back, and looked at him a moment. Then she said, "Yes,
go. And I will write to you."

This was a great concession, Adolfo felt it to be such.

The letter was long in coming; and when it did come at last, it dealt
him, like an actual hand, a prostrating blow. It was dated several days
after that morning which had seen the early marriage in St. Michael's,
and the signature, when his dazed eyes reached it, was one he did not
know--Edgarda Spenser.

The Cuban had received this note at dusk. He went out and wandered about
all night. At daylight he came in, dressed himself afresh and carefully,
and had his boots polished--a process not so much a matter of course on
the Indian River at that day as in some other localities. Next he said a
prayer, on his knees, in his rough room in the house where he was
lodged. Then he went out and asked the old hunter, his host, for the
favor of the loan of one of his guns for the morning.

With this gun he departed into the woods. He was no sportsman; but this
did not matter, since the game he had in view was extremely docile, it
was so docile that it would even arrange itself in the best possible
position for the ball.

But the desperate young man--his manner was calm as he made his way
through the beautiful southern forest--was not permitted to end his
earthly existence then. A hand seized his shoulder. "Are you mad,
Adolfo?" said Manuel Ruiz, tears gleaming in his eyes as he almost threw
his friend to the ground in the quick, violent effort he made to get
possession of the gun. Then, seeing that Adolfo was looking at him very
strangely, "If you come another step nearer, I'll shoot you down!" he
shouted.

The Cuban did not say, "That is what I want;" he did not move or speak.

Manuel immediately began to talk. "They sent me down here, Adolfo; they
had heard, and they were afraid for you. I had just got home, and they
asked me to come--your aunt asked me."

"My aunt asked you," repeated Torres, mechanically.

"Yes, Adolfo, your aunt. You must care something for _her_," said
Manuel. He looked uneasily about him.

And then hurrying through the wood, came Madam Giron.

The loving-hearted, sweet-tempered woman was much moved. She took her
dead sister's unhappy boy in her arms, and wept over him as though he
had been her own child; she soothed him with motherly caresses; she
said, tenderly, that she had not been kind enough to him, that she had
been too much taken up with her own children; "But now--_now_, my
dearest--" This all in Spanish, the sweetest sound in the world to poor
Torres' ears.

A slight convulsion passed over his features, though no tears came. He
was young enough to have felt acutely the loneliness of his suffering,
the solitude of the death he was on his way to seek. He stood perfectly
still; his aunt was now leaning against him as she wept, he put one arm
protectingly round her; he felt a slow, slow return towards, not a less
torturing pain, but towards greater courage in bearing it, in this
sympathy which had come to him. Even Manuel had shown sympathy. "I
feel--I feel that I have been--rather cowardly," he said at last in a
dull tone.

"No, no, dear," said his aunt, putting up her soft hand to stroke his
dark hair. "It was very natural, we all understand."

And then a mist did show itself for an instant in the poor boy's eyes.

       *       *       *       *       *

That same evening, Garda, far at sea, sitting with her head on Lucian's
shoulder under the brilliant stars, answered a question he asked. She
did not answer it at first, she was too contented to talk. Then, as he
asked it again, "What ever became of that mediæval young Cuban of mine?"

"Oh, Adolfo?" she said. "I sent him down to the Indian River."

"To the Indian River? What in the world did you do that for?"

"He was in Charleston, and you were coming; I didn't want him there."

"Were you afraid he would attack me?" asked Lucian, laughing.

"I was afraid he would suffer,--in fact, I knew he would; and I didn't
want to see it. He can suffer because he is like me--_he_ can love."

"Poor fellow!"

"Yes. But I never cared for him; and he _wouldn't_ see it."

"And ''way down there in the land of the cotton,' I don't suppose he
knows yet what has happened, does he?" said Lucian.

"Oh yes; I wrote to him from New York."

"You waited till then? Wasn't that rather hard?"

"Are you finding fault with me?" she murmured, turning her head so that
her lips could reach and rest against his bending face.

"_Fault!_" said Lucian, taking her in his arms.

Adolfo passed out of their memory.



CHAPTER XXVII.


"I cannot let you go alone," said Evert Winthrop, decidedly.

He was speaking to Margaret. They were in the East Angels drawing-room,
Betty Carew hovering near, and agreeing with perfect sincerity now with
one, now with the other, in the remarkable way which was part of the
breadth of her sympathy.

"But it's not in the least necessary for you to go," Margaret repeated.
"Even if the storm should break before I reach the river, the carriage
can be made perfectly tight."

"From the look of the sky, I am almost sure that we shall have a blow
before the rain," Winthrop responded; "in the face of such a
probability, I couldn't allow you to start across the barrens
alone--it's absurd to suppose I should."

Margaret stood hesitating. "You want me to give it up--postpone it. But
I cannot get rid of the idea that something has happened--I have had no
letter for so long; even if Lanse had not cared to write himself, one of
the men, Elliot or Dodd, would have done so, it seems to me, under any
ordinary circumstances."

"Lanse probably keeps them too busy."

"They always have their evenings."

But Winthrop showed scanty interest in the evenings of Elliot and Dodd.
"For myself, I can't pretend to be anxious," he said--"I mean about
Lanse; I am only anxious about you."

"But if I don't go now, I can't go until to-morrow noon; before that
time I shouldn't meet a boat that stops at our landing. That would make
a delay of twenty-four hours." She looked at him as she said this, with
a sort of unconscious appeal.

"I doubt whether anything very exciting could happen over there in twice
twenty-four; it isn't an exciting place."

"Of course you think me obstinate. But I cannot help feeling that I
ought to go."

"_Perfectly_ natural," said Betty. "I should feel just the same in your
place--I know I should--not hearing for _so_ long."

"It's that--the silence," said Margaret. "I have been disturbed about it
for several days."

"Go, by all means, if you feel in that way," said Winthrop. "I haven't
the least desire to prevent it--as you seem to think; I only say that I
shall go too."

"Yes; and that is what I don't want." She turned away and stepped out on
the balcony to scan the sky.

A dark haze edged the eastern horizon. It was far away at present, lying
low down on the sea, but it would come, it was already coming, westward;
a clear, empty-looking space of cold pearl-hued light preceded it. Here
on the lagoon the atmosphere was breathlessly still, not a sound of any
kind stirred the warm silence. "Perhaps it will be only a rain," said
Margaret, rather helplessly. She looked very uncomfortable.

"Yes, I reckon that's all it _will_ be," said Betty, who had followed
her to the balcony door. "And then, too, if it _should_ be anything
more, Mr. Winthrop will be with you, of course; that is, in case you
decide to go; and if you don't go, why then he won't, you know; so
either way, it's all for the best."

Margaret turned and came back into the drawing-room. Winthrop was
standing by the table where she had left him; his eyes met hers, she saw
that he would not yield. "I don't dare give it up, I don't dare wait,"
she broke out with sudden agitation. "Something has happened, nothing
less could have kept both of the men from writing, when I gave them my
express orders. I don't understand why you don't agree with me."

"You see probabilities, and Lanse isn't a devotee of probabilities, as a
general thing. Didn't the last letter say that he had begun to walk a
little?--with the aid of two canes? By this time it is one cane, and he
is camping out. And he has carried off the whole force of the house to
cook for him."

Betty thought this an excellent joke, and laughed delightedly over it.

"If he is camping out, it is quite time I was back," answered Margaret,
trying to speak lightly. She took up her gloves. "Good-by, Aunt Betty;
you will write to me?"

"Yes, indeed, I will," said Betty, kissing her. "Poor dear, you're like
Mahomet's coffin, aren't you? suspended between heaven and--and the
other place. And I'm _so_ glad you've decided as you have, because you
will be _much_ easier in your mind, though of course, too, Mr. Winthrop
was _quite_ right of course, about being afraid for you in case you were
alone, for sometimes we _do_ have the most dreadful gusts, and the
pine-trees are blown down all _over_ the barrens and right across the
roads; but then, all the same, if you _hadn't_ decided, you would be
_so_ uncomfortable, like the old man and his son and the donkey, who
never got anywhere, you know, because they tried to please too many
people, or was it that they had to carry the donkey at last? at any
rate, certainly, there's no donkey _here_. Well, good-by, dear; I shall
be so _dreadfully_ anxious about you."

"I am quite sure"--this was called down the stairs after Margaret had
descended--"I'm quite sure, dear, that it will be _nothing_ but a rain."

A carriage was waiting at the lower door; Winthrop's man was to drive;
but the horses were not his; they were a pair Margaret had sent for.
Margaret took her place, and Winthrop followed her; Betty, who had now
hurried out to the balcony, waved her handkerchief in farewell as long
as she could see them.

Margaret had been at East Angels for nearly a month, called there by a
sudden illness which had attacked Mrs. Rutherford. It was not a
dangerous illness; but it was one that entailed a good deal of
suffering, and Margaret had been immediately summoned.

By this time everybody in Gracias knew how dependent "dear Katrina" was
in reality upon her niece, in spite of her own majestic statements to
the contrary. No one was surprised therefore, when, after the new
illness had declared itself, and Mrs. Rutherford had said, plaintively,
that she should think Margaret would feel that she _ought_ to be there,
Betty immediately sat down and wrote a note.

After two weeks of suffering, Mrs. Rutherford had begun to improve. She
had now almost attained her former comparatively comfortable condition,
and Margaret was returning to the house on the river.

The light carriage crossed the barren rapidly; the same hushed silence
continued, the pine-trees which Betty had seen in a vision, prostrate,
did not stir so much as one of their green needles. Margaret and
Winthrop spoke occasionally, but they did not talk; anything they should
say would necessarily be shared by the man who was driving. But
conversation between them was not much more free when the steamer was
taking them up the river. They sat on the deck together at some distance
from the other passengers, but their words were few; what they said had
even a perfunctory sound. They exchanged some remarks about Garda which
contained rather more of animation.

Garda's last letter to Margaret had borne at the head of the page the
magic word "Venice." Garda had appeared to think life there magical
indeed. "She admires everything; she is delightfully happy," was
Margaret's comment.

"How does she say it?"

"You have heard her talk."

"Not as Mrs. Lucian Spenser. And from Venice!"

"I shall tell her to write her next letter to you."

"I have no doubt she would. I see you are afraid to quote."

"Afraid?" said Margaret, in a tone of cold inquiry. And then, with the
same cold intonation, she repeated two or three of Garda's joyous
phrases.

"Yes, she is happy! Of course it's magnanimous in me to say so, but I
owe her no grudge; on the contrary, it has been refreshing to see, in
this nineteenth century, a girl so frankly in love. She would have
married Lucian Spenser just the same if they neither of them had had a
cent; she would have made any sacrifice for him--don't you think so?"

"Yes; but it wouldn't have been a sacrifice to her."

"Bravo! I gave you such a chance to say insidious things."

Margaret smiled a little at this suggestion. Then, in the silence that
followed, the old look came back to her face--a look of guarded reserve,
which, however, evidently covered apprehension.

She had, indeed, been in great dread. The dread was lest the agitation
which had overpowered her during that last conversation she had had with
Winthrop before she went back to her husband, should reappear. This
brief journey of theirs together was the first perfect opportunity he
had had since then to call it forth again; up to to-day there had been
no opportunity, she had prevented opportunity. But now she was at his
mercy; any one of a hundred sentences which he could so easily say,
would suffice to bring back that emotion which suffocated her, and made
her (as she knew, though he did not) powerless. But, so far, he had said
none of these things. She was grateful to him for every moment of the
respite.

Thus they sat there, appearing no doubt to the other passengers a
sufficiently happy and noticeably fortunate pair.

For Winthrop had about him a certain look which, in America, confers
distinction--that intangible air that belongs to the man who, well
educated to begin with, has gone forth into the crowded course, and
directed and carried along his fortunes by his own genius and energy to
the goal of success. It is a look of power restrained, of comprehension;
of personal experience, personal knowledge; not theory. The unsuccessful
men who met Winthrop--this very steamer carried several of them--were
never angry with him for his good-fortune; they could see that he had
not always been one of the idle, though he might be idle now; they could
see that he knew that life was difficult, that he had, as they would
have expressed it, "been through it himself," and was not disposed to
underrate its perplexities, its oppressions. They could see, too, not a
few of them, poor fellows! that here was the man who had not allowed
himself to dally with the inertia, the dilatoriness, the self-indulgent
weakness, folly, or worse, which had rendered their own lives so
ineffectual. They envied him, very possibly; but they did not hate him;
for he was not removed from them, set apart from them, by any bar; he
was only what they might themselves have been, perhaps; at least what
they would have liked to be.

And the women on board all envied Margaret. They thought her very fair
as she sat there, her eyes resting vaguely on the water, her cheeks
showing a faint, fixed flush, the curling waves of her hair rippling
back in a thick mass above the little ear. Everything she wore was so
beautiful, too--from the hat, with its waving plume, and the long soft
gloves, to the rich shawl, which lay where it had fallen over the back
of her chair. They were sure that she was happy, because she looked so
fortunate; any one of them would have changed places with her blindly,
without asking a question.

The steamer stopped at the long pier which was adorned with the little
post-office. The postmaster had made a dim illumination within his
official shanty by means of a lantern, and here Margaret waited while
the boat was made ready by the negroes who were to row them down the
five additional miles of coast which Lanse had considered the proper
space between himself and the hotel, to keep him from feeling "hived
in." The night was very dark, the water motionless, the men rowed at a
good speed; the two passengers landed at the little home-pier in safety,
and the negroes turned back.

As soon as Margaret had ascended the winding path far enough to come
within sight of the house, "No lights!" she said.

"That's nothing," Winthrop answered; "Lanse is probably outside
somewhere, smoking." Then, as the path made another turn, "If there are
no lights in front, there are enough at the back," he said.

From the rear of the house light shone out in a broad glare from an open
door. Margaret hurried thither. But the kitchen was empty; Dinah, the
old cook, her equally ancient cousin Rose, and Primus, the black boy,
all three were absent. Rapidly Winthrop went through the house, he found
no one; Lanse's room, as well as the parlor and dining-room, appeared
not to have been used that day, while the smaller rooms occupied by the
two men who were in attendance upon him had an even more deserted air.

"Their trunks are gone," said Margaret, who met Winthrop here. "It is
all so strange!" she murmured, looking at him as if for some solution,
her eyes dark in the yellow light of the lamp she held.

Winthrop agreed with her in thinking it strange; but he did not tell her
so. They went back to the kitchen, none of the servants had returned.

"They are probably somewhere about the grounds; but you must sit down
and rest while I go and look for them; you are tired."

"No, I'm not tired," answered Margaret, contradicting this statement.

"Come," he said, authoritatively. Taking the lamp from her, he led the
way towards the parlor which she had made so pretty.

She followed him, and sank into the easy-chair he drew forward. "Don't
wait," she said.

"But if you feel ill--"

"It's nothing, I'm only nervous."

"I shall probably bring them back in five minutes."

But twenty minutes passed before he returned with Dinah and Rose, whom
he had found some distance down the shore. The two old women were much
excited, and voluble. Their story was that "Marse Horrel" must be
"lorse;" he had started early that morning in his canoe to go up the
Juana, and had not returned; when it grew towards evening, as he had
never before been out so long, they had become alarmed, and had sent
Primus over to East Angels; the steamer that had carried him, and the
one that had brought "Mis' Horrel" back, must have passed each other on
the way. They did not send Primus to the hotel, because "Marse Horrel,"
he "'spizes monstons fer ter hev de hotel fokes roun';" they evidently
stood in awe of anything "Marse Horrel" should "'spize." And they did
not send Primus up the Juana, because "Prime, he sech a borned fool,"
they "dassent" trust only to that. So not knowing what else to do, they
had sent him to East Angels for orders; of course they had no idea that
"Mis' Horrel" was on her way back.

Where were the two men? Dodd had been gone a week, "Marse Horrel" had
dismissed him; he said he was so well now that he did not need the two.
And Elliot? "Marse Horrel" had sent him "day befo' yesserday" up the
river on an "arr'nd," they did not know what; he was to return, they did
not know when.

"Something has happened to Lanse," said Margaret, drawing Winthrop away
a few paces when at last she had extracted these facts from the mass of
confusing repetitions, ejaculations, and long, unintelligible phrases in
which Dinah and Rose had enveloped them. The little old creatures, who
were of exactly the same height, wore scarlet handkerchiefs bound round
their heads in the shape of high cones; as they told their story,
standing close together, their skinny hands clasped upon their breasts,
their great eyes rolling, they might have been two African witches, just
arrived on broomsticks from the Cameroons.

"The nearest house is the hotel," said Winthrop; "of course that boat is
beyond call." But there was a chance that it might not be, and he
hurried down to the landing; Margaret followed.

There was no sound of oars. He hailed loudly, once, twice; no one
answered. "I shall have to go to the hotel myself," he said.

"That would take too long, it's five miles; it would be at least two
hours before a boat and men from there could get here, and in that two
hours you could find Lanse yourself, and bring him in."

"You speak as though you knew where he was."

"So I do, he is in the Monnlungs swamp. For a long while he has been in
the habit of going up there every day; I have been with him a number of
times, that is, I have followed in the larger boat with one of the men
to row. Lanse is there now, and something has happened to him; either
the canoe has been wrecked, or else he has hurt himself in some way so
that he can't paddle; the great thing is to get him in before the storm
breaks; we can't possibly wait to send to the hotel."

The two negresses who had left them, now returned, each carrying a
light; apparently they supposed that great illumination would be
required, for they had brought out the two largest parlor-lamps, and now
stood holding them carefully.

"Bring your lamps this way, since you've got them," said Winthrop. He
went towards the boats.

"That is the best," said Margaret, touching the edge of one of them with
the tip of her slender boot.

The negresses stood on the low bank above, by the light of the great
globes they held, Winthrop examined the canoe. It was in good order, the
paddle was lying within.

"Now tell me how to get there," he said.

"Oh, I forgot, you don't know the way!" Margaret exclaimed, a sudden
realization that was almost panic showing itself in her voice.

"No, I don't know it. But probably you can tell me."

She stood thinking. "No, it's impossible. Dark as it is, you might not
even find the mouth of the Juana, there are so many creeks. And all the
false channels in the swamp--No, I shall have to go with you; I will
take Rose, possibly she can be of use."

But quickly old Rose handed her great lamp to Dinah, and jerked herself
down on her thin knees. "Please, missy, _no_. Not inter de Munloons in
de _night, no_! _Ghossesses_ dar!" She brought this out in a high shrill
voice, her broad flat features working in a sort of spasm, her great
eyes fixed beseechingly on her mistress's face.

"You, then, Dinah," said Margaret, impatiently. But in spite of her
rheumatic joints, Rose was on her feet in an instant, and had taken the
lamps, while Dinah, in her turn, prostrated herself.

"You're perfectly absurd, both of you!" Margaret exclaimed.

"Poor old creatures, you're rather hard on them, aren't you?" said
Winthrop from the boat.

"Yes, I'm hard!" She said this with a little motion of her clinched hand
backward--a motion which, though slight, was yet almost violent.

"We must lose no more time," she went on. "Go to the house, Rose--I
suppose you can do that--and bring me the wraps I usually take when I go
out in the canoe, the lantern and some candles----"

"No," said Winthrop, interposing; "let her bring pitch-pine knots, or,
better still, torches, if they happen to have them."

It appeared that "Prime" always kept a supply of torches ready, and old
Rose hurried off.

Margaret stepped into the boat; she stood a moment before taking her
seat "I _wish_ I could go by myself," she said.

"You know how to paddle, then?" Winthrop asked, shortly.

"No, that's it, I don't; at least I cannot paddle well. I should only
delay everything, it would be ridiculous." She seated herself, and a
moment later Rose appeared with the wraps and a great armful of torches.

Both of the old women were quivering with wild excitement; agitated by
gratitude at being spared the ordeal of the haunted swamp by night, they
were equally agitated by the thought of what their mistress would have
to encounter there; they shuffled their great shoes against each other,
they mumbled fragments of words; they seemed to have lost all control of
their mouths, for they grinned constantly, though their breath came
almost in sobs. As Winthrop pushed off, suddenly they broke out into a
loud hymn:

    "Didn't my Lawd delibber Dan-yéll, Dan-yéll?
     Didn't my Lawd delibber _Dán_-yell?"

For a long distance up the stream this protective invocation echoed
after the voyagers, and the two grotesque figures holding the lamps
remained brightly visible on the low shore.

"Turn in now, and coast along close to the land," said Margaret; "it's
so dark that even with that I am almost afraid I shall miss the mouth."

But she did not miss it. In ten minutes she said, "Here it is;" and she
directed him how to enter.

"I should never have found it myself; it's so narrow," Winthrop
commented, as he guided the canoe towards an almost imperceptible
opening in the near looming forest.

"That was what I couldn't guard you against."

But the mouth was the narrowest part; inside the stream widened out, and
was broad and deep. Winthrop sent the boat forward with strong strokes,
the pine torch which Margaret had fastened at the bow cast a short ray
in advance.

"I think we shall escape the storm," she said.

"It's holding off wonderfully. But don't be too sure."

They did not speak often. Winthrop was attending to the boat's course,
Margaret had turned and was sitting so that she could scan the water and
direct him a little. Her nervousness had disappeared; either she had
been able to repress it, or it had faded in the presence of the
responsibility she had assumed in undertaking to act as guide through
that strange water-land of the Monnlungs, whose winding channels she had
heretofore seen only in the light of day. Even in the light of day they
were mysterious; the enormous trees, thickly foliaged at the top, kept
the sun from penetrating to the water, the masses of vines shut out
still further the light, and shut in the perfumes of the myriad flowers.
Channels opened out on all sides. Only one was the right one. Should she
be able to follow it? the landmarks she knew--certain banks of shrubs, a
tree trunk of peculiar shape, a sharp bend, a small bay full of
"knees"--should she know these again by night? There came to her
suddenly the memory of a little arena--an arena where the flowering
vines hung straight down from the tree-tops to the water all round, like
tapestry, and where the perfumes were densely thick.

"Are you cold?" said Winthrop. "You can't be--this warm night." The
slightness of the canoe had betrayed what he thought was a shiver.

"No, I'm not cold."

"The best thing we can do is to make the boat as bright as possible," he
went on. "But not in front, that would only be blinding; the light must
be behind us." He took the torch from the bow, lighted three others, and
stack them all into the canoe's lining of thin strips of wood at the
stern. Primus had made his torches long; it would be an hour before they
could burn down sufficiently to endanger the boat.

Thus, casting a brilliant orange-hued glow round them, lighting up the
dark water vistas to the right and left, as they passed, they penetrated
into the dim sweet swamp.



CHAPTER XXVIII.


They had been in the Monnlungs half an hour. Margaret acted as pilot;
half kneeling, half sitting at the bow, one hand on the canoe's edge,
her face turned forward, she gave her directions slowly, all her powers
concentrated upon recalling correctly and keeping unmixed from present
impressions her memory of the channel.

The present impressions were indeed so strange, that a strong exertion
of will was necessary to prevent the mind from becoming fascinated by
them, from forgetting in this series of magic pictures the different
aspect of these same vistas by day. Even by day the vistas were
alluring. By night, lighted up by the flare of the approaching torches,
at first vaguely, then brilliantly, then vanishing into darkness again
behind, they became unearthly, exceeding in contrasts of color--reds,
yellows, and green, all of them edged sharply with the profoundest
gloom--the most striking effects of the painters who have devoted their
lives to reproducing light and shade.

Lanse had explored a part of the Monnlungs. He had not explored it all,
no human eye had as yet beheld some of its mazes; but the part he had
explored he knew well, he had even made a map of it. Margaret had seen
this map; she felt sure, too, that she should know the channels he
called the Lanes. Her idea, upon entering, had been to follow the main
stream to the first of these lanes, there turn off and explore the lane
to its end; then, returning to the main channel, to go on to the second
lane; and so on through Lanse's part of the swamp. They had now explored
two of the lanes, and were entering a third.

She had taken off her hat, and thrown it down upon the cloak beside her.
"It's so oppressively warm in here," she said.

It was not oppressively warm--not warmer than a June night at the
North. But the air was perfectly still, and so sweet that it was
enervating.

The forest grew denser along this third lane as they advanced. The trees
stood nearer together, and silver moss now began to hang down in long,
filmy veils, thicker and thicker, from all the branches. Mixed with the
moss, vines showed themselves in strange convolutions, they went up out
of sight; in girth they were as large as small trees; they appeared to
have not a leaf, but to be dry, naked, chocolate-brown growths, twisting
themselves about hither and thither for their own entertainment.

This was the appearance below. But above, there was another story to
tell; for here were interminable flat beds of broad green leaves, spread
out over the outside of the roof of foliage--leaves that belonged to
these same naked coiling growths below; the vines had found themselves
obliged to climb to the very top in order to get a ray of sunshine for
their greenery.

For there was no sky for anybody in the Monnlungs; the deep solid roof
of interlocked branches stretched miles long, miles wide, like a close
tight cover, over the entire place. The general light of day came
filtering through, dyed with much green, quenched into blackness at the
ends of the vistas; but actual sunbeams never came, never gleamed, year
in year out, across the clear darkness of the broad water floor.

The water on this floor was always pellucid; whether it was the deep
current of the main channel, or the shallower tide that stood motionless
over all the rest of the expanse, no where was there the least
appearance of mud; the lake and the streams, red-brown in hue, were as
clear as so much fine wine; the tree trunks rose cleanly from this
transparent tide, their huge roots could be seen coiling on the bottom
much as the great vines coiled in the air above. These gray-white bald
cypresses had a monumental aspect, like the columns of a Gothic
cathedral, as they rose, erect and branchless, disappearing above in the
mist of the moss. The moss presently began to take on an additional
witchery by becoming decked with flowers; up to a certain height these
flowers had their roots in the earth; but above these were other
blossoms--air-plants, some vividly tinted, flaring, and gaping, others
so small and so flat on the moss that they were like the embroidered
flowers on lace, only they were done in colors.

"I detest this moss," said Margaret, as it grew thicker and thicker, so
that there was nothing to be seen but the silver webs; "I feel strangled
in it,--suffocated."

"Oh, but it's beautiful," said Winthrop. "Don't you see the colors it
takes on? Gray, then silver, then almost pink as we pass; then gray and
ghostly again."

For all answer she called her husband's name. She had called it in this
way at intervals ever since they entered the swamp.

"The light we carry penetrates much farther than your voice," Winthrop
remarked.

"I want him to know who it is."

"Oh, he'll know--such a devoted wife! Who else could it be?"

After a while the lane made a bend, and led them away from the moss; the
canoe, turning to the right, left behind it the veiled forest, white and
motionless. Margaret drew a long breath, she shook herself slightly,
like a person who has emerged.

"You have on your jewels again," he said, as the movement caused the
torch-light to draw a gleam from something in her hair.

She put up her hand as if she had forgotten what was there. "Jewels?
Only a gold arrow." She adjusted it mechanically.

"Jewels enough on your hands, then. You didn't honor _us_ with a sight
of them--while you were at East Angels, I mean."

"I don't care for them; I put them on this morning before I started,
because Lanse likes them."

"So do I. Unwillingly, you also please me; of course I never dreamed
that I should have so much time to admire them--parading by torch-light
in this way through a great morass."

She did not answer.

"They bring you out, you know, in spite of yourself--drag you out, if
you like better; they show what you might be, if you would ever--let
yourself go."

"Let myself go? You use strange expressions."

"A man isn't responsible for what he says in here."

"You say that a second time! You know there was no other way; the only
hope of getting Lanse home before the storm was to start at once."

"The storm--to be sure. I don't believe it ever storms in here."

She turned towards him. "You _know_ I had to come."

"I know you thought so; you thought we should find Lanse sitting
encamped on two cypress knees, with the wreck of his canoe for a seat.
We should dawn upon him like comets. And he would say, 'How long you've
been! It's precious damp in here, you know!'"

She turned impatiently towards the channel again.

"Don't demand too much, Margaret," he went on. "Jesting's safe, at any
rate. Sympathy I haven't got--sympathy for this expedition of yours into
this jungle at this time of night."

She had now recovered her composure. "So long as you paddle the boat,
sympathy isn't necessary."

"Oh, I'll paddle! But I shall have to paddle forever, we shall never get
out. We've come to an antediluvian forest--don't you see? a survival.
But _we_ sha'n't survive. They'll write our biographies; I was wondering
the other day if there was any other kind of literature so completely
composed of falsehoods, owing to half being kept back, as biographies; I
decided that there _was_ one other--autobiographies."

On both sides of them now the trees were, in girth, enormous; the red
light, gleaming out fitfully, did not seem to belong to them or to their
torches, but to be an independent glow, coming from no one knew where.

"If we had the grace to have any imagination left in this bicycle
century of ours," remarked Winthrop, "we should certainly be expecting
to see some mammoth water creature, fifty feet long, lifting a flabby
head here. For my own part, I am afraid my imagination, never very
brilliant, is defunct; the most I can do is to think of the thousands of
snakes there must be, squirming about under all this water,--not
prehistoric at all, nor mammoths, but just nice natural every-day little
moccasins, say about seven feet long."

Margaret shuddered.

He stopped his banter, his voice changed. "Do let me take you home," he
urged. "You're tired out; give this thing up."

"I am not tired."

"You have been tired to the verge of death for months!"

"You know nothing about that," she said, coldly.

"Yes, I do. I have seen your face, and I know its expressions now; I
didn't at first, but now I do. There's no use in your trying to deceive
me Margaret, I know what your life is; remember, Lanse told me
everything."

"That was long ago."

"What do you mean?" He leaned forward and grasped her arm as though he
would make her turn.

For a moment she did not reply. Then, "A great deal may have happened
since then," she said.

"I don't believe you!" He dropped her arm. "You say that to stop me,
keep me back; you are afraid of me!" He took up his paddle again.

"Yes, I am afraid." Then, putting a little note of contempt into her
voice: "And wasn't I right to be afraid?" she added. She drew the arm he
had touched close to her waist, and held it there.

"No!" answered Winthrop, loudly and angrily; "you were completely
wrong." He sent the canoe forward with rapid strokes.

They went to the end of the lane, then returned to the main channel,
still in silence. But here it became necessary again for Margaret to
give directions.

"Go as far as that pool of knees," she began; "then turn to the right."

"You are determined to keep on?"

"I must; that is, I must if you will take me."

He sat without moving.

"If anything should happen to Lanse that I might have prevented by
keeping on now, how could I ever----"

"Oh, keep on, keep on; bring him safely home and take every care of
him--he has done so much to deserve these efforts on your part!"

They went on.

And now the stream was bringing them towards the place Margaret had
thought of upon entering--a bower in the heart of the Monnlungs, or
rather a long defile like a chink between two high cliffs, the cliffs
being a dense mass of flowering shrubs.

Winthrop made no comment as they entered this blossoming pass, Margaret
did not speak. The air was loaded with sweetness; she put her hands on
the edge of the canoe to steady herself. Then she looked up as if in
search of fresher air, or to see how high the flowers ascended. But
there was no fresher air, and the flowers went up out of sight.

The defile grew narrower, the atmosphere became so heavy that they could
taste the perfume in their mouths. After another five minutes Margaret
drew a long breath--she had apparently been trying to breathe as little
as possible. "I don't think I can--I am afraid----" She swayed, then
sank softly down; she had fainted.

He caught her in his arms, and laid her on the canoe's bottom, her head
on the cloak. He looked at the water, but the thought of the dark tide's
touching that fair face was repugnant to him. He bent down and spoke to
her, and smoothed her hair. But that was advancing nothing, and he began
to chafe her hands.

Then suddenly he rose, and, taking the paddle, sent the canoe flying
along between the high bushes. The air was visibly thick in the red
light of the torches, a miasma of scent. A branch of small blossoms with
the perfume of heliotrope softly brushed against his cheek, he struck it
aside with unnecessary violence. Exerting all his strength, he at last
got the canoe free from the beautiful baleful place.

When Margaret opened her eyes they were outside; she was lying
peacefully on the cloak, and he was still paddling vehemently.

"I am ashamed," she said, as she raised herself. "I suppose I fainted?
Perfumes have a great effect upon me always. I know that place well, I
thought of it before we entered the swamp; I thought it would make me
dizzy, but I had no idea that it would make me faint away. It has never
done so before, the scents must be stronger at night."

She still seemed weak; she put her hand to her head. Then a thought came
to her, she sat up and looked about, scanning the trees anxiously. "I
hope you haven't gone wrong? How far are we from the narrow place--the
place where I fainted?"

"I don't know how far. But we haven't been out of it more than five or
six minutes, and this is certainly the channel."

"Nothing is 'certainly' in the Monnlungs! And five minutes is quite
enough time to get lost in. I don't recognize anything here--we ought to
be in sight of a tree that has a profile, like a face."

"Perhaps you wouldn't know it at night."

"It's unmistakable. No, I am sure we are wrong. Please go back--go back
at once to the narrow place."

"Where is 'back?'" murmured Winthrop to himself, after he had surveyed
the water behind him.

And the question was a necessary one. What he had thought was "certainly
the channel" seemed to exist only in front; there was no channel behind,
there were only broad tree-filled water spaces, vague and dark. They
could see nothing of the thicker foliage of the "narrow place."

Margaret clasped her hands. "We're lost!"

"No, we're not lost; at least we were not seven minutes ago. It won't
take long to go over all the water that is seven minutes from here." He
took out one of the torches and inserted it among the roots of a
cypress, so that it could hold itself upright. "That's our guide; we can
always come back to that, and start again."

Margaret no longer tried to direct; she sat with her face towards him,
leaving the guidance to him.

He started back in what he thought was the course they had just
traversed. But they did not come to the defile of flowers; and suddenly
they lost sight of their beacon.

"We shall see it again in a moment," he said.

But they did not see it. They floated in and out among the great
cypresses, he plunged his paddle down over the side, and struck bottom;
they were out of the channel and in the shallows--the great Monnlungs
Lake.

"We don't see it yet," she said. Then she gave a cry, and shrank
towards him. They had floated close to one of the trees, and there on
its trunk, not three feet from her, was a creature of the lizard family,
large, gray-white in hue like the bark, flat, and yet fat; it moved its
short legs slowly in the light of their torches; no doubt it was
experiencing a sensation of astonishment, there had never been in its
memory a bright light in the Monnlungs before.

Winthrop laughed, it did him good to see Margaret Harold cowering and
shuddering over such a slight cause as that. The boat had floated where
it listed for a moment or two while he laughed, and now he caught sight
of their beacon again.

"That laugh was lucky," he said, as he paddled rapidly back towards the
small light-house. "Now I shall go in exactly the wrong direction--I
mean what seems such to me."

"Oh, _must_ we go again?"

"I don't suppose you wish to remain permanently floating at the foot of
this tree?" He looked at her. "You think we're lost, you're frightened.
We're not lost at all, and I know exactly what to do; trust yourself to
me, I will bring you safely out."

"You don't know this swamp, it's not so easy. I'm thinking of myself."

"I know you are not. But _I_ think of nothing else." He said this
impetuously enough.

They started on their second search. And at the end of five minutes they
had again lost sight of their beacon. He paddled to the right and back
again; then off to the left and back; he went forward a little way, then
in the opposite direction; but they did not see the gleam of their
guide, nor did they find the defile of flowers.

Suddenly there rose, close to them, a cry. It was not loud, but it was
thrilling, it conveyed an impression of agonized fear.

"What was that?" said Margaret. She did not speak the words aloud, but
syllabled them with her lips; involuntarily she drew nearer to him.

"I don't know what it was myself, exactly," he answered; "some bird or
other small creature, probably, caught by a snake or alligator. It only
sounded strange because it is so still here, our nerves are affected, I
presume."

"You mean that mine are. I know they are, I will try to be more
sensible."

He pursued his tentative course. But the watery vistas seemed only to
grow wilder. They never had a desolate appearance; on the contrary there
was something indescribably luxuriant, riotously so, in the still lake
with its giant trees, its scented air, its masses of flowers. At length
something dark, that was not a tree trunk, nor a group of tree trunks,
loomed up on their right. Their torches outlined it more plainly; it was
square and low.

"It's a _house_" Margaret said, in the same repressed whisper. "Oh,
don't go near it!"

"Why--it's deserted, can't you see that? There's no living thing there,
unless you count ghosts--there may be the ghost of some fugitive slave.
The door, I suppose, is on the other side." And he paddled towards it.

The cabin--it was no more than a cabin--had been built upon the great
roots of four cypresses, which had happened to stand in a convenient
position for such a purpose; the planks of the floor had been nailed
down across these, and the sides formed of rough boards braced by small
beams which stretched back to the tree trunks; the roof was a network of
the large vines of the swamp, thickly thatched with the gray moss, now
black with age and decay. The door was gone; Winthrop brought the boat
up towards the dark entrance; the sill was but an inch or two above the
water.

They looked within, the light from their torches illuminating the
central portion. And as they looked, they saw a slight waving motion on
the floor. Were the planks oscillating a little, or was it dark water
flowing over the place?

At first they could not distinguish; then in another instant they could.
It was not water; it was the waving, squirming bodies of snakes.

Winthrop had given the canoe a quick swerve. But before they could have
counted one, the creatures, soundlessly, had all disappeared.

"Men are queer animals," he said; "I should have liked one more good
peep. But of course I won't go back."

"Yes--go."

"You are prepared to humor me in everything? Well, it won't take an
instant." They were but ten feet away; he gave a stroke with his paddle
and brought the canoe up to the entrance again.

Within there was now nothing, their torch-light shone on the bare
glistening boards of the floor. But stay--yes, there was; something
white in one corner; he took one of the torches, and held it within for
a moment. Margaret gave a cry; the light was shining on bones--a white
breastbone with the ribs attached, and larger bones near.

He threw the torch into the water, where it went out with a hiss, and
sent the canoe rapidly away. This time he did not stop.

Margaret had hidden her face in her hands. "Well," he said, still urging
the light boat along, "the last hunter who occupied that cabin was not
as tidy in his habits as he might have been; he left the remains of the
last bear he had had for dinner behind him."

"Are you sure?" she asked, without looking up, still shuddering.

"Perfectly."

Winthrop held that in some cases a lie was right.

He paddled on for a few minutes more.

"Here's your reward for humoring me. Isn't this the 'narrow place?'"

And it was.

"Now that we've found it, hadn't we better try to go back?" he
suggested.

"I will do as you think best."

"You're thoroughly cowed, aren't you? By the skeleton of a bear."

"I think I am tired," she answered.

"Think? You mean you know you are." The mask of jesting had dropped
again. "How much more of this horrible place is there--I mean beyond
here?"

"We are a good deal more than half-way through; three quarters, I
think."

"Can we get out at the other end? Is there an outlet?"

"Yes--a creek. It takes you, I believe--I have never been so far as
that--to Eustis Landing, a pier on the St. John's beyond ours."

"If we try to go back we shall have to go through that damnable aisle of
miasma again."

"Perhaps I should not faint this time," she said, humbly.

"You don't know whether you would or not; I can't take any risks."

He spoke with bluntness. She sat looking at him; her eyes had a pathetic
expression, her womanish fears and her fatigue had relaxed her usual
guard.

"You think I'm rough. Let me be rough while I can, Margaret!"

He sent the boat forward towards the outlet, not back through the aisle
of flowers. "We'll go on," he said.

After a while she called her husband's name again.

"What's the use of doing that?" he asked. "He isn't here."

"Oh, but I am sure he is. Where else could he be?"

"How should I know?--Where he was for eight years, perhaps."

Presently they came to a species of canebrake, very dense and high;
there was no green in sight, only the canes. The channel wound
tortuously through the rattling mass, the slight motion of the water
made by the canoe caused the canes to rattle.

"Keep watch, please," he said; "it's not so wet here. It wouldn't be
amusing to set such a straw-stack on fire."

While they were making their way through this labyrinth, there came a
crash of thunder.

"The storm at last, and we haven't heard the least sound of the tornado
that came before it! That shows what a place this is," he said. "We
might as well be in the heart of a mountain. Well, even if we _do_
suffocate, at least we're safe from falling trees; if the lightning has
struck one, it can't come down, wedged in as it is in that great tight
roof overhead."

There came another crash. "I believe it grows hotter and hotter," he
went on, throwing down his hat. "I am beginning to feel a little queer
myself; I have to tell you, you know, in order that you may be able to
act with--with discrimination, as Dr. Kirby would say."

She had turned quickly. "Do you feel faint?"

"Faint?" he answered, scoffingly. "Never in the world. Am I a woman? I
feel perfectly well, and strong as an ox, only--I see double."

"Yes, that is the air of the swamp."

She took off the black lace scarf she was wearing, dipped it into the
stream, and told him to bind it round his forehead above the eyes.

"Nonsense!" he said, impatiently.

But she moved towards him, and kneeling on the canoe's bottom, bound the
lace tightly round his forehead herself, fastening it with her little
gold pin.

"I must look like a Turk," he exclaimed when she released him.

But the wet bandage cleared his vision; he could see plainly again.

After another five minutes, however, back came the blur. "Shall we ever
get out of this accursed hole?" he cried, pressing his hands on his
eyes.

"I can paddle a little; let me take the oar."

But he dashed more water on his head, and pushed her hands away. "Women
never know! It's much better for me to keep on. But you must direct
me,--say 'one stroke on the right,' 'two on the left,' and so on."

"Oh, why did I ever bring you in here?" she moaned, giving no directions
at all, but looking at his contracted eyes with the tears welling in her
own.

"See here, Margaret,--I really don't know what would happen if I should
put this oar down and--and let you pity me! I can tell you once. Now be
warned." He spoke with roughness.

Her tears were arrested. "Two strokes on the right," she said, quickly.

They went on their course again, he putting his oar into the water with
a peculiar deliberation, as though he were taking great care not to
disturb its smoothness; but this was because he was guiding himself by
sense of touch. It was not that all was dark before him, that he saw
nothing, it would have been much easier if there had been nothing to
see; but whether his eyes were open or closed he looked constantly and
in spite of himself into a broad circular space of vivid scarlet, in the
centre of which a smaller and revolving disk of colors like those of
peacocks' feathers, continually dilating and contracting, wearied and
bewildered him. In spite of this visual confusion he kept on.

Their progress was slow. "I think I'll stop for a while," he said, after
a quarter of an hour had passed. They were still among the rattling
canes, his voice had a drowsy tone.

"Oh, don't stop now; we're nearly out."

But he had stopped.

"If I had had any idea you would tire so soon---- Of course if I _must_
take the oar--and blister my hands----"

"Keep back in your place," he cried, angrily, as she made a movement as
though she were coming to take the paddle from him.

She went on giving the directions, she could scarcely keep the tremor
from her voice, but she did keep it. When she looked at his closed eyes,
and saw the effort he was making--every time he lifted his arms it was
like lifting a gigantic weight, his fancy made it so--she longed to take
the oar from him and let him rest. But she did not dare to, he must not
sleep now. She put out her hand and touched an edge of his coat
furtively, where he would not perceive it; the gentle little touch
seemed to give her courage to say, in a tone of sarcastic compassion,
"If, after all, you _are_ going to faint, though you assured me----"

"Faint!" said Winthrop,--"what are you talking about?" He straightened
himself and threw back his head. Her taunt had answered its purpose, it
had made him angry and in his anger he sent the boat forward with more
force.

Another anxious ten minutes, and then, "We're out!" she said, as she saw
wide water in front. "Now it will be cooler." The channel broadened,
they left the rattling canes behind.

Water was coming slowly down the trees, not in drops but in dark
streaks; this was rain that had made its way through the roof of
foliage, scanty fringe of the immense torrent now falling upon the
drenched ground outside.

"I shall go through to that place you spoke of--Eustis Landing, wasn't
it?" said Winthrop.

"Oh, you _are_ better!"

Her relief showed itself in these words. But much more in her face; its
strained tension gave way, her tears fell. She dried them in silence.

"Because I can speak of something outside of this infernal bog? Yes, I
shall get you safely through now. And myself also. But--it hasn't been
easy!"

"Oh, I know that."

"I beg your pardon, no, you don't; not the half."

In a moment or two more he announced that he was beginning to see
"something besides fireworks." She still continued, however, to direct
him.

The swamp had been growing more open. At length the channel brought them
to a spectral lake, with a few dead trees in it here and there hung with
white moss. "I remember this place, the creek opens out just opposite.
_At last_ it's over!"

"And at last I can see. But I must take this thing off; it binds me."
And he unloosed and threw off her lace scarf.

They found the creek and entered. "It seems strange to see solid ground
again, doesn't it?" he said.

"Then you _can_ see it?"

"As well as ever."

The creek brought them to a waste that was open to the sky.

"Now we can breathe," he said; "I feel as though I should never want to
be under a tree branch again!"

It was not very dark; there was a moon somewhere behind the gray clouds
that closely covered the sky. The great storm had gone westward,
carrying with it the tornado and the rain, and now a cool, moderate,
New-England-feeling wind was beginning to blow.

Winthrop glanced back. The great trees of the Monnlungs loomed up in a
long dark line against the sky; from the low level of the boat in the
flat waste they looked like a line of mountains.

"All the same, you know," he said, contradictorily, "it was very
beautiful in there."

The creek was wide; he went on rapidly. He was quite himself again.
"You look fearfully worn," he said, after a while.

"Must we have all these torches now?" She spoke with irritation, she
could not get away from their light.

"Not if you object to them." He extinguished all but one. "Now put on
some of those wraps; it's cold."

"I do not need them."

"Don't be childish." (There was no doubt but that he was himself again.)
"Here, let me help you on with this cloak."

She submitted.

It took them three-quarters of an hour to reach the landing.

"This is it, I presume," he said, as he saw the dim outlines of two
white houses at a little distance on the low shore. "I will knock them
up, and get some sort of a place where you can rest."

"If there is any one to row, I should much rather go directly home."

"Always unreasonable. Give me your hands." He leaned forward and took
them. "Cold as ice,--I thought so. You must come up to the house and go
to bed."

"I could not sleep. Let me go home; it is the only place for me."

He still held her hands. "Very well," he said.

"Perhaps they have found Lanse," she went on.

"Old Dinah and Rose? Very likely."

In a few minutes he returned, followed by two negroes, one of whom
carried a lantern. They got out their own boat. Winthrop helped Margaret
into it, and took his place beside her; their canoe was taken in tow.
With strong regular strokes the men rowed down the creek, and out on the
broad St. John's.

When they came in sight of the house on the point it was gleaming with
light; Margaret gave an exclamation.

Dismissing the men, Winthrop went up the path after her. "I am sure he
has come," she said, hurrying on.

"Who? Lanse? Oh no, it's those old goblins of yours who have illuminated
in this way; it's their idea of keeping watch for you."

The doors had been left unfastened, they entered. Inside, everything was
as brilliant as though the house had been made ready for a ball. But
there was not a sound, no one stirred. They went through to the kitchen;
and there, each on her knees before a wooden chair, with her head
resting upon it on her folded arms, appeared the little Africans, sound
asleep; the soles of their shoes, turned up behind them, seemed almost
as long as they were.

Winthrop roused them. "Here," he said; "we're back. Make some coffee for
your mistress as quickly as you can; and you, Rose, light a fire in the
sitting-room."

The queer little old women ran about like frightened hens. They tumbled
over each other, and let everything drop. Winthrop stood over them
sternly, he took the pitch-pine from the distracted Rose and lighted the
fire himself. "No